From us to you, happy Feast of the Epiphany! At the close of this Christmas season, our prayer for you is grace and fortitude as you journey closer each day to your own Bethlehem: to the deep joy, the silent, indescribable riches of the heart, and the pure wonder that flow forth from married life. To celebrate the last day of this sacred time, we're thrilled to share an additional post this week, featuring Emily and Daniël's amazing love story, Praise and Worship-filled wedding Mass, and holiday-inspired details!
Emily is a full-time speaker. On her first-ever European trip--to the Netherlands for a youth and music ministry conference--one of the conference presenters, named Daniël, picked up Emily and her colleagues from the airport. What followed was the start of an international romance that would almost seem improbable, were it not for the Father's infinite wisdom, mercy, and providence.
From the Bride: There’s one truth that stands from the beginning of my love story: if God designed it to happen, he will make a way. God always makes a way.
On the first day of my trip, where I'd be singing and speaking at the conference, the others in the group had meetings to attend. I had the time free, and Daniël was given the job of taking me to sightsee around Holland. The first place he wanted to show me was his favorite basilica in a nearby city. If you have not been to Europe, you must know…the churches will take your breath away every single time. We walked into Mary, Star of the Sea Basilica and I was totally floored by its beauty. We walked in and Daniël asked me if I wanted to pray in their chapel. We prayed together for the first time that day. Unbeknownst to me in that moment, we would end up praying together every single day after that.
Daniël and I spent time getting to know one another throughout the weekend of the conference, and I was incredibly moved by what a strong, generous, faithful, giving, and kind man he was. When I returned home to America, I knew God was doing something big. But I was clueless as to the extent of the adventure that was beginning.
Daniël sent me a letter expressing the same things I was feeling – that somehow, He knew that God was calling him to pursue me rightly, even from 6,000 miles away. A man in the Netherlands pursuing a woman in California…a scenario only possible for God. He always makes a way.
We began calling one another on Skype, getting to know each other, and praying about what God was calling us to. We later discerned that it was best for me to make a return trip to Europe to explore what God was doing. I returned two months after we first met, and after Daniël took me on a few dates--even though the prospect of dating across an ocean was overwhelming--we decided to begin formally dating.
Daniël pursued me from half a world away, on a 9-hour time difference, for 2 years. Our relationship was beautifully blessed, but a very challenging road. We had to learn to show the other love with only words and prayer. Date “nights” on weekends meant spending time on Skype on my Saturday morning and his Saturday night, always finding new things to talk about. God’s hand made way for every visit (about every 2 months), and our dedication to keeping Christ at the center of everything was what carried us on with hope and deep purpose in our relationship. We committed to walking the road together daily.
God continued to make a way.
Daniël secured a graduate school internship in Laguna Beach, California, so that we could discern marriage in the same city together. We continued to fall in love, and Daniël continued to show me his heart of deep goodness and his firm foundation of faith and virtue. He never ceased to impress me by the core of who he was and the way he honored me. Daniël proposed in February 2015, and were married on December 30th of that year.
I now look at my sweet husband across the dinner table from me, and reflect on how we are a living, breathing sacrament together. We are living in the center of God’s promise that nothing is impossible for him. We are living the fulfillment that comes with dedicating our life and love to God--living the fulfillment that comes with our waiting for one another--the fulfillment that comes from professing a vow and trusting Christ to give you the strength to abide by it.
God made a way for us, and he makes everything beautiful in his perfect timing and perfect power. True love is possible, and it is alive and well in this world. May we celebrate, believing in the goodness of true love and the power that it has to change this world."
From the Photographer: It has been a gift working with so many faith-filled couples, documenting the beauty of the sacrament of marriage. This is a day I will always remember. As Emily and Daniël's wedding day unfolded, I was in awe of their total, self-giving love. A love that is playful, childlike. A love that gently whispers truth. A love that patiently waits on God’s timing. A love that we are all called to.
These two have spent their lives running toward Christ and leading so many young souls to his Heart. Their courage to enter into marriage as a shining light in the darkness is truly inspiring. After journeying through the daily sacrifice of a relationship continents apart, the whole day was spent in joyful disbelief that this day had finally arrived. As Emily and Daniël were each covered in prayer by their closest loved ones, the Father’s grace was just overwhelming.
One of my favorite aspects of their wedding Mass took place after Communion. The whole church was worshipping the God of the Universe at the top of their lungs with thankful hearts, to the song "How He Loves." There was no rush, just basking in that moment, praising him together. This is a marriage that is focused on the treasures of heaven.