our story and engagement!

Tomorrow is our 5th wedding anniversary! I can't believe it's been half a decade already! In honor of this special anniversary, I thought it was time to share our story again.  Because who couldn't use a little sappy love story in their lives?! Oh, and don't worry...you're getting the long version! You're welcome.

We met...

In Kindergarten! It's true.

We grew up a few miles down a country road from each other.  That's true too.

We were "boyfriend and girlfriend" in 4th grade.  (Still not making this up.)  As some people like to joke...I broke up with Justin in 4th grade and he never got the memo.  I like to give him a lot more credit than that!  I still remember being in the backseat when I was little, passing his house, seeing him out on his go-kart running around outside, and it making me a bit giddy. ;) My mom has recorded in my baby book that Justin was the first boy I mentioned and I may have had a slight crush on him in primary. ;) (We were in the same class K-3rd grades.)  I also remember my grandparents seeing him and his family out to eat on Sundays after church and they would tease me that they saw my future in-laws. Ha!

And then middle and high school happened.  We were acquaintances and sometimes around the same people or at the same place, but not often.  He hung with the soccer crew and was such a good person all through school.  A sweet stand-up, christian, boy-next-door.  The guy all the girls should have dated.  The guy all the parents hoped their little girl would date.

We reacquainted toward the end of HS.  We started hanging around the same crowd the summer before my junior year of HS because my family joined the church Justin grew up in (oh yeah, we also had gone to the same church for a bit when we were super young.)  We were in the same youth group, went on the same mission trips, and hung out with the same group of people.   My ex-BF was gone to college my senior year.  Justin started coming around a bit more. ;) I still like to thank Justin for that. (And the Good Lord!) I remember one day my senior year when a few of us stayed after school to work on some homecoming week art for school, Justin rolled up after soccer practice in his convertible mustang and asked us if we wanted a ride. HA! Of course, two 17 year old girls aren't gonna pass up a ride in a convertible. ;) He likes to brag that he gave me my first ride in a convertible. You have to really know my car-crazed husband to know why that is so important to him. ha! My best friend, Justin and myself started to hang out a lot together the summer after we graduated and especially at the beginning of college.  He went away to college about an hour and a half away, she went away 4-5 hours away, and I stayed near home.  We spent any extra time we could together just hanging out with each other and others.

 And then there was a break-up...

From my high school BF.  Who was there to pick me up from that dreary time in my life that I now look back on as the best thing that could have ever happened to me?! Who was always there as my best friend?


He sent me flowers on Valentine's Day of my Freshman year of college to my dorm with a note thanking me for going to a movie with him a few days before (just as friends of course- ha) and telling me that "Every girl deserves flowers on Valentine's Day."  This is where you can melt.  I do ever time I tell it.

We continued to hang out a lot, go on dates that weren't dates.  Attend the same church, go on mission trips together.  Get teased that we "might as well just date". Ignored the teasing.  Little did I know, though, Justin's feelings were growing and growing and growing.  And he was pursuing me even when I wasn't catching on.  Amidst me dating a goofball for a couple months in college, amidst me ignoring it, amidst me thinking we would always be just "be friends".

Justin- left from right side; Me- right side
I kept "searching"...hoping God would put someone in my life.  I started a journal to my future husband (my way of trying to help myself be more content with not finding "that guy").  And there was a moment where Justin and I were verbalizing to a mutual friend of where we felt called in life.  We both felt called to stay around home.  We both felt called to have "a quiet little life".  We both felt called to have a family.  To raise that family around their family.  It started hitting me that we were both feeling called to the same, sweet little life.  A very similar love story.  On my ride home that day, driving, I remember hearing God whisper to me (through a gentle peace in my heart) that Justin was the guy I was going to marry.  That I needed to hand over the fight.  I was searching and seeking, and my future husband was right by me as my best friend.

Through event after event, I realized something maybe was changing.  I was getting jealous over girls he told me he liked back at school.  I wanted (and expected) him to hang out with me.  A lot.  I wanted him around all the time.  I just continued to push it to the back of my mind.

One winter night close to Christmas, Justin and I drove around to look at Christmas lights.  I thought it was just another time to hang-out.  But it was just us.  And little did I know, Justin had been praying hard and seeking a lot of guidance and counsel over that moment to come.  As we drove, he let me know how much he cared about me.  And that it wasn't just as friends.  It was the real deal.  He was crazy about me and always had been.  The HUGE elephant in the room was there.  I couldn't ignore it anymore.  Looking back, it was like one of those moments in a movie where you get so mad at the dumb girl because of how she freaks out and totally crushes the guy's heart.  But if she would have just been brave and been honest, it would have ended in a sweet, sweet moment.  Well I was the dumb girl.  I was the girl (the stubborn girl) that freaked and told him that I just liked him as a friend.  Nothing else.  He let me know that he had to draw a line and we couldn't hang out for a while.  That he had to sort things out and his heart couldn't handle us just hanging out as friends.  Maybe eventually but not then.  My heart broke, but I remained stubborn.

He went away to visit his best friend that moved away for college.  I hated that time. I hated that we weren't speaking.  We weren't seeing each other.  It was just so odd. Seemed so against what I really wanted.  My college roommates, other close friends, and family would tell you about times where they dogged me like crazy that I had shut him down.  That I had been so goofy.  That I was only kidding myself.  I started to pray that God would change my heart if this was His will.  That I wanted His plan, not mine. That I didn't want my pride and goofiness to get in the way of His best in my life.
Justin came back and we slowly started being around each other more.  We even took a trip together with Chad and Cheri (still our best friends).  They were dating.  We weren't. Ha!

Fast forward to March of that year (my junior year of college) where he took me out for my birthday (and promised it wasn't a date).  We went to dinner and walked around downtown by the river.  I remember thinking, "I could do this."

By April we were dating, knowing it would be a quick road to engagement or a quick road to a break-up.  After all the build-up (over the course of YEARS), I don't even remember the moment we transitioned over to actually "dating".  We even sought some counsel from our mentor at church that also did our pre-marital counseling with us.  He had been with us through the entire road through the HS and college years of our love story.  I panicked/freaked out once (or twice) during that time, and Justin was quick to remind me that it was okay it was "weird" and that we didn't need to worry about all the pressure around us (you have no idea how happy people were we were together :). We dated about a month and a half and were already talking engagement.  Talking rings.  Ring shopping.  The months passed (almost).

And then July 19th, 2007 (the summer before my senior year of college) happened.

My mom and dad shared with me one day that Justin was going to go on our vacation together (a road trip up through all the northeastern states, including Boston and NYC.)  This was the day before we left.  (Justin had had "the talk" with my Dad the day before that.)  I thought this was so odd (yet exciting) because our family vacays were sacred and my brother and I never took other people with us.  (But, of course, I was dating the one guy they had always hoped I would eventually marry. ;)

That night, Justin called me while he was at church "getting some things organized and together before we left the next day" (he was helping with the middle school youth at that time) and said that one of our female youth members was at church and had some issues she needed to talk over with me about something going on in her life.  (Hook.  Line.  And sinker.)

I got there and no one else was there.  I walked toward the sanctuary and it hit me.  (I never thought there was any way he would actually succeed at surprising me with the engagement.)

He had candles lit all the way up to the alter, pictures from all our memories together from Kindergarten on throughout the church, and Keith Urban's "Making Memories of Us" playing in the sanctuary, which had been "our song" we coined. We walked up through the sanctuary where a camera was to capture this moment (because of my love for pictures).  That sweet boy I met in kindergarten got on one knee and proposed that night.  And this stubborn girl was finally the girl to cheer on in the love story.  I jumped up and down.  I hugged and kissed him.  I said yes. 

And never looked back.

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