It's the verse I hate to love. It's the verse that always pops up somewhere when I most need to be reminded the tough stuff is good for me, that in hard times I have a choice to allow God to grow and shape me or... just whine and be defeated. And it's through this verse I'm rock solid confident DK is the man God intended for me to marry. Below you will read the full story of DK & Liz :) DK and I met for the first time in early 2007 when he was hired to take professional staff photos for KSBJ's new website. The first time I met him I was in front of a camera, feeling a bit awkward and goofy and he was quiet and mysterious behind the scenes. (Little did I know one day he'd grow to love me for that goofiness and ask me to marry him, haha.)
It was later at a mutual friend's going away party at my house when DK and I met again. There were characteristics that struck me about him: his strong, quiet presence, his obvious creative abilities that to this day surprise and amaze me. He tells the story of how I used my ladder as a tripod that night for a group photo and how impressed he was with my rigging. And after all the party goers were gone, it was in my kitchen my dear friend Kristen told another friend "Do you see how DK is looking at Liz? They are so going to get together..." I never really saw him much after that August evening but it wouldn't be long till things kicked into full gear.
The night of my party, DK showed up early and stayed late. He wore this beautiful tan blazer (which later awarded him the name "Blazer Guy" for all our stories) and looked so handsome. However, I was absolutely not interested and was more intimidated by his presence. I knew for sure he thought I was a chatterbox and was definitely annoyed at all my dumb questions about his work. He took a ton of photos that night and even met my brothers and talked to my dad for quite awhile.
During Christmas 2007, he emailed from his parents house outside Pittsburgh. We still have all the emails and looking back, it's fun to transition to that clueless frame of mind... I had NO clue though I'm convinced he knew even then that this was it.
After the first of the year, I had a brilliant idea for an EPK for Matthew + Lizi but I needed someone to shoot and help me edit it. I worked out all the details and because M+L were leading worship at Ecclesia one Sunday night I thought it the perfect setting. One call to DK and he was in, no hesitation. He showed up with gear, cameras, lights and mics - above and beyond what I'd expected. I had no idea how to thank this guy, I was so floored. This was just the first glance into the depths of his generosity and graciousness...
We had a blast and learned so much about one another shooting this project. We got what we needed that night (and have photos of us working together, so cool) and the next step was to edit. DK had an edit suite in his place and invited me over after my show to start working right away. Before I left work that night he calls and says we need to eat at some point, to check out La Vista online and let him know what I wanted for dinner. Whoa. I felt so fancy and cared for...
From there we edited our hearts out several nights a week, it became what I looked forward to most in my day. And we worked so well together, my vision so met by his technical ability and right away it was apparent we were very balanced together. I can't explain what it was like visiting his place and seeing how set in life he was. This man made investments, he didn't have old college furniture like most guys I knew, but had taste and class and cared about quality and ambience. I noticed too how he replaced the apartment's standard lighting with ones he preferred - bingo, he was handy around the house! I felt safe and adored and heard and not one bit pressured.
DK is meticulous, puts his all into everything he does, is a perfectionist and is one of the hardest working men I've ever known. I also noticed right away his dilligence, how he treated people in restaurants, at the grocery, or on the phone. I loved how he was always on time and never seemed to stress or rush. I loved that most because I'm always rushing and appreciated the slower pace he brought to my life. (I'm writing all this in past tense but should relay it to present day as well, as these things are so consistent with who he is.)
We continued to work on the project for the next few weeks and in that time I got to know his buddy Adam, along with other friends. I learned all about his family as he did mine... spending so many hours together waiting for clips to render we had a lot of great talks and laughs. I was so resistant though, my friends calling me ignorant of the fact something really was budding between us, but I just wasn't ready. I was adamant about not rushing things and making sure this was someone I really wanted to be with for a long time.
DK's birthday was approaching (2/2/2008) and Adam called me asking if I'd help plan his party. I hesitated ONLY because it made me nervous to think I was now the girl in DK's life to help plan his bday party but then agreed. Everyone came and we had an awesome dinner at Cyclone Anayas! This was the first time I met his friends Taylor, Mills McCoin, Ryan, and a few others. I took pictures of everything, haha. My gift to DK was a canoe trip with friends down the Buffalo Bayou. And let me tell you, that was a canoe trip to go down in history as we had non-stop adventure traversing fallen trees, hiking through mud up to our knees and laughing till our stomachs hurt. At one point, I was stuck in the mud and DK tromped over, hugged me and pulled me out of the mud. I was like whoa. Sparks definitely flew in that moment. He told me later on what this gift meant to him, that I was interested in doing things with his friends and being outdoors, something no one had done for him before.
Valentine's Day suddenly appeared and my roommate invited DK and me to go out with her and her boyfriend later on. I felt nervous about it, but thought surely DK knew my intentions and wouldn't push anything, it's not his style. But I soon saw more of what was his style, wink wink. He showed up late and I found out later it was because he was writing a Valentine to me and couldn't decide on the wording. In it, he let me know "if anything, I am very patient and will wait as long as you need." Goosebumps.
It wasn't until a month later on March 9th we were at his apartment and out of nowhere DK just KISSED me. I guess he couldn't contain it anymore (!!!) but that was it for me, I let my guard down and acknowledged how greatly I cared for him and wanted to never not be around him. And not just as friends, but also as lovers :)
All of 2008 was wonderful. He spoke all my love languages, providing lots of adventure, spending time with my dad and brothers, creative endeavors together and wow, the dude is HILARIOUS. His sense of humor is out of this word and he makes me laugh so hard it hurts - out of nowhere! Then in April, I went to New York for vacation with girlfriends and DK was actually there the same weekend visiting friends. It was there on the windy streets of New York City he told me he loved me for the first time. What a magical moment!!
We had the best 4th of July ever with David and Kim - they are our favorite couple on earth to spend time with, lots of adventure. My boyfriend even hired Andrew to take his crew on his sailboat for a shoot out in Austin, how giddy was I that my boys were having quality time together? His mom and dad came to Houston to meet me and it was the sweetest time... then for Christmas we flew to his hometown for a few days. It was truly one of the most special Christmas' I've ever had. His parents spoiled me and I got to share Christmas morning with just them. DK and I took long walks on the trails, hills and woods he grew up in and I got to see where he went to high school and so much more. We also spent some great time with his brother Michael and his girlfriend Emily whom I love so much. Little did DK know, when we said goodbye to his brother that Christmas, we'd already been planning for them to come in February for his 30th birthday!
I ran my first (and last) marathon on January 18th and DK was there along the route every several miles. Domenica has a photo she snapped of him watching me cross the finish line, completely emotional and in tears. Oh my sweet man... That February was amazing... his birthday weekend spent with Michael and Emily PLUS a massive surprise party I'd planned with great help from Domenica and Kristen. It was out of this world and I loved seeing the look on his face when he saw how loved he is. Priceless.
March 9th, our one year anniversary. DK did it just right. A quiet evening at his place, dinner from Clive's cookbook and the most amazing display of flowers I've ever seen in my life. One year and going strong!! We'd talked about marriage a lot at that point and were both pretty settled, we saw eye to eye on giving it a year before moving in that direction. However, I had my hopes set high and was expecting it to be sooner than later.
I think at that point, things came to surface within both of us revealing clear signs we were not ready to get married just yet. It was really, terribly rough. In my heart I started setting ultimatums, feeling resentment and being uneccessarily impatient. It really put a stress on him and us and we entered some uncharted territory. It became so hard to communicate in the simplest way, the clutter and chaos in our hearts and minds got so much louder than just easy everyday hi, how are you's. We'd put band-aids on for temporary fixes and pray about things but were never really able to figure out what was really going on. But we never said a word to any of our closest friends about it.
One night we had a really awful argument. The next day I got a text from DK saying he'd reached out to a trusted friend and that we were going to seek some counseling. I began to share with my girls what was going on and it was a great relief. In retrospect I see God was bringing things to the surface for us to work out before walking down the aisle but that Satan turned it into chaos and confusion so bad we couldn't see straight. But even after going to counseling a couple times, we actually broke up for a couple weeks. It was not easy at all but honestly never felt official. At some point I found out that DK had planned to propose last May but because of what we were going through, decided to wait. I found this out and was crushed but more angry because I couldn't see the truth through all my motives and plans. God knew better and because DK was seeking God's will, he knew better too.
And then out of nowhere, our good friend Mark, not knowing what we were going through called us both, said he felt God leading him to meet with us to encourage us. We met the next morning with him, he spoke some awesome truths and ultimately told us not to give up. I told him we were broken up and he didn't even flinch. "That's fine" he said "I think God is doing something great here, you guys just gotta get it together so He can do His work."
Counseling was awesome for us both. Having a mediator to hear us both and point out things we weren't aware of otherwise was so refreshing. It was through our friends and family believing in us, encouraging and praying for us that brought us to where we are today. It was painful and a total wrestling match but going through it and allowing God to shine light on areas of our lives we needed more of Him only made us stronger for the future.
"As difficult as they (tests and hardships) are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure."
I share these things with you only because I want you to be encouraged. When you feel God is so far away and has forgotten you, remember He knows the greatest desires of your heart. He's building you, growing you, shaping and molding you for something even greater than you are planning. Hard to see in the midst of the junk, huh? Don't lose faith.
I never thought I would say this, but I'm grateful we waited and didn't get engaged last May. We have a more rich history, a stronger foundation, and more tools helping us get through any rough times to come. We're ready. I'm excited. I'm grateful. I love how we have such history and rich memories with one another's family, co-workers and friends... if our engagement was so well supported and timed, imagine how how heartfelt and emotional this wedding celebration will be now because we took the time to get it right, it blows my mind.
Don't lose sight of the dream you have, don't give up on what God is working right now. My friend Kristen told me once that in God's mind "IT'S ALREADY DONE". And I believe that for you too: jobs, health, family, marriage, kids, dreams. Believe it.