Since our story is really long, I've decided to break it up into 3 parts.
This is Part 2 and it is of our Springtime and Summertime of Love,
starting from the point Preston gave me my first thimble to the point where...
well, you'll just have to find out!
Tinker Bell & Laughter
Around the time we started dating, the Tinker Bell movies came out. I remember sitting on the couch with Preston watching the first Tinker Bell movie and I can still hear the laughter of the baby trailing on throughout the film as Tinker Bell was first born. J.M. Barrie thought up the concept that "when the first baby laughed for the first time, that laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies. And now when every new baby is born, it's first laugh turns into a fairy!" Something magical in that baby's laugh (in the movie) released such joy that we couldn't stop laughing!
Childlike things captured our biggest attention and set our imaginations running wild. We began to love things like kites and hot air balloons because of their bright colors and relation to flight. We relished in these simple, yet endless, joys and wrote about them frequently. We picked *wish flowers (or dandelions) and made the sweetest wishes together, watching the little pieces get carried away by the wind. It was definitely a springtime of love!
One day Preston and I decided to paint together. I got a huge canvas, we built a fort in my living room (with chairs and blankets), and we put the canvas inside. Preston asked, "What should we paint?" I said, "You pick one color, and I'll pick another." He picked blue and I picked a bright green color. "Now what?" He asked. With a glimmer in my eye, I said, "Let's use our hands!" So we moved the colors around with our fingers and blended them together to make our favorite color turquoise! Then we added more colors and painted other images from there. The neat thing was that in the turquoise spot where we had used our hands and blended our colors together, the shape ended up looking like the country of Africa (I love Africa!), and I painted a big red heart in the upper left side of the "country" where there was still a blank spot left uncolored. What was also interesting is that the heart looked like it was blinking because of the bold colors! Afterwards we reflected on how significant it was that Preston chose the color blue and I chose the color green. "You have blue eyes and I have green eyes!" I pointed out. And blending those colors together produced our favorite color -- turquoise! It was like a symbol of us coming together. (We displayed this huge painting, our first creation together, at our wedding later on).
|Our first painting, with the blinking heart in Africa|
Preston's birthday was coming up just a few weeks after we started dating, and I began thinking about what I could get him. He had been talking about how he loves keys, those big skeleton keys, so I decided I would search for the perfect one for him. It felt like a treasure hunt as I went to every antique shop, thrift store and odd-end boutique I could find in Redding. Along the way in this "treasure hunt" I found a special treasure box that was disguised as the book "Treasure Island." Since Preston loves books, I thought this was perfect to put the key inside, along with other treasures. So I began to search for other prophetic gifts to fill his treasure box with. I found some incense, some stones with words on them, and some crayons. I took pictures of meaningful places we'd shared together, such as the bridge we first met on after the waterfall, and I wrote on the back a quote from Preston's writings about that adventure: "we met in the middle as a riddle began to unfold..." Other pictures were of the tunnel we sang in and the Dino-soar Mountain we trekked up.
Another item I chose to put in the treasure box was a castle shaped thimble we had both found at an antique shop. We had decided to share it and Preston let me keep it. I thought this would be a nice time to give it back to him for awhile. The one thing that was missing from the treasure box was the key! I searched high and low and all around for the right key, but still couldn't find one. I even visited different locksmiths in town, but still no luck.
Finally, I stumbled upon a hidden store in the old downtown mall, and it was there that I found the "Treasure." There was a ring of beautiful dark bronze keys, all different sizes. The biggest one was the perfect size for what I was looking for, so I kept the other two little ones for me to make necklaces out of. My gift for Preston was complete! I wrote a prophetic note on tinted recycled paper from my journal and rolled it up like a scroll. It went something like this...
"Our castle thimble is here
because some day we will explore a castle
and because you and I will rescue trapped princesses, slay dragons,
and bring enchanted peace to generations, cultures and children.
And we will do this with children.
This is the key,
the key that you will continue to unlock doors to uncharted lands,
undiscovered realms and deeper depths of the heart..."
Superheroes & Rollercoasters
For Preston's birthday we went with some friends to a theme park and road our first rollercoaster together. We bought superhero capes and wore them around the theme park all day long! When we returned home, I gave him the treasure box. I could tell it meant a lot to him because he got teary-eyed, (such a sensitive boy). We sat across from each other on the floor of my room with our superhero capes on and whispered back and forth "I trust you" for almost twenty minutes! It was a time of trust, of learning to look into each other's eyes, a time of me allowing him to look inside me and not dropping my gaze in fear. Next, we lay out beneath the stars, wearing our superhero capes, and we talked about God. Then we kissed under the moon - two superheroes in love under the night sky. It was a very memorable moment.
|On Preston's birthday May 29th 2009|
One day Preston had a gift for me. He had spent all night writing something incredible for me. He presented me with a CD that he bought, along with a print-out of the lyrics to the songs, his interpretation for us, and his own poetry regarding his love for me. The CD was Owl City. We had never heard of Owl City before and it was so timely in our relationship to discover a unique sound with lyrical songs that seemed as if they were written about us! They have one song called "Hot Air Balloon," which we became ecstatic about! I took it home, listened to the whole CD and followed along the music with the print-out he provided. One thing Preston wrote was about a kite.
"Fly a kite, we fly a kite, into the sky we fly. Trust is the substance of never saying goodbye. Fly a kite with the strings of our heart, we fly it upright to have a brand new start, to finish what we started..."
This was the first time I really felt the realness of our relationship, the realness of his love for me. I think this was the first time he really communicated to me a new and deeper love -- a love that is forever.
The next month, June, Preston started planning to move back to North Dakota for a little while. He asked me to go with him and work at a Starbucks there for the summer so we could be together, but I wasn't ready to leave Redding or my family just yet. We both thought maybe it would be a good challenge to grow in communication through a long distance relationship. Though my birthday was coming up on the Fourth of July, Preston planned to pack up his car and move in the next couple weeks. So he planned an early birthday surprise for me the week before he left, where he presented me my first bouquet of flowers from him. Among the flowers was a bright big yellow sunflower, and what was that hidden in the center of it? -- a thimble!! This one was a white porcelain thimble with two people on it - a man and a woman. Preston smiled and said, "It's a Romeo and Juliet thimble!" I loved it!
Next he pulled out a treasure box filled with amazing prophetic gifts such as a little booklet with a hot air balloon on it, some incense, a little book in which he highlighted key phrases for me to read, and so much more...
He also gave me a children's storybook with poems in it and pictures. Hidden in the book was a piece of paper with crayon writing on it that said "I want to fly a kite with you on your birthday!" He went on to say that maybe I could fly out to Fargo on my birthday and fly a kite with him.
But he wasn't finished with the gifts just yet. He handed me a big white castle that looked like a sand castle and gave it to me. And finally, he said "there's one more thing, but you have to look outside for it." So we went out to my backyard and I looked for something special. I noticed a jar floating in the pool and asked "What's that?!" We went to retrieve it from the water and there was a blue and green letter "M" drawn on the jar, which Preston said was for "Mystery." Inside the jar was a letter to me -- a message in a bottle!
I made the drive out to North Dakota with Preston in the middle of June. We spent my last couple days (before my flight back home to California) in Minneapolis, where Preston's friend gave us our first matching tattoos. We loved the concept of the Kite representing "Trust" that Preston had written abut, so we decided we wanted tattoos of a blue and green kite (our two colors), with the string tied around two hearts (his and mine), and the word Trust written in the kite string.
|Our Kite Tattoos|
At the airport, as we were saying goodbye, Preston handed me another thimble -- this one was a porcelain Alice in Wonderland thimble. So I put it with my other thimbles in a little pouch and carried it around my neck the whole flight home.
Fly A Kite
At home, I began to focus on art and music, and I was excited to use my time productively. I spoke frequently with Preston on the phone as he started hinting at rings... "What kinds of rings do you like?...what shape diamonds?..." It seemed only natural to talk about spending our lives together, even though we had only been dating barely two months.
The closer it came to my birthday, it looked like I wouldn't be able to fly out to North Dakota to fly a kite with Preston. On Friday June 26th, 2009, while I was sitting in the coffee shop at church, Preston called me and said "I'm coming home. I packed up the car and I'm leaving today. I'll be there Sunday." I was speechless! "W-what??? Really?!" I almost couldn't believe it. He had lasted a whole two weeks apart from me, and realized he was "lovesick." So I eagerly awaited his arrival!
Sunday came and I greeted him with joy and expectation. He hopped on the back of my scooter and we went to the place where he had given me the very first thimble (the field on top of a hill). It was summer in Redding, so it was hot, and riding a scooter in 100-degree weather isn't all that pleasant, but we didn't care. In the middle of the field Preston gave me yet another thimble! This one was a porcelain thimble with a prince and princess on it. The prince was kneeling down in love with affection for his princess. While he was in North Dakota, I looked for and found a castle thimble to give him - one that was entirely from me to him. So I gave him that thimble as we proceeded to go on a walk from there down to the river.
Since he came home just in time for my birthday, our wish to fly a kite together on the 4th of July came true! We road tripped down to Santa Cruz, where had experienced Peter Pan bliss only months earlier, and celebrated my birthday on the beach. On the morning of my birthday, we got dressed in our superhero capes and batman T-shirts and explored that same bookstore, where we met a young father with his wife and baby. The man's eyes gleamed at us with such excitement as he expressed how much he loved that we were wearing capes. His wife chimed in and explained that his own mother had a hard time getting him to not wear a cape when he was a kid. Preston encouraged him, "go get yourself a cape and wear it again! You will feel so free!" The man nodded as he enthusiastically considered it, "I think I will!" And as he left, Preston and I both looked at each other and declared, "He will wear his cape again..."
This became such an important declaration for all people to "wear their capes again," setting them free to be childlike and joyous again! We will never forget that simple yet profound encounter in the middle of the children's section of the bookstore, while we wore our superhero capes.
|The bookstore in Santa Cruz where we met a father and declared that|
"he would wear his cape again"
on my birthday, July 4th, 2009
|Coloring on my birthday|
The beach was crowded, after all it was 4th of July on the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. We found a little clearing and attempted to fly our kite. I don't even remember the last time (or first time) I had even flown a kite, so it was definitely a little tricky at fist. But the weather was perfect for kite-flying! We ran up and down the beach with the kite high above our heads riding the wind. Who knew kite-flying could be such FUN?! Before we left the beach, I just had to make time to build a little sand castle. As pathetic as it was (the sand castle, I mean), I didn't want to leave without creating it.
Next we went to the boardwalk and road on the rollercoasters with our capes on. Preston's favorite ride was the Lost Boys ride - the Giant Dipper, so we rode that one twice! Once during the day and then we went back at night when the rides light up. That night we walked along the seashore, gazed at the moon, and dipped our feet in the ocean waves. *Sigh...It was a lovely birthday.
Back at home, while I was flipping through my journal from the past year, I came across a dream I had written down. Preston was with me, so I immediately began reading aloud because it was a prophetic dream that I had when Preston and I were just friends, and he was in it:
We were riding in a taxi, but a bear came out of nowhere and started attacking the taxi. So Preston said, "I'll be right back," and he got out of the car and turned into a lion and defeated the bear!! Then he got back into the taxi, pulled down a lever (like on a rollercoaster) and with a grin he said "Are you ready?!" And off we rode like wild! It was a lot of fun, with no fear.
When I was reading this account of my dream to Preston, suddenly my eyes got really big as I saw what I had written next...
"Then at the end of the dream we flew away in a hot air balloon!!"
Both of us just stared at each other wide-eyed and stunned, and then we broke into laughter exclaiming how amazing it was that long before we were dating I had a dream about us flying in a hot air balloon. Little did I know that this confirmation dream meant much more to Preston at this particular moment than just some fun link to another childlike joy we like to admire...
Heartstrings, Kites & Mystery Flights
A few weeks after my birthday Preston wanted to take a little vacation trip with me to somewhere we had never been before. So we took a few days off and drove south to Napa. he made it sound like I could choose where to go and what to do. He said he only planned a few things, such as seeing the vineyards. As we checked into our hotel in napa, I noticed a beautiful mural on the wall of hot air balloons. "Preston, look!!" I said, and I took out my phone to take a picture. I asked the lady behind the counter if there were hot air balloon rides there, and she pointed to a flyer. I looked excitedly at Preston and then looked at the price and said, "Woah! ah, well, maybe some day, huh?"
|The photo I took with my phone of the mural on the wall|
That night Preston asked if I wanted to get up early and watch the sunrise with him. He said he read somewhere that there was a sunrise restaurant and then called them to see if they were open the next morning. I thought it was a good idea because we loved sunsets and sunrises. There is something about the early morning, the dawn, before anyone else gets up, when the birds are just beginning to stir, and the air is so fresh and brisk, that you just feel Holy Spirit so clearly. So we set our alarms for 4am and said goodnight.
Come 4am I had second thoughts. It would feel so good to sleep in on vacation, but I got up anyway. So we stumbled outside and into the car. He set the GPS, went down a few streets, and finally ended up at a restaurant by the water. As we were parking, I noticed quite a few other people heading for the restaurant. I thought to myself, "Wow, this must be a popular place for early risers." As we got out of the car, Preston headed straight for a lady with a clipboard, which seemed strange. So, I curiously followed him and looked around. Then I noticed the lady's sweatshirt - it had hot air balloons on it! I looked at Preston excitedly and asked, "What are we doing, Preston?!!" He grinned and exclaimed, "We're going on a hot air balloon ride!!!"
|Watching the other balloons lift up, up and away...|
Completely elated, we set off for our magical hot air balloon ride! As we climbed into our basket, we watched other brightly colored hot air balloons life up, up and away into the beautiful blue sky. As we ourselves lifted up, our hot air balloon pilot began to share the history of hot air balloons. We didn't know that hot air balloons were the first form of human flight, and that it originated in France. Preston got excited when the pilot said this, and he shared with me a prophetic word one of his friends had recently given him. It was three words: "France, Romance, and Hot Air Balloons." How funny that we were romantically flying in a hot air balloon and that the pilot was talking about France. All the pieces were coming together.
It was so peaceful floating up there in the sky. The sun was rising, the air was cool, and our peripheral view was gorgeous as we floated over fields of sunflowers and trees and vineyards. Then, my ears perked up when I heard the pilot say, "Now is the time for the thimble presentation." Is there yet another "coincidence" with hot air balloons that has something to do with thimbles too?? I thought. Then I looked at Preston and gasped, "That's us!!"
Preston reached into his pocket and pulled out a brightly colored piece of paper, which he colored with crayons. He handed me the most gorgeous hot air balloon thimble and began reading me a poem...
"The memories we have had already
make me feel steady
to begin to unfold new mysteries,
where the One who sees...follows.
So follow me as we've been set free
to fly into this sky.
no longer try to tug at our
heart strings, kites and mystery flights...
Where we stand in the clouds, it's where we reside.
And as we ride this ride, I feel the pride
of calling you my own,
this is home above the ground,
where we discover the treasures all around
and in each other's eyes, this is where I realize...
that I can fly in the sky and get down on one knee
and ask you this question:
Will You Marry Me?"
Then he got down on one knee and handed me not another thimble but, yes, a diamond ring!!! I almost fainted, overwhelmed with love and joy and everything else magical. This was not just any diamond ring. It was a blue diamond -- our favorite color blue to be exact, Like a deep turquoise, blue-green color! With two smaller white diamonds on either side! It looked antique style, so unique and detailed! I was so in love with it! So in love with Preston! So IN LOVE!
|My blue diamond and my hot air balloon thimble|
(photo taken in the hot air balloon just after he got down on one knee in the sky
July 25th, 2009)
I remembered a prophetic word my friend had given us before we left...she said she kept hearing the song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," and the phrase she highlighted to us was "like a diamond in the sky!" And Preston indeed gave me a diamond in the sky. (She also talked about "Christmas in July," and guess what the date was of this magical proposal...July 25th, 2009!) YAY!
|We spilled out of our basket as the hot air balloon landed!|
See video below:
When our hot air balloon landed, we spilled out onto the land - literally, for the basket tipped over and we all laughed uncontrollably!
After our magical hot air balloon ride, Preston led me on yet another adventure - to a castle! We toured the castle, holding our castle thimbles in our hands and exploring the different hallways and stairwells and dungeons (where we pretended a dragon was captured).
When we entered a big room near the gift shop, there was a kid's corner where children were coloring. We went over to see what they were coloring, and guess what!! There was a stack of papers that had the same coloring picture on all of them -- and it was the same coloring picture that Preston and I colored on my birthday!! The one with the fairy prince cupping the fairy princess' face in a loving way! We were so astonished! So we took a copy of the uncolored coloring picture and decided we would make copies of it for our wedding guests! God is so romantic!
|The coloring picture that the kids in the castle were coloring|
- the same one that we randomly chose to color on my birthday just weeks earlier!
(To Be Continued...)
So that is the end of Part 2 of our magical Love Story.
(I told you it was long)
Next time I will write about our magical fairytale Wedding,
and everything in between!