Where We |Team Brenner| Began

marriage - how we met Some said we were crazy, others rooted us on. We hope to leave a legacy, that loves people to the Son.

See that patch of grass between the slide and the sidewalk? That's where we began. In all of its musty and moist glory.

Really, we began 5 days earlier while locking eyes from across the cafeteria which was bursting full of middle school students. I remember feeling the butterflies swarming my stomach as I quickly looked away. Did we just lock eyes? Oh my soul; it was throbbing.

August 15th was the day we first locked eyes.

The week prior to this day, I was serving in this same cafeteria. I was on dish duty and food-serving duty. This allowed ample free time through out each day. Free time that was filled with gut wrenching tears to Jesus on the most beautiful sand dune I'll ever know. My hearts prayer that week was to fall in line and fall in love with Jesus's heart for my life. I came to grips with the fact that I was forcing my own desires, out of the deep and very real fear that His desires were withholding greatness from me. As I read the book Captivating, for the second time, I allowed the message to sink it's teeth into my heart. I allowed the words to etch into my soul: you are the daughter of The King, and the type of man I have planned for you knows that. That man will treat you that way and see you with pure eyes of grace. And you will respect him because of the way he so selflessly serves you and loves you. You will love him selflessly. Listen to me, my child. What I have planned is more thrilling than what you dare to think you want.

As I gave those Truths permission to reside within my very soul, I began to let go of my pursuit of control. This, friends, isn't easy.

I sat on the top of that sand dune. If I peered behind me (east), I could see the entire camp. If I peered straight ahead (west), I faced the great Pacific Ocean. It's violent waves crashed before me, just a couple hundred feet away. Many moments were spent there with my bible and too much coffee. Repeatedly, I was given a picture.

The beaches of Camp Winema on the Oregon Coast

"Daughter. You can continue the pursuit of your own desires which are not mine, and you will serve me well through your life. You will love those around me and when you stand before my throne in Heaven, I will welcome you in. But. If you had handed your heart over wholly, to Me, pursued my desires for you...look at how much more blessed your life would have been."

Fast forward to Sunday the 14th, 2011: the start of my 2nd week serving at WINEMA, but this time as a counselor for the middle school camp.  The week of serving in the kitchen came to a close. To say my life had been crumbling to pieces the entire previous year is a big understatement. To say I was exhausted and running ragged is also an understatement. I was broken and poured out, ready for Heaven, and craving freedom I didn't know existed. It was one of those times you look back on and say, "wow...I made it."

Monday (8/15/11): the awkward eye locking moment happened.

My heart fluttered and I moved on, knowing that I wouldn't be dating anyone for "at least 3 years." That had to be the time frame to get myself back on track and ready to date, ready for a marriage that would glorify Him. I was certain. But this tall, clean shaven man was spiking my attention. There are a lot of details I am going to spare - details about the intimate pains of my heart, details about why my heart was in such a gaping raw state of being, details about so Many More Things. Details that piece this puzzle together perfectly, but details that will {for now} remain between me, my husband, my close ones, and Jesus Himself. Some things must remain sacred and held between the hearts of few.

Winema, Oregon Coast

Thursday the students were all in their classes, which created a free time for the counselors. I was standing in the basketball courts with two other counselors when this tall handsome man with the worn out corduroys walked up. Loren. I knew he was from BBC, because that seemed to be his only shirt selection. I knew he must not have too many pants, because he wore those hideous corduroys all week long. The butt was pretty worn in, but I wasn't about to hold it against him. We were at camp. I also knew that he was passionate about Jesus and about youth ministry; as I observed him through the week, it was evident in the way he carried himself and served those around him. The last thing I really knew, was that he liked to be goofy.

THE FIRST CONVERSATION The conversation in the basketball courts was revolving around our dreams and what we wanted to do with our puny insignificant lives. When Loren walked into the conversation, I decided to be so shy and yet so bold and ask him what he wanted to do with his life. With a swooping arm movement, he motioned and said, "this." Confused, I asked, "Camp Winema? You want to work here all your life?" His steady response was, "No; ministry. I want to serve people and tell them about Christ and His grace."

Right then and there my heart dropped and my mind said, "I want to marry you." Flushing red, I mumbled something awkward about needing to go to my cabin, turned and walked off towards the golf course. Which is the opposite direction of any cabins. My heart was pounding, I was embarrassed, for what I do not know. I felt so small, so unsure, so...attracted.

Winema, Oregon

The week was coming to a close. I had the honor of baptizing a beautiful soul, my very first baptism. What an honor that was! Before baptisms, one of my friends from Harrisburg said to me: "You're going to marry that man, you know." My response was to stare at her and ask, "What man?!" Because how could she possibly know I had my eyes on Loren and was at war within myself about waiting 3 years to date anyone. His name fell out of her mouth and I stood in awe. Was it that obvious?

Baptisms finished. There we stood, Loren and I, across from one another in a circle with people I had met that week. People that were planting a church in Corvallis. People I planned to begin living life with the day we returned to this beautiful city. To keep the details precious to my heart, I will simply say we ended up exchanging numbers. Remember that photo up at the top? That green patch of grass? That was the spot. We exchanged numbers, he was on his way back to Boise and I was on mine to Corvallis.

I went straight home to Corvallis, called my best friends Haley and Maggie. We met up for sushi and I told them I met the man I would someday marry. (see photo above).

I was more than ready to jump into this new life with Corvallis Church; it wasn't yet a church but it would soon launch. Over the next few weeks, Loren and I began sending letters to one another. Hand written letters. We started with writing about as far back as we could remember -- life at age 3? OSU classes began in September, I was finishing up my CNA class, and working 40-60 hours a week at the wonderful Park Place Assisted Living. I shared a bedroom with my best friend, now my sister in law. The month of September passed by with more hand written letters than either of us can count and one skype date because, well, we are shy and nervous and wanted to go at the right pace. What is the right pace anyways? If you look back into the archives of this blog, September through October of 2011 was a time of joy for me. A time of joy, pain, healing, and the adventure of a lifetime had began.

Little did I know, I would date a man long distance, and it would be the most pure and exciting dating relationship I had ever enjoyed. He would propose 8 months later.

Little did I know, we would be wed less than one year of meeting. (see our wedding here- the details & money)

Little did I know, I would lay down so many of my own pursuits in order to pursue a life much greater -- a life lived for, not myself, but for Jesus. And this man would join me! This life has proven to be 10,000 times greater than I could have wished.

Little did I know, I would grow in knowing who I am in the Lord, because of Loren's love of Christ.

Little did I know, we would baptize many in the name of Christ and start ministries from scratch...only by the power and strength of Jesus Christ would they be fruitful, remaining His and to Him be the glory.

I could go on and on. But I shall wait.

You know what? That vision the Lord kept giving me about pursuing His heart for my life rather than my own desires? He is so faithful. Within one month of giving my desires wholly over to Him, I had been more blessed than in my entire life {it felt}. Things like being given exact amounts of cash for unexpected medical bills; my transmission being swapped for a good one for free; observing healthy marriages and families; so many more THINGS. His desires are so much better than mine.  Over the last 3 years, He has proven that to me time and time again: He knows what is best and that isn't cliche.

He is so good. He is for you, not against you. He likes you, your humor or lack of, and your personality. He is not holding your faults over your head. He wants to grow you, mold you, shape you, transform you into Beauty, by His love for you. He knows how to orchestrate your daily life, if only you would submit your hearts to Him and lean into His will.