Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

F.A.T.H.E.R
 Faithful
                                                Always there
                                                Trustworthy
                                                Hardworking
                                                Ever loving
                                                Respected
                  Thank you for always being there for us and being the best dad 7 Ks could ask for.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KALEB!!!!


Happy 19th birthday 
to one amazing brother. 
We love you so much and thank God for you everyday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

{Bradley & Me: Our Story}

So here it is!
The story of my life for the past year!
There's a lot of details here, sorry about that! But this post is just as much for me, as anyone else!
And this story might not seem that great to you, but it has changed my life, and I don't want to forget!

Anyway, I can't wait any longer!!!!

With a HUGE smile on my face,
and GREAT pleasure in my heart,
it just thrills me to pieces to
FINALLY
introduce you to...

Mr. Bradley Brazeal!

Bradley came to our church in January of 2015. 
Actually, he came to our house for dinner on Saturday night, then preached at our church on Sunday.
So I met him at our house first, technically!

(All my life I've heard people say that God is not going to drop someone on your doorstep...
you have to go out and find them. 
Yeah, well never say never! 
Turns out God can do whatever He wants!)

So anyway, we met on January 24th.

Hours and hours later, on January 25th, he asked my dad if it was alright to call me.
I had no clue this guy even noticed that I existed, so to say I was in shock, is an understatement!

(Let me clarify here, that the reason I didn't think he noticed me, was because I didn't necessarily "notice" him. It was not because he was rude or anything. It was the reverse, actually. He was very nice, and on more than one occasion, he tried to talk to me. But I thought he was just being nice, and I'm ashamed to admit that I definitely did not go out my way at all to be that friendly to him. Now, that is called selfishness, and I would not recommend it to others, necessarily, but I'm just trying to be honest about myself here! Basically, he was a polite, nice-looking guy. But there is more to a person than just that. Plus, I didn't think I would ever see him again, anyway.)

So, Dad told him we would think and pray about it.
We left church and went home...in Maryland
He left church and went home...to South Carolina.

Being my usual optimistic self, I naturally concluded in my mind that something so crazy and so random could not be happening to me.
And further more, it DEFINITELY could not be God's will!
Yes, He works in mysterious ways and all that...I know.
But not in my life, thank you!

Over the next several weeks, I began to question my theory just a tad.
If I was right about "God's will," then why on earth could I not get this random person out of my mind?
Why couldn't I pray without thinking about him?
And why did I even want to talk to him in the first place?
I'm not an out-going talker-type. Why was I struggling with this so bad?

So I spent a large portion of the month of February,
trying to figure out what God would want me to do.
I was perfectly content where I was, doing what I was doing.
Maybe even too content.

Was this a test?
Could this really be God's will?

Now, a lot of people don't agree with this, and that's fine, because they don't have to live my life. But I wasn't 15 at the time. I wasn't out looking for a friend, just for the sake of having a friend. I had never had a "boyfriend" and I was totally fine with that, because a "boyfriend" for the sake of having a "boyfriend" was no where on my life's to-do list. A lot of people have come and gone in my life for various reasons, and I didn't want to make myself vulnerable enough to trust someone else, only to be hurt yet again.
I kept thinking all kinds of things, like....
What if this guy is a jerk wearing a suit?
Maybe he goes around to all kinds of churches and places and asks to talk to all kinds of girls.
I wonder how many he has broken up with?
Better yet, I bet his Pastor (who was with him at the time he was here) put him up to this!
Yep, that's it! It was just an off-the-wall, match-making-gone-bad thing. By now it's been weeks, and I'm sure he's already forgotten about me. Which is perfect, because I'll never see him or hear from him again, and therefore I won't have to make any decisions! God will have made it for me! WhooHoo!! Thank you, Lord!

At the same time, God seemed to be showing me so many verses, and every message I heard at church seemed to be just for me. All about waiting, being patient, trusting that God is in control, etc.

So that's what I tried to do.
I still thought about it...everyday.
But I stopped worrying about it.
If this was not of God, He would take care of it.
If this was of God, He would take care of it.

(As a side-note here, over the course of this time, my dad talked about Bradley to me a total of 1 time. ONE! But if you know my dad, then that probably doesn't surprise you!)

About 6 weeks after that fateful Sunday, Dad randomly comes up to me one night and says
"So, I got a phone call."
(There goes my theory about him forgetting all about me!)

During the "one" conversation that we had about Bradley, I had mentioned to dad that if I did do anything, I would prefer to e-mail him. Talking on the phone to people I know terrifies me for some reason, much less people I don't know at all!
So dad said if I was fine with it, then Bradley wanted to e-mail me.
When he said that, I had this sense of peace that I don't know how to explain! I was nervous, because I didn't know what on earth I was going to say or what I was getting myself into, but at the same time, I was also completely, totally fine with it! I knew that, for that day, that is what God wanted me to do.

On March 10th, I received my first e-mail.
And I got an e-mail every single day after that, for months!
We talked about everything, and just simply got to know each other!
It was amazing and getting his e-mails were the highlight of my day!

(Another little side-note here to help you understand our e-mails:
I printed all of them out, and put them in a folder.
It was 60+ pages....printed front and back)

In June, Bradley ventured out and asked if he could call me. 
On the phone! Yikes!
This was one of many times, where I knew God was in control,
because I was actually pretty excited about talking to him!!
I'm serious, people, ask my mom....there is probably nothing in the world I hate more than talking on the phone! This was HUGE for me!
So on June 6th, I got my first phone call!
And I have received a phone call pretty much every, single day since then
(I can count on one hand, the number of days we haven't talked!)!!
At that time, and really still to this day, it has just been yet another wonderful level of getting to know each other, and definitely drawing our hearts closer together.

A lot of people asked throughout this entire time "are y'all serious?" "do you think he's the one?"
and all kinds of things like that. Honestly, I didn't know. I knew that on any given day during that time, I was doing what God wanted me to do for that day. I knew that it could be different the next day, so I didn't want to borrow from the future by thinking and dreaming.
I wasn't sure what God's ultimate plan was, and I didn't want to get in the way.
People say that long-distance relationships are hard, and they DEFINITELY are!! I would be the first to raise my hand about that!! But really, with God all things are possible, and I cannot even put into words all of the amazing, miraculous, wonderful things that God has done in and through this relationship for me! For instance (although this is pretty minor), my mother may or may not readily admit to this, but I feel fairly positive that she was very worried about my communication skills. She really had good reason, because honestly, I didn't have good communication skills....AT.ALL.
E-mailing and talking on the phone to Bradley seriously helped me!
I'm no where near where I should probably be, but I am SO much better than I was!
And this, again, was all of God!
I feel like because we had to communicate very clearly early on, that was a huge blessing for both of us, that we are only now beginning to understand. When I say we talked about everything, I seriously mean that you probably wouldn't even want to imagine all the things we talked about! From super serious, to positively stupid, we probably covered it! And when that is coming through an e-mail, you have to really think hard about how to say pretty much everything, so that it is interpreted in the right manner. Talking on the phone was no different, although maybe a tad easier when you can hear the other persons tone of voice. But either way, communicating was huge for us, and we did a LOT of it! 

Anyway, for all of June and most of July, we e-mailed and talked on the phone every, single day!
It was awesome!!

In mid-July, he decided to really venture out and asked to come for a visit.
I was scared to death, and elated all at the same time! It was crazy!
I wanted him to come, but at the same time, I kept thinking "great, now he's gonna realize what I'm actually like, and he's going to hate it." But if he didn't like me for who I am, then that would be a problem! I wasn't going to change, just to make him happy, and end up giving him a false impression of who I really was. But what if he didn't like who I was?!!

I like to run as often as I can, because it helps me de-stress.
I ran 3 miles, every day, the entire week leading up to his visit!
We had a lot going on that weekend: Kaleb's graduation party on Saturday, a family reunion on Sunday with lots of family coming in for that, and Katrina and I were leaving for Church Camp that Monday. So it was a whirlwind weekend, but turned out great!
He got to meet a lot of my extended family. I felt like I got to actually meet him for the first time, since I was oblivious to the entire world around me in January! Plus, his mom, one of his sisters, and his niece and nephew were with him, so it was nice meeting all of them as well!
They arrived on Thursday evening, and he came over to our house for just a few minutes, really. It was late, but neither of us wanted to wait until Friday!
We went on our first date Friday afternoon, which was quite an amazing feeling!
The whole weekend was just an amazing time, and so good for both of us!
I was still greatly proceeding with caution, at that point, but was catching myself feeling so comfortable around him.


They had to leave Sunday morning after church, and I had to hurry to our family reunion that afternoon and then head to camp the next day. I had no Internet or phone service from that Monday afternoon, until Friday afternoon, so that was a pretty long week for us!
Bradley says that Sunday afternoon, he realized that he was feeling more than "good"!
He says that's when he went from "liking" me to loving me. He didn't tell me that until much later on, but I just thought that was very sweet!
He tends to move faster on these things than I do! I remember thinking that I really did like him, and I had a great time. And I knew that I was doing what God wanted me to do that day. I didn't know what He had for me the next day or next week. And in the back of my mind, I was living in fear that it was all going to end one day.

By now, it was August. We still talked and talked, every day! Which means our hearts drew closer and closer every day! And that's what I had prayed...if this was God's will, then I prayed that He would draw our hearts together like only He can. I knew my emotions and feelings were all over the place, and completely unreliable, but thankfully the Lord does not operate on feelings and emotions!
I had peace about it all, but I was struggling with myself over it, at the same time. Bradley is SO good at expressing how he feels. And I'm not. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to communicate to him how I felt, in a way that he would understand. Therefore, he would probably think I don't even care! But I did! I just didn't know how to say that! He could say lots of nice, sweet things that made me blush like no red beet you have ever seen! But I sometimes tend to think on the negative side of things, and I do live in fear about some things, so I was afraid he was just saying that to make me feel good, and to flatter me, whether he meant it or not.
So again, bringing up the fact that we talk about everything, we literally had that conversation one night! And you can say that this is dumb, I don't care, but it was important to us!
I still remember the way he said everything! In a very calm, matter-of-fact, yet sweetest way EVER, he basically told me exactly how he felt about us!
And that he loved me!
(That was September 2nd, in case anyone wanted to know)

(pardon me, I'm gonna have to take a break here, and let my keyboard dry out...I don't know what's going on, but it's filling up with water!)

Anyway, Bradley came up for another visit over Labor Day weekend.
I was still nervous, but nothing like the first time
(I think I only ran once or twice that week, so that should tell you something!)!!
Again, it was great! We didn't have really anything going on that weekend, so our families spent a lot of time together, and it was just awesome!

With work and life, we didn't see each other again until the end of November.
That was hard. It was 81 days between those two visits,
and I was still working through, and processing a lot of things.
During this time, though, I began to realized that I was falling in love with this man.
It didn't happen in a day for me, or in a week. It was softly over the course of months, until I finally admitted to myself that, yes, this is happening, Karissa, and it's good!
We became quite thankful for FaceTime during this time as well, and talked that way a few times.

Thanksgiving weekend finally came!! We went down to visit dad's family that weekend, which is only about an hour and a half from Bradley and his family. So we spent every single day together from Thursday evening, until Sunday evening! He was able to meet more of my family (including Kent and his family, as well as other extended family), I was able to meet his other sister and her husband, plus his grandparents.
It was a wonderful time, that naturally didn't last long enough!











But thankfully, we didn't have to wait that long, because he flew up here less than two weeks later, and we celebrated Christmas together! I'm sure you've guessed by now, but yes, it was fabulous!!
We had a great time, and moved up to another level of communication! After that visit, phones were old-school and FaceTime was the new way to go!!
Every day (if possible) since then, too!!!!





With very short notice, he was able to get off work again, and actually rode up with my aunt and uncle and was here for several days during the week of New Year's.
That is by far my least favorite holiday ever, normally, but this year was pretty amazing!!





   At that point, it was looking like the end of February would be our next time to be together.
So while he started the process of getting time off work, making all the plans and all that, I was quietly making my own plans! Kaleb went with me, and together we drove down to South Carolina one weekend in January. His family new I was coming, but he had no clue!! We were able to make it just in time, and I randomly walked into his work! It was great!! I'll never be able to pull it off again, because it was SO hard to keep that secret, but it was totally worth it!!


Around this time, we started talking more seriously about some serious things.
Life.
Houses.
Jobs.
Weddings.
Things like that.
Now, I am NOT a dreamer. Growing up, I never let myself day-dream and conjure up expectations about life, really! Relationships, marriage, weddings...anything like that, I just didn't think about it. And therefore NEVER talked about it!
But when Bradley slowly started talking about things like that, I oddly found myself very much okay with that. Which had never happened to me before in my life! Seriously, even me and my sisters never sat around talking about anything like that! That's just not how we are!
So again, this might sound dumb, but that was just another way of God showing me that He was in control of this!
Bradley is very much into details. I could care less. I get lost in the details, so I generally stay with the basic facts, and that's it. Which is turning out to be AMAZING, I must say!! I always said that I didn't want to have this set-in-stone list or expectation of things I had "always dreamed of" because what if the guy I was marrying cared about all that kind of thing?
Turns out, I was right!!
So we talked about things. Some things in general...some things in detail!

He came back up again the weekend of my birthday in February.
We celebrated our first Valentine's Day together!
Are you ready for this?
It was.........Awesome!!!!!!









After that, Bradley and his family booked their week of vacation up here for the end of April/beginning of May. Which was GREAT, except that was 2 months away at that point!
Our vacation, however, was the end of March, and since I already had those days off work, I thought it would be very frugal of me to use some of them for a trip down there! And plus, from our condo in Virginia, it was like a whole 2 hours closer to him, anyways! Of God, people, I'm telling ya'!!!
He did not want me to drive all that way a lone, and mom and dad weren't thrilled about that either, so they ended up taking that weekend out of their vacation time, and going down with me! I felt bad that they were doing that, but I guess not too bad, because it's not like I cancelled the trip out of guilt or anything!
Now, Bradley is pretty much the planner and detail-organizer of our small gang of two, and he didn't really tell me much about that weekend. I mean, he would say things about the weekend, and even some details, but not like we were going to do this, and go there, or anything like that. Which is totally fine with me, because neither of us feel the need to be constantly going somewhere, or doing something. However, earlier in March we had discussed a very possible wedding date. We decided that we would wait and tell our families when we were altogether over Easter weekend. That may seem insignificant, but it will make more sense later on!

Mom, Dad and I left early Saturday morning, March 26th, for South Carolina.
We arrived at Bradley's house around noon. I knew that his sister was making this soup sometime that day, but that's all I knew. So we were just sitting around talking and visiting. Looking back now, I realize he was very, unusually quiet, but at the time I didn't notice at all. I was just thrilled to be there with him, and that was all that mattered!
Then all of a sudden, he was just like really anxious or something, and was wondering why his sister and her family weren't up there yet! I thought it was kind of odd, because I didn't think we were operating on any kind of time-table, so who cares if they weren't there yet! They'll get there when they get there! But whatever!
So, a little while later, every one was there, and they were getting some of the food ready and things like that. Bradley and I were talking, and I wasn't paying a huge amount of attention to everyone else. During this time, he randomly says that he thought right now would be a good time to talk about the wedding date thing.
Again, I was like, well this is odd! I mean, right now? Some of these people just barely got in the door! I don't think I had even said hello to everyone! And he was like "yeah, I think we should." He seemed so serious about it, so I was just like okay, whatever! At that point, I realized that we were standing with our backs to everyone, and they were all suddenly sitting down and not talking at all! I had no clue what was going on, but I felt like possibly we were just about to make way too big of a deal about this date thing, and I was feeling awkward standing there. I knew he was going to do all the talking anyways (because that's the agreement we have...he's the spokesperson for our club),
so I said that I was going to sit down while he did that.
He said okay, but then asked me to turn my chair a certain way. I never said anything, but in my mind, I was thinking "no problem, except that's sort of away from everyone, but whatever"!
Then he said it AGAIN! I was like, are you kidding me? Now I literally have my back to his sister, who was sitting beside me! This is crazy?!
All that ran through my head in a split second. At almost the exact same time, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him start to pull something out of his pocket! Before I knew it, he was already down on one knee! It just totally took my breath away, and I had no clue what to do! I was so happy, but I was shaking like crazy! My brain couldn't decide if I should laugh or cry or what!
Remarkably, I had enough presence of mind to say YES, so that was good, at least, right?!
It wasn't like it shocked me that he did it. I mean, we had been making wedding plans for like 2 months at that point, so I knew it was coming. I just had NO CLUE when! And I'm very much a live-in-the-moment type of person, so I had never really thought about it!
Anyways, it was fabulous! I'm very much a home-body, so the fact that he just did it at home, it was low-key, our families were there...it was perfect!!











So that brings us up to today!
The short version of this story is that God is in control!
And His way is by far, the best way!
And you just never know how He's going to work things out!
"Never say never" became my motto in 2015!
In 12 months I met a guy, fell in love with the same guy, got engaged to said guy, and now we're planning a wedding together!!!!

~Karissa

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Yes!!! We're still a live!!!!!


Hey Everyone!
Sorry for the EXTREME lack of posting lately. 
Okay, not lately.....more like for the past 10+ months! 
Ooops!

There is no excuse about life being crazy, because well, life is always crazy!!
That has not changed, and will not change, 
but it's a different kind of crazy, I guess you could say!
A new level that we are, ummmmm, new to!!

A lot has happened for all of us since January 2015, and an update on everyone is definitely in order! However, I am going to be passing that baton over to Kaitlyn and Katrina.
They will be taking care of 99% of the posts on the blog from now on and doing a much better job than I ever did, I'm sure!!
So please bare with us as we go through this transition!

That being said, I have been commissioned to write my own update, to start things out!
Well, that's going to be a looooong story, so I will make it a separate post!
But, stay tuned, because:

COMING UP NEXT...




...my story!





~Karissa

Friday, April 8, 2016

{Ava}

Happy 8th Birthday, Ava!!!
Love you SO much!!!!! We hope you have a fabulous day!!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

{Kent}


Happy 31st Birthday, Kent!!!!!
Love you and hope you have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

{Brayden}

Happy 5th Birthday, Brayden!!


We love you and miss you and hope you have a great day!!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KARISSA!


Happy 25th Birthday, Karissa!!!
We thank God for the amazing young woman that you are!
We are so blessed to have you in our family!
We love you so very much, and wish you the happiest of birthdays!