Sunday, 25 November 2012

Our Love Story

Hello everyone! As most of you know, Aaron and I just got engaged!!!

Needless to say we are beyond excited! I wanted to share with you all, the crazy story of how we met and all that God’s done in between.

Love at First Sight?
Only a year ago things were much different...
Let me take you back to October 2011.  When I first met Aaron, my life was completely different than it is now.  I was having coffee with a wonderful friend of mine named Bozena, aka my “adopted Polish grandmother," in a local Chapters Bookstore/Starbucks.  I was venting to her about all the stresses in my life and I looked over and saw this adorable guy a few tables over, reading with his French press coffee and all … how attractive.  Now you must know that I’m not one of those girls that ever comments about how good looking a guy is out loud … I never say, “Look at that guy over there, blah blah blah” That’s not me ... until today.  When out of my bitterness I mumbled to Bozena, “Why can’t I date someone that looks like that???” motioning to the adorable man with the French press.

Later that afternoon, I stopped by Starbucks again and he was stilll there. I noticed how sincerely friendly he was with all the staff. I was chatting with my friend Joey, and quietly asked, “Who’s this guy??’  He said he wasn’t sure but that he’d been coming in the last few days. “Hmmmm” I said…
Love Letter

Now flash forward two days later. I’m having breakfast with my best friend and telling her I just started dating this other guy. She was everything a best friend should be…loving and supportive in the end, yet reminding me of all the hesitations I originally had and the red flags that she knew I was ignoring. She also gave me a letter…a letter that she happened to find shoved in the back of her desk drawer only the night before; a letter that she meant to give me on Valentine’s Day, a whole eight months prior. I jammed it in my purse and didn’t think much about it.

After my breakfast, I made my way over to visit my dad, who was then going through chemo. Walking up the long road to the hospital, I decided to read the letter…It was one of the most beautiful letters I’ve ever read. It was a love letter that a Christian guy anonymously wrote for his future wife, slightly cliché and cheesy I know, but it deeply moved me. As I read the letter I remember being so feisty and angry with God. I said to Him, "Lord I’m tired of waiting for this kind of guy to come along. I don’t know a single guy that would write a letter like this; that would have the heart to say these things; that desires these things. I said I’m done waiting for that; I’m through with waiting for what doesn’t even exist."
With that, I went to see my dad in the hospital. It was probably one of the hardest visits I can remember. After which I had to go to work eight hours in the mall; by the end of my shift I was physically and emotionally exhausted. All I could think of was get me home. I don’t want to talk to anyone; I just want to go straight to bed. 

“If I Ever Get the Nerve to Say Hello in this café…” Starbucks, October 6, 2011
And had the Chapters bookstore already locked up their mall entrance doors, I would have done exactly that. But they hadn’t. They were still open and that provided a much faster route to my parked car. So I thought to myself, I’ll just cut through, but I am not, under any circumstances, stopping by Starbucks. And then I saw him. Yes, the same French press drinking, retail friendly, adorable guy from two days before…except he was sitting with a girl…a girl! You’d think that would have made me want to get home even faster than already planned, as I thought to myself “of course he has a girlfriend, of course…” but no, as such a girl thing to do, I had to see what she looked like…

So I strolled over, only to realize he was sitting with one of the Starbucks baristas, a girl that I know, and a girl who is dating someone else…so clearly he was not with her. The other Starbucks barista, Sarah, was also sitting in the café not working. In four years of working there, I had never seen this happen! No one working; everyone sitting in the café. So I walked up and said, “Whose working right now?!” and my friend Sarah replied, “Oh we haven’t had customers for like forty minutes!” A rare thing for any Starbucks! So then Kaya, the not-girlfriend-Starbucks-barista said, “Oh Samantha! You have to meet Aaron. He just moved here from Texas to start a church…” (even though Aaron had actually moved from North Carolina, he always claims that his roots are from deep in the heart of Texas ... and that's all anyone ever remembers).
His seemingly warm, caring ways and evident love for Christ, was apparent to me from the start. Within a few minutes both Kaya and Sarah had to start closing the store, leaving us to talk until past close. In all my life I had never met someone who looked at life, work, relationships, and God the same way I do. I sat basically mesmerized as our conversation unfolded. “Who is this guy??” I kept thinking. And as mentioned before, he was not lacking in the looks department either. If you could have drawn up my dream guy, this was it. Dark hair, blue eyes. I’m a goner.

I’ll never forget driving home that night…I was in a complete daze. I kept thinking, what just happened? I remember being on the phone and barely paying attention...I got home and said to my mom (although we weren’t really on the best of speaking terms at this point), that I met this pastor at Starbucks. Now honestly, when you say “pastor” I think mid-forties with a wife and kids. But somehow, just somehow, my mom knew. Moms just have a way of knowing things like that. So she replied to me with the most cunning voice and said, “Oh reallyyy…did he move here with his wife?” I was stunned. How did she know?! I replied slowly, “Um, no, no…he’s uh… single…” She then asked, “Oh what does he look like?” And for the record I do not remember replying how she claims that I did but, apparently I said, “A model.”
And so was the beginning of a much complicated, and yet completely beautiful story.

In the next few weeks I went to the first service of the bilingual church that Aaron started here in the French community of my city. He’s a Texan that lived in Paris for six months and is now completely fluent in French. He’s one interesting guy, that’s for sure. Listening to his preaching, and hearing his heart and love for Jesus, I mean there is nothing more attractive than that. But it went deeper than that, he challenged and encouraged me in a message that I hadn’t really heard like that in a long time, it was beautiful and moving.

I remember going to his house for the first time for a Bible study. I was visiting my dad at the hospital that night when I put his address in my GPS, only to realize I was already on his street!! That same long street I walked down reading that letter on the very same day we met, thinking no guy like that existed, and here I was walking right in front of his adorable little house!

American Thanksgiving
Then American Thanksgiving came; the night that my parents first met Aaron. For years my mom and I have always celebrated American Thanksgiving, an odd tradition as neither one of us are American. But it`s always been a really important day in our family, and this year we had actual Americans to celebrate with!

Now I knew my parents were going to love Aaron, but honestly I couldn’t have anticipated just how much! Similarities just got ridiculous, right down to “your great grandma has the same secret icing recipe as my grandma??” What are the odds.

One day early in December, after much prayer and long chats with some girlfriends, I knew I had to break up with the guy I was dating. And it really wasn’t just about Aaron. Even if I had never met Aaron, I knew I needed to make a change and that the relationship wasn't right for me. So I did it. I remember crying for days ... that guy was a good friend of mine who treated me well, but I knew, at the end of the day, that it wasn't supposed to be anything more than a friendship. But then something miraculous happened. The next night…Ok, brace yourself, I’m about to sound a little crazy, but the truth is I can’t deny what God did; especially now that everything has happened.

That night God spoke to me very vividly in a dream. I’ve had that happen on a few rare occasions in my life, usually to do with relationships. This one was one of those times. In the dream, I was holding hands with my fiancée. I couldn’t see his face, but his hair, his height; well it sure fit Aaron’s type. I knew I was engaged and I can’t describe the amount of peace and joy that I felt in that moment. I said to God, “This is what this feels like?  This is amazing!” and then God said to me, “See aren’t you glad you waited? And look it didn’t even take that long!” I must say that last line was my favorite part of the dream ... "it didn’t even take that long"! Wow. I’m all for that. Patience has never really been my strong point.
I remember stumbling out of bed, wanting to read my bible. I came to Psalm 128 which talks about God blessing your family and household. It was beautiful.  I knew I wanted that. I felt such a peace come over me.
But then that terrible thing creeps in ... that thing called loneliness. I don’t think I prepared myself for how I would feel emotionally. It’s like I forgot it was going to hurt. I forgot I would feel lonely. And it was like I expected Aaron to be standing outside my door the next morning. So before I knew it, I did the unthinkable…after all God’s leading and dreams, and the peace I once felt, yet again I turned away from him and in less than a week and a half I was back in my previous relationship.

England & Paris
Thankfully, I went on vacation to England shortly after, staying with some friends who moved there a few years ago. I spent some much needed time with the Lord in England. I kept thinking “If this is all I do for three weeks, I’ll be completely content." It seemed everyday God was speaking to me, whether through His word, or through other people, or even films we watched. It was constant. And His voice was loud; loud but loving.

Then came a turning point. Paris. And what better place than Paris to include in this love story?
My friend JD, who lives in Winnipeg but is originally from France, messaged me and said, “Are you going to go to my city? Are you going to travel to Paris?” I said that I’d love to go, but I didn’t have anyone to go with; although that sure sounded lovely.
I met a girl when I arrived in England named Adri, who quickly became, not only a friend, but more like a sister to me. I mentioned JD's message to her and she exclaimed, “I’ve always wanted to go to Paris!” and I said, “I’ve always wanted to go to Paris!” Not knowing how spontaneous she was at this point she shocked me and said, “Let’s do it!” I said, “Are you serious?!” She replied, “I’d do it if you’ll do it!” To which I said, “I definitely would do it if you’d do it!!!” So two days later we found a deal online and left that same afternoon for Paris! It must be the most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done!
The most incredible thing happened. A little backstory ... I had been having dreams every night for almost a week ... dreams like the kind I mentioned earlier; and they all pointed to the same things. On the ferry ride across the English Channel to Paris, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I received a Facebook message that confirmed one of my dreams, which led to a significant conversation with Adri ... where she, with her big eyes and Romanian accent said, “You don’t joke with dreams!” To which I responded, with eager expectation, and said, “Tell me why" ... as she looked like she had a story to tell. And so there, crossing the English Channel, she began to tell me her life story. I just sat in complete amazement at the similarities of our lives. I was shocked. How could this girl from the other side of the world relate to the most private details of my life? This was no coincidence. I thought to myself, "It’s only been four months, I have time to turn this around. I don’t want to ignore God and go through years of pain as a result."
That trip was amazing. We spent just over 24 hours in Paris and yet it was life changing! The amount of sightseeing we fit into twenty-four hours is beyond me. But what I remember the most was what I call “The Love Bridge” (It’s this bridge that has a chain link fence on either side and couples write their names on locks, link them on the chain, and throw the key into the water, symbolizing eternal love and commitment). I found it so romantic. I remember standing on that bridge thinking about being there with my future husband, and I can tell you I was not picturing the guy I was with.
I Skyped with JD and, of all things for him to say, he said to me, “Samantha….Aaron loves Paris….and you are in Paris…" - Adri and I looked at each other wondering, "where was this going ..." JD continued, “And it’s his birthday this week; could you find him something from Paris for me?” Oh boy, I’m trying to forget about the man and now I have to go birthday shopping for him, in Paris, the city he loves!
Defining Moment
One of the most defining moments of that trip happened on my final Sunday morning while I was praying for God to make it clear what I should do when I got home.  I felt like I needed one defining moment, almost like in a movie, where I say, "alright, I’ve made up my mind, no turning back."  And ... let me tell you, that happened more than I could have even asked for!
The pastor, during his sermon on that beautiful Sunday morning, stopped mid-sentence and said he wanted to take a moment and pray for people in a time of transition in their lives, who were trying to make changes, and, especially, for the courage and strength, in Jesus, to do so. He kept saying, "suddenly God was going to change things" and "suddenly He would come through. It would seem like nothing was happening, but suddenly…"  and little did he know, he basically described my life situation, prayed for me, and kept saying this was a special moment. Ha! I remember praying that day and asking Jesus to be Lord of my life. And sure I’ve prayed a prayer like that many times in my life, but it was never as real to me as it was that morning.  On that morning, I realized my sin in being disobedient to God and that I needed Him to truly be, not only my Savior, but also Lord of my life.  I surrendered my life to God fully and desired to have Him lead and direct my life in all aspects.

Just Friends
I came home and made the biggest changes of my life. In only a few days, I broke up with my boyfriend and quit my job. Those first few months were long and hard, with many tears. I felt the weight of so much regret. So many "what if" questions would run through my mind.
However, that season of my life was truly a precious time of putting my trust in God and His plan for my life; a time of realizing that God is sovereign over all and that if I was meant to be with Aaron, then even my own past sin couldn’t stop that, now that I had submitted my life to Christ.
It was a very complicated seven months for me. Let’s just say I kept getting mixed signals. There were some moments where I couldn’t imagine how he couldn’t be thinking something was going on ... but guys are a little clueless sometimes.  Regardless, "reality" hit hard when at the beginning of August, Aaron called me saying he wanted to “chat”; in fact he called me fifteen minutes before I was to arrive at his house for our Gospel Community Group (small group Bible study) ... something I still give him a hard time about until this day. I mean, COME ON! 15 minutes before I have to see people!?
He told me that someone approached him and asked him what was going on between us and he explained that we were “just friends”. They weren’t convinced and said, "Are you sure? Are you sure she knows that?" So, he called to “clarify” that he hadn’t been accidentally leading me on in any way and that he just hadn’t been in that "headspace" with anyone as he’d been busy mentoring some boys and thinking about church planting. "So," he said, "don’t get me wrong, I think you're a great girl" and on and on ... breaking my heart OVER THE PHONE!
I remember hanging up from that call feeling stunned and wondering, "Did that really just happen?" I wanted to cry but I knew that if I started, there would be no stopping and I was on my way to his house! I had to smile around a dozen people for over two hours. This was awful!!
That next Sunday, he left for Texas and I didn’t even say goodbye. I think I went through about two days of complete heartache and then I slipped into denial ... (Aaron adds "it ain't just a river in Egypt"). For about a week, I was making all sorts of crazy plans like moving to California. Haha.

A week later, on a Saturday afternoon, I had a conversation with my parents during which I admitted the truth…that I wasn’t over him. I didn’t want to be that desperate girl that waited and waited until over a year from now he moves away to church plant somewhere else and says, "Thanks for the help, see you later!" And I’m left here heartbroken.
But the truth was, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t over him. I, amazingly, still have this crazy and unexplainable hope that somehow there was still a chance. The hardest part was praying and thinking through the dreams and answered prayers that had led me here and wondering how God was going to work all of this out.
Later that same night, I got a text message ... from but none other than Aaron Boswell, the breaker of my heart. And to top that off, I knew that he was in Texas at his best friend’s wedding ... I don’t know if weddings do to guys what they do to girls…but usually it’s a good sign if he’s thinking about me while he’s at his best friend’s wedding!  He messaged me and asked if he had missed my birthday….which was super weird. I told him that my birthday was a week later and asked if he would be back from Texas.  He said that he would be back for my party and then proceeded to ask how my week was going ... and the whole time, I was thinking, "Why are we even talking/texting right now??"
The next day he texted me and asked if we could “chat” when he got back to Winnipeg … and that he’d been thinking a lot about the conversation that we had before he left for Texas and that he would love to talk more about that in person.  I told him that I thought that would be a good idea…but at the same time, I was thinking, "Are you just going to tell me we’re friends again? What more could you have to say? I’m pretty sure the message was clear and I really don’t need to hear it again. Thanks!"
Then, for the next three days straight, he texted me all afternoon with pointless and random conversation ... and this is not the Aaron Boswell I knew.  The Aaron that I knew didn't text endlessly in conversation ... especially with a girl! And all three nights, before he went to bed, he even texted me "g'nite" ... I mean ... what is going on with this?!
Aaron eventually made it back home on the evening of my birthday and I was so happy to see him. Something was just different … different in the way he paid attention to me and different in the way that he spoke to me ... this was all so interesting….

Starbucks Once Again
We had plans to meet for coffee that very next morning and I don’t think I got much sleep that night! I’ll never forget (forgive my cheesiness) the sun shining down as I walked down Corydon Avenue to see him sitting on the outside Starbucks patio.
And nothing could have surprised me more than the two hour conversation that followed … it's that feeling of comfort in talking to your best friend, free from "awkward moments" ... where everything seems easy and enjoyable ... and that’s exactly how this was.
He proceeded to tell me his entire side of the story ... and, to my surprise and delight, he told me when he had his “epiphany moment.” Of all times for him to get a clue, it was when he was on the phone with me, breaking my heart! As he was complimenting me, he thought to himself, "This is the kind of girl that I’d want my sons to marry…wait, if I’d want my sons to marry a girl like this…why wouldn’t I marry a girl like this???"

Even better than that, he told me that he had been interested in me when we first met, but then was completely shocked when I showed up with my former boyfriend at a party. Immediately, he put aside any thoughts of dating me or pursuing me and I was placed, permanently, in the "friend zone" ... until that fateful day as he watched his friends get married in Texas and realized what God had intended all along.
The funniest part of the whole thing is that he had no idea how I was going to respond…as if he didn’t know I had any feelings for him! I couldn’t believe it. When he finally gave me the chance to respond, I said “You really don’t know what I’m going to say? Wow… well … there’s so much you don’t know.  You came into my life at a very interesting time and completely messed it up ... in the best way possible. You came along and reminded me of what I always wanted in a man but didn’t think existed.” I told him how I had given up on finding that kind of a relationship and yet, when he came along, he reminded me that guys like him actually existed.

Dreams Come True
And so as my first day being 23, I started dating the man of my dreams ... literally.

And I don’t even know how to summarize the last three months. Things happened just as I dreamt. Even things like me going to his parent’s house in Kansas, or the way he first said, "I love you," were all things I dreamt in England! God is just so crazy creative like that. It blows me away!
Dating him has been unlike anything else. In just a few weeks, we were already talking about getting married! Just like I dreamt ... and it didn't even take that long! I’ll never forget our first conversation when I realized that he was serious about us, as he asked me how I felt about "short engagements" … to which I replied, "... I like them!”
And as I write this: we have a wedding date!  Not only that, but I have a dress, bridesmaids, bridesmaids dresses, a photographer, a church and reception hall booked…and in just a little less than 2 months, I will be Mrs. Aaron Boswell!! Can you believe that?!?! I barely can.
Let me tell you how much I love dating him: I’m not sure I can even describe how well he treats me, how well he leads me, and how much he loves me. He’s my best friend. I could go on and on with the tiniest of details that of how our gracious God has worked everything out; the littlest things that He knew when neither of us did. Our story to me is such a beautiful example of redemption and how much God loves restoration. To see in my own life how God is sovereign and faithful.

As I'm writing this, my phone just buzzed with a text message ... it's from Aaron.  He said, “I love and cherish you above any and all women – you are my girl ;)”
Just as the pastor in England prayed, “Suddenly” everything changed…
The Proposal – American Thanksgiving

Aaron wanted to propose on a special day ... and that was American Thanksgiving! 
So as most of you have been asking me ... "How did he propose!?" 

He’d been dropping hints for a while that made me think he would probably propose at Christmas, so my guard was COMPLETELY down this week!

Continuing tradition, we had a number of close friends over to celebrate American Thanksgiving. Everyone was sitting around the dining room table when Aaron was about to pray for the meal. He made up some fake story that it’s “tradition” in the States that whoever prays for the meal has to go around the table and explain why they are thankful for each person at the table.  And so Aaron began going around the entire table and was going to finish his "thankfulness" speech with why he was thankful for me (Aaron adds ... "Samantha was stoked because she was last ... thinking to herself ... "that's my man, always making me the most important lady in the room"). And it took a while for Aaron to get to me ... as there were 16 of us!
As Aaron was going around the table, I remember thinking "Oh this is nice, he’s going to say a few nice things about me in front of our friends." That’s all that was going through my head! Then it was finally my turn,
He said, "Samantha….you are my girl and I'm so thankful for you… Who would have thought on October the 6th last year, when I was sitting at Starbucks, that I would have met you? And I'm thankful for the way that you try to love me so well … we’ve been through a lot and you’ve had to be super patient for a very longggg time and I've been thinking through how God has just been so gracious toward me in giving you into my heart and life...
And then he added the word “So" ... and continued (after a pause that lasted an eternity), "…… in the vein of that …” ... Something in the way he said it, made it seem like he was leading up to something … and before I knew it, he was down on one knee and had a ring in his hand!!!!! He continued, "I would also like to … ask you … if you would marry me?"
Now, Aaron had asked me this question so many times a day in the past month, saying that he was "practicing," that I could hardly believe that this time was actually for real!!! And he had a ring in his hands!!
And before I said yes, my first words were, “Are you serious??”
In the excitement, I finally said the words, “Yes!!”

Journey towards craziness ;)

And so here we are … getting married in less than two months on April 20th, 2013! We wanted to share this with you so you can now you know the full story and share with us in the beauty of all that God has done in bringing us together.

Thank you for all the well wishes and congratulations in the last few days (especially via facebook and twitter). The support from friends and family has been overwhelming and we look forward to celebrating with you in the new year!
Not only that, but Aaron recorded the full proposal and uploaded it so that you can hear it!!  Simply click, download and enjoy the clip below!

*The actual proposal starts at about six minutes into the audio