At the end of Part 4 I had officially left Bloomington to go home and pack for my year of volunteer service. Michael and I didn't quite want to say goodbye & we had yet to "define the relationship," so we made plans for him to visit my hometown in the next few days.
As soon as I got home and shared the game plan for Michael to come visit and stay Thursday night my mom was thrilled. Obviously she knew that this guy must be a big deal and she was ready to welcome him with open arms (although let's be honest, there aren't too many people my mom wouldn't welcome with open arms). By coming to my hometown Michael would be more fully introduced to my family and staying the night in our house...even though we hadn't even decided if we were officially a couple!
If Michael felt awkward about meeting some of my family and staying in our house so soon, he never let it show. I think we were both so focused on getting to see one another just one more time before I left that nothing else seemed to matter.
|A few hours before we "officially" became a couple|
Long after everyone else had gone to bed, we stayed up late to discuss what we wanted to do once I left Indiana for my year of volunteer service. We spoke about what it meant to each of us to be dating vs. the exclusivity of officially being "boyfriend and girlfriend" and agreed that we certainly weren't interested in dating anyone else. We knew that my going to Chicago and being long distance would have its challenges, but we reasoned that the point of being a couple is to give it a real shot - and if it doesn't work out you simply break up...but the thought of me leaving and us never even trying to see what could come of our interactions was something we both thought would be such a waste of something that had the potential to be very, very good.
In other words, Michael asked me on Friday, July 29, 2011 (because it was after midnight already...Michael recently informed me that he remembers it was approximately 1:19 or 1:23am - I love my engineer husband!) to take a leap of faith with him by becoming his girlfriend and seeing what could happen by officially giving a long distance relationship a chance. There were so many unknowns that laid ahead of us (how often would we be able to see each other? What kind of free time would I have as a full-time volunteer living in an intentional faith community? Would my volunteer roommates be okay with my boyfriend visiting?), but clearly I agreed to be his girlfriend and we trusted that it would all work itself out.
Sure enough, things did work themselves out and we quickly settled into a routine of Michael visiting Chicago (since I was a poor volunteer without a car or money to travel much that year) nearly every 2 weeks. We communicated constantly and ended my long days with good conversations that often went late into the night and led us to understand the plans God had for us as a couple.
Anyone who has been in a serious, long distance relationship can tell you that the distance either makes or breaks your relationship. Likewise, long distance can either drag out the dating process or expedite it greatly. In our case, the frequent communication and need to be on the same page that came hand in hand with long distance forced us to talk about the big things in life right from the get go - meaning that things progressed rather quickly and all of the sacrifices we made for each other only solidified our relationship more and more.
|October 2, 2011: the night we first said "I love you"|
In my mind there was only one remaining factor that I needed to know - which was whether or not Michael's RCIA classes and his faith journey would lead him to become Catholic on Easter Vigil 2012. I was secretly holding out to see what would happen, but that same night that we first spoke about marriage Michael revealed to me that he knew for sure that he wanted to become Catholic. Once he said that, I knew in my heart that he was the man God had been preparing for me to marry all along.
After that, it was only a matter of time before we would become engaged. Michael admits that had it not been for the long distance and the knowledge that if we weren't engaged by the time I completed my volunteer service that I could be pursuing mission work overseas, attending grad school, or getting a job anywhere in the country (which would create even more long distance), he would have taken more time to propose. However, we knew that we wanted to marry one another so he made sure to lock everything in before I could even think about moving further away. ;)
|My birthday celebration in Chicago - December 2011|
"I can still recall the expression on her face; it was a mixture of pure joy, excitement, and a bit of shock. I started to say that there was a reason why I wanted to pray the rosary outside in the cold.... I began saying that she was my best friend, I loved her, I couldn’t picture my life without her, and that I wanted to grow old with her. After saying this, I stated that we both took a leap of faith together when we started dating, so then I asked if she would take another leap of faith with me and marry me and she said “yes.” At that moment I had felt like a great weight had been lifted off my chest. My heart filled with so much joy and excitement and I knew that my wish had come true that I could now be with the woman of my dreams."
Next we went inside to the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe and lit two votive candles for special intentions regarding our future together. We then entered the main chapel and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament for the first time as a betrothed couple. While we did this, I finally came back down to earth and everything that had just happened finally started to sink in. Feeling more at peace about our relationship than ever, I left that chapel filled with excitement and gratitude for finally knowing my vocation. For more details about the proposal you can check out this entry on my former blog.
|February 12, 2012: the day we got engaged|
|April 29, 2012: rainy day engagement photo shoot in Chicago. Brian Powell Photography.|
|Brian Powell Photography.|
Then, on September 29, 2012 (exactly 14 months after I said “yes” to being Michael’s girlfriend – and the Feast of the Archangels) we married in my hometown parish in Indiana. We were married by a Dominican friar I had first met during my college years and had a full Catholic Nuptial Mass. We then celebrated with about 170 of our closest friends and family members before heading off to Belize for a week-long honeymoon.
|Brian Powell Photography.|
|Our wedding favors were bluebird magnet clips that my older sister made by hand! Brian Powell Photography.|
|Brian Powell Photography.|
|Yes, that is a traditional Korean wedding dress I wore for part of the reception. :) Brian Powell Photography.|
And here we are now, reminiscing on how much has happened since we first kissed on that July night two years ago...married for almost 10 months with a healthy baby boy due in less than 4 weeks. God is truly good. :)