This past Wednesday, Matt and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. We were married October 29, 2005 at the beautiful Legacy Chapel in Xenia, Ohio. Many of you came to our wedding, but many of you we had yet to know. Some of you have been life-long friends, where as others we've met fairly recently. Whatever the case, I wanted to take you back to where it all began for us. Here's our fairytale story:
Once upon a time, a small-town girl named Traci had dreams of marrying her prince. She searched and searched for many years hoping to find him. Somehow, she never seemed to find him among all the toads. Surely she wouldn't have to kiss a toad would she? Well, it turns out that she was looking in all the wrong places. Toads and frogs lined her path in life. If she wanted to marry her prince, she better get her act together and seek out what is most important in a husband.
Traci grew and grew into a young woman heading off to college. Maybe this would be the place to find the young lad! Again, she roamed around hoping to bump into him somewhere on campus. At one point, she thought she found him. She wondered if this was it! He was a cute boy with big muscles, deserving of a second glance. He seemed nice enough and had the smarts, too. Still, an unsettling feeling overtook Traci's heart. Why wasn't she happy with him? Why did she want more? What did she really want? Who was she after all?
The answers to these questions unfolded before Traci when she was 20 years old. All the pieces to the puzzle of her life were in sync except for one. She felt empty. She felt alone. She felt ashamed. She felt like no man really loved her. Then, on a cool November evening she found herself weeping at a local church. What was going on with her? She was definitely not the church-going type. An occasional Christmas or Easter service was sufficient for her to show God she was all set in life. An evening of weeping over her sin and her need for more in life, led her to the One would fill every need she ever had. The One who loved her despite all of her shame and sorrow. The One who covered every part of her past. The One who cared enough for her to die on a cross. The One she had all along but never cared to meet. The One and only Jesus Christ. Sure, she had heard a few things about Him. She knew he had performed many miracles. She knew he walked on water. That must be some Man! This night was especially different from any other in her life. This night, Traci learned how Jesus wanted to heal her brokenness, restore her weary soul, and show her the unconditional love He has for her. November 28, 2000 marked a new start for young Traci. She was introduced to Jesus and began learning what He had in His plans for her.
Traci grew in her relationship with Jesus. She joined her first Bible study with some other college girls and learned much from them. Many of the girls had known Jesus for years. Others knew Jesus for about as long as she had. She read through the book of John in the Bible and understood that Jesus is the only way to the Father but much more than that as well. He is the reason she has breath every morning. He is the reason she has a beating heart. He is the reason she can live abundantly on this earth. Things were making sense to her. Life wasn't all about dating or having good friends. Life was about knowing her Maker and living out His purpose.
Traci finished college at Wright State University in March of 2003 and began graduate school the following fall. This wasn't her original plan after graduation. She thought she would stay in Dayton but begin teaching elementary age students. The timing for graduate school seemed to fall into place. After all, she did not have any other commitments. She settled into a new place with new roommates in similar life situations. Can you imagine a house full of four or five girls? A little drama here and there never hurt anyone! She was at peace with her life and what God was teaching her, especially in regards to dating. She hadn't dated anyone for a long time. In fact, she went on a male-diet for a short time expecting God to open her heart and eyes and reveal what she needed in a husband.
God did just that. He worked in her and let her witness the characteristics she desired in a man. She no longer looked at outward appearances like she previously did. Good looks surely are a bonus, but she was now after the heart - a heart beating for the Lord. For she knew that God looks at the heart and not the external. Around the time everything was falling into place, into her life walks a wonderful young lad named Matt. He was no ordinary man, and Traci knew this the first night she met him.
Traci met Matt at a college/career Bible study. She couldn't attend the study due to her new class schedule, but she joined after the study to play guitar and hang out with everyone. Her friends, Bryan and Allen, were teaching her. She had been over to their house the week prior to starting school. She called one evening to see if they wanted to play sometime later that week. Traci had much studying and homework to begin since it was the first week of school. She had no intentions of going... just making plans for a future lesson. As she sat at her desk reading, her mind aimlessly wandered. This was pointless. She might as well go over and hang out for a bit. Studying could wait.
As soon as she walked into the house, everyone was standing in the kitchen. Someone from the group was giving a knife demonstration for his new business adventure. Allen then introduced Matt and Traci. They were the only two people who didn't know each other. Did he notice her then? Maybe she noticed him first? At any rate, later in the evening she and Matt sat on the couch and played guitar. She quickly learned how talented he was. Something about him caught her attention. Traci noticed how patient and gentle he was, and she did not want the night to end. He was a knight in shining armor.
Matt and Traci saw each other every week at the Bible study. A few weeks went by since their first encounter, and it was safe to say that Traci had a special interest in her new friend. She saw something more in him than friendship. She knew in her heart he liked her also. He was kind and spoke sweetly to her. One night they sat on the couch and looked at pictures together and simply enjoyed the moment. No matter what they did, Matt and Traci looked forward to each other's company.
As time passed, Matt and Traci realized they were more than friends. They declared intentions for one another and began dating October 22, 2003. Their relationship had its ups and downs with tiffs and rough spots. Despite all their warts, Matt and Traci loved each other deeply. This love continued to blossom and grow over the next two years. Matt proposed to Traci in August 2005. Two and half months later, they married. The story goes on, but for now all you need to know is that they share a blessed life and now have a son in whom they delight. They love the Lord and hope to make a difference in this world for His glory. More chapters are sure to come. For now... Traci found her prince and they are living happily ever after!
Here are some photos of their wedding day...