Part Two: Twelve Stone Memorial

After hearing all about Akers, I asked the Kirkegaards to tell me the story of how they became married. Kelsey had explained previously that the three bands on her forearm represented her and Matt’s union, set upon the foundation of Christ, and I had wanted to hear more about that.

Matt began,”We met on tour. I was the band leader for a large conference tour and Kels was nannying for one of the speakers. We met on that tour and both of us were strong individuals, identified and independent. I didn’t plan on getting married, I was single for life and really happy with that decision. And Kelsey wasn’t necessarily opposed to marriage, but she didn’t think it would ever happen. She wasn’t going to stop her pursuit of what God has called her to do to find a guy.

“So we met,” Matt continued. “The band consisted of me and three other guys. There were 40 to 60,000 middle-aged Christian women at the conferences every weekend, so of course, everyone on tour was trying to matchmake us. I asked her to go to coffee so I could clear up any confusion. We went to coffee and I told her, ‘Look, if you’re interested, find someone else, I’m not your guy. Sorry, and best of luck.’ And it was great because we ended up having a three-hour conversation about how we loved being single and how it’s such a cool season of life. And um…. well we were married a year after that, but that’s beside the point!” Matt laughed.

“That conversation took away the pressure, though,” Kelsey added. “We got to know each other really fast. When you go into something knowing that there’s possible interest, you put on your best face and you wait to bring out the ugly, dirty side until later. But for us, there was no reason to not show those parts of us because we were just being friends.”

“We ended up on all the same tours through the fall,” Matt continued, “Life accelerates during tour. You’re living in close quarters, you spend concentrated amounts of time with each other so we got to be friends really fast, and got on all the same tours for Christmas.”

“Well,” Kelsey interrupted. “We had a conversation at Thanksgiving.”

“We did. We had a conversation during Thanksgiving that challenged both of us.”

“Matt freaked out a little bit,” Kelsey laughed.

“So did you! Kelsey asked me a very pointed question. She said, ‘So if another guy comes into my life tomorrow, you’re fine with that, right?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah! I’m totally…. well actually, I don’t know!'”

“We were on a road trip and it became awkwardly silent for awhile,” Kelsey admitted.

“You weren’t expecting to feel what you felt either,” Matt said to her. “So we both didn’t know how we felt about it. And that changed things a little bit.”

“I was at his parents’ house for Thanksgiving because I didn’t have anywhere else to go. We were just trying to figure out why we felt weird about what happened. And I was supposed to leave for a tour the next day, it would be the first time since we met that we would be apart for a good month. And we were excited. We knew this was going to be a good test to see how we felt because we’d have to do a long distance friendship. So two days on the new tour, I get a call and find out Matt had been called out on the same tour.”

“So we were on the same tour again, through Christmas, go figure,” Matt said. “By Christmas, we got to the point where we both realized that God was clearly putting us together, and we enjoyed each other’s company, we weren’t getting tired of each other.”

Kelsey continued, “New Year’s Eve we went out for coffee and basically said, ‘We’re getting married. I mean, it’ll probably be five years from now, but we’re definitely getting married.’ By that time we had started liking each other as more than friends, but we weren’t exactly at the marriage point yet.”

“So we just went forward with the knowledge that we were getting married,” Matt said. “Then during next couple of weeks, God made it very clear through a lot of specific things that we were going to get married October 20th of that year.”

“I had thrown out that date because I think it’s the perfect day to get married,” Kelsey said. “The leaves are pretty and the weather is perfect.”

“A lot of random details came into play,” Matt continued. “All of the sudden we had a venue and I got a tax return that was the exact amount needed for a deposit.”

“Yeah, we went and saw a venue secretively,” Kelsey explained. “We got there and the woman told us she had October 20th available for that year. But we didn’t even have the money for the deposit.”

“It was like $2,748.72. It’s this really random deposit we had to pay. And then I got my tax return back a few days after and it was exactly $2,748.72,” Matt said.

“That’s when we looked at each other and said, ‘We’re getting married this year.'”

“So we go and put the deposit down without telling anyone, just as friends who were falling for each other but hadn’t fallen yet. I mean, we hadn’t even gone on a date,” Matt said. “We felt that there was a reason why everything was going so fast, and we felt like it was an act of obedience to walk forward into marriage.”

“About a month later,” Kelsey continued, “My mom and best friend flew out and we went wedding dress shopping, without really telling anyone else. Because at this time Matt and I were just friends to everyone else. In April we went to Guatemala with some friends because Guatemala is a huge place for me and he needed to see me in that role first,” Kelsey explained.

“And I proposed to her that week. I was planning on surprising her but she knew, which ended up being great because we were able to walk through that week knowing that was the decision we were about to make.”

“Leading up to that trip, we started feeling really attacked,” Kelsey said. “We realized that us getting married was definitely an act of obedience.”

“So the night I proposed to her, Kelsey and I went for a long walk and we decided to get everything out on the table, we didn’t have the luxury to hold things back at this point. We just talked about all the things we didn’t like about each other and everything we were scared about.”

“It was pretty honest,” Kelsey admitted.

“And at the end of it, I decided that no matter what I was going to land with us. And she said that no matter what, she was going to choose me. That’s where we ended. Then we went and prayed in the streets of Guatemala over our impending engagement, and as we started to pray, a parade of demons start marching around us,” Matt said. “They were all dressed in demon masks, carried torches, and started marching around us and chanting.”

“That’s when the heaviness hit us,” Kelsey said. “That’s when we knew we had to do this together.”

“We knew there was definitely a purpose why God had us together,” Matt agreed. “So we prayed over that, I proposed, she said yes, and we were married six months later.”

“We got super attacked when we got back,” Kelsey said. “We walked through a lot of hard stuff. My mom was diagnosed with stage four Lymphoma two weeks before my wedding and the doctors weren’t sure if she was going to make it. It was just to the extreme all the way up till the day of our wedding. Even the day of our wedding was miserable, nothing happened the way it was supposed to.”

“Until Kelsey walked out the door,” Matt explained. “Then everything stopped. A friend of ours described it as the Holy Spirit resting over the place and protecting the ceremony. And our ceremony was magical.”

“When we said, ‘I do,’ we got a standing ovation. It was powerful.”

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Matt continued, “That led to another year of hard attacks. There is a list of the top 20 life-stressors a person can go through in a lifetime, and we hit 18 of them in one year. But there was such a juxtaposition of beautiful moments God gave us to keep us going and then hard battles we had to fight.”

“But we had each other and looking back on it, we realized that is why God had us married on October 20th of that year. It was a necessity. I mean, even the timing with my mom. My wedding pictures are the last I have with her. She lost all her hair the next day.”

I asked if they were ever tempted to think it was God telling them not to get married when the attacks happened in opposition towards their wedding.

“After we got engaged, we had a couple of weeks of pure chaos,” Kelsey answered. “And there were twenty-four hours during one of the biggest attacks where we both stepped away from each other and questioned it all. But I remember thinking, ‘I don’t serve a God of chaos, and right now everything is chaotic.’ My best friend was there, she got pulled in the middle of this whole thing. We all sat at a table and felt there was a chaotic side and a peace side. And the peace side was God. We felt that when we were together we were on the peace side, and when we stepped away from each other there was only chaos.

“From that point forward, there has never been another time of questioning. Even when I’m really really mad at him, I know I just want to be with him.

“‘Remember’ has always been one of our words. Not dwelling, but remembering the past and where someone comes from. Because there is so much weight in remembering your story.”

“When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River,” Matt said, “They were commanded to set up a twelve stone memorial to remember so all the generations that came would know what God has done. We feel like our life is supposed to be a twelve stone memorial so those around us can see that this is what the Lord has done.”

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