Part 1: The Early Years
Luke and I knew each other a little bit when we were in elementary school, because he was home-schooled, and in a home-school social group with my cousin/friend/current next-door-neighbor. When my cousin (Rachel) would have parties, we were often both invited. Rachel and Luke actually had a little fling in junior high.
In high school, Luke started going to my church. I have to admit that back then I thought he was kind of a jerk. He never talked to me (I was painfully shy back then, and a little on the nerdy side. Glasses and braces don't exactly give you confidence in high school). On top of that, he dated girl after girl in our youth group like he was trying to set some kind of record or something. Seriously, he dated 6, count 'em, 6 of my friends in high school. Two of them were related to me. And he was always the dumper, never the dumpee. Although I thought he was very attractive, I just couldn't figure him out. Remember, I got to hear from 6 different girls their sides of the break-up stories. Who would want to date a heart-breaker like that? But really, I didn't know him at all back then.
Part 2: Falling in LoveAround junior year in high school I got rid of my braces and got contacts. I was more comfortable in my skin and started dating. My senior year I started dating a guy from my high school. We dated for part of senior year, and my whole freshman year of college until I finally realized he was not a good guy for me. We broke up, and I mourned the year-and-a-half I felt like had just lost.
Luke had just ended a pretty serious relationship of his own a few months earlier. It was an on-again-off-again relationship...he had dated this girl 3 times in the past 5 years. The last time, I think it got pretty serious, and we all kind of thought they were going to end up together. Luckily for me, Luke realized that this girl and the relationship were not right for him.
So let me set up the scene for you: It was May 2, 2004 (Luke's birthday). It was literally 5 days after I had ended my serious relationship and about 3 months since Luke had ended his (he was kind of casually seeing this other girl, though. Another one of my friends if you can believe that). Anyway, Luke had decided to help with the middle school youth group at church where I had been helping for a year. This was his first week to help. I remember standing in the corner in the gym, talking to 3 or 4 girls. All the guys were playing basketball. I was totally not over my ex-boyfriend yet, and not looking to start another relationship at all. However, as I was standing in my circle of girls, I looked up for a second at the basketball court. My eyes fell on Luke, and at the same exact second, his eyes fell on mine. I SWEAR it was in slow motion, like the movies. And when our eyes met, I felt a shock....I'm not kidding, I really physically felt something. Never in my life have I had that kind of connection with another person, just by LOOKING into their eyes. All that sounds SO cheesy, but it really is how it felt! And I can always remember the day it happened, because coincidentally, it was Luke's birthday! I don't think Luke remembers this at all. Maybe he didn't start feeling the connection until later.
Luke and I were both pretty shy (I finally realized he was just SHY, not a jerk). We didn't say more than a few words to each other every time we were together. However, everyone knew that we were interested in each other. A week after our "connection" in the gym at church, he broke it off with the girl he was casually seeing. During youth group, our eyes would often find each other, but quickly turn away. Like 7th graders...
We spent that whole summer wanting to be together, but we were almost too shy to hold a conversation with one another. Thank the Lord one of our mutual friends told me that Luke was interested, and told Luke in turn that I was interested. Yes, we were basically using 2nd grade-tactics to begin our relationship :-P
Part 3: Shy BeginningsFinally Luke got up the nerve to ask me out in August. When he asked if I wanted to go out sometime, OF COURSE, I said "yes." On August 21, 2004 we went on our first date to go see "The Village." Crappy movie, AMAZING date :-)
On September 5th, Luke officially asked me to be his "girlfriend." I remember thinking even before this that I would end up marrying Luke. So my feelings grew very strong, very quickly. Physically we took things very slowly. Mostly because we were shy! We didn't have our first kiss until the middle of October! It was late one Friday night, and Luke and I were at my house watching Conan. I was in the middle of a sentence when Luke just looked deep into my eyes leaned forward, and gave me the best first kiss ever! There were some definite butterflies in my stomach...the good kind...and it was wonderful! After the kiss I finished my sentence and just kind of laughed awkwardly. I wouldn't change anything about it! I couldn't believe that Luke had dated so many other girls and he had kissed them pretty much right away. Remember, most of them were my friends, so I knew :-P It made me feel so special that he had waited so long for our first kiss. I knew he would remember our first kiss because we had waited and made it special.
I remember in the beginning of December just KNOWING that I was in love with Luke. It felt so early, but I wanted to let him know how I felt. One night I wrote in my journal about how I would make sure not to be the first one to say it. It was still early, and I didn't want to freak him out. Can you believe that the very next night after a romantic dinner at Olive Garden, Luke told me that he loved me? It just felt like it was meant to be :-)
Part 4: The Dating RelationshipThe first year of our relationship was PERFECT. I don't remember one sad time, one fight, or one doubt about the relationship. Right around our one-year-anniversary, Luke and I had a serious talk about our future. We discussed how seriously we felt about one another, and how we hoped to be married someday. Also, we discussed our physical relationship. We both pledged to save ourselves for marriage. On our one year anniversary, Luke got me a promise ring to symbolize the vow we had made to one another: not only to one day marry one-another, but also to keep ourselves pure in our relationship until that time. I remember feeling like I was on top of the world the first time I put that little ring on my finger. I knew that hopefully in a few years an engagement ring would be in its place.
Before you start thinking that our relationship was just perfect and all happiness, let me go on. We had enough fights in our second year of dating to make up for all the fights we DIDN'T have in our first year. I really don't know how Luke stuck with me through that year. After our first fight, I started doubting the relationship. I guess I thought it was supposed to stay perfect forever. I was so unpleasant and grumpy ALL THE TIME. I would argue with Luke over the pettiest things. We almost didn't make it. But one day it hit me that no relationship is perfect. I decided that I needed to be more accepting of Luke, and stop picking fights with him over nothing. And I realized that I needed to make a choice. Either I had to end the relationship because it wasn't perfect, or I needed to work through our issues and enjoy my life with Luke. I guess I saw this decision as the point of no return. I think every couple goes through this at some point. I decided that I was being selfish, and I needed to start being more loving and accepting of Luke. And that I didn't want to know what the rest of my life would be like without Luke. This decision changed our relationship, and my life.
The next year was such a growing year. We had basically decided that we were sticking this out, for better or for worse. I feel like our love grew into a more mature love instead of just a surface love this year. There were no "new relationship butterflies," but we could feel the beginning of a deep love to last a lifetime. It was when we had been dating for about 2 and a half years that Luke finally popped the question.
Part 5: The Engagement
It was December 23, 2006. I had just come over to Luke's house after my very last day of working at Famous Footwear (don't you just love crappy college jobs?)! I was pretty happy. Luke and I were lounging around watching a Cav's game. During halftime, he popped the question! He did it in a really adorable way, but it would take another 3 paragraphs to explain it, and I think this is getting long enough as it is :-P This was definitely our best Christmas ever! I remember spending all of my Christmas break just dreaming about the wedding, and about spending the rest of our lives together.
We decided to be married on July 12, 2008, which meant we had an over-18-month-long engagement. So in all, we dated for almost 4 years before we got married. This is a long time to wait. Planning the wedding was stressful, but so much fun!
Part 6: The Marriage
July 12 (wedding day) was the best day of my entire life. We had a pretty big ceremony at my church, and then a beautiful reception to follow. My mom and aunt did all the decorating at our reception hall (they both used to be florists). My colors were pink and brown. The head chef at the restaurant actually asked my Mom for her card, because he said he'd never seen the hall decorated as beautifully as she'd made it. My mom just laughed and said she didn't do this for a living. But I was definitely very proud of her work!
We spent an amazing week in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee for our honeymoon. It was so much fun, and I want to go back! We've now been married for four years, and have gone through so many changes in that short amount of time! I am loving every moment. My prayer is that God always remains at the center of our home and marriage. He has blessed me so much through Luke.