Andrew: Well, it all began with a picture. Christin and I had both contributed chapters to Women and C. S. Lewis, and not long after, our editor Carolyn Curtis contacted each of us: would we join her for a radio interview in support of that book? Across the Gulf of Mexico, we both said yes, though Christin and I hadn't really heard of each other. Out of professional courtesy, we tagged each other in tweets and on Facebook, and each had fun speaking our parts on the show (which you can find here). I looked Christin up online to find out more, and quickly found lovely pictures, clear writing, incisive intelligence, an established ministry, and wisdom. Suffice it to say I was intrigued.
Christin: After the interview, we exchanged pleasantries via social media, and Andrew messaged me about his upcoming trip to Florida for the holidays. Would I like to get together for coffee and talk Narnia? I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some trepidation. It felt kind of like he could be hitting on me. But what if he really did want to talk Narnia? In the end, I agreed to meet, because he was going to be literally ten minutes from my house and…I was all finished with my Christmas shopping. I wasn't doing anything else that day. I didn't have a good reason to say no.
Andrew: I have family on both coasts of Florida, and on holidays, I love a good meal, and good conversation about the things that matter most to me: ideas, books, God, Lewis. Lewis says, "When one has read a book, I think there is nothing so nice as discussing it with some one else - even though it sometimes produces rather fierce arguments." And pursuing a life of practical and integrated faith has brought me most of my closest friends and most cherished hours. Plus the food at First Watch looked good, so I knew the hobbits would approve as well. I checked both schedule and menu and we set up a time.
Christin: We had a fun, lively, wide-ranging conversation about life and faith and writing and speaking. Discovered we had a lot of unusual things in common. He had said he had an hour, but somehow it stretched to an hour and half, then almost two. At one point, as we were discussing literature, Andrew confessed he hadn't read much Jane Austen and asked me for a recommendation – I told him my favorite was Persuasion. It's her most grown-up love story. When it was time to go, we agreed to keep in touch.
Andrew: I almost stayed too long, and ended up missing an appointment to pick up my Aunt. But how could I help it? Christin was clearly whip-smart, well-read, and familiar both with pain and the power of God to heal. She shared my passion for helping people to see His love and to apply it to daily life. And she was funny, deep, nimble, insightful. I could see I had my hands full keeping up with her, whatever may come. A profound respect instantly arose, and I left our time together certainly wanting to know more. Little did I know how much more I would soon find. . .
Christin: Later that day – or the next – Andrew texted me to thank me for making time and to let me know he'd downloaded Persuasion. I was surprised that he followed up on my suggestion so quickly. Then he sent me a quote from the book that struck him. I replied and he replied. More quotes from the book, more conversation. Off and on all day, and sometimes until the wee hours of the morning – texting like teenagers, only it was about nineteenth-century literature… among other things. Then we switched from text to Voxer (a voice messaging app). He started reading me poetry. Every morning, there'd be another sonnet waiting for me… We still haven't talked Narnia. Not really.
Andrew: Those who have been to a Bag End (or, really, spent much time with me at all) know how much I love poetry. And I spend much of my year foisting it on sometimes pretty reluctant teenagers. To find such eager ears in this woman I was growing closer to so quickly was a big deal for me. And that shared interest also led to many others. We soon found that it would take many, many hours to sound the depths of each other.
I freaked out a little. How could someone seem to fit so perfectly? What insight or wisdom was I lacking? What hidden faults would Christin reveal, dashing my dreams? Or, maybe, possibly--could this really prove itself my long-held hopes finally coming true? Good counsel and much prayer led me to suspect that I might at last have found a true home in her.
Christin: By New Year's Eve, we knew "Aslan was on the move." Of all things, I was already scheduled to attend a conference in Houston (where Andrew lives), in mid-January. So I asked my friend Carole if I could come stay with her – and then flew in a week early to attend Andrew's birthday party! I got to meet so many of his dear friends, sit in on his classes at the Christian school where he's been teaching. It was so much fun to see Andrew shine… and to witness how much his wisdom, his insight, his depth, his sense of humor, his love and compassion has impacted the lives of those around him. How much they love and care for him in return! And once again, we had hours and hours of conversation about all the things that matter most – our love for Jesus, our love for C. S. Lewis and Jane Austen and U2.
Andrew: That week was key. She came to offer me both time together and whatever space I needed. Turns out, I didn't need any space at all. We spent all the time we could together. I also got to watch her in ministry, spending time with some senior girls, visiting with our chaplain, helping my students understand the writing process and how to speak in front of people. She got to see me unguarded in my daily environment and see who I was in a number of contexts. And we had some honest conversations about the past, present, and our future together. Every hour made things more and more clear that we each had met our match.
Christin: We pretty much knew where we were headed that week, though honestly there was one moment that really gave me pause. I have to admit I was taken aback when I discovered Andrew had never read Kipling. Or the Brownings (Robert and Elizabeth Barrett). In fact, his familiarity with nineteenth-century lit – my favorite – on the whole is somewhat lacking. (He minored in Classics and Medieval studies in college, and then became an expert in, of course, Lewis). But then I thought about the odds of finding another man so perfect for me, as Jane would say, "in every respect" – one who cooks! – and decided it would be easier (and more fun) to educate him.
Andrew: And I was ready to learn! Christin passed me a note in class one day (scandalous! I made her stay after school to discuss it) suggesting a plot to combine our libraries and get her hands on my first editions. And she also offered great counsel and practical help about how to move my speaking ministry forward--and then she cleaned up my boring old bulletin boards. Here was a woman of intelligence, taste and charm--and she seemed to keep coming back for more of my time and conversation. It began to dawn on me all the ways we matched each other.
Christin: One of the things we realized right away is that we have very different – and complementary -- personalities. Strengths and weaknesses. We balance each other really well. Andrew's emotions are a lot closer to the surface than mine – he's the bigger romantic.
Andrew: I welcome Christin's insightful advice and deep thoughtfulness balancing my passion and eagerness. I quickly learned to rely on, even seek out her judgment, and to listen closely to what she says. And when she says something, it comes from deep deliberation, and I know that I can rely on it. Clearly, what we'd both looked for all our lives had finally come upon us.
And so one morning, heart full of all I'd ever hoped to find, I asked Christin if she would marry me. And when she said yes the most amazing thing happened. Aslan came bounding in. God showed up. The Holy Spirit seemed right there with us, and it moved us deeply. We found ourselves clinging to each other in tears, as if we'd stumbled on something so huge and holy, it was hard to take in.
We made the decision pretty quickly (or recognized that it had been made for us) – but we're making our way to the altar slowly, savoring the journey as much as we can -- while we juggle teaching commitments, book deadlines, travel, and speaking engagements.
It turns out the soonest we can schedule our wedding is January 7, 2017! We love the idea of starting the new year together. It has some very special significance to us. And until then, we'll keep weaving our lives together, dreaming out loud, praying and making plans.
We've looked forward to sharing our story at the start of this pretty amazing journey together, and we look forward to spending time with so many of you laughing, gathered round the table, praying, and marveling at what God is doing as we draw closer. It makes us glad to share this surprise with you, and we stand tip-toe looking forward to all the days ahead. Thank you for being part of this love story, the beginning of our happy ending.
Over the years, we've both been blessed to come to know so many wonderful people! As you might imagine, we couldn't find a venue big enough to accommodate everyone...And we couldn't stand the thought of looking over a list of our dearly beloved, asking,"Who can we cut?"
So we opted to keep it simple and to have a sweet little ceremony with our families and a handful of friends.
In spite of freakish (for FL) cold weather and storms the night before that downed trees and power lines, we had a perfectly glorious day! Everything we dreamed and more...