Tea For Two

I never dreamed of getting married when I was 19 years old.. I mean, I dreamed of getting married, but I thought it was so far away. And I was OK with that.

When I started my freshman year of college, I had zero intentions on dating ANYONE. I only recently had been freed from an abusive relationship. I was raw. I was ready to love myself and figure out who I was in God’s eyes. I pursued Him daily, a newer concept in my life. I found myself on coffee dates with Jesus nearly every day at our campus coffee house. I took notes, I drew pictures, I high -lighted. I discovered a new love for God in my heart and I was finally seeing a love He had for me that I needed to see. I became a new person. I had new goals, new dreams, new desires. I wanted to serve Him, help others, and love people deeply. I wanted to be who He was intending me to be. I wanted my dreams to align with my King.

It was during these coffee dates with Jesus that Joshua entered the scene. He and I were always there together, but we weren’t ready to meet. It was a slow few hours in the day for the coffee house. I was finished with my classes for the day; Joshua was on his very late lunch break. We smiled and nodded at each other after a couple weeks of noticing we’d always be there together with few others in between.

I found myself, in this journey of pursuit. God grabbed ahold of me quickly and took me on adventures of evangelism and boldness that I’m not sure I ever would have pursued otherwise. I was down town on the streets of Chicago almost weekly, praying with the homeless, with strangers, with peers. I was taught about complete surrender, trust, and truth. I had the courage to do things I never dreamed I could do. My heart was ready to serve and go and be and see. I pleaded with the Lord to continue to grow me, mold me, shape me, and change me. I wanted Him to take me to deep waters. I wanted to live a life without borders. I was ready to jump, leap, soar- wherever He would lead.

One day I found myself at the coffee house on campus with a dear friend I will forever cherish in my heart. Her name was Cassie. She is a gem of a human, I’ll tell you that. We chatted frequently about trusting God and following His plan, no matter the cost. She shared with me many things and we laughed and cried together. What a mighty God we serve.

As with many single ladies, talking about the godly man we’d pray for and hope for was not out of the ordinary. She shared with me how she used a journal to pray for her future spouse and how impactful it was in her life. How it helped her heart to stay focused on God, and also praying for this man to be a man after God’s heart. I loved that idea and started mine that very day.

That day, the very day Joshua decided he was ready to introduce himself. (By eves dropping on part of our conversation and deciding to butt in and express His own love for God).

My friend excused herself for a moment, and Joshua proceeded to introduce himself by making me guess his name.

*eye roll*

I thought he was strange for that, but I still appreciated his boldness to join our conversation, if only for a moment.

Fast forward a few more weeks and I find myself surrounded by upperclassmen friends. I saw Joshua from time to time when we all would hang out and have movie nights. I mean, sure, I thought he was cute and all, but I was not interested. I was focused on growing in my relationship with Jesus and growing a love for myself that I desperately needed. As with many teenage girls, I struggled a lot with my image. So that fall and early winter I started a project for myself to challenge me and grow me to see the beauty that God sees. I wore no makeup, and showered a lot less frequently than expected. No shame here, this was a super beneficial time for me. I didn’t try to dress nice. I lived in sweats and T-shirt’s/hoodies. I was not only constantly comfortable, but I was finally becoming comfortable in my own skin. It was during this time that Joshua said he really started to notice me and pray over his heart in regards to potential pursuit.

I sang on our chapel team and auditioned for our student-led worship team. My first week leading on that team, I was approached by Joshua and our mutual friend Diego. Diego wanted to hug me and pass along a complement. Joshua found himself doing the same.

At a fun campus event not much later, I was given the opportunity to be the school mascot. I have to share: this was a Dutch- heavy campus in a suburb of Chicago. I am not a very big person. I guarantee I was the shortest Trinity Troll there ever was! I had so much fun and actually followed Joshua around for most of the event. I could tell it was freaking him out. When he learned it was me inside that costume though, he didn’t mind so much. We had many strangely wonderful encounters like these in the weeks following. Needless to say, I wasn’t anything but my dorky self around him from the very beginning. I never tried to impress him. I never thought we’d end up together. I was 18. He was 24. It was never in my wildest dreams that he would pursue me.

I’ll keep moving along here…The month is February. The week was Valentines. I was heading home that weekend to watch my high school’s winter play and support my previous peers and friends. (I was big into theater and the music department in my school days). There are some details here that I don’t particularly want to share, but in short, something happened and I was in a pickle. When I was riding in the car with my mom on the way home, I received a message on Facebook. It was from Joshua. It read: “Howdy! I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a while now and would’ve preferred to in person, but would you like to get coffee some time?”

I was a little surprised, but I assumed it was just because I was the one he knew the least in our friend group and he was pretty friendly. I said sure. So we planned on getting together that Monday after I returned to campus.

Then my phone went off at 2am with another message: “Would you mind if we went to the Starbucks off campus? My treat.”

Off campus…when you go to a very small school, off campus has a whole lot of meaning behind it.

I’m sorry. Is this a date? Was he asking me on a date? I already said yes. I didn’t know this was a date! Maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’m just being dramatic. I guess I’ll find out…this could be awkward.

Okay. That’s fine,” was my reply.

What strange timing. Because he messaged me that day, that weekend, of all times, I was able to overcome a situation I didn’t think I could. This was the start of me seeing God use Joshua in my life for protection. To help guard my heart and see truth clearly.

I’ll keep moving, I know…So we had our first “date” and it went really well. We had tea together. He shared his testimony with me. He’s bold. He’s honest. He’s humble. It was not something I was used to, but it was so neat to see someone with a heart for God like Joshua. He asked me on a second date and it became the first of many early Saturday breakfast dates with all the cute old couples at a pancake house. I will cherish those moments forever.

We flirted a lot the week leading up to it. He was growing on me. But I had NO IDEA that in that second date we started “dating.” In his own words, honest and true I tell you: “I think it’s obvious that we both like each other, and I’d like to see where this goes” was his way of saying “would you like to make this official and be my girlfriend?”

Nope. I had no idea. So for 3 weeks I was hanging out with him, thinking we were just interested and nothing more. That is, until he started calling me his girlfriend around our friend group. I was so confused. But that very week we left for a service trip to Tennessee. We were both leaders so we saw each other a lot. We got up at 5am to watch the sunrise together and read scripture. It was a really great beginning to our relationship, now that I was on the same page and all.

I’ll be honest though, I was always trying to think of how I was going to break up with him because no way, I don’t want a boyfriend. Not right now. I’m not ready.

We continued our sunrise bible studies together for the rest of the school year. We pulled all-nighters in the lobby, just talking about Jesus and reading His Word. I learned so much about God and T R U T H. I learned more from Joshua than I had ever learned from any one person in my life. I asked so many questions and I shared my own thoughts on certain things as well.

I stopped wanting out of this amazing relationship, and I started wanting a permanent one. I spoke with my good friend at the time about the crazy idea of marrying this guy. Was it too soon to be absolutely certain I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him? I knew how rare he was. I knew how kind he was. I knew that I didn’t want to lose this man of God. She said she knew it, too. She said to just talk to him about it and see what he says. He was a wise young man, and an honest one. So I did!

I took a road trip to visit him over the summer and we talked about marriage. He smiled so big when I brought it up. We prayed about it a lot. I knew I loved him. (He knew he loved me way earlier, but he had so much patience as he waited for me to be there, too). We decided we would talk to our parents about it separately for advice and see what they would say.

Much to my surprise, they all said the same thing. “We knew the day we met her/him that it wouldn’t be long before you’d ask us about marriage!” They knew. They all knew. It was so reassuring and beautiful to know that our parents all approved. My dad even said he already had Joshua’s name in his cellphone as “son-in-law.” I was so overwhelmed and so relieved. So all we needed now was a time-line.

We had a few options. Joshua was done with school, so he could move by campus and we could get married before I graduated, or we could wait. But why wait if you know? Why put yourself into that temptation and risk when there is really truly nothing to stop you from getting married sooner? Nothing other than what is socially acceptable and normal, that is.

I’m glad Joshua doesn’t care what people think. And I’m glad he’s the one who popped the question! We got engaged my sophomore year, in October. The backlash was horrendous, but I learned a lot about people and God’s protection in and over my life. I was sick from April and beyond the time of our engagement, but it was only a week after he proposed that I couldn’t return to school. I wrote about that some in an earlier post.

We lived in a further long-distance relationship when I returned home. But I moved to Joshua’s town a few months later and planned my wedding. It was a crazy time, but it was nice to only live down the road from Joshua. (And I’m so glad I only lived alone for 5 months).

We got married on June 25, 2016. It has been a dream. It has been hard. It has been wonderful. It has been frustrating. It has been worth it.

When I think about Joshua, I see God’s protection. I see His truth. I see honesty, I see gentleness, patience, strength, and love. I see a man I am honored to call my husband. I see a man that leads me daily. I see a man that is after God’s own heart.

I see a man that isn’t perfect, but a man that is worth it.

I see a man that grows with me and shows me how to serve well.

I love him, and I love the family we have started. I love the life we are building together in this crazy world. I love the God I see shine through him.

All throughout our love story there is coffee and tea. So fittingly, that’s what we had shown throughout our wedding, too. We are quirky, dorky, and fun. He makes me laugh so much. He loves coffee and tea, and he surely for whatever reason loves me. We have a beautiful baby, a home, a ministry…all because he tricked me! 😉 (And I wouldn’t have it any other way!)

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