How We Met
I (Meredith) wish I could give a quantitative number for how many minutes Austin and I, our parents, and others have spent in prayer over each of our future spouses, but I’ll just have to ask you to think big – really big. But after years in prayer for each others’ hearts, lives, relationship with The Lord, and path towards one another, our story doesn’t begin with a bang: just the opening of a door. Austin was house sitting in Dallas, where I had just moved back to after graduating from the University of Texas, and invited a group of Young Life staffers and leaders to the house for a small get together. A mutual friend of ours, Julie, had already tipped Austin off to my attendance and that she thought he “may be interested” in getting to know me on a more personal level, but I was oblivious to the potential as I met a smiling face framed with long dark hair at the door. I remember our first conversation vividly, as Austin explained that he was named, in part, after the city I had just moved home from.
I remember every bit of our conversation as I learned of his complete faith in God’s plan for his life and how that had led him from Albuquerque to Abilene to Nashville to LA and then here to Dallas. I was struck by his maturity, vulnerability, joy, and genuine curiosity but did not even entertain the idea of anything growing between us, as he was so clearly “out of my league!” I was just a recent Texas grad moving back in with my parents and starting to lead a group of middle school girls in the ministry he worked full-time for… while he was an established and respected leader in the ministry with lots of fun-loving friends who surely had his whole life figured out. Funny how God works, huh? Austin’s side of the story has him asking around about me, trying to place himself around me at events and Young Life, and starting to pray for me by name. For a little over a year, Austin watched me from a short distance, taking note of my actions, words and character as he sought to grow our friendship even more. So when we both attended the wedding of his confidant and my dear friend, Julie, he decided it was go-time. We laughed and danced and laughed and danced all night, until he finally pulled me aside and asked me to dinner upon our return to Dallas. Of course I agreed! That first date was extended to a multi-hour ordeal including quality tex-mex, miniature golf (where, yes, I fell in a fountain… but that’s a different story…), gelato, and a walk around my neighborhood.
From there, Austin has pursued me with attentive care, pain-staking patience, and gospel-centered love. He has surprised me as frequently as possible (because surprises are just the best!!!), propelled me towards Christ through biblical encouragement and grace (lots of grace…), made me laugh with his dad-jokes and sarcasm, loved me through his questions and intentionality, and bathed our relationship in prayer. It didn’t take long for me to realize that Austin was, and is, the best picture of Christ-like love and grace that I have ever witnessed first-hand on earth and thus pairing my life with his would be a dream. As we both prayed intently for direction from The Lord in this decision, it became clear to us that our prayers for one another had finally been answered, in the sweetest of ways!
how they asked
After an intense but joyful meeting with my dad for his blessing, I made a few “small” requests as I knew his planning had begun: Ensure that I was not in workout clothes or sweaty… didn’t have to be fancy, just not at the barre studio I teach at. Had my nails painted at least fairly well Make the actual question a private moment for the two of us (before celebrating with our families and/or whoever he discerned to invite to our day) And, sure enough, he had hit the ground running with spreadsheets, diagrams, plots, and phone calls.
And followed direction quite well. :) Austin informed me that he would be going to a ranch with some buddies just outside of Dallas on Friday, but would be back in time to pick me up for a “cocktail hour and dinner” hosted by one of his Young Life families Saturday evening. To be honest, his details regarding this dinner changed a few times, leading me to title the event as “sketchy Young Life dinner” in my highly-organized outlook calendar. That being said, when I woke Saturday morning and joined my sisters for a barre class and breakfast, I did not think my day would end with a ring on my finger.
When my sisters left breakfast to “write some papers and finish some work” I was left without any plans until Austin’s return that evening. For the first time in weeks I binge-watched Friends, napped, and basically did nothing in my apartment because no one would hang out with me. Little did I know that my friends and sweet boyfriend (at the time…) were frantically preparing for one of the most poignant moments of our lives. I was just eating chocolate and staring at my ceiling! I finally dressed myself for this mystery dinner and heard from sweet, sweet Austin who told me I would have to drive myself to dinner instead, because “they were running late from the ranch.” Ha! I bought it.
I drove myself to the beautiful home for this odd dinner, honestly hoping that Austin had been fooling me the whole time, but fighting to prepare my mind for a roomful of adults talking about ministry, like he had told me. Upon arrival I was a shaky mess from conflicting expectations for the evening and had to make 3 U-turns before finally leaving my keys in my car as directed by the security guard, and parking in the correct spot. Sure enough, there was a card just inside a beautiful garden archway that had the date and a photo of the arch with a candle. That’s when I realized: this is it.
Still a shaky mess, I didn’t pause to read the note, thinking it was only a photo, and started my walk down the garden path to another candle and note with the same photo. I actually read this one. Austin was asking me to slow down and take some deep breaths, reminded me of scripture, and charged me to continue to pray over this decision. I followed the notes through the beautiful walkways, pausing when I was asked and smiling at his practiced cursive. I was finally led to a gazebo where the love of my life was standing in the setting sun, looking handsome as ever, and waiting for me. After a final note warning me not to fall into the fountain in front of the gazebo (apparently I will never live that one down…) I climbed the steps and kissed my man.
He proceeded to shower me with words of his plans for our future, hopes for our relationship, prayers for our love, and excitement for our family before kneeling and asking me to be his wife!
We prayed, gawked at the ring (a custom pear-shape, like my mom’s), and took deep breaths, as the moment was finally ours. He then washed my feet as a symbol of his commitment to serving me as Christ came to serve, while I read a letter he had penned in a leather journal.
We toasted champagne and stole a few more kisses before watching a video he had compiled of sweet wishes, congratulations and prayers from some of our closest friends, as they were unable to celebrate with us in person. Cue the waterworks.
After a few more moments acknowledging and admiring the beautiful set-up he had orchestrated at the home, we headed out to tell my parents! On the way we called his family, who giggled and shrieked with us in celebration. Just as I was realizing the disappointment of not being able to have such a conversation with them in person, we walked into my parents’ home to find 30 of our closest friends and family (his siblings and parents, the friends in the video who “couldn’t make it,” my overly-excited family dog, etc.) filling the home with resounding cheers! Like I said, surprises are the best!!!! Friends from near and far filled the home with more love than we knew what to do with. What a joy it was to celebrate with those who brought us together, encouraged us for years along the way, and sharpened us into the couple we are today.
And you think it’d stop there… but no! We “decided” to continue the party at one of our favorite rooftop bars, but had to make a pit stop to drop off a friend’s “forgotten wallet.” Wrong. Again, 100 of our closest friends surrounded us with cheers and love for another celebration! I don’t know how he managed to get so many of “our people” in one spot on the same night, but boy does it make me even more excited for our wedding and future as a family!
God’s hand has been on this relationship from the absolute beginning, and that room of loving, encouraging, and joyful people who have supported us individually and together for so long was such a testament to God’s gracious gifts he has blessed us with. As we step into this new phase of our relationship and pursue oneness together, we can’t wait to see where The Lord takes us and who he continues to use in making us more like Him! Can every Saturday start with Netflix and naps and end with surprises and champagne???