THIS WAS WRITTEN 100 DAYS BEFORE GETTING MARRIED
Where do we begin?
The first glimpse I caught of Mia was when I was 12 years old. Being that I am five years older than Mia, the only thing I thought at the time was, that is the most adorable kid I have ever seen. I remember the exact moment actually.
From that point forward I would mostly see her because I would be at her father’s house to do kid’s ministry. Pre-junior high school and later junior high school. I was always over there for something. As time went on we became friends, pretty good friends at that. We seemed to see eye to eye on things, made fun of people together, this person looks weird or that sort of thing. Mostly shallow, but a lot of fun.
As we grew a bit older, our conversations became a bit more important. Talking about what’s going on in each other’s lives. Who we are dating, etc.. That’s how our relationship had been for a very long time. Just friends. I viewed Mia as my little sister. For a good amount of our relationship, it would have been weird if we liked each other in a romantic way. With the age difference, nobody on the planet would have approved of us having any sort of relationship other than brother/sister. Not only that we pretty much were always dating people, so we never even had the chance to think of each other in that sort of way.
For the longest time as we watched each other grow up and go through different relationships and tough times, we always found time to update each other on what was going on in each other’s lives. No matter how stupid we were being, even if we knew we were making bad decisions, for some reason we always told each other.
There was a good amount of time where both of us went through phases where our life became a play. We would play our friends, go through the motions of Christian ministry, pretending to care, putting on a face that said we wanted to be there. Although most of the time we were just being selfish. We wanted to do our own thing in secret, and when we got the opportunity to do so, we would.
We went through significant times of this, falling in and out of it for years. But for some reason, we would update each other during these times as well. We remained friends through all of it.
Around the same time, we both reach very low points in our lives. That being the case, we made a couple of decisions to step out in faith and do something different. We sought to reboot our walks with the Lord but didn’t know if it was possible any longer.
Mia was invited to go on a missions trip to the Philippines. At a time where she couldn’t care about anyone or anything any less, she agreed to go. I’ll let her talk about this:
My opportunity to go to the Philippines on a missions trip was, undoubtedly, a “God thing”. Looking back at it now, I’m amazed I was even asked- or allowed, to go on that trip. Not long before leaving I had no concept of what loving anyone really looked like, or what it meant to give up self to serve Christ. But, there I was, on a 12-hour plane ride headed halfway across the world, trying to wrap my head around how I ended up there.
I remember thinking “what will I even say?”, “How can I talk about Christ when I hardly know him myself?”. So I just started reading. (It’s funny seeing how both Bryan and I came to that same solution) the scripture that I read, and will never forget was 1 Peter 1:3-6
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while”
God used this passage to speak straight into my heart. He said he gives me an inheritance that is beyond the reach of change or decay. Everything that I had once viewed as more important than God, everything I had dedicated my life to has always changed and always decayed. I desperately needed stability, peace, and security in my life, and he offered it to me for free. I was amazed that God said he will never change and HAD never changed before because I was so sure that he no longer loved me. I was wrong, Thank God.
I met so many painfully, beautifully, broken people in the Philippines, and I couldn’t help but feel moved by them. There was so much joy in the believers there- joy in the face of absolute poverty, sickness, and oppression. How could I not want that joy? How could I pass this up- something so stable it provided even the deepest of pains with hope.
Everything after this change of desire for my life seemed to be on fast forward. The joy that was given to me made every moment beautiful, and I grew and changed and kept pursuing my hope-giver.
Around the same time I was graduating college and about to get a new job so I decided that in between jobs I would take time to go to Hocking Hills all by myself for a few days and try to get someone on one time with God for once. I felt so distant from the Lord so this seemed like a good idea.
Originally my stay was to be just two days at the cabin but later I added a night before that where I would camp outdoors. I made my journey to Hocking Hills and arrived only a few hours before sunset. When I got there I picked up some firewood from the camp store and settled in my campsite. I set up my tent, ate an easy meal and started to light the fire as the sun set.
I am no fire-lighting-expert, but I know the basic fundamentals of lighting a fire. But for whatever reason, the logs would not burn. I had proper airflow, kindling, and even some paper to get things going, but the fire wouldn’t stay lit. I even got desperate at a certain point, went into my car, grabbed my owner’s manual and started ripping out pages to try to keep the fire going. This became too tedious a task to continue, so I decided I’d go into my tent to read.
When I got into my tent I started reading the bible, praying that the Lord would show me something to engage with me one-on-one. What happened next was, in a good way, heartbreaking. The Lord lead me to a random section of Matthew. As I would read for a bit I came across a few passages that reminded of me of when I first read the Bible, passages that I loved and that excited me. Passages that, at the time when I was just a baby Christian, I’d write on the wall of my bedroom to remind me daily of how cool they were. One verse, for example, was Matthew 10:39
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
This was one of the first verses that ever stood out to me as a new Christian. It made a lot more sense at this point and hit me right in the heart. I once loved God, needed God, and relied on God to get by. At the present moment, I was going through the motions and living the Christian life mainly because I had to.
It was as if God was saying to me clearly – “remember when you needed me”. I was brought to tears. The Lord still loves me like he did when I began my relationship with him. He wants me to actually be his friend again, instead of a distant acquaintance. This first night was very special. It set the tone for the rest of the trip. I spent the rest of the weekend in prayer, reading and writing, and going on hikes as I reminisced with God. This trip changed my life going forward in a very big way. I fell in love with God once again, in a way that I can only remember doing when I first accepted Christ.
When I returned home I was very excited about what was going on in my heart. I couldn’t wait to tell Mia. Actually, we both sought each other’s company once again to update on our new heart changes. Little did we know we were both going through similar times, similar heart changes. The conversations that our life-change-decisions sparked were amazing. They were so exhilarating we never wanted them to end. We would end up talking for hours about how amazing God is, for days on end.
What came of these conversations was the spark that led to our relationship. We fell in love practically overnight. At first, I felt weird because I’ve always viewed Mia as my sister, but I decided to risk our long-term platonic relationship and ask her out. I spoke to some of my friends about it and they were on board, so I went for it. Not so surprisingly she felt the same way so so we started to go on dates.
I asked Mia to be my girlfriend on September 9, 2016. We knew our relationship would be no easy walk in the park, we were both two messed up individuals both bringing some baggage to the table. The work that our relationship would be (and definitely has been) excited us.
Because of the ongoing work our relationship would take to make it work well, I created a metaphor to describe our relationship that grew over the past two years. The idea was that we were joining forces in a landscaping company, “B & Mi Landscaping”. We just bought a plot of land with a run-down house in the center of it, and we would work hard to make the land livable once again. To restore it to a beauty it once had. Every little conflict or trial we went to was equated to the work of picking the weeds, mowing the lawn, planting flowers, etc.. We would do this work until the land was restored.
On our first year anniversary of dating, we had fun with this metaphor and did a photoshoot in outfits as if we really were landscapers. A lot of people got a kick out of this, some believing we were really landscaping, which we also got a kick out of.
But another year was quickly passing. It was evident to me that Mia was the woman for me. I knew I wanted to marry her and started talking with all my friends about it. When would I know we were ready, and any other sort of thought that would pass my mind. Once it seemed that my friends were on board, I quickly got to work on the plan to propose. How would I do it? I knew one thing, I’ve always wanted to get this moment on tape.
One night as I struggled to fall asleep, somewhere around 2 or 3 am, it came to me. I can propose on our two year anniversary. I would use it as an opportunity to hide the obvious oncoming proposal, by staging another iteration of our “B & Mi Landscaping” theme. Only this time we would do a video. It made sense. We worked for two years, the major landscaping project must be complete by now – it was time to move on to the house. But a landscaping company cannot do home improvement. So the video would be a contract signing between us, regarding all the new stipulations of our new company, and slight company name change – “B & Mi Landscaping and Home Improvements”. We would sign the contract on video and at some point, I would propose.
I could barely sleep. I woke up only a couple hours later and went right to work on writing the contract. The whole plan was in motion.
The day came and it was time to record. We went to my grandfather’s house because recently he passed away and so his house was under renovation – a perfect backdrop for this video. I set up the set, we ran through a rehearsal and then began recording. We sat, explained our supposed dilemma, and began working our way through the contract. We were wearing our outfits from the previous year, with the addition of name tags “Bryan Bassett, B & Mi Landscaping” and “Amelia Howell, B & Mi Landscaping”.
After working all the way through the contract, I said, “oh that’s right, this means we have to put on our new name tags now”. I got down on the ground to get the new name tags out of my book bag. First I put mine on, “Bryan Bassett, B & Mi Landscaping and Home Improvements”. Then I handed her hers, without looking at her, which she fumbled with for a second and then actually read it. Hers read, “Amelia Bassett, B & Mi Landscaping and Home Improvements”. As she started to recognize what was happening, I brought out of my bag a ring box. Not any ordinary ring box but a fuzzy pink ring box in the shape of a house (fitting both the metaphor and Mia’s love for fuzzy pink things).
I said, “Amelia Ardys Howell, I’ve always said I am going to take care of you, I want to take care of you for the rest of our lives, will you marry me?”. She screamed yes.
We nervously hugged for a very long time, fantasized about how we are going to get married and then went on our journey to tell all of our friends and family.
Truly in the least corny of ways, I believe he is a gift from my Father in heaven. We had always genuinely loved each other – as friends – but after slowly becoming who we were both created to be in Christ – things seemed much different. We would talk constantly about our joy and excitement about the Lord, and it was close to intoxicating. It was almost like God had placed blinders over our eyes until we were mature enough in our Christian walks to handle each other. And I will be forever grateful for that, because if I fell in love with Bryan any sooner than I did- we would have destroyed each other.
When Bryan and I “officially” started dating, it was almost immediately serious. We already knew almost everything there was to know about each other, we skipped the entire “get to know you” phase of casual dating. We learned a lot about conflict and arguments early in our relationship, which I’m thankful for now (even if I wasn’t then). We learned how to balance our relationships with ministry, how to serve one another, encourage one another, promote one another.
Bryan proved himself to be a stable God-fearing man, and he acted as my own real-life example of God’s grace and forgiveness. He makes me feel truly beautiful, loved and protected. God gave him a job to do- and let me tell you he hit it out of the park. He was and continues to be truly beautiful, and he is the best part of my life, second only to Jesus.
Which brings us to today. I finished writing this 100 days from our wedding date, excited as ever. We’ve appreciated all of your support and friendships and the ways they have impacted our relationship. We are so excited to see you at our wedding! Thank you for taking the time to read our story!