I've decided to put together a story of how Preston and I first fell in love. I'm very excited because I think it is such a beautiful story with so many signs and childlike "wonders" and prophetic pictures!
I will write a Part 2 later on about our romance and engagement, but this one is about how we met and how we first fell in love.
|Preston took this photo of me on the first day we met|
|The waterfall we explored on the day we met|
Once upon a time, in the Fall of 2008 I met a boy at a waterfall. Something sparked his interest in me as a creative, free-spirit woman, which led him to want to spend time with me. One day I invited him on an adventure to one of my favorite places in Redding, California. We met on a bridge, in the middle, "as a riddle began to unfold," and I led him through a park by a river and showed him how to slide down my cement "slide" under the bridge. I showed him my favorite tunnel where we sang beautiful hymns that echoed off the walls and trailed out over the waters. He pointed out a unique stonewall I had never noticed before in all my years of coming to this secret nature spot. So, we named it 'Humpty Dumpty's Hidden Wall.'
We became rather fond of exploring together the outdoors of Mother Nature and absorbing all her beauty. We encouraged each other to release the beauty of our adventures through writing and song. Come December, we ventured on a journey up a Dinosaur mountain. It was on top of this mountain where I had the profound revelation to write a song about Sleeping Dino-soars, which has become one of our favorite theme songs to our life together.
|This is me on top of the Dinosaur mountain we climbed in December 2008 |
where God gave me the song "Sleep Dino-soars"
The New Year of 2009 brought in excitement and thrills, and new feelings began to trickle into my heart as a young woman hanging out with a young man. We made a trip out to the coast, for I wanted to show him what I like to call Neverland. where the Redwoods stand tall and the ocean breeze fills the nostrils. Where creativity and adventure is all around, you cannot escape it. It is there that I felt real feelings toward this amazing man, yet I had no idea what his heart was toward me.
|This photo was taken in January 2009 on our first trip to the coast.|
|The amazing Redwoods at Patrick's Point (aka Neverland)|
Preston: "Guess what! I'm getting married!"
Me: (Shocked and confused) "What? When??"
Me: (Even more shocked and confused) "It IS January!"
Preston: "No, January of next year"
Me: (Now a little mad, since it seemed he had been leading me on all this time) "Well, WHO are you getting married to?!"
Preston: "I don't know yet"
Me: (A little relieved) "Well, then how do you know you are getting married next January?"
Preston: "Holy Spirit told me"
Me: (Hmm...) "I see. Well, you'd better hurry up and find her because that girl is going to want to plan the wedding and you only have a year!"
Little did we know that I would be that girl, and that we would be wed that very next January (January 1st, 2010!)
From the Clock Tower, I'll Sing You A Story...
Upon wrestling with new feelings, I asked God to show me a picture, to show me guidance in some way as to how to deal with this friendship. I tried to suppress my feelings for Preston in order to protect myself, but to no avail. I did not think I was ready for something "big," and I was afraid of losing control. Once again, I was unsure of his true feelings for me, and thus I felt very insecure in the whole situation.
But God answered me! He showed me just one picture - an image of a Clock. "What does that mean?" I asked Him. He said "My timing is not like your timing." This caught me off guard, for I had always heard that phrase in the context of wanting something now and having to wait for 'God's Timing.' But what He was saying here was that His timing was now and that even though I didn't think I was ready, He knew what was best for me.
He went on to reveal two words to me: "Intimacy" and "Trust." He said, "Bethany, you have been crying out for intimacy with Me, but you do not trust Me with your whole heart just yet. I am allowing Preston into your life to open up those places in your heart and stir up those feelings that you are afraid of so that you will turn to Me and learn to trust Me with your heart. That is the only way you can experience true intimacy with Me."
This was such a profound encounter that I wept. At this point it was not about Preston anymore, it was about God and me. And that was a very big thing. This prepared me for what happened next...
The Jungle of God's Heart
Preston began to drift away from me. At least, that is how I saw it. For him, he was being drawn to God in a more contemplative state, which caused him to shut me out. I obviously didn't like this and it caused me to close my heart to him altogether. I decided I couldn't trust him. After all, we had never really talked about being anything more than just friends, even though we spent so much time together. This season was confusing and hard for me, but only led me closer to God. I like to think that we had approached a thick jungle, and it was much too thick for us to go through hand-in-hand. So we had to take our own routes. And I didn't know what would happen when we would reach the clearing at the end of the jungle.
This "jungle season' went on for a few months, and I was not sure if we would even be friends again.
From My Window I'll Sing You A Story
One day in late March (2009), Preston started talking to me again, asking to hang out and wanting to hear about my recent outreach trip to San Francisco. I was reluctant at first, but he kept pursuing. Finally, I decided to have coffee with him, but I was determined to not share too much (after all, I didn't want to open myself up to him too much). Over coffee we exchanged the stories of people we had both encountered on our trips. My stories consisted of those who lived on the streets -- the prostitutes, the homeless, the teenage druggies, and the old poet who resembled Santa Clause and used to be a pilot. Preston's stories were of the Native Americans he visited on the Reservation. What completely surprised me was when Preston started crying as he listened to my stories. He then shared about how powerful and meaningful 'Stories' really are, how everyone in the world has a Story, and how Jesus was a Storyteller. Testimonies are Stories, and they release life and hope and prophecy. This experience unlocked that door I had over my heart, as I began to see something new and tender and pure about Preston.
Peter Pan in Santa Cruz
The next month, April (2009), a group of people took a weekend trip to Santa Cruz for a Joyfest conference. Among that group was Preston and myself. While down there, Preston and I spent some time together exploring an enormous bookstore just down the street from the conference hall. Exploring used book stores was always one of our favorite pastimes, so it was only natural to want to continue it.
We were obsessed with Peter Pan at this point and Preston had discovered that I, the biggest Peter Pan fan in the world, didn't even own a copy of J.M. Barrie's book! Gasp! So he felt compelled to buy me one. I felt so loved and honored! This was the first gift he had ever given me and it was so special and meaningful. The next day he approached me in the conference hall and asked, "Do you want to go on a quick adventure with me right now?" I hesitated, but gave in shortly. He handed me his jacket, for it was raining, grabbed my hand and said "Hurry!" We ran across the street to the bookstore and he led me straight to one of the children's picture books of Peter Pan. He opened it up and said "turn to page 92" (or something like that), and there I read a phrase that had something to do with Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, (I wish I could remember!). Then he grabbed my hand again and said, "Hurry!"
So we ran outside and to the parking lot as I wondered where he was leading me. We got into his car and he told me to close my eyes. When we finally stopped he said, "Are you ready?" I nodded and opened me eyes. "Where are we?" I asked as I stared at the brown wall in front of us. We got out of the car and with a grin plastered on his giddy little boy face, he said enthusiastically, "Look up!" There above stood the sign "The Peter Pan Hotel," and he started laughing with overwhelming joy! I joined him in the laughter. We thought how wonderful it was that on this Peter Pan adventure in Santa Cruz, God would show us yet another Peter Pan "sign!" Such fun!
|This is the bookstore in Santa Cruz where Preston bought me a Peter Pan book in April 2009|
(though a different book than the one in this photo)
(This photo was taken a few months later)
This Is Our Story
After our Santa Cruz trip, we returned home and I dove right into reading my brand new book! I had always wondered how Peter Pan got to Neverland, and the book Preston bought me had the story all about it called, "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens." I was so touched by the story that I wrote a song about it right away. I called it the Peter Pan Love Song, or the Peter Pan Wedding Song, because it was about a wedding. You see, in the story, J.M. Barrie describes how when fairies leap into each other's arms, it is a wedding, a marraige. And so all these fairies were leaping into each other's arms in a dance, and all these wedding ceremonies and marriages were taking place. I thought it was a fantastic picture that I could not resist writing about and putting to music. I also couldn't resist putting in the song the concept of thimbles being kisses that J.M. Barrie so brilliantly invented. So my song went something like this...
We watched the fairies dancing their tribute
and they leapt delightfully into each other's arms.
This was their wedding, and you gave me a thimble
once on my cheek and twice on my mouth
Then we were married in one swift movement
as you leapt into my arms, I leapt into your arms
This was our wedding, and I gave you a thimble.
you took hold of my hand, we flew to Neverland
This is our Story...This is our Story...
I was so in love with this song that I couldn't wait to share it with Preston, for I knew he would appreciate the creativity birthed from his gift to me. So I eagerly invited him on a nice spring walk by the river, and had him listen to my song on my iPod (I had recorded it at home the night I wrote it). I remember feeling like something was so fresh and so new about us, and I was so happy about life, music, and writing.
And You Gave Me A Thimble...
It was only a couple weeks later, May 5th to be exact (2009), when Preston said he had another gift for me. My heart jumped with excitement, because I just love gifts and surprises! So we went on a drive on a beautiful afternoon to nowhere particular. Suddenly we just had to pull over in a random field on top of a hill because the skies were absolutely breathtaking! The glorious rays of the sun were shining through huge majestic clouds! It was so beautiful that we ran out into the field with arms raised, praising God for His beauty and glory. I suddenly felt Preston next to me with his arm around me. He turned to me and asked, "Would you like to be my Joy Friend?" I laughed and said "yes!" He spoke again, this time shyly, "Would you like to be...my girlfriend?"
Suddenly, all my emotions and thoughts went berserk, as I did not expect him to ask me such a question. Did I want to be his girlfriend? What's going to happen? Yes I like him, of course I like him, I've liked him for so long...but I had been preparing for him to go away, for him to not like me back... All these conflicting thoughts and feelings twirled around in my head so fast that all I could say was, "Really? Are you sure?" And, after him saying yes and waiting (probably nervously now) for my answer, I asked, "Well, what does that mean? Like, commitment?" And again he said yes...
So I said "OK!"
And he reached into his pocket and pulled out and handed me the greatest most clever and beautiful surprise gift I could ever dream of - a THIMBLE! I completely lost it at that point. I screamed with joy and excitement and uncontrollable laughter, and I hugged him like I had never hugged him before! He had captured something so deep inside of me, a song in me, a story, a dream, and he sang along with me! He jumped right in and joined my song, my story, my dream! I knew - I knew right than that this would truly be an "awfully big adventure"...and I couldn't wait for it!
|This is the field where Preston gave me my first Thimble|
and asked me to be his girlfriend under the glorious sky
This photo was taken by Preston on May 5th, 2009
From the Clock Tower I'll sing you a Story
And you'll carry me through all your adventures and thrills
From my window I'll sing you a Story
And you'll give me happy thoughts, they will lift me in the air
From the heavens I'll sing you our Story
You'll fly alongside me with that glimmer in your eye
From the Kingdom we'll sing them our Story
We'll never grow too old to forget what must be told
This is Our Story...
(This part of the song is what I later walked down the aisle to, to meet my bridegroom!)
Wow. God is so good and creative and fun! And is endless. So it Our Story...
(to be conintued...)