Monday, February 13, 2017

Put Love on Display //

I've done a few posts on Instagram recently reminiscing on Luke and my love story. It was all unfolding this time last year. Thanks to some followers I was made aware that I never really shared our story. Strolling back down memory lane -- sorting through hard-drive files from a year back -- I found some gems and, both to share the glory story and to document it for my own memory's sake, here's a concise compilation, along with the captions from my Instagram posts looking back on our story this year.

Christmas Eve 2015

// from Instagram, January 10th // About a year ago this time Luke was just getting into Athens with his YWAM team. On Christmas Eve he'd told me his heart to pursue me and I'd turned him down. I knew he was going overseas but didn't know where or for how long. I wouldn't have talked to him again after turning him down but after he had left and I asked a friend if she knew how it was going she simply asked me to really consider him. I didn't have any reason not to like him but it wasn't until after she'd shared with me how compatible we were that my eyes were opened and my heart changed. I chose not to be embarrassed and I reached out to Luke, two weeks after turning him down, and I didn't explain anything I just said I was praying for him and his team and the people they were meeting and would he give me names of people they were meeting so I could pray by name. That was the true start of "us", though we never talked about interest in each other again, and the rest really is history. 

Kelsey and Luke's text feed

// from Instagram, February 2nd // A year ago this week, after a month of texting about Papa God and ministry and verses and such, Luke called me on video chat for the first time and we talked until he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore (he was seven hours ahead of me and it was evening in my time zone). The next morning I woke up to YouTube videos from him. This was one of them. One song he sent to me resonated so deeply that I memorized it and recorded a voice memo of harmonies over top of it which I sent to him. Something I would never do and wasn't trying to put myself out there by doing, I just wanted to worship with him. The morning he woke to that recording he walked to church in the Czech Republic listening to it and weeping. He says that's when he knew for certain there was no going back and he would marry me. I had no idea. He continued to call me on video chat every day whenever he had a moment or a few hours. We never scheduled or planned them but they always seemed to work out. 

  Luke had been praying about whether or not to continue talking with me after the team left Greece and went to the Czech Republic. I didn't know this. I had been praying that it would be clear to me whether he was going to pursue me while he was overseas or wait until he got home -- I didnt know how long that would be, I never asked. My "test" was that if he initiated wanting to video chat while he was on the outreach trip that I would take that as a sign from God that Luke would pursue me while he was still gone. Luke didn't know I was praying this. When he asked me to video chat he felt he was taking a great leap of faith.

// from Instagram, February 9th //February has me all sentimental. Every day of this month last year was significant. At the start Luke called me on video chat and sent me videos of his songs. He called every day -- one of which he told me he loved me, another he told me he was planning to move to Milwaukee to pursue me when he got back from his trip with YWAM, and, because I was so receptive to that, the NEXT DAY he told me he planned to marry me within six months. That night was the Super Bowl. We literally picked a date that night and he told me his whole story and I told him mine. Then I stayed up and planned the whole wedding. 

The rest of the week he called my parents to ask their blessing, I drove back to Eau Claire to meet his family, and we worked on calling all the other key people in our lives to tell them the news and invite them. Feb 11th last year Omar surprised our cGROUP with the news that I was getting married. Cornerstone people turned up and poured out -- as did my sisters in law -- to help with anything and everything. February 20th Luke and I chose to take a week of silence and the next time we spoke was when I ran into his arms at the Chicago airport on February 27th when he and the YWAM team landed. That was the fifth time we'd ever been in person with each other. The next day we attended our wedding shower in Eau Claire together. Valentines was sweet but nothing special compared with any other day of February. It was all full of pursuit, falling in love, wedding details and faith-filled celebration. 

Luke asking my mom's blessing to marry me.

The first time I met Luke's mom.

Pere Marquette Park in Milwaukee, WI where the wedding would be held on March 25th

taken outside of the Chicago airport

wedding shower

Friday, February 10, 2017

Month Six-Nine // our journey

SEPTEMBER we received confirmation that YWAM wouldn't be bringing us on the team this year. The next day Luke went out with a his resumes and had an instant interview with one of the best restaurants in Eau Claire. He was hired there very shortly after. He tried to get hired at a coffee shop as well but those all fell through so once again he walked into a fine dining place in Eau Claire and came out with a job. As August had wrapped up we were still living with Luke's sister Lani but once we found we were going to be in Eau Claire for awhile we moved in with Luke's Mom and Step-Dad, bringing Barley to my Mom's house, for the foreseeable future. We didn't have the income steady yet to rent our own place. We applied for health care and began to have prenatal care at a local health clinic. It was a quick transition from traveling and music and missionary bases to early work mornings and living with family but we were grateful for the grace period while we got our feet under us -- as they say.

OCTOBER was the first time that Luke and I celebrated my birthday together. We spent the day at a friends' wedding and actually played the worship set for their ceremony which was a beautiful experience. We spent the night at a dear friend's house -- the same brother in the Lord who preached the Gospel at our wedding -- and the next morning we cleaned out our storage unit in Minneapolis, with our brother's from the Spanish congregation at our church in Eau Claire, and unloaded it into a closet it my mother-in-love's house. For the whole month it was pretty much the hiddenness of working and living and growing a child. We got to see Baby O's sweet little body for the first time at the end of the month. It confirmed the sense we had had even before we got pregnant, that the first babe would be a girl.

NOVEMBER held some surprises. Friends from church who were living in Israel at the time needed someone to rent their house in Eau Claire and contacted us about it. We jumped on it, moving in with Barley and all our belongings as soon as we could. Only a few days after one of my best friends came to visit us for a weekend -- it would be the last time I saw her before she left on the World Race. She showered me with treats and quality time and heart-to-hearts as only she can. The sweetness continued when my childhood best friend came to visit another night, just because, and we went out for coffee and chatted about babies late into the night. Luke was working early mornings and late nights and I so enjoyed having company not only to fill the silence but also to help me stay awake while waiting for Luke to get off of work. We had only lived at our friends' house for a week or two before we learned that they were possibly going to be coming home much sooner than expected. We kept ourselves from unpacking once more, but not from hosting. We had Thanksgiving dinner at our place and hosted our friends' Dad, who was staying at the house with us while we were there, one of his sons, and he and Luke went downtown to invite the homeless to dinner as well but all declined the offer.

DECEMBER we found out that our friends were for sure coming home early. We quickly put our bags together, pushed our boxes together in a corner of their basement and went back to Lani's house. Waiting for confirmation on a house that we had applied to rent we didn't expect to be there more than a few days but it fell through, as several had before it. Out of the blue my Dad approached us about a vacant unit in one of the rental's he managed and we worked out the details to move in before January 1st. Meanwhile we had reapplied for health care for the third time and I was becoming unsure that we would even have it before the baby came. Luke kept faith though and we continued with the paperwork. We celebrated Christmas with all sides of our family and surprised them all with Baby O's gender and name: Naomi Caitlin -- meaning "pleasant purity". We moved all of our belongings, one last time, into the apartment in the final days of December and, for the first time since we moved out of our apartment in Milwaukee at the end of May, had our own place.