Top 6 Dates over the last six months with Ali!!!

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Over the last six months I have had the opportunity to pursue the heart of my best friend Ali. She is the definition of every adjective a guy could link up to a girl... adventurous, caring, generous, adorable, fun, loving, and much much more, but what separates her is this barely scratches the surface! We have also had the chance to go on many incredible dates, and while I will list my personal favorite six I would love to point out this is the highlight reel, kind of like the Top 10 you would see on ESPN, but just like sports, these highlights come with hours of practice, conversations, and care. This is NOT about how perfect we are as individuals or as a couple, but really a testament to the creativity to the God who authored together with grace and love. With that in mind, here is the TOP 6!

#6: Babysitting

We went through a list of great dates to be paired with intentional conversations from the book Boy Meets Girl. One of those dates was babysitting together as a couple! So we did! We babysat for a family Ali had watched over numerous times... it was an interesting night, we played with the countless younglings... i think it was three or four but they were so quick it is hard to say for certain... (and by play I mean I got ambushed by a flanking maneuver of miniature proportions). Then we got them ready for bed, read them bedtime stories, and then took turns praying with each of them. We followed it up with a conversation of our upbringing and how each of us would desire to raise kids in a home that was focused on Jesus. It was simple, not glamorous, but a beautiful picture of living life together in the normal spaces.

#5: Ali's Super Date

I took Ali on these all-day dates I referred to as SUPERDATES!!!! Well, they were a hit. So Ali decided to take me on one. She started the morning by making me a Crepe Bar (nutella included), then we head off to DisneyQuest (Indoor Disney Arcade/theme park) to play around in a rollercoaster simulator, created havok all around Orlando, and ended our day at the MELTING POT. Have you ever been fonduing with the most incredible woman? Well if you have not been with Ali then the answer is no. So I will fill you in, it was perfect. It was overwhelming, which may have led to tears. But that is exactly how God loves us through each other. Pursuing, extravagent, purely. It was an incredible day.

#4: Key West

One time we went to stay with my family from Missouri who were snowbirds in South Florida. We got to hang out at the beach, ride bikes around the keys, go to a senior citizen dance lesson, and fly kites. It was a beautiful blend of us getting time to walk down the beach holding hands, and also getting to enjoy the company of family. The backdrop was tropical, but the casting was what made the play beautiful!

#3: First WeChat Date

Ali is currently living in Shanghai, she has been since about month 4. We knew this going into our relationship, but that did not change the pain and anxiety for both of us as she left... Fortunately, we serve a God who cares about each of us uniquely and kindly. And he showed up! I was afraid of what would happen if we ran out of stuff to talk about, I have heard horror stories of long distance and I was not excited to join those crews. But I knew God had built our "imperfect" relationship on top of great conversation and communication rather than simply physical actions. With that in mind we decided to set aside time one day a week were we could talk for 3-5 hours like we would on a normal date. This obviously was going to take creativity, and going into date #1 I was pretty nervous.. Thankfully, God alleviated those fears over the time of that first date as we picked up were we left off. having intentional conversations about everything from Scripture, movies, our daily lives, and our future. Long distance? Bring it.

#2: #UncommonDate

Our church community, Mosaic @ WDW, exists for Walt Disney World Cast Members. One cool piece of how we reach out to Cast Members is through these cards that simply encourage cast members and remind them that even though their job is difficult, it is worth it and makes a huge difference. The stories have been incredible, and one of my favorite is how this has become part of Ali and I's relationship whenever we would visit a Disney Park together or with friends. Getting to know and interact with each of these individuals, getting to learn about them, and encouraging them with lasting hope. Serving together in this and other areas has affirmed our relationship's existence to be about more than just the two of us.

#1: Vero Beach

I took Ali on one last super date before she prepared to leave for China. It was near the ocean at Vero Beach and we spent the day eating chocolate, going shopping, taking Ali to get a massage, and dinner at a Disney restaurant near the ocean. The only unfortunate part was Ali was sick most of the day, but even that allowed me and Ali to lean on one another to make sure she was taken care of and loved. The evening ended with an incredible conversation and her dozing off in the car as I drove her back home.

Our relationship has been marked with grace and love. Not perfectly but operating as a signpost pointing toward Jesus. This may sound strange, but it is more than a dream (dreams are usually scary and weird anyway), it is the story God has written for us, I cannot wait to keep reading!