join us on 06.01.13 for love, laughter, & happily ever after
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At some point that summer, Will and I began exchanging videos on each other’s Facebook walls. He’d send one to me… and then I would wait the appropriate amount of time (about 24 hours, if you were wondering) and send one back. This was, of course, punctuated by a long Facebook chat conversation every couple of weeks. When our sophomore year began, I returned to Westmont and Will traveled to Illinois to begin the semester at Wheaton. We continued to talk intermittently as classes began.
A few weeks later, we had an epiphany: Skype! Why had we not video chatted before? And so we began a routine: Sunday afternoons, we would get to see each other face-to-face over Skype. The first night, we talked about an hour. The second time, it was closer to two. And then one October evening, I hung up the call and realized that we had Skyped for six hours. SIX hours. What I had thought would be a slow drifting-apart seemed to be going strong. Throughout this entire time, though, I assumed that Will had put aside his feelings for me, regarding me as a good friend in the midst of a time of loneliness in his life. I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would take away my feelings for him so that I could learn how to be a true friend. No such luck. I vividly remember telling my best friend, Courtney (my maid of honor!) that I was terrified that I was going to drift through my college experience alone, because Will wasn’t an option, but I didn’t want anybody else.
Then, a few hours after that six-hour conversation, I received a completely unexpected email from Will. The heart of it: “I still have feelings for you, and at this point, we need to either stop talking, or move forward with our relationship. Dancing around the issue is dangerous. Let’s think about this, pray about it, and talk on Wednesday night.” It was, as you can imagine, absolutely heart stopping. And so I thought. And I prayed. And I talked to some really incredible people about it. When Wednesday rolled around, Will and I finally had that much-anticipated “DTR” (“define the relationship) and at the end, we were officially dating.
The months passed. That January, I was scheduled to travel to Thailand for a semester of studying abroad, and so Will and I planned to see each other before I left the country. By that time, it had been seven months since we’d been in the same place and we missed each other terribly. So that Christmas, Will flew to Myrtle Beach to spend a week with me before I hopped on a plane to Southeast Asia. It was that winter that we first learned what long-distance would be like.
And how could I describe our long-distance relationship? It was constant motion, trying to connect and reconnect, share our lives from afar, coming together and moving apart and then doing it all again. It was a fight, a choice, a joy. Long distance forced us to decide from the beginning whether we were going to be honest and raw and persistent, or not. There was no middle ground. And so throughout the next years, we spent thousands of hours on the phone, on Skype, even sending care packages to each other. We watched movies simultaneously, we read books out loud, we studied with the video chat on, we fell asleep while the other person was on the phone.
Being in a long-distance relationship was exhausting and, as I’ve said before, I would never wish it on another couple. But, at the same time, it was a blessing in its way. Will and I learned how to truly communicate with each other, to work through our arguments, to discern exactly what the other was thinking by a pause or a tone or a particular word choice. After months (and eventually, years) of conversation, we grew to truly know each other. When we went through pre-marital counseling earlier this year, we scored in the 90th percentile for communication and conflict resolution. Both us of laughed when we saw the numbers because we knew it was all those hours on the phone that strengthened us in such a way. How could it possibly be any other way?
Will traveled to Myrtle Beach the summer after I went to Thailand, and we spent an incredible two months in the same place. It was over that summer that I realized that somewhere along the way, I had fallen in love with him. He felt the same way. Our relationship grew as we adjusted to that knowledge; we were in love! And then we went back to our respective schools. At Thanksgiving, I flew out to Wheaton. Then a couple of months later, I went to Dallas. He came to Westmont. And then I went back to Wheaton. At the two-year mark of our relationship, Will flew to Myrtle Beach for a week, breaking up what would eventually be a full nine months apart from each other.
And then I graduated early from Westmont College. December of this past year, I found myself done with my finals and finished with college and wondering what in the world my post-grad life would look like. Will flew directly from Illinois to California to help me pack up my apartment and load all my belongings into my car. Together, we embarked on what would eventually be a thirty-two hour drive to Dallas and then back up to Wheaton. And then, as Will’s last semester at Wheaton began, I settled down in West Chicago. For a while, at least, the long-distance part of our relationship was put on hold as we both lived in the Chicago suburbs.
Continued in “Our Story: The Engagement”!
Meet the incredible ladies.
Miss Courtney Jolly, my Maid of Honor
Tangerine scarves, funfetti cookies, Lost marathons and spilling all of our thoughts, secrets, and feelings onto each other without embarrassment. Together, Courtney and I stumbled and soared through middle school, high school, and college, where she taught me how to know myself and articulate my heart to the world. I have never met someone so willing to dream or so brimming with raw creativity… whether her future holds theatre or mission, a family band or a traveling bookmobile or a tiny coffee shop in a big city, her life is and will be inspired and lovely and bright. Her servant’s heart, readiness to laugh, and indelible love are simply vibrant. My confidante and friend, you have always been my maid of honor.
Miss Brittany Chaco
When I think of Brittany, I think of celebration. I think of music and dancing. I think of skipping class together, of belly laughing, of prayer. And I think of a friend who sees life in terms of how well she can brighten the days of those around her. Britt ministers to others unceasingly, rejoicing in the fact that she is a child of God and wanting them to know the same. In her, I have found the deepest type of lifelong friend. Britt and I truly know each other: we understand and encourage and sharpen the other, often without needing words. After four years of intentional conversations and random adventures, her joy and wisdom have permeated my life. It is because of your advice, Britt, and your sustaining friendship, that I am the person I am today. You have changed me for the good.
Miss Amelia Hobart
Somewhere in between moving in together at the beginning of freshman year and standing side-by-side on our graduation day, Amelia and I developed a connection that can only be described as sisterhood: the kind of frank and raw relationship that results in untold amounts of squabbling and being silly and
standing by each other when the other is everything but loveable. And I could not choose a better sister. Her presence is marked by an open and genuine interest in the people around her, an insistent patience, and a gentle touch. She loves and lives without pretense. And in that, she loves and lives well. I have to thank you, Mil, for becoming my family… you are one of the reasons that I called Westmont home for so long.
Miss Hope Middlebrook
How would I describe Hope? Bubbly, theatrical, and just plain fun. Being around Hope is a delight, because she brightens up every room and every situation. And her joy isn’t superficial: there is depth to her. Not only is she outgoing and good with people, but she is also a keen observer who takes her relationships and experiences in life to heart. She is super smart, both in intellect (she’s an avid reader and incredible writer) and in other important ways like people skills and intuition. Because of those things, Hope is also a great conversationalist: more and more, I walk away from our talks surprised by her grace and wise insights. Since I’ve been in college, Hope has grown from being a young kid to a respected peer, but she will always be my little sister and friend. You are beautiful inside and out, Hope, and I am so happy and proud to have a sister like you.
I proposed to Madi on March 7, 2012. We both already knew that we wanted to marry each other, so that in itself wasn’t the surprise, but it was the how and when that was. Madi is all about surprises, so I can’t say that I wasn’t nervous about keeping it a secret. We were both in Wheaton when I knew that it was about the right time to propose… but here is what made it a little complicated: her engagement ring had been worked on in Texas, so I had to figure out a way to get the ring and then propose to her without her figuring it all out. While I had thought of some ways to ask her in Illinois, it was still cold and wintery there and I had wanted to propose outside. So, in a burst of brilliance, I realized that Madi and I could meet my mom and sister in Tulsa, Oklahoma where my brother, Tucker, is going to school. That way it would be roughly half-way for each of us. My mom and my sister could bring the ring, and I could propose there. So, under the auspices of a little family vacation, we hopped in the car and drove about ten hours south.
When we got there that night, I still hadn’t asked Madi’s dad, Jack, for his approval of our pending engagement. So, while me, Madi, and my family were at a Barnes and Noble’s, I snuck outside and called him. He gave his blessing, and, amazingly, when I went back inside to rejoin everyone, she was curious where I was, but hadn’t figured out what was going on. The next day, everything was set. My mom had the ring, Jack had given me his approval, and most importantly, Madi and I were in the same place. The night before, after consulting Google and my mom, I decided that I wanted to propose in a park in the middle of the city. Being further south than Chicago, spring had just begun and the whole city had just begun to flower. While I had toyed with the idea of having a secret photographer, I ultimately decided that I wanted it to just be Madi and I for the proposal. So, my mom slipped me the ring and my family said that they needed to ‘rest’ before dinner. When we got to the park, I was super nervous. We walked around, laughed, and Madi, so excited about seeing green things after a winter in Wheaton, took tons of pictures of the flowers. Those of you who know Madi, know that she is one of the most perceptive people on the planet. We joke that she has a ‘spidey sense’ and can almost always detect when something is wrong with me, even if I refuse to verbalize it. Miraculously, she was blissfully ignorant of my internal anxiety. When we walked to a secluded area in the park, I got down on one knee and proposed.
In most chick-flicks, the proposal happens at the crest of the story and that magical moment seems to strrrrreeeeetch out in length and in importance. For me, the actual moment was fleeting. I knew what I had wanted to say, and once I started, it felt like it was over. Madi was in shock. She kept repeating “Are you serious?”, and then “Yes!”, and then “Are you serious?” again, and started to cry. We hugged and I showed her the ring and put it on her finger- I had tried to remember what to say so hard that I had forgotten to actually pull it out of my pocket! In the end, the proposal was “mission accomplished.” We then had a celebration dinner with my family in the city. Rather than being the crescendo of our relationship, the proposing merely reflected all of the amazing things in our relationship that had happened in the past. Already, I have a hard time remembering what I actually said to her that day, but that wasn’t the important part. What was important was that we were solidifying the great things about our relationship and making a lifetime commitment to each other. And all that was accomplished without Madi ever realizing it was going to happen! =)
After our time in Wheaton, Madi and I separated one more time so that I could go to a geology field camp in South Dakota. She traveled around California and then went back to her hometown of Myrtle Beach to wait for me. Finally, at the end of July, I flew into South Carolina and we reunited for the last time. “Never again”, we promised. And where are we now? Both of us are in Myrtle Beach. We are together and, as our save-the-dates said, we’re keeping it that way!
We want you to be able to fully enjoy our wedding day, being truly present in the moment with us. We have hired an incredible wedding photographer who will capture the way the wedding looks- and we invite each of you to sit back and simply enjoy how the wedding feels. We respectfully ask that everyone leave all cameras and cell phones off during the entire ceremony & reception. We ask you to refrain so that we can see your face, and you can see ours, both now and forever in the photos that our photographer will capture. And, of course, we will be happy to share our photos with you afterward!