Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

At camp, Nick and I had talked once or twice. We even had a youth leader who was trying to get us together, but at that point in time I wasn't interested because of the other relationship.

On the afternoon I ended the relationship with my boyfriend, I was talking with one of the youth leaders who was playing cards with Nick. She had to leave and left me to take her spot. So Nick and I played war and other two person card games, but what I remember most is that we talked. We talked about being homeschooled, our parents rules, expectations in life. I found I had a lot in common with him. But I really didn't think much more than that. I was just beginning recovering from a broken heart.

(Nick playing cards with Tammy - one of the youth leaders at our summer camp)

A few weeks later, I saw Nick at church. He didn't know I had been grounded and asked me where I had been. I am sure he thought it was the craziest thing in the world to hear that I had been grounded from youth group.

Anyways, he asked if I wanted to go with his family to a homeschool day at Oaks Park, a local amusement park. His line was that he knew lots of other homeschool girls that he could introduce me to. I had been grounded for a month and was up for anything, but I told him he would need to ask my dad. So I took him with me (he will say I dragged him by the arm, which I don't really recall) and found my dad and Nick asked my dad. Then we had my dad meet his mom. My dad and mom took a day to think on it, and then they told me that I could go. I was so excited to get out.

So on September 6th, 1994, Nick's family took me to Oaks Park. Now I will tell you, Nick did not introduce me to a single homeschool girl. However, we went on every ride together (which is amazing in itself because I hate amusement rides) and we talked the whole entire time. We couldn't stop talking.

I still didn't think much more than he is a really nice guy, but God was opening up my heart to a friendship in a way that only He could make happen.

Nick and I started to get to know each other more, and we would see each other at youth group and our families started doing things together. Also because of long distance phone charges from Scappoose to Portland, Nick and I also started writing letters to each other (I have a box full of letters from my wonderful husband now). November 12th, we had the "talk." I shouldn't have iniated things, but I was impatient, and so I asked him what his intentions were towards me.

We were 16. Through that conversation, we both knew we didn't want to have a casual relationship where you go out and break up. But we also knew that we would have a long road ahead of us in thinking of marriage. But I knew in my heart that this was the real deal, and I started to believe that this was the man God had chosen for me to marry someday.

That December our youth leader, Alden Peabody, who had wanted to set us up in the first place, asked me how things were going with Nick.

And I told him that I was going to marry Nick someday. Now Alden didn't criticize my naive notions, or put them down. He just gave me a knowing smile and then went on to teach us a lesson. It was on how God had told Mary something at a young age, that she was going to carry His Son and how she believed and treasured these things in her heart. Afterwards, Alden came up to me. And he told me this. "Kari, when you said you were going to marry Nick someday, I kind of laughed at the idea of it with being so young. But if God has shown you that is what He has for you, treasure it in your heart, and see what God does."

I never forgot that.

For 6 years of a way too long dating/courtship period I always remembered that. I am sad to say that it was not without it's struggles. We never gave ourselves away to each other before marriage, but we definitely did not always treat each other in the way that God wanted for us. 6 years is a long time to wait. But... God was faithful to us during that time. And He had a much bigger plan ahead for us.

Breaking up is hard to do...

Right before my 16th birthday, I got to know Nick. Basic story, when I first met him 6 months prior I was not interested in this 5 foot 3 inch homeschooled boy that came to our youth group on a student leadership night. Having my best friend tell me that he looked like my little brother sealed the deal. I told God at that moment, "I will never like him." I love how God knows so much better than we do.

That summer before my 16th birthday, I went through some choices that were not the best decisions of my life. I pursued a relationship, behind my parents back because I knew they would not be okay with the things I was wanting in it. I gave my first kiss away, and many more after. I have many regrets, mostly because of how I didn't treat this guy as a brother in the Lord. I was selfish, craving the affection and attention. I didn't really know him, I just knew that he liked me and I liked him. I so wish I could have done things differently there. I wish I could have treated him the way he deserved to be treated, as some one's future husband.

God intervened that summer through my brother, and through the information he provided them, my parents found out about the relationship and I was grounded for a month. Grounded from friends and youth group, and helping in worship band. My dad wanted to make it clear that if I wasn't honoring my parents that I should not be up front leading others in worship when my walk with the Lord was not where it needed to be.

My dad did let me go to summer camp. Unfortunately I still went behind my parents back at camp. But God was at work. the last night we had communion around the campfire. I was sitting next to the guy, and I looked around at everyone. So many people were goofing off, talking, not paying attention. Then Nick caught my eye. There he was, praying with his head bowed, clearly seeking the Lord. At that moment, I realized that was what I wanted in my life. I wanted to be close with the Lord again. To have a heart after God, like Nick had right in front of me.

The next morning I knew what I had to do. I let go of the relationship with my first boyfriend, and I went home and confessed everything to my parents. I was on board with them on obeying them. And it was still painfully hard that month, surrendering everything. But this time it was my decision and I knew it was what I was supposed to do. In the meantime, God was at work in ways I was not expecting.

I had a dream... (hey what little girl doesn't)

I was a dreamer and had an imagination. I used to curl up in my closet of my childhood house, that I made into a little office area. A friend's mom gave me a typewriter, and I would imagine out all the stories I would write. I had dreams. Plans for my life.
Plans to be a writer. To be a singer. To be a hair stylist. To be a photographer. To be a chef. I was ambitious in all my dreams, but in reality I had no idea what I would do with all of these ideas. I had no direction.

But when I was almost 11, God gave me a dream that I tucked away in my heart, one that stayed with me more than any other past plans for my life. On June 28th, 1989, my sister Abigail Lynn was born into this world. My parents allowed my brother and I to be in the hospital room and watch her birth. Let me tell you this, I was freaked out when I saw them give my mom an episiotomy. But shortly after that, a beautiful baby girl came into this world, with a beautiful head full of dark brown hair. It was the most amazing thing I had ever witnessed in my life.
In the few years that followed, my mom home schooled me, which allowed me to participate in all the baby things, learning and observing all the different parts that were involved in parenting. And what I discovered was, that more than anything else in this life, I wanted to be a mom someday. I wanted to get married, and have a family, and stay home and take care of my beautiful children.

So began the hunt for the right husband to do the job of providing, loving me and loving children. Laugh if you want, but I was a girl on a mission. I went through all sorts of little crushes and loves over the next several years, as most girls the age of 12 - 15 do... I made mistakes, and got hurt and hurt others through choices that were of my own, and not seeking God in this area. Well, I did "seek" Him, but in the way of approaching him with my plans, and asking that they would be His plans too. Let's just say, I had a lot of growing up I needed to do.

A snapshot at the speed of life...

Time goes by so fast. I remember on my 16th birthday, my dad took me outside to our back porch. We sat out there looking up at the stars. And he said to me, "Kari, I want you to snap your fingers." So I did. Then he said, "Kari, do it again." So I did it again. He then explained the reason to the request. It was a picture of how quickly time goes. He wanted me to remember this moment... and each birthday if I remembered to snap my finger and remember back to how fast life had already gone.

I am turning 32 in 20 days. My husband and I will be celebrating our 10 year anniversary in 16 days. I understand completely what my dad meant by that. Our life on earth is so short. God gives us this time, to grow and learn and obey and follow and to teach us to do His will and to surrender to the plans He desires for our lives.

My Savior has taught me so much and He has laid it on my heart to share these stories with you. I don't want to ever forget the amazing things He has done, nor stop anticipating what He has in store for me next. Think of this as a collection of stories, snapshots, some are little quick ones, others are ones that took several years to see the end of the chapter. I pray as I share my heart, on what He has done in my life so far, that it might be a blessing to you. That it would be like sitting down with a friend/daughter/mother/sister and being able to just see God work. He is the Author of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way.

With my 10 year anniversary fast approaching, I am going to attempt to write this book/blog with the stories being from the last 10 years. There will be a few extras to share, but primarily the focus will stay around that timeline.
That being said, I am going to begin with what led to these last 10 years. Dreams of a little girl...