Lisa and Zach’s love story is one of persistence, heroic patience, and a small reflection of the tremendous love that Christ desires to show us every day.
Their friendship, dating relationship, and engagement spans almost a decade. And yet, like Christ’s never-ending, never-tiring pursuit of our hearts, Zach never gave up in the pursuit of his beloved.
In Lisa’s Words: Zach and I grew up in the same small town in Texas. Our paths crossed frequently throughout our childhood at various sporting, church, and community events. But we didn’t truly see one another for the first time until the summer after my sophomore year of high school.
We were on a road trip to a Catholic youth conference: Stubenville of the Rockies. We spent hours in the church van talking, napping, and listening to some good ol’ fashion Chris Tomlin worship songs with our friends.
For Zach, the attraction and desire for more than a friendship was immediate. And yet, much to his dismay, it would take years (nine to be exact) for the feelings to become mutual.
Soon after our trip, Zach asked me to our high school homecoming dance, to which I politely (or as Zach says, “not so politely”) declined. He wouldn’t give up, though, and even after we went our separate ways in college, Zach continued to reach out.
After college, we both moved across Texas and ended up living just minutes away from each other. It was finally time to finish what began all those years ago. Zach tried yet again to make plans for us to see one another, but it never seemed to work.
Finally, I invited Zach to an Advent retreat with Young Catholic Professionals. Even though he couldn’t make it, we planned instead to meet the following day at dinner to discuss the highlights from the retreat. That was Gaudate Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent celebrated as a day of rejoicing as Our Savior’s birth draws near.
During our dinner, I was definitely rejoicing internally. I finally realized what a phenomenal man Zach was: intelligent, funny, easy-going, with a strong moral compass, a love for God, and a life fully living it out through our shared Catholic faith. Within a few weeks we were “officially” dating, and we both knew early on that this was “it.”
Later on, I was with Zach on Galveston Island while he worked. I was in charge of keeping the beach company while he worked hard in meetings and talked business. We left the conference Friday afternoon and drove to our hometown to spend the weekend with family. It was storming badly, and nothing says “marriage prep” like sitting in 5PM Friday traffic together in Houston.
That day we started a novena to Saint Jude, who has been a great patron for us. St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless and lost causes, and he helped foster hope and perseverance in us during some desolate seasons. Zach also says he felt like I was a “lost cause” for many years!
He told me he wanted to start the novena somewhere special and thought it’d be nice to go back to our home church at Sacred Heart. I insisted that both the church and chapel were closed, so it’d be better to get home sooner and say our prayers after seeing our family. Zach isn’t a stubborn person, but he wouldn’t relent.
After sitting in traffic for a few hours, we pulled into the dark, rainy parking lot of Sacred Heart. Zach walked me over to the Marian grotto and began to read a letter he had written after our first date. He then ended with another letter he had written that very day.
He got down on one knee and asked me the big question. I never actually said yes, but my happy tears and hugs were a pretty clear answer for him! The timing couldn’t have been better because our church was hosting a holy hour that night. So we were fortunate enough to begin our engagement with prayers of gratitude kneeling in front of our Lord.
The surprises didn’t end there, though. I had never revealed to Zach that I had always wanted to engrave two words on his wedding ring: “Beloved, Love.” This is a concise summary of 1 John chapter 4. Within those two words is our identity as Christ’s and our spouse’s beloved and our vocation to love God and one another.
Zach took me by surprise when he showed me that he had engraved 1 John 4:12 on my ring: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another God lives in us and his love is perfected in us.” Without ever talking about it with one another, we both felt a strong connection to that beautiful scripture. We want it to serve as a mission statement for our engagement and marriage.
It's so fun to dream about the man you will marry, how and when it will happen, and what the ring will look like when the time comes. But allowing God to guide the process and experiencing the sometimes messy (or, in my case, wet) details is more beautiful than any dream wedding board on Pinterest or pictures on Instagram.
The radical ways that Zach pursued me for years and fought for my heart reminds me of the ways Christ pursues each one of us. No matter how far gone we are or how many times we say “no,” he’s always there with open arms, ready to embrace us in our messiness.
I couldn’t be more excited to begin our lives as husband and wife together.