Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Weakness and Worth: An Honest Reflection

God can use me, a competitive, selfish, sometimes envious soul to do exactly what He wants me to. He can continue to renew and refine me as He helps me overcome my ugly moments. And I don't have to be ashamed of my weakness, because it only shows just how much I need Him. That I can't do it alone.

Today I am thrilled to be sharing these words and more in a guest post for Sobremesa Stories, a wonderful blog filled with beautiful, honest stories about the heart and home. I would totally love it if you'd check out my post that is being featured: Womanly Wednesday: A Guest Post on Weakness and Worth.

I hope you'll find this post to be an honest reflection of a woman, one who needs the Lord every hour and who is constantly being shaped by Him. I'm sharing a bit of my heart in hope that you will take comfort in knowing that you and I aren't alone in this struggle, and that together we can build each other up as we pour out support and hold each other accountable. Please feel free to share any comments or questions below, as well as any prayer requests or thoughts of "Hey, that's me too, I can totally relate to this." Also, feel free to contact me with more private requests. Thank you for allowing me to share some of my heart today, and to be vulnerable. I hope you'll find it as freeing as I have.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to Create Your Own Photo Map

It's no secret that Aaron and I LOVE traveling. We're always game for travel of all kinds, whether it's a cruise, a relaxing all-inclusive resort in Cancun, or an amazing European adventure. A few months after we were married, Aaron decided that one of his goals for us was to drive through and eat or stay in every single one of the 50 states. Also, as a rule, we had to get out and take a picture with the state sign, wherever we were. This has led to some pretty epic photos on the side of highways and in places that probably weren't the safest to be taking selfies (see Arkansas for a good laugh).

photo map

For our 2014 spring break, we traveled through nine different states and stayed at nine different hotels, taking state sign pictures in all of them. A few months later, I was looking for a fun gift to create for my hubby for our first anniversary, the "paper" anniversary. As I was scrolling through Pinterest, I saw a couple cute maps. That got me to thinking, wow, if I could make a personalized one, that would be a great use of all those pictures we've been taking. And so, I started a photo map for us. Here's the map complete with pictures from our Southeast Spring Break trip:

photo map
This spring, we went on an epic Southwestern Adventure, and had several photos to add. So, I'm back at it again, this time with step by step instructions on how to make your very own photo map!                                    

You'll need:
- Three foam boards
- A large map (I got mine at Staple's for about $8)
- Spray Adhesive 
- Scissors
- Tape
- Paper
- Push pins
- A tape measure or ruler

photo map

To assemble the board that your map will sit on, measure out the length of your map. Cut your foam boards (you may need an Exacto knife for this), and then tape them together so that they are one big board that fits your map. Use the spray adhesive on the foam board, and then mount your map on the front. Now you're ready to start with your states.

photo map

To create the states, lay a piece of paper over the top of the state. Carefully trace the shape of the state onto the piece of paper with a pencil. It doesn't have to be perfect, just do your best! 

Next, cut out your shape from the piece of paper. Lay it over the state and see how you did. For California, I used a couple different pieces of legal paper, and then I taped them together to form the state.

photo map

Next, measure all of your state shapes and write their measurements on them. You need to know what size of picture to print for each state. For the Southeast, this was really easy, because most of the states were right around 4x6'', give or take. Keep in mind that some states will be smaller than 4X6, so choose your photos wisely. It's also easier if the photos are taken horizontally, not vertically, but you can make any photo work with a little tweaking. For California, I knew I was going to have to piece together a few different 4x6" photos. Some states will need a 5x7.

photo map

Once you know the size you'll need, it's time to choose your photos. For me, I knew I'd be using our state sign pictures, then if I needed to piece together any photos I would use another picture from something fun we did in that state, like the Grand Canyon or some California palm trees. Your pictures can be anything fun that you did in that state, or whatever you want, we just chose state signs for ours. Choose something fun and memorable for your home state. I used one of my favorite pictures from our wedding for Missouri. Since I had to angle the photo to get our faces in it, I filled in the rest of the state with some black scraps from the photo. Scotch tape is your friend! 

photo map
Next, you're ready to cut out! I know this is intimidating, but I promise friends, it's not as hard as it looks! I simply hold the paper state that I 've cut out over the photo, and then follow the lines with my scissors. Play around with the photos and see how they best fill the shape of the state. You'll have to get creative with states like Florida that have an awkward edge or panhandle, but just cut scraps of the photo out and tape them together until you get the shape you need! 

Next, put your photos next to each other and see how they look. They don't have to be perfect. Consider overlapping or doing a few little snips here and there to make them fit together great. 

Now, all of the hard work is done, and it's time to put your states on the map! Grab those pushpins, and stick them in the corners of the states so that they lie flat. You may need to over or underlap states to make them fit. 

See how I used several multiple photos from California, Arizona, and Nevada to make each of the states work? I love the way that they turned out! 

 And there you have it: an updated and personalized map with photos of all of the states we've visited. Looks like we need to get to work on the North. (And I also need to find our Louisiana and Texas pictures). I promise, it's way easier than it looks!

state photo map

 Personalized photo maps make great gifts, keepsakes, and memories of travels- without costing a lot. Still have questions? Need some advice on a certain step? Let me know in the comments below, or on the contact form. I'd love to help you out. Have so much fun!


 I'm linking up with A Fresh StartWine'd Down WednesdayThe Quinntessential MommyJust us FourSnippets of InspirationJust Another LinkyTwinkly Tuesday, Imparting Grace, Anderson and Grant, Feeding Big, The Handmade Hangout, AKA Design, Shaken Together Life, Bloom Designs Online, The Pretty Pintistic Party, The Painted Drawer, A. Liz Adventures, The Girl Creative, The Crafted Sparrow, and The Deliberate Mom.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What My Daddy Taught Me

Back in May, I gave my wonderful Momma a little shout out for Mother's Day. She's really amazing. Both my parents are actually. So now that it's June, and in honor of Father's Day, it's my dad's turn. 

My dad and I have always had a really special relationship. Though everyone says I look just like my mom, I would argue that I act just like my dad. He's the one who gave me my competitive nature, my speaking skills, and my sense of humor. He's walked me down the aisle, attended every sporting event, and become an incredible mentor and friend. We share the same occupation, faith, and outlook on life: to live it fully and make the most of it. I've learned so much from him, and I'm blessed to call him dad. This ones for you, Daddy! 

What My Daddy Taught Me 

Do things right the first time.
I can remember my dad's exact words as he made me re-sweep the kitchen. "Kels, if you're going to do something worth doing, do it right the first time." My dad has never been one to cut corners. Much to the contrary, if he's taking something on, he's taking it on full steam and giving it his all. I mean, he literally built my parent's house (and their deck, and the pool). Talk about taking things on and making sure they're done right. He's instilled in me the drive to tackle things worth doing with all that I've got, so I don't have to do them again. When there are times that I'm tempted to do things just "well enough" to get by, I remember what I've learned, buckle down, and get them done the right way. This doesn't mean they can't be fun, or done with some laughs.

Celebrating my 21st Birthday in Las Vegas
Stand up (and speak up) for what's right.
If you've ever had a conversation with my dad or me, you know that we aren't often at a loss for words. We can pretty much talk to a brick wall, or find a way to bring just about anyone into a decent conversation. Every Sunday, we always had to (and still do) drag Dad away from all of the folks he was talking to at church. But not only is he a great conversationalist, he's not afraid to speak up when something's not right, or when someone needs to say the hard stuff. Dad serves on several different committees and groups through school and church, and he has always been honest and ready to say it when he thinks something isn't right, or isn't best for others. I've learned to do the same, having the hard conversations and taking a stand when it's called for.

Just getting a little reading in.
Our amazing youth bball team.
Challenge yourself to be your best. 
As the one who gave me my competitive spirit, and the one who also spent multiple years coaching me and my brothers in sports, my dad's always taught me that I should give my best, no matter what. If I gave my best, and left it all out there, there was nothing left to regret. Whether it was pushing myself to run harder, be a better hitter, make more jump shots, or get a 4.0, he showed me that the sky's the limit and that I can achieve anything I set my mind to. And he was always there to push me, with hours of batting practice in the backyard or road runs where we sprinted at the end. While this mentality may make family game nights an interesting experience, overall they have helped me to strive to be my best as a teacher, as a YoungLife leader, and as a wife.

Catching me in the hotel pool for the bazillionth time.
Never stop learning. 
Since I was the only girl growing up with a dad who was a teacher, I spent many a summer with him and the boys. I got in on lots of gardening, shoveling, building retaining walls, staining decks, and other arguably "manly" tasks. But my dad never told me that I couldn't do something because I was a girl. Instead, he helped teach me how to do things and understand why they worked the way they did. And I loved it. He was patient and kind and didn't make me feel any less intelligent because I didn't know how to do something.  He helped instill in me my love of learning, which is why I really did (and still do) enjoy school and figuring out new things. If I had it all figured out, wouldn't this world be so boring and limited? Instead, he showed me what it means to be inquisitive and continuously learning, which he has done over and over again in his career as an industrial technology teacher. Being our best involves continuing to learn, and as I write this he is actually spending two weeks at a training in Colorado so he can learn new things to teach his students. What a testament.

FINALLY getting that silly computer to work back in the early 90s. Check out that floppy disk on the counter.
 If you love your job, it will never feel like work. 
My dad has been teaching for over thirty years, and he's still going. Seriously, it's amazing. I'm only four years in, and there are times when I think to myself, "How long until retirement?" But then I remember something that he told me when I was in college and just getting ready to graduate. He said, "Get a job you love, and it will never feel like work." And he has truly lived that out in his career. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone who sacrifices so much for his work and for his students without complaint. He gives up hours and hours to help them with their projects and to compete, and he's only technically a "part-time" teacher at this point. But he loves it, and you can tell. He spent years coaching high schoolers, up until I became one myself, and he's truly an amazing teacher and coach. I actually had the honor of teaching in the same building as my dad for two years. It's so inspiring to watch someone do something they love, and get paid for it.

Seriously, my dad is a pretty amazing guy. I'm so thankful for all of the ways that he loves me and has taught me what a father should be. He has taken amazing care of his little (and only) girl, and I know that he will be an incredible and well-loved Grandpa someday. There is so much love in his heart for his family and his students, and it is so apparent as you watch him live life on a daily basis. I'm thankful for all that he sacrifices to help Aaron and I in our home improvement endeavors, and for the way he challenges me to be a better person and wife. Dad, you're the best, and I love you so much. Thanks for being you, and for helping shape me into me.

Currently (and forever),

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Artego Pizza

Aaron and I celebrated our second anniversary this week with our first visit to Artego Pizza. I'd recently found and followed them on Twitter, and was intrigued by all of the specials and delicious-looking photos I'd seen from them. Besides, who wouldn't be up for checking out one of the newest pizza places in Kansas City? In the spirit of trying new things, I checked out their website at and saw that they had a great lunch special including a 10'' two-topping calzone and drink for $8.99. And so, off to 39th Street we went. 

Located just east of Q39, Artego Pizza is on the right end of a strip of shops and restaurants. With outdoor seating and ample parking, the newly updated art of Alexander Austin welcomed us on a rainy and sleepy Monday afternoon. The modern Edison lighting and wood plank walls really helped us feel the "artisanal food and drinks in a casual atmosphere" that the website promised. With a full bar and five different TVs placed in prime locations, every seat in the house provides for a good viewing experience. They've only been fully up and running for around six months, with a soft opening that started back in December. With online ordering already available, and delivery coming soon, it's safe to say that they're going to see some great success.

The food did not disappoint. My expectations were met, and then surpassed. Aaron went ahead and upgraded his calzone to one of the signature pizza flavors: the Stockyard. It features pepperoni, salami, ground beef, Scimeca's Italian sausage, and bacon. I landed on my current favorite pizza combo for my two toppings: pepperoni and pineapple. Don't knock it 'til you try it, people.  The calzones were delicious. The crust was just the right mix of buttery soft and crispy, and the cheese melted in your mouth.  I'm sure all of their pizza flavors are just as good. I was even able to box up about half of mine and take it home for lunch the next day.

I'm already planning a return trip to dig into one of their other flavors, which include some delicious options such as Pesto Pollo, BBQ Chicken, or Madrina (which features pepperoni and cream cheese- yum!) all at reasonable prices. They also do starters, salads, pasta, and dessert pizza that includes mouthwatering items like Sopapilla Pizza and Nutella Pockets. Be still my heart. See their full menu here. 

We had wonderful service, and chatted with a lovely manager who was kind enough to wish us happy anniversary and listen to our crazy camera story. Safe to say, Artego Pizza gets the Currently, Kelsie stamp of approval, and we'll be back for sure. Cue the anniversary photo shoot.

Ready to give Artego Pizza a go? You won't regret it. Like them on Facebook here, or check them out on Twitter at @artegopizza.  I've seen some awesome specials mentioned on Twitter, including a "half off everything" special for those in the service industry and $15 bottomless mimosas on Sundays. Happy eating, dear friends.

P.S. Take me with you when you go.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Freezer Meals: Getting Dinner Off Your Mind & On the Table

If you're anything like me, life is full, wonderful, and sometimes pretty crazy. I'm not even chasing kids around yet and I still feel like it's often a struggle to get dinner on the table. Thankfully, we are pretty thrifty folks who eat out only when we have a gift card or for our favorite late night specials. But still, home-cooked meals are delicious, nutritious, and cost-efficient. If only I had more time to make them, right? Enter: Freezer meals. 

I signed up for my first freezer meals class through the health program for my school district. After I went once, a group of my friends from school started inviting me to come to theirs, which takes place once a month. The group I go to is set up through HyVee, and the person coordinating it sends out a bunch of "easy" and "hard" recipe options for all types of meat, including vegetarian. From there, everyone chooses a recipe that they would like to prepare for the group. After everyone has chosen their recipes, an email goes around with a list of all of the meals. You decide how many you want of each item. I've actually gotten up to 13 meals before, and they all were able to fit in our freezer! 

Most prep classes only take a couple of hours, depending on the speed and size of your group, and how much you help each other. The time is fun and full of chatting and laughter, plus you don't have to clean up after you're done! HyVee has a club room where you prepare everything, and they have all of the ingredients out for each meal that is being prepared. Since some ingredients are shared across multiple recipes, everyone saves money. And you only pay for the meals that you want to take home. Cost is spread out among those purchasing each meal, and you can usually get a meal that serves four people for $10-$12 (depending on meat and any other pricey ingredients). You don't actually fully cook everything, you just get as much of it ready ahead of time as possible, then others take it home and freeze it until they cook it. If only three people, including yourself, are purchasing the meal you choose to prep, you only prep three. If thirteen of your recipe choice were "ordered", you prep 13 meals. It always depends, but it's never overwhelming, especially when your friends help!

A recipe packet.
Here's how the process works while at the prep class:
1. Enter the club room and grab your stapled packet of recipes. They staple together the recipes and prep instructions for every meal that you are purchasing to take home. (This is nice because you can always remake ones you really like on your own.) People always choose a recipe to prep that they plan to buy for themselves, so that recipe goes on the top of the packet. It's the one you're in charge of.

2. Grab ingredients listed for your recipe, while sharing them with others. Keep in mind that you are prepping multiple of the same meal, and pay attention to those numbers.

3. Simply follow the directions, which usually involve measuring out and mixing spices, cutting up vegetables, and sometimes cooking the meat (depending on the recipe). You then place these items into the appropriately-sized freezer bags. Everything is pretty well laid out, and there are people there from HyVee who'll help you prep meat or cut up things that may take a while.

4. Place all of the freezer bags you've filled according to the directions, and any other items that go with the recipe (like spaghetti sauce, noodles, or frozen veggies), into a plastic grocery bag. These items are labeled and kept together so that the person taking home that meal can just grab the grocery bag and they're set. Keep in mind, there are sometimes a few excluded items that needed to be purchased separately, like milk or mayo. But they're very minimal and sometimes even optional for the recipe. 

5. Pay, head home, and stock your freezer with all your meals, keeping in mind that you may need to remove a can or two that shouldn't be frozen. Just stick those in your pantry until you're ready to cook that recipe.

Asian Beef Stir Fry
 Here's what you do when you're ready to cook the meal at home:
1. Depending on the recipe, you'll likely need to thaw. Plan ahead and bring an item from your freezer to the fridge the night before (especially if you're doing a crockpot recipe- my personal favorite). You can also thaw during the day if you plan to cook the meal that night.

2. Grab your recipe packet. Beneath the instructions for the prep (which is already done), there are clearly marked instructions on how to cook the meal. These could literally be "Put all ingredients in a crockpot for 8 hours". They may also involve cooking some meat, throwing something on the grill, or basting it and putting it in the oven. The good news is, almost all of the measuring, cutting, and marinating is already done, saving YOU precious time!

It's seriously as simple as that. Here's the Asian Beef Stir Fry that I made the other night. This had been in my freezer for quite a while, so I went ahead and let it thaw during the day.

I started with a freezer bag full of meat and spices, a bag of rice, and a bag of frozen Asian vegetables.

I grabbed a skillet for the meat and a pan for the rice. Then I dumped the meat into the skillet and cooked it, dumped in the veggies and stir fried them, and finished up the rice. Easiest thing ever. Check out the finished product:

I must say, it was really delicious. Someone else prepped the meal with the spices and the meat, so I can't take any credit, but it had amazing flavor. The frozen Asian veggies were tasty as well. I think it makes a nice presentation on the plate, like a meal I had really toiled over. And, since there were only two of us eating, we had lots of leftovers for lunch!

I've found some really awesome freezer meals that are easy, affordable, and look and taste great. Some of our favorite are the Stromboli, the Asian Burgers, and the Cream Cheese Chicken Chili. There's always something new and yummy to try, or you can stock up on several of the same meal if you really love it. Freezer meals have definitely saved us time and money, and I don't have to stress as much to get dinner on the table. It's actually fun. We can have a great dinner, even if we've had a crazy full day.

Ready to get started with your own freezer meal class? Check the HyVee Website to see if a local HyVee has any openings. No HyVee around that offers classes? That's okay, you can still accomplish something similar if you get together with a group of friends. Share some recipes, split the ingredients, prep the items needed, and stock your freezers, ladies and gents! 

Do you have a freezer meal story to share? Have a few questions?  Comment below or let me know on the Currently, Kelsie Facebook page. I'd love to help! May your bellies, wallets, and freezers be full, and your dinner prep quick :)


PS. This post is part of the This Is How We Do It Link Up Party with Ashley from Grace Mountain Diaries and Lori from The Boutelle Family. Look for once a month posts with helpful tips on how to make life easier. I'm also linking up with Just Another Linky and Imparting Grace check them out!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Hyatt Credit Card: Stay for Free

Ever since Aaron and I were introduced to the possibilities that points had to offer, we've been able to go on several vacations for free or nearly free. Seriously, we just paid our bills and made our money work for us. I love sharing travel secrets in hopes of helping others enjoy the same experiences that we've enjoyed! (Check out the other posts on the Southwest Credit Card and IHG Rewards Club Credit Card for help with free flights and free hotel stays.) So here's my third installment of travel tips, this time with a focus on The Hyatt Credit Card.

Hyatt Rewards Program

The Hyatt hotel group includes all of the following hotel types: Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Centric, Grand Hyatt, and Andaz. Their rewards program, the Hyatt Gold Passport, is free to join, and you are able to redeem points worldwide. The program allows members to earn points for dollars spent on hotel rooms, as well as at their spas and restaurants. There are also some car partnerships available, but the easiest and fastest way to earn points is with their Hyatt Credit Card. Every dollar you put on their credit card will count as a point, or two or three, depending on what you're buying. More on that below.

How It Works:
You apply for the card. Once you are approved, you have to spend $1,000 within the first free months. This spending amount is fairly easy to reach, if you put groceries, gas, and your bills on the card. Then, rather than tons of points, Hyatt awards you two free nights anywhere in the world at any of their hotels. This includes the all-inclusive hotels (Hyatt Zilara in Cancun and Hyatt Ziva in Jamaica) or any of the highest categories of hotels. This offer is good every two years, which is something to keep in mind if ever re-applying. Amazing!

The Rewards:
  • Two free nights at any hotel anywhere in the world. You can save a ton of money here alone.
  • One free night at any hotel category 1-4 after your cardmember anniversary.
  • No foreign transaction fees (so it's a great card to use abroad). 
  • Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum Membership. This gets you complimentary internet and late check out, as well as other benefits like a 15% bonus on your eligible spending points.
  • Earn 3 points per dollar at all Hyatt properties, 2 points per dollar on all restaurants or airline tickets, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. 
  • Chip enabled, which helps with foreign transactions and security.
  • $0 Introductory Fee, $75 dollars the second year (which more than pays for itself).

The Hyatt Website.
Using the Website and Booking Rooms:
The Hyatt website,, is easy to navigate and is fairly straightforward. There is an option to select when searching rooms that says "Show Hyatt Gold Passport Points". When browsing, you would want this to be selected. However, when booking rooms with points or using your free nights, you will need to be logged into the Hyatt Gold Passport site (shown below).

Hyatt Gold Passport:
Once you create your gold passport account (or the company assigns you one when you get the credit card), you will be able to log in. By clicking on redeem points, you'll be able to see the points needed for various tiers of rooms. When you click on free nights, it will show you the amount of points needed for a free stay at any Hyatt. But the most important part of this page is the account details. Click there.
Hyatt Gold Passport
The Hyatt Gold Passport Website
This will take you to your account, so that you can book those free nights that you earned just by spending $1,000 on the card. You can see below that Aaron had two free nights, and that we've redeemed them both. When your two nights show up next to "Available", then it takes you to a screen where you search for and then book your hotel. For free! It's as simple as that. You used to have to call, and you still can if you want, but it's super easy to reserve online. Note that the reward nights can fill up at the best hotels, so try to plan ahead as much as possible. Or be patient and keep checking for availability.

Hyatt Gold Passport
The screen you'll access to book your free nights.
How We've Used the Card:
This card has been amazing for us! We each got one last year (earning a total of 4 free nights), and we used three of the nights towards our free all-inclusive New Year's trip to the Hyatt Zilara in Cancun. To put this in perspective, one night at the Hyatt Zilara would normally cost over $1,000. We got it free (plus unlimited food and drinks). For more on that amazing trip, check out this post.

Since we still had one free night left from our card, we hoped to use it on our trip to Europe this summer. I searched, and the hotel that we wanted in London wasn't available for a reward night, but I checked back a few weeks later and it was! So we are getting a night at this hotel, which should cost $634, for free. Yep. Saving so much money on a Saturday night in London. And we will each get another free night on our card anniversaries!

We love getting free nights at amazing hotels like this one. We're staying at a hostel the night before. No biggie.

We don't really use this card as much for points, but more for the great free nights that you earn right away, and can use at any point value hotel in the whole world. So choose wisely- don't use them at a just okay hotel in your hometown. Use them where you can get the most bang for your (free) buck. But if you're planning to use the Hyatt Credit Card regularly, and you already stay in Hyatt hotels, then you could easily earn enough points to redeem for extra nights on top of the free ones you earn right away. (They start at 5,000 points a night.)

Ready to Get Started? To apply for this card, check out this link.
Still have questions? I would love to tell you more about our experiences or answer any questions you may have. Click here to contact me, or comment below. If you liked this post, and want to be updated when new travel tips or posts are shared, click here to sign up for the newsletter. Happy travels!


I'm linking back to The Shabby Nest

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Proposal

If you read The Story of Us, then you know all about how Aaron and I ended up together after a beautiful season of hesitation, intentional pursuit, and rich grace. Once I finally got my head on straight and gave my heart to Aaron, I knew it would be only a matter of time before we got engaged, as long as he thought he could put up with me. Not sure he really knew what he was getting into, but hey, he bought a ring so he must have thought I'd be a pretty fun person to spend the rest of his life with, right? And I'm so glad he did.

Aaron's hard work. 
An engagement is something a girl dreams of for her entire life. For mine, I knew I only wanted a few things:

1. I didn't want to pick out the ring myself. I wanted something that my soon-to-be hubby had chosen himself, and I would always think of him when I looked at the flashy rock on my left hand.

2. I wanted the engagement to be a surprise. Seriously, don't tell me it's coming. I love surprises, and this one was super important to me.

3. Have my friends and or family involved in some way. They've all been around for the ups and downs of my life, and I wanted them to be a part somehow.

4. I wanted pictures. Have someone somewhere taking pictures.

5. I wanted it to be completely us. I didn't want some huge fancy show that cost tons of money, just something simple and meaningful and totally our relationship.

Yes, Aaron and I did sort of discuss a couple of these things, especially the ring and that I wanted it to be a surprise. We did size my hand once together, but all I told Aaron was that I wanted a round diamond, white gold, and that I wanted some sort of set where the band would match/fit with the ring. That was it. I knew he was going to propose at some point, and I knew that we were both going to be teachers, so we would likely have a summer wedding. But other than that, I was clueless. And I love that.

November came. My grandma had just passed away, and I was a whirlwind of emotion. Aaron and I drove off to San Antonio with some friends to lead program for the Platte County YoungLife Non-Stop Trip. While we were there, we celebrated his birthday, and I got to meet his Aunt Diana, who lives in Houston. She's amazing! We got back and I took two days off of work for bereavement, so I was off for the entire week of Thanksgiving.

It was November 21st, 2012. Aaron and I had plans to go out to eat at Bo Lings to celebrate eight months of dating. We had actually started dating on the 22nd, but that was going to be Thanksgiving, and we wanted to be with our families that day. So we celebrated early. Bo Lings was where we had our first date, so I was excited to go back. I had gotten my hair cut that morning (convenient), and had spent the day with my best friend picking out bridesmaids dresses for HER wedding. Oh, the irony.  All the other girls knew I was getting engaged that night. All of my friends and family were in on a big ol' secret, and I had no idea.

We spent all day getting dresses for her wedding.
Aaron had asked for my parents' blessing while I was away in Hannibal visiting Jenn. My dad recommended that Aaron ask me the day before Thanksgiving, so that we would see all of my extended family the next day to tell them the news. My friends had all known for the last week or so, including my roomie, Jen (I like people with this name), who had told me she was going to hang out at a friend's house for the evening. Sneaky, sneaky. I threw on a dress and waited for Aaron to come pick me up. When he showed up, I asked him to help me latch my bracelet, and he was acting kind of weird. He said that we had to stop by the church (where we met and were both members) on the way to dinner to lock something up. This wasn't strange, because Aaron was working part time at the church as facilities manager. Still, he was acting a little different.

When we got to the church parking lot, I asked him if I could stay in the car while he ran in. How funny would that have been? He convinced me to come in for a second. As he grabbed my hand, we walked up the stairs to the sanctuary, and I had kind of a weird feeling. As soon as we hit the sanctuary doors and I saw Aaron's sister, Angie, holding a rose and a canvas, I just starting crying. I knew what was happening. This was it.

Candles lined the sides of the aisle, and I could just make out the faces of some of my favorite people in this whole world. I walked up to each girl, and they said something sweet to me, gave me a hug and a rose, and showed me the canvases. Aaron had hand-painted each one, and they all had part of 1 Corinthians 13 written on them. On the back, he had written little personalized notes on our favorite memories or moments. When placed together, they all made the shape of a huge heart (at the top of this post). It was perfect.

My momma was there too.
As I walked down the aisle (the very same one I would walk down in another 7 months), I saw Aaron up on stage. My friend Rebecca and her future husband Mike (who weren't engaged yet) had driven all the way back from Colorado to be at our engagement, and Mike was playing worship songs on the acoustic guitar. Aaron had more roses in his hand, and well as a big box. As I walked up each step I was literally shaking in the boots I was wearing. Everything was about to change. Forever.

Aaron got down on one knee, told me something wonderful about spending the rest of our lives together, and then asked me to marry him. Naturally, I said yes. He opened the box and I saw the most beautiful ring I could have ever imagined. He'd picked it out himself. It was perfect, and meant so much more because Aaron was literally putting himself through college and had no job or income at this point. He had been scrimping and saving for months because he didn't want to get me something that was just okay. He wanted to do it right. And he did.

Sporting the new bling.
After all of the excitement and tears, we really did head off to Bo Lings, where we met up with both of our families and even more friends to celebrate! We even ran into the lead singer of the Newsboys, Michael Tait, so we had to snap a photo with him. It was perfect, we were engaged, and we were in love (though I love him even more now than I thought I did then). I was going to be Mrs. Aaron Kleinmeyer. This wasn't a dream.

What was so amazing about out proposal was that it was not only everything I had ever dreamed of, but it took place in our church sanctuary, where we had met, and where we would get married seven short months later. I'm so thankful that Aaron put so much time and thought into making this a special moment and making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world. Every girl should have a story like mine, and I am so blessed.

Once again, God's plans for me were far greater than I had ever dreamed. His love never fails.

Do you have an amazing proposal story? Have you ever thought about what you'd want in a proposal? Hit me up in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. I'd love to hear your thoughts or answer any questions.