Emily and Jeff met through a FOCUS missions trip to the Dominican Republic when Jeff was the director and Emily was a student. On that trip, the Little Flower and her promises of God's faithfulness took root in Emily's heart and have since multiplied in abundance. Jeff proposed last summer, and they were married in the spring of 2016.
In Emily's words: I took an immediate liking to Jeff when we first met on mission, but he was the director of FOCUS Missions, traveling internationally and speaking several languages. I was just a sorority girl from a pig farm in Nebraska. I thought that I’d never have a chance. It was on that trip that I began to take interest in St. Therese of Lisieux because her picture was hanging in the dormitory of the mission site.
In her journal Therese wrote, "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses." I had heard about St. Therese answering prayers of vocation by sending roses to those who ask for her intercession. As my friendship with Jeff grew over the next two years, my desire for him remained while in prayer. My prayer was that if this desire was not of God, that he remove that desire completely. I prayed a novena asking for Therese's intercession to reveal to me if Jeff was my vocation by sending a single rose. Although I saw roses being given to those around me, I was not given a rose at the end of the nine days and never told anyone I had prayed the novena.
Eventually Jeff and I began to date, but from a distance. I was serving as a FOCUS missionary in Los Angeles and he continued serving as the missions director in Denver. After nine months of dating, we served together again on mission, this time in the Amazon of Brazil. Our mission was separated into small groups; mine chose St. Therese as our patron. One evening after I closed the group in prayer, a Brazilian friend said, "While you were praying I closed my eyes and saw a flower growing up out of the ground and coming into full bloom. By the end of this trip you will receive a single pink rose in full bloom from St. Therese of Lisieux.” And I just laughed.
At the end of the mission, on the twelve hour boat ride from the middle of the Amazon to the airport, Jeff asked me to give my testimony following Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. But as I came to the front of the group, he got down on one knee and asked me to join him on mission for a lifetime through the vocation of marriage.
Even though no one had seen any roses in the Amazon throughout the trip, the Brazilian boat captain's wife excitedly ran up and handed me a single pink rose in full bloom. And it just so happens that the church we ended up getting married in is called The Church of the Little Flower in Miami, Florida. Therese truly answered my prayer of vocation, just not in the way that I expected!
Photography: Wyn Wiley | Engagement Session Location: Estes Park, Colorado