How It Happened

According to Amber

We met February 8, 2018 when I literally showed up on Brian’s doorstep! He was the leader of my small group, and I was running late to our very first small group meeting. He opened the door for me, and I smiled brightly at him, and so we began…

Over the course of small group, Brian and I got to know more and more about each other. We bonded over a common sense of witty humor, theology, long, late night discussions, campy muppet movies, music, big dogs, and a fondness for Disney songs! I knew he was the guy for me when he grabbed his guitar and sang “Kiss the Girl” from “The Little Mermaid” (my favorite Disney movie and Disney song)!

Our 1st date was supposed to be on Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day of 2017. He was going to take me to Left Nut Brewery. What happened instead was he felt so bad for kicking me out of his house after group on the Thursday night prior to, he asked me to dinner at Dominick’s the next night. I’ve still yet to visit Left Nut Brewery!

We got engaged on December 15th, 2018. It was epic. He schemed with my baby sister and brother in law to hijack the bouquet toss at their wedding reception! She turned, handed me the bouquet, and turned me around where Brian was on one knee with a crowd of folks around him. I proceeded to bury my face in the bouquet my sister gave me and cried until someone in the crowd asked “Well!?” I said yes, cried more, and hugged him tightly until I was calm and coherent enough to face everyone.

According to Brian

It was late September, and I had just come to the completion of my many conquests and world-changing discoveries across Southeast Asia, India, and other great, forgotten lands. My crew and I, weary from our travels, were charting our course home through the Pacific, where upon the horizon, I saw a dark cloud forming, it’s vapors circulating violently in the evening sky as if its very being was fighting over how to best end our trek. We had no chance or choice to avoid the great storm, and as we gathered what was left of our spirits and our battered and tired bodies, we prepared for the fight that was closing fast — the fight to get us home…

That’s probably a cool story, but it’s someone else’s. Mine starts as most do, with good friends and good food. We all used to laugh about the topic of “Hey Brian, when is there going to be a woman in your life,” to which the response was always fairly similar: “Well, considering I’m not the type of person who goes out on Friday, or spends my nights out at bars (which are typically full of women I don’t have much interest in meeting), I suppose it will have to be sometime after one wanders into my living room while I’m hanging out with my dog!

Fast forward a bit, and most of my focus has been shifted to getting more involved in church. I’ve moved around a lot, misplaced most of my friends along the way, and am looking for a community that shares my values. I follow the path most do: Start volunteering on this team… then that one… then another. Our church has small groups, which I keep my eye on, always wondering when one will spark my interest.

After a good many months, it’s coming up on small group season, and I’ve decided a small group is something I’d really like to participate in, but I just can’t find the one I’m looking for. Then the push came — “Start your own, dummy. Make it the one you want to be a part of.”

SINGLE IN OUR 30’s – Creating a Place for Someone Else.

And that was the beginning – February 8th, 2018, when Amber Kinney wandered into my living room while I was hanging out with my dog.

Our meeting were fun, low-key, casual, and full of awesome conversation. We were a group having a great time, talking about how to put others first, only behind God – about how if we wanted a great relationship, we had to start by building a space for someone to occupy. To be honest, it was an absolutely unfair advantage to be meeting people in that setting. I feel like more people should do it that way.

I took an interest in Amber early on, but only shared it with a long-time friend, who had also joined the group at my invitation. He shared with me, that he too had taken an interest, although to my luck, not in Amber. Over the next month amid many discussions, mutual hangings out with the group, and an immeasurable amount of nagging from Chad and his already girlfriend, Brooke, the first date was made – St Patrick’s Day. Amber and I were going to spend a day in Gainesville and tour Left Nut Brewery.

Amber started spending some time after group meetings, and around 9:00PM the week before our plans, tired, grumpy Brian was ready for bed (I’m not a night owl, and I’ve later learned, neither is Amber). So, what does a guy do? Obviously the most practical thing imaginable: “Hey pretty lady, sitting on my couch, who is clearly interested… I’m tired, you have to leave. I’ll see you next week.”

30 minutes later…

TEXT: Hey… I feel bad about that. Can I take you to dinner tomorrow?

So our first date moved up a week. We still spent St. Patrick’s Day together, but we never made it to the Brewery. I’m certain there was a reason for it, but I can’t remember for the life of me. I think it had something to do with us being able to bring our dogs, which we did.

A flourishing relationship got off to a fast start – again, unfair advantage again being part of a small group explicitly set in talking about how to make a good relationship work well. 8 months of no fights, shared values, and fur-kids later, it was obvious this needed to go nowhere but where it was going. October came, and I started making plans with my family to have my Grandmother’s ring put back together (the ring and stone had seen several homes since she agreed to marry my grandfather when he presented it 70 years ago). With the help of my mother, we got the ring sized, the original stone set back into its platinum band, and started hatching plans for a proposal.

Her younger sister Megan made it easy – she was getting married in December! That was a done deal – I just had to get her mother’s blessing, and Megan’s permission to steal a part of her day without Amber finding out. So while everybody was together helping prepare decorations for the upcoming wedding, I pulled each one aside, and got the responses I was hoping for.

December 15th, Megan failed to throw her bouquet in the most traditional of ways – she instead turned around and handed it to her beautiful sister, Amber. Needless to say, I’m not sure she was expecting that! And even if she was, she certainly wasn’t expecting the bent knee waiting behind her.

And now, I get the best early birthday present I could ask for – the most beautiful woman will become Mrs. Fleming, and with our families and friends we can all celebrate the day the girl of my dreams wandered into my living room while I was hanging out with my dog.