Julie Andrews sang that we should start at the very beginning. The problem for this story is figuring out exactly when the beginning was. As Kimberlee and I recount to ourselves the events that led up to and through the beginning of our relationship there are several details we don’t really understand. We got out our CSI examination kit and we found several sets of fingerprints in the situation during that initial time. Most of them appear to belong to God. While we are truly not sure where the real ‘beginning’ might be, we are sure it began sometime and THAT is pretty exciting!
We initially saw one another in a Bible study on campus at Asbury University. That would have been the fall of 2008, Kimberlee’s freshman year, my senior. I remember knowing who Kimberlee was, and being impressed with the little I knew about her. She had a spirit about her that made her stand out as unique to me, although I had no inkling at the time of just how unique and special she REALLY is. We cannot recall that we ever spoke to one another until much later. In the fall of 2010 we both volunteered on the political campaign of a close friend. We saw one another a few times but that was about it. It wasn’t until the next Spring, in March or April of 2011 that anything actually began to happen. However, when it began…it began.
In April of 2011 God opened my eyes to see Kimberlee in a new way, deeper even than the respect I had for her before. I believe He was involved in my AHA! moment when I realized that she might be more to me than simply a wonderful young woman. I realized I needed to get to know this talented young lady and investigate! Then I found out she was a racquetball player. How convenient. Right away I sent out what I thought would be an inconspicuous facebook invite to everyone I knew who liked the sport to suggest an evening of racquetball excitement. Turns out no one could make it the evening I suggested…except one lovely lady! We ended up playing racquetball several times over the next two weeks, but we may have spent more time talking than playing! I was very impressed with the talent, humor, intelligence and spiritual beauty I found in Kimberlee. Exciting! Tragically, the semester had by this time ended, and this interesting lady was going to head to Alabama for the summer. What to do, what to do…I did what any normal man would do: I invited Kimberlee to go kayaking with me.
found out months later that Kimberlee had to rearrange her whole weekend schedule to go on that date with me, but she did so and we had so much fun! We paddled the river for about 3 hours, talking the whole time. Kimberlee left for Alabama the next morning but that didn’t keep us from talking some more 🙂 I finally worked up the courage to ask if my interest in her was reciprocated…and hallelujah-it was! Within a couple days I spoke with Kimberlee’s father and received his approval to pursue the relationship. Then the letter writing began in earnest. Kimberlee and I decided to write real, hand-written letters to each other that summer. She was in Alabama at an internship and I was still in Kentucky. We purposely limited ourselves to one phone call per week and little internet based communication. That left the USPS as our best friend. Never have I so anticipated the arrival of the mail man! Through the summer we talked through all the important things via our letters and visited each other’s families a couple times.
The fall semester brought Kimberlee back to Kentucky and let us do things together in person on a more regular basis. FUN!!! We went cycling, we read books, we played racquetball, we went to church together, we played disc golf, we talked and we studied the Bible. Over the semester we both became more and more sure that we wanted to grow old together. We wanted to be weird together. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives on the same team, learning and growing side by side. We wanted to get married!
Well, I say that now with hindsight, but at the time it wasn’t quite that clear or obvious. Close, but not quite. Until December 3…..
The ring was beautiful. Intricate handiwork and open designs on the band lent a unique and special image to the sparkling diamond. The girl was gorgeous. She had the prettiest brown hair you ever did see, eyes full of profound life and a smile to die for. She was a Princess! Naturally, the guy was nervous, but nothing could keep him back from asking this question. He had been planning this moment for some time now and he was ready. Decked out in suspenders and bow tie he was all black and white formal, and excited about how everything was progressing.
The whole day had been building to this very moment, each step planned and re-planned to be fun and exciting for the girl. Most of the plans went through as intended; others were improvised and edited as the day unfolded. This experience began with a note from Mr. Excited telling his Princess that today was to be a journey for her, an adventure. She was to be accompanied by a good friend from Asbury (the wonderful Haley Sheffield) and another specially selected adventure partner, Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick is a stuffed Kangaroo and he was ecstatic about participating in the day’s activities. These activities mainly consisted of the Princess following a series of clues to meet with lots of people and to look in lots of places for further clues. Asbury professors were involved, the city Mayor was involved, friends, coworkers, and of course Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick got to be in photos with everyone the Princess met for a clue. He was pretty excited.
However, Kirkpatrick wasn’t nearly as excited as the fellow who had planned all this. The excitement pounding in his heart could be measured on the Richter scale. He got to meet with his Princess and her companions for lunch at a quaint diner downtown before slipping off to let them continue the adventure.
Certainly, dear reader, you are ready to get to the end and see what actually happened, so here we go. The last clue led our Princess and Kirkpatrick to the chapel in the library of Asbury University (her wonderful friend, Haley, conveniently had a meeting :)). It was in this chapel that Stephen asked his Princess, Kimberlee, to marry him. Praise God, she said yes! You don’t need all the details of the time spent in that chapel, but there were a dozen roses involved, and washing of feet. There was prayer; there were promises, excitement and smiles. It was a powerful time, the first acknowledgement of the love between them, and the first spoken commitments before God and each other. This love, long before known, but now spoken–it is rocking our world! God has been involved in this from the beginning and He is teaching us so, so much about what love is, about how He loves us and how we are to love each other. Our response? Bring it on!!