Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.

4.30.2013

A Love Story

 
This is not a story of love at first sight. 

This is not a simple story of love, though this is the simple version. At times, it was messy and difficult and hard and required both people to die to their interest in each other. 

Nevertheless: this is my love story. 

I do not remember life without Joel—nor, I think, does he remember life without me. Since we met twenty-two years ago (when I was a babe of 3 months old, and he was a disinterested toddler 3 years of age), life and God have always kept us in touch one way or another. First, we were childhood playmates and friends. I loved the stories he would tell me, invented from his own imagination, and died from suspense as he made me wait week to week to hear the next part of the saga. Together, we explored the woods and played in musical ensembles; from him, I learned chess and the finer points of shooting a basketball into a basket. It was a simple time—three children (because Lauren was also part of our gang!) having delightful times together.
 
Top to bottom: 2004, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010

As we grew older, our relationship necessarily became more distant. We challenged each other to read through series of books, we made music together with voice and instrument, and we saw each other weekly at church, but our friendship changed and was replaced by friends of the same gender.  

Somewhere along the way, I grew up. And with that growing up came a new awareness. I looked at Joel and admired his leadership, his passion, his purposefulness, his love for God and family, and his great mind, heart, and soul. Slowly and gradually, like the dawning of the sun, I began to think that he would make a wonderful husband and father.  

This was something I struggled with, because Joel had not pursued me. I had no basis and no permission to feel this way. So I prayed, I cried. I thought hard, I thought not at all. Gradually, God made me see that I needed to share this with my parents. If Joel found a nice girl and married her, I would desperately need my parents by my side! Moreover, if Joel decided I was that nice girl he should marry, then my parents would already know my heart.

So two years ago, I went to them and shared what I had never joked about with my girlfriends. What I had never uttered to Joel. What I had never even written in my journal. With tears and more nerves than one girl should have to deal with, I wondered aloud to them—was Joel the one? They listened to me and loved me. They didn’t condemn me, but nor did they encourage me. This was definitely out of our control, and we would just have to wait and see what God was going to do. My relationship with my parents has become even more sweet and precious since I shared my heart with them that night.

In January of 2012, I made a New Year’s Resolution. I usually avoid such resolutions for the obvious aversion to feeling like a failure. This year’s commitment, however, was inescapable, and so I resolved to make God preeminent in my life and on the throne of my affections, so that the things of this earth would grow strangely dim. 

God lovingly and graciously brought so many challenges into my life last year that brought me to just that place. But, oh, the pain.  

At the end of January, Joel took a job as law clerk in Maryland. He was in his last year of law school, and had been looking for just such an ideal job as this to begin to gain experience. Through this and many other circumstances, God ripped Joel from my heart—and replaced him with Himself. I completely died to my vision for my life and what I wanted, and I submitted myself to God’s plan for my life. (My blog post written in the midst of this journey through pain might make more sense now.)

This was also the year that I heard from God truly and clearly for the first time. The year that I came to know God like never before. The year that God became preeminent in my life, the King of my affections; the year that the things of this earth grew strangely dim. 

Then Joel came home for the holidays and to spend the next two months studying for his Bar Exam. I was very interested in not talking to him and, in fact, avoiding him, because I still didn’t trust my flighty heart! He, however, had other ideas. He wasted very little time in emailing my Papa about getting together. And so on December 31st—the last day of that eventful year that I had given to God—he met with Papa and asked his permission to court me. On January 19th, he came over to my house and, with the full permission of both sets of parents, asked me if he could court me, to which I joyfully agreed! 
On the night of our engagement!
 
Our courtship brought limited contact, as he was immersed in his studies for the Bar and went back to Maryland shortly thereafter. We certainly managed to make the most of our time together, however, and held email and phone conversations constantly! At the beginning of April, Mama, Papa, and I flew over to Maryland to spend ten days with Joel, and on April 6th, Joel got down on one knee and proposed! I hardly let him finish, so great was my joy and confidence and delight in saying yes to one of the best men I have ever known.
At Gettysburg
 
There is much more to share—the details of how our courtship worked, the process God took me through to confirm that this was His will, and the wonderful story of our engagement. All this and more I will delight in writing about over the coming weeks.
 
For now, let me just remind you: God is good and God is great! I cannot stop marveling at how good He has been to me. He has truly been the author of my love story!





40 comments:

  1. How Exciting! Bless you through your new journey in life. God is so good to His undeserving children. God's peace.

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    1. That's exactly how I feel, Havilah--so very undeserving of this immense and wonderful blessing!

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  2. Doh!! So amazing how God works through the worst of circumstances to bring us before Him and His perfect timing and will. Love the pics, and glad i can finally picture you two as a couple. :)
    Look forward to reading the rest of your beautiful story Mika. <3

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    1. He really does work all things together for good! It is amazing.

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  3. Heeeee! So. Good. God writes the most amazing stories...
    Beautiful, what He has done. (!!)

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  4. So precious, beautiful and God fashioned...you have grown up to be such an amazing woman...who would have thought when you tied me up in the middle of the hallway huh? You truly are an example of a lady that I pray Ava will look to as a role model(no pressure!)...hugs.

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    1. Who would have thunk? ;-) And wow--that is definitely a huge responsibility and role--pray for me, that I would be a worthy reflection of Christ for your sweet daughter to look up to!

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  5. I always saw this day coming, but so excited it has finally happened!! God bless you two - such a wonderful, beautiful couple!! Love you both!! Mrs. Howard :-)

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    1. Thank goodness God has His own perfect timeline! We would have both missed out on a lot of growth if it had happened sooner. Love you too!

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  6. Congratulations!!!! I am sooo happy for you! This was very encouraging. Thanks sooo much for sharing!

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    1. You are absolutely welcome, Mekenna!

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  7. Congratulations Mikaela! Your story is so encouraging and admonishing to me. It is so easy to become discouraged with the future, and so hard to see beyond what we can see. I have recently been in a barren time of my relationship with God, and so giving Him my complete affections has been a significant struggle. Anyhow, Thank you so much for allowing God to work through you to encourage me to press on, and give God everything I've got. You are such a wonderful example to me. May God richly bless you in this new season of your life.

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    1. Oh, thank you Elanee! What an encouragement your words are to me! Keep pressing on!

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  8. I love love stories, especially ones that involve people I love! Congratulations to you, Mikaela (and Joel, too!) I am so happy for you two and excited for how your story will continue to unfold for your blessed union and ultimately for the glory of our God!
    I appreciate your testimony of your 2012 resolution - what an encouragement! :)

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    1. =) Indeed: all for the glory of God. I love you too!

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  9. What a lovely story. Despite what Hollywood would have us believe, this is what true love looks like - Putting God first and allowing Him to work in His time. As we say in the Orthodox church, May God grant you many, many years together!

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    1. It's sad to see how much we are influenced by our culture's skewed perspective on love. I know I myself have fallen victim to that at times. I'm sure learning a lot about the real thing right now, though! Thank you for your kind words!

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  10. Your story is both wonderful and beautiful. Putting your affections for God first in your life was the right decision to make. Now God has turned around and blessed you! It was a blessing for me to read your story, and please, do some more posts about it. I'd love to hear more. It's a good encouragement for me to hear stories about young women, such as yourself, and the choices you made in your relationships towards guys and with God. Thank you for sharing this!
    God Bless,
    Purity Leigh

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  11. Congrats on your engagement! :D What a very lovely love story, and thank-you for sharing a part of it with us.

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  12. Congratulations Mikaela! So very very happy for you both!

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  13. Congratulations! What a sweet story of seeking the Lord and laying your all before Him. My husband and I went through some deep pain before the Lord bringing us together, and it has helped us to treasure one another all the more. May the Lord richly bless you as you pursue Him together.

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  14. congratulations!! I'd love to hear lots more about what your courtship was like. :)

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  15. Congratulations! What a beautiful story! I love how God used the time when you were single to help you grow closer to Him, your First Love.

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  16. Congratulations Mikaela! What a touching and God Honoring story. You and Joel are in our prayers. Mr. and Mrs. Spafford

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  17. I got engaged on April 5th - sounds like it was a good weekend for both of us! Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your beautiful, God-written love story!

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  18. Tear, wipe, tear, smile, smile, tear...so happy, so blessed and ever so proud of my sweet sweet bro and always a joy sis-in-love for raising such a lovely you!
    XO, Aunt Hiedie

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  19. Awwwwwwwwwwwwww! I'm SO excited for you, Mikaela! Thank you SO much for sharing your love story and the new exciting beginnings!

    Oh... and we'd all like to see a close-up of the ring... ;)

    Blessings on you! Can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Do you have a date picked? (You don't have to answer if that's confidential at this point. ;)

    ~Emily

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  20. What thrilling news, Mikaela! Congratulations; we are SO excited for you! Thank you so much for sharing the story, and especially of how you gave up your desires to the Lord, and how He used that time to draw you closer to Himself. What a testimony! I love your story! :) May the Lord bless you and Joel, and use you to bring glory to Himself. I can't wait to hear more!
    Blessings,
    Amanda

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  21. Dear Mikaela, Thank you SO much for sharing your story from the beginning and the lessons God taught you along the way. That really encouraged me and refocused my thoughts on Christ and loving Him and serving Him right where He has placed me. It does no good to worry about the future, but grows our intimacy with Christ when we surrender our wills to God and allow Him to paint the story of our lives. Your words were an inspiration to me and I loved hearing about how God brought it all on. Thank you for your example of trusting in God and for waiting patiently for the one God has for you. May God bless you in this new stage of your life. I am SO happy and excited for you.
    Love in Christ,~Dani

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  22. Congratulations, Mika!! SSOO VERY EXCITING!!! It's so wonderful to see how God has brought the two of you together, and it will continue to be wonderful to watch you both grow in the new relationship He has planned for you! God bless!!

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  23. Your post had me smiling the whole way through...congratulations!! I praise the Lord for what He has done and is doing in both of your lives. The two of you are going to be a powerful force for Light! Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. You, Joel, and the God of the universe form a cord which will not be broken. Cling to each other and to Him!

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  24. Aw, YAY!! I was so excited reading this, and I look forward to hearing (like you said) the details of how the courtship worked, the process to confirm that this was His will, and the WONDERFUL story of your engagement. Bless you! Bless you!
    ~Keilah

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  25. So happy for you Mikaela!! :) Thank you for sharing. This was encouraging to me too. God bless you both!!

    With Love,

    Savannah

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  26. Congratulations on your engagement Mikaela! What a beautiful story of love, submission to God's will, growth and life!
    Blessings,
    Aimee
    PS: Did you know that Joel means 'The LORD (Jehovah) is God'? Indeed He is:)

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  27. I love it when I see young people allow GOD to write their love stories in His time and in His way. He did so for me 16 years ago and even now when I look back at the amazing way He brought it all together, I am awed at His goodness. Congratulations to you!

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  28. Oh my! This is truly amazing! God is so good! congrats!

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  29. This gave me chills... God IS so good. <3
    I want to hear this love story in person though, my dear;) When shall we get together for coffee again? I miss you!

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    1. Oh, I miss you too! I'll email you shortly and we *shall* make it happen! ;)

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