I think everyone loves a good love story. I remember as a child dreaming about how God would write my story, who I would marry, how he would ask me out, our first kiss (well...you get the idea:). It is so funny to look back on the last few years with Kevin (my handsome stud) and laugh about how it was all so different than I imagined...only better:)
Technically speaking, Kev and I should have met a Loooong time before we actually did. Woven into the tapestry of of our story are a few key players who I should probably introduce. Namely my local Pastor Will Wilson, and his oldest daughter (my high school bestie Noelle). You see, Will had grown up with Mitch Cook (Kev's dad) and to this day the two remain life long friends. For years and years during high school I heard about this notorious Kevin Cook...his good looks...his athletic prowess (tearing it up out on the basketball courts in Orange County)...his comedic sense of humor, etc. Secretly I had this "long distance" crush on a guy I had never met. Noelle used to tease me about him, telling me she could set me up with him. But no dice in high school...we never met.
Then came college. My freshman year Noelle invited me to a New Years party with her family and their friends...to my great joy my fantasy crush was going to be there. Would I go? Um..wouldn't miss it for the world. However, as if to mirror Tom from 500 Days of Summer, my expectations for my hopeful encounter with Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome did not match reality. Not only did I not even officially meet my Stud muffin, to this day he doesn't even remember me being there. Um....kinda pathetic since I certainly watched HIM like a hawk that night.
Fast forward four years (yes, nothing at all significant happens between us while in college). Freshly graduated from UC Davis, I set out to conquer the world of grad school at Biola. Kevin, having one more year of eligibility to play basketball at Biola, was still a student on campus. Again, romantic visions of "bumping" into him on campus filled my academic mind (but again, orchestration of such a meeting was rather futile). Until....(drumroll please)...his parents called me up to say they had heard from Pastor Will that I was in town, and that they would love to take me out to lunch one Sunday after church. Well, again, what is a girl to do? Free food and a possible rendevoux with none other than Mr. Biola himself? I'm in.
That lunch had absolutely nothing to do with Kevin, and yet had everything to do with him. Kevin WAS there, but he never said one word to me and was sitting at a different table with his friends (again he sheepishly admitted to not remember this occasion. Monumental for me, non-existent to him.) Yet even though I didn't exchange one syllable with my future husband, his Dad Mitch, rather jokingly seemed to predict the outcome of this story. You see, Mitch had traveled to Nepal every year for over a decade and loved many aspects of the Nepali culture. He told me that day, "Katie, I wish we were living in Nepal right now. I would give your dad 100 goats to buy you for Kevin. Wouldn't that be great if you and Kevin were ever married....". Prophetic right? And he didn't even have to give my dad 100 goats! In the words of Michael Scott "It was a win, win".
Against my nature, I become a grad school drop out (I love telling people that, it makes me feel so edgy...). Yes, it's true....three weeks after I started grad school, I decided it wasn't for me, quit, and moved to Thailand to teach English. And in doing so diminished all chances of connecting with Mr. Stud via our Biola connection. I guess matching Biola alumni sweatshirts were not in our future. So fast forward another year and Kevin is a freshly graduated Eagle, looking to make a lot of money in a short amount of time. He gets wind that rice harvesting is quite lucrative in the Fall, and BOOM, next thing I know he is working for my dad driving a tractor and growing a nasty beard in the Rystrom family annual "beard off" (Don't worry, when I did my stint working harvest I voted to opt out of the competition....)
But major problem...I was a northern california girl who had relocated to San Diego, and Kevin was a southern california boy who had moved to Chico. Geography, my friend, was not in our favor. But, as God would have it, my parents seemed to be in our favor, and "conveniently" invited Kevin over for dinner the weekend they knew I would be visiting from SD. Kevin, in the same vein had been over to my parents quite frequently and had noticed my senior picture, and taken a special interest in the Rystrom's oldest daughter. (FINALLY, right?). Kevin told me numerous times his stomach was ranging between both nervous and excited, and he confessed that after meeting me thought I was "beautiful" and "quite out of his league" (his words, not mine).
Ok, so then he departs and leaves for Europe, and a year later is when the magic begins. I promise...the good stuff will only get better! Fall 2008 rolls around, and Kevin has returned from Europe, and I land a job in Orange County and desperately need a place to live. Again, Pastor Will comes onto the scene and suggests to me that I should ask the Cooks if I could live with them. Let's see....live with random creepies I find off craiglist, OR live with a fantastic Christian family and their hot son who happens to be my age and single? Well it didn't exactly play out in my mind that way, but either way I chose to facebook Mr. Stud muffin and see if there was vacancy at the always bustling "Cook Hotel". Kevin, who received my message told me later that he couldn't believe I was asking to live with them. He responded back an emphatic YES before he even asked his parents. Telling his friend that I had asked to live with them, his friend responded with "is she cute?", and without being able to hide his massive smile, responded a resounding YES. And so we became roommates.....
To describe the next few years would take pages, and since I wrote a novel in just getting to this point, I will try to simplify the rest:) But the next year and a half can be broken up into different stages...so here we go:
From the minute I moved in, my crush on K-dawg stepped up it's game. Simultaneously, Kevin's heart went from crush to major affection. We spent increasing amounts of time together. We went on hikes, we watched movies, we chatted until late- we joked and laughed and smiled A LOT. But like any good story, there has to be a hitch...and our hitch was that I did not think he liked me, and He definitely did NOT think I cared for him beyond a friend. And so as affections grew in our hearts, we danced around the line of having a DTR because neither of us were sure. I tried to increase my flirtations- he thought I was just an outgoing girl who treated everyone that way. I accepted dates with other guys in hopes to move him into action to ask me the heck out- he thought I wanted to date other people. When either of us were asked by family or friends what was going on, we both laughed the matter off and quickly rebuked any ideas of dating by claiming we were "just friends".
But eyebrows were raised when Kevin started taking a salsa class with me. Gossip began to swirl when we went on a night hike, or when Kevin painted my finger nails. Was this the Kevin his family knew? Tough, athletic, somewhat mysterious Kevin? His sister who had been out in Tennessee for most of the year came back, and after a day at home, asked her parents "is that my brother"? No, he was quite different. You see, he was a smitten kitten, and was fully engaged into winning the affections of his beautiful bride-to-be. So finally, after my family spent the summer in France, and Kevin and I had exchanged countless late night emails declaring how we missed one another so, Mr. Stud finally mustered up the courage to ask me out, and I said yes.
Our dating life was loads of fun. We travelled the world together- flying off to family reunions in Sweden, eating chocolate in Belgium, biking through Holland, hiking Big Sur, riding cable cars in San Francisco and so many others. We immersed ourselves into loving the kids in our neighborhood-leading seminars on basketball and cooking, taking the kids out for yogurt, and movie nights. We laughed a lot, and grew more comfortable with each other. We prayed a lot about our future together, and dreamed a lot about the things we both had in our hearts to do and be. About a year into dating, Kevin moved to Indonesia to coach basketball for a University team, and love on those around him as Jesus would. As he moved, we both prayed for guidance, and in that time felt called to break up and give that time to the Lord so that we could discern where he would have us. It didn't take long (ie: a few days for Kev, a few weeks for me) for us both to know that we NEVER wanted to be apart again. And so Kev made sure that would never happen....and proposed New Years Eve! Praise God!
What is there to say? We planned a wedding and dreamed of starting our life together. I visited Kevin in Indonesia and it was an AMAZING 2 weeks of seeing his life there. We vacationed on Bali...um, can you say the most beautiful place on earth? We ate lots of crazy foods, met incredible people, and allowed God to grow our heart and vision for the world. It was truly incredible.
And so you see this story, while so different than what I expected, was woven into the most beautiful love story. I met the man of my dreams while sleeping in his parents upstairs room, and on August 13th we tied the knot and started the best part of the journey yet...marriage! I look back and I just praise God for his handiwork. I could have NEVER imagined such a handsome, talented, God loving man in my life. He is the most servant hearted man I know, and loves me deeper than I deserve. I look back and I remember discouraging seasons wondering if i'd EVER meet anyone that I was truly crazy about, and that loved God and loved me with such a passion. And I did. So know that God is working, because I see the miracle of it every day in my life!!
Hope you are encouraged today that our God sees us, and he knows us. He is so in tune with our deepest desires and dreams- in fact he gave them to us. So be incredibly uplifted today that you have the very best of advocates working in your favor, for your good:)