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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

COWBOY + ME | a love story


"It is astonishing how short a time it takes
for very wonderful things to happen." 
- Frances Burnett 

         Oh, how quickly very wonderful things have happened in my life this year. If you were to tell me one year ago how fireworks-blasting, butterflies-flying, over the moon, Elizabeth-Bennett-incandescently-happy I would be today, I would not have believed you. Meeting-[out-of-nowhere], getting to know, + this once-in-a-lifetime falling head-over-heels in love with this beautiful guy I call Cowboy has been the sweetest joy of my life so far. And you, my dear readers... you have been the dearest. Our happiness has been sweetened all the more with your genuine excitement with and for us. The pure joy you've shared, happy tears you've cried for us ... really mean the world! 

   Aside from sharing tidbits on Instagram, our story [so far] hasn't been told. I've taken a [not-planned] hiatus from blogging - partly because I've been rebranding + updating [after almost 3 years, it's time!] - moving in some new, exciting directions. And partly because this beautiful guy I call "Cowboy" has swept me off my feet + falling in love with him has kept me busy. And it's been a good, rich, dream-come-true kind of busy. But I've missed you all.  Truly, I have. I think about you all the time. I love the blog community, my readers, this sisterhood. And I am happy to be re-branded, back, launching Graceful Magazine in the next few weeks [ah!] and... here tonight - finally - to tell you a little bit about my love story with Cowboy and how it all began.

 Each moment with him... like a pearl I've carefully held in two fingers; admiring it's rarity, beauty, value, and color... gratefully stunned by how just-plain good God is to give it to me. Taking my time to breathe, soak it up, drink it in. And then ever so gingerly place it on a string, for safe keeping on my neck - like a precious piece of significant jewelry. It's all been so sacred and overwhelming [in the best sense] that it's been hard to sit down and write it out for you and you and you... my dear online friends. Relationships are not to parade around or share on social media to "get hits" or follows or likes. The timing hasn't been right, in my own heart + for our story - til today. If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you know how open, honest + downright vulnerable I've been about singleness + waiting on God's timing in relationships. In the past few years, my blog has taken on a life of it's own - completely unplanned - and in many ways, it has become a ministry. Through sharing my brokenness and heart [and, let's face it - sometimes hot mess] in posts like this one on how waiting was sometimes hard + lonely. How being the "only single girl" in my group of girl friends was hard. How sitting through, genuinely rejoicing with, and sometimes needing to duck into the bathroom to wipe away overflowing, hot tears at my dearest friend's weddings + baby showers felt at times like grief. How my "Plan A" of getting married + having babies by the age of 21 ["at the latest!" I would always say as a young girl] did not work out. How my kind + wise God was + is writing a story oh so much better, richer, and more beautiful than my plans could have ever been [even though letting go of those plans, at times, felt like He was asking me to cut off my right arm.] Twenty-seven is not old, and really - twenty-seven years [in the scheme of things] is not even that long. But, the waiting often made me feel as though it would never end, and I know that so many of you understand what I mean. This little blog has been a place of honesty for me. If you are close to me, you are well aware of the following: I cannot function in the morning without my coffee, I could eat tacos for dinner every day of the week, I am  a major "feeler," I wear my big heart plainly on my sleeve and my emotions and passions are always strong and close to the surface. The Lord placed on my heart to write openly about my waiting journey... and also, because of my personality, I just couldn't not share what I was feeling and thinking and struggling with here in this space. Much of my writing + relationships built through the blog world have been on the topic of waiting - not settling for second best, the beauty of saving sex for marriage, and sharing my commitment at the age of 13 to wait for "my man" when I told the Lord, "I want one man, one man only and I want You to pick 'him' out!" For the past twenty-seven years, I've seriously-dated very little [on purpose] and chose daily [though at times it was difficult] to wait - even if I had to wait 'til I was fifty - for God's plan and for Him to write my love story. Fully believing that He knows best for me. Not waiting out of a legalistic standard I had to fulfill, but because I have always passionately loved Jesus + knew Him - and, because at the age of thirteen, He placed on my heart a fierce love for my future husband [starting when I read of the Proverbs 31 woman in the Bible who "did her husband good + not harm all the days of her life."] Each one of us lives out a unique, different story. That is good + right. For me, this love for my future husband and passion to wait? It's something He put on my heart, intensely.

  Meeting Daniel + falling in love with him has truly been the most delightful gift and the worth of it is not lost on me. Especially because I've waited so long to meet a guy just like him. Prayers upon prayers prayed for years upon years are being + have been answered right before our very eyes. In the most specific, unbelievably special, extraordinary ways. It takes my breath away. I never, ever knew falling in love would be so delicious. And at the risk of sounding dramatic [who me? dramatic? never. ;)] the only word I can muster to describe this season is: magical. Sparks. Dreamy. Splendid... and very, very happy.

Part of the reason Daniel + I want to share out story is because it is such a gift, and nothing short of a miracle. It is really a testimony - not to how awesome or faithful we are, not at all - but to how endlessly good the Lord is. Looking over our shoulders at the last handful of years is sobering - both of us have experienced deep heartache + trials, broken dreams, disappointed hopes. We've separately walked bumpy, confusing roads of brokenness, loss, disillusionment. 2013 was the most difficult year in my family's life in our history - by December when I met Daniel, I had rushed into an emergency room at midnight gasping + racing at the shock of nearly losing one of my people. I'd held onto a gurney + begged God to spare life. I watched a person I love more than anyone suffer the worst kind of loss, sharp betrayal,  severe pain. I buried one of my dearest held-onto dreams. Things I could not share here on this little blog, because -well, they were not my story to tell. By the time I met Cowboy.... I felt withered + weary + weak + misunderstood + alone + numb. Sitting on my bed at night, staring; at the end of last year I could not even feel or cry or journal or pray articulately or smile anymore. Daniel, too, knows pain + sorrow in the most acute sense. He's suffered more physical loss than I can imagine: holding + loving on + praying for + caring for + watching as his beloved baby brother Joel slipped from this earth to Jesus' arms, fighting a painful battle with cancer. Daniel knows mourning like I've never tasted. He battled with severe depression at one point in the past few years. The kind of depression that makes one feel heavy + despairing, immobilized + dark. The kind that made him forget what he enjoyed... that made him forget how to tie his shoes.  

    The joy + answered prayers of this season? Are not lost on us. We are in love. We are living a God-written story. And we keenly appreciate the pure happiness of it all, because we have both tasted bitterness, sat down with disillusionment, listening to her tell us her lies, we've walked hand-in-hand with heartache, and grief has been our friend.

   Someday soon, I will tell the story fully. All the little details. All the snapshots taken. The conversations + adventures savored. Like we are teenage girls at a sleepover whispering over bowls of buttery popcorn and sticky candy all about the boys we like. But [call me silly] that kind of "here is our whole love story, part one, two, three..." appropriately comes after a certain *ring* is slipped on a certain finger. ;) So, stay tuned for the whole story soooometime soon ;) Until then, I wanted to give you all a little tidbit peek into how we met and first got to know each other. 

Unexpected + unplanned, our lives collided and our hearts met their match. 

"I've been spending the last eight months thinkin' that all love ever does is break and burn and end. But on a Wednesday in a cafe, I watched it begin again." 
-taylor swift 

And this is how it all began....

On a wintery Sunday evening. January 29th, 2013. Our lives were about to change forever.

He slipped on brown boots, a black coat, a scarf. Back home at his family's Oklahoma farm for the Christmas season, a plan was made to go ice skating for the evening with his siblings [by the way, he has twelve!] His mama [a blogger at www.weloveyoujoel.blogspot.com] asked the older boys in the house to line up + she snapped a picture of them. Off they went. She posted the photo to her Instagram


And then, in her typical sweet, having -fun-while-always-looking-out-for-her-kids way, she wrote this - [and got a pretty enthusiastic response from many ladies + young women expressing their 'interest' in her handsome sons! Several "tags" + shout-outs to sisters, single friends, and daughters were commented. And well-intentioned, silly, fun 'matchmaking' commenced!] 

Yet, of course - I didn't see any of this. His mama + I were not Instagram or social media "friends" and knew nothing of one another's blogs. I was simply sipping chai tea by the fireplace that chilly evening, while making post-Christmas new year plans - 1,364 miles away, clueless to the life-changing matchmaking occurring on social media. As the Lord would have it, one of my first connections ever through Instagram - the dear Amy of www.kissestohershey.blogspot.com saw the post... and thought of me. She + I are online friends, and have never met "in person" yet I knew her well enough through several years of blogging, commenting + chatting that she is a woman I trust. I followed her two or so years ago when I first made an Instagram profile and started using it to "network" and connect with other bloggers. She was and continues to be one of my very favorite mama bloggers to follow [she is wise, deeply loves the Lord, and shares her family's wonderful life - she inspires me!] Knowing my heart for "waiting" for my man, she "tagged" me in the comments of Cindy's post. [From where I stand today, oh how thankful I am that she did.]

He saw it after ice skating. And spent the rest of the evening looking through every single photo I've ever posted on Instagram. He was interested + smitten. (*awwww!*) He thought,[his direct quote, not mine ;) ]  'This girl is soooo attractive! Model status. And after looking at her posts, her heart is just as attractive. Man, this is the kinda girl I would wanna be with but there's no way. So unlikely that she would wanna be with me. I don't really think there is a chance...' 

He also reasoned, No.. this couldn't work out. I don't know her! I live in Maryland, she lives in California. And despite his sweet family's (and mama's) prodding, he was cautious. But... he decided "to give it a try."  

I, on the other hand - missed all of it. Because, randomly that evening, one of my Instagram followers 'liked' every single one of my photos. And [apparently] news feeds only show a certain amount of comments, likes, new follows, etc - thus, Amy's 'tag' on his mama's photos was so far down in the news feed, I did not ever see it. What I did see late that Sunday evening as I was brushing my teeth + turning on the shower with one hand, while holding my phone and scrolling through Instagram with the other, was a new follower... His handle? @daniel_t_m. 

Daniel Morris,

his account profile read. My Instagram account is not private, and because I'm a public person/blogger/writer, I network often and most of my new followers are strangers to me. Yet, this guy seemed so out of the blue - he wasn't a blogger and, in a quick check through his profile, I noticed we shared no mutual followers or follows. 

He's handsome. I thought. And plays violin? Woah. Never met a young guy who does that. 
And, full disclosure? As I scrolled through the snapshots of this random guy's beachy, musical, [sometimes shirtless] photos, my other thought was: Nice abs.


Yet, I moved on. I didn't follow him back. I just hopped in the shower and went straight to bed. 

Monday morning. December 30th, 2013. Sun streaming through my white eyelet window curtains, I woke up. Pulled myself up in bed and grabbed my iPhone from my bedside table. Rubbing my eyes and yawning, my hair a hot mess on top my head, I mindlessly clicked on Instagram. WHEEWWW did I have a lot of notifications. 

What are all these comments? I wondered, when I saw more than a few long comments pop up on an old post from a few weeks prior. I was puzzled. So I looked through my feed and noticed “@Cindy1962” had left me 4 or 5 comments. What on earth? I wondered. Thinking it was most likely a woman asking for advice, sharing her heart, asking about my book, or telling me how thankful she was that I wrote about purity because her daughter was touched… typical comments I received often on Instagram. But no... what was this? I quickly scanned through her words, not really reading them - my eyes moved through the sentences, just trying to get the "jist" of it. And before I really read through her comments, my heart began pounding and I felt.... dread.  Noooo. I cringed. This person is trying to match me up with some guy? OH GREAT. I rolled my eyes.Twenty-seven year old Christian women - who also happen to blog all about waiting for Mr. Right - very often get "matched up." It's just how life works. I can tell ya the horror stories. Everybody + their uncle Fred at church, in the family, and on the Internet [so sweetly!] tried to play matchmaker with me + their "precious grandson," "adorable cousin," "godly son," or "cute brother." I always appreciated their efforts, but one thing was certain in my heart of hearts: yes, I am a blogger but no, my future husband will not be found on the Internet. I ALWAYS quickly + graciously turned these down without blinking an eye. 

Good or bad, I also very easily [and at the snap of a finger] had a pattern of "writing guys off." 

And the following recipe: 1 ex-boyfriend + some good guy friends I sometimes fell for + many "group dates" + awkward coffee dates + a handful of "real dates" paired with standards as high as the Empire State Building - combined with a very upfront online ministry where my "standards" and heart for waiting were plastered all over the Internet = created the perfect storm for my dating life. Couple this with a semi-closed off heart, fear of being hurt, and a perspective that "98% of men out there are not the kind of man I want to marry so why waste me time?" Come December of last year, I was left in a very guarded, rather unattainable, closed-off, sometimes-overly-careful, and very picky state of mind. 

  His mama, though. As I took a deep breath and more carefully read through her comments, I smiled. Spontaneously. I just could not help it. And despite my prickles on the outside, in that moment - my heart melted. Warm, sweet, genuine, open, humble. Not 'too much' as many matchmakers before her 'came off' to me. Not pushy or creepy or weird as people on the Internet could sometimes be. Just pure, plain love for her boy...her son, and the Lord - just seeped out of her words like cream cheese out of the middle of a toasted bagel. 

The most palatable sense of peace literally washed over me in that moment as I sat up in my bed in the sunlight, holding my phone... and shaking. Something was different about this matchmaker. And I could feel it in my bones. Deep breath. Her eagerness to share (with me!) her wonderful, lovable, faithful, godly, servant-hearted, gifted, and amazing-in-every-way son took my breath away. And I could not not respond. Yet, in my heart of hearts: I was afraid. Afraid I would fall, get attached, get hurt. 

Later that morning, Amy sent me a private message on the Instagram app. She told me how carefully she chose to 'tag' me & Daniel in that comment. She is not a silly or a teasing or flippant lady by any means. We haven't met face-to-face, but I knew all the same - she is careful, wise-hearted woman.  And so I knew - the very fact she would think of this young man as a potential 'match' for me? It would be unwise, unkind, and just plain stupid of me not to at least be *open* to the possibility (which, as I've said - was quite difficult for me in the season I found myself last December) 

That afternoon, I drove Mom + Dad (in a super nice car I was reviewing that week, thanks to Drive STI) to run their monthly Costco trip and while they shopped, I sat down at a small, wooden table at Starbucks. I ordered a grande caramel macchiato with soy. And opened up my laptop. Spending the next 2 hours on Daniel's mama's blog [which, by the way, you should go read... their family story is awe-inspiring + encouraging.] I read about their family's desire to honor + follow the Lord. Tears fell down my face as I read the story of sweet Joel. His battle with cancer, and how their family and his parents faithfully cared for + fought for his life, until he passed away at age three. Coffee grinders grinding + people chatting.... and I sat there, engrossed. And I knew: these people are the real deal. I "stalked" Daniel on Google, finding his YouTube channel. That coffee shop. That moment when I first pressed play on his video + heard + saw his music. Someday, when I am old + sitting in a rocking chair somewhere, reminiscing + musing on the best days of my life, I will remember that moment. I clicked on his videos, one after another -beautiful viola + piano. I sat with my earbuds in + the volume turned up. I listened. I played it again. And my heart? Entirely overwhelmed. I had to turn it off. I pressed pause. I sat + tried to breathe. I turned it on again.... his skill level: like a virtuouso. And his heart? Oh, I could feel it. Later that night, I wrote in my journal:

"It is something about the way he plays. With so much expression and passion and feeling. I cried. I said aloud: 'This is too much to handle.' I watched him play, with so much feeling... more than anyone I had ever seen. The song went on and on, passion pouring from his fingertips onto the keys." 

That night, I watched more videos on my laptop. I wept. Healing. It was healing, somehow. 

And in my faithful journal, I wrote: 

"... and here is something about his eyes. They are beautiful and sad and wild and life. Like they hold the whole history of the world in them. I have never in my life seen someone with such beautiful, deep, expressive, pure blue eyes. Ever. I could drown in his eyes. I am NOT KIDDING." 

I replied to his mama's comments. I couldn't help myself.

New Year's Eve came. A kind response from his mama. And no word from him.
Hmmmm.I thought. I guess nothing will come of it, after all. Never a pursuer of guys, myself, I knew that if we were to talk at all - he would need to be the initiator. Hmmm, that Daniel Morris. On my mind.

He initiated. New Year's Eve, 2o14. 

Commenting on Instagram, on one of my older photos. He was calm, cool, friendly, not creepy, + obviously kinda interested. 
[The perfect combination, I say!]

He wrote to me?! 

I died. 

Immediately, I called Sister. She was shopping at the grocery store with Dot [our grandma.] 

I told her everything. I sent her pictures of him I found on Facebook. I sent her a screen shot of his comments. 

She hesitated for 3 seconds and then she very purposefully said: 

 "He is a TEN. He looks exactly like Robert Redford and he is a cowboy!" and then loud and clear through the phone, I heard her speak [in her most serious, bossy voice I know she only uses when she means business + you better listen up] 

"Sis.... Do NOT screw this up."

  So.... I replied. Openly. Kindly. Friendly. And he replied. We talked of music. And life. My book. His viola, his album. 
Butterflies. For the first time in a long time. 

I spent New Year's Day at a very summery, warm Malibu beach. With a latte in hand, a journal in the other, and my family by my side. We were on opposite ends of the country.
We chatted for a few days on Instagram. And then? He asked for my email address.

I just knew: 2014? It was gonna be different. And really, really good. He spent NYE 2013 in Times Square, New York City. He posted this on his Instagram: "Cheers to 2014 being the best year ever." Oh, darling. Little did you know then. It has been.

His first email popped up in my inbox on January 2nd, 2014. 

He wrote... "Hey Erin! It's Daniel. Well, I guess we can e-mail now haha...." And went on to tell me all about his adventures in New York City on New Year's Eve.

Jane Bennett once said of her Mr. Bingley [Jane Austen fans, can I hear ya?!] "He is everything a young man ought to be...." And so was Daniel. Kind, respectful, intentional, thoughtful, gentlemanly, clear, and NOT creepy. Somehow, he was all those things rolled in one. I could tell. I was surprised. He was detailed + told me things. He asked me things. And something that really, really struck me about his first emails? He talked less about himself + asked more about me - which is a selfless qualities I had never, ever seen in a young man I'd spoken to before. The guys I dated before.... they didn't care about me. They didn't care about a girl's passions or dreams or music or plans. Or my heart. My mama was floored when I told her about his emails. Sister - flabergasted. She showed our Grandma Dot, and we all swooned at his care, detail, attention, and maturity.

Emails were exchanged, daily. My heart lept into my throat every time I heard the ding! and saw his name in my inbox. His sister-in-law tells me he typed every one of those e-mails on his phone, curled in a corner of a room - writing for hours. Those e-mails... long + wordy + warm + then, a little flirty.

Guys often asked me, "Soooo... you blog + are a freelance writer? What is your real job?" It always felt like a slap in the face because....um, that was my real job. My dream. That I was sacrificing for + moving-home-with-my-parents-for, and not making loads of cash for but working-my-tail-off-for. But Daniel? He asked gingerly, sensitively. "How amazing that you have a blog! Is that what you do full-time?" His carefulness + respect for my dream-chasing? Meant alot to me. Spoke volumes about his values, his heart, his sensitivity. 

Sixteen e-mails exchanged. It was all very "You've Got Mail" of us. Hearts racing. 3,000 miles apart. He wrote, "I am in Maryland, you're in Los Angeles... we really could not be further apart in the US! But that is no biggie."

And then he asked for my number. And it was all over when I heard his warm, shaky, excited, "Heyyyy..." colored with a Southern accent. It was like I'd known him all my life. 

And yet, so sudden + thrilling + new. Made me feel like I could fly! 

Oh, I can't wait to tell you about our first phone date. 

And our first texts.

I can't wait to tell you about how we talked once or twice a week, late into the wee hours of the morning. And found we were kindred spirits.

How one day, he didn't text or call at all because [later I found out...] the poor man hurt himself on a construction job. And how I had a meltdown on the bathroom floor [with faithful Sister on the phone] at the thought that maybe this guy ["after I'd been SO CAREFUL to not get attached to anyone for three freaking years!"] I am falling for from afar hurts me or takes off or doesn't ever follow through? What if it is all too good to be true?

And how it really, beautifully was not too good. It was even better. 

How one day, I had to sit down when I opened his text. Because he wrote,  "Erin, we have to meet. I'm coming out there." 

Oh, how I can't wait to tell you all about the first moment I saw him. At LAX airport. All tall + rugged + handsome. How he wandered through the baggage claim until we met eyes + I melted + life changed. 

" All I know is we said, 'hello.' 
So dust off your highest hopes. " 
- taylor swift 

About the whirlwind of a week we spent together in California. The word "swoon" comes to mind quite vividly to describe it. 

I can't wait to tell you how he assumed + misunderstood something I said right before we met; how he thought I planned a chaperon to accompany us every moment of the trip. How he spent two plane rides from Oklahoma to Colorado, to Los Angeles in agony. [we didn't ;) ] 

How that week could have been a full-on awkward disaster. He flew across the United States to meet a stranger + stay at my family's house! But it was truly the most perfect seven days two strangers have ever spent together. 

I can't wait to tell you all about our first day together in person. Spent in balmy, dreamy Malibu. How we hiked + laughed + walked two miles on a beach through paradise. How he took my hand to help me up the steep parts, and.... *butterflies!* 
How he picked a little yellow flower + slipped it in my hair. 
I can't wait to tell you all our wild + free adventures. 

Like the time we rode bikes all day in pristine Santa Barbara. How we stopped at a quaint narrow, wooden-floored flower shop that smelled like heaven. How he bought a heart-shaped box of sea salt caramel chocolates + stood with me beside our bikes, laughing + flirting + popping them all in our mouths. How I loved the way his eyes danced and nose wrinkled when he really, really smiled. 
Or the time we broke into a garden atop gorgeous Catalina Island. How we climbed over a fence, ran through flowers + trees, breathless + hiding to keep from being caught. How we slow danced without music. And held hands in that lush, stately garden for the *first* time.
How [completely unplanned!] we caught each and every beach sunset that week.

Or when he took me to my favorite seaside spot, Laguna Beach, + whisked me out [just in time for the sunset] to a jagged rock out far past the shore. How we stood, barefoot + jittery with all-consuming, head-to-toe, "spark" + romance - on that rock. It felt like we were in the middle of the ocean. Waves crashing wildly around us! A hot pink round sun + a pale yellow and baby blue sky all around us, painted by God's very own hand. How he whipped out his alluring viola + played love songs for me.... and how he had to hold me up - my legs went weak + would not work, for swooning. How he took me to a fancy dinner + bought me a special little necklace, "As a token. So you know I am coming back to California." 
[photo taken in the same exact spot a few months later, as we didn't snap one "in the moment"! thanks imkristen.com] 
I can't wait to tell you all about my first trip to Oklahoma. To his family's dreamy little farm. I fell in love with them. How he took me to his land + house - that he invested in and built years ago, for his future family. How he brought a perfect little picnic. A basket full of all my favorite things. A pink vintage quilt that belonged to his grandma. A blue Mason jar full of wildflowers. Pink champagne + chocolates. How he led me by the hand to the grassy yard of a charming old early-1900's schoolhouse [straight out of "Little House on the Prairie" - oh my heart!] right by his land, out in a field. Branches of trees making a canopy above us. Butterflies literally flying around us heads. Perfect warm sunshine. How that red dirt took a little piece of my heart that I'll never get back when he asked me to be his girlfriend + spun me around + around in circles when a resounding yes! tumbled off my lips. How he picked up his guitar + sang me a song he wrote a few years ago, for his future "someone"... how I cried.
I can't wait to tell you about our first kiss + how dreamy it was to step back + both say.... "That was my first kiss ever. I have saved it all these 26 + 27 years... for the right time, the right one." | "ME TOO!!!"

About our road-trip. Oklahoma to Kansas to Colorado to Utah to Nevada and back to my home of Los Angeles. How we got to know each other real well. Spent time with family + friends. Through rolling fields of wheat, flat prairies, red dirt roads, snowy Rocky Mountains, dry + painted western deserts + all the way down to the blonde sandy dream beaches of California.
How we spent the entirety of April eating cinnamon rolls + Mexican food, splashing in warm waves, + exploring vineyards + coffee shops + restaurants in Santa Barbara. Beaching in paradise, along with his kind twin brother + his darling, fun little family.
How we started talking + being more open. How we realized we feared being totally open-book genuine and talking about hard things. How it was hard, but we pushed through it... to telling secrets + shedding tears + doing real life together + seeing each other's brokenness + weakness + fears + strengths ... and how all wrapped up: the beautiful + "swoony" + romantic + ugly + weak + messy ... it is all even more beautiful, and better together

I can't wait to tell you our epic day at Disneyland. How we watched the spectacular fireworks show. And then he walked me through Sleeping Beauty's Castle - reading her story  as we climbed stoney stairs and familiar fairytale music played. How he took me out to the drawbridge forecourt. Sitting before the stately, lit-up, enchanted thick walls + pointed towers. I felt like a princess when he said, I love you... for the first time. And I burst out, Oh I love you too! How we kissed and cried and danced in under the arch, overlooking the moat. My favorite song played. The song my great-grandparent's dubbed as "their song" fifty-plus years ago played right then. 

What a gift to fall in love. And to do it in so many special, lovely, wonderful places.

Sometimes I stop + think, How can this be real? And so so wonderful? I don't deserve this! It's all too good and too amazing and dream-like. Yet, it is real. And it is ours.

All due to a very kind, graceful God who loves to answer big-hearted, wide eyed, impossible prayers of little girls + boys who love Him. Who fail + fall + wander + wonder. But who trust Him + look to Him + ask Him very specifically for good gifts, in His time + way. I am blown away - in every sense - by God's goodness to us. Every doubt or question through my years of waiting.... those dark moments of, What if He is not good? What if He is not who He says He is? I don't understand His ways. I don't know..... I always knew He was good. But, I have never seen His goodness so palpably. So right-before-my-very-eyes. I know mama's feel this way when they hold their new baby. Lovers feel this way when they say "I Do!" Dreamers feel this way when big dreams come to pass. Grievers feel this way when they see a sign and know their lost loved one is still there. Worshippers feel this way when His presence just falls + it is all okay. 

If there's anything I've learned through this season of falling head-first, fearlessly in love is this: do not give up hope on your dreams. Keep praying the very-big prayers; the ones haters hate on + make fun of you for. Keep waiting + saving your heart + soul. Keep not settling for second best. Keep saving those first kisses, + everything else's - for the right 'one.'  Keep trusting in a big, good, mysterious God. In darkness + depression + loss + failure + dry waiting deserts .... He will not let you down. I promise. Whether all your plans work out and dreams come true or they crash down - He is good. He works all things for good.

I can still taste the searing ache of waiting - I remember it, and I always will. Girls, there are good, strong, godly men out there who will woo + win + romance you. Know that. Don't settle for anything less. I didn't - even though at times I was mocked, questioned, misunderstood, + pitied for it. Now, oh how worth the wait.

Never in my life have I met a young man with such strength of character. 

I love him. His kindness. Passion. Love for the Lord. Sensitivity. I love his tanned + strong, veiny, rough + hardworking, skillfully talented hands. His chiseled jawline. His sandy hair. Those sky blue, make-my-heart-melt eyes. His strong, firm arms and chest that tell of many hours and years of working construction and helping out on the farm in Oklahoma. I love how his face shines + lights up when he plays music. He is imaginative, wild, disciplined, patient, calm, joyful, deep, vivacious, smart, careful, optimistic, courageous, hardworking, spontaneous, funny, compassionate, faithful, + gracious. 

For this man I prayed. For this man I am grateful. 

And that is how I met him. 

More to come.... someday. Soon. 

"In that day they will say,

'Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him;  

let us rejoice + be glad in His salvation." 

[Isaiah 25:9] 



51 comments:

  1. Erin I am so happy that you are finally blogging about your story with Daniel! I have LOVED all of the Instagram updates through the past few months. I am SOOOOO happy for you both, and you also have no idea how encouraging it is to me to see this as a single gal! <3 Thank-you for sharing your heart!!

    xoxo A
    www.southernbelleintraining.com

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  2. eriiiiiin. i am rather new to your blog - hadn't really heard of it until you met daniel (my sister is good friends with the morris'!). just read this whole thing and it's 2 in the morning and i'm just shaking with joy for you and your cowboy. i had heard bits of it from following you and mrs. morris on instagram :) but to read the whole thing play out and to see how perfectly suited this story is for you both... it's remarkable. unbelievable. inspires hope and IMMENSE joy. i'm so very happy for you both. thank you for sharing this - I'm reminded anew that God is so so so so very good and that he loves to give good gifts to his children. <3

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    1. oh i'm so grateful. you are too kind to leave such sweet words - thank you!

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  3. Just beautiful. I keep saying/thinking His love never fails. Thankful for the two of you. God is so good. (happy tears and hugs; xo)

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    1. thank you thank you :) eternally grateful to your thoughtfulness + taking the time to "introduce" me + daniel online. God used you, big time. love you!

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  4. :) I was smiling like crazy while reading this. What a cool meeting story you guys have. :)

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  5. This is such a sweet, sweet story! I'm so very happy for you both. What a beautiful picture of God's faithfulness and tenderness. I'm excited to see how He continues to use your relationship for His glory!

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  6. What a sweet story! Loved getting to read about your journey so far!

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  7. Today I have been struggling so deeply with "I would literally settle for anyone, right now, whoever comes first" and this was such an encouragement. Have a wonderful weekend.

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    1. so thankful, girl. keep not settling - you are worth it!! hugs!!

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  8. This is just precious!!! I'm single, so this reminded me to keep praying and not give up!! Can't wait to read more of your story!!!

    xoxo

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  9. What an absolutely breathtaking love story! I can't wait to see what God does in the two of your lives!!! :-)

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  10. Crying.
    I honestly have no words to how wonderful this is, and how incandescently happy this made me. I know y'alls story, but this made me gasp, & jump like I'd been sneaked up on. I was in suspense. In awe. So so precious.
    Thank you, Erin, for taking the time to share such a special part of your heart with us all.
    This brought back my steely resolve to wait for someone like Daniel, and not settle. This brought back a whole lot of hope that was draining away.
    I am so excited for you I just want to dance around.

    xoxo.

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    1. love you, beautiful!! you are always so encouraging. hugs!!!

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  11. Erin,
    Thank you for sharing your love story :) And being so open about it! As a single, almost 23 year old with many married friends, it is sometimes difficult to trust that God has someone in store for me. This post is so encouraging and I loved reading it.

    -Kirsten

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    1. thanks so much!! stay strong, sweetie!! you are worth so much to Him.

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  12. Erin,

    I love this Love Story between you and Cowboy. Princess and Cowboy rather. Yours is one of the best almost like a movie. Ya'lls love and faith and work with Christ is beyond amazing too. Still waiting for you to resend me your book. :P

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  13. First off- I'm bawling. Such a beautiful, inspiring, and heart felt story.
    Second- thank you for sharing your story with the world. I follow you on Instagram, and I have to be honest, half the time I was like, "Seriously? Another picture?" But I'm so glad I never unfollowed you. I think I was lead to follow yours and "Cowboy"s journey. It has helped me tremendously. As a 21-year-old single gal, it's hard to be patient with God. But thankfully, he is patient with us. I know he has the perfect plan for my life. Erin, YOU have given me that confidence. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  14. i'm truly so happy for you!!! i couldn't help but smile throughout this entire post! it just seems so unreal, like something out of a fairytale. i pray that one day God opens that door for me and i can experience something so beautiful!!! cheers to waiting and getting God's best. you guys' story is amazing and i'm keeping you both in my prayers!!! :) <3

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  15. do you realize this whole beautiful story could be a movie?! it is PERFECT, so cute (and the luck you had with social media in this day and age makes it all the more charming). this is just so sweet. i just came back from los angeles and i actually know/heard of these places yoou mention here so i felt all cool! haha.

    thank you for sharing with us. this is just lovely :)
    love, taylor
    bloganticipation.blogspot.com

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    1. awww i am so grateful. you are too kind- thank you!!

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  16. This kind of makes me squeal in delight for you! I have loved following along on facebook and Instagram! xo.

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    1. awwwww you are the sweetest, meghan!! thank you :)

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  17. This is just the sweetest, Erin! God is so faithful. It's a precious and beautiful reminder, as I pray and wait for God to write my own love story, that His ways and timing are perfect. I take such joy and encouragement from this little snapshot of your love story. I couldn't be happier for you!

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  18. Dear Erin, thank you so much for sharing this with us. What an encouragement and powerful testimony of God's amazing faithfulness in bringing you two together in His unique, beautiful way!! I am so, SO happy for you two. I've loved seeing little bits and pieces on your IG posts and was thrilled to read the longer version on here. :) Again, thank you so much for sharing. It brings hope and encouragement and ahhh, what lovely details. (You did such a beautiful job of writing down all of this!) Thank you, thank you. Love your story and may our Heavenly Father bless you two abundantly!!! <333

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  19. Hi Erin! I found you through my baby girl, Margaret Barley Hess (I think you are Influence friends, yes!) . What a beautiful love story!

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  20. His plans are so so perfect! So happy for you, my friend! xoxo

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  21. so, i thought i had commented on this post when you first posted it, but i guess it didn't post. :,(
    ERIN! i CANNOT express the joy i am feeling for you and daniel. eeeek! can't wait to see your story unfold....
    xoxoxoxo

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  22. LOVED this testimony!! Wishing all of God's best for you and Daniel! :)

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  23. Erin,
    I just wanted to let you know that it is so Divinely perfect that I am following your blog and instagram. I've grown weary of only seeing women talk about the shallow and negative things of life. You are a breath of fresh air and your posts renew my courage to remain pure not only in my body but in my heart and my soul. The courage that it takes to do what you do and to live the way that you do have not gone unnoticed by me and I can promise you they certainly haven't gone unnoticed by God. Thank you for being a light that continually pierces the darkness in our world and thank you for being not only a fellow sister in Christ, but an amazing and God SATURATED role model.
    Hannah

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  24. Hi Erin. I just started reading your blog.
    God is so gracious + merciful and provides for us in ways beyond my imagination.
    This week has been tough. Tears have been shed over dreams that seem so far out of reach. People telling me they aren't meant to be.
    I spent time in prayer this weekend praying that His will be done but being fearful - not knowing when His will will happen or if it's so different than my dreams. Feeling scared of the future + unknown.
    I read this today. It encouraged me to spend time in prayer. Surrendering my fears of the future to Him and praying for His will believing that His will is good + beautiful and that it's better than my biggest dreams.
    The ways God encourages my heart blows me away. I'm thankful (as you mentioned) that God cares about the small details.
    God bless you in your journey. Happy that He is answering your prayers so beautifully!

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  25. This brought tears to my eyes! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. For sharing this story and your encouraging words at the end. God is SO good and your story blew me away! Blessings to you and Daniel on your new adventures.

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  26. Erin,
    Beautiful and inspiring are the only words I can use to describe this story and just you as a person. I have just recently started following your blog and Instagram and I have been completely blown away with how raw, lovely, and encouraging you are. I am married now, but I did not wait, I was not patient, and I made mistakes. However because God is oh so gracious He blessed me with a husband that is everything I had ever dreamed. But your story Erin is just so BEAUTIFUL! It is so powerful and has obviously impacted many. Though I am no longer waiting the way that you live your life inspires me to be a better wife. Thank you for that. Thank you for sharing your story so openly and for following God's leading in your life. You are truly a woman of God who encourages everyone she comes in contact with to be better.

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  27. This is one of those obvious relationship deal breakers you don't wish to go through. Heated arguments can go terribly wrong and end up with verbal abuse and violence. In physical fights, women tend to be the victims.

    what men secretly want james bauer

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sweet friends, share your heart.

"kind words are like honey...sweet..and healing.." -proverbs 16:24.

xo.

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