One night can change your life.
I’ve been blown away by the sovereignty of God in how everything has just fallen into place. Had I never worked at that coffee shop (the one I was PRAYING I wouldn’t go to help manage), had I never gone bowling, had I never walked through all that I’ve been through to make me who I am today…
The same thing goes for him: had he never read that book P.J. gave him (that, among other things, compelled him to leave LA and join the community of Bethlehem Baptist), had Lewis (his kindred spirit) never moved here, had he never visited that coffee shop…my heart is overwhelmed and SO thankful for all of the God-ordained people and experiences that have made him who he is today. My heart truly benefits from God’s specific cultivation of his heart in how He’s grown him through the years.
As I write this, I am left in awe & wonder, amazed by how strategic, powerful, & brilliant God is to shape our lives so appropriately for each other. Furthermore, I’m humbled that, from the beginning, Eric has purposed in his heart to love me from an overwhelming, overflowing Source, regardless of how “well-fashioned” I was or not. That kind of love has done wonders for my heart to cover years of heartbreak and show me grace-filled, Gospel, LOVE.
It’s the kind of love that doesn’t require a performance or fulfillment of a list of expectations but it looks at you in all of your beauty and all of your short-comings and CHOOSES to love, regardless of how you “measure up”. It’s a love you never earned, you never cultivated and you could never deserve.
There was a real man who died on a real cross who made a REAL WAY for us to be loved so freely and so extravagantly. His name is Jesus and I’m reminded so much of that real story that changed my life when I’m loved by this man.
I knew when I met him that I liked him. I knew when I got to know him that I loved him. I knew when he kept loving me despite all of my insecurities, fears, & complexities that I’d be the luckiest girl in the world to be his.
Fast forward to July.
July. It’s the hottest it’s been all summer. 120 degree heat index and suffocatingly humid (10,000 lakes). Monday afternoon I have a physical therapy appointment (still doing rehab from the January accident I was in) and I leave the PT’s office on the phone with Eric with plans to go back to work and finish some admin. He’s leaving for Northern Ireland on Wednesday so he tells me that he wants to take me out to dinner as a last little “date” before he’s gone. I’m excited that he’s planning a date and NOT excited that it’s insanely hot in my house, especially when it means I’m supposed to “look cute”.
Little did I know, this was just the beginning. 90 was nothing once it started hitting 95…
He shows up to my house, matching me in pink (he wore the tie from his childhood best friend’s wedding), helps me with my pearl earrings, and we’re out the door, headed towards downtown Minneapolis.
We ended up parking right across the street from this restaurant I’ve wanted to go to for YEARS. It’s called Spill the Wine and is always so beautifully & romantically lit up whenever we drive by.
The place is pretty quiet for a Monday night and we share a bottle of white wine on a hot summer day while we talk about life; I cry & we laugh.
I took these pictures for Ruby to see his tie from her wedding.
I loved this place. The whole time we were there I kept saying “this is the best night ever!!”. I was so happy that we were at Spill the Wine, that he thought of me, & that we were having such a nice time together.
After our wine we decided to cross the street to go to the park I’ve always wanted to go to. Gold Medal Park – I see it whenever I run the Stone Arch route in my neighborhood but I’ve never gotten to actually go there.
This is our neighborhood. I live about a mile behind the red and blue sign on the left. It’s really a gorgeous part of the city.
Spill the Wine mostly had tapas, except not technically because they weren’t Spanish style cuisine, so we decided to go to the place where we had our first date (or second date – we still argue about that!), Brit’s Pub. We drank Guinness & Newcastle (his favorite) and ate fish & chips (with lots of malt vinegar!) while we watched the end of the Euro Cup.
When we got home I opened up the door to my whole dining room being filled with balloons! Attached to the strings were index cards where he wrote what he loves about me on the front and back. I was SO surprised! I just started wandering through the balloons and crying – so overwhelmed by all the words of affirmation (my love language). Some of the things he wrote were so sweet and some of the things were so hilarious. It was just a mix of emotions going through all of them.
He “magically” was able to string lights across my ceiling while we were gone. The living room looked beautiful and my heart was overwhelmed. At this point I just thought this was “hot date night” and he was bringing out the big guns because he’d be out of the country for a while. I kept making comments about how he really outdid himself and would have big shoes to fill when my birthday comes around!
We just sat on the couch under the lights and I just cried (happy tears!) as I looked across the room at all of those lovely balloons.
Then he told me to close my eyes…when I opened them there was an old paned window that he had stained and hung pictures of us between twine and clothespins. So crafty!
I’m still thinking it’s “just date night”, even after the frame…
Then he tells me to stand up and close my eyes again. He leads me into the middle of the living room where I stand, fighting the urge to peek, and he places a pillow in my hands…
The pillow has one of my favorite quotes from Tim Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage”.
To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is a lot like being loved by God.
I was crying a lot harder at this point; so surprised that he knew I loved that quote and so emotional because of the deep meaning those words weighed in my heart.
On the back of the pillow it said:
I want to spend the rest of my life getting to know you and loving you.
It wasn’t until I read those words that I realized what was actually happening here!
Next thing I knew he was on his knees with a gorgeous ring talking about redemption.
I woke up the next morning with a fever but I was still so delightfully surprised to see that ring on my finger and remember what happened just hours before. I stayed in bed all day while he came over to take care of me in between packing for Ireland and mopping my kitchen floors (just because he’s so kind like that).
My best friend came over that morning with the sweetest card and two wedding magazines. I have the best people in my life.
A week later I’m still distracted at work by how beautiful my ring is, remembering that night, & looking forward to what lies ahead for US.