Where to start with me and JJ, I feel like we have always been together. There have been times when I have asked him "remember when we were kids and I..." then he looks at me strange and says " No, I don't remember because I wasn't there." It is hard for me to remember him not being in my life! I don't remember ever officially meeting him. JJ played football so I probably called out his jersey number and name or tossed him his football playing uniform dozens of times. You see we went to the same high school, JJ was two grades ahead of me. My older brother went to the same high school and played football, he passed down his love of the game to me. I LOVE football so naturally I wanted to be involved with the team somehow. So I decided to help out with stats and team management. Most of the girls who did it just wanted to be around the football players they liked. Not me, I wanted to be able to see the game from the sidelines! So we have never officially "met." My first vivid memory of him was when we were all on the bus on the way home from a game we had just won. I remember the guys chanting JJ's last name not because he was the star of the game but because they wanted him to "bust a flow" aka freestyle rap, which JJ is very good at. I remember thinking he had a strange last name, haha joke is on me!
During high school is when I had my reversion to the Church so I started going to the local Catholic church's youth group per the invitation from two friends. I had been going through a lot in my life and was desperate to find answers and be loved, I was really desperate for God actually. I found a home in the youth group with peers that had a similar longing. JJ was in this same youth group and we got along quite well, a lot of people got along with JJ because of his shyness and ability to blend in with people. At this time I was not necessarily wanting to date JJ, I was actually dating somebody else but I remember thinking how much I liked my conversations with JJ. I liked being able to hang out and talk to him without romantic notions. JJ had become my brother in Christ and my friend.
After high school I went to the same community college as JJ and a handful of other friends from our youth group. We would all hang out after classes, go to daily Mass and grab a quick bite of lunch before our afternoon classes. It was such a blessed time! None of us were dating so it was nice to have a deep fellowship with one another and not think about dating. A few of us decided to join the Gospel choir of the school, that decision changed forever how I felt about JJ. I really love music and singing and so does JJ and JJ can really sing. He got a solo for one of our concerts and despite his shy nature he did very well. That was the year I noticed that I was attracted to him, I am blushing as I think about it. After I noticed these feelings I prayed that God would take them away because they were too complicated and I did not want to ruin our friendships with each other and everybody else. If these feelings were to come to light the group dynamic would change besides I was pretty sure he did not feel the same. He had actually talked to me about a couple of girls he liked and I gave him some advice that was probably biased ;)
To get my mind off of these feelings I started hanging out with the next guy that came along, so that I could forget these feelings for JJ. In reality I should have clung to God instead of trying to distract myself. JJ started to date somebody else, so I needed to distance myself emotionally. JJ and I were still friends and talked about deep things like we always did but it was different. I remember JJ scolding me for hanging out with this guy and saying "Kat you're standing at the gate of hell and you need to turn back!" I always wondered why he felt so strongly that I needed to stay away from this guy, how did he know the relationship was impure? I cried when JJ said those words to me at the time I felt that he was judging me but I also knew it came from his deep concern for me not just physically but my soul. After that I scolded JJ about his relationship too! We were both growing farther away from God and knew we needed to ask Jesus to straighten out our lives.
|Me and my NET sisters. Oh how I love these beautiful women!|
After that I decided to do a missionary year with NET ministries. It was nice to get away and start fresh with God. I left for NET and JJ stayed in college. I did not talk to him much while I was gone just when I was back for Christmas and once on the phone in February while I was in Seattle a few months before I came home. After those conversations I noticed those feelings for JJ again and instead of ignoring them this time, I gave them to God and pleaded with Him to take them away. When I came back from NET I felt so grounded in my relationship with Jesus, He was my main Man. I was also considering entering the Carmelite sisters while I was on NET and when I cam home. I love the Carmelites and was open to religious life. I realize now that I was trying to get away from my feelings and abandoning my complicated relationships so I could hide from them in a monastery. I decided to do the 33day Marian consecration so that it would end on July 16th OLMC feast day and my birthday! JJ and another friend wanted to do it too, so we said we would keep each other accountable. The other friend dropped out suddenly, so it was just me and JJ doing the consecration. We decided to talk on the phone once a week and check in with each other on Sundays after Mass. Oh Mary my Mother, I see what you were doing at the time.
That summer of August 2005 a bunch of young adult friends decided to go to the beach and have a bon fire. It was there that those pesky feelings came back in full force. It was there that JJ and I had another one of our deep conversations about God, religious life vs. married life and what the heck we were gonna do with our lives. I remember telling JJ that if he felt God was calling him to something he needed to go for it and pursue it, no looking back! I told him that if God was "dangling the carrot" in front of him then he needed to step out in faith and reach for it. At the time I thought JJ was thinking about the priesthood so I wanted to encourage him to go for it, in reality I was encouraging him to pursue me!
|JJ and I after a retreat. He carved our intials in the log :)|
Later that month at a Catholic conference after an intense prayer session JJ told me of his feelings for me. I knew how hard it was for him to have the courage to do that and I think I fell in love with him right then and there. We talked for an hour about how hard this would be and the complications it would bring in our friendships. I was also mad at him for not telling me sooner, though I knew it would not have been the right time before then. I could not believe that he liked me! My heart was full of joy but I was still very apprehensive. I said we should really take some time to pray about it before we started anything. After adoration that night I pulled JJ aside and told him that this felt right and I felt peace about it. On Sunday I told my mother what was going on and she was shocked, she kept saying "JJ?! Are you sure? JJ?! You all are such good friends and he is so shy!" After picking her jaw up from the floor she urged me not to talk about it to people until we had all prayed about it. Well apparently someone saw the attraction between JJ and I at the conference and started spreading some rumors about us. My mom heard of this and was pissed not at me but that people would talk about us behind our back instead of talking directly to me or JJ, we were adults after all.
After that fiasco JJ and I decided to distance ourselves from each other to pray and discern for three months. We talked on the phone a few times and hung out a few times during that time to see how things were going. It was so hard not to be around him as much as I wanted but I knew that if it were God's will then we would have our time together. During that time I spent a lot of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and seeking guidance from the Carmelite Sisters, who I was working with at the time. I spoke to my mom about it a lot and asked some of my NET sisters to pray for me during this time. After the three months we talked and JJ wanted to start courting. I took the discernment time differently I thought we were just thinking about praying to start a courtship! He wanted to spring into action and I wanted to pray about it for another month. After that month I issued JJ a challenge he had to talk to and get the approval of three people before we started courting. I really put him through a big challenge on this one but he did it anyway for me. It was important to me that I knew he took this as serious as I did, that our friendship would never be the same if we started courting. I did not want the struggle that it took to get to this point to be in vain. I was also protecting my heart because I knew how strong my feelings were for him and I wanted to be sure he was willing to go the distnace for us.
After JJ spoke to the people I had asked him to we started officially courting on January 6th, 2006. Our first date was hilarious as JJ was trying to take me to a restaraunt that he had no idea closed down months prior. We walked for an hour up and down Old Town Pasadena looking for this place and I finally asked him where we were suppose to be going and I had to tell him that the place closed down. We had a good laugh and went to eat at the Cheesecake Factory instead. A few weeks later we told each other "I love you" after praying a rosary at a coffee shop. I knew when we started courting that we would get married but we talked about it more seriously about 9 months after dating.
|JJ and I @ a friend's wedding, 5 weeks before ours!|
On our one year anniversary is when JJ proposed. JJ really had to hide things from me because I am such a detective I would have figured out what was going on. He took me to church to our prayer spot and sang me a song he wrote as part of the proposal. It could not have been better had I planned it myself, God truly knows what He is doing! During our courtship and engagement we would pray a rosary together every Sunday to ask for Our Lady's intercession. We knew that God wanted big things from us and we wanted to make sure our wedding day reflected how we wanted our lives to be, prayerful and seeking God's will.
Our engagement was beautiful and blessed though it was tough to keep ourselves chaste. When you are engaged you can see the end of the tunnel and impatience grows stronger so we stepped up the prayer and fasting. We would have fasting days of no physical contact with each other and go on mini retreats in the park. The actual wedding prep. was pretty easy, so many people offered to pay for this or that so our wedding Mass and reception were very communal. We took NFP classes as part of our marriage prep. and really liked it despite our quirky teachers. We both knew NFP was going to be a big part of our family life. We got married on Dec. 15, 2007 at 1pm. It was a sunny day with big puffy white clouds it was not cold, this is SoCal after all.
|Our wedding day|
|We got to go to our reception in my dream car a 1957 Chevy Bel Air :)|
So that is the story of how we got to this point as husband and wife. There is much more to it with all its drama and angst but this is the abbridged version. Thanks for reading next time it will be JJ's version!
|Today, still more in love than ever :)|