This wasn’t from our first date, but is still one of my favorites around Christmastime.

November 20, 2013 was the first time I hung out with “the guy from work.” We watched Elf and he brought me peanut butter M&Ms. I had no idea he would be my future husband, but I knew he was nice, a good listener, wise, and he loved the Lord. He thought my jokes were funny and he was a huge fan of Christmas (and all my lights, decorations, and Christmas headbands at the time).

We laugh now at the number of friends and family who asked, “Isn’t he more than a friend, Christine?” “Nope. Nice guy as a friend, and he can bring all the peanut butter M&Ms in the world, but he’s not getting near me!” (My naive response at the time).

From the time we met until now, Zach has helped me keep my focus on the Lord, no matter what we go through in life. Eight years ago we started praying together about our friendship, and asking for His guidance no matter what paths we took. It was so cool to have a friend like that. It still is.

God has taught me a lot about his own character by bringing a man into my life who reflects His heart. I remember telling my mom that whenever I was around Zach as a friend, I felt like Jesus was there and my heart had softened in so many ways. I couldn’t explain it.

On our wedding day, right before he walked me down the aisle, my dad looked at me and said, “This is just a small glimpse of heaven today. I’ve never been more proud to give your hand to someone who loves the Lord even more than he already loves you. That’s what Mom and I prayed for.”

I’ll never forget eight years ago today, and what started this special journey. Happy first date-a-versary, Zach. I love you so much!