The love of my life: my engagement, as told by photos

The lessons I’ve learned about faith, hope, and love over the past ten months transcend any single post I could write. My heart is filled to the brim, and a deep-seeded gratitude and a rooted excitement feed the smile on my face.

For those of you who’ve followed my social media presence, you know about Chelsea and how much I love her. I want to take this opportunity to share the highlights of our story and brag on the woman who said “yes” to me…

The most beautiful woman in the world, my fiancé:

Chelsea Christina Patterson.


Unlike other girls I dated in the past, Chelsea and I were already good friends when we started going out. We actually met through a dear mutual friend of ours, Ken! He’s bookended our relational history, from the day of our engagement back to the night we first met.

And I remember that night so well.

Chelsea had just gotten home from visiting her family in North Carolina, and Ken and I were going to meet her at the metro. Chelsea and Ken were already friends, but I had never met her before.

The first thing that struck me about Chelsea that night was her captivatingly joyful attitude. Anyone who knows her would say the same thing. She bubbles over with joy! And she’s never afraid of making a new friend! Which played in my favor.

We quickly discovered that we have the same Myers-Briggs personality type, found ourselves on opposite ends of the Texas-North Carolina BBQ debate, and started arguing over whether summer or winter is better.

Love was in the making :)

At the time, Ken, Chelsea, and I lived within a stone’s throw of each other on Capitol Hill, so we’d regularly end our days with night-walks around the neighborhood — laughing, sharing our lives, just having fun. It didn’t take me long to develop an interest in Chelsea, but it look me nearly two years to act on it. All throughout those two years, we both went in and out of other relationships, ebbing and flowing in and out of close contact. But I always watched her from afar, and was always so impressed with her work ethic, personal convictions, and worldview.

The Friendship Years. Coffee after work, breakfast before work, little gifts from family vacations…
Silly selfies…
Fun times with friends.

But it was only friendship — until last summer.


Chelsea and I had just gotten out of relationships in the first few months of 2016. As I was reflecting on next steps, I realized that I had all these unresolved feelings for her. It came to a head when we grabbed coffee one morning to catch up. Having not spoken in quite a while, enjoying her company again was like a breath of fresh air!

With Chelsea, I can enjoy the small, silly things in life while also sharing the deep things that matter. What a rare combination!

After the coffee, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. And soon after, we couldn’t stop texting each other.

One evening back in May, I was pulling a late night in the office. I opened my phone to see this waiting in my inbox:

My sweet girl ❤

Though I wish I could’ve been drinking there with her, this photo made me smile so much. And also made me wonder… “Is something going on here?”

Well, a few weeks went by, and I finally got the courage to tell her how I felt.

Well, sort of.

I had never developed feelings for any girl as quickly as I did for Chelsea…and I had never felt to strongly for anyone else before. And it scared me at first. So my first “DTR” (define the relationship for all of you outside the Bible Belt) with Chelsea went something like this…

“I have feelings for you…but I don’t know what’s going on…I need some space to figure this out…so I can’t talk to you for a while.”

FACEPLANT.

Ha, poor me. I had no idea what was going on. But Chelsea was so kind and understanding. And later on that evening, I got this text from her:

Kindred spirit.

That’s something I really value with Chelsea…it isn’t difficult to share my heart with her. She listens well and understands intuitively what I’m feeling.

Oh. And those magic words: “the feelings are reciprocated.”

:)

The next 48 hours were among the worst in my life. I thought I needed space to process, but being apart from Chelsea wrecked me. I couldn’t focus at work, and I couldn’t think straight. So two days later, Chelsea and I met at Stanton Park. After talking it through, we agreed to enjoy our friendship and see where the next few weeks would take us.

Not only does Chelsea have the sweetest heart; she knows how to share it.
Photos from the in-between weeks. Thinking of each other while being apart — from New York to Nashville...
…and enjoying DC life together. This is one of my favorites.

Now, I was so glad for us to enjoy our friendship too! But I also knew, that this was going somewhere. And three weeks later, everything became so clear to me.

One evening after work, Chelsea and I visited the Newseum with some friends for an event. The two of us sat next to each other (thank the Lord!) and had the best time. Throughout the premier, Chelsea would lean over and make these snide, peanut-gallery remarks that cracked me up every single time! Her humor and wit were among the first qualities to win my heart.

As we were sitting there, it suddenly dawned on me…

I have so much fun with this girl!
I need to at least ask her out and see where things go!

We already had dinner plans the following night (June 14th), and I decided to ask her out after walking her home.

Before dinner…making friends with a Bald Eagle!
At dinner (Ted’s Bulletin)…enjoying the delicacy of peanut butter bacon burgers! She was HIGHLY skeptical at first, but we both swear by them now!

I’ve never felt so relaxed and carefree with a woman. During that dinner, I felt so free to be myself and just enjoy Chelsea. I had never experienced this with any woman before, and I was having the time of my life.

Then, suddenly, I heard a voice inside my head, almost as if I was speaking to myself in an out-of-body experience…

I think I’ve found the woman I want to marry.

Well then!

Needless to say, I asked her out that night. It was so sweet to see her whole face and countenance brighten in that moment! We had both liked each other for so long, and we were finally taking a small step forward.

One date led to another…and to another…and to another…

Our first date, at La Colombe in Shaw. We spent 5 1/2 hours together, just having fun :)
From dinner and outdoor movies (yes, she fell asleep)…
To coloring (look at that mischievous grin!!!)…
And picnics (and throwing popcorn in each other’s mouths)…

Finally, after two months of going out, I asked Chelsea to be my girlfriend.

I “caught” the best one!

I had never felt this way about anyone before. I thought my heart would burst with excitement! We spent most of the night staring at each other and grinning from ear to ear.


From that evening on, we found ourselves falling deeper and deeper in love with each other. I couldn’t stop thinking of her, and couldn’t wait to see her. I think my love for Chelsea oozed out of my eyes for everyone to see!

Those eyes say it all. SO in love!

Those early days of our love are so sweet to look back on. We had had feelings for each other for so long, and we were finally able to give voice to our hearts.

Dear Lord, please remind him we’re in public.

One of Chelsea’s and my favorite things about each other is how affectionate we both are. Physical touch has been a huge love-language for me ever since I was a baby, and it’s been the same for Chelsea too! But I also have very few inhibitions to expressing my love in public.

PDA.

I can’t tell y’all how many times I’ve embarrassed Chelsea around town! We’ve shared so many laughs about this…I think this picture probably depicts me doing or saying something sweet in front of our friends that embarrassed her.

I’ll never forget the first time I asked Chelsea if I could hold her hand. It was a Wednesday evening after work, and I was walking her home. Chelsea lives on the Hill, so it’s a short walking commute for her. I knew I didn’t have much time, and I really, really wanted to hold her hand. I wasn’t brave enough to reach out and take her hand, so I just asked her! She was delighted by it :)

Love being seen around town with her!

Soon enough, my birthday rolled around. And this girl made me feel so special! She planned my entire party, created the guest list, coordinated logistics, paid for my meal, and even took me out to a private dinner a couple nights later on my actual birthday! Couldn’t have asked for a more thoughtful celebration!

Celebrating my 28th birthday with good friends and the sweetest woman!
At the Capitol Botanical Gardens. It was nearly closing time, and I was rushing to get us out before they shut the gates. But Chelsea spotted this police motorcycle with HER initials on the back, and begged for a photo! I love this girl’s joy and celebratory spirit!

As I dated Chelsea, I was continually struck by her gracious, joyful disposition. The girl can find something good in any circumstance, and she relishes in the discovery! Whether the subject is big or small, Chelsea inspires me to look for the good — and then celebrate it! It’s a quality of hers born from years of trusting dependence on the Lord, and it will strengthen our coming marriage together.

The best example I can think of is THE MOON. One of Chelsea’s greatest joys is to go on an evening walk and gaze up at the moon. We were out walking one evening last summer, and she looked up and said, “Look at the moon!” I looked up and said, “Ohhhh, yes it’s beautiful.” We kept on walking. Then 60 seconds later: “Look at the MOON!!!” “Yes Chelsea, I just finished looking at it! It’s still there!” But that’s Chelsea — savoring every last bit of beauty and joy in every situation, soaking it up to the fullest.

Loving life together!

Chelsea is just a kindred spirit.

We were apart for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but found creative, fun ways to enjoy the seasons while we were apart!

Men — find someone who looks at you like this when you FaceTime:

The love that Chelsea has for me makes me feel like I can do anything!
We savored Christmas together for as long as we could! For every single day of Advent, we planned a little surprise for each other — our own little #ADVENTure!

Throughout this season of our relationship, Chelsea and I encountered difficulties and challenges that required honest conversations and bold vulnerability. It was through these conversations, and the subjects they involved, that I began to understand not only how much I truly loved Chelsea, but what love actually is. And Chelsea loves so well.

Dilligent. Ladylike. Tender.
Empathetic. Dignified. Authentic.

It’s written on her face and countenance. Chelsea’s heart for God shines for all to see!

Over the course of several focused conversations, Chelsea and I discussed our future and whether we were compatible for marriage. With each discussion, my questions and anxieties faded one after the other, until all that was left before me was the decision to commit my life to the most wonderful woman I’ve known. Aside from my response to Jesus’ call, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

But first I had to meet her parents. And ask for her father’s blessing.

Ooooooooh man.


It was a Friday in late January — on Chelsea’s birthday. I took a half-day and met Chelsea and her parents for lunch at a classic DC restaurant downtown. The metro was running late (of course), and I frantically arrived and found their table.

Did I mention it was a Friday? My office typically allows us to go casual on Fridays, so I rolled up to their table wearing jeans, an untucked lumberjack shirt, and a jacket. I looked up and saw Chelsea’s dad wearing a full suit & tie…

That’s so strange…he doesn’t have any meetings this afternoon, does he? Why would he be so dressed u — — OH!

My terrified internal dialogue. He dressed for the occasion. To meet the man in love with his daughter.

Thankfully Bobby and Christie are two of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met, and lunch was peppered with laughs and good conversation. AND some good-hearted father humor…

I got homework.

Still working on filling that book out ;)

Bobby gave me his blessing, in what was such a special conversation between just the two of us. What a moment to share with your future father-in-law, gleaning his wisdom and receiving his blessing to marry his daughter. Hard to put into words how special that is.

Chelsea and I went straight from dinner to celebrate her birthday with close friends, but over the next few days my mind was beginning to set plans in motion…

I need to propose to this girl.

About two months later…

As with all stories, these are only the highlights. There’s so much more to our story, but the bottom line is this: she is worth my life, and so much more. I’m honored beyond measure to be her man.

I love you, my darling!