Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Our story: episode three

"What's a Twin River?"

The above is filed in the "most commonly asked questions of my life" folder I (don't actually) keep on my laptop. Or at least it was, back when I was serving the great state of Texas as Miss Twin Rivers 2012.

I've got the post-pageant glow...oh wait, that's just a spray tan.
I'm so tempted to diverge into the land of spray tans and evening gowns here, because truly, it was/is all completely fascinating to me. But that's another story entirely—probably one that's more book-length than blog-worthy, but we'll see. In the meantime, if you're curious about why I competed, you can click here.

Two weeks out from the Miss Texas Scholarship Pageant, I was standing in my parents' kitchen feeling whiny and frustrated (probably just needed a brownie) when my dad announced, "I'm going to book a vacation on Hilton Head Island for the week after the pageant."

Normal, expected response: "Awesome! How many swimsuits should I bring?"

My response: "Are you kidding me? If I win, I won't be able to go on vacation...are you saying you don't believe in my dreams?!"

See, in my sugar-deprived mind, my dad was saying, "There's no way you're going to win, sweetie, so let's skip out of town as soon as possible after you go down in flames." In real life, I think his thoughts were more along the lines of, "The hyper-focus of the last six months has left our entire family really, really, really exhausted. Win or lose, let's kick back and enjoy a nice vacay together."

But I still didn't want to go to Hilton Head. All people did there was golf, right?

My angsty protests and cries that no one understood my passions continued until my dad announced, "You know what? I'll call the Kikers. They don't live too far away...maybe they'd like to meet up with us on the beach. Who knows? Taylor might even bring a few friends."

Under normal circumstances, I think my dad's solution would be called a bribe. In light of the rest of our story, I think you'll agree that it was actually a Divine revelation inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Final night of Miss Texas—just a week away from "meeting" my husband!
Two weeks later, I walked off the Miss Texas stage with a win—just not the kind I had originally hoped for (i.e., there was no crown involved). But I had gone "all in" on a new experience, worked diligently toward a goal, gained invaluable speaking experience, and interacted with students, senior citizens, and Special Olympic athletes I wouldn't have otherwise met. So I counted it a victory, and it was off to Hilton Head we went.

Hi, husband.
This is where I really met Taylor. With no makeup on, no future plans to speak of, and our parents sitting approximately three feet away the entire time we were conversing.

For six months, I had been singularly focused on one goal, and one goal only: Becoming Miss Texas. By the time I hit the beach, my frame of mind had undergone a major adjustment.

July 13, 2012

What's coming from this? What was that? Where do I go from here? I know You were there with me, God, from day one. But the outcome was different than I imagined. I'm open and excited to see what's next. Speak clearly and show me the way—I want to be where You are and serve in the capacity you have prepared for me. I want Your best, not my biggest fantasy. Continue to refine my vision.

Oh, He refined it, alright. Right there on the beach, the Lord connected my spirit to Taylor's. And just like that, I knew.

I'm 99% sure that someone just rolled their eyes. Believe me, I get it. Married people say all the time, "When you know, you know." As a single person, this was extremely frustrating for me to hear, too. So, as best as I can describe it, here's how I personally "knew that I knew":

1. I felt a physical change. Battles with anxiety and fear, memories of past struggles, uncertainty about the future, a sense of impending change...all of those things had created a kind of emotional numbness that I had physically felt in my chest for quite some time. Would I ever be able to connect completely in a relationship? I honestly didn't know—until Hilton Head. While talking to Taylor, without any force whatsoever, it felt as if a valve in my heart opened. And there I was—laid bare to the core, yet filled to overflowing with the sense that this man had seen through every pretense, every barrier, every bullet point on my resume I'd thrown out for his consideration, and had taken hold of me...the me that God created me to be. I didn't have to prove anything. I didn't have to try. I was exposed but safe all at the same time. I was known. The best thing? I could see him in exactly the same way.

2. Every conversation we had drew me closer to Christ, not to Taylor. I'm not blind. As I shared in episode one, I'd been well aware that Taylor was "hot" since I was 14 years old. But his looks aren't what captivated me for three days on the beach. In everything Taylor said, everything he did, he pointed me back to Christ. In his testimony; in the way he looked at nature; in the way his eyes looked at me, knew me, and—somehow, even then I could sense it—loved me anyway. It was and continues to be a reflection of the way God loves me, and it was and continues to be the most powerful, humbling truth I have ever experienced.

3. I just knew. For the majority of my life, I have demonstrated fear—but meeting Taylor inspired the greatest faith act of my life to date. After three days of conversation (and not one hand-hold, kiss, or "Can I get your phone number?" to speak of), I journaled:

July 24, 2012

Right now, sitting on the floor of our hotel room in South Carolina, I want to speak two things in faith: I believe that You can and will heal my Scoliosis from every pull and curve on my back, and I believe in my spirit that I am going to marry Taylor Kiker. Lord, it's yours. I release it and look only into your face. Holy Spirit, if he is the one for me as I believe he is, prompt his spirit and confirm it unmistakeably to me. I ask for a way where there seems to be no way. Fill me with Your peace, patience, and above all, a blazing and assured trust not in my emotions or feelings, but in You and You alone.

4. He just knew. After three days of conversation (and not one hand-hold, kiss, or "Can I get your phone number?" to speak of), Taylor journaled:

July 24, 2012

Thank You for the time I got to spend with Karley. I loved being able to talk about life, dreams, and You with her, and her parents are so cool. I would love to marry her; she embodies what I pray for in a wife. Thank you Jesus for the time I got to spend with her. I don't know how it would work and I have no idea what I'm doing, but You are the God of the impossible. Lord, heal her and increase her faith for her healing. You died for her to be whole; let Your kingdom come and will be done in her body. I will wait on You alone, Lord. I know Your plan is the best and most fulfilling for my life.

So, since we both named-and-claimed with the written word that we believed we were going to marry the other, you would think that we started dating immediately, right?

Wrong. There were still six, long months to go until either of us would know just how exactly the other was feeling...or that we both journaled those entries on the same day. Did you catch that? The same day. The same day.

But why didn't we say anything about our feelings? When in the world does the handmade turkey card come into the equation? And after such an incredible experience on the beach, did I really almost succumb to doubt and give up on the whole thing?

To find out, stay tuned for episode four—the final (I think) segment in the "Our Story" series. Can't wait to share the incredible conclusion!


  1. I always hear something that blesses me in your blog. I'm so thankful for God connecting you with a man after His own heart. Taylor inspires me to get back to the basics of simply seeking God, listening for His voice, and acting in obedience. So do you Karley.

    1. Thanks, dad. We are both so thankful for you and mom's example. I/we love you!

  2. Thank you for crafting such a beautiful message. If ever there was a time to for us to remember that God is the God of the Impossible it's now. That He would reveal Himself through a beautiful love story is not surprising; He authored the orginal love story through His Son, Jesus. P.S. you've got yourself quite a guy - one who loves you as Christ loves the church - but then, sounds like you know it!

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Peppy! Yep, that is exactly how he loves me, and I am grateful beyond words and blessed beyond measure. Thanks for reading!


Karley with a K. Todos los derechos reservados. © Maira Gall.