Today's story is authored by God, mostly recalled by Jaron (the half of us with an acute memory), and told by me, Jen, the blogger chick, drama queen, bridezilla, etc. Which means you better find the right butt grooves in your chair now or move to the couch because I'm not making any promises on how long this will take.Chapter 1: They Meet
It was a cold evening in the middle in the woods. UC San Diego Intervarsity, a Christian college fellowship, was having its annual winter retreat. Per usual when too many college kids are packed in a rainy cabin, an iPod was offered and sweaty dancing commenced.
Jen was a freshman who appeared rebelliously confident with a nose ring, thrift store jacket, skinny jeans and a bleached strip of hair (think: skunk). Really, she was just overly zealous to be miles away from home in the Bay Area and onward to embracing adulthood.
The air was sticky when she made her way through the throngs of hoodies and beanies and body odor to the first generation iPod responsible for the dancing soundtrack. She squatted next to the metal folding chair and reached for the iPod, her index finger twirling the device in search of recognizable artists. "Whose is this anyway?" she murmured to no one in particular.
Jaron, a quintessential "nice guy" and cute sophomore (but Jen didn't notice the cuteness (nor would she for the next few years) because she didn't look up to check) came forward. "Oh, it's mine." He smiled hugely after claiming ownership.
"Wow, you listen to a lot of white boy music."
If we may state the obvious, no romantic chemistry ignited at that point.
Jen crept down the dark staircase tagged with recital advertisements and colorful graffiti, finding her way into the basement of UCSD's cemented music department. Nothing was familiar now that she had taken up the extra jazz major on top of her communications studies. Who was she kidding? She knew nothing about jazz. But she knew even less and about opera, so this was how she would academically explore her singing.
As she neared the room where her first jazz improvisation class would take place, she spotted Jaron, an acquaintance from Intervarsity. It has been a year since she criticized his musical tastes, which she would learn to shamefully regret.
She quickly approached him, and Jaron smiled hugely with relief at the sight of a familiar face. An unspoken contract was signed right then and there – they would sit together all quarter, and he would whisper all the answers to her when she was put on the spot by their professor.
Is it cheesy to say that it was through music that Jaron and Jen began their friendship? Because for the next two years, Jaron and Jen played in several concerts together, performed at gigs and led worship at church and Intervarsity.
Phrygian scales, Kanye West, melodica, improv finals, altar calls. Endless jam sessions, illegal mp3 swaps, midnight jazz clubs, stimulating lectures, overstayed coffee shops.
Music, music, music.
Ah, the thrill of watching separate worlds collide, thought Jaron as his college friends dropped their sleeping bags and excitedly introduced themselves to his parents.
It was the end of his final year in college and his worship band decided to celebrate with a trip to Six Flags. His parents generously offered to host his friends who immediately set up camp in Jaron's childhood bedroom and living room couches.
Earlier that year, his long-term dating relationship ended, leaving him hungry for deep friendship. His worship band quickly embraced him and the group quickly grew inseparable. Not only did the band meet every Wednesday and Sunday to rehearse and play music, but soon they were seeing each other nearly everyday at cafes, libraries, online chatrooms and jam sessions. He grew to trust and love everyone as family.
Including Jen. Jaron slowly came to realize how much they had in common beyond just music. They shared similar childhood memories, a passion for the arts and the strong conviction to live a life of justice and mercy. Most of all, she trusted God deeply and was defined by her faith. She became more and more intriguing to him, but he kept at a careful distance for awhile since she was in a relationship.
But recently that relationship came to an end, and now more than ever Jaron found himself wanting to spend more time with her.
After a thrilling day at Six Flags and Korean barbeque, the group returned to Jaron's parents' home and lined up for the bathroom before collapsing into their sleeping bags. Jaron made his rounds around the house, passing out blankets and pillows and wondering where Jen was. Suspecting that her introverted-ness kicked in after a long social day, he stepped outside into the backyard and found Jen sitting against the wall, staring at telephone poles. It was past midnight and chilly out.
"I brought you a jacket."
Jen glanced up from her trance and gave him a smile. She scooted over as Jaron sat down next to her. And thus began their five-hour conversation about anything and everything, from a debate on the color of the midnight clouds to childhood reminiscence. Suddenly, a rare moment of silence happened. Tell her, Jaron thought.
"What are you thinking?" Jen asked, still dazed and staring ahead at the telephone lines.
A gigantic palm tree planted in his next door neighbor's backyard caught Jaron's eye. Inspired by its enormity, Jaron spat out, "I like you, Jen."
When she could no longer deny what had transpired, Jen exhaled deeply and groaned. "Ah, crap."
Realizing her response probably wasn't as sexy as Jaron had anticipated, she reassured him that she was attracted to him and loved spending time with him. But she needed more time to digest her recent break up. He agreed and explained he had no intention of pushing anything on her. He simply wanted to be clear with his intentions and feelings for her.
His assertiveness and gentleness really shocked Jen. Unbeknownst to him, it was at this moment that she was won over.
SUMMER 2008 – FALL 2010
For the next half year, Jen and Jaron learned everything about each other. He valued quality time together; she cherished deep conversation. He was a bit dorkier than she had anticipated, and she was a bit more insecure than he had assumed. Both dreamed vividly every night in color and woke up with a new song stuck in their head. And both sought and received their parents' blessings on the relationship, and officially began their journey as a couple shortly thereafter.
But once upon a time, a horrible economic recession hit, and Jen and Jaron struggled to nail down decent job opportunities while in San Diego. Jen flew home to mom and dad in San Jose, and Jaron to Torrance. The long-distance relationship forced them to face tough issues that were avoided when they were in the same city distracted with exciting dates. But they came out of every challenge with even more trust in God, even more in love with each other, and even more certain of their commitment to being a team. They took turns visiting each other's hometowns, and every time they reunited at LAX or SJO, life was extra sweet.
With only a few days' notice, Jen was offered a job in Los Angeles and packed up all of her belongings in her first car (for which she sold her violin in order to purchase just the day before). For the first year, times were often tough with finances and finding free time to make new friends. But being nearby each other allowed them to hope and pray together. Thankfully, Jaron's parents and relatives warmly welcomed Jen and made the big life transition for both Jen and Jaron a lot smoother.
Los Angeles soon became home, and they began longing to become a family.
NOVEMBER 6, 2010
Jen's phone vibrated.
"Hi love! How's your day with the girls so far? Btw the speaker at this conference is awesome. Can't wait for you to hear him tomorrow morning."
She texted back.
"The day's been so fun. We're at Griffith."
"Guys," Jen exclaimed. "Jaron says the speaker tomorrow at church will be super good. He's listening to him right now."
Grace and Jackie smiled sweetly and kept up the hill.
They were at the Griffith Observatory as the next activity for the exciting girls' weekend Jen had spent meticulously planning for over a month. After a fun day of posing next to Justin Timberlake and Will Smith at the wax museum and strolling around Hollywood, the girls were embarking on their hike up towards a breathtaking LA viewpoint for sunset.
Grace's mom had excitedly texted Jen the night before with, "Congratulation on engagement!" Upon hearing Jen share the text aloud, Grace laughed nervously and called her Korean-speaking mother on her cellphone, passionately rebuking her for misusing the term "engagement" as a meeting with friends rather than a marriage proposal. Jackie wore a frightfully serious look on her face and tried desperately to change the subject. And as well as Jen knew her best girlfriends, she refused to be suspicious over any potential fishy business that could threaten her perfectly planned weekend.
Jaron had also done his fair share of lying the past month of planning the proposal. And as he sat at the LA viewpoint waiting for his love to arrive, he smiled knowing Jen had no idea what was waiting for her. In fact, after he marked the perfect spot on the hill where he placed his thoughtfully written card, a vase of roses and a chocolate bar, and planned to pop the question, he sat around for well over an hour, just waiting patiently.
The girls trekked uphill, their conversation revolving around what was for dinner, how regretful Jen was over her choice of patent leather flats today, and how incredible it was that the gloomy skies just opened up for the sun's astonishing debut.
"Looks like Jesus is coming out of the sky," Jen half-joked as they were approaching destination.
Suddenly, Jen saw a silhouetted figure in the distance. Within seconds, she recognized him; his afro-y hair, unmistakeably enormous smile and happy eyes. Beside him were roses.
A humiliating amount of tears and exclamations were made for the next hour as Jaron finally retrieved Jen from her frozen position. With a breathtaking panorama of Los Angeles behind him and God watching from above, he got down one knee and asked her to marry him.
Grace and Jackie cheered and assumed the role of paparazzi. Their memory card contained over 300 photos taken of the occasion, including hysterical footage that was shown later that night at the surprise party at Jaron's parents' house.
And that's how forever started.
I know you appreciate words, especially in writing, so this letter is an expression of my deepest love for you.
The past two years have been, hands down, the most amazing years of my life. Dating you has given me confidence in leadership, wisdom in decisions and compassion for others. You've taught me that love means sacrifice and humility. We've learned to build each other up and be strong when the other is weak. Despite life's challenging circumstances, God has been faithful. Every step along the way has had greater purpose beyond our immediate vision.
You are the most beautiful, considerate and loving person I've ever known and will ever know. I love taking walks with you, laughing at each others' lame jokes and chatting about anything and everything. I love your cute nose, your gorgeous eyes and charming smile. I love your passions and visions. I can't imagine life without you.
I want to spend the rest of our lives together as husband and wife. I want to have a family with you. I want to grow old with you. You're the reason I smile, Jen.
You will always be my best friend, my love, my everything.
All my love,
Photographers: Studio Castillero
The outdoor wedding ceremony, cocktail hour and reception will be held at Pasadena's "best kept secret" garden on June 18, 2011 at 4:00 PM.
Happy Trails Garden
207 South Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
Parking: You can choose to find street parking or park in the Del Mar Gold Line Station parking structure (230 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105) just across Central Park for $5 all day. Welcome to LA!
Ladies: Since the whole evening will be spent partying in an outdoor garden, please wear comfortable shoes.
Dinner: Dinner will be served in a buffet style.
Hotel Accommodations: For your convenience, we have reserved hotel rooms at Courtyard by Marriott Pasadena Old Town just 0.5 miles from the wedding venue.
If you make your reservation over the phone, call (800) 321-2211 and refer to rate code: "CJL"
If you make your reservation online, under the special rates column, enter "CJLCJLA" for a standard king room and "CJLCJLB" for a double queen room.
Reservations and wedding discount expire on May 18, 2011.
For any questions, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
RegistryWe are currently registered at Amazon.com, Honeyfund and Bed Bath & Beyond under Jen Chiu or Jaron Lum.
For Example:If your address is P.O. Box 123 you should enter 123.
If your address is 54321 Wedding St enter 54321.
If your address is 4567 Apartment Rd #12 enter 4567.
Thank you for your response!