Jesus, I want that one.”
It was a Wednesday night in April of last year when I received a notification from the dating app I was on. Matt Hancock had sent me a message. That same night I replied to Matt (and…stalked him a little on Facebook and Instagram!) We continued to message back and forth on the dating app, and by Saturday morning we had exchanged numbers.
On Sunday evening we had our first phone call and talked about our lives, families, and dreams. I loved his voice (mhmm!) and loved hearing a personal God in his testimony. We ended the call and I said to the Lord, “Jesus, I want that one.”
We continued getting to know each other and we both knew from very early on that this was something special. It was so easy talking to Matt. It felt natural, and as our relationship continued to grow we both felt peace.
My friend, Viviane - a believer/wife/mother/leader/school principal, was keeping me accountable throughout our relationship. I shared a lot with her and she would not shy away from asking me tough questions. I am so grateful for her friendship and time invested in me. (We need more Viviane’s, amen? Amen!) One piece of advice she shared with me was on writing down my non-negotiables. It was to be a list of what kind of godly man I wanted to marry. She explained that when we are in the getting-to-know-you phase we tend to get excited and our emotions can fail us. The non-negotiables list is like a tool you can reference back to that will keep you anchored and not bend based on at-the-moment feelings.
I used that tool, and Matt met all my non-negotiables in my list. The Lord knows I did not want a wimp! One of my biggest requests was for a husband who has walked with Jesus and developed character. I loved Matt’s story of redemption. Instead of rebelling, he stayed put and held God’s hand through it all, because, “Ahni, I made a vow.” His character and mindset had developed in the fire. What could have killed him, he had won.
After 2 and ½ months of talking, I flew out to Louisiana to meet Matt.
My plane landed in Monroe on a Friday evening of July. Girl…I almost didn’t get off that plane! OMG, what am I doing?! The plane landed and I stayed seated. I was the last person to get off, and after I did, I found a restroom to go hide for a minute and take some deep breaths. Will he like me? Will he be disappointed? Oh, man, maybe I used too many filters!
Well, I wasn’t in Texas anymore. I was in Louisiana about to meet face to face with a man from a dating app. I walked out of the restroom, looked past security, and saw Matt standing looking back at me.
“I had to come see her.”
My time with Matt was right and what we both needed to seal what was happening between us. I went to his church and met his parents and kids. I felt welcomed and loved by everyone I met.
Two weeks had passed by since I last saw Matt in Louisiana. While I was at a church event, I received a text message from Matt saying, “I have to come see you now. I don’t want to wait anymore.” Matt drove 12 hours in the night, straight to South Texas to come see me. The day he arrived, we decided to have pan dulce with my family. He was going to meet my parents! I picked up Matt from his hotel and we drove to my house where my family was waiting for us. We arrived at my house and were greeted with cheerful hello’s and hugs. I loved how all my family helped with translating so that my dad and Matt could communicate. Matt had learned some sentences in Spanish and my dad learned some in English too. It was the cutest to hear them communicate! We talked, we laughed, and it quickly felt like family. As we were sitting in my living room eating conchas, my mom asked Matt what made him decide to drive 12 hours in the night. Matt told my parents, “I just couldn’t wait anymore. I had to come see her.”
After Matt and I left my house, I received a text from my family that read, “we approve!” and for the next couple of months, Matt and I took turns visiting each other about every 3 weeks. We talked about getting married and we prayed about when would be the right time.
At the beginning of my relationship with Matt, I knew that I would be leaving my family and friends to go live in Louisiana. Before meeting Matt, the Lord was preparing me for something new. I felt peace about leaving my home. What also made moving an easy decision was that we had my parent’s blessing. My family loved Matt.
Matt was in the valley for a weekend in October. We decided to spend our Saturday evening at South Padre Island. It was about an hour away from where I lived back in South Texas. We were both sitting quietly at a restaurant porch that faced the ocean; taking in the moment. I felt a sweet presence of heaven with us and a strong yet peaceful assurance that this was right. This was good. I grabbed Matt’s arm, looked at him and said, “Matt, I am really happy.”
After our dinner, we walked by the water at sunset. Matt knows I love to take walks. We walked away from the crowds until we were alone. He began talking about things he had been praying for and…I wish I could remember the rest of what he said! It was all a blur because my man took a ring out of his pocket, got on one knee, and asked me to be his wife!
We decided to get married in December. That meant that we had two months to plan a wedding!
My biggest task was to find a wedding dress. Because I am tall, I have always struggled with measurements. The day I went to look for a dress, I had prayed and asked for a miracle. I needed a dress off the rack, in my size, with no need of tailoring, and in my style and budget. Girl, in less than 10 minutes…I had my dress. Off the rack. In my size. No need of tailoring, and in my style and below budget. Miracles, people! Miracles!
The same week I bought my dress, we had the venue, food, photographer, and several other items. My closest girlfriends jumped in on the decor - Jan, Adri, Leilani, Mitzy, Johanna, Marina, Mariel, Itzy, and Tanya. They took over and made it all happen. Las quiero!
On the evening of December 29th, Matt and I got married in the valley. Candles lit up the venue as we celebrated God’s goodness in an intimate setting with close family and friends.
The next day, we began our drive to North Louisiana and arrived on the evening of the 31st. I woke up the morning of January 1st - a new year in my new home with my husband.