A small town girl from North Carolina moved to Florida in July 2011, and a Midwestern boy from Indiana relocated to Florida for his job in August 2014.
Kathryn: Each looking for a church to call home, we both spent months searching individually until we found Celebration Community Church (CCC). We met for the first time on Feb. 1, a beautiful Sunday morning, which happened to also be Super Bowl Sunday!
Matthew: I was asking around for info about any Super Bowl parties happening that night and then I met Kathryn.
Kathryn: I told Matthew my life group (a community group at the church) planned to watch the game — but I had no intention of going because my friend and I had tickets to see Disney’s “Newsies.” After the show, we swung by the Super Bowl party, and lo and behold, guess who wanted to speak with me the rest of the evening to discuss my favorite Broadway musical.
Matthew: We got to know each other through the life group, and it was great to have growing friendships with her and the others in it. For those first months, I felt completely comfortable not feeling anything romantic for anyone, nor did I think that anyone felt anything for me.
Kathryn: Then I asked him to join me for a movie night under the stars showing a movie I knew he liked: “Big Hero 6.”
Matthew: Funny fact, I thought there was a group going. I didn’t realize she had invited me exclusively.
Matthew: So we met up, only the two of us to my surprise.
Kathryn: I packed us a cute little picnic for our movie under the stars. We enjoyed fancy mac and cheese, sweet tea and thin mints. You know, trying to give those subtle hints.
Matthew: It was a blast, and I admit, the thought crossed my mind, Did she ask me out because she’s interested in me?
Kathryn: He didn’t get the hint?
Matthew: I would soon figure it out.
Matthew: Quick flashback to a few months before this — I had been reading many articles from Boundless.org, and one that stood out to me was the article titled “Real Men Risk Rejection.” In short, it helped me understand that women are generally attracted to men who aren’t afraid to pursue what they want, even if it means possible failure. I realized from all of my online reading that I needed to challenge myself more in the ways of dating, especially since it didn’t come naturally to me. So during my first December of living in Florida, I bought two tickets to see Idina Menzel live in concert. I challenged myself to in the coming months find someone, a new friend, who could enjoy this experience with me.
Kathryn: Almost two months in advance, he asked me if I had any plans on July 26, the day of the concert and my birthday!
Matthew: I had enjoyed all the times we had spent together both in groups and on a few exclusive “non-dates” — as I at least thought they were. So I decided to offer the extra ticket as a birthday gift. I figured it would be a good way to find out if she really was interested in me. It was one of the best evenings I ever had.
Kathryn: Even though he couldn’t find his car after the show.
Matthew: I didn’t work up the courage to ask her to be my girlfriend that night, but I did bring it up with some trusted friends and they encouraged me to consider it.
Kathryn: After the concert we had a few weeks of “are we or are we not dating?” And then he invited me to join him for lunch after church.
Matthew: Sitting at a table in Panera Bread, I nervously let her know that I was interested in more than a friendship.
Kathryn: I will never forget that day. He was so nervous, the boy finished his whole lunch before I even sat down with my food. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Disney Springs, trying on fun hats and catching a movie.
Matthew: It was an awkward day for me. She seemed thankful and still interested, but I wasn’t quite sure if I was successful in beginning the relationship. It wasn’t clear if she had actually accepted me as her boyfriend.
Kathryn: It had been a long time since I had been in a relationship, and I had a lot of fears. Knowing how special Matthew was to me already, I didn’t want to screw this up.
Kathryn: We dated for about four months, mostly seeing each other on the weekends, and it never really felt like the relationship was progressing. I invited him to come along with me, my parents and my sister to California.
Matthew: We were both excited and nervous — it would be only my second time spending time with her family since we started dating, but it helped that I was going to Disneyland for the first time.
Kathryn: Unfortunately my idea of a perfect weekend in Disneyland with those I loved came to a halt when Matthew, my sister and I were the only ones that arrived in California. During their layover in Michigan, Mom and Dad went to a local hospital because Dad was experiencing a horrible case of kidney stones.
Matthew: We tried to enjoy the trip as best as we could, but Kathryn was upset once we knew her parents would not be able to join us at all. Despite my efforts to console her, I felt like we were drifting apart since she seemed to confide in her sister more than me. Our relationship was still fairly new, but it didn’t matter — when we returned from our trip I felt convinced that if I hadn’t gained any trust with her at this point, the relationship couldn’t be going anywhere. So a week later, right before Christmas (bad timing, I know), I told her that I felt we should move forward just as friends (let’s face it though, there’s no words that can soften the blow of a breakup).
Matthew: The next year passed, and I’m glad to say we were able to keep our friendship intact despite the breakup. Then, on Thanksgiving day, I got a call from my mom who told me my grandma had passed away after years of battling Alzheimer’s Disease. We were enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with a group of friends, including Kathryn, and so they all heard the news. Later that week, before I headed home for the funeral, Kathryn gave me a letter she had written for me.
Kathryn: I had been reading “31 Prayers for My Future Husband.” The prayers went through some attributes that women ought to be looking for in a godly husband. As I read through them, I often thought of Matthew. And when I heard the news about his grandma, I wanted so badly to comfort him. I told him all that in the letter. And that, though I wasn’t sure what to expect to happen because of this letter, I couldn’t help but feel that God wasn’t yet finished with our relationship.
Matthew: While home for the funeral, I talked things over with my family, and I decided that I needed to give our relationship another chance, a real chance. A week later, Kathryn came over to get something from my sister. I used the opportunity to talk to Kathryn – about our insecurities, what we felt right then, mistakes we had made in the past. And praise God, she took me back after a year of being apart. When we were dating previously, our communication was sporadic, and though we were close in proximity to each other, our time spent together was limited to the weekends. This was mostly because, despite our expressed interest in each other, there were emotional walls on both our hearts left from past hurts or bad choices. But this time, as was Kathryn’s phrase for the year, we determined to “Fear Not” — as was Kathryn’s phrase for the year — and let God carry us through the unknown into something that could bring Him glory. For the next eight months, we made a genuine effort to spend more time learning how to love each other.
Kathryn: Then came the biggest day of our lives.
Matthew: On Saturday, August 19, 2017, I had reservations at a restaurant in Winter Garden, Florida. We enjoyed the ride there, jamming out to Broadway tunes. The meal was delicious, and she looked stunning! Then came the surprise – I told her I had found a small trail in Celebration, Florida that I wanted to take her on — a cover-up story, of course. We drove to the supposed trail, and I parked beside a little amphitheater my sister and I had found weeks before. I took her onto the stage, which I had set up earlier with lights and pictures of us. And there in the middle, I sat her down and washed her feet like Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, and I read to her from a journal we had started sharing together. I expressed how God had grown us both in our love for each other and that I wanted to demonstrate sacrificial, servant leadership to her for the rest of my life. Then I pulled out from my pocket a little bag that had been there all night — inside was a diamond ring made just for her. After eight months of being back together, I asked her to marry me. Much to my delight, she said yes!
Kathryn: We are thrilled and excited for whatever God has in store for us. While we don’t know what all the future holds, we know God is faithful to keep us close to Himself. And we pray that our marriage will be a clear picture of God’s love for His people.
Are you engaged or newly married? We’d love to hear your story and how Boundless was helpful to you along the way! Email us at [email protected].