A while back someone suggested I write about Nick and I's love story. How we met, fell madly in love, and came to be the iconic couple that we are. (bahahahaha) I thought on it for awhile and decided that while it's a beautiful story to me, it might not be the most readable since you know, we started dating in high school. Our first date story literally includes a high school prank of getting our car covered in toilet paper. And we wrote lots of notes. Like high schoolers do. But maybe since it IS Valentines comin' up, I'll tell you some love stories. I've got lots mulling around in this brain, some about Nick and some about Jesus. Really, all of 'em are about Jesus. And maybe you'll like them, but for sure I'll like writing them.
I asked Nick what his favorite romantic memories were of our short-life-together-so-far and I'm so glad he picked one of mine: Whidbey Island. I think three of my friends in Seattle just rolled their eyes because they've heard us talk about Whidbey Island so much. It was in 2008, we had just moved out west - literally, we'd only been there about a month. Elias had just turned one and Glory was due in about a month. We'd semi-settled in at New Beginnings, and made a great friend in our assistant, Faith and her fiance Jimmy, and they felt more than capable to take care of Elias and the maternity home for a few nights while we went off for a babymoon. I was right in the middle of going through a big shift when it came to childcare, and for the first year of Elias' life - I'd worked and felt totally comfortable leaving him with anyone who offered and I was moving into the current stage where I am now, where it's really hard for me to leave my kids for even a few hours. It seemed crazy to leave Elias for a few days when we'd just gotten settled, but I'm so glad Nick pushed me on it because it's one of the sweetest memories I have of us together.
It was nothing spectacular. I was nine months pregnant and HUGE. We took the ferry over to Whidbey Island, and drove to the little town of Langley. Nick had made reservations at a sweet little Inn, and we had no plans - whatsoever. We went to local restaurants, walked through old bookshops, sat on our porch, and watched movies we'd rented and brought with us. We slept and cuddled and walked and sat. For three whole days. And we loved it. We kept saying, "we've got to always set aside money so we can send Elias and his wife back here" and "no matter where we live later on, let's always come back here" and "ugh, this is our dream vacation". And it was.
But you know what is so magical and love-storyish about that story?
When you get married at twenty, you don't know who you are. Shoot, I'm still just figuring out who the Lord made me to be. I'm still at the very beginning of it, it feels like. In fact, for our honeymoon - we went on the exact OPPOSITE vacation. We went to Manhattan and shopped, shopped, shopped, shopped. No shows, no seeing sights, we shopped. That's who we thought we were. This flashy, christian couple with things to offer one another and a bright future ahead of them and the world at our fingertips!
But it's God's grace that we're not that. And moreover, it's God's grace that He let us be for one another - let our stories and our desires and personalities work together before we even knew they did. We're growing up together and I assume that when we're 36 and 38, instead of 26 and 28, we'll still be growing up together - learning more about who He's made us and who we are.
I got married at twenty, and that is my beautiful story. Trials and blessings included. But I just want to weep at God's grace that would give me a husband who loves Whidbey Island as much as I do. I didn't have that story of dreaming of my mate, or making a list of all I prayed he'd be. I just met him in high school and thought he was the cutest ever, and most days I'm transported back to that geeky feeling of - "Seriously! Did I seriously marry Nick Connolly?! Hasn't he figured out I'm not cool enough/pretty enough to date him yet?!". But if Nick Connolly in high school had liked cold and blustery islands and reading and listening to sermons as much as he does now, I'm frightened I would have found him boring. And if Jessi in high school liked reading about veganism, infrequent showering, and going to bed at 8pm as much as I do now - I'm certain he would have felt tempted to pass me by. But now Nick's affinity for reading is my fave and I think if you pressed him, he'd tell you that while my morning chipperness is annoying sometimes, he loves that I'm up before the sun (and usually asleep before it goes down at night).
So here's the moral for today: if you've met your Nick or if you haven't, would you praise God that He loves you enough to give you what you need before you know you need it? Jesus is the real sweet part, the real Valentine pursuing and following and waiting for you to return His affections. I pray that He'd stir our hearts for Him and we'd pour out some love in return - not just for these good gifts that He gives while our backs are turned and our eyes are closed, but that He loves us more than the gifts could ever express.