The MVP Of Marriage Thus Far

As you may already know, 12 hours ago I found myself waking up to the sound of my wife’s screams. The kind that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and your adrenaline immediately start to pump. Probably just reaching a deep sleep cycle, it took me a minute to come to out of the fog, and realize the screams were coming from Allie, take my CPAP mask off, and run to her aid.

She’d collapsed on the floor after trying to get out of bed to stretch due to the discomfort being caused by the sciatica she was experiencing. From what I understand (and I don’t understand it very well yet), that means there are some pinched nerves near where her spine and butt meet that can cause a great deal of discomfort. Pinched nerves and muscle spasms are not a good thing. To my dismay she’s been uncomfortable and in tears for the last 3 weeks and I’ve stood there helplessly trying to figure out what to do. Chiropractic and massage therapist visits brought only temporary relief and in some cases only worsened things. And then it all came to a head last night when she literally could not get up from a fetal position. Trying to stretch things out for about 40 minutes. Me, laying on the floor next to her and trying to comfort her through the pain until I realized it was time to call for an ambulance…

My beautiful wife is fast asleep on the couch now, tuckered out from waking up in unbearable pain, being rolled in a chair down the stairs because she couldn’t walk, shot up with narcotics and now on heavy doses of pain-killers. Allie is such a strong, brave woman and I hate seeing her in this much pain. I also hate knowing there’s nothing I can do about it but help her get up and stay home for the next few days (since I had a vacation scheduled already anyways) to ensure she’s staying healthy.

Would I love to be in Vegas with my coworkers? Of course. But I’d love to stay here with her way more. I wouldn’t have nearly as much fun without her anyways. Something I think we both realized today is that one of the most valuable aspects of marriage is having someone there when you need them. I can’t imagine life without her. Vegas will always be there waiting for us in Nevada and sometime we can go when we’re both healthy. What’s valuable now is that regardless of whether I’m in Shawnee, KS or Las Vegas, NV I get to spend a few days with my best-friend and do what I can to encourage her weary heart.

I love you, babe.

Welcoming your prayers,

Justin Meyer

Man Crush Monday

There he was, the dream version of myself in human form sitting to my left. A middle-aged gentleman obviously in early retirement, wealthy to the point of millions most likely but my interest wasn’t necessarily in the money although you could tell he had some from the stories he told. After spending years in law enforcement, he had become a motivational speaker and through his speaking realized he needed to write a book and share his stories with the world. I thought about asking for his phone-number or his business card, or trying to give him the link to my blog but in the moment it felt like I’d be trying too hard so I just listened.

He talked about his favorite things to do in retirement were playing racquetball and joining a few gun clubs. I probably should have said, “I’ll try and keep up with you on the racquetball court,” but despite his age, he’d probably whoop me.

So what’s the point of me sharing this story? I feel I was just encouraged by meeting someone that had done it. It wasn’t as if the money appeared in his bank account overnight and it wasn’t as if he was an immediate success. From what it sounded like, he had made cold calls to various sources in order to self-promote and sell his own books and services. But he put in the work and received the pay off over time.

When asked what book I was wanting to write, I quickly quipped that it’d be awesome to compile a book of my previously written poetry and he suggested adding illustrations to them to make it more consumer friendly which I thought was an excellent idea. Unfortunately, I shied away from sharing that I was currently working on writing a book on addiction recovery and my own faith journey but that’s okay – I just felt revitalized to start writing again. Something he said was, “You just have to do it. Sit down and write and write and write – don’t worry about the editing until you’re nearly done and then go back and spend twice as much time editing it.” It’s always been the starting that is the hardest part. Like getting out of bed and making the bed in the morning. Like choosing to jog. The hardest part isn’t finishing a mile, it’s the first two blocks and trying to get some cold, tired legs to move again.

With writing, it’s eliminating the self doubt and the worrying what others will think, because who cares? They’re either going to read it or they’re not going to. Really, I’m doing it for myself anyways, as part of my own healing process and journey to freedom from addiction to counterfeit affections, freedom from the obsession with other’s opinions, freedom from bending to other’s expectations. It’s about letting others behind the veil, eliminating a second self cloaked in lies of omission to provide safe haven for the second self. Dying to the old and giving birth to the new.

In the end, that’s what life is all about. And it’s always the heart of the matter that matters the most.

So today as you read this, where is your heart? What dreams are you not pursuing and what excuses are keeping you from their pursuit? Gather up those excuses and take them out with the trash tomorrow morning. They don’t belong in your life anymore.

I See Greatness In You

I asked God to speak to me today. In prayer, out loud – I said, “Lord, I want to hear your voice – to feel your presence and to know that you are for me.” And I waited on the Lord; I waited for Him to come. And He didn’t…Not right away, anyways.

But somehow, going through the motions of the day, Allie and I began to open up – sharing deeper and deeper longings and dreams in our hearts and taking the time to intentionally ask questions and seek out more intimate truths. Walking further into the caverns of each other and finding precious rubies in each others hearts.

Vulnerable moments. The kind that make you hesitate before you share. The impulse comes and you begin to speak but doubt clouds your judgment and stills your tongue – wait a couple moments longer and you’ll be silenced – and then again the words come to your lips, you take a leap of faith and let them escape, exposing yourself to the other’s impact.

In that moment, you’ve chosen to be known.

And insecure fear can race into your mind, forcing you to wonder whether or not you should have shared that intimate part of yourself.

And in those moments today, we both found Jesus looking back at us – the other listened, asked questions, and went to the King as their mediator, gently refusing to pass judgment or throw the first stone.

“I see greatness in you.”

“I see greatness in you,” my wife said as we paused and reflected on the wonderful day of sharing that we had experienced together. “It’s the moments you’ve taken in your life to be vulnerable with others and listened to their counsel that have led to your greatness today, and more greatness to come.” (Slightly paraphrasing. But the message was clear, straight from the Lord. Two separate messages. First – a playful, “I heard your prayer and answered it. Didn’t I?” Because He spoke to me, clearly, plainly, and beautifully – just in a different way than I had expected. The second message became clearer the more I meditated on the words my wife had spoken. “I’m proud of you, son.”)

“I’m proud of you, son.”

Unashamed. The Lord, my King and Father, is unashamed of me. He isn’t passing judgement on my weight or lack of income recently due to poor sales or my insecure worrying and constant pleas for others to pray for me, because of my disbelief in the effectiveness of my own prayers. He isn’t saying, “Go read one more chapter of the Bible and then I’ll pour out my love and affection upon you.”

The story of the prodigal son is true. It’s my story and it can be yours true. A ragamuffin, troubled by the thorn in Paul’s side, recovering from addiction to counterfeit affections by God’s grace. Every memory of hurt and torment, every word of abuse, every fragile friendship that experienced abandonment, Jesus has offered to take those from me and to replace them with His love. All I had to do was let Him in. Never once after letting Him in has He cursed me with residency in my past, dooming me to a life of shame. Rather, He’s freed me from my shackles and shown me His powerful mercy and grace. To the point that my beautiful, outstanding, strong, faithful, kind, merciful, Christ-like wife said, “I see greatness in you.”

Words that melted my heart, softened me to His Love. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. I’m accepting myself because He accepts me – not as an acquaintance and not even as a distance friend, but as a son – a son that He is proud of.

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10 Days.

And on the 10th day, Justin realized how selfish he was. Actually, it happened much, much quicker than that. For both of us really. You see – when you take two intelligent, dominant personalities together, you don’t always get butterflies in your stomach and warm, fuzzy feelings. Although we still do, frequently.

The leader of my accountability group at Freedom KC said, “You need to get some callouses on your knees.” Of course, what he meant, is that it was time to pray. And it has been. Time to pray more than I ever have before.

I’ve learned that it’s so easy to get angry, simply because certain things aren’t being done the way that I’m used to them being done. Or because something is inconvenient. For example, I’ve been trying to find some time to myself basically since we got back from the honeymoon. I absolutely love her with my whole heart and I thoroughly enjoy the time we get to spend together, but it’s 1,000% necessary for me to break away and do my own thing from time-to-time and 9 days in (yesterday), that was being threatened as I planned on doing it today. My brother’s car was experiencing issues and I was going to have to be his chauffeur for the first couple hours of the day and then Allie asked if I’d go grocery shopping if she gave me a list. (The easier of the two tasks, obviously.) But I let it noticeably change my mood. I needed to write and do classwork and wanted to read. All beneficial, good, healthy tasks that I’d been unable to invest in much at all. But of course, having food for dinner is as well. Life is a balance and I’m not very good at it yet.

So here I am in Starbucks, selfishly writing. And I’ve found myself faced with this reality of “is it selfish or is it necessary?” I’ve heard it said before that you can’t take care of another person if you can’t take care of yourself and last night as I collapsed on the living room floor after running errands all day long I felt myself reach the end of my reserve tanks. I was spent. Nothing left, I climbed into bed and Allie followed suit. What followed was a loving and warm conversation as we requested forgiveness and were forgiven, spoke kind words over each other, expressed our feelings, and then prayed together. Shortly thereafter, we were both out cold. So I’m here, neglecting husbandly duties for the sake of myself, but for whatever reason I’m confident I’ll be a better husband this evening if I take this time for myself this afternoon.

What my leader said is correct. Allie and I have both never prayed more in our lives. When conflict arises, we call a metaphorical timeout and spend some time praying. It helps us remember that Jesus is Lord of us and we are not. Helps us remove our selfish desires from the equation and objectively decide together what is best for US, as a UNIT.

United, we’ll stand. Divided, we’ll fall. 10 times out of 10.

I believe I used this illustration in my “I Decided” blog the day before the wedding. But it stands true and I’ll bring it up again. Allie and I both have baggage. I’d equate it to carrying our suitcases through the airport. Fulfilling my sorority girl coffee-order stereotype, I’d packed one bag more than her and she’d helped me carry my luggage when my hands were full with other stuff. In the same way, there have been moments where both of us have felt burdened by all of the baggage that we carry in our own hearts and lives. Mostly insecurities. Things about how we look, whether or not we’re measuring up, if we’ll make a good husband or a good wife, or how we’ll manage to keep alive the things that make our hearts passionate, fiery and powerful as individuals, yet build and maintain the essential uniformity that binds us together in union.

We’re both learning that we can’t let the other sink themselves to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of their own expectations.

Which brings me to something else I’m learning. It’s the concept of projection. So let’s say that I’m feeling some relational tension. Allie and I are both sort of ready to spar with one another. You can sort of sense that snarky right-jab coming your way and you get on the defensive, ready to fight back for your dignity, for SPARTA! You get the idea. We know it’s silly. You know it’s silly. In the end, the disagreement was never worth all the hoopla anyways. But there we are, tension building. And I’m really feeling it, right? Because I’m a feeler. And I’m emotional intelligent. And I’m CERTAIN that she’s mad at me because I’m not living up to her perfect, unrealistic expectations for me. But notice there’s one thing missing from the equation…Allie’s actual expectations. What’s happened is my mind has taken my own unrealistic, burdening expectations for myself, and then placed them unfairly onto her. I’ve put words into her mouth that weren’t even there.

We’ve both witnessed this unhealthy phenomena take place. During a conversation in her Dad’s truck on the way to pick up a FREE QUEEN SIZED BED (THANK YOU, JESUS!) we started a healthy discussion about our own unrealistic expectations. And how if we continued to hold onto those unhealthy burdens then we’d continually feel as if we couldn’t breathe, as if we were sinking to the bottom of an ocean. Defensive and unaccepting of the other’s help, they wouldn’t be able to lift us to the surface and we’d allow our relationship to fade into the apathetic oblivion of the ocean floor. Thankfully, we’re choosing every day to not go that route. We always make it back to the surface and swim toward the Heavens.

Whatever it takes. Forever and always. Allie and myself will fight for, serve, protect, and preserve our relationship. “Better together, always forever, ’til death do us part.” I said it then, I’ll say it now, and I’ll live it out for the next 60+ years.

Speaking with her father at the Rehearsal Dinner the evening before the wedding I mentioned how nervous I’d been about my vows and how I’d rewritten them probably three different times. In his matter-of-fact manner he said, “Well just remember it’s not your words that’ll matter – in the the end, it’s your actions that will count.” That being said, I’ve taken the time to write the words and now it’s time to go live it out. I’ve got some stamps to buy, Valentine’s gifts to find, cleaning to contribute to, and work to return to wholeheartedly tomorrow. Pray I do it all well.

Marriage has been and will continue to be the most beautifully hard thing I’ve ever taken part in, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity God has given us within it. An incubator for personal growth and development as a unit, marriage will be a place where we individually have to take ourselves to the cross to die to ourselves daily and to live for the benefit of the other person. But it’s there that we’ll find our fulfillment and joy. It’s there on the living room floor, totally spent and empty of self, that Jesus swoops into the room and speaks through my wife’s gentle words into my heart. It’s those resilient tears. That gentle touch. That powerful laugh and smile. It’s giving in to loving without reserve. No reserves. No retreats. No regrets. We’re all in for each other, and it’s the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced.

Humbled And Grateful,

Justin Meyer

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#TheWedding

Let’s start from the beginning. My best-friend and I have been married for a little over a week now. Today is our 10th day of a covenant relationship that has blessed us and our communities deeply already.

To those of you that came as far as Western Kansas, Nebraska, backwoods Arkansas, and even Florida to spend a few hours on Saturday with us, we want to Thank You. Having all of you there as witnesses to our commitment to one another really blessed the hearts of both of us. It was your presence, personality, and depth with which you invested in your interactions with us that had my bride and I reflecting on how the wedding had “been a dream.” That my bride’s “dream-wedding” occurred and managed to stay mostly within budget leaves me forever thankful to her gracious parents generous investments, my parents support, and everyone that came. (But enough thank you note material, those will be written in due time.)

Allow me to reflect on the day and summon some of those deeper emotions real quick. If that’s not your thing, then feel free to pass on this blog and the next few to come. It’ll be mostly reflection, emotional processing, and a sort of self-awareness tool for me. But if you dig transparency, authenticity, and like to learn from other’s lives, then keep an eye on me over the next few months. I forecast some serious growth.

It’s 5:30PM and my nerves have hit an all-time high. I run to the restroom to take a nervous poop (hey – you’ve been there too) and then make my way downstairs toward the front. As I do, of course I run into people I know. “Ya nervous? How ya feeling?” I barely acknowledge them as I’m 100% inside my own mind at this point and I break free from the crowd and hide myself in a closet next to the stage that controls all the lights. Bryce’s wife had brought McDonald’s Frappe’s for us and I sipped on the sugary, frozen coffee to ensure I had enough blood-sugar to not faint on stage. About as soon as I calmed myself and steeled my nerves, the pastor walks in and prays over me. Then Joseph (my best man) and I take the stage with the pastor. I stand toward the front and look forward. All is silent. The music starts playing and the bridal party starts proceeding forward.

6:05PM – My bride makes her way down the grand staircase. The audience rises. My heart jumps into my throat like an Olympic high-jumper. My heart starts beating fast with adrenaline as everything finally feels real. (Leading up to this moment, I kept speaking of how surreal everything felt. As if it were too good to be true. But now. Now, it was true. It was real. It was happening. There she was. And she was beautiful!)

6:07PM – My bride is toward the front and I meet her father down at the bottom, along with our marrying pastor. The pastor starts saying some things but I’m barely paying attention. I’ve locked eyes with Allie as if we’re seeing each other for the first time. A few tears that refuse to be contained make their way into my eyes and threaten to stream down my cheeks but then I’m back in the spotlight as Robert (Bob) Robitaille, her father, places Allie’s hand into mine and I escort her up on stage with me and the pastor.

I’ll be honest – from that point forward, I barely paid attention to Pastor Tom. Great guy. Great message. It was actually one that in hindsight we will have to get the notes to, as he was talking about getting to build a home together and how much hope, faith, and love we could fill it with if we so choose. He spoke of our ministry being one of reconciliation, which is something I feel God has placed on my heart and burdened it with and something that feels as if it just isn’t going to go anywhere so I might as well make a move with it.

What I do instinctively remember is reading my vows to Allie. I printed them off because I’d tried the whole impromptu words during emotional times thing before (with the proposal) and I’d been nearly mute – speechless in the moment. In fact, as my brother Tyler recalls, the words didn’t actually come until I started praying and dancing with her outside after she said, “Yes!” It hadn’t taken my words to win her over, just the simple action of getting on one knee. That’s all she needed to know my heart was ready. Whoops – I got sidetracked! The proposal was awesome. (Go back and read #TheProposal if you haven’t already.) I promised to always love her and to kiss her good morning and good night. I spoke of hope and of never joking, teasing, or threatening divorce. I threw in a joke about how I’d watch all the Christmas movies she wanted and then I told her that we’d tear down the walls in our hearts that keep us from true intimacy. Most importantly, I promised to always take our burdens to the cross. And friends, I have never prayed more in my life than I have in the first 10 days of our marriage. I need Him. She needs Him. We need Him.

Allie teased that it was hard to follow-up a writer and then proceeded to do so in heart-melting fashion. She roasted me a bit about my sorority girl coffee-order (but we all knew that was coming) and then spoke of how she’d always love me, build me up, and care for me. She has, and she will. I don’t doubt that for a minute.

The pastor wrapped things up and let us kiss each other. A shiny new ring on both of our ring-fingers. Hearts full. Eyes filled with joyful tears. We half-walked, half-sprinted, half-danced (I typically leave the math to her as you can tell) down the aisle and back up the stairs.

The rest of the evening proved to be just as powerful. As friend after friend and family member after family member spoke kindly of both of us as individuals and the hope and power they felt resonated in our marriage. Two conversations I remember in particular was one where a slightly older married couple that I’ve always looked up to mentioned they were super proud of us for including not allowing divorce to be an option in our wedding vows and that we promised not to joke about it. They thought that was a major problem in a lot of relationships. It was empowering to hear those words of affirmation and reassured us that it was a good and necessary move in guarding our words. And the last was a friend and former coworker from my teenage years spoke of how she had been in tears when she told her husband about the hope and Christ-like story of grace and redemption that can be found in our relationship. Which was heartwarming, as it confirmed the prophetic nature of my heart’s desire for us to be a message of reconciliation to others.

The day was so good. And this has already gotten long. So I’ll cut this short and title it, “#TheWedding” or something. There’ll be a post titled “10 Days” to follow, where I chronicle all I’ve learned in just 10 days.

#ManAndWifeMeyersForLife

Sincerely,

The Groom

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I Decided

I decided it would be a disservice to my own heart if I didn’t go ahead and write the day before I got married. It’s how I’m wired. It’s how I share with the world. And I firmly believe every story is meant to be told. There’s always something to learn from someone else’s. So here’s mine.

I decided. Life is made up of a series of decisions. Some lead to pain and death and others lead to joy and life. Some seem mundane and others seem exciting. But we’re always making decisions, second-by-second, day-by-day, decision-after-decision. We do not have be the sum of our past mistakes, but who we are today is the sum total of our decisions up to that point in time. I’m in debt because I chose to spend money before I’d acquired or saved it. I’m overweight because I don’t pay enough attention to the caloric intake of my diet or exercise enough. And on the positive spectrum, I’ve got amazing friends because I’ve always invested heavily in those relationships. And I’m about to marry Allie tomorrow because I decided that she was worth the cost of my singleness.

And so I decided to ask her to marry me on October 21st, 2016. After tomorrow, it’ll probably be rated as the second most nerve-wrecking moment of my life. Standing on a stage in front of 200 people and trying to read my vows without crying or cracking a cheesy joke to lighten my inner anxiety while sweating in a tux will quickly take first place. But that moment on October 21st, a little over three months ago, was terrifying. But I’d decided it was worth risking rejection. I’d decided that while singleness and “freedom” had been fun and I’d enjoyed a lot of juvenile liberties, that I was ready to move forward.

Tomorrow, I’ll decide to confirm that reality in my heart. I’ll show up ready to commit the rest of my life to a woman I’ve only known 1 year, 3 months, and so many days. She’s worth it, because Jesus loves me that way – without reserve, without doubt, without ever holding back or retreating. I’ll say, “I do” because I know she’ll do the same. Because I’ve seen her lean into God and into community in my ugliest moments in order to overcome and to forgive. And because she’s awakened my heart to the man I’m meant to be. Because she looks me in the eye in such a way that the part of my heart that constantly seeks others approval is slowing dying, because it can just rest right there, in her gaze. Because I can wholly be myself with her. Quirky jokes, ridiculous humor, high energy, abundant joy, turbulent depression, anxiety, fear, a bleeding heart sometimes, a foggy grey others. She accepts and loves all of me. Not only will she let me walk alongside her with all of my baggage but she helps lighten the load. She picks up one of the bags and says, “Let me have this one. You can’t carry that load by yourself.”

Tomorrow, I’ll decide that no matter what happens from that day forward, I’ll always pursue her heart and always love her. I’ll never give up. In the words of an evangelist from time past, “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.”

I’m all in. I’ve decided.

With Love & Gratefulness,

Justin Meyer

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#TheProposal

I did it! The girls on the playground that chased me in grade-school for kisses can hit the train-tracks because this man is getting hitched! I proposed and she said, “Yes!”

Even my writing ability and words cannot do justice the gravity and realness of the love that Allie and I share. It’s tremendous and a propelling force for me that’s pressed me through some difficult self-discovery, growing-up, and helped me increasingly become the right man for her. Her confidence and perseverance in her decision to love me has solidified my affection for her.

After lots of thought (about a years worth to be exact), several emotional prayers, and mega-anxious conversations with her parents – it was time to propose.

Let’s back up to the first time I was going to ask her parents, though. Because that’s a fun and short tale. I hop in my car and tell my parents I’m going to a friend’s house. And before you know it I find myself driving down her parent’s house street, my heart beating through my chest and sweat forming on my brow (which isn’t totally unusual for me – but let’s just say I was suddenly scared to death). I drove quickly by and and collected my thoughts in a nearby parking lot. “Do I want to do this? Am I sure? Do I really love her?” The answers came back with a resounding, “Yes!” But talking to her father and mother wasn’t an easy task. I knew the gravity of the matter. I knew the purity of the heart I was asking for. I knew she was special and beautiful and abundantly perfect beyond my wildest dreams for myself.

Gathering the courage, I drove back up the drive to their house, parked my car, and got out. Nervously I knocked on the front door. No answer! Overwhelmed with mixed emotions and anxious beyond my wildest emotions, I phoned my best-friend since grade-school Joey and told him what I was doing. He managed to calm me down and it was good.

I would eventually go golfing with her Dad and then spend the whole time trying to figure out a way to broach the subject. I found it weird that I was getting along with him and actually having fun and I just didn’t have the balls to ask until we were in the truck on the way back – “So – what do you and Jan think about me, Bob?” “We think you’re pretty good for Allie. All that matters is my daughter’s happiness – take good care of her and we have no problem with you.” “Oh cool – cuz I wanna marry her.” *Awkward silence that probably wasn’t nearly as awkward and long as it felt to me….* “Okay, Justin. Well if that’s what you want – I don’t think Jan or I have an issue with it.” #Boom #PermissionGranted

A whole lot of perseverant love, prayer, and a war against darkness later – and it brings us up to speed with our story of “The Proposal.”

I frequently tell Allie that one of my favorite things in life is when I can make her eyes light up like a Christmas tree. Christmas is her absolute favorite holiday. But it’s not just a holiday for her – it’s a way of life. She likes to celebrate the spirit of Christmas basically all year long. She’s naturally a giver and warmhearted and cheery and finds the love-conquers-all holiday of Christmas to be a source of light in a dark and dreary world and as I’ve dated her, I’ve fallen more and more in love with the holiday too.

So in order to see her eyes light up, we’d need just a little Christmas Miracle.

(Disclaimer: I had abundant resources at my disposal. Her Dad is basically Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation. Her roommate is an art-designer. And her Mom and my brother provided back-up support.)

Coordinating throughout the week – I arranged for my personal “secret elves” to show up at Allie’s duplex right after we left for dinner.

We had reservations at Anton’s KC – a taproom and steakhouse that is absolutely amazing. She loved it. For one night I made her throw out her Dave Ramsey financially-smart mindset (she’s amazing at it and I just have to get better #SuchIsLife – Financial Peace University taught us that there’s always a planner and a free-spit in the relationship…guess which one I am? ;P). But tonight was about romance and courage and beauty and celebrating. Tonight was her night. But tonight, the romantic in me could shine.

So we ordered KC Strip grass-fed steaks and a bottle of delicious red-wine and I spent more on dinner than I have in my whole life. But let me tell you – it was worth it. Because she’s worth it. And the evening was off to a magical start.

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From there, I told her it was time for Chapter 2.

We started walking in the cool Fall air toward a jazz-club that has been a favorite of ours. The Green Lady Lounge is a must-go for those couples out there that haven’t been. (It’s classier than the name puts off. In other words – we’re not going to a strip-club. It’s a legit music-hall/bar, and great date-night location.)

Sitting down we enjoyed the music and I excused myself to the restroom a time or two too often because I wanted to keep tabs on the progress being made back at her house. The secret elves let me know that things were basically done and ready to go. So sticking to the schedule I announced it was time to leave. I was “feeling tired” and it was time to call it a night.

Allie was a bit sad, thinking the romantic and super fun evening was already coming to an end. I could sense her sadness but didn’t want to draw attention to it because I knew the evening would end up getting better. Being the fiercely in love and kindred spirit she is, she quickly turned up the stereo and made me sing along to some songs on the way back. It’s one of her favorite activities because I never know the words and it cracks her up. (It’s been an amusement of my friends for decades as well. Oh well!)

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As we got closer and closer to the house, I kept singing and trying to act natural. Maybe even playing into it a bit too much to keep my cover going. We pulled around the corner and you couldn’t see any lights (I’d told them to keep it off until we parked the car). So I took a deep breath and hoped for the best. Parking the car, I gave her a good, long “Hey – we’ve been dating for a year!” kiss to give the elves inside time to “flip the switch” and when we opened our eyes, a single strand of lights was beckoning against the dark night.

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“What is this? Why are there lights? Justin, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. Let’s go check it out.”

She’s stumbling through he grass in her high-heels. Her heart telling her something is up and her brain telling her this is insane, awesome, and perplexing all at once. I’m fumbling in my pocket from the ring. Which pocket should it be in? When should I get down on one knee? What will I say?

We get around the corner and she sees this…

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“Justin, what’s going on? Why are there all these lights?”

“Come on, babe. Let’s check it out and see what it’s all here for.”

I try to guide her to stand in the heart of lights by the tree, but have to improvise when she freezes and has to pause to take it all in. In a sort of out-of-body experience I realize I’m down on one knee, TOTALLY SPEECHLESS. Justin….speechless. When does that happen? I always have an opinion to share – something to say – I always have words. I look up at her and panic for the right words. But they don’t come. I’m too nervous and she’s too beautiful.

“Allie….I know I’m supposed to have an eloquent speech prepared but I haven’t slept in about a week trying to pull all of this together. But what do you say – will you marry me?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Of course! How did this happen? This is the cutest thing ever! How did you even? What? What happened? How did you do this?”

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Her reaction was the cutest thing ever it’s bringing me to joyful tears as I retell the tale of our beautiful, resilient love. Amazing that such a fairy-tale can be so real.

We stood there for a moment and she gave me the biggest hug I’ve ever received and then we prayed together over the next chapter of our lives.

“Allie, that’s not it. Our family and friends should be arriving momentarily to celebrate with us.” We then spent the evening chatting with our close friends and family. Our parents ended up loving each other (they hadn’t met yet). I tried to recover from sweating nervously and the jitters like mad from heightened emotions, sleep deprivation, and the works and didn’t actually calm down until everyone had left (so I apologize for my weirdness to all of our guests).

But overall, it was one of the most magical evenings in both of our lives.

We had exchanged some gifts. I’d given her a canvas-print collage of photos that she can hang in our future home of some of my favorite memories of us. And she’d given me a jar of “365 Reasons To Smile” (speaking my love-language of words) and a wicked-awesome wooden-paneled watch with leather strap that has the inscription, “365 days down, forever to go! Love, Allie.”

Prophetic to a T, gorgeous. Because you’ll always have me.

#BetterTogether #iPutARingOnIt #MeyerWeddingComingIn2017

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