Before reading, I recommend that you catch up. [chapter one: here and chapter two: here]. Heck, you may be new here and have zero clue what we are writing about. So take a ten minute refresher and then c'mon in, chapter three has arrived!
Within a matter of days, my heart was 100% Asa's. He worked early mornings at the coffee shop and between classes, I was working several random jobs. He would come over after finishing a shift and we would spend hours together doing life. I remember the long walks best of all...back before we had a rigid agenda. When we would daydream of the romantic families that lived inside those big, beautiful victorian homes--not really having a clue someday we too would be in a gorgeous and charming house of our own. I was planning a trip to Michigan pretty shortly after we met and I himmed and hawed with my mom about bringing him to meet them. Well, he came with me, (surprise, surprise), and then after that, he came to our Thanksgiving my brother was hosting in Nashville. There were a lot of moments where I fearfully tried to push Asa away. I loved him, completely and fully without a doubt, but that's what intimidated me. I wasn't trusting of men, especially after a very unfortunate work incident my freshman year; and yet, there was absolutely nothing untrustworthy about Asa. It's funny that looking back now, nine years later, I don't specifically remember the fights that I would pick with him, but I DO remember sitting outside my house in my car just stewing as he said,"If you want to break up, YOU have to end it. Because I am not going anywhere and I refuse to back out." As I write, I can so vividly see how God has used that same phrase in our marriage over these years. Remember, I choose you? Asa's been saying it from the beginning.
The fall of 2007 will always be a magical memory for me. Something about love does that. Something about falling head over heels makes everything seem magical. We shared haunted houses, and long walks through neighborhoods dreaming of days to come. We went on romantic dates to the theater and learned how to be still with one another in coffee shops. We learned how to talk when there was nothing to say, and how sometimes the silence together said more than words ever could. October quickly became November. It was no surprise to me that when she invited me to attend her families Thanksgiving in Nashville, that I jumped at the chance. I mean, turkey is turkey anywhere, and if I could eat alongside her, that made the turkey comma way better, right? But then, that sacred family holiday happened. Lights, and trees, and presents appearing everywhere. We found ourselves in an odd situation of wanting to celebrate together, but clinging so hard to the family we always knew. How could I skip my family Christmas…ever? I didn’t want to be away from the warm fire place, and crazy traditions that had defined the most magical of seasons my entire life. Ashley, being from Michigan set out to leave around the middle of December. We figured a break would be healthy, and that we would see each other after the holidays. We said our goodbyes, and she drove away.
Christmas was soon approaching and it was a different time in my household. There was some heartache that year amongst us and for the first time, my heart felt a piece of home was missing--even though I was there, back in Michigan. I knew that this piece was Asa, and it felt baffling that the holiday just didn't feel quite right without him. I was doing my best at home to be present; to love my parents well and laugh with my brothers. But emotionally, I was absent. I kept picturing Asa there in Kentucky, wondering what he was doing, who he was laughing with, how many hundred cups of coffee he had have. So when he called me Christmas night and told me of some huge news, I was beyond ecstatic.
Christmas of 2007 was a good year in my family’s house. My siblings were all married, but still made a good effort to be there and to celebrate. My parent’s home was cozy and inviting. Mom is a bit of a nut for Christmas, and we had nine trees decorated all over the house. Christmas carols rang out over the home stereo, cookies and other goodies were constantly being baked or eaten. The door seemed to always be opening to friends and family. In a way, I can’t fully describe it; we were happy, healthy, blessed beyond measure, full of laughter and Christmas spirit, and yet somehow...I was sad.
In the midst of all the family festivities, I knew Ashley was having a different experience in her home that year. And I knew that she too, needed something else for her heart to feel complete. I took a gamble that I was the missing piece, scraped what little money I had in savings, combined it with the money I got for the holiday, and I purchased a last minute, one way ticket, to Kalamazoo, Michigan for December 26th. It wasn’t Christmas, technically, but it was all I wanted. Love is interesting. I know how much money I had working at the coffee shop part time, so there is no way financially it made sense for me to buy this ticket. Not to mention once I had the ticket, I had no clue what I was going to live on once I got to Michigan, but I guess I didn’t care. Love isn’t logical. It never has been. Love requires action. It’s perhaps the strongest emotion we have, that can sustain us through so many ups and downs, because it can be so fleeting, it must be fought for and clinged too. I got on that airplane, on the 26th, and made it back to my love. That night we privately exchanged gifts in the upstairs room of her parents’ house. The same room just 7 months later I would get down on one knee and make sure forever with her would take place.
As soon as I saw Asa in the airport, I couldn't contain my joy. Walking towards me in a grey sweater and tattered jeans, I fell in love all over again. And while he spent time with me there at home, I would do that many times--fall in love with him that is. From the second he met my parents, there was something about all of them that just clicked. From the beginning, fall 2007, he just fit. He loved my brother Nathan well--reading books and making him laugh. And he and my other brother Sean also hit it off. My mom knew, my dad knew, I knew... and I realized it was only a matter of time before this guy asked me to marry him. Well, seven months later to be exact. Looking back, some things are fuzzy and others more clear, obviously bound to happen with time. But I remember SO clearly, Asa getting down on one knee in the exact same room we exchanged those Christmas gifts. I can still hear the emotional sob my dad accidentally let loose, and my mom downstairs loudly whispering, "Did you get a picture, Terry? Did you GET a picture?!" I immediately wanted to change our Facebook status (I am so lame, guys...) and I texted all of my friends. I have always been a woman who has doubted the good, and suddenly, there it was: the beautiful realization that I would never have a Christmas without this man.
An odd thing happened the following year. December of 2008 we got married. Prior to the wedding, we set up our apartment, and as every good Glass should, our Christmas tree. I pray I never forget that ratty second hand tree from my mom, or that dark, dingy apartment which was all lit up with twinkling lights. I pray I never forget quietly watching Ashley hang the few ornaments we owned and the way she looked. I set there in awe of the blessing that was starting right there in that very moment. This was our first Christmas together, our first tree, our first everything…and I cried gigantic tears of joy because it was the first of so many more to come. The traditions we have as a family started that year, with a couple of poor kids, so in love with each other that family wasn’t enough, logic couldn’t prevail, without a clue as to what life was going to throw at them. We just knew, in that dark little apartment, among those twinkling lights, love would be enough.
One afternoon during wedding planning my mom called me. "The church can do the end of May 2009 or December 20th of this year," she said. We knew we wanted to get married before the New Year (I desperately needed in-state tuition at the University!!) and beyond that, we didn't want to 'play house' anymore. We wanted to live it. So December 20th it was. As we prepared our first apartment for the holiday and for us living in it together once married, I can still remember his eyes watching me. I was hanging old ornaments and the dogs were on the floor at my feet; in the midst of the lights around the tree I noticed that he was crying. I'll never ever forget the way he lovingly looked at me. As if his entire life, he had been waiting for this moment.
Flash forward a little and my most romantic memories live in that apartment. I reminisce with my friends often, about how we were poor and didn't care. Cheap Chinese takeout and Grey's Anatomy was our Thursday night date, and I loved every second. We laughed, we fought, we cried, we played and we loved. May we never forget the love that bound us together--the early beginnings, the simple traditions, and the legacy we long to build with our now children.