Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 18: My gift...

My heart and my mind were in conflict with each other as he stepped off the plane. 'I like him. Yes, I think I like him. But what if it doesn't work out.' The what-if's were looming and the confusion was mounting. A decision had to be made. Why? Because he was meeting my family for the first time.
I had just spent a year in Ecuador and had come home for the first time to meet my nephew and spend Christmas with my family. But, to make life a little more interesting (and by that, I mean stressful) Steven and my sister's boyfriend were coming to Colorado to meet the fam.
My brother promised to not give "this one" a hard time due to the fact that I was getting older and that if he scared them ALL away, I would end up an old maid. Oh family, they sure do keep life interesting.
We went on our very first date to a Japanese steakhouse, where Steven showed off his mad skill by catching, not one, not two, but FOUR shrimp thrown to him by the chef. We got to play in the snow and go to a house concert.
Tim and Laurie Thornton amazed us as they skillfully played, sang and told stories of what the Lord had done in their lives. At one point in the concert, my mind started to drift and the thoughts began to eat away at my brain, "What if it doesn't work out? What if he breaks my heart? What if this isn't right?" And in that moment I heard the Lord whisper to me, "He is your gift." All of the sudden a million other questions entered my mind, "For now? For this year? Forever?" But no answer was given... just that he was my gift.
Today, almost 2 years later, I can guarantee that Steven is the best Christmas gift I have ever received. Jesus does give the best gifts, doesn't he?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 19: Peru, take 1...

It had been decided before I ever left for Ecuador, that Allison would come and visit me and that we would go traveling. Over the course of the first 8 months, Steven and I began to talk more and more to the point that he decided that he too, wanted to come and visit. Then my friend Julie realized that her friend Scott was living about 4 hours from where I lived, so it was just natural that she would come too.
In August of 2008, all three of them came to visit and through a series of events we decided to go to Machu Picchu in Peru. They had a night in Quito and a day in Loja before we left. We then took a 7 hour bus ride to the Peruvian border, spent like 5 hours waiting for our flight and then another night and a day before we arrived in Cusco. A day later, we had planned to take the train to Machu Picchu and had worked out a taxi to come pick us up. The morning of our great adventure, the taxi didn't show up when it said it would... so we waited... and waited. By the time it got there, we were going to miss the train. If you don't know, there is only ONE train to get there and if you miss it, you're just outta luck. We were praying all the way there that we would make it/yelling at the taxi driver to hurry.
We made it 2 minutes before the train left. Pure relief flooded my body as we plopped in our seats. As we pulled up to Machu Picchu, we realized it was all worth it. It was one of the most glorious sites I've ever seen. How the ancient Incas created all of this on the side of a mountain, I will never understand.
Our travel package came with a guided tour, but instead we chose Julie to be our tour guide. For the next several hours Julie walked us around Machu Picchu and pointed out the different things we needed to know. "Here is where the ancient Incas had their Olympic sized pool. And here is where they had their lama races. And over here were the olympic gams." Needless to say, there was much laughter and we learned very little about the ancients, but we did have a lot of fun on our adventure to Peru.
Over the years Steven and I have learned how to roll with the punches. We have become fellow adventurers. He pushes me to take risks and try for the impossible... I keep him organized. We're a good team.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 25... well day 24... who gets the credit for us?

As I write this at 12:48am, I'm realizing that I indeed am at 24 days and not 25! Today at 10am, we are going to get our marriage license. This little piece of paper has lots of stipulations on it: you have to get it over 48 hours BEFORE you can wed, but it cannot exceed 30 days before your wedding. You must bring both persons and passports in order to get this small paper as well as cash only to pay for it. All this to get a little piece of paper that says you are now connected forever.
I thought today would be a good day to discuss all the people who swore this would happen WAY before either of us ever let it enter our minds. In 2003, my middle school girls, at summer camp were convinced that one day I would be Mrs. Steven Rungaitis. So, Kathryn Ryan, Paige Hennington, Rachel Malecek, Kimmie Cockcroft, Rachel King and a host of other 12-year-old, now 21-year-old girls put money on the fact that we would one day be in marital bliss. I, of course laughed it off.
When my mom met Steven for the first time in 2005, she thought he was a FINE catch and that I should set my sights on him. I told her that if she was so set on him, SHE should marry him. That ended that discussion.
Then comes my good ol' roommate and best friend, Allison. In 2007, she stated matter-of-factly that I would indeed marry Steven. I told her that was impossible since I didn't like him. She stated, again in a calm tone that YES I would marry him. And I responded in an irritated fashion that I would not. And yet a third time she said, "It doesn't matter what you say, you're going to marry him." In my anger, I yelled at her, told her I would NOT marry him and slammed my bedroom door.
And then came that day in July of 2009 when Steven asked me in regards to our future, "So where do you see us down the road?" I answered him as sure as I have ever been about anything in my life: "I want to marry you, Steven Rungaitis." That's when I knew.
Good thing God's plans don't have time restriction on them, like our silly marriage license... Good thing God does things in his way, on his time line.
That's another thing I love about Steven... he waited on the Lord's perfect timing.
So really the LORD is the only one who can take the credit... sorry girls.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 26... how many cups of coffee?

When your foot is shaking too bad to drive a stick shift, you know you have had too many cups of coffee.
From the first summer until present day, our favorite thing to do is sit and drink coffee together. Once, Steven and I sat at Ihop and drank coffee for hours. We drank pot after pot, laughing and telling stories. We would silently (or not so silently) chuckle at all the funny people who walked through the doors at 1am. This was the first, but not the last time that I had a hard time driving home due to the massive amount of caffeine pumping through my body!
After a few summers we upgraded to Cafe Brazil and finally to closing out Starbucks. With every cup of coffee, I learned more about Steven... the things that made him laugh, made him tick, made me smile.
One day Steven called me to drink coffee when I was already at Starbucks, so I told him to just meet me there. Before he arrived, a guy sitting near me started talking to me and asking me questions. Needless to say, he was not too happy about Steven's arrival, which he did not bother to hide. Steven joined in on the conversation like he had been there all along. I couldn't help but hold back a smirk as I watched this guy's face go from thinking he had a chance to realizing he had none.
Over the years we have probably shared 1,000 cups of coffee. We just love hanging out and we always have. There are very few people that I enjoy being with as much as I love being with Steven. He's my best friend. I love that about him.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 29 reminds me of May 29th...

When thinking of what story to tell for today (day 29), I thought it only fitting to tell of some of our birthday experiences together (May 29th being my birthday).
If you know me at all, birthdays are a BIG deal. I love birthdays! When my 21st birthday rolled around, I was working at Prince of Peace and hadn't made a lot of friends yet in the Dallas area. Since I was doing youth ministry, I had opted out of drinking for my 21st, so Steven said he would take me to a movie instead.
As we went to purchase our tickets, the lady asked me how old I was. I thought it was a little strange, but told her that today was my 21st birthday. She looked surprised and then told me that I needed to show ID. In my confused state, I didn't realize it was because it was an R-rated movie and she didn't believe that I was over 17!
We both laughed (though I do believe Steven laughed a little harder!)...
That's always been us: we love to laugh.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

30 Days and counting...

Since day 150, I've been counting down. To be honest, I just can't help it. I decided in these last 30 days, I want to share some stories that maybe you've never heard. Steven and I have have known each other for 8 years, been in 5 different countries together, spent countless hours with teenagers and even more over cups of coffee laughing and telling stories. So for those who only know us apart, I thought I'd give you a little insight into some of our fun together.

Let's call this one: Middle School Camp...
My very first summer in Dallas, Steven offered, or rather got tricked into helping me at middle school camp. Between us, I believe we had 20 crazy kids to chase after and try to keep them from killing each other. If you know Steven at all, you know that he has a real way with pushing boys to step it up. That was probably the first character quality I saw in Steven that really intrigued me. Steven has a way about him that guys respect... not out of fear, but out of a gentle strength.
One of the boys on that trip had never made it through an entire week at camp. He would either freak out and be sent home or refuse to speak. He refused to be involved in the games or to participate in any way. Every time I pushed him he would retreat further into himself, so I finally just let him do what he wanted.
As per usual, he chose to sit out when the kids were playing tug-o-war. We had a bunch of girls and a couple small boys, so of course we were losing. Steven, standing next to this kid, leaned over and said, "They need your help." The kid flippantly said, "They don't need me." Steven responded, "They won't win unless you are their anchor." My mouth dropped open as this kid, who I couldn't get to do ANYTHING walked over, grabbed the rope, put it around his waist and pulled them to victory.
Over the course of that week, I saw Steven willing make a fool out of himself to get others involved. I saw him eat the most disgusting concoction just to get a rise out of the boys and I saw a gentle leader. At one point, I was freaking out and I said, "Steven make the decision for me!" And he looked at me in his calm Steven way and said, "I can do it for you if you want, but you're in charge of these kids and I believe you can do it." I loved that he was willing to step in for me, but believed wholeheartedly that I had the ability to do whatever I put my mind to.
That's what I learned about Steven at middle school camp... and I am still following that gentle leader.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Let your glory fall...

Glory... have you ever stopped to think what it means when we say "His glory fell" or "Be glorified in me" or the millions of other ways we throw around the word glory?
I hadn't... until yesterday. In his sermon, Matt laid out the mission statement of the church and when he came to the part that says, "That God would be glorified" he began to explain what that meant.
If you have a huge boulder at the edge of a cliff with a puddle of water at the bottom, and you push it over, what will happen to the water? It will spray everywhere. The water will be changed. It has no choice because the weight of the rock forces it to be changed.
The glory of the Lord is the same. Glory means weight or heaviness. So when we ask for his glory to fall, we are asking for his weight to fall on us. The problem is, many of us see God as a concept. If you see God as a concept and not a reality, you are heavier than God. Some people think that the glory of the Lord is like a glass of water and I am like a rock that it falls on. He is only a concept, so He can be molded and manipulated into being whatever I want (or don't want) his to be.
If I allow the true weightiness of His Glory to fall on me, I have no choice but to be changed. May I be crushed under the heaviness of Him so there will be less of me and more of him.