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When you are in high school, getting the attention of the guy is a little round-a-bout.  You flirt, you take the long route, you find ways to be where she might be.  You plan outfits, figure out ways to be interested, choose just the right hair style to appear effortless.  Only to have it all fall apart with some teenage misstep that leaves you vulnerable, exposed and embarrassed.  That is pretty much how it went for Casey and Jake.  They intersected and flitted around each other for awhile in school.  Each aware of the other, possibly interested, not sure how to make it known.  And then he invited her to his father’s house for a get-together.  She arrived in her parent’s car and promptly got it stuck in the snowy driveway.   As in, “hey, I need some help from a tow truck” stuck.  Casey’s cheeks had to have been flushed at the mistake.  I mean here she finally had Casey’s attention and she’s gone and beached her car.   Lucky for Casey, Jake found the whole ordeal charming, and still recounts the incident as his favorite memory of her to this day.   And so, the two high-school sweethearts are tying the knot, building a home, and starting a new life together.

           

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The snow crunched under their feet.  He swung her arm a bit and they continued along the trail.  It was a lovely way to start the day; hiking the Oak Leaf trail surrounded by the last snow of the season.  She knew she’d appreciate the extra Kyle time later that day at work, but right now she was a little peeved.  Last night he had taken her out to the site of their first date, then out to the bar.  She thought for sure he was going to propose, but then nothing.  Even this little walk was her idea, she’d mentioned it weeks ago.  So this couldn’t possibly be the moment.  They rounded the bend, heading into the sunrise.  He squeezed her hands a few yards later, suggested they stop to watch the sun come up over the hill.  She snuggled into his arms, breathing in that scent that was so signature to him.  He started to talk about how much fun they have, how much he enjoyed being with her.  ‘How sweet!’ she thought.  The sun broke over the treetops, warming her face.  Kyle moved quickly, down onto one knee and asking a question.  Kristin just cried happy tears.  

          

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Sometimes you are looking in all the wrong places.  Sometimes you get knocked over with the realization that what you’ve been seeking has been right in front of you all along.  That’s Annie & Mike.  They met freshman year of college.  He was a floundering teenager spreading his wings for the first time.  She says she was much the same.  His roommates made friends with hers, and so they were friends.  Four years flew by and they all graduated and scattered about the country like leaves in the wind.  Then there was that rare weekend in Chicago where everyone happened to be in the same place at the same time.  They talked all night…about everything.  Emails turned into texts, texts became phone calls.  Annie booked a ticket to Florida and Mike finally admitted he had a crush.  She already knew because she had one too.

          

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They say love finds you when you aren’t looking for it.  For Tara & Victor that has proven true many times.  A week of training seminars was where their paths crossed.  When they separated for different parts of the state, they exchanged numbers.  It was a few months later when Tara realized she’d been texting with “that guy” from the seminar for weeks.  So they met up, started dating, and then moved in together.  It was another day of low expectations and work-related fatigue that saw Tara coming home looking forward to some couch time.  Instead she stumbled up on a trail of rose petals, a smiling Victor and a ring…

    

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Brian is a planner.  He sees forward 10 steps and acts accordingly.  This is an admirable quality in any mate.  For Jessica, it meant a perfectly surprising proposal.  She was planning on a nice evening out with a friend from out of town.  A friend of Brian’s.  He’d texted her the day before, saying how much he was looking forward to seeing them both.  And so Jess spent the early evening dressing and primping.  Brian, meanwhile, was texting with that same friend, smiling at how his plan was playing out.  The friend wasn’t in town.  It was just a simple cover.  He pulled the Champagne he’d hidden in the back of the fridge out, and plunged it into the ice bucket.  Jess started to come down the stairs and he quickly stood in front of his surprise.  “Ready?” she inquired.  “Yes, and no.” he answered, a sly smile spreading across his face until it crinkled his eyes and turned mischievous.  She paused, curious.  “What do you mean?”  He reached into his pocket.  “Well, first you have to answer a question…”

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He was the cute guy wearing a flannel and holding a football in his profile picture.  She was the girl tired of the misses on eHarmony.  So, she threw caution to the wind and tossed him a line out of her usual norm: “Happy Hump Day!  I hope that’s not too aggressive”.  It turns out it wasn’t, and before she knew it she was breaking more of her own rules and stepping into his car for their first date.  Hours slid by rapidly that night as they talked. They realized they had been missing each other’s passes for years – living parallel and never intersecting.  They had been at the same parties, flown to Chicago on the same weekends, even lived in the same building.  It was a tale of narrow misses with your other half. Until now.

        

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He fidgeted in the pew, trying to find a comfortable position.  His bible slipped off his lap onto the floor and he leaned over to retrieve it.  It was just beyond his fingertips and he stretched a little farther. Just as he got a grasp on it, a beautiful song started to fill the air.  He looked up to see who it was.  A girl he hadn’t seen before, with long brown hair and a clear command of her spirit, was leading worship.  He sat there, a bit in awe for a moment, taking in her song, the sound of her voice.  The last chord on the keyboard brought a half-embarrassed smile to her face and he noticed she looked up towards him briefly.  A feeling washed over him.  This was his wife.  Wait, what?  He looked down, shook his head a bit.  No, that is clearly what had just been whispered in his mind. He looked again at Kelsey.  He sat with the thought a moment, feeling it warm slowly inside his chest. He smiled, and blinked.  Kelsey was standing again, about to sing.  So he set his eyes on her and allowed himself to get caught back up into the service.  Months later, he had asked her on a date, and then another, and she found herself falling despite the reservations of her independent spirit.  She hadn’t really been looking, and that was clear since Dan had been right under he nose and yet somehow completely un-noticed by her.  She wasn’t sure she was ready and so she figured it might be best to put this in someone else’s hands.  So, she started asking for clear, undeniable signs from God.  She requested detailed, specific things – conversations she felt they needed to have, concerns she held deep, worries she was afraid to discuss.  Over and over again, there would be another date with Dan the next day, and much to her surprise and delight, he would bring up these same concerns and lay them bare for examination.  The signs were large, lit in neon and sometimes even blinking.  And so, on a chilly fall day, on a hike, Dan asked the final question, and Kelsey said yes.

        

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There’s only really one thing you need to know about Sri: He’s remarkable.  How many people do you know that could send out an invite to 24 out of town guests and get them to fly to Chicago, in January, on a whim, to celebrate his engagement?  But that’s exactly what he did, and what happened.  When you talk to Kim – she tells you this part of the story first – because it points out just how amazing her fiance is.  When you talk to Sri, he talks about how amused he was when she got mad about him insisting they walk 2 blocks out of their way in the snow so he could propose in front of her old apartment.  When it comes to what Sri loves, not much stands in his way.

           

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He was the wallflower in the corner out with a bachelor party.  She was the beguiling beauty celebrating a friend’s Bachelorette in the same bar.  She spotted him, swallowed some liquid courage and made her move.  Some flirting and a few drinks turned into an evening of endless conversation and an early morning breakfast at the drive-thru.  A date without the whole group followed just days later.  Suddenly, they were exploring the world together and Matt was proposing.

         

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She spotted him in a bar.  One slow-sipped drink later and there were so many commonalities in front of them, it was as if the path had just been paved for their future.  And it had, but such groundwork was laid long before that night.  His family, her family, they had danced around each other many times back in Greece.  Both had immigrated to the U.S.  Both had become restauranteurs.  And now, their children had finally crossed paths.  So it was fate that these two would go back to Greece, to explore the homelands of those families.  And that, while standing on a cliff in Santorini, Kosta would pull out a ring…

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