Engagement Stories: Tim & Emily
The Lord protected us from early on. Both of our parents had prayed that the Lord would bring a godly spouse into our lives, so we entered Bible college wondering if this might be the place we’d meet. Emily and I had avoided dating relationships in high school and had worked hard to protect our hearts as best as we possibly could as the Lord worked in both of our lives through our wonderful families and solid churches. I was heavily involved in writing during my teen years. Emily was becoming a skilled photographer. So we both decided that we would attend a large university that would provide journalism and photography degrees, respectively.
God had other plans. The Lord completely rocked my world and opened my eyes to a call to do Christian ministry in a church, so I wanted to get some good training. I was still planning to attend that large university, but decided first on a year at Bible college. I did not know it at the time, but Emily had been planning on that same large university. However, her plans changed because her dad was in the military and was being deployed overseas for 15 months. Her parents decided that she would go to the same little Bible college that her older sisters had attended for at least one year so that their family could be close together during the deployment.
Little did she know that I was headed to that same Bible college.
So we both arrived in Louisville, Ky., in 2008, not really sure of how long we would stay in this city.
I continued to write and struggle through my calling and how I would use my gifts for writing, my desire to do pastoral ministry and my past in leading worship. Emily prepared to finish her year at this Bible college and move on to Tennessee after that, still snapping photos.
I didn’t really know who this little brown-haired, hazel-eyed girl was, but I saw her from a distance. Our groups of friends were quite different early on, so I only knew her name and not much more.
As time went on, both of us realized God was calling us into full-time ministry, and we decided to stay at this Bible college in Louisville. I began studying biblical counseling, and Emily chose children’s ministry. God worked on both of our hearts to find contentment in the school He had for us.
But with relationships, we were quite confused. The context we were in rightly encouraged marriage, so we went out each day looking for our potential spouse. We had some wrong thinking, however, and unfortunately I spent many days weeping tears of regret due to hurt I had caused in my confusion and search for a spouse. Emily also waited and continued to learn about how to relate to the opposite gender.
Thanks to Boundless and many godly men and women in my life, particularly my parents, I realized in the summer of 2010 that I needed to be the right person more than I needed to find the right person. God, in His faithfulness, was teaching Emily the same thing.
So I dug deeply, took a marriage and family class at my school (which Emily ended up taking at the same time), read widely and asked questions to prepare myself for marriage. And I waited.
I wrote articles and blogged on marriage, trying to decipher my views and prepare my heart for the woman who would one day be my spouse. The first time I remember meeting her, we played Dutch Blitz, and I bragged about how good I was. I walked away humbled.
Our conversations with one another started when I began leading a worship team at our school that Emily had already been singing with. I asked her to continue to sing with the band, and we immediately struck up a friendship that summer due to our mutual musical interests and strikingly similar backgrounds.
We had both been home schooled, both loved similar music (and loved children), had been raised in the same way, liked to text message, and wanted to go into ministry. She had originally thought I was a missions major who told everyone I would be single forever and hit the mission field, which was slightly true. I had spread the rumor that I was not getting married for a long time and was going overseas as soon as I graduated.
But things had changed when we started talking, and when she realized I wasn’t a missions major and was quite a kindred spirit, well, you could say something stirred in both of our hearts.
It was then that we began the imperfect relationship. Neither of us had dated or courted ever. The only experiences we had had, particularly in my case, were mess-ups or absolutely nothing to write home about. We constantly struggled to learn how to carry out the perfect relationship, quickly realizing that there is no perfect way to do things. But we did our best to strive to honor one another and our families.
I took things slow, first expressing my interest in her in a semi-formal way (almost throwing up on that white bench while the sun set) and took the winter break to get to know one another better, to speak with our parents, and pray. When I returned, I more formally began our intentional relationship. We didn’t hang out one on one, but we spent intentional time with one another among our friends that semester as much as we could. It was a struggle, quite honestly, from that point onward to keep a slow pace. I knew quickly that I wanted to marry this girl.
Over the next year we developed our relationship among our friends and family, which was difficult with our families so far away while we were in school. But by God’s grace, in December 2011, I asked Emily Anne to marry me. We had a short engagement, out of wisdom and due to the fact that her dad was again going to be overseas soon. We were married on March 4, 2012, a day before my birthday.