Monday, July 20, 2015

The Love Story - Part Finale

So we have reached the end . . . 

Or is it the beginning of our 10 year story?

You decide.

Wanna catch up . . . Here are Parts 1, 2, and 3.

Starting in mid-February of 2005 we were officially official as a couple.

We spent all our waking minutes together and just really enjoyed getting to know each other.

We talked about marriage, and I knew I really wanted to marry him.

But I knew it took people at least a year to get engaged if they were normal:)

One night (without my knowing) Tim took my parents out to dinner to "talk" to them,

As soon as he said the words, "I wanted to ask you a question . . "

My dad broke out the video camera and began taping him,

Nothing like adding to the pressure of the situation.

The best part of that story is after we got engaged my dad was so excited to show me the video.

We all sat down to watch it, and as he pressed play he realized he hadn't been recording.

Such a let down to my dad, although I think Tim was relieved.

Tim did get their blessing that night at dinner and began to plan our engagement.

My mom told him not to tell my dad what he planned because my dad has a small (ahem) problem with letting the cat out of the bag, so to speak.

Basically, he can't keep a secret to save his life.

Sorry, dad.

His original plan was to fly me to the keys to pop the question, but he had made the mistake of talking with my dad about it first.

One night at dinner my dad blurted out, "Well, when are you going on that plane to the keys?"

My mom all but punched him.

So that plan was out the window.

I guess Tim reevaluated and decided that wasn't the most cost effective or easiest way to go about it.

I appreciate his flair for the extravagant, but he also knew I would want our families there to celebrate.

His plan B ended up being absolutely perfect.  

Until this point our families hadn't met.

His family was all in south Florida, and we had only been dating 2.5 months.

He told me that we needed to rectify the situation by meeting up in Orlando to celebrate his birthday, which was May 20th.

We picked the weekend of May 5th, and all met up at the Wilderness Lodge.

It was very fun to have the whole gang together.

On Saturday morning I thought the plan was to wake up and head to Typhoon Lagoon to let Tim surf as his birthday present.

We got up and got our suits on, but as soon as I went downstairs in the hotel he told me plans had changed.

We were going parasailing together while everyone else watched.

Oh, I was totally clueless.

Totally oblivious.

No idea what was going on.

Except not.

I can't tell a lie.

Remember the "brutally honest" part of myself that I can't contain.

Well, here it is . . . I knew.

As soon as he said we were going parasailing, I knew.

But then I started getting nervous and silently asking myself questions on how this would all work.

 How do you bring a ring parasailing??

Would it be scary?? (I had never been before)

All my questions hanging in the balance  . . .

They strapped us in and up we went.

It was amazing.

Felt like floating.

After we had been in the air for a little while, Tim told me to look down.

On a boat underneath us my family and his were holding a sign that said, "Are you ready to marry me yet?"

(The way in which it was written is another story for another day.)

Again, I figured it was coming, but it was still so surreal.

I told him yes, and we tried to kiss in our awkwardly placed harnesses in the air.

I wish I could show you the pictures.


Then, being the patient woman that I am, I asked for my ring.

And he politely replied that it was waiting for me on the dock when we got back.

Smart man.

It felt like an eternity before we got down, so I could check it out.

There was a table on the dock with roses and chocolate covered strawberries and a box with the ring.

Tim got down on one knee to make sure we covered all our traditions and put the ring on my finger.

I haven't taken it off since.

We were married November 26, 2005.

Our story is not one that I ever would have written.

It is completely abnormal from the way we began dating to the short time before we got engaged and then got married.

God knows me.

He knows that circumstances like that are what make Him so evident in my life.

Our love story is just another way that God's grace has completely saturated me and made me aware of His love for me.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Love Story - Part Tres

Before I jump in today I want to make a little disclaimer.

I am (what my loving mother would call) brutally honest.

Some people love that about me, while I'm sure others are not so thrilled with this trait.

I do want to be honest about all the details in this story because they are important.

And they are important because it is so obvious that God and only God could have brought Tim and I together in this unconventional way.

That is what I want my children and my children's children to see in this story.

God is always working and His plan always prevails.

Also, I don't ever want to paint a negative picture of my ex-boyfriend.

He was (and I assume still is) a wonderful guy.

He was respectful and faithful and loved Jesus.

God just didn't plan for us to be together - plain and simple.

That is my point in including him in this story.

Now, back to the story.

I walked around the corner to see who my mom was talking so sweetly to, and lo and behold it was Tim.

Um, he left me off like 8 hours earlier, and he was already back at my house.

Can we say eager beaver?

I walked him out to our back deck to talk while my mom was giving me signals behind his back to ask if I wanted to brush my teeth or hair first.

God Bless my mother, always worried about (or embarrassed by) her kin.

When we got to the deck he told me that he didn't have my phone number, so he had to come back to get it.

Oh isn't that sweet?

And a little overboard considering we worked together, and he could have gotten it there?

But being the smitten woman that I was, I gave it to him before bidding him goodbye to begin planning the evening birthday dinner with family and boyfriend on break.

The dinner was not pleasant, but it happened.  And we all lived through it.

After that I didn't see my boyfriend for two weeks.

I basically spent every day with Tim.

Valentine's Day fell within those two weeks, and both Tim and my on-break boyfriend sent me roses to my classroom.

To say the students in my classes were confused would be a major understatement.

"Uh, Miss Tragos (maiden name) why are two boys sending you flowers?"

"Miss Tragos, I thought you only had one boyfriend?"

"Why is Mr. Bettelli's name on one of the cards?"

Miss Tragos:  "None of your business guys.  Now who can diagram this extra long sentence?"

Honesty is always the best policy.

Unless you can redirect - then that works even better.  With toddlers and high schoolers alike.

I think I may have given my high school students a little too much credit in an earlier portion of the story because . . . 

We tried really, really hard to keep the budding relationship a secret.

It was obvious that we were friends because we would sit together at lunch, and when he walked by my classroom to peek in I would smile, instead of roll my eyes and sigh which was the norm a few short months before.

We had a sweet Biology teacher at the school at the time.

He was an older man (not sure his exact age, but he had little to no hair and what was there was white).

He was married.

Grown children.

He seemed to be pretty strict from what the students communicated to me.

I remember having a student around this time ask me if I could start hanging out with said Biology teacher because Mr. Bettelli had been so much nicer since I started hanging out with him.



Again, sometimes 14 year olds just aren't as quick on the uptake.


 After two weeks of some QT with Tim I knew.

I knew I had to officially break up with my boyfriend.

I knew Tim was it.

I don't necessarily think that is how it always works.

People can take time to know and that doesn't mean that it isn't right.

But for us two weeks was enough time.

The next and final portion of the story will be our engagement.

Which was only 2.5 months later.

And if you missed parts 1 & 2, you can catch up here and here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Love Story - Part Dos

I didn't plan to blog two days in a row, but I just had sooooo many (maybe 2ish but don't tell) people beg for the second installment.  

And what kind of blogger would I be if I didn't keep my large (5ish) readership happy?

We left off at the extremely sexist card and gift that Tim bought for me that will forever live in infamy as the first gift he gave his wife.

And of course I never bring it up because that would not be very nice of this sweet wife.

Even though it was not the normal gift to get a girl you were trying to win over, I couldn't help but laugh and enjoy Tim's playful side at that moment.

Friday night, February 4th there was a Calvary HS basketball game.

I was the cheerleading coach at the time, so I sat on the court next to the cheerleaders during the whole game.

Tim walked into the game and pulled a chair right up next to me for all to see.

He then proceeded to ask me to go out with him that night.

And yes, he was very aware that I had a long-term boyfriend.

So being the mature, 23 year old that I was I ran to my parents (who were in the stands that night) and asked if it was ok if I went out with Tim.

My mom's exact words were, "there is no ring on your finger, go right ahead."
She has been a Tim Bettelli fan from Day 1.

"Going out" together as two teachers at the same high school isn't as easy as it sounds.

I would imagine if you taught elementary school it would be a different story.

Those kids be like, "oh, look at my booger, Mrs. B," or "Stop hitting me, Billy," or "I need to use the bathroom realllllly bad."

In high school all they want to do is get up in your biz-ness, so I knew we needed a good plan to get out together unnoticed.

I decided to leave with my parents and have them drive me to a super secret Denny's parking lot to then be passed along to Tim's truck.

Again, I want to reiterate that I was a successful, mature 23 year old adult who had a steady job.

You know, in case you forget for some odd reason.

I got in the car with my parents and wouldn't you know it - they had brought their friends from out of town who worked for the organization, Focus on the Family.

Our conversation on the way to the parking lot went something like this:

Focus Guy: "So, Louise why aren't you riding to your date with your boyfriend?"

Louise:  crickets

Louise's Dad:  "Oh, this isn't her boyfriend.  He is at home right now.  This is just another guy she is going out with.

Louise:  crickets

Focus Guy:  "And, again, why are we driving you to the secret parking lot?"

Louise:  crickets

Louise's Dad:  "Oh, they don't want anyone to know they are going out."

So thankful my dad was there for clarification purposes.

I finally got into Tim's truck, and we headed to the movies.

We saw The Wedding Date.

The irony is not lost on me.

We basically talked the entire movie, which I am sure was a welcome distraction for all the other paying customers in the theater.

After the movie we talked and talked and talked some more.

I really and truly didn't expect to enjoy the conversation as much as I did.

After many hours I finally (because I have never been known for my tact) just went ahead and asked some questions that are usually reserved for month 4, 5, or even 6 in a normal relationship.

I told him that I didn't want to be casual.

I had a boyfriend of 4 years that until that night had believed I would marry.

I knew at that point that it wasn't looking good for said boyfriend and I, but I also didn't want to let Tim mess with me and take advantage.

Again, I am nothing if not direct.

Tim was also extremely forthcoming and told me that he really liked me and wanted us to pursue a relationship.

Obviously, I had some big decisions to make, so he finally took me home.  To my parents house.  Again, mature adult award right here.

I was up most of that night and finally called my boyfriend the next morning.

I told him I had gone out with another guy the night before.

We hadn't kissed or anything, but it was obviously not a good sign that I had even wanted to go out with another guy.

I asked if we could take a two week break to give myself some time to figure things out.

He was sad and asked if he could still come to my family birthday dinner that night.

I said yes and as I hung up the phone there was a knock on my front door.

I heard my mom open the door and utter the words, "You've got balls,"

And we will pick up there at a later date.

Please don't let the suspense kill you because then you will miss Part III.  What a tragedy:)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Love Story - Part Uno

One thing I've never done on the blog was write out the story of how Tim and I met and then hated each other and then fell in love - in that order.

We have a very "special" story, and I want to have it down on figurative paper before I forget any details.

It has been ten years this year since we got married, so now is as good a time as any.

We met in the Fall of 2004 when I took a job at Calvary Christian High School as the 9th and 10th grade English teacher.

Tim was the Bible teacher at the time, and while I don't remember our very first meeting, I do remember his long, blond (courtesy of sun-in) hair in our faculty meetings before school started.

This is obviously a picture after we were together, but I wanted to give you the pleasure of seeing those locks of hair in all their glory.

Back to the story . . . so we worked together that Fall.

His roommate invited me to hang out with them at their BYOM (Bring your own meat parties for anyone who is as clueless as I was because #thatsweird).

I never went, but I did spend time with him at school in the cafeteria or at faculty meetings because we were 2 out of 3 faculty members under the age of 40 at the time.

All Tim would ever talk about was all his girlfriends (yes, plural and yes, yuck) back home that were waiting for him to visit.

I remember telling my mom was a total loser he was, and all she would say was how cute she thought he was.

He would walk by my room a lot since our rooms were right across the hall, and he would always peek in and give a sly smile.

I thought it was creepy.

Always creepy.

Another facet of the story that is somewhat important is the fact that I had a boyfriend of almost 4 years at the time.

I thought we were going to get married.

I had no time or desire for any other men in my life.

Early in the spring semester at the school I had a conversation with Tim about the book Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

I was pretty surprised to find out Tim had read it and loved it.

It is a very romantic story and my favorite book of all time.

Again, a picture after we were together, but blogs without pictures are boring.  You're welcome.

So . . . after the book talk I started to think that maybe he could be a decent guy.

He began coming in my classroom everyday after school just to talk and ask me to diagram Bible verses for his class (good excuse).

February 3rd was my birthday and when I got to school that day there was a card on my desk from Tim that held a Publix gift card.

His note inside said, "Hey, maybe you can cook me dinner sometime."

Say what???

Part II coming soon.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Ministry Life - Bettelli Style

I'm not going to talk about my long hiatus from blogging because that would be boring and overdone in the "blogworld."

The last time I blogged was in November of 2014.

To say I'm a little rusty and behind would be an understatement.

So I'm just not going to say it.

And I'm not going to catch up on all the family time I missed.

I'm just going to jump back in.

I started blogging as a love letter of sorts to my kids, and I want them to look back at this little piece of the internet and see the small things that made up our lives.

Tim has been pastoring part-time (what is pastoring part-time? I'll never know because once you are a pastor, you are most definitely a pastor ALL THE TIME) since last August.

I was excited about the opportunity when we began talking about it because I knew God was definitely in the circumstances.

I said I never wanted to be a pastor's wife, and I stick by that statement.

But I knew this is what the Lord wanted for us at this time, and so we jumped in.

It was a pretty smooth transition for the most part.

The church has been exceptionally inviting and forgiving, both of which are stellar qualities to have in a body of believers.

But . . . and of course there is always a but

I'm not one to barf all my personal struggles here on this oh so private internet space, but I feel like I need to get this out.

Being in ministry is hard.

I don't feel equipped for the emotional struggle.

There are some high, highs and some low, lows.

It is a sanctification process like no other.

I thought marriage was sanctifying, and I thought parenting was sanctifying, and I thought homeschooling was sanctifying, and I thought owning a house was sanctifying, but . . . 

None of that holds a candle to this.

I mean that in the least dramatic way possible, of course.

The best way I can describe it is like being in a tunnel where all my worst faults are magnified, and I am forced to deal with them at warp speed.

It is humbling to say the least.

But I am praying more than I ever have. #silverlining?

And because I don't want this to all be about me (ya, right ... working on pride too)

The kids have actually transitioned into this whole "ministry life" quite well.

They look forward to going to church, even though we have been known to be there 5-6 times a week and sometimes multiple times in the same day.

They are extremely friendly to new people like all good pastor's kids are expected to be:)

They don't complain too much about their dad being gone many, many hours and having to hang out with their cranky mom too much.

For these small glimpses of grace I am thankful.

And I am thankful God equips who He calls.

I just wish it wasn't so painful to go through the equipping process.