It was move-in day. August 15, 2001. I’m minding my own business piecing together my computer desk, the most important aspect of my dorm room, on the 4th floor of Bromley Hall in Champaign, IL…

Undaunted by the 3 new guys and 3 sets of parents, in walks a cute girl and I’m pretty sure her first words were “Hi, I’m Kat.”

Luckily, I was on the other side of the room and there was a human barrier of roommates and parents that kept me from needing to interact with this bubbly personality – way too much for me to handle on day one.

Despite my natural introverted instincts, there was something attractive about this girl even in that first meeting. I do remember “Kat”, aka Kathi, making her way over to me through the maze of bean bag chairs and pieces of unfinished loft beds. I think we shook hands and introduced ourselves. She said how my friend Chris told her I played soccer and she played in high school too. Whatever, I gotta finish putting together my computer…

I do remember later that evening when Kathi knocked on our door and said, “Who wants to order pizza?!” I was sitting at my now completed computer desk and I distinctly recall thinking something along the lines of “Wow, she’s outgoing!” and my next thought surprised me a little – “I’m glad she’s back.”

There were some memorable moments on that 4th floor. About 45 days after move-in day, it was the 4th floor study lounge where Kathi told me she “like-liked” me and I leveled-up the conversation by saying I thought I was gonna marry her. Or maybe it was – “You’re the type of girl I think I could marry.” Either way, not exactly what freshman girls are wanting to hear. But the fact that it didn’t scare Kathi off was a big deal.

As an 18 year old kid, I had never lived anywhere but home in Roselle, IL. My life was mostly containted in a 5 mile radius, but I traveled 160 miles south stepping a little out of my comfort bubble, and on day 1 met the girl who would be my best friend, the love of my life, a marvelous mother to two beautiful girls, and so much more.

I often think…

What if I didn’t choose the University of Illinois?

What if Kathi went somewhere else?

What if one of us chose a different dorm?

What if one of us didn’t live on the 4th floor?

A large part of my brain wants to chalk it up to chance and good luck that we met at all. But a deeper part of me, probably the part that was created in the image of a Creator who has a good plan for my life, can’t deny that we were supposed to meet and fall in love.

12 years in and I’m so thankful for these memories and still excited about our future. And in case you’re all wondering why I’m sharing this publicly in a blog post – no, it’s not because blogs are replacing silk as the year 12 anniversary gift. This blog is about our future – a future that began on the 4th floor 16 years ago.

For now, happy 12th anniversary to a beautiful person who is also my wife and partner. Kathi, I’m all-in with you for our future. I’m excited to see what God has in store for you, me and our family.