Tag Archives: love

Our Engagement Story

Guys I am soooo overjoyed to share with you Clayton and I’s proposal story. This past week has been the best week, full of excitement, friends, family, and a promise that I get to look down at on my hand every day! I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to be Clayton’s girl, and how excited I am that I get to spend a lifetime with him!

So let’s hop into the story, shall we?

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We were in Portland, OR visiting one of my college roommates and her husband who moved there about a year ago. I had been searching for a good time to come visit, and when I saw the ticket prices drop, I jumped on it and invited Clayton to join too! The whole weekend was absolutely incredible. From foodie spots to hikes on the coast, it couldn’t have been a better trip. Clayton has been sooo busy with American Native and we had been fighting for quality time together, so this trip came at the perfect time. We hadn’t even started our first day in Portland when I mentioned how good the trip had already been, being together and focusing on nothing other than being together. Little did I know one of the biggest moments of my life was around the corner!

 

It was our first morning there and we woke up early,  our bodies touching the ground on each of our deflated air mattresses in Julie & Trav’s living room. Luxury travel, I know. Because of the time change, we were up preeeeety early, so we decided to go on a little run through the city to get the day started. It was absolutely perfect weather, sunshine and only slightly chilly. We got back, and Clayton seemed a little eager to get the day started. (I only found out later that he was on a timeline with the photographer). So, we decided on a breakfast place, and headed out to enjoy one of our favorite meals of the day together.

We settled on a brunch place called Screen Door. They specialize in southern food and let me tell ya, it was probably my favorite meal of the trip.We love early mornings and breakfast food, so it was the perfect way to start an engagement day. His order: chicken and waffles. Her order: Veggie Egg Frittata. Um, YUM. We had the best time, people watching from the patio and seeing multiple trucks come in with farm-fresh produce. Needless to say, I was already loving Portland.

To my knowledge, the day was free and there was no agenda to be had. I was open to anything! Clayton mentioned going up to Mt. Tabor, a mountain that overlooks Portland to get a better view of the city before we jumped into our weekend activities. I had heard him mention it before, so I had no obligation! We headed that way and it was the first time I had a good look at the trees in Portland. They were huge, and made you feel so small. I haven’t seen anything like them before! From where we parked, it was a short 10 minute walk up to the top of the mountain, where the overlook was. We parked and started our ascent.

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As we walked up, I noticed all the wild daisies sprouting up everywhere. Wild daisies like this are my absolute favorite flower, and every spring I feel like a kid in a candy store, nose against the window looking at these beautiful little things that just grow on the side of the road. These daisies that sprout up, without permission and in no need of adoration, are one of the ways I really feel Jesus and am reminded of how much he loves his kids. It’s always been that way with wild daisies, and so it was just that much more special to see these all over the place I would be getting engaged.

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We got to the top and saw the overlook of the city, the trees, and enjoyed the sunshine for a bit. Clayton suggested going down in the center of the park, under the trees. When we arrived, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a little book. He suggested it was just a ‘little something’ and truly y’all, at this point, I STILL did not know a proposal was about to happen! I flipped through the book and saw that Clayton had compiled all the polaroids that we had taken over the past 16 months of our relationship. Pictures from our trips, various dates and events, all such sweet memories that I loved looking back on with him. Polaroids are kinda ‘our thing’ so we have quite a few piled up over the past year and a half. When I got to the end of the book, I saw that he had written a little something: “Will you be in my polaroids for a lifetime?”

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My heart stopped, and as he sunk to one knee, I was truly in shock! I could not believe THIS WAS THE MOMENT!!! I kept saying “oh my gosh, wait, wait! slow down!!! Pause! Let me soak this in!” But of course, he didn’t stop, he continued to pull out a beautiful blush, crushed velvet ring box with a gold-foiled “C” on the top (Chamberlain, his last name). When he opened up the box, I truly couldn’t even keep myself from freaking out. I was shaking and tears were comin’ and I just couldn’t believe how beautiful this ring was! He slid it on my finger and I even think I forgot to say YES because I was so lost in the moment (I followed up with a YES, DUH, OF COURSE afterwards).

As if this wasn’t like the peak experience of my life, Clayton tells me that my favorite photographer, Phil Chester, was here to photograph our proposal!!! I hear some clicks from a camera, and there he is!! I start shaking and freaking out even more. Phil has been like my favorite photographer for YEARS and I couldn’t believe he was HERE to capture OUR engagement!!! CAPS!

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It was such an unbelievably special time and even now, I can’t believe it’s real: that I actually get to marry Clayton Dean Chamberlain!!! After Phil finished up our photos and headed out, Clayton and I continued to stick around and talk about what the heck just happened. I begged to hear all the details: how he got Phil, how he decided to do it in Portland, when he got the ring, how he got the ring box, what secrets he (and all my friends and family) had been keeping from me! I wanted to know it all, and he was an open book.

After I had heard it all and cried some more, we got to spend some time praying together. I think out of everything, this was my favorite moment of the day. It was the first time Clayton and I were able to really pray as a couple committing their lives to each other and to Him together! It was such a freeing moment, not having to worry about emotional/spiritual boundaries because of the promise wrapped around my finger. It truly was amazing and opened up the door even wider for thankfulness, joy, and expectancy for what’s to come.

The rest of the day, as you can imagine, we were just on cloud 9, loving life, loving eachother, calling friends and family to share the exciting news. The rest of the weekend was enjoyed in Portland as a committed, engaged couple. (Stay tuned for a Portland recap and Bae Vacay video ROUND TWO!).

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Lastly, though, I just have to say – Jesus is so faithful. Since I was young, I have hoped and most importantly, prayed into my future marriage. I would day-dream about what he’d be like, what his qualities would be, made my list and checked it twice of my ‘wants’ and ‘musts’, and while those ‘musts’ are important, Jesus knows my desires and needs wayyyyyyy better than I do. Clayton is my answered prayer, but he’s so much more. He’s God’s grace on my life, he’s all I want and exactly what I need in a life-partner. He makes me better and stretches me to be more Christ-like. So so so thankful and can’t wait to begin this adventure through life with him.

Photos by Phil Chester

LOVESTRUCK Sessions: Jen + Aubrey

Aubrey and Jen are those people who you want in conversation with as long as possible. Those type of people whose joy and passion is so contagious, it leaves you with a brighter outlook on the world around you. They are that couple you sit with and can’t help but notice, that after almost twelve years of marriage, they still look at each other with those awe-struck, in-love-with-you eyes.

I first met Aubrey and Jen when I was in high school. Aubrey was actually the first person to ever give me a chance with a microphone. He taught me about music, songwriting, and the true heart of worship. You couldn’t fully know Aubrey without knowing Jen.Jen has that sweet southern drawl paired with a bubbly attitude you just can’t get enough of. They’re incredible individuals, but even more amazing together. They’re a couple whose as wide as they are deep, whose bright smiles and warm personalities are merely a gateway into depths of love, sacrifice, and stories of life well lived.

I’m so excited for these two to share their story with you. Grab a cup of coffee, maybe a tissue or two (if you’re a romantic like me), and enjoy diving deep into the hearts of these two lovebirds.

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Q: How did you two meet?
HER: We met in children’s church a looooong time ago! We were not volunteers…we were children.
HIM: She was my first girlfriend, but unfortunately that only lasted a short time. One time during a service though I did work up the nerve to make a smooth move and put my arm around her. #foreshadowing

Q: What’s your favorite memory together?
HER: I’m gonna go textbook here…our wedding day & the days our 3 littles entered the world!
HIM: One valentine’s day when we were kids, I gave her a new DC Talk cassette tape and she gave me some red wax lips! What?!?!? Oh, and every anniversary we watch our wedding video. It really was a special day with so many of our family and friends.

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Q: When did you first know you were in love?
HIM: I saw Jen across the courtyard on her first day at the college we both attended. The sun was shining down on her and she did this slow motion hair flip thing! Yes!
HER: It took me a little longer to “see the light!” After much persistence and romance on his part, it finally dawned on me that I was missing the best thing that had ever happened to me. As cheesy as it sounds…the first time he kissed me, I knew he was the one!

Q: How did he propose?
HIM: I took her to the performance hall at the college where we had sung and performed a lot together. My mom helped me decorate the stage. It was late one night and I acted like we were sneaking in to reminisce. We danced on the stage and I sang her a song I had written for her. Then I pulled a box out from under a little table on stage and got down on my knee.
HER: He tricked me by taking me to O’Charleys. I remember thinking “surely this isn’t it because he wouldn’t bring me here!” Haha! (I do remember thinking it was weird that he didn’t eat much.) After he proposed, we drove to my sister’s house where he pulled off a huge surprise engagement party. It was risky on his part but I LOVED celebrating with family & friends!

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Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from one another over the years?
HER: Oh goodness! How to love…I mean really love! This guy has more patience than Job (thank goodness, for my sake!) He has given me so much more grace than I deserve! He’s not perfect but he loves Jesus like nobody I’ve ever known & he makes me want to be a better person everyday!
HIM: Don’t sweep anything under the rug. Get it out in the open. Relentlessly eliminate hidden frustration or misunderstanding.

Q: What’s your favorite quality in eachother?
HIM: 
I love that she is a woman of great integrity.(And that she’s the most beautiful woman in the world.)
HER: His work ethic, his integrity & his discipline!

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Q: What is a word or theme you feel that has marked your marriage thus far?
HIM: Unity – We often talk about how grateful we are for how unified we feel on most every decision…. from paint colors to parenting-styles.
HER: I agree…unity! Such a gift!

Q: What does it mean to love?
HIM:  To love requires two things: To always believe in and pursue an ever-deepening relationship with them and to fight hard against anything that could pull you apart.
HER: Love is a choice…everyday. To be unselfish & to put someone else’s desires before your own. To be willing to say I’m sorry or I was wrong & forgive. Pretty much all the things that don’t come naturally! Spending time with Jesus sure helps because He is love!!

“Love requires two things: to always believe in and pursue an ever-deepening relationship with them and to fight hard against anything that could pull you apart.”

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Q: What are some of your dreams for the future?
THEM: That our kids will grow up so strong in their character and clear in their identity that they will thrive in the future they are living in. We want to take an RV tour around the country writing and sharing songs and stories about the people we meet. We want to live a lifestyle of adventure. Possibly another McGowan?!

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Q: What is some of your advice for a healthy, successful marriage?
HIM: Don’t stop looking at each other in the eyes. When you start looking away, out of anger, shame, fear, etc. it is easy to grow apart. Take time to look each other in the eyes. Then, dig up the truth and express your heart; good or bad. Don’t water it down. Trust each other enough to open let each other see inside.
HER: Be vulnerable & honest…always honest. Keep falling in love & making your marriage a priority. Pray together. Communicate & then communicate some more! Give grace in big heaps!

“Don’t stop looking at each other in the eyes. When you start looking away, out of anger, shame, fear, etc. it is easy to grow apart. Take time to look each other in the eyes. Then, dig up the truth and express your heart; good or bad. Don’t water it down. Trust each other enough to open let each other see inside.”

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You can find Aubrey and Jen at Song and Story.

Photography by Lindsey Johnson Photography

February Inspiration

One of my favorite holidays of the year is coming up this month! I just love seeing all the shades of pink flooding window displays and Pinterest feeds. Maybe it’s the fact that pink is my favorite color or the reality that i just love love, but I always look forward to the month of cute cards and sweet gestures of affection for the people around us.  february.jpg

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What’s inspiring you this month?

 

One Year Later

Today marks one year of being with Clayton Dean Chamberlain. I can confidently say it’s been one of my favorite years ever. I love living life alongside that guy, every day is joy and growth and love and goodness. I’m so excited to share our story and some of my favorite memories of this past year here on the blog. I’ve known for a couple months I wanted to tell our story on our one year, and let me tell ya, it’s not short! I knew I would want to be detailed enough to be able to come back and see this post for years to come. I never want to forget. If you’re here to share in my sappy, romantic musingssit back and enjoy the read!

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If you’ve known me at all, you know that I never really messed around with dating much after high school. I take relationships seriously and didn’t really have an interest in dating for fun or giving my heart away. For this reason, I was single pretty much all of college. I had amazing guy friends in college that really set the standard for what a godly guy looked like and what it means to pursue. I had my standards pretty high, and I knew I wanted it that way. I didn’t want to date just to date, I wanted to hold out for the right guy.

Last December, the first weekend in December, I had just gotten off work in the Fayetteville square. I worked at a cute little boutique all through college, and on this particular weekend, the annual Little Craft Show was being held just across the street. I loved the LCS, made sure to go every year, but for some reason, on this particular day, I was just not feeling it. I had just ended a long Saturday work day and truthfully just wanted to go home and nap. Right as I was heading to my car, a couple girlfriends convinced me to just stop by with them. I obliged.

I walked into the Craft Show and pretty much immediately noticed Clayton. Him and his brother run a business called American Native Goods and their booth was right at the entrance:

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That’s actually a picture of him, last year, on the day we met. How fun. (Thanks, @Saul_Malone). So anyways, I walk in, and see THAT. Mind you, I had been at the University of Arkansas for the past 3.5 years. By this point, I was pretty much convinced I wasn’t going to find a jesus-lovin’, non-chaco wearin’ guy that I was into in Arkansas. And I was okay with that. So, naturally, when I saw clayton with his curly lil manbun and chambray button up, I was pretty much smitten. I casually whispered to my girlfriends about him, wondering who the heck he was and why I’d never seen him before. As I was doing this, my friend Saul overheard and said, “Oh, Clayton?! He goes to our church!”. In my mind, the heavens had opened because oh my gosh, not only does one of my friends know him (and could vouch for him or encourage me to move on), but he went to our church?! He loves Jesus AND he’s got style? Shoot. I just couldn’t pass this one up. I took a few laps around the craft show, working up the courage to go talk to him. Finally, I just decided to do it (with a little help and easing in from our now mutual friend, Saul). Slowly but surely conversation began to flow. I left that day pretty giddy and curious about this handsome guy I had just met.

Cue finals week. It has arrived and I know I’m going to spend most of my time posted up at coffee shops studying away. This new coffee shop called Puritan had just had it’s soft opening and I had heard great things, so I decided to make that my study spot. Little did I know that the owner of Puritan is actually one of Clayton’s close friends, so he had been spending a lot of time in and out of there. So there I am, studying away, and Clayton casually pulls up a chair at my table. I don’t even think I realized he had come in the door. Hi, again. We talk for a while, continuing to get to know more and more about  each other.

With every conversation, I’m more and more at peace. There’s something scary about putting yourself out there with a complete stranger. I want to know everything at once, I’ve shared before, it can be really hard to endure a process.  Slow and steady, conversations continued this way. No, really, like we ran into each other a few more times at Puritan that same week. Conversations continued, and during one of them, he finally made a move: a christmas cocktail party.

The next day, I ran into him at Puritan again. (Seriously, this place is like our very own cupid). Right before we left our conversation, I mentioned I wouldn’t mind doing something before the cocktail party. AKA, a pre-date to our date. I remember wondering if he was the type of guy who regularly went on dates. I mean, there’s nothing particularly wrong with that, but I know this date was going to be a big deal for me. I didn’t just want to be some girl he takes out. That night, he called me about setting up this pre-date. On the phone, one of the very first things he told me is that he hasn’t done this in a while. It had been a couple years since he had taken a girl on a date. Cue heart relief and flutters all at the same time. I don’t know, I found some sort of comfort knowing he was in the same boat I was. I felt special and chosen and really worth his time, ya know? We set up a pre-date for the following night.

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Our first date: I was nervous. I hadn’t been on a real date in like 3 years. And this all just felt so adult. I mean, I barely knew the guy! I was so used to college friends just all being  in a little friend group and dating people they had known for months or years! This just felt so unknown. I remember praying that day just over the date and over my fears. This could be nothing or this could open the door to so much more. I just asked something really sweet of Jesus. I asked him to have Clayton open my car doors. I had these two worship pastors back home in Dallas and the husband would open every single door for his wife. No matter where they were going or what they were doing. I had seen this years prior and it always stuck with me. I knew I wanted that, that simple act of love.  And so I asked Jesus for it. When Clayton picked me up, he came to my door, told me I looked pretty, and opened my car door. I don’t think I had ever had a guy do that for me. I felt so safe and known by God in that moment. It was like a little “Hey, I care and you’re stepping out in faith on this and I’m here in it with you.” To this day, Clayton opens every single door for me. I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve opened a car door for myself. No matter whose car we’re in, where we’re going, how quick we’re in and out, what the weather’s like, he opens my door. (In many ways other than opening cards, Clayton Dean Chamberlain is living proof that chivalry is not dead, ladies!)

So that night, we had our first date at a place called the Nines. It’s a little hole in the wall wine cellar place. Perfect for a first date. We sat on floor pillows, shared a red wine and oatmeal stout, and talked all night. I heard his story. He heard mine. I got to know his heart, he got to know mine.  I liked him. Alot. He was good, I could tell. He was kind and  his motives were pure. I left that night with a heavy peace about this guy I barely knew.

And that’s how it’s been for the past twelve months. Peace. Continually peace, guiding me into conquering fear and letting love have it’s rightful place in my heart. As weeks turned to months, I could feel this caution replace itself with safety and joy. Clayton’s character came out day by day, and each day I was blown away. He’s been a gift. A gift I get to unwrap day by day, and each layer is better than the last.

Dating Clayton has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He’s everything I didn’t know I needed. He’s rooted in truth and one of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met. He does good, he serves, he stands for truth, no matter if he feels like it or not. He walks in faithfulness and integrity. I want to be better because of seeing the way he lives his life. Even as I write this, I’m just reminded that every good and perfect gift comes from above. All I feel today is thankfulness. Thankful to have met him, thankful to be the heart he’s chosen to pursue, thankful to learn and grow alongside him. Thankful, and expectant. Jesus is good and knows my heart better than I could ever know it. He knows what I need so much better than I do. And He knows how to give really, really good gifts.

I’ve rounded up some of my favorite moments of the past year together. Reflecting on these last twelve months just makes me smile and want to do it all over again!

01 | Our first photo together. We made thai on this night!

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02 | Our first valentines day together. Clayton was just moving into a new place that needed deep cleaning and painting. He had nothing in there yet. On Valentines day, he worked so hard to finish painting, deep cleaned the entire place, and had a couch, tv for a movie, and a table brought in. He worked SO hard to make that night special for us. His plan was to cook me my favorite Cheesecake Factory dish, but house prepping and decorating took longer than he thought, so we ended up cooking together and eating late. I loved that night.

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03 | Clayton’s first time home to Dallas with me! We had so much fun.

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04 | My first time to Chamberlain Farms. City girl meets farm life.

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05 | That time I graduated from college.

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06 | Our road trip to South Carolina! Can’t forget our Bae Vacay recap video… that video is pretty much a highlight of my 2015.

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07 | That time Clayton surprised me and drove all the way from AR to TX to pick me up from the airport when I arrived home from Europe!

 

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08 | Our weekend trip to KC! Clayton used to live there, and it was my first time to explore the city. We had such a fun time seeing old friends and meeting new ones!

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09 | Fall time and hikes and being together in our favorite season. Also, going camping for the first time ever.

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10Our many many trips to Nashville this year….We sure do love that place.

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11 | One of my favorite memories this year. Clayton came to get me before the sun had come up with a thermos full of coffee & breakfast. We went to the lake and enjoyed the sunrise, painted, and spent time in Psalms. Best morning ever.

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12 | The Little Craft Show 2015…this time helping him run the booth!

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Let’s be real, I’m pretty much smitten.

Clayton, thank you for your heart. Thank you that you love Jesus before you love me. Thank you that you show me you love me every day. Thank you for teaching me what it truly means to serve others. Thank you for pursuing my heart selflessly and purely, loving me without expecting anything in return. Thank you for choosing joy with me. Thank you for speaking truth over my life when I forget it myself. Thank you for being mine, and thank you for choosing me. Happy one year, lovey.

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Spotlight: Phil Chester

This morning, I stumbled across a photographer by the name of Phil Chester out of Portland, OR. What began as a quick glance at a few photos evolved into an hour of distraction, scanning each collection, mesmerized by the story-telling qualities and dream-like style of his photos. In an industry filled with over-used poses, and traditional, been-there-done-that moments, Chester captures couples in a way that even the subject itself feels that it is learning about it’s own love story for the first time. If there’s one thing I feel from his photos (though there are many), it’s that love has the ability to create it’s own beauty. We need not focus on the ‘perfect pose’ or the most beautiful location, but rather, let romance and love speak for itself, let it fill up the lens, the room, with color, with the beauty of giving yourself away to another.

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Spend way too much time clicking through his portfolio like I did here.

LOVESTRUCK Sessions: Michael + Hannah Clark

Michael and Hannah Clark have one of the most romantic, unique, one-of-a-kind love stories I’ve ever seen or heard. I have had the pleasure of knowing Michael in the midst of his pursuit, his steadfast love for Hannah while she was halfway around the world. Because so much of their relationship had its foundation built apart, today, both Michael and Hannah will share their side of the same story. It’s a beautiful story of love, a love that is patient, never gives up, never looses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every  circumstance. 

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HER: We met at 15. We can’t agree on the moment we first met, but one of my first memories of Michael Clark was at a football game fall of sophomore year. We were casually chatting about HS things and I was sipping some McAlister’s sweet tea. I had just taken a big gulp when he said something that made me laugh. I spewed my tea all over him and it was enough to prompt him to message me on FB. Thus it began. I would get home from school, fight for my rights to the family desktop, and we would message back and forth. I could tell a million stories from HS, like how he asked me out in Barnes and Noble, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack playing in my ears, or the first time we held hands in a movie theater and he hogged the arm rest. But in truth, we broke up and “moved on”.

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For four years people moved in and out of our lives, some we thought we loved, and some who just hurt us in the end. But it was all part of the story, and it shaped us, prepared us somehow. I was a student at the University of Alabama when the mile-wide tornado ravaged our city. It was in the midst of chaos and sophomore year coming to an abrupt and early end that I got a text message from an unknown number. I had to ask who it was, and to my surprise, Michael Clark was asking if I was ok and safe in light of the tornado. And so a name I hadn’t heard in years resurfaced and I was curious about this long lost boy. That curiosity led to a Starbucks “catch up” which led to the sweetest summer of late nights laying on my grandparents dock and talking about stars. We thrifted, roller bladed, watched Jesus heal our hearts from hurts and broken relationships, and we found ourselves trusting each other. We probably had at least a dozen honest conversations about how we were attracted to each other but we knew it wasn’t the “right time”.

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Junior year started and we left some carefree summer days in the dust and became 9-hour long distance besties. We finally decided to “call it like it is”, and we spent the next year and half living two separate lives that slowly integrated into a sweet friendship and reason for many road trips. As we approached graduation, I began to feel this unsettling in my spirit. I couldn’t always put words to it, but something wasn’t right. I was restless. I questioned if I would ever “know” or have peace in Mike being “the one”. One of the hardest days of my life came during Christmas break in a parking lot where I ended things between us and walked away convinced it was never going to happen. Jesus told me to let it go. I had confidence that there were things He wanted to do in both of our hearts and we needed to learn a deeper, richer capacity of love.

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That journey of listening to Jesus and discovering the depths of His love led me across the world to Delhi, India for a year. He spent the summer after graduation in Cambodia, and I was raising funds for my adventure. The few weeks before I moved across the ocean, I spent several hours doing “drive bys” of various coffee shops, just hoping to run into Michael. It was there. Somewhere in my heart, I knew he still held it. My attention, my thoughts, my prayers. The night before I boarded a plane for the east, he called me and asked if he could come kidnap me. I asked him, “are you about to complicate my life” and he told me that wasn’t his intention. After some waffle house and catching up, he gave me a book with the first of many letters. He essentially told me he was going to pursue my heart and he didn’t care if I responded or not. I cried. I told him he was the clearest picture of Jesus pursuing me that I’d ever had. I told him I was scared. And then I left.

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India is a whole other story, but it was Michael’s faithful prayers, encouragement, and commitment to knowing my life that was an anchor in some of my hardest moments. He was steady, like he always has been, amidst my swirling heart. We continued to grow together, learning to navigate time differences and major transitions. And I began to fall into a peace and deep understanding that truly washed away fears and broke me of my independence. I didn’t fall in love. I fell into a security in Jesus and how He desired to use Michael to make me more like Him. That’s why I said yes on a remote island in Thailand when Michael, who had flown across the world and succeeded in surprising me on the beach with a question and a ring. Now we’re married and we are learning and loving a lot. And it’s the most precious gift I’ve ever known. I still cling to peace on days when it’s hard to love. I still cling to Jesus when I feel like my heart can’t contain how much joy comes from union with Michael Clark. He is always worthy of worship, and Michael brings me to that place daily. I’m thankful.

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HIM: Hannah and I’s story began our freshman year of High School. There’s some debate between the two of us on who saw the other first, but there’s no debate that that’s when it all started. We lasted 8 months. Chalk it up to immaturity, impatience, naivety, whatever. She dumped me. She dumped me and it was the worst. But also the best.

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Fast-forward about four years to my Sophomore year of college. My then-girlfriend of nearly three years had broken up with me and I entered into a season of discovering the depths of Jesus love. It was then that Hannah re-entered the picture. In a summer of radical return to Jesus, her friendship was integral in a heart that needed desperate healing.

Round 2 of dating began as we parted ways to our respective “institutions of higher learning,” the University of Alabama for her and the University of Arkansas for myself. We dated for about a year and a half. And then she dumped me, and it was the worst. But also the best.

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That break-up lead me into a season of immense growth. I was willing to fight with everything I had for her, but The Lord kept leading me to a place of dependence upon Him in everything. In order for a seed to grow, it must first die. The death of a seed does not destine it for life. And with that I gave it all over to Him. I was called to bring every dream that I had built my life around to Him; a willingness to lose them all, specifically Hannah. And in a moment of outward expression, I buried one of my “seeds.” I buried the box that I had been using to store memories and trinkets from Hannah and I’s relationship. I let the seed die.

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Three months (and a TON of growth) later, I returned to the spot that I had buried the box on a whim. For three months I had learned what it meant to truly give someone over to The Lord in prayer. To depend upon Him to lead and to love in my absence. I learned to intercede in love. And three months later, at the exact spot where I buried the box, I stood over the most beautifully concentrated group of wildflowers that I had ever seen. The flimsy shoebox that I had been using to store the memories and trinkets had collapsed in the ground, causing a seedball from one of our first dates to be fertilized and to blossom. The Lord let the seed grow.

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It was then that the pursuit really began. In spite of our positions on opposite sides of the globe, The Lord brought us back together. There’s no other way to explain it. He challenged us. He beckoned us to something more than ourselves. He grew us. And standing on a beach in Thailand, I asked Hannah to marry me. Now, four months into marriage I see that it was about Jesus bringing us into now. It was about our story becoming much, much more than just our own. And our part in this story has only just begun.

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Q: What does love mean to you?
HERA choice.
HIM: The perfect combination of sacrifice, joy, and passion.

Q: Whats your favorite thing about the other person?
HER: My favorite thing about Michael is his unique ability to be creative, intellectual, and deeply compelled to love and care for people. He’s the most balanced and steady person I know.
HIM: Hannah has this incredibly ability to bring everyone into the love of Jesus. Anyone. She has more compassion than anyone I have ever met.

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Q: Advice to other couples? Above all things love jesus. Pursue vulnerability with each other; vulnerability breeds unity. Respond to each in empathy, always. And pray, pray, pray for and with each other.
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Hannah and Michael, thank you for opening up your arms, your hearts, your story, to those around you. Every day. Always. There is so much to learn from your love for one another, for Jesus, and for others. 

DATE NIGHT STYLE GUIDE

As Valentine’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of all the reasons I love this holiday. It’s hands-down the most fun, creative holiday in my opinion. Not to mention, I just stinkin’ love love. Getting to interview some of my favorite couples the past couple weeks has inspired me so much. So much so, that I decided to bring one of ’em back! Lynsea and Derek were a part of the LOVESTRUCK Sessions last week, and we’re bringin’ em back to help style some outfits for your date night on Valentine’s Day (and for any dates after!). Lyns and Derek both have super unique, memorable style, and they’ve put together three different outfits to give you some date-night inspiration! 

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OUTFIT ONE // Stylish, but still versatile for whatever kinds of activities your date holds! Plus, it easily transfers from day to night!

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OUTFIT TWO // For a little more upscale of a date, the night calls for more formal attire. Black on black is always a good choice.

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THREE // A perfect mix between casual and formal, these outfits make a happy medium for your Valentine’s date night. Denim + red lips never go out of style.

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And one last photo of the love-birds for good measure. Thanks Lynsea & Derek for helping us get some outfit inspiration for many date nights to come! 

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*Thanks to Accents Boutique out of Dallas, TX for contributing to ‘HER’ style guide