Thankfulness & Gratitude 

Let’s get businessy things out of the way first.

  1. We all knew I was going to fail that September writing challenge. What was I thinking?! The leading up to the wedding push was insanely busy.
  2. I’m working on a post with my thoughts on marriage thus far. I don’t know when it will come, but trust that it will. Spoiler alert: LOVING IT!

Business meeting adjourned.

 

For the last few years in some way or another, I’ve challenged myself to focus on things I’m thankful for during the month of November. I sort of decided not to do it this year, but today I changed my mind.

Why? 

Why did I do it to begin with?

November has been a harder month for me since I lost my dad (November 18th) and remembering that loss + the stress of what to do for holidays made November a little heavy at times.

Why did I decide not to this year?

This November doesn’t feel as heavy. I have a husband! And not just a husband, but a wonderful one with a wonderful family. Having him helps carry the weight of remembered loss and forever alleviates my sense of restlessness about the holidays. He’s my home now!

Why did I change my mind?

Well, three reasons.

1. It was silly to think I didn’t need to remember to be thankful! In good times and bad, thankfulness and gratitude are important. I’m still selfish and self-absorbed when I don’t focus my mind on Jesus. I NEED to remember ALL the many reasons – big, small, silly, and important – that I have to be grateful.

2. With so much negativity crowding the walls of social media, I’ve been enjoying the sparse posts intermingled of people stating what they are thankful for. I remember last year and the year before thinking it was cliche and there were so many. This year, sadly, it doesn’t seem as cliche and there aren’t as many declarations of thankfulness and I miss it! It makes the world a better place. I think we all need some thankfulness, gratitude, and positivity right now.

3. I like to celebrate things! We are in the midst of celebration season with celebration after celebration and I think thankfulness is just as important to celebrate as Christmas trees and parties. It’s a good think to celebrate to set our hearts and minds on what we are really celebrating once Christmas gets here, which is trees and parties at all. Jesus. He came to fulfil our hope. To be our hope forever. To be the King the reigns eternally.

So, I’m going to be thankful! I backtracked and to the best of my ability made thankful lists for all the days I missed. I’ll post from here on out on social media (and probably do a recap here). But, posting a list of 25 ish things on social media in one post seemed a bit excessively annoying.

  1. free lunch (at Moe’s! download the app) / 11-1
  2. good wholesome tv (This Is Us is killing it!) / 11-1
  3. my friend Anna (who came over to watch This Is Us with me and we had good talks) / 11-1
  4. a wonderful first night at my “new” church Traceridge / 11-2
  5. choir music (I joined the choir!) / 11-2
  6. life-saving Newk’s (I was super hangry and Newk’s saved the day) / 11-2
  7. country drives (especially at sunset) / 11-3
  8. William’s grandparents / 11-3
  9. medicine / 11-3
  10. date nights / 11-4
  11. musical movies (loved Trolls!) / 11-4
  12. a magical movie purse (capable of holding much candy and drinks and basically like Santa’s bag) / 11-4
  13. free Mistletoe Marketplace tickest and getting to go with the best friends / 11-5
  14. holiday coffee (Deep South Pop’s Pumpkinfest latte is legit) / 11-5
  15. holiday smells (everything at Mistletoe smelled magical, somehow even the bathroom smelled like Christmas) / 11-5
  16. veggie trays (Emily had a lovely spread at the craft fair she hosted at her house!) / 11-5
  17. friend dinner and movie nights / 11-5
  18. breakfast casseroles (there was a potluck breakfast at church, literally tried all the savory breakfast casseroles) / 11-6
  19. chocolate milk / 11-6
  20. harmonies (loved singing in the choir for the first time!) / 11-6
  21. the Holy Spirit’s presence as we gather together (majorly felt Him on Sunday, and love knowing people are feeling His presence all over the world as they gather in traditional church building, YMCAs, movie theaters, school gyms, and more) / 11-6
  22. family time (spent the day watching the guys put together a swingset for Evelyn, so fun!) / 11-6
  23. daylight savings time (MOST RESTED MONDAY EVER) / 11-7
  24. free McAlister’s (for a YEAR, well, ish, but we won a contest and are getting a pretty hefty giftcard) / 11-7
  25. Christmas pjs and a husband who lets me order us matching ones (thanks Old Navy for having big sizes!) / 11-7
  26. being able to laugh together at a terrible dinner / 11-7

Blogtember Day 7

Hey, remember that time when I said I was probably going to fail this? Oops! Wedding planning, work, bachelorette weekend, two showers, and life got the best of me, but, I’m back! For now.

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Five things that bring you joy.

Confession: I had plenty of time to do this post when it was the day to write it, and the next, and the next, but I avoided it because I just didn’t want to. I wasn’t feeling joyous and didn’t want to write about joy so I avoided it. And then life got busy. Good news! I’m no longer feeling that way. Joy has returned! The culprit: busyness convincing me I didn’t have time for Jesus. Gets me every time. Joy is restored and now I’ll tell you things that bring me joy!

  1. Time with Jesus. The list could end here really. Joy comes from above! The other things I will list do give me joy, but even they don’t bring me joy if I’m not connected to the true source of joy. NECESSARY! I’m desperately dependent on Jesus for helping me see joy in all of life.
  2. William. I mean it’s cheesy but true. He makes me laugh more than anyone else. He reminds me that I need Jesus. He loves me so well and by doing so reminds me that my Heavenly Father loves me. Doing life with him brings me joy. Hanging out with him in our house brings me joy. Doing things for him like cooking and packing his lunch and praying for him brings me joy. The fact that I get to marry him in 22 days and spend forever with him brings me JOY!
  3. FALL! You know this. But for real. All of it. Decorations even if it’s hot. Seeing pumpkins in the store. All the scents. The glimpses of fall on the horizon via early morning temperatures, the coolness of the shade (way cooler than summer shade), and the less humidity. All the pumpkin-y goodness. Falling leaves. The clothes. The shoes. The scarves. Scarecrows. Thanksgiving. And that it all just perfectly leads to CHRISTMAS! Constant and instant joy galore.
  4. Cooking/baking and anything related to it. I love the kitchen. I love kitchen supplies (had a Pampered Chef shower this weekend and officially obsessed with all things Pampered Chef now too). Cooking for people. Baking for people. Recipies. I LOVE IT ALL!
  5. Knowing people and being known by them. I LOVE truly knowing people. Knowing that they don’t like onions or olives or peppermint flavored things. Knowing their favorite color. Knowing about their family and best friends. Knowing their favorite foods. Knowing how they like their coffee (or that they don’t like it at all). Knowing them enough to pick out a perfectly personal gift. Knowing what makes them happy, what brings them joy. Knowing the scars on their heart. I just love really knowing people.

Blogtember Day 6

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Create a playlist. What are you listening to now? What encourages you? Holiday favorites?

In the mornings I listen to a worship music playlist either on my iPhone or my Amazon Prime streaming music. I usually listen to that at work too, but I have now started listening to my Spotify Christmas playlist (394 songs and counting) that I’ve been building on for three years. On the way home from work I usually scan local radio stations – the top 40 pop one, the best of the 80s, 90s, and now one, and the two country ones (trying to like country at least a little since the soon to be hubby likes or listen to music I’ve purchased or downloaded via Amazon Prime Streaming.

Worship music encourages me, sets my mind and heart in the right place, and helps me not leave space for sin and temptation to easily invade. I really do try to listen to it A LOT. I don’t think there is a magic formula, but for me it helps me think about worthy things and fight thoughts of unworthy things. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Music about Jesus and what He’s done for is my go-to. And even though all Christmas music isn’t holy, Christmas music does the same for me because even if the world doesn’t acknowledge it, Christmas is about Jesus being born to die so that we could live.

Here’s some of my current favorites from all the categories of music I listen to:

Radio Pop:
Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes
My House – Flo Rida
Lost Boy – Ruth B

Radio Country:
Comeback Kid – The Band Perry
Peter Pan – Kelsea Ballerini
Vice – Miranda Lambert

My Music:
The Best Day – Taylor Swift
Everything – Michael Buble
Crazy – Ben Rector
Diamonds – Johnnyswim
Brand New – Ben Rector
Home – Michael Buble
Live While You’re Young – Johnnyswim
Million Years Ago – Adele

Christmas:
I Heard the Bells – North Point Christmas
Dawn is Breaking – North Point Christmas
Unto Us – North Point Christmas
Hallelujah – North Point Christmas
O Holy Night – North Point Christmas
Christmas Saved Us All – Jon McLaughlin
The First Noel – Lady Antebellum
God With Us – All Sons and Daughters
Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Away in a Manger – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Merry Christmas Tonight – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
What Are You Doing New Years Eve – Johnnyswim
Christmas Day – Johnnyswim
O Come All Ye Faithful – Johnnyswim
O Come Let Us Adore Him – Hillsong Worship
Emmanuel – Hillsong Worship
We Have a Savior – Hillsong Worship
Unto Us – Hillsong Worship
Our King Has Come – Hillsong Worship
Evermore – Phil Wickham
Little Drummer Boy – Phil Wickham
Christmas Time – Phil Wickham
The First Noel – Phil Wickham
Heaven Everywhere – Francesca Battistelli
Christmas Is – Francesca Battistelli
You’re Here – Francesca Battistelli
December 25th – Francesca Battistelli
Christmas Dreams – Francesca Battistelli
Emmanuel Come – Pentatonix (also most versions of this song, North Point, Gloriana, Leona Lewis, Phil Wickam, Hillsong Worship, etc)
This Christmas – Pentatonix
All I Want for Christmas – by everyone (Mariah, Dave Barnes, Michael Buble Justin Beiber, Lady Antebellum, Glee)
I Celebrate the Day – Relient K
Cold December Night – Michael Buble

I mean just to name a “few” favorites that I never get tired of…

Worship (easier to name artists!):
All Sons & Daughters
Amanda Cook
Bethel Music
Hillsong United
Steffany Gretzinger
John Mark McMillan
Lauren Daigle
Shane & Shane

Blogtember Day 5

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What was your most memorable birthday?

Oh man. This one is hard! I don’t know that I can pick just one…

My 21st birthday was amazing! All my friends dressed like me complete with drawn on star foot tattoos and fake nose studs (I had one at the time).

My 25th birthday was great! I was determined to do something off my bucket list before 25, and riding a train was on that list. My friends and I dressed up in formal dresses, road the train from Hammond, LA to Baton Rouge, LA. Our two guy friends, also dressed up, picked us up in a borrowed  minivan, and we played putt-putt golf and ate a nice restaurant (all in formal attire).

But, I’d have to say my most magical birthday was 31. I hosted a Fairy Garden Party at my house. Everyone brought “fairy” sized food. We had an outdoor fairy movie, Hook, that played on the side of the house. There was a painting station for kids to paint fairy houses. There was a Scrabble table. There were outdoor games for guys to play. There was a photo booth. The decorations were pink and yellow and fun everywhere. I made edible fairy wands (pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and glitter sprinkles), chocolate and glitter sprinkle covered marshmallows on a stick, toadstool skewers (grape tomato halves with cubed cheese sticks), and fairy dust popcorn (kettle corn with edible gold dust). And there were movie watching stations complete with blankets to sit/lay on, blankets to cover up with, bug spray, movie candy, popcorn, etc. It was a blast (and way over the top haha).

Blogtember Day 3

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Now that summer’s at an end, share a list of favorites from the season!

The summer went by super fast, and as a lover of fall I am NOT sad about that. But let’s see, my favorites from this summer:

Beach vacation with the fiancé and our family and friends.

Hosting a memorial day bbq at our new house for my best friend and her hubby in from out of town and William making ribs, my favorite thing my dad used to make.

Hosting a big family gathering at our new house for July 4th.

TOMATOES, and pretty much an endless supply thanks to William’s granddaddy finding out I liked them.

Hosting a backyard bible club at our house and getting to see teenagers and our friends and family worship and do ministry in our yard.

Pretty Little Liar nights with my friends!

Acquiring a super cute pair of seersucker shorts.

One thing I’m sad about: I didn’t eat a single slice or watermelon!

But other than that to summer I say, BYE!

Wearing my seersucker shorts and white jeans this weekend one last time in honor of your departure. See you next year!

#falliscoming

Blogtember Day 2

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Share a list of your current goals.

Well, I started out the year with great intentions! See my 2016 Goals post. However, I didn’t plan to fall in love, get married, or get a new house.

My goals changed a bit, but right now this is what I’m working on:

  • GET MARRIED! lots of to-do lists come with that one
  • drink 4-5 big yeti’s of water a day
  • don’t buy ANYTHING that doesn’t qualify as a need (having to pay for a wedding kind of helps with that)
  • get completely settled and unpacked in the new house before the wedding (work in progress, but really close!)
  • finish reading Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage
  • start (and finish) Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  • lose a little bit of weight in my face before wedding pictures
  • get back into major meal planning after the wedding
  • enjoy and savor every moment of this once in a lifetime season!

My Blogtember Posts 

Blogtember Day 1

My good friend Jessica over at Meet the Magnolias inspired me! The 31-days October challenge that I did last year is totally out of the question this year since I’M GETTING MARRIED IN OCTOBER!

Side note: doing the 31-day challenge last year (and not finishing it until JANUARY) was totally meant to be. I reconnected with my soon to be Hubby at the end of December/beginning of January, and reading those posts (which apparently he did before we ever went on our first date) was a major part of what made him fall in love with me.

The Blogtember Challenge seems a little less daunting and way more doable!  I will probably majorly fail at actually getting all of these posted, but it has writing prompts! Amidst the hustle, bustle, and stress of last minute wedding planning, I feel drawn to this project and it’s writing prompts as a good outlet and reason to be still and calm down for a minute. It won’t be fancy. There will most certainly be typos. I probably won’t have pretty graphics (but I might, I like doing that), but I’m gonna attempt to do as many as possible!

I’m already a day late, but here goes nothing!

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Introduce Yourself

Most of the people who will read this probably know me, so this will be a reintroduction, but in case you’re new, hey!

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I’m Kasia – pronounced Asia with a K. I am 33. I have freckles and red hair (fake, but it should have been real). I am obsessed with fall and most things pumpkin (sometimes they take it too far… chips?! no). I am also proudly obsessed with all things Harry Potter. And as previously mentioned, I am getting married in 1 month and 11 days!

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My soon to be husbands name is William Allen Twiner III and you can read our story (and see pictures!) here – The Prequel, here – The Proposal, and here – The Perpetual Blessing.

2016 has been a year FULL of change. I started a new relationship in January, started a new job in February, became a fiance in March,  bought a house with my fiance in May, in July I moved out of the rental house I lived in with my roommates and started living alone (something I haven’t done in A WHILE) in the house we bought that will be our first home, got a new car and said goodbye to one I had for almost 10 years in August AND started going to a new church, and in October I will get a new last name and forever become Mrs. Twiner. It’s been beautiful, but so refining! BEST. YEAR. EVER.

Other fun facts:

Hufflepuff for life (William is a Slytherin, fun combo).
ENFJ to a T.
Self-proclaimed meal planning expert.
Professional list maker.
I want to write a book.
I work in Higher Education and have for 6 years.
I love cooking, baking, organizing cabinets, reading, and writing.
I hate folding/hanging clothes. It’s a problem.
I’m OBSESSED with fall and even have a favorite day that revolves around fall AND I happen to be getting married on that day.
We’re going on our honeymoon to New England and I’m SO excited.
I’m scared of anything even remotely scary.
I have a favorite everything.
I don’t believe in eating foods out of season: soup is for winter/fall, watermelon is for summer.
I am a supporter of the quirky, endearing Southern rules of fashion like not wearing seersucker after Labor Day or before Easter but I’m also a supporter of you making your own rules and wearing whatever you want to.
No TV show will ever replace Gilmore Girls as my favorite.

Her Story: The Perpetual Blessing

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 3 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Aftermath

We’ve been engaged for a month and a half now. We say I do in 5 months and 7 days (according to the Wedding Party App) or 161 days (according to The Knot app) on October 14th, 2016 at 5:30 pm. We’re neck deep into wedding planning AND future planning (aka buying a house, the bain of our existence).

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We have an amazingly magical venue that my perfect soon-to-be mother-in-law found for us that looks exactly like something she found on my Pinterest that I pinned YEARS ago (free blessing). We have a DJ (free blessing). We have cakes (majorly discounted blessing). I said yes to a perfect fairytale dress (partially paid for blessing)! We have a caterer and florist (who is giving us way more for what we are paying than she probably should). A wax seal has been acquired. We have a wedding website. An adorable custom Harry Potter themed cake topper from Etsy has been ordered. We completed a marriage enrichment class. We have a photographer. We’re reading marriage books. A return address stamp for stamping invitations has been ordered. Our honeymoon travel and lodging are booked. (We’re going to New England IN THE PEAK OF AUTUMN! Flying into Providence, Rhode Island, staying in Cape Cod in Davenport, Massachusetts and visiting lots of amazing stuff like Martha’s Vineyard.We scored a major Southwest cheap flight deal and are using a family timeshare for another MAJOR discount.) Engagement pictures are happening soon. We’ll be starting more in depth marriage counseling soon. There are bridesmaids, groomsmen, a proxy, a director, ministers, and a parade of kids ready to help us celebrate our day. Showers are being planned. Tuxes are being ordered. Gifts are being purchased. Registries are being completed (Target, Belk, and JCPenney down, Bed Bath and Beyond still to be completed. Also, no one ever mentioned how EXHAUSTING registering is.). Money is being saved out the wazoo; we’re paying for everything ourselves and God is giving us supernatural abilities to save like never before and blessing us like crazy through other people. AND MORE PLANS AND THINGS AND TO DO LISTS GALORE!

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It’s busy, amazing, hectic, beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, financially straining and requires major trust that the Lord will provide, warm and fuzzy, and a little stressful at times.

BUT here are the things I know:

1. I love William Allen Twiner III and am called to love him forever. When I wrote that blog post that I didn’t know was for him, I said this:

I say a lot of things, I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times seven without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.” 

 I love his beard, his smile, his squinty eyes, his face, his heart, his soul, and his laugh. I love how he loves me. I love that he believes in me and see the best in me. I love that he wants me to finish my seminary degree. I love how he loves his family. I love how he knows scripture more than I do. I love that he’s ridiculous and pretentious, but would do anything for anyone. I love that he’s a protector and a provider. I think he’s handsome and hot. I love how he loves the Church. I love that he’s a closet nerd and loves reading and knowing things. I love that he wants me to write a book AND wants us to write a book together (WHAT?! who is this man??). But more than any of that, I love that in every way possible he meets every one of the requirements I wrote about before I knew they were about him. He loves Jesus more than he loves me and he knows we can’t do this thing called marriage without the Holy Spirit.

2. I’m a bride. At the end of every day, at the end of any given moment, no matter how stressful or hard or overwhelming it has been. I AM A BRIDE. I am secure. I am loved. I am chosen. When I look back at our proposal pictures, I don’t see the things I see when I normally look at pictures of myself. I don’t see double chins, arm fat, eyes that are too squinty, teeth that aren’t white enough, or a stomach that’s too squishy. I see a girl who is beaming and knows she is loved. I see a blushing bride.

And then it hits me. EVERY. TIME… I was already a bride! YOU were/are already a bride. WE are the bride of Christ. Oh to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us. Oh to be able to go to that place, the place of knowing that no matter what, at the end of the day we are secure, loved, and chosen. Oh to radiantly beam and bask in the love of our Savior and to see that glow vs all of our flaws when we look at ourselves.

3. Marriage and the road to marriage are meant to be a picture of the Gospel! Just as William’s love and my status as his bride push me to understand God’s love deeper, so it is, or should be, with marriage. As all the decent marriage books say, the purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy, it’s to make us holy. It is not to fulfill our happily ever after dreams. I do think I will live happily ever after with Mr. Twiner in the “in good times and in bad” sort of way. But I also know already just from being his fiance, that this road is going to continuously refine us and make us more holy.

I am NOT an expert on all things wedding or love or marriage expert (I’ve been married negative years!). But I know that this marriage, as with all of the other things God calls His children to, is meant to be used for His glory. I believe and KNOW with all of my heart and William and I are stronger together than we were apart. I believe that God is going to use us more in ministry together than he did separately (which if you know us, is saying a lot! Neither of us shied away from ministry because were single). I know that just like the Gospel, it’s going to be hard and beautiful all at the same time, but sanctifying and refining if we let it! In every way possible, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, it will be a perpetual blessing. For blessings aren’t just the good things! And our definition of good isn’t God’s. Being blessed is to be aware of God’s presence and goodness in all of it, the beautiful and hard parts. 

To my married friends: don’t give up! I believe that God can and wants to use your marriage to refine you and make you holy. He wants to use it to demonstrate and declare the Gospel to the world. He can make all things new. He doesn’t waste anything. He can redeem and restore. You are blessed!

To my single friends: don’t give up! I pray for you more now than I ever have before. If you want to be married, it’s okay to want that! I think it’s okay to pray for it. I think it’s okay if for a season praying for it hurts and you can’t for a little while. Hope against hope that God will give it to you, but trust and believe that IF he doesn’t, HE IS STILL GOOD. Know that your life is abundant and useful exactly as is. But also, give people chances! Everyone deserves a first date. Don’t settle! If you are looking for the perfect person, you’re going to be looking forever. Go with your instincts, but not your fears. Risk is worth it sometimes. Sometimes it’s not though. The Holy Spirit is capable and willing of guiding you, invite Him to do so, let Him. Don’t be frivolous with your purity because you think you’ll be single forever. And if you have been, restored purity is possible. Marriage isn’t the end game. It’s a calling. And when God calls you to it and you get to fall in love with the person you’re called to forever with, IT. IS. WORTH. IT. It’s worth all the waiting. It’s worth all the heart ache. It’s worth the agony. You are whole and worthy just as you are. You are blessed!

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Part 1: The Prequel

Part 2: The Proposal

Her Story: The Proposal

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 2 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Best Day Ever

On Saturday, March 19th, 2016 around 1 pm, William Allen Twiner III asked me to be his wife, and I said yes!

I knew he was going to ask me to marry him at some point, he knew I was going to say yes, we knew we were being called to marriage, but I didn’t know when or how.

He perfectly deceived me into thinking it wasn’t happening when it happened. (Deception is acceptable when it comes to proposals and surprise parties!). I thought there was a youth event at his church that he was speaking at. I thought we were going to the sanctuary early for him to practice his message before the event. I knew something was up when we got to the church, and he wouldn’t let me bring my purse or Chick-Fil-A sweet tea with me.

I told him several weeks before that I needed a new small Bible to carry in my purse, and he previously told me he had one I could use but kept forgetting to give it to me. He told me he brought the Bible, and it was down front if I wanted to go and get it. Confused, I awkwardly and nervously walked towards the front where I saw flowers and a Bible. As I got closer, I saw that the Bible was engraved with the beautiful inscription “Mrs. Kasia Twiner.”

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I believe my exact eloquent words were, “STOP IT!” Tears filled my eyes and I turned around to find him. He was, of course, down on one knee. Tears streamed down my face as I took everything in and I could barely catch my breath.

He was crying now too and holding a book. The book was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (we’re nerds, okay?!) and part of it was cut out to reveal the chapter title, “The Unbreakable Vow.” A ribbon was attached, and the most beautiful ring I have ever seen was tied to it.

He said the four words I’ve dreamed of hearing my whole life, “Will you marry me?” I sobbed more, hugged him, and said YES (of course).

Both of our hands were shaking from nerves and excitement which made getting the ring off the ribbon a humorous event. I gawked at the ring for a bit, crying more and more. He took me to the alter and we prayed together which of course resulted in lots more tears.

Then he told me that there were people, lots of people, who knew, who were there, who were waiting to celebrate with us. TEARS!

I started going through the list of special people asking one by one if they were there. My best friend who lives in Georgia now? Yep. TEARS. My best friend who was eight months pregnant and lived in Texas? Yep. TEARS. My aunt and cousin? Yep. TEARS. All of my Arise church family that I had just seen that morning at a birthday party? Yep. TEARS.

He finally interrupted me and said, “everyone, they are all here, waiting to see us!” I sobbed a little more, stopped in every bathroom on my way to the fellowship hall from the sanctuary, which was at least three, to clean up my face only to cry more.

All face cleaning was in vain because I basically just cried for the next hour. It was so overwhelming and beautiful to see a room full of people supportively celebrating a day that I never thought would come, but one so many of them prayed for and believed would come even when I didn’t.

We were showered with love and support and hugs and happiness. A family that means the world to me gave us way more money than they should towards our wedding. My best friend’s mom and dad gave me pearl earrings and told me when each of her daughters got engaged she gave them earrings, and now it was my turn. My best friend’s grandmother sent a crystal bell, a family heirloom, as a gift. There were gift cards, books,  kind word after kind word, and happy tears shed for and with us.

His amazing mom, wonderful sister, and fantastic brother-in-law made the most delicious food and most beautiful decorations (and have bestowed blessing upon blessing on us through this whole journey!). They sacrificed their time and effort to make the perfect day happen. And MY groom… He planned the most magical, memorable day, said the most perfect words, picked out and designed the most breathtakingly beautiful ring, and made me feel more loved than I’ve ever felt. It was truly the best day of my life to date, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life!

 

Part 1: The Prequel

Part 3: The Perpetual Blessing

Her Story: The Prequel

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 1 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Prequel

On January 12th, 2016 I wrote a post about/to my future husband (you can read all of it here).

I said these words:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’re near (in proximity and timing) or far. If I’m honest, some days I don’t even know if you exist.”

It turns out he did indeed exist, that I did, in fact, know him, that he was 22-25 miles away in proximity, and that he was way closer than I ever could have imagined in timing. On January 14th, 2016 (two days later, what?!) I started falling in love with my future husband.

If you read my last blog post, you know a little about William: we met in college, he was one of the 35 guys I had a crush on at MC, he thought I was weird, I thought he was snobby. We didn’t stay in touch, but his wonderful sister and I (former camp friends) stayed friends on Facebook.

 

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circa 2006 at a college formal

 

For at least a year, Emily (my amazing soon-to-be sister-in-law) kept telling William to read my blog. She thought/knew that he would like me, my words, and my heart. Everytime Emily would mention it, William remembered the college version of me – bright, colorful, determined to show the world she was different and unique through her fashion choices. In a word, I was weird, PROUD to be so, but weird and hadn’t quite realized yet that my weirdness could be expressed through my personality and not through my wardrobe. My mantra was that if I dressed “normal” and trendy, then I was a sellout and not true to myself (silly!). According to William and Emily, the conversations went something like this.

Emily: Did you read Kasia’s new blog post? I really think you’d like her! I think you’re going to marry her.

William: Rainbow Brite?? The girl that wore wristbands and pigtails? That’s weird Emily.

Emily: From what I can see on Facebook, she dresses pretty normal now. And that doesn’t matter anyway! The heart is what matters and I really think you’d like her heart.

In December, I wrote the Christmas Pep-Talk post. Emily delivered a final plea to get William to listen to her. She told him she’d never mention it again, but asked him just to read it. He did and realized she was at the very least on to something about him liking my heart. He added me on Facebook, we did the normal catching up thing, then stopped talking.

Meanwhile, I was visiting my best friend and her family for Christmas. We were sitting at the kitchen table playing Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

Me: William Twiner just added me on Facebook??

Micki: Is he single?!

Me: I don’t know. He was one of the 35 crushes though and he likes Harry Potter.

We’ve been having conversations like this for 13 years. Nothing out of the ordinary. We went right back to being impressed with our Harry Potter knowledge and drinking our wine. But I did decide at that moment that I’d pray about him later.

2015 was a year of learning to hope against hope that God was going to give me a husband IF He wanted to (I had given up on that many times before), and IF NOT, He was going to continue to be GOOD in my life and give me an abundantly full life with or without a husband. I felt many things prior to that year in regards to a future husband, entitled and hopeless being the reoccurring themes. But 2015 was a year of being driven to consistent prayer for the first time about this area of life. I kept finding out over and over again that other people in my life regularly prayed for MY future husband, and that one existed. I didn’t even pray those prayers for myself. Here and there sure, but with no sort of consistency.

When a girl that I barely knew for a few months over ten years ago told me that for TWO years she had been praying for me, it pushed me to pray those prayers for myself consistently for the first time in my life. I made a habit out of praying about and for any single guy who was in my life or crossed my path in a significant way. My prayer was always the same, “I love my life! It is abundant and full and beautiful. If this guy, or any, could be someone who would bring me closer to you and not further away, work out the details. If I could be better used in ministry and for Your glory with him than without, work it out. If not, let me forget about him.”

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

When William and I had a short fleeting conversation on Facebook, I prayed that prayer about him a few times, then moved on. Meanwhile…

Emily: Have you talked to her again? Did you read her future husband post? I think it’s about you.

William: What am I supposed to say? ‘My sister thinks I should marry you. Want to hang out?’ That’s weird Emily.

And then Alan Rickman (Professor Snape on Harry Potter) died. Within minutes, we each posted similarly sentimental things about being sad about his death. I messaged him on Facebook and told him I had been in my office sobbing for an hour about Alan Rickman and how watching Harry Potter would never be the same. That lead to nerdy conversations about what houses we were in and how at some point everyone thought or hoped they’d be Gryffindor, but most of us weren’t (I’m a Hufflepuff, he’s a Slytherin ). That perfectly lead to us talking about the Gospel and sin and really deep and beautiful things about Jesus and His love and redemption in our lives. (And we pretty much haven’t stopped talking since that moment.)

The next day, after literally talking non-stop for 24 hours with a short break to sleep, he asked me out on our first date. It was perfect. It was different. I tried to be calm and pretend that what was happening wasn’t happening even  literally saying to my roommates and friends who were joking about us getting married the day after our first date, “I CAN NOT start a new job, get a new car, and get married in the same year!” Well, I was wrong.

I knew I might marry him on our first date.

I knew I could probably marry him on our second date after we both shared our stories, the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, and redeemed parts.

I knew I was supposed to marry him the morning after our second date when before 8 am God’s response to my late night and early morning prayers for direction was the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen, a perfect and beautiful rainbow as a reminder of His promises, and hearing the lyrics to a worship song that had previously only made me think about MY story, but was very clearly speaking to my heart about HIS story:

“My [his] past embraced. My [his] sin forgiven. I’m [he’s] blameless in Your sight. My [his] history rewritten. You delight in showing mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Oh Love, great Love. Fear cannot be found in You. There will never be a day You’re uncertain of the ones You chose.”

I knew at that moment that if God chose to give me this man, if he was calling me to him, that despite the mess in both of our redeemed pasts, our future would be breathtakingly more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

I knew I wanted to marry him when he told me I was the epitome of Molly Weasley, when he held my hand for the first time, when he told me he loved me, when he noticed my favorite freckle on my lip and so many other little quirky things about me, when he prayed for me before I told him about hard stuff from my past, when he prayed for us when we had our first disagreement, when I saw him teach God’s word, when I saw over and over the passion he has for Jesus and His word and ministry, when I really saw the way he looked at me, when I realized my prayers and hopes for a man who could lead me spiritually were being met in him, when I saw him serve his branch of the body of Christ so beautifully, when I saw how much he loved his niece, sister, mom, grandparents, etc., and a million other times.

I knew I was going to marry him because of all the moments that didn’t even actually involve him. Moments between a Heavenly Father and a terrified girl when overwhelming peace that surpasses all understanding was delivered over and over again in abundance. This peace was something that I couldn’t have mustered up on my own. Have you met me? I’m probably one of the least calm and most easily frazzled people you have ever met (just change something I have planned out to see for yourself). Every big and baby step along the way was filled with supernatural peace and affirmation.

I knew he wanted to marry me when we had the “are we on the same page” talk not too far into dating.

We knew.

I admittedly wanted to roll my eyes more than once when other married couples said those words in my previous years of life. “We just knew.” “When you know, you know.

It’s a different kind of knowing than I imagined, but for us it was true. I expected the “knowing” to feel like magic (I think we can blame movies for that). This love for sure is full of magical feelings, butterflies, and sparkles, but more than anything else it just feels like home. It feels normal. It feels like forever. But this kind of knowing isn’t based on a feeling for me. It’s a know I felt deep inside my soul. It was a knowing that came with the aforementioned supernatural peace that only the Creator of love can deliver. I knew it as sure as I knew God called me to Himself, saved me, and would love and pursue me forever. It felt like a calling just as much as being called to ministry or a job or to move or to do anything else I had previously done in life that the Lord called me to.

When we had that conversation and realized we both knew, that we both wanted to spend forever together, and that we wanted to be obedient to the calling to sacrificially love each other and be covenant committed to one another for eternity, more peace and affirmation continued to be delivered! We were scared. Scared of ourselves, scared of enemy attacks, and scared of what other people would think. But the good thing about allowing God to lead you to the person He has for you is that He is more than able to squash every fear. William told me that he adamantly believed we should get married on my favorite day (all the heart eyes and tears!). We considered our fears and our “knowing” and decided if the only reason we wanted to wait until 2017 was because of what other people would think, it wasn’t a good enough reason! God continued to give us abundant peace about 2016 and affirm that decision in beautiful ways and through the support of family and friends.

To be continued…

 

Part 2: The Proposal 

Part 3: The Perpetual Blessing