On the morning of June 14th, 2018 I had no clue what was going to happen…
I drank my coffee, went to work, came home, and changed because my friend Abi who had moved back to COS said that she wanted to practice some photography shots with the mountains in Red Rock Canyon.
To be honest, I almost didn’t go because I didn’t feel good that day, but I pulled up in front of Abi’s house and we drove together.
We parked and started hiking in, stopping every once in a while to take some pictures that I had in my mind I was going to use one day for my blog and that was going to help Abi decide where to take people on some upcoming shoots.
At one point, I was standing in the middle of a field as the sun was beginning to go down and I heard what sounded like a “crunch” like someone had just stepped on something from behind me…
Knowing me, my head immediately went to, “who am I going to have to fight?” or “what animal am I going to have to run away from?” but when I turned, about 15 feet away was Brandon…
Let’s flash back.
Brandon and I met at church in Colorado Springs in November of 2017. I was working there at the time and he had been in the Springs since July working as an insurance agent. His manager, one of our really good friends Eric, brought him to church trying to connect him with the young adults group I had started in January of 2016.
Little did we know that simple introduction, and something that was a regular thing for me…meeting young adults wanting to get plugged in…was going to change everything.
Brandon started hanging out with the young adults group on a regular basis and as we were growing our leadership he said yes to helping to lead what later was renamed as 1830.
Brandon and I started seeing a lot of each other, beyond Sundays, but in no way that was romantic. The young adults group was just always doing something together, at least one or twice a week, and we were doing leadership trainings on top of that.
Brandon had gone home for Christmas and at that point had highly considered moving home. We were texting about it one day and then I don’t remember how this came up but he asked me, “what do you want to be when you grow up?“.
I jokingly responded, “a princess” but then I quickly got serious and said “if I could be anything I would be an author.”
In a few text messages back and forth, Brandon affirmed my dream and told me that I have all the time in the world. Little did I know that in this newfound friend I would find someone who was going to affirm my dreams every day to come.
Fast forward to January of 2018, a group of us were hanging out one night in my living room. After everyone left I texted Brandon to see if he made it home, and I asked him what he thought about the groups conversation that night. He told me something along the lines of, “it was good, I can tell you more about it if you want to watch the Chiefs game tomorrow with me.”
Now, let me just say, Brandon and I both would probably consider ourselves reserved, unsure, and bad at reading flirtatious signals. Still, I had a little flutter in my stomach.
The next morning I went to my friend Ben and Katie’s house because Ben was going to give me my first -and what was actually my last- guitar lesson. I told them about the whole scenario and Ben told me that I absolutely had to go, and joked that MISS Celeste was going to be a MRS.
I ended up meeting Brandon at a sports bar on the north side of town and we shared guacamole and watched the Chiefs game. Actually, he watched, I just tried to keep conversation. Two-ish hours passed and after all of that being small talk I finally asked him, “did you have something you wanted to talk to me about?”
Yikes. I drove to a friends house thinking I read this all wrong.
A few days or maybe a week following, I was driving home from the grocery store and Brandon called me. He never called me before. He rambled on about the weather and watching The Office and after I had already been sitting outside of my house for twenty minutes with my groceries sitting in the car I said I had to go.
Literally 5 minutes later I had a text message from Brandon.
“Hey I know that this isn’t the best way to do this, and I have tried twice to ask you out, but I was wondering if you wanted to get dinner with me sometime?”
I didn’t respond for an hour or more. Which looking back was probably agonizing for Brandon and I can see him sitting in his one bedroom apartment chewing his nails to death waiting for my response. I don’t think I was annoyed but I was just thrown off. Now things felt forced to me.
I finally said yes but quickly demoted dinner to coffee, wouldn’t let him pick me up, and immediately had plans afterwards that meant I only had an hour.
We now infamously call that first date the “bad first date”.
We didn’t start dating that day. It was one date, which later that night I found out my dad had been served with divorce papers, and immediately I felt things I wasn’t expecting to – hurt, angry, upset. I was kind of expecting this, but not LIKE this.
I retracted. Not because I was scared of a relationship, I was just hurting. It was also a weird season because of that, I had just come out of a really hard season of ministry and was trying to find my footing again, and one of my best friends was moving. Brandon tried to be there for me, but he quickly learned that I process alone first before I process with someone else. He asked if we could go out again and I told him that I thought we would be better off as friends.
Over the course of the next month, we waded through the weirdness. Brandon didn’t come to church that next Sunday, understandably, but I texted him asking him where he was and letting him know we missed him. We quickly jumped back into friendship and were around each other maybe 4-5 times a week. He truly had become one of my best friends, and I needed that while struggling with what was only the beginning of my parents divorce.
On Valentines Day, Brandon and I ended up having a conversation where we agreed if we were meant to be together it would happen. Brandon said at this point he breathed a sigh of relief and thought to himself that he hadn’t messed this thing up.
On Presidents Day, it was snowing. I lived in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs and that still stands as my favorite home. There was something magical about it in the winter too, having a fire going looking outside and seeing flakes of snow hitting the front steps. I had been off work that day so I didn’t bother getting ready and right before I was going to get ready for young adults that night I got a text from Brandon that said “come to the door.”
There he was with my favorites. A dozen white roses and a medium non fat, half sweet Cocomo from Dutch Bros. He asked me for a re-do date and of course I said yes. And there I was, still in my pajamas.
Before that re-do date, I texted my cousin Grace and told her I knew Brandon was the man I was going to marry. I just knew. She didn’t think I was crazy. And after hoping in a lot of other beginnings that I would just know, I never did, until Brandon. This time I felt what it really meant to just know.
Brandon picked me up and really went the extra mile. He brought me more flowers, and he had even met my best friend Carly at the mall earlier that week so that she could help him pick out a new sweater and new shoes. He took me to the Golden Bee and we talked about what was hard and what was good, our faith journeys and our dreams.
While Brandon went the extra mile he also didn’t waste any time. That night while sitting on my couch we had the “define the relationship” talk and he asked me if I would be his girlfriend. In a society today where labels are sometimes not considered necessary or could make people feel boxed in or constricted, I felt like Brandon was making it really clear he wanted our relationship and in a way was showing me I was the one he felt he was meant to be with.
The same day as our re-do date and making our relationship official was also the night of our first kiss. I nearly fell over. He couldn’t sleep and stayed up until 2 am watching Cars on Netflix. We were giddy and head over heels.
It didn’t take long until Brandon told me he loved me and to know we wanted to get married. It was honestly a week or so after that re-do date. We had the conversation about what type of ring I wanted, but what mattered the most to me is that Brandon picked it out. When I was out of town visiting family, Brandon bought a ring with Carly’s approval.
We also talked about Brandon asking for my father’s permission. My dad is my hero. He is the one who has always sacrificed for me and been entirely selfless, and to me it was important that Brandon ask for his permission to be the one to take on the job of taking care of me. Brandon asked for my dad’s permission and he also asked for the permission of my boss. It sounds weird, I know. My boss, also our lead pastor, and was also someone who treated me, accepted me, and loved me like a daughter. Jason and his wife Kristin had been vital in showing me what it means to have a marriage centered on Jesus and that honored and elevated each other. Brandon met with him and Jason asked him the same questions he plans to ask the future husband of his biological daughter Olivia.
But then Brandon went a step further and called Kristie Tamillow, my mentor and unofficially adoptive mother, to tell her his plan and to ask for her permission as well. She of course was honored, teary and said, “YES YES YES!”
All of this happened without me knowing for the most part.
So when I was standing in that field and turned around to see Brandon walking towards me I honestly was surprised!
It was a Thursday which was the night Brandon worked late so I wasn’t expecting this on this day at all.
He kept coming towards me and I asked him, “what are you doing here?” and he said something sarcastic like, “what do you think I’m doing here?”. I mean at this point I knew what was happening.
Brandon got down on one knee and said a bunch of really nice things that are hard for me to remember. I do remember him saying, “Celeste Elizabeth, will you be my Mrs. Edwards?”
He put the ring I always wanted on my left hand…the one he had picked out.
And in the meantime, Abi caught the whole thing. She was in on it from the very beginning and captured the best yes I have ever and will ever say.
Today, a whole year later, I am still in awe. Brandon and I had been dating for less than four months when we he proposed and we were only engaged four months when we got married. But we just knew.
And what strikes me today is that in a season where I maybe felt a little dreamless…a little dried up and worn out…Brandon stepped in and reminded me what my dreams were and what they could be. He has been and will forever be the first to tell me that my dreams are worth it and to help me get there.
He revived me in a desolate place without even knowing it.
In my singleness, I felt like God was kept whispering to me “just wait, it will all be worth it.” He whispered that to me about a lot of things…while praying for my family’s salvation, while wondering if I really was supposed to be in ministry, and today He is still asking me to hold to His voices truth. So I kept going, and I kept walking, and I savored my singleness because it was in those years that I was the closest I had ever been to God. It was where He cradled me in His character and where He stored things away in my heart I would need in upcoming battles against fear. On March 12th, 2017 at 3:47am I shot straight up in bed and I felt God write the phrase “I am making all things new” on my heart. I wrestled with that in my head for nearly 9 months and everything that happened I asked God, “is this what you are making new?” but nothing felt right.
And now I see it. That early morning in March was just a glimpse at what was going to happen almost a year later. From the divorce papers delivered the evening of our first date to the court date that finalized it all being the day before Brandon and I got married, I am able to hold strongly to the truth that God always reigns victorious.
What came at the end of my parents divorce was a wedding. What Brandon and I’s relationship and marriage has been so far has been the most accurate representation of heaven that I believe I will ever get here on earth. It gives me immense hope and peace for what’s to come and it gives me assurance to speak and believe that a there’s a lifetime of happiness of marriage of family and of dreams …IT WILL BE SO.
Reflecting on the goodness of God gives me hope for the future. When I’m not expecting it, God has whispered promises to me and seen them through. And to be honest, in a lot of our engagement and only being married for a few months I fought the fear that this is all going to be taken away from me. That this is too good to be true and that how good it is means that it must be bound to get snatched out from underneath me.
But when I trust God the same way that I did when He spoke to me that early spring morning, I know what’s true. There’s a long life Brandon and I get the privilege to live together and it will be full of many more promises fulfilled.
Today, we are thanking God that June 14th, 2018 was only the beginning…
I love you more than what any strand of words I can piece together could express.
Thank you for loving me tenderly, with intention, respect and a light approach to life I so desperately needed and still need today.
You are everything I’ve ever needed and more, and I’m convinced that will be true until we are old and grey and dancing together in heaven some day.
You are the best gift I’ve ever had the privilege of receiving, the most wonderful man I’ve ever had the honor to love, and the one who always has my heart.
Thank you for making my days so rich.
I love you more than you could ever know.