Our Story

Hi.  This is Brook.  And this is the story of how Blake and I met, fell in love (we call it rub...that's just because we thought that would be the way our first dog (a monster Old English mastiff) would say it if he could talk), but, of course there's other innuendoes there.  I let Blake tell it, because, well, he's just a better story teller (even though he can be overly dramatic, wordy, and just plain embarrassing).  As usual in this blog, my very pertinent commentary will be in my signature color, and Blake's, in black. 1. Why do I have to type in black? 2. Why does everything have to be about color? Enjoy...

In so many ways our story begins prior to the foundations of the Earth.  That's not symbolism or hyperbole as we truly believe that some of us were destined to be with someone specific and that we, for some reason not always apparent to us, are such a couple.   See, isn't it cute when he's dramatic?  If your finger is already in the back of your throat, go ahead and stop now while you are ahead.  

For the sake of brevity I will say that our story begins with me (Blake) walking all alone on the sands of South Beach on January 1, 2000. Y2K was suppose to be a debacle of all electronics and the start of a new millennium. It was the start of something beautiful in our lives though neither of us knew what was about to happen.

Though I travel to the southern tip of Florida to watch Alabama play Michigan in the Orange Bowl, the trip had been refreshing to me in many ways. I had time away from my routine and time to think about a new year, new century, new millennium and even a new direction in life for me. I had desired a deep relationship leading to marriage for some time but each girlfriend, while genuinely good people, simply were not the one for me. So I prayed...I prayed with intensity and I prayed specifically. I walked and talked to God non-stop for 2 hours. It still remains as the longest continual prayer of my life. I remember saying, "God, you tell us to come to you with our hearts, our dreams, our fears and our requests so I'm coming to you to pray specifically for my wife and for what I want in a wife". 

If you can imagine an attribute, characteristic or quality in a woman I prayed about it. I had opinions, very definite opinions even, about the woman I would spend my life with. From the most trivial requests like that she be able to throw a spiral to the most important aspects of her heart and walk with God. I prayed for the most sensate and otherwise banal qualities like an exact breast size, height and body type to the most intimate and internal traits like the way she celebrated success in her life and the things that would make her cry. I wanted a girl from a small town in the south, a former cheerleader (so I could use my skills from cheering in college to stunt and play around), someone who had been a gymnast and someone with a tender heart. I wanted a tried and true fighter that wasn't afraid to get dirty and nasty with the troubles of life but a warrior that was tempered with grace rather than resentment and bitterness so often found in those who have known real life up close and personal. I guess it would take hours to type all of the specifics, but by now you get the idea. 

After praying for everything I wanted I told God that I was finished looking for my wife and that I would not actively date any woman that didn't match each and every criteria for which I prayed. A single issue that didn't match my prayer and the woman, regardless of how amazing, gorgeous or close to a match, wouldn't be the one for me. I went a step further and committed to "the next girl I kiss will be the last". And so the waiting game began.  I waited for God to deliver and deliver He did!

At that point in my life I was finishing up college and was a leader of a college ministry. We had devotionals every Tuesday night at the Campus House, and the vast majority of the time I would lead our worship. One Tuesday just a few weeks after my South Beach Prayer a law student in our ministry mentioned that the following week he was bringing a friend with him and wanted to make sure I made an effort to meet "them" and make "them" feel welcome. I assumed he would be bringing one of his guy friends the next week and I would of course make it a point to meet "them". I didn't give it another thought until the following week when I spotted the law student standing on the front porch just before we were to begin our worship time. I went outside to meet his friend. 

As I rounded the corner and saw who was before me, I imagine the blood ran from my face...or maybe to it. Either way I was floored as his friend was a gorgeous brunette with amazing blue eyes (this may be a good time to point out that I specifically prayed for brown hair and blue eyes; if I am honest, red hair and green eyes came in second place). We exchanged flirtatious pleasantries for a brief time and I had to go kickoff the devotional. While I wish I could say that my focus during our worship time was completely on God, I have to say that I kept looking at God's Answered Prayer that sat in my midst. I was encouraged as I caught her looking my way too. A wise man might realize that everyone in the room was looking in my direction as I was leading the group...but in my mind she was totally checking me out. I still remember what she was wearing, how she smiled, how her head tilted to the side a bit out of apparent shyness when I complemented her after the devotional.

I made sure I got her email address before she left and I drove home that night anxiously awaiting the questions I would ask and the answers I hoped she would give. I started slow at first by sending only 10 questions or so per email. For reasons I still can't explain, Brook answered my seemingly neurotic, super intrusive and bizarre questions. And after maybe 100 or so of them scattered among other unimportant tidbits and pleasantries I began to suspect that she was the one for whom I had prayed. We agreed to go out the following week after the devotional, and we did. We drove around town, sharing our thoughts and one of us asking a lot of questions. With each answer, it became obvious that she was the one so I finally let her in on the secret. I told her the story about South Beach even though I was a bit worried that mentioning marriage on our first date might seem a little premature. Instead of running or shutting down she was intrigued and open to relational adventure and excitement...which was yet another trait I prayed for my wife to have. She coyly asked, "so how am I doing on the questions?" I smiled, as I told her so far she was absolutely perfect. So yes...we discussed getting married on our first date.

Our weekly dates continued and we quickly added weekend dates too. We spent a ton of time together and got to know one another in relatively deep ways, relatively quickly. To this point we had not yet kissed because of my promise. A kiss at this point carried the same meaning as vows to me and I wasn't going to enter into any level of relationship lightly. After several weeks of spending time together we were sitting in the parking lot of the Campus House as I was dropping her off at her car. We were holding hands and were silent as we gazed across the metropolitan landscape through the dimly lit, yet overtly yellow street light. Brook looked over at me and with a very sweet and unassuming tone asked, "are you ever going to kiss me". I told her that it depended on if she wanted to be the one with whom I spent the rest of life. Brook, being witty and quick, shot back with "I asked you to kiss me didn't I?" Knowing that we were committing to one another for much more than a night or a trial period, I leaned over and kissed her. We kissed over and over and I drove home that night a happy and eternally grateful man.

Is this a good time to jump in with my side of the story? Uh, sure.  So, I was 19 years old, a freshman at Samford (a Christian college nearby), and had a horrible haircut.  It was way too short for my face, which did nothing for the freshman 15 I was fighting... so I do not see what he saw in me.  Then again, he had a pretty horrible haircut too.  He was not long out of the Army, so he was still sporting a high and tight, except with this longer length skunk thing going on at the top.  Needless to say, he's super sweet about the whole physical attraction part of it, but I'm not so sure.  For me, it was just unexplainable. 

While we were committed from that time forward, we weren't officially engaged until June 8, 2000. On that afternoon Brook planned a picnic for us to be a sweet time before me leaving for 2 months. It is important to our story to know that I was leaving the following day for a missiological internship in Benin, West Africa. So on our final night together before our 2 month separation we were having a picnic.  (Which, I planned and he totally mooched off of.  See, always competing to be top dog.)

I requested that we go to the Hargis Retreat Center. Hargis is a neat place that happens to have a large metal cross atop a unique rock formation on the backside of their property. I took a canteen of water and carried the rather heavy picnic basket (What are you saying about my basket??) down the wooded trail to the base of the rock formation. After eating and talking about how much we would miss each other over the next 2 months, I told her that I wanted to show her something on top of the rocks at the foot of the cross.

We climbed up the rocks and finally arrived at the cross, my canteen in tow.  (I really thought he was a freak carrying that canteen...I had no clue).   I asked her to sit down and close her eyes. I began to remove her shoes and her uneasiness turned to smiles and giggles. She had to be asking, "what is this weird guy doing?"  (I was)  Once her shoes were removed I opened my canteen and used the water to begin washing her feet. I told her that as Jesus lead his disciples best by being a servant and washing their feet, so too did I want to lead her through our lives by loving her absurdly, supporting her passionately and serving her exclusively. Before I finished washing and describing to her my intentions, tears washed down her cheeks while an anticipatory smile spread across her face.  My voice cracked and my vision was blurred by my own tears that simply hadn't fallen yet. (Aawwhh)

Once I finished washing and drying her feet I asked her to open her eyes. She looked and saw me on one knee, holding a box with a emerald cut diamond. As she focused on the ring and then looked at me I asked her if she would honor me by spending the rest of her life with me. She said yes and the rest is history...history that is still being written every hour of every day. History that will be discussed and revealed in the pages of this blog. If you enjoy the journey even a fraction as much as we have, you will be a regular visitor here. We look forward to every disclosure, every embarrassing ordeal and every heartbreaking event. Here's to the journey of our lifetime!!!

If I have to tell you little about what was really going on in my mind...Honestly, not a whole lot.  Remember me saying I feel my way through life? Yep, that was this.  I know it was kind of a big decision for a 19 year old not really using her brain, but in my defense, I had always been an old soul.  I'm not sure how familiar you are with the INFJ personality type, but there's a little bit of a 6th sense going on there.  Us spiritual types like to call it a spiritual gift.  But, it had me throughout our whole courtship (which started that first meeting) pretty much standing there with my shoulders shrugged saying, "I have no clue why, it doesn't make sense for me in my life, this was never a part of my plan, but I know God wants me to marry this guy."

Uh, looks like we're still somewhat under construction.  This has been our engagement story, and truly it is the best part.  The next two months with Blake in Africa, I just tried to do some major growing up.  And then, when he got home, it all got very complicated.

To be continued...