We wanted to share "our story" as we individually experienced it. Read on to learn about the past year or so from both Ben and Katie's perspectives. **Also, apologies for the length of these, but give yourself a gold star if you get through them both:)
Once upon a time in the beginning of the summer of 2011 after a delightful happy hour with friends at Rose's, I was convinced that I should create a dating profile on Match.com. I did this, with the help of friends, but was underwhelmed with the options and potential dates that Match.com offered me. There was only one guy I was remotely interested in, but after my "wink" (match's equivalent of a non-committal flirtation) was not reciprocated, I gave up.
Around the same time that my wink was ignored, I was asked by one of my best friends, Sarah Pegman, if I would ever consider going on a blind date. Sarah told me that her mom (the lovely Sharon Pegman) knew of this great guy that I might be interested in.
**Editorial Comment: Little did Katie know, that Seth Pegman (Sarah's brother and Sharon's son) and Sharon had had a conversation around Christmas time deciding that if Katie was interested (which Sarah informed them, she was), they should try to find her a mate (or at least a few dates)**
I said I would be nervous, but happy to, since my Match.com plan was not panning out. I asked Sarah if she knew anything about this guy, but the only thing she knew was that he lived in Grand Rapids and was a Social Worker. About a week later, Sarah sent me one more piece of crucial information about this guy via a forwarded email from Dave Koetje (my Elementary school principal and cottage-sharers with the Pegmans) to Dirk Pegman (husband to Sharon, father to Sarah)--his name!
I was now able to "Google" him, ask all my friends if they had heard of this person, and most importantly, Facebook stalk him. This was the first thing I did and it turned up surprising results. I recognized this guy. This Ben Brower, was the same guy I had "winked" at a few weeks earlier! The only guy on Match.com I was remotely interested in!
I tried not to read too much into it and instead chalk it up to a crazy coincidence (which in my world means telling only 10-20 people instead of every single person I come in contact with). Also, from the combination of Facebook and the original Match.com profile the things that I now knew about Ben Brower included: he was a school therapist, he liked similar music to me, liked the same drinking establishments and restaurants, and was a Christian. Not too shabby.
About a week later, I got an email from this Ben Brower. It said something like, "I don't know you and you don't know me, but there are people that would like that to change....". Also, in that email Ben informed me that we had almost met a couple of weeks before. He wrote, "Also, we almost met some time ago at Brewery Vivant as you were talking to my friends Beth and Emily as I was just arriving. I think I just stood there awkwardly waiting to be introduced and it never happened or it did and I don't remember it." Another sign? Again, I tried, in my chatty Katie way, to ignore it.
We ended up going out the following week for happy hour at, of course, Brewery Vivant where we had almost met before.
I nervously arrived and saw this cute guy out on the patio--my date. And the date went swimmingly. There was a comfort, honesty, and playfulness with this guy that I hadn't experienced before, much less on a first date. It was wonderful.
And the rest, as they say, is history--complete with many more wonderful dates, much figuring out, great conversations, some anxiety (which Ben handled wonderfully), yummy dinners, amazing family and friend support, and now, marriage, wonderful.
Warning, sappy part:
I am amazed and so grateful that God has brought the two of us together. I always had a hard time imagining a guy that I could marry--someone I both loved and respected but also felt completely comfortable with. Ben is that person and I am so thankful.
I am thankful too for all of the people who had a hand in bringing us together, and those who have walked along side us through this past year.
And of course, I am thankful to Ben, who shows me kindness, patience, grace, and thoughtfulness on a daily basis. And who loves me, just as I am. I am so blessed.
So one day I was dating this 22 year old and I got this e-mail from Dave Koetje about his bucket list. It was a fascinating list filled the thoughts of the Appalachian Trail, possibly something about grandchildren, and setting up a handsome man with a beautiful woman. Yes, I was that handsome man. Surprising, I know. Anyway, having been on one date with the 22 year old (her official name now), I wanted to explore that more and wasn't interested in Dave's "beautiful woman." I believe I told him that on my bucket list was dating a girl my parents didn't know about and that I'd get back to him if/when it didn't work out.
As some of you know, I'm very confident in my dating choices and ability to plan dates. So before the second date, I went out to Brewery Vivant with my friends Beth Mellema and Emily Shatto for their input on this second date. As I arrived Emily was talking to two girls who were standing in my way. I was less concerned about them and more concerned about sitting. They left with no introductions having been made and I drank with my friends who gave me ideas for a date. For the record, I threw them all out and went to the zoo.
Fast forward to the surprising part where it doesn't work out with the 22 year old. Something about an age difference. Fortunately I had Dave Koetje and his beautiful woman waiting. I almost immediately e-mailed Dave and was told vague things about this Katie Timmermans and how she knew Sarah Pegman. All I knew of Sarah Pegman was that she was my old high school guidance counselor's daughter, how was this going to work? But also sweet, another date.
Again, I went to my dating consultant, Beth, to tell her of this new adventure that would be Katie Timmermans. Low and behold I had already met Katie Timmermans! Beth informed me that she was the girl who was talking to Emily at Brewery Vivant.... who? I don't remember. Oh yeah, I did indeed remember two girls, but had no idea what they looked like. And by that I mean, they were both so stunningly beautiful, their beauty was too much to take in and register. One more so than the other (sorry Becca).
Anyway, after some minor Facebook stalking, I e-mailed Katie about how we didn't know each other, but people in this world thought it would be a good idea to date and, as I am not one to argue, I was willing to go along with it. I suggested Brewery Vivant as it was the place where we initially never met. Katie agreed and suggested going for happy hour. As this is my favorite hour, I was excited to make this happen.
I remember it was a very hot day but I still wanted to sit outside. I was early (no surprise) and Katie was late (no surprise). Pause, I know, right when the good stuff is about to happen.
It's important to know that one night at the Winchester, James Eldersveld, went on and on about how there were attractive women on Match.com. So I went home and signed up, looked at the website, and immediately became disinterested. One time I got a "wink" and thought to myself, "I ain't payin for this crap (or another similar word, just trying to stay PG here)." Wink deleted.
Unpause. It was the most amazing first date ever! We talked and drank and drank and talked. Awesome. Even more so we "connected" when Katie talked about how she had signed up for Match.com after drinks with friends. She shared that there was only one guy on there she was interested in. And that guy turned out to be a total jerk so she was glad to be set up with me. No that's boring and untrue. It was me! I was that guy!
So many thoughts went through my mind. First, I was impressed that she shared such a thing, since I could have ran away right there. Second thought, God clearly had his hand in this. How in the world does Dave Koetje come up with my name? How does Katie find me on Match.com? How do we come so close to meeting and not meet, but then later actually meet? And on top of this, we talked about it all on our first date, openly, honestly and easily.
So after that we had no choice but to be together. Seriously, how can you argue with God? Answer: can't. So after eating lots of delicious meals together, getting into various t.v. shows, drinking a number of gin and tonics and working through a wee bit of anxiety, we're getting married. I am so happy about this as I just love her. Never has anyone shown me such understanding, kindness and of course love. I love her family, her freckles, her anxiety, her friends, her intolerance to gluten, her love of Jesus, her honesty and so much more. October 26 cannot come soon enough.