Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dancing Through Life Together

Ali is my sister's daughter. I have watched Ali from the time she was born, grow up into a godly, young woman. She has had her ups and downs in life like everyone but she isn't afraid to try new things and experience life to the fullest. Well, the Lord has blessed her with her match. This picture was taken at Cassi's wedding in January. David, Ali's fiance, posted this picture along with these words under the picture ~

The last four months have gone by like the blink of an eye and yet I feel like I've known this beautiful girl forever. She shines like Jesus and loves and serves others in such a powerful way. I look at this photo all the time and am so thankful this moment was captured because it's more than a moment. It's our lives. I love you, Ali. Thanks for dancing through life with me!

Of course I had to ask Ali to write her love story for me since we all love a good love story and theirs is a true, God-ordained love story. Here it is in her very own words ~

I was always that girl {for the most part} who enjoyed being single and didn't have a deep desire to get married. Contentment in my current circumstances was a lesson that my parents taught us kids, as well as exemplified throughout our growing up years. So, last summer, moving up to Santa Barbara, CA at the ripe age of 25, I was content. The Lord was moving and working in my life, revealing beautiful truths of His in new, wonderful ways. I was excited about my career as a chef, growing my catering business, and enjoying my incredible church community up here. I even dated quite a few guys {Shh! Don't tell my Aunt Lori ;).} The last thing on my mind was falling in love with one and getting married a year later...Well, let's just say, the Lord has quite the sense of humor...Here's my very 'unorthodox' love story in a {long} nutshell.

A friend of mine, Josh Newton, from Westmont mentioned to me one day last summer that he has a friend named David or DJ, who has a company with quite a few men employees. For some reason, and knowing I'm a chef, Josh thought it'd be a great idea to 'surprise' DJ and the guys with a home cooked meal. Josh wanted to bless DJ for all his generosity over the year and didn't think DJ would argue. He didn't! Yet, Josh had schemed up another plan that he hadn't told DJ; he thought I could make lunch for the crew and perhaps DJ would want to hire me to cook for the guys everyday! At first, it sounded like a great, fun idea; however, I knew better than to get my hopes up. Nevertheless, we arranged a date for me to go into the office and cook a meal on September 10, 2013. A few days prior, I had met DJ for a 30 second conversation at a party, coincidentally!

I was so nervous to cook for the guys and was so shy I hardly said a word, but all went well. They ate their fill and enjoyed the meal. DJ hired me on the spot! Was I dreaming?! What was going on?! I was shocked {and still shocked to this day, haha!} I began cooking for the company a few days a week, which quickly turned into every single day, breakfast and lunch! I loved it! Over the next few weeks, DJ was in and out of town, so I saw him on occasion. Though I didn't know him too well, I was so intrigued by him. His genuine smile, kind heart, and gentle spirit, humble attitude and listening ears were all attributes that I noticed right away, on top of his ability to run an incredible company with such grace and poise.

Toward the end of September, DJ invited some friend and me to Lake Arrowhead, where he did a house swap with some friends of his. My dear friend, Kristi, and I joined the group and had a blast in the mountains. It was a sweet time with wonderful people. And, it was there that I first learned that DJ was interested in me. He put his arm around me one evening, and we had an 'accidental cuddle sesh' {again, don't tell my Aunt Lori! ;)} I thought it was a joke at first or an accident, but I learned that it wasn't. DJ, my boss, was interested in me! Is that legal?! Are employees allowed to date their boss?! I eventually learned that I was in the clear!

After Arrowhead, DJ and I started getting to know each other. I didn't want anything too serious {I was the girl who wasn't looking for a ring by spring! Or a husband at all...}, yet I was definitely open to allowing him to pursue me. And, pursue me, he did! What an incredible man DJ is! If it weren't for his initiative and beautiful pursuit of my heart, we wouldn't be together. He took me on a few fabulous, fun, special dates, yet we mostly spent time with each other in group settings. We essentially have the same community here in town, since we both went to the same college and now the same church. So, it didn't take much effort at all to get to know him. We enjoyed the process and still do!

End of October of last year, we had our first kiss and became official! And, yes, in that order. {Again, don't tell my Aunt that we kissed before we were officially boyfriend and girlfriend, just by one day though ;)} Beginning of November, we went on a work/mission/community trip to London, Amsterdam, and Kiev {Ukraine}. God did some incredible things on that trip, and I have to say, that's when I started falling in love with DJ. God was changing my heart! Apart from being attracted to each other and connecting emotionally, we were learning that our life-long goals, visions, and vocations were aligning. I never expected to find that in the man I was going to marry!

On Thanksgiving day, we spent a lovely morning reading the Word together, praying, and talking about what the Lord is doing in our lives. It was a precious time together. DJ then told me he loves me. Wow. I was not expecting that! Tears flooded my eyes as I received those simple yet powerful words. The moment I heard him tell me, I knew in my heart that I love this man as well! What an unforgettable moment.

David and I got engaged on Easter {David washed her feet and while washing her feet, told her he wanted to spend his life washing her feet, then asked her to marry him.}, which was my birthday and we are getting married the end of this October, our one year anniversary from when we 'became official.' This past year has been the most incredible and wonderful year of my life! It has been a crazy whirlwind filled with adventure, excitement, highs and lows, challenges, tears and laughter, growth, revelation, love and joy. While there have been many doubt and uncertainties this past year, I have never lacked in peace when it comes to my relationship with David. The Lord has been SO present all throughout our relationship. And, for that, I am grateful.

So, while I did enjoy my singledom and independence, I could not be more thrilled to marry the man of my dreams and beyond! He is the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful, generous, and handsome {inside and out!} man I have every met in my life. His love for the Lord amazed me. His humility, sacrificial selfless attitude, and quiet confidence are so evident. He loves so well: strangers, his clients, his employees, his community, his church, his family, his friends, me, and our God. David has a gift for focusing on the positive and encouraging everyone he comes in contact with. He is a gift to SO many people. And, he's a gift to me. Lord, thank You for choosing David Jay to be my best friend, my husband, and the one with whom I get to go through life with. While I enjoyed my single years, I could not imagine my life without this man. He is the perfect fit for me. I cannot thank You enough. I am content. Very content.

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth ~
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Song of Solomon 1:2

P.S. I forgive you, Ali! ;)