How We Met
Being an introvert, I, as usual, felt like staying in on Friday night, especially since it was a freezing cold night in early February. When my friend, Nick, had invited me to come out with everyone at PJ Whelihan’s, I was soooo close to declining but at the last minute I felt bad since I’d declined the last three or four times and decided to go. When I got there, two of Nick’s friends, Dan and Tim were there. I had met Dan before but never Meghan or Tim. We all said “hi, nice to meet you” and that was basically it since we were at the bar and Nick and Dan were in between us. When another one of their friends, Meghan, got there, we went to sit down at a booth. Still, I was sitting next to Meghan, Dan was on the outside, and Nick and Tim were across from us. Tim was the farthest from so even then, we did not get to talk much.
Since all of us are passionate about our religion, some of us ended up getting into a friendly debate. Since I am not a big fan of debating even if it is friendly, I didn’t really say much and I noticed Tim didn’t either. After what seemed like a while, Nick, Dan, and Meghan were standing up on the outside of the booth which left Tim and I alone in the booth to talk. This is where we started getting to know each other briefly, talking about what we like to do, our faiths, and everything else. Finally, the night was over, and we were ready to say good bye. Tim said he would love to hear my testimony so he asked for my number and said that he would call me the next day. I didn’t think anything of it–he was just very friendly and had no ulterior motives! Also, we both happened to have opposite views/beliefs on the earlier debate so I didn’t think he’d be interested in dating me.
The next morning, February 6th, 2016, around 12 pmish, Tim did in fact call me to hear about my testimony. Since I was Catholic and he was not, I was surprised he was even interested in hearing about it. To be honest, I thought he was hoping to maybe convert me! We ended up talking for like three hours. I told him about how I came to be a devout Catholic and he told me how he came to be passionate in his faith in Christ as well. Our conversation went really smoothly, which I was surprised by because usually I am shy around new people, but he was easy to talk to. We talked for so long that I ended up sitting in my church parking lot, St. Mary’s, not wanting to hang up but also not wanting to be late for Confession and the 4 pm vigil Mass. Eventually, we did hang up, and despite a great conversation and the fact that we really hit it off, I did not think he was trying to date me but just genuinely interested in being my friend (and I still kinda thought that he was just trying to convert me as well). Before I went in to the church for Confession, I noticed that he had accepted my friend request which I had sent that morning, and he liked every single one of my profile pictures, all nine or so of them.
Even still, with that, I still had NO clue that he liked me. After initially meeting on February 5, 2016 and our conversation the following afternoon, Tim and I remained texting each other daily. Tim asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner the following Friday, February 12th. STILL thinking it was just because he wanted to be friends, I agreed, as long as it was a place that wasn’t mainly meat (it was a Friday in Lent! haha). I even more suspected that this had nothing at all to do with a date when he said that his car needed to get work done so he had to cancel. However, Tim was really disappointed that his car had to get work done so he tried everything he could to get it back in time, and he did. Unfortunately, I already had eaten dinner in the meantime so I suggested we just talk on the phone instead.
We were just going to hang out as friends–no need for him to have to drive all the way up here. However, he insisted that if not dinner, we go to Dunkin. Seeing how he REALLY wanted to still meet, I agreed, though I still thought he just wanted to be friends, even after he asked if I wanted him to pick me up. All I was thinking about was convenience–no point in driving past the Dunkin to pick me up! So I told him I’d meet him there. (Turns out, he WAS hoping to ask me to be his official girlfriend and wanted to come pick me up since it was the gentlemanly thing to do and so he could bring flowers and introduce himself to my parents. So sweet!) Our Dunkin “date?” was great. We hit it off again and were talking really well. We basically had everything in common except for the fact that he was non-denominational and I was Catholic. (Oh, and he likes Penn State, movies and sports, and I don’t. Lol.) Despite my naivety, I finally learned that Tim did like me, when he said that he was wondering if I would like to date him. I felt so bad but told him no because of our religious differences. I was surprised that he wanted to date somebody who was Catholic since he was a former Catholic and disagreed with most of their teachings! We left after that and he called me on the phone immediately after, apologizing for putting me on the spot and I assured him I still wanted to be friends.
Despite declining to date, we continued to talk and hang out. We would text each other frequently and we would hang out at PJ’s or with our mutual friends a lot. I would constantly mention how we were just friends and would never date, because I didn’t want him to think I would change my mind! Little did I know that both of our minds would change! I could list a ton of occurrences that happened that continued to lead us closer to where we are today. Lots of late night talks, prayer requests, hang outs, etc. frequented the time span from February 2016 to January 2017. I remember texting my friend Nick from Ohio and talking about how this guy would be perfect for me if only he was Catholic. Nick gave me the same advice that I would give any of my friends which is not to waste my time, that I would find another Catholic, and it’s better to not be unequally yoked. I decided to more intentionally pray that Tim would discover the truth of the Catholic Church, because we had had many conversations about our religious beliefs and differences. I remember a couple late night FaceTime chats where I told him “I think you’re going to become Catholic one day. It may not be for a while, but I think you will.” I truly believed that statement, but also believed it would probably happen like 20, 30, 40 years from now. That September/October, Tim told me that he was going to not talk to me as much or hang out with me as much to protect his heart, because he felt that he couldn’t see me as just a friend, and it wasn’t good for him. We agreed, but God had other plans! I had been going on a few dates with a guy one of my friends had set me up with, and while I was hopeful, I had to eventually be honest with myself that he wasn’t what I was looking for on a religious level. Despite Tim saying he wouldn’t talk to me as much, he told me that he would always be available for prayer requests so I would text him whenever I was stressed about school or work or something else to ask for prayer.
Christmas 2016 rolled around and he decided after 2ish months of lesser texting and not hanging out at all that he wanted to get me a Christmas gift just to be a friendly blessing. That’s just the kind of guy he is–so sweet! He came over on December 23rd and surprised me with more than I could ask for and I was so happy to hang out with him after not seeing him for two months. He suggested we go tour the Christmas lights at Ambler. I hesitated but after assuring him, it would just be as friends and not a date, he agreed. He kept asking to hold my hand and I kept saying no! Despite my resistance, I could not help but find more and more how badly I wanted to hold his hand back and how badly I wanted to date him too. I was becoming more and more frustrated that the only thing that stood in our way was one thing, but it was a non-negotiable thing–religion. On our way home from the Christmas lights, we got into another religious discussion on an issue Tim had with the Catholic Church. I decided to read to him from part of a theology book and to my surprise, he asked if we could read the rest of the book, not just the excerpt.
Throughout the rest of our hang outs, we finished the book and moved onto another longer one. Tim was the one who kept insisting on reading the books. I didn’t want to feel like I was forcing him to learn about what Catholics believe but he wanted to! After we finished the second book, Tim was absolutely amazed at how he agreed with the teaching. He said he wanted to go to Mass. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! By January 13, 2017, we decided to go official. It was evident that God wanted us to be more than “just friends” by how much we enjoyed each other’s company and genuinely loved each other. Tim and I began to go to Mass together, read through apologetic book after apologetic book, and meet with my parish priest to get more questions answered. It was not an easy road, and multiple times I worried if we went official too soon. He wasn’t officially a reverting Catholic yet and there were lots of chances he could say, “Julie, I just don’t believe this anymore!” If Tim wouldn’t become Catholic, I don’t think I could be with him, and I worried about the implications of being in a relationship prior to his reversion. However, I could not help but feel the peace that this what God wanted us/me to do. I was praying more than I’ve ever prayed before, getting back into my daily rosary, offering up intentions for Tim, and getting so much closer to Mary, the saints, and of course Jesus. Surely, my increased prayer life, closer connection to Mary and the saints, and feeling of peace were all God telling me I was doing the right thing, right? Right. :) Tim will be attending RCIA this year to get his sacrament of Confirmation, and then, we’ll be receiving the sacrament of matrimony :)
The journey of Tim to recognize the truth of the Church and our journey from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend and then engaged was certainly brought about with its share of crosses. There were many nights both of us cried because we were not sure if we were doing the right thing. What if he wouldn’t become Catholic? Why did I agree to date him before he did? What if this doesn’t work out? However, God was faithful and still remains to be. In the course of a year and seven months now, Tim and I have gone from just friends because he had much bitterness and disagreement towards the Catholic Church to a couple that brings each other closer to Christ, that prays the Rosary together daily, that attends Mass and Confession together, that have a relationship with Mary and the saints in order to bring our relationship with our Savior even closer. I am so unbelievably grateful and amazed at how God has orchestrated this love story, and I could not be more excited to spend the rest of my life with this holy man!
how they asked
Tim and I had been wanting to go to the beach all summer but had not had a chance to between work and other prior engagements. Our one lone planned weekend in August had to be cancelled because his beach condo in Wildwood ended up being rented out. Finally, Tim told me to mark my calendar for September 23rd. To be honest, I thought we’d end up canceling that too. Late September can sometimes be sketchy in terms of weather, so I was sure it would be too late for a beach weekend. In the week leading up to the beach weekend, Tim kept checking the weather and praying that it would be nice. I thought it was sweet that he was so hoping for nice weather but did not think anything more of it. He was just really hoping we could get one first (and last!) beach trip in!
By the time Friday, September 22nd rolled around, the news was calling for summer-like sunny temperatures in the high eighties. The trip was happening! On Saturday, the 23rd, we spent the morning on the Wildwood beach. Tim was acting very nervous and distracted and told me that we’d have to end the day early to go back and get ready for dinner with my parents later that night. When I was finally ready, Tim had me get in his car and said he was not going to tell me where we were going. It was around 5:00 pm now and dinner with my parents was not supposed to be until 7:30 pm. For part of the ride, he had me close my eyes, which felt like an eternity! Finally, I heard his car pull into a sandy parking lot and he had me open my eyes and get out of the car. He took my hand and proceeded to walk me down to an opening which led to the beach. All I could see were two chairs facing each other all by themselves, looking out at the ocean. My heart started to race. “Are these for us?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered. He had me sit down in one of the chairs and he sat down in the other across from me with his guitar!
At this point, I had a feeling what was happening! Then he had me stand up, and he got down on one knee. While I began to freak out, he said, “Wait! I forgot something!” And had me sit back down. Our relationship is so full of joking around, this was so typical of him. This is when I really started to cry. Tim picked up his guitar and told me that when he first met me, he knew there was something special. He then proceeded to play one of our favorite worship songs “You’re Beautiful” by Phil Wickham after jokingly playing a silly song he always played to joke with me. Our relationship has always been characterized by leading each other closer to Christ and his entire speech consisted of that, complete with more of our favorite songs that tied into what he was saying. He played “Holy” by Florida Georgia Line, gearing it more towards how we strive for holiness in our relationship, “Wanna Be that Song” by Brett Eldredge, saying he would always be there for me, “From the Ground Up” by Dan & Shay, saying he can’t wait to build our lives together, “In Case You Didn’t Know” by Brett Young, because we always argue over who loves each other more (even though I do and that’s totally a fact), and “Beloved” by Tenth Avenue North which he ended by saying just how blessed he is to have me.
By the end of this entire speech and serenade, I was an emotional puddle on the ground. He put down the guitar and had me stand up, got down on one knee, and said “Julie…Wait, I need something else!” For a split second, I thought he was so nervous that he forgot something but after a few minutes, I knew it was just all part of his typical joking self.
And when I looked up, I saw him coming back towards me with my shih tzu, Ginger, in his arms wearing a puppy shirt that said “Will you marry me?” on her and a sign around her neck that said “Julie, will you marry me?” I could NOT believe he brought my dog, who is so special to the both of us! When he came back and gave me Ginger to hold in my right hand and got down on one knee, I knew this was for real this time. He took my left hand, told me how much he loves me and can’t wait to spend forever with me, and asked me the question that made me the happiest girl in the entire world. I could not contain my tears and emphatically answered “Yes!”, the easiest answer I ever gave.
As if that wasn’t enough, as soon as it was over, my parents came out to congratulate me and he told me that we were going to have our engagement photo shoot right there on the beach in time for the sunset. It turns out we were on Sunset Beach, Cape May, one of the few beaches on. East Coast where the sun sets over the ocean. Our professional photographer friend who captured the proposal appeared and congratulated us and we proceeded to have our photo shoot. I remember telling Tim months and months ago how much I would have loved to get married on the beach, but I didn’t even think he really remembered or took that seriously, yet he gave me more than I could have ever dreamed. I am so blessed to be marrying such an amazing, holy, loving man. It was an unbelievably perfect proposal!