Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Birth Story

(I will try and share to the best of my ability. I knew having a baby would be an emotional event, but nothing could prepare me for the day of September 24, 2013.)

The week of my due date, I was showing all the signs of labor, and was sure our little one would make her debut. Every morning, I would wake up and tell Levi "today is the day", and each day, nothing. I tried to keep my spirits up, but my body was getting uncomfortable, and we were antsy to meet our little girl.

I packed my 'birthing center bag' with all of my essentials. Change of clothes, swimsuit for the birth pool, peppermint oil (I was obsessed with this during pregnancy), snacks, coconut water for hydration, toiletries, birthing ball, iPAD with loaded playlist. I had checklists for my checklists, and was beyond prepared for when the time came. Diaper bag was packed, the car was being filled up with gas daily, and every 'baby essential to do list' that I could find online was fulfilled. 

After a week of false labor signs, I stopped waking up saying "today is the day". I accepted the idea that I would remain pregnant forever. My hips would hurt for 9 more months. I would pee my pants for the rest of my life, and cry uncontrollably when Subway got my sandwich order wrong. This was my fate.

The evening of the 23rd, as Levi and I were lying in bed, I turned to him and said "tomorrow afternoon I am going into labor". He smirked and agreed. Since this was the 100th time he had heard this proclamation, I knew his agreement was just to humor me. I said it differently this time, though. It wasn't a guess, or even a hopeful statement. It was a demand. More of a "I swear to God, Uterus, if you don't get this baby out of me…" type statement. The threat worked.

At 6:30 a.m. the next morning, I woke up to excruciating stomach pain. I laid there seeing if it would go away, but it stayed. I rolled myself off the bed, (gracefully sitting up out of bed was so 3 months ago), and walked to the bathroom. I thought for sure this wasn't a contraction. Those things are supposed to stop and start, right? I leaned over the bathroom counter for a good 10 minutes trying to get this thing to go away. It started to subside a little, but I was still very much aware of it. 

I'm a pretty dramatic person, which is why I think most of my family/friends thought I could never handle childbirth. Being that dramatic person, I thought for sure these weren't contractions, but a heart attack, or an appendix attack. I mean, I'm 41 weeks pregnant, surely an appendix attack is more of an appropriate response to stomach pain.

I climbed into the shower, and tried to get the pain to disappear altogether with the hot water. I had read in one of my childbirth books, that in the first stages of labor one can be in denial that it's finally happening. I was in full blown stage one: DENIAL. 

Along with my dramatic antics, once I think something, it takes a LOT to convince me otherwise. Since the Lord knows this, and was aware that I was convinced I was having an appendix attack, took the opportunity to get me in check. Standing in the shower, I heard His voice SO clearly say: "Get out of the shower, get Levi, you are in labor". A rush of urgency came over me, and I followed commands. 

As Levi called my midwife, and packed the car, I sat on my birth ball, trying to relax between contractions. They were about 8 minutes apart at this point, but interestingly enough were manageable, now that I knew what they were.

Sidenote: I had a 'birth binder' that I was obsessed with the last month of pregnancy. I was keeping everything important in it: a very detailed birth plan, insurance documents, numbers for everyone involved, printed out plans and reminders for Levi categorized by each stage of labor. Yes, I'm a bit out of control. I whipped it out daily to go over. What was the one thing I forgot as I got in the car to head to the birthing center? The binder. God was apparently in the car when I found out, because I didn't cry or rip Levi's head off. I had that thing memorized. Crisis averted.

By the time we were in the car, driving towards the highway, it was 8:00 am. It hit both of us at the same time. We were in full blown labor in the middle of 8 o' clock Houston traffic. My birthing center was 45 minutes away on a day without traffic. This could take hours. I tried to remain calm, but my contractions were getting much stronger and closer together, and the car was not making it easy to endure. Levi was not taking my suggestions on driving 90mph on the shoulder of the interstate, or calling 911 for an escort. I tried my breathing techniques, but nothing could really get me out of how uncomfortable that front seat was making me.

We miraculously got the birth center a little after 9:00. My midwife wasn't convinced  I was in labor when Levi called her. I was still walking and talking during contractions at home when Levi called, but claiming my pain was intense. She told him to still bring me in, and would send me home if I wasn't far enough along. She smiled as I walked in the door, and joked that I couldn't be in labor because she just saw me fixing my hair in the car mirror before coming inside. 

We walked back to where I have my prenatal appointments (looks just like a doctors office), so she could check to see if I was dilated. Before she could ever start, I had another contraction. This one was way stronger. I jumped off the table and leaned over her counter. She rubbed my back the whole time, and once it was over said "how about we move on over to the birthing room".

The birthing room looks like a hotel suite. There is a big bed, sitting area with a fireplace, an attached room with a birthing tub, and shower. She lowered the lights, started filling up the birth tub, and called the other midwives. After another contraction, she asked me to lay down so that she could finally check my dilation. Never once was I told how far dilated or effaced I was. I asked a few times during labor how much longer I had, but was never told. This is to keep out any fear. If you are in excruciating pain, and are told you are only 3cm dilated, you are going to stress out, and tense your body up. 

I now know that I was 5cm when she first checked me at 9:30.

I paced around the room for the next 30 minutes, waiting on the birth tub. I sat on my birth ball during contractions, and tried to rest in between. One of my favorite quotes was printed on the wall, and I tried to focus my mind and energy on it.

 "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think". 

Thank you, Christopher Robin, for the pep talk during labor. Finally, I got in the tub, to try and relieve some of the tension. My midwife (Alison) who was actually delivering the baby arrived, along with the center's doula. These three were at all of my appointments, and I felt a little calmer finally having everyone in the room.

Levi began making the "phone tree" calls. He contacted my mom (who was waiting for the call to get on a plane), my dad, brothers and sisters, and friends. Only a few people were forgotten, but given the circumstances, I think we did a pretty good job. 

He then came inside and turned on the labor playlist and sat down by the edge of the tub. He was such an excellent coach, reminding me to breathe, and reaffirming me that I was doing a wonderful job. 

The next 2 1/2 hours are a blur. I remained in the tub for most of my contractions. The water took away so much of the pain. Everyone kept reminding me to rest between contractions, but it took me a few tries to get into the swing of things. Once I got into a groove, I was actually falling asleep in the water between a few them. Levi would follow me around the tub, and hold my head above water while I rested/slept. Every 30 minutes or so, I would stand up out of the tub, so that they could check the babies heart rate. 

I had one really intense contraction around 11:30 that the water wasn't helping, and decided to get out. I walked to my birth ball in the other room, but it only made things worse. My doula put me on my hands and knees for my next contraction, where she applied pressure to my lower back. This is when things got crazy, and I entered into 'transition' phase.

I started feeling very nauseous at this point, and told everyone I thought I was going to throw up. Next things I knew, there was a trash can in my face, and all modesty was out the window. I heard my doula whisper to Levi "this is a very good sign; this is what we want to see towards the end." The END. Overhearing these words gave me so much hope. 

I made my way back to the birthing tub where I endured my transition phase. This is the hardest part of labor, but was the shortest. Mine lasted about 30 minutes, with contractions coming every 2 minutes, lasting about a minute each. I don't remember a lot from this stage (I actually didn't remember vomiting, until Levi reminded me the next day). All techniques we had rehearsed completely disappeared. I don't remember the music playing, I could car less that the lights were dimmed, and I sure as heck didn't remember how to do the relaxation/breathing methods I had practiced daily for the past few months. I remember sitting up in the tub, with Levi leaning over the edge. WIth every contraction, I would grab his shirt, our faces inches apart, and I would just cry that I couldn't do it anymore. He would graciously remind me that it was almost over, and that I was doing a great job. He even told me how beautiful I looked, which helped a little, considering I was red faced and soaking wet, and I knew only he could think of me like that in the current circumstance.

There was no way for me to get comfortable in this stage. I moved all around the tub during contractions. This is where the 'F' words come into the story. I went back and forth between Alison and Levi, getting right in their faces saying "I can't do it anymore, I can't do it anymore." 

My sweet midwives actually described this stage to my mom as "cute". They said I was leaned over the edge of the tub, clinging to Levi's shirt, softly saying "I don't know why I thought this would be a good idea". What they didn't know was during this time, I was convinced I could communicate with Levi telepathically, and was telling him to "call 9-1-1, get me out of here, I want the epidural!". When telepathy didn't work, I tried to whisper to him to get me an ambulance, but I couldn't get loud enough for him to hear. I would have said it louder, but I knew the midwives would hear me, and I didn't want to hurt their feelings. I looked over and saw Alison put on gloves, and it was all I needed to know that we were so close to the end.

The contractions suddenly stopped. I got a few minutes in of rest, and then suddenly had the urge to push. I looked at Alison and said "I feel like I want to push". She held up her gloves, and with a smile on her face said "well, push." Surprisingly, pushing was way easier than contractions. Over the next 25 minutes, I gave 4 good pushes. The baby was crowning with the first one, and I began to get nervous that I needed to speed things up and get her out. Alison told me to relax, that tensing up wouldn't help. With the final push, I let out a scream, and felt instant relief. It was the best feeling in the world, that took over my entire body. They say you can reach a natural high while giving birth, and I absolutely agree. That feeling was one I have no words for.

Levi caught the baby, and once his sweet silent sobs stopped, he smiled at me, and the baby let out a good solid cry. She was so beautifully blue and weird looking, and I was instantly in love. He leaned further over the tub with her, and placed her in my arms. Right then and there, I forgot all the contraction pain. She took over every thought and emotion I had.

After a few minutes of crying, laughing, bonding, and more crying, I had to get out of the birth tub. That's the only problem with water births; you have to get out pretty soon after delivering, so you can deliver the placenta. I stood up, and got a wave of dizziness over my body. Everyone had their hands on me and the baby, making sure they would catch me if I fainted. They moved me into the bed where Levi layed down next to me. We just stared at our darling babe, and I delivered my placenta (which I hardly have any memory of). 

It's amazing to see how babies respond with an unmedicated birth. She was so alert and responsive. She nursed as soon as we got into the bed. The midwives gave Levi and I a long time by ourselves to bond with the baby. We just laid there and thanked the Lord for her, and cried and laughed some more. Levi thanked me for not killing him during labor, and kept telling me what an incredible job I did.

The midwives came back into the room, and Levi went with them to weigh the baby, and cut the umbilical cord. I love that he was so involved with the entire process. They came and check me out afterwards. I (praise the Lord) didn't need a single stitch, and my only symptom was feeling super faint. Levi fed me Cliff bars and coconut water to get my energy up. I laid there, babe in arms, and couldn't believe I had endured the past 3 hours in the birthing center. There was no reason for me to stay at the birth center over night because I was doing so well. Alison helped me shower, pack my bags, and we were on our way home around 3:30. At the time this didn't seem too insane, but when you tell people, "she arrived at 12:25, and I was in line at chick-fil-A four hours later", you start to question if you really are insane.

From start to final push, I was in labor 6 hours. A completely unmedicated water birth to a very healthy 8 lb. 3.5 ounce baby. 

I couldn't have done it without my birth team, and am so grateful for what each one of them offered me. The experience empowered me, strengthened me, and made me fall madly in love all at the same time. 

Jerusalem Lillian Grace

A few weeks prior to her arrival, I was sitting in church talking to the Lord. I had my hands on my baby bump, and I heard Him say: "she will be your rest". 

Levi had suggested the name Jerusalem in the early stages of pregnancy. The Lord had told him many years ago that his first girl would be name 'Jerusalem'. It's also his favorite place in the world, so that is convenient. I wasn't absolutely sold on the name at first, because I had a dream that her name was something totally different. Once I heard the Lord say "she will be your rest", I immediately thought of the city of peace, and started researching the word. It's an abode a peace, the city where God chose to dwell, reveal himself, and return. 

In different seasons of our lives, Song of Solomon has spoken deeply to our hearts. "I am a rose of sharon, a lily of the valleys". We chose Lillian based on this verse, representing beauty and innocence.

Grace. The favor of God. A Blessing. She is just that to us. An undeserved blessing, that we are so in love with.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

And then, there were 3.

It all started with a little book.

For Christmas, Levi went out of his way to bless me. To the point, I actually felt like an idiot watching him unwrap the gifts I got him. It was like Santa came to our house, and skipped over Levi completely. The sad part was, I was actually thrilled to set presents out for him. In my mind, I had totally won the "who gave the most gifts/who gave the better gift" competition, that goes on solely in my head.

With wrapping paper strung out all over the floor, gifts being lost in the couch cushion, and my dog attacking the Christmas tree like a lunatic... I thought the celebration had come to an end. 

That's when Levi handed me the book.

One of my first presents was a personalized journal that read "For the lyrics inside your heart" on the cover. It came along with a note that said something really sweet, like, "I believe in the songs in your heart". I assumed this next book was just volume 2 of the songwriting journal. It was the same size, shape, color. As I began to read the title, my eyes swelled with tears.

"Dreams and Words About Our First Miller"

Cue the hyperventalating. I immediately thought "what in the world? I'm pregnant?" Flashes of cute pregnancy photos on pinterest went scrolling through my mind. Then... ration hit...and I realized I would most likely be the first one to find out. So, now, I was just confused.

Levi looked at me and said, "I felt like the Lord said He wants us to start praying about our future children now, and journaling it. I'm not saying 'let's get pregnant', I just wanted something we can give our little babies down the road. They can begin to have life spoken over them, and we intercede for them now'.

It is now, the most special present I have ever been given. I don't think Levi meant for it to be the most precious gift of the morning. He was simply obedient to what he heard the Lord say.

Fast forward two weeks. I woke in the middle of the night from a dream. (In the dream) I was pregnant, and giving birth with my dear friend Kaytlyn beside me. It was so real. This feeling of peace came over me in my bedroom once I was awake, and I just knew it actually was real.

6 pregnancy tests, one trip to the doctor, and several panic sessions later.....We find out I'm pregnant.

That little book for the 'future' was actually a sweet kiss from the Lord. We were pregnant on Christmas day, just didn't know it yet. He initiated it with the book of dreams. Then, with another sweet kiss, told me in a dream. He is just so kind to my heart.

In no way was pregancy on our radar. We weren't planning it, and we weren't expecting to even this year. I think that's why the Lord was so thoughtful in revealing it to us. He is the embodiment of tenderness and kindness. He is perfect love, casting out all fear.

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
 the fruit of the womb a reward"  -Psalm 127:3


Monday, October 22, 2012

Grasping Hope

I am a self-proclaimed "optimist".

Philosophers call me an "idealist". The church tells me I am full of "hope".
The world calls me a "dreamer". 
Is my best quality now my biggest downfall?

I was raised by two wonderfully beautiful people. My mother was somewhat of a hippie when I was a child. She had a pottery wheel in the garage, and blank canvases scattered throughout the house. I would fingerpaint with ketchup at the dinner table, and I wore halloween costumes almost year-round. Coloring inside the lines was for schmucks; and learning "realism" paintings in art would always include tie-dye and glitter. I could be anything I dreamt of being. It wasn't until the 7th grade when I realized I probably wasn't going to be flown out to England to become Baby Spice because of my talent show performance. 
We never failed as kids. Our punishments were never to inflict guilt or shame on us. They were always to encourage us that we could do and be better. Her main mode of "punishment" was writing essays and reading them at the dinner table. This way, we learned to express our feelings, AND, reflect on the possibility that we chose the lesser of the right decisions. She instilled AUTHENTIC manners in her kids, allowing them to learn for themselves and be grateful for the little things in life. 

My dad was (and is) one of the most hard-working men I know. He blessed me radically growing up (and to this day still does). (Now, I really am not trying to boast or brag through this post. I am honestly trying to explain WHY I think the way I do, and why my mind IS the way it is.) My mom and dad had similar strategies in raising their kids. Both TRULY believed we could be whatever we wanted. Nothing would stand in the way of that. They never led onto the possibility that we couldn't. I wanted to be the President of the United States? My dad would give me Ivy League school names. An Olympic Gold Medalist?… I am now in swim lessons. The next Carrie Underwood?.. You are now singing the National Anthem in front of 9,000 people as an 11 year old. There was ALWAYS a way to attain what you wanted.

Birthdays were never celebrated lightly with my dad. I got my first dream car on my 15th birthday. My 18th was celebrated being flown to Chicago for an almost unlimited shopping spree. My 19th was a 4 bedroom house so all my friends and I could live together. My 20th was a 2010 Hummer H3. Getting the picture? I was never without. And each gift was with radical outpourings of love and words of encouragement. I was told every year how proud he was of me. How he wished he could do even more for me. Some say he spoiled me as a child. I honestly think he raised me like Jesus would. Doing everything he could for his kid. Unlimited blessing and outpouring and favor. I knew I could go to my dad for anything. I had no concept for the word 'no'. I only knew that my dad radically loved me and would do anything for me.

Now, think of these two worlds colliding. A nurturing mother who encourages your dreams of being a princess. Says you can do no wrong when it comes to creativity and expression. You hope for the best, because you've heard only that since birth. A dad who has resource and power. Who gives good gifts, and never laughs when you express your dreams of stardom at the dinner table. I had no thought that I could fail or be made a mockery of. Dreams were always reachable, and ration and reason were no acquaintance of mine.

This meant, I had no shame as a 6 year old grabbing the mic from the stewardess hand during plane flights. I wanted to be a spice girl, and damnit, there were 200 people trapped in a plane who MIGHT have connections, so I will start singing. This meant, I KNEW Disney was going to hire me as their next disney princess voiceover when I made a demo in the bathroom as a 10 year old. They would call as soon as they opened the envelope. 

Now think of all of this colliding with adult life. Someone forgetting your birthday is World War 2 because you have no grid for not being lavished on. Responding to your first 'no' really is the hardest thing you have ever had to do. Having a conversation with someone who gives reasons why something isn't able to happen feels like your entire world is coming down. Things that shouldn't be that big of deal, cause you the most grief and sorrow

You see, growing up, it didn't matter that I always hoped in something greater. It didn't matter that I had no option of failure, or even considered things wouldn't work out for the best. Because, looking back, there was no other option. My lot in life allowed for the best outcome. I was blessed to have been born into a wealthy family of dreamers. I was blessed enough to be surrounded my family members who not only encouraged my dreams and pursuits, but gave me no other option that to believe it would happen. Dreams always came true in our house. And if they didn't right away, you could be distracted by glitter and Disney princesses until they did.

Now that I am grown, I am faced with serious tension in my heart. Do I disown my idealism and quit hoping for the best to face life's realistic fate? Disney princesses don't have electricity bills and doctor visits to pay, and grabbing the stewardess' mic is now accredited as mentally insane. My fairy-tale marriage with prince charming actually takes time and effort, and apparently you can't wear your wedding dress every day. Dreams may take years, and believe it or not, music executives actually use the word 'no' after auditions. You have to daily fight the battle that giving up a college education to pursue your dreams and see the world, means having nothing to 'financially' show for it. Meanwhile, your childhood playmates have become engineers and now pass you on the streets with their Mercedes.

You see, I have had 23 years to create an idealist, perfect life for myself in my head. I had it all planned out and there was never failure or disappointment. You know what that does to a person who is all of the sudden faced with real life, big girl situations? Shit hits the fan

Because, there is a difference in hoping in perfection and hoping in someone who is the perfecter. One causes division and learns to place blame. The other holds you close and allows room for mistakes. One leaves you on the floor wondering how in the hell your life got to the point it is. There other sits on the floor with you and reminds you of the inspiring times you have had. 

So, when reality hits me square in the face, and all of my idealist views come crashing down, the Perfecter sees my 5 year old princess heart, and is proud I am the way I am. Because, He is hope. He is a dreamer. So, I'll try and put my hope in that for awhile. 
I will allow life to have it's ups and downs. I will allow myself to fail occasionally. I will allow life to look different than the movie I made in my head. I will allow myself to become a realist. Because, realism isn't expecting the worst. It's seeing life accurately, with hope being a perspective, and knowing perfection will never satisfy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

For those who feel they are in the midst of a storm...

Everyone has these seasons of life. Seasons of struggle. Seasons that seem to never end. Seasons that make you feel at the very bottom, starving for light and some air to your lungs.

I know for my family, it has been like that. Wishing that something would break. Wishing you could finally start coming to the surface for oxygen and hope. But, somehow, you get pushed back under before you can fully fill your lungs.

I don't have an epic pep talk for those who feel like this. Those cliche christian messages of hope never work for me in my seasons of darkness. The "wandering in the wilderness", about to reach your "promised land, just hold on a little longer" speeches just don't do it for me. 

I want raw God in those moments. I want him to show up in the flesh and pick me up off the floor. I want to open my eyes, in the darkness of my bedroom, and see a Jewish man stretching out his arms,  offering some kind of tangible hope. I want seraphim and living creatures of the book of Acts flying around my house. A supernatural occurrence that offers hope to my heart that God is alive and real.

Looking back on "seasons" of my life, I can see light at the end. From experience, I know it gets better. If only I could grasp perspective and tell my now-self that there too will be light in this one.

I wrote this song a few months ago, while feeling like I was in the midst of a storm. It's only a little snippet of it, but the part at the end always brings me hope that there is an out. The revelation that these seasons are here to strengthen your soul. Holding on for dear life, that the storms will bring life instead of drown us. Believing that rain is a good thing. And hoping the winds are on our side.

So, take a listen. And do it with grace, for my piano is probably older than you.

I've never done this, so excuse me for asking you to say it again.
Could you tell me you love me?
I've never been there, so my heart is unaware of the way to respond,
when you say things like your scared.

These storms are drowning me out.
These winds are taking the words right out of my mouth,
Can you hear me? I said that I love you.

I know the lightning can hurt.
The pain of my words is gridded through my doubts and fears.
But, believe me.

I promise you one day
I'll respond in a new way

Cause the rain only comes for a drought
I'm convinced more than ever now
The rains will bring life
the winds will subside
and baby we'll make it.

If we face it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Mess

I've lost my words,
my thoughts have disappeared.
My pen no longer knows it's old friend, paper.

It's the end of the day,
and I am alone.

Alone with the thoughts in my head, that no longer make sense.
Alone with the tension in my heart.
Fighting for love. Fighting for life.

Distance greets me.
Trust leaves me.
My inner self meets me.

Pride and humility clash like fond warriors.
My opinions are chaos, blinding me from selfless love.
Pride sure makes a mess when it clothes itself for dignity and honor.

What do I want the most?

My Jesus met soul says, "humility, and all things good."
My pain stained past says "your habitual responses create familiar protection".

So, I build new walls,
form new callouses.

Because, sometimes, it feels better to want to healed,
than actually healed itself.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Our Engagement Story

{On October 1st, Michael Levi Miller got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. To the best of my ability, I want to share the story with the world. (It's hard to remember with all the sobbing/snotting/crying that was going on on my part).}


Before I begin, there are a couple things you must know about our dating relationship that will make sense about the proposal story. Get ready to read the most epic/romantic/thoughtful engagement story of your life. (I'm slightly biased…. but it's REAL GOOD)


After about 2 months into our dating relationship, Levi took me to a mountain called Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. It's a very strange occurrence to be bundled up in coats and mittens on a snowy mountain, when just a few hours before you were on a hot sunny Hawaiian beach. That's even more of the beauty of this mountain. It's like God just thought "this island is too sweaty and sunny… put a snowy mountain on top of it". Anyhow, Levi and I spent the evening with good friends in the back of a truck, above the clouds on the mountaintop. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. We watched a sunset of many colors, above the clouds, and then watched the starry sky without any interruption. It's like you are literally IN the sky watching the universe operate around you. I felt so close to the Lord.

That was the night Levi told me he was in love with me; on a beautiful mountaintop watching the sunset.

Part 2 (A RING)

Levi and I were apart for a good chunk of the summer. Before I left for L.A., I wanted to give him something special. I asked the Lord, and felt like I should write him a letter for every week, including things I felt the Lord was going to do in his heart for that specific week. So, I went to Target, bought some stationary, and began writing. I had 12 envelopes, each one labeled with "Week 1", "Week 2", etc.

The morning I left, Levi picked me up and took me to a cute breakfast cafe up the mountain (or island, whichever you prefer). We ate eggs benedict and talked about how much we would miss each other over the summer. Mushy gushy stuff… I'm sure the waiter was gagging. After breakfast, I was ready to give my well-thought through present. (Here's where it gets weird). Levi pulls out 12 of the SAME envelope stationary, each one labeled with the week number. He then says, "the Lord told me to write you a letter for each week you were gone, with what He would do in your heart that week). You heard it, same freaking present. I cried.

After I stopped crying, he gave me one of the most thoughtful presents I have ever received. (I say this hesitantly, because I have an amazing father who tends to outdo himself with presents and surprises). Levi gave me a ring he had been wearing on his left hand for almost 2 years now. He wore it as a "covenant ring" to the Lord, and said he felt to give it to me as a "promise ring". This was so dear to him, because he wore it during a year long Nazarite vow he took for all of 2009. It was a very intense and life changing season he had with Lord. Attached to the ring, was a string from his tallit. This is the proper name for the Jewish prayer garment he bought in Israel while doing ministry there. It was just so special to me, because it spoke to my heart about his commitment to the Lord first and foremost, and then to my heart.


I put Levi's ring on a necklace my dad had given me after high school once I was in L.A. I actually put the necklace in a box about the second week in, because I didn't want to lose it doing ministry. By the time I got home in September, I went to put my necklace on for the first time, and found the ring missing. I was hysterical. For those of you who have experience my dramatics, you will know. I called April Cossey, my mom, Kaytlyn Johnson, and finally Levi...FREAKING OUT. The necklace was closed, but the ring was gone. I felt terrible. The most precious thing Levi gave me, I lost. I awarded myself the "worst girlfriend" award.

Part 4 (SEATTLE)

Last Friday, I arrived in Seattle. I knew I wasn't seeing Levi until Saturday evening, because he was 2 hours away and his car was in the shop. (I know now, this was a total lie). My mom and I were going to be driving around on Saturday looking at property (she's buying a house in Seattle), and Levi mentioned something earlier in the week about showing us some mountain. The plan was to meet him at the base of the mountain resort Saturday evening, and we would ride the gondola up together as a family and see the sunset. About an hour before we got there, Levi texted me saying he was going to be late. He said to go up the gondola without him, and he would meet us at the top of the mountain. He didn't want us to miss the sunset. We finally got to the mountain, and I stalled like crazy. I didn't want to go up without him. I was doing everything to procrastinate. My mom FINALLY convinced me to get on the gondola. After my diva fit wore off, I decided to listen to my mom and boyfriend.


I handed the attendant my ticket, and he smiled back at me in the creepiest way. Literally, grinning ear to ear, nearly giggling. I gave him a confused look back, and started walking towards the gondola. The next attendant stopped me and said "wait, this is for you." She handed me an iPhone with headphones and a card that read "put the earphones in, and press play when the gondola departs". I was SO CONFUSED. I recognized Levi's handwriting, so I knew it was from him. I kept looking back and forth at my mom saying "wait… what? what? what? what?". (Now, I bet you are thinking "you totally knew he was going to propose by now!". Not at all. My boyfriend does epic dates ALL THE STINKING TIME, so in my mind, he is just being his sweet Levi self; tricking me that he isn't there yet, giving me cute cards).

I sit down in the gondola and put my headphones in. I press play, and this movie on YouTube starts playing. "Realize" by Colbie Caillat is playing in the background (a song Levi and I always sing together) and there are a slideshow of pictures of us. Occasionally, the music would die down, and a voiceover of Levi talking would come on. He recorded conversations he had about me, and then used them in the movie. Things he loved about me, things that he wanted for me, anything and everything romantic you could think of. I was a sobbing, snotting mess.

The movie quit right as our gondola came to a stop.


I stepped out to see another attendant holding a sign that said "Kellye Rae Vetter". He handed me another card, and then directed me down a hill…. and said someone was waiting for me. As I walked down the hill, and turned the corner, I saw a huge platform at the summit of the mountain. In the middle, was a table with candles, rose bouquets, rose petals, wine, bread, and a box. The weather was super foggy and almost rainy, and it made it look like that was the only thing on the whole mountain. I literally couldn't see anything else but the candlelight. As I approached the platform, Levi came around the corner. I lost it again.

After we embraced, Levi grabbed my hand and led me towards the table. He then began a romantic monologue of how much he loved me, how he wanted to spend his life with me, and many other great things that I honestly don't remember due to the complete shock, confusion, and craziness running through my brain. I have always told myself I would remember every tiny detail of my engagement. Good thing my mom was there snapping photos.


Next thing I knew, Levi was down on one knee. I couldn't breathe. My heart was racing a million miles a second. "Kellye Rae Vetter…will you marry me?". AHHHHHHHHHH. I couldn't gather my thoughts enough to say "yes", so I left him down there for quite some time. I finally spit out the words, and he put the ring on my RIGHT hand. Cutest thing you have ever seen. I died laughing (the whole mountain heard) and he got bright red.

He then said, "that's your covenant ring". As if I wasn't confused/shocked/and emotional enough. I looked at him like he was crazy and he said "I had April steal it for me". I punched him in the shoulder, and then cursed my best friend under my breath for putting me through so much heartache thinking I had lost the thing. :)

Levi only does things from the heart. He could get me any ring, but knew that one would move my heart in greater ways because of the symbolism in it. It represents covenant, and faithfulness, and promises fulfilled. Again, he outdid himself with heartfelt, prayed-through details. My heart was undone.


Levi brought wine and bread up to the mountaintop for the proposal. As soon as he put the ring on my hand, he said "I want to take communion and honor Jesus". He held me in his arms, and thanked the Lord for every good thing He has given us, to bless our union, and just praised Jesus for a super hot fiance (jokes… but I did).

We remembered His suffering, and thanked Him for giving us righteousness. It was the same feeling as that night on Mauna Kea when Levi told me He loved me. I felt so close to the Lord, as if I could reach out and touch him. Mountaintops help with that feeling.

If I am certain of anything to this point, is that when I am with Levi, I experience the Lord in great ways, and feel loved in ways I never thought imaginable.

Our Engagement Story