it’s a longer story, full of more details ad God-fingerprints than I can adequately convey in this space, but the timing of it was just right and the knowing was nearly immediate.
brooke likes to joke that God dropped tim in her back yard, which is pretty literally true. on november 1, 2008, tim came to grand rapids, where brooke was living and working at the Stockbridge Boiler Room, for a boiler room get-together of sorts. there were boiler room friends from tulsa and madison pouring in to spend some time in the prayer garage together talking about what it means to be spiritual family. these gatherings always feel like family reunions of sorts, the DNA is so similar between us.
tim had been to Grand Rapids for another gathering of similar nature back in april, but brooke doesn’t remember having seen him there, nor he seeing her. (paths are prevented from crossing until the time is ripe).
so he came to Michigan for this gathering and actually they first laid eyes on one another at Maggie’s Kitchen, a little mexican place a few blocks from the Boiler Room. brooke noticed his hat (hand-knit, red and pink). tim noticed her sincerity. they sat at the same table, with a few others from madison and grand rapids, talking about shared community life in their respective places.
throughout the 24 hours that tim was in grand rapids, he found many excuses to talk to her, seeking her out in the kitchen, which is where she often was. and interest was peeked on both sides.
tim left his disciples (Transit students) in grand rapids for the week as part of their training experience. brooke had a great time with them, and was always listening to hear how they spoke about tim, wanting to glean more information. brooke and her housemate, chip, decided to hand-deliver the students back to madison instead of throwing them on the bus. so they piled into the truck and headed out.
upon being informed that they were coming, tim worked hard to put together a weekend filled with fellowship and fun for all. after dinner the first night in madison, chip took tim aside and suggested that he might do well to take note of brooke. chip told tim that he could tell they were cut from the same cloth, and that brooke was a really good woman.
and brooke didn’t need much nudging, as she had already noticed tim. with each conversation snippet they had together, she was amazed by yet another layer of like-mindedness.
the Lord extended chip and brooke’s stay in madison that weekend, which was good, because those last two days were key solidifying tim and brooke’s interest in one another. though they were playing it cool when in each other’s presence, they were each confiding their feelings in a couple of friends over the course of the weekend. tim told his accountability partners that “i don’t know what’s going on, but this girl is here and i think i’m falling for her!” brooke told chip that she was smitten, and texted a friend back home, “tim collier is pretty much my soul mate.”
so brooke left. she cried on the way home because she was so sad to leave tim. but she had left a note of verbal affirmation in his wallet, which emboldened him to reply to her and initiate ongoing conversation. the following weekend they were on the phone telling one another more of their stories. the conversation was two hours long and very very good.
from then on out, they talked on the phone for 2-3 hours each weekend, tim sneaking around to hide this new-found correspondence from his housemates, and emailing nearly daily. with each conversation they discovered more commonalities of dreams and desires, and more and more appreciation for one another.
in the secret place with the Lord, brooke was praying and fasting about tim, having recognized him as her future husband nearly immediately. and tim was contending with the sense of rightness he felt about brooke in contrast with all the safety-net rules he’d established for himself relationally. on the outside, they just continued on with a deepening and affectionate friendship.
at one point when brooke was particularly impatient for tim to pursue her, the Lord said, “give him 5 weeks.” so she took note and settled in for the wait. it was 5 weeks to the day from when she had left Madison that tim resolved that he wanted to tell brooke that he had feelings for her. that was on december 17th.
on new year’s day tim came to grand rapids again, alone this time, to see brooke. that trip was essential in reassuring them both that they were not imagining the connection between them, and that the other was just as good in real life as in emails. and on january 10th, 2009, tim called brooke in the morning and read her a poem he’d written called “i see you,” which had a message embedded in it requesting her to be his girlfriend. so she said yes.
there is lots in between, including monthly visits between madison and grand rapids, ever-lengthening phone-calls, love letters, and all the rest. and a lot of prayer and counsel-seeking behind the scenes. they knew they had to ask the question about moving to be near one another. and in march, tim invited brooke to move to madison.
with her internship ending on march 31st, they decided that brooke would move out to madison on april 13th, and that tim would come to get her. both of them knew that this move was significant, and that, baring any unexpected conflicts or revealed incongruities, this would be another step in the direction of marriage.
brooke was in madison for only a month before they began openly talking about getting married. and by the end of april, after praying and listening to the Lord together, they decided to be married by summer’s end.
and this merely the tip of the iceburg. this tells nothing of the deep things God was arranging in their hearts and orchestrating in their circumstances to propel them forward with confidence and joy, nor of the peace and purity that has always been characteristic of their relationship.
our God writes a really great love story.