Monday, July 21, 2014

Catholic Match Success!

As you probably well know by now, Drew and I met on - an amazing dating site for Catholics around the world. They are always looking for success stories to share, and so I finally submitted ours a few weeks ago. Having read many success stories before, I knew that the grammar and editing would likely butcher the perfectly fine write-up on which I spent a great deal of time. However, I was still shocked to see it for real (you can read it here), and I don't know if it is the fault of my browser or the software they use, or human error, but the mistakes seemed even more glaring, since it is my story on the line here. For real, it made my insides feel icky as I counted every missing comma, apostrophe, and pair of quotation marks. SO, for my sanity, and your ability to compare, here is MY submission:

In February of 2011, Angela (Angie to her friends and family) was 23 years old and living in a small town in Florida, where the average resident's age is in the mid-50s. Single, with little hope of finding any eligible local prospects, she braved the world of online dating and created a profile. The first few days of online dating were exhausting, but since joining Catholic Match had been pressing on her heart for many months, she was determined to give it a fighting chance.

Drew was 27 years old and about to move from Texas to Miami, Florida, a big city full of strangers. His twin sister had already married a man whom she had met on Catholic Match and she encouraged Drew to join. Wondering if his dream girl could be waiting for him in Florida, he searched for ladies within 500 miles of Miami. When he saw Angie's picture, he immediately fell in love. In fact, his sister jokingly warned him, "If you don't marry her, I'll kill you."

He spent hours composing the first, brief message to send Angie, and when she read it, she knew that Drew was different from the other men with whom she had chatted. After feeling overwhelmed in her first days on Catholic Match, Angie had prayed that her deceased grandfather would pray for her experience with online dating and that she would be guided in the right direction. God must have heard those intercessions, because Drew is so much like Angie's Grandpa, it is uncanny. The power of prayer was truly revealed to Angie and her family as they got to know Drew better.  

Angie and Drew both admit to having felt rather broken-hearted when they joined Catholic Match. As the two got to know each other via email and chat, they became friends, helped each other heal from past hurts, and fell in love. After six weeks, Drew made the four and a half hour drive from Miami to Inverness on a Saturday morning. He took Angie out to lunch and then dinner that evening. The next morning he picked her up for Mass and then they went to Tampa to meet Angie's family.

They knew from the start that they would get married someday. The long distance relationship was a challenge, but video chatting daily made them feel closer together. Drew sent Angie an email every morning, asking her both fun and thought-provoking questions to help him get to know her better. They planned dates to watch movies, cook the same meals, and play Scrabble together, all via video chats. They made saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet part of their evening routine, and this helped them to keep God at the heart of their relationship. Drew's regular trips to visit Angie were a clear sign of his determination to show her just how strongly he loved her.

On the one-year anniversary of the day Angie received Drew’s first message, Drew planned an entire day of surprises based on the themes of Faith, Hope, and Charity. The day began with a lakeside sunrise breakfast, and continued as they wrote letters to their future selves and ate lunch where they had first dined one year earlier. Angie was stunned when Drew took her to church for an hour of Adoration that he had arranged just for the two of them - what an amazing gift! After a delicious dinner at a French restaurant, Drew took Angie to the lake where her profile picture had been taken and he gave her a book full of all the questions he had asked in the emails he wrote to her. Much to Angie's surprise, the last page of the book posed a new question: "Angela, will you marry me?" She emphatically said, “Yeah!” but Drew isn’t ever going to let her forget that she said didn't say, “Yes.”

Sixteen months later, Angie and Drew married in her family's parish in Tarpon Springs, Florida. They moved to Texas a bit more than a month later, where they have thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend each day together without needing computers to connect them. When they walked into the church where they are now parishioners, they immediately noticed the image of Divine Mercy above the altar, a comforting sign that they had found their new church home.

The whole Catholic Match experience seems so miraculous, from meeting when they were 1500 miles apart to successfully dating long distance and getting married, that Angie and Drew can still hardly believe that they even know each other. "It all feels like a dream sometimes," Angie says. "We believe that God obviously wanted us to be together, and he used the circumstances in our respective lives to help us realize that. It took a lot of courage to join Catholic Match and a massive amount of trust in God's plan, and it was so worth letting go and getting out of my comfort zone."

Angie and Drew recently celebrated their one-year anniversary and purchased their first house with plans to start a family in the near future.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

One Year In Texas & A Kitchen Update!

Today marks one year since Drew and I arrived in Texas! We drove into Dallas late last year to head to the hotel that would be our temporary home while we apartment hunted. The lit-up skyline still holds great nostalgia for me since it was really the first glimpse I had of our future life here. Dallas/Fort Worth, or “The Metroplex,” as it is known here, is always busy and bustling with big city events and small town festivals. We have slowly taken advantage of all that the area has to offer, and living in the “mid-cities” means that we are never far from something fun to do!

I am happy to report that I really like living here. Aside from being hours away from a real beach, and having only scattered instances of palm trees, it isn’t too unlike Florida. 100 degrees and 40% humidity in Arlington feels a lot like 92 degrees and 70% humidity in Tampa; I get a good chuckle when people complain about the humidity here in DFW. Really? Puh-lease. Go hang out in Gainesville or Orlando in August.

One quirk I am still getting used to is the way Texans pronounce things. I studied Spanish for six and a half years, and I have been speaking English for almost 27, and I take pronunciation of both languages very seriously. So, it always throws me off to hear traffic, weather, and news reports, and realize that I have been saying city names “wrong” in my head, because people here just do what they want. It is Texas, after all.

Examples (forgive my attempt at phonetic spelling):
Celina – should be pronounced ce-LEEN-ah, Texans say ce-LINE-ah
Salado – should be sa-LAH-doh, Texans say sa-LAY-doh
Alvarado – should be al-va-RAH-doh, Texans say al-va-RAY-doh
McKinney – I feel like this doesn’t even need a “should be” explanation, but Texans say McKenny, and it REALLY bothers me. Kind of like how nobody says Whataburger, but rather, Wattaburger. UURRRRGHH!
White Settlement – Nothing strange about pronunciation here, just weird that a town with this name even exists.

I am also incredibly thankful for the brief period that I resided in Miami before moving to Texas. I didn’t do much driving there, but the little road time I got taught me how to use the horn of my car. Thank goodness, because although I have encountered some of the most considerate and respectful drivers here in Texas, I have also come THIS CLOSE to dying many times because of careless drivers. I now find great stress release in laying on the horn when necessary. Proud moments. :)

We have also been really busy around the house, of course (one year ago I hadn’t the faintest imaginings that I’d be writing this from my own home). Drew has taken to landscaping like a fish to water and it is amazing what he has done already for our lawn and flower beds. It is really hard for him to go to Home Depot without returning with a plant that some tender, loving care.
We had to buy these because they are called "angelface," and that was a nickname my dad had for me when I was little.

The angelface and these coxcombs are planted on both sides of our mailbox.

I don't really like the color purple much, except for flowers. These are gorgeous!
 AND, my mom visited us for a long Independence Day weekend, which was spectacular since I hadn’t seen her in ELEVEN MONTHS! She has been bitten by the painting bug and she has been busy freshening up her house in Florida, so when she offered to paint during her visit, I immediately went to The H.D. to grab some paint samples. We put five colors on the wall in a few places to gauge how they would look in different lighting, and I hate to say that after a week, I didn’t really love any of the colors and I was constantly changing my mind about them. I even read other blogs about the difficulty of choosing green paint and I thought, “Surely I can more easily choose green paint. I have been dreaming about a green kitchen for a long time and I will know what I want when I see it, because I love the color green.” THAT’S THE DADGUM PROBLEM, PEOPLE! Selecting a green paint color can drive you mad! There are so many different shades of green, and I love them all, but which one do I want on my walls?! 

The top picture is in natural lighting and the bottom is fluorescent; it is crazy what a difference the light source makes! From left to right these colors are: Asparagus, Fresh Artichoke, and Riesling Grape by Behr, and Safari Green and Spanish Olive by Glidden.

Fortunately, my mom went back to Home Depot with me and we chose a color that was kind of in between the two I was going back and forth between during my bouts of indecisiveness (I liked the Asparagus and Fresh Artichoke the best, depending on the time of day and the lighting and my mood). The color we picked is called Grass Cloth (Behr 400D-5). It has just enough yellow in it to be interesting, while still definitely being green. The color is bright yet calming, will look wonderful all year round in every season, and I loooooooooooooove it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner!

The coolest thing about this project was that I didn’t have to do any of the work. Just kidding!! (But kind of not really.) In all honesty, I wish I could have been part of the painting effort, but I had to work all day, and coming home to a transformed kitchen was like my own Trading Spaces experience. Plus, since my Mama painted it as a labor of love, being in the kitchen is like a great big hug from her. I did get to do some taping and touch ups, though, so although my contribution was minimal, I DID, in fact, help. Freshening up the white trim, adding a new laundry room door, and hanging sheer, airy curtains completed the kitchen and now it feel like a real room. Sitting here in the eat-in nook just feels so nice and relaxing. I. LOVE. IT! I wish you all had moms as awesome as mine. :)

Having seen how much the paint and a couple accessories changed the kitchen into OUR kitchen (er, *cough* MY *cough* kitchen . . . ), I can’t wait to tackle more rooms in the house! Next up are the pantry and then the laundry room, and then the entryway and front room! And the fireplace! Eeek! I am pumped!

Now, raise your hand if you are ready for some befores & afters!

That’s what I thought. And now, for your viewing pleasure, I present to you:

In my opinion, this area was most drastically changed, and it is perfect. Doesn't the space look so much bigger?

No, the table is not always set, but we finally have TWO settings of our china and it is so beautiful, I had to show it off. I think we'll use it tonight for dinner to celebrate one year in Texas!

My attempt at an organized "dropzone" for my purse, keys, mail, etc.

There is one little corner up high that needs to be finished, but I was too excited to show off the kitchen to wait.
Hopefully I will have some more updates in not too long. For now, the kitchen is the neatest part of the house and I have a lot of cleaning up to do in the rest of the downstairs! Time to go move more boxes!