Our story begins unlike most. We have not known each other over years of friendship, nor did we meet before our first date. In fact, despite both of us being vehemently opposed to the idea, we met by getting setup through one of our friends. This story, dear friend, is one of patience, persistence, and a large scoop of the Lord's timing. Rewind to the end of 2021. I am just beginning my doctoral studies at NU, and Katie is back in-person teaching and loving her kiddos well. Both of us are blissfully unaware of the others existence, yet there were several opportunities for a first meeting. At some point during this year or so we would both attend Reach Church, sitting nearly in the same section, and I discovered Sidekick, one of Katie's favorite coffeeshops. Still, no meet-cute. Enter our friend, Grace. This master matchmaker had been scheming in the background to bring us together. For over a year, she faithfully coaxed Katie and I towards one another. Talk about persistence, in any situation Grace would try to bring up the other person and encourage us to start seeing each other. Stubborn as ever, both of us resisted for over a year until one day it happened. It started innocently enough by texting back and forth. This developed into talking on the phone and checking our calendars for the first date. The first date was simple, an outing, food, and a movie, yet the time we spent together I will never forget. What we thought was a normal Tuesday is forever a moment we will remember! Though our story is not one that is full of pomp and glitz, it is one of redemption and persistence. The faithful persistence of a friend carried us through even when we were not ready to receive what the Lord had for us. Our stories had been full of brokenness related to past relationships, hence our resistance. But when Katie entered my life, the Lord began to heal my heart and remind me of what love truly is. Falling more for each other has meant falling more for Jesus and being washed by His redemptive power. On that Tuesday in late fall, my life changed forever when I met Katie. Not a day goes by that I wouldn't want her by my side. She is beautiful, intelligent, joyful, loving, and supportive; I see the Lord's kindness and creativity through her! We are so excited for what the Lord has for us, and we are happy to have you come celebrate with us as we begin our lives together as the McLelands!