he is one of the brave ones

After all the invisible confetti settled on the post-engagement ground in Brooklyn, I heard bits and pieces of the story that led up to the ultimate Easter proposal. Somewhere along the way, I heard about the conversation between Patrick and my Dad at the littlest steakhouse in Anita, Iowa. My Dad has never mentioned it, but Patrick shared a few things and I’ve stored them up in my heart.

Before my dad could settle into midwestern pleasantries and pretend this meeting was about anything else, Patrick said, “Dick, I’d like to marry your daughter.”

I suppose that set the tone for the conversation, but maybe more so when my dad said, “Patrick, I would be honored.”

I wasn’t there, but both men are great conversationalists so I kind of wish I could have been. In between the appetizer platter that I’m sure my dad ordered and the steak that is the best in the tri-county area, I guess they talked about life and marriage and love. I don’t know exactly how it came out, but at some point my dad shared this encouragement with him (and he paraphrased it for me):

Patrick, not many men want to pursue a strong woman these days. They are afraid or intimidated or something, I don’t know. Cindy is a strong woman and I am blessed every day that I chose her to love. And Caroline is like her mom – strong. 

It has taken months to let this conversation sink in – that Patrick flew to Iowa to ask my dad if he could marry me, that my two favorite men shared a meal, that my dad said I am a strong woman, and that Patrick loved me enough to pursue me.

I think my dad might be right – men are afraid to pursue strong women. I don’t always feel strong, but I know the Lord provides it in abundance. I am confident in a strength apart from me and maybe that looks intimidating – that I can say yes to crazy things or hard things or dangerous things because I know God has already gone before me and will sustain me with His faithfulness. I was humbled to hear my dad say he sees strength in me; humbled because it is the grace of God and it has much to do with growing up in his home.

More than that, or at least equal, came the realization that Patrick is one of the brave ones. He, too believes God is faithful and strong and sovereign. He is not afraid to pursue a strong woman and that makes me love him ever so much more.

Tonight, we are going to take my parents out to dinner to celebrate 35 years of their marriage and to celebrate the beginning of ours. We are strong women, I guess (by the grace of God), and the Lord has blessed us with brave men.

We will always be learning about God’s design – the way marriage reflects something beautiful about who He is and how He loves us. Today that lesson seems to be about God’s grace to give strength and bravery in order that two can serve one another and give God glory for His provision.

frivolous friday

In the spirit of lavishing love “just because,” I set out to soak as much in as possible this morning before I leave for Iowa in about an hour. I woke up to run in the park, dropped off my laundry, biked over to chat with Lele in our other favorite neighborhood coffee shop, and wrote out some thoughts. Then, when the responsible and predictable part of Caroline said, “Go home and pack” the carefree and whimsical Caroline looked at my beautiful bike with a basket and said, “Adventure instead.”

So, I did. I biked up Bedford and through Fort Greene. I meandered away the minutes I didn’t have walking the streets where no stores were yet open. I swayed under the shade and I smiled for no reason. I closed my eyes and walked with my head toward the cotton candy clouds, just because.

I jumped back on my bike, noting the ridiculousness of my summer dress and the goofiness of my grin, and biked over to Park Slope where I did more aimless walking. And all the time, it was okay that my joy didn’t have direction. It was okay that I wasn’t frantically checking and re-checking my bags I packed last night while watching Runaway Bride (it was free on Amazon Prime and who doesn’t love Julia Roberts with Richard Gere?).

It was more than okay, it was perfect.

What is the dumbest thing a bride can do one week before her wedding? Ride down the big hill in Prospect Park with her hands outstretched and her knees/elbows/face exposed to possible catastrophic collision. And that’s exactly what I did. I spread out my hands and embraced the breeze and it was exactly the best way to leave Brooklyn before coming back a Mrs.

I know it doesn’t make sense and I promise it isn’t just because I’m in love. I think I am finally realizing that adventures, a lot of times, are not planned. And receiving love brings joy to the giver as much as it does the receiver (if not more). So, when God gives good gifts like this absolutely beautiful day, it delights Him when I step completely into it.

Turns out, His delight is my delight. Let the adventures begin!

double surprise | double love

Two nights ago, Patrick and I were walking home from one of our favorite places in the neighborhood.

He was gnawing on a 5 pound vegan chocolate spelt pound cake log and I was slurping the last bubbles out of a decaf iced coffee with almond milk under perfect summer clouds. Emily, the owner and our new friend, wouldn’t let us leave without giving us that giant loaf and Patrick’s sweet tooth couldn’t wait to try it. He had just moved the last bit of his belongings into my little room in my little apartment and I had just picked up the most adorable plantable wedding favors. We were a sight at that café on the corner of Midwood and Rogers, clicking through lists and speaking assurances and sharing our fears that all the celebration will slip by too soon.

Anyway, the funny thing about all that emotional commotion in the coffeeshop, is that we parted an hour later – him to go to the gym and me to go for a run, with plans to meet up after he got his hair cut. Nothing extraordinary or special about the night before he was to leave for Iowa.

Meanwhile… I had been planning a surprise for him on the roof of his building with a bunch of our friends and neighbors. It was organized like a ragamuffin. As I sprinted back from the park and jumped in the shower, I kept up text conversation with everyone to make sure nothing was spoiled. I confirmed the plan with the neighbors, dropped off blankets and ran to the store to pick up summer snacks (watermelon and finger foods).

I showed up to his apartment in one of my new white dresses and I blushed when he said I looked nice. I have to find reasons to work all the white into my regular wardrobe in order to justify cost per wearing (thank you 4-H). Anyway, after our friend Rebecka made him look extra handsome in his new haircut, he suggested we go to the roof.

I thought he was playing right in to my surprise until HE surprised me with stargazing and proposing a second time with the perfect ring that finally came back from the custom jeweler. I said yes the first time, but I melted all the same when he started listing the reasons he wants to love me forever. And there we were – just the two of us looking at the big ole Brooklyn sky – still on this side of marriage and claiming every moment for joy.

Then I texted the neighbors (who I thought only knew about my surprise) and up they came. Patrick was so confused as they all filed out through the door. We had the most wonderful gathering of folks we love – huddled around candles and covered in the Brooklyn night sky.


Aaron, our friend and neighbor and the most faithful pancake Mondays eater, said, “When I found out you were both surprising each other on the same night, I said ‘Of course. You would do that.'” Of course we would double surprise each other, using the same friends to make it happen and confusing them all. 

And it’s okay for love to be like that, just wild and ridiculous and ready to tackle naysayers.

It’s good when love makes a double surprise that ends with friends glowing on a little roof in Brooklyn. I’m learning that not every love proclamation needs to get results or have a purpose. Sometimes, gifts of love are extravagant and just because.

This is how God lavishes His love on us – it’s His kind of plan to double over surprises without condition or desired result. There is no reason to overflow a glass that is already full. A glass can only hold so much and a heart can only receive so much love. But, God loves us abundantly “just because.” He overflows us where we are full and where we are empty. He sustains us where we think we need it and where we think we don’t. He is unbelievably faithful and kind – too much so. He is good just because He is good and His love makes me melt.

This is the kind of love we want to double in our marriage – the ridiculous, ‘just because’ kind of love that brings glory to the only God who could author it.


we were made for campfires, coffee tables, and kitchens

Maybe, one of the sweetest successes in hosting is when you become the guest.

That’s what happened tonight when we brought our black bean cilantro salad over to the neighbors’ apartment who have enjoyed pancakes on so many nights. Patrick’s neighbors opened their door (with a clever invitation taped to the front) to a Cinco de Mayo feast they spread on their coffee table in their little NYC living room.

the cinco sign on the neighbors' door
the cinco sign on the neighbors’ door

I think we made community, this little pancake crew. Somehow, being a guest made it feel official. Our conversation was about things “we” do and games “we” should play together and other nights “we” should all host. Patrick’s apartment building missed him tonight, but while he was in Spain we were celebrating Mexico’s independence with the sweetest neighbors you could find.

We were made for this – for campfires and coffee tables and kitchens.

Two months from today I get to promise forever to the man who loves campfires, coffee tables, and kitchens in the very same, excessive amounts. That is a lot of handwritten notes on doors, a lot of pancakes, and a lot of side dishes sealed in tupperware containers. Not all of it is romance. Sometimes the recipes flop and sometimes the neighbors don’t show up and sometimes there isn’t enough bacon. But, thankfully enough, the requirement for community is persistence. Between the two of us, we have quite a bit of that (in between and in the midst of failures/successes). Still, the most precious necessity for community is persisting in knowing the One with the original idea.

We try to take our cues from the Lord, who was so persistent to send Jesus to show us what love and community look like when they are done perfectly.

Community is my favorite. I think I can say that and not mean it like ice cream or sunshine or the breeze in my face while biking the west side of Prospect Park (because those things are some kind of favorite, too). Community is for bruised hearts and for delighted souls and everyone is welcome to the table.

Did I mention that I really miss that Mr. Kolts? He gets back on Thursday and I am hoping we can squeeze in some non-wedding planning time to enjoy the magic of community.

I kind of promise I won’t write every post about my engagement/wedding. But, I am hoping some of you readers cut me some slack because I only get to be in this stage for two months. You don’t mind, right?

never stranded inside a miracle

They went to the tomb with good intentions. Even though Jesus had prepared them in every way for His death and resurrection, they still thought they would find his dead body three days old as if it was any other body. They went to the tomb with good intentions in their hearts and this is what the angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” (Matthew 28:5-7 ESV)

No need to fear, he says, for you are looking for the right thing. You are seeking Jesus and He will never leave you stranded in a miracle. You are headed in the right direction and God will honor your search! The angel was God’s grace to these ladies just like we experience God’s graces to us as we seek to worship, serve, and love well. He doesn’t leave us stranded at the empty tomb. He points us toward the person of Jesus, toward reunion and delight in His presence.

This is God’s grace – that He never leaves us stranded inside a miracle.

This is the truth I am believing today. I am inside the miracle of love and I believe God will be glorified in spite of all the crazy. He does not leave us stranded at the empty tomb, but points us to His presence. He is always faithfully walking ahead of us, preparing the way for our joy and proclaiming our resurrection.

He rose, just as He said.

He is a promise keeper, our God. And we are so excited to invite people to celebrate His promises while Patrick and I make promises to each other. His promises empower our promises!

I get to marry this man!
I get to marry this man!

this is the first day

“This is the first day.”

Sure, Sunday was the beginning of a new week and the beginning of the Easter season and the beginning of Spring. But it was not just that, not at all just that.

“This is the first day,” our pastor said at least five times in his sermon Sunday.

He said it like he was announcing a baby’s first breath or a rocket’s first flight, like there was a definite and precise time of origin and there was not anything like day before that day. Like, perhaps, when the first dawn broke the first day as God breathed life out of nothing.

When Christ rose from the dead, everything changed… forever. Everything, forever changed. History and future and eternity and the way the sunlight presently stretches across my morning routine. Sunday would have been the first day of a new work week for the Jewish people, but all work was different on this new “first” day, in light of the resurrection.

We are living in the light of an empty tomb – on the sky side of a conquered grave.

That is why we spread the feast table in Prospect Park on Sunday and gathered friends and broke bread and said grace and joyfully remembered together our redemption. We are on the sky side of a conquered grave with Jesus.

As if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate on Sunday, Patrick decided it would be another first. He thought that Easter was the most appropriate time to make this special invitation because of the way every feast and marriage and celebration is wrapped up inside the immeasurable blessing of salvation.

At the end of a long day of celebrating, Patrick asked me to be his bride and it is making me the happiest little Midwestern Brooklyn girl you have ever seen.

It took a while for the shock to wear off (when I say I had no idea it was coming, I mean like you would be surprised if those big check people showed up at your door). Of course, I was hoping it would happen in the future, but I was not expecting it Sunday when we could share the joy with my brother and sister-in-law who were visiting… which is probably why our excitement turned into silly dancing in my living room.

And now, this.
I am engaged! I have a fiance! I am going to marry my best friend!

The sweet beauty of Easter just claimed a whole new piece of my heart. It’s like knowing the best secret that I can tell everyone and like my rib cage is warm like the best whiskey. It’s… sorry, words won’t do at all here. Words just won’t do to explain how wonderful it feels to step into love like this.

I’ll spare you my mushy babble for now. I will just say that it seemed the best way to start this part of the journey – remembering the Bridegroom we anticipate together and the marriage feast He has prepared.

For now, we will enjoy “every good gift” the Lord pours out and we will enjoy it with all the zany delight those gifts deserve.


seeking the greatest treasure

You know the kind of wave that arches around and swallows from all sides? My heart just got swallowed up by love on all sides like that kind of wave.

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least, but to end by being swallowed up on all sides by love is not such a bad thing. The flood feels like a thousand drops of sunshine, so “not such a bad thing” would be an understatement.

Amidst many layered other things this week, I read this article from Desiring God, “Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married.” It felt a little bit like Marshall Segall read my journal and listened in to my conversations over the past several years, but now I know I don’t need to publish the post that’s been sitting in my drafts for over a year “single, satisfied, and unselfish.” He said it better than I would have, I’m sure, and it helped bring some things in to focus as I sought the Lord.

I’ve really made an intentional effort not to fixate on situational things I cannot change. Maybe it’s the counselor in me that sees the futility in getting anxious about things outside my control. I am so incredibly grateful for God’s grace that placed godly men in my life to sharpen, challenge, and encourage me as I pursue Christ. My experience (which is not every girl’s) living inside these blessings has impacted the way I see relationships. I want to share just a snapshot of that experience.

so, I’m not a relationship book junkie

For whatever reason (and maybe the reason above), I’m not a relationship book junkie. Do you know the type? The girl who buys every dating book on the Christian market, inserts her own experience into the pages, and then adopts a new “method” to coping with her relational status. There was the phase where she kissed dating goodbye, and then the phase where she was only courting, and then the phase where she wasn’t interested in men because she was trying to be “content” with God. She kind of dated the dating books – if she had problems or frustrations, she could always find an author that justified her feelings and gave her 5 tips to get back “on track.”

NOTE TO THE READER: If you are the girl described above, I would encourage you to go read a different blog post – maybe one on antiques or the sovereignty of God or… knitting. Choose anything but the topic of relationships because I don’t want to be this month’s solution. Your best reading material is Scripture. Maybe try that first.

I hope you don’t think I’m the Debbie Downer when relationships are the topic of conversation. I love talking about the way God has designed us to reflect his trinitarian nature. I love understanding how our interaction with one another says so much about who God is. I love grappling with God’s introduction of marriage in the garden and the way he wove it through Scripture and presents Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church.

But I’m not trying to talk or understand or grapple as a means to solving my struggle with my relationship status. In reading, “The Meaning of Marriage” by Tim Keller, I was not hoping that it would be another 2 points for the good team – hopefully tipping the scales and giving me the holy advantage I need to find the right man. I read Keller’s book (which I highly recommend) because I wanted to know God’s design better, deeper.

It’s a good design – from any angle. It’s such a beautiful and good design that points ultimately to the good Designer, who holds all our hope and joy and future secure. I can love marriage and it’s place in my life without being obsessive about it playing out in my life. I love marriage because I love God – and He loves marriage!

He created marriage to display His glory and it does in so many beautiful ways.

What frustrates me about the books and books and books from women who are trying to help other women figure out life outside of marriage is this: they speak in pre-marriage/post-marriage language.

I read an article recently from a married woman who was so disappointed that she waited to have sex until she was married – it wasn’t what she hoped and looking back, she wished she hadn’t waited. I have read countless articles on the topic of sex and waiting vs. not waiting from women on all sides of the argument. And then there are the blogs about contentedness – what to do with the desire for a husband and family. I recently read about a woman who felt like her gifts couldn’t be used fully pre-marriage. And of course there are more – on every topic from career to money to children – the internet is heavy with posts from women who have something to say about singleness.

I usually don’t write about singleness because I loathe (a little bit) the attention it gets in Christian circles. I get it – we struggle as singles. It should be talked about and grappled with and our conclusions should be tested against Scripture and refined by seeking the Lord in prayer. I do get it and maybe that’s why I am writing today.

I am 28 and single. I have no idea what the future holds – really, literally, no idea (message me if you want to hear some stories that have caused me to let go of any ideas I did have). You may not believe me, but I am not anxious. I am not restless. I am not sad. 

My God is sovereign and able to make grace abound in Christ so that I am capable to do every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). I am not “working at being content” so that I hit the contentment quotient and God would grant me a knight in shining armor. I am content because God is faithful to keep His promises.

I love my Lord and He loves me.
He loves me and has chosen to be betrothed to me.

“I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.” (Hosea 2:19-20)

This is my Lord who loves me and has given me grace to love Him back. He will betroth me to Himself in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. This is my Lord, who chose me while I was still a sinner to be His bride! He is faithful when I doubt and fail and He is faithful when I choose righteousness by His grace. He is faithful as no other bridegroom will ever be. His sanctifying work in me is a promise that will not be broken and this is security no earthly marriage can guarantee.

Oh, I love my Jesus.

And this sounds like a soapbox. I guess it probably is. I am just another voice in the noise about relationships. But, my hope is that in sharing my experience someone might know that you can give up the formulas. You don’t have to get better at knowing God or better at being a servant or better at communication so that God will find you suitable as someone’s helpmate.

Seek to know and love God because you want to know and love God.

The reward is so great. When you taste and see the Lord is good, your desire for other things is always with the lingering taste of Christ on your tongue.

He is your first and best and enduring reward. Seek Him because He is the best thing to seek. He is the only One who can cause a wave of love to arch over your life and engulf you in joy. Only He can do that.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy, ladies
and seek the greatest treasure because then you will be satisfied