Once upon a time I came across a picture on Facebook. (Let’s be honest, don’t many stories start this way, kind of creepy and stalker-ish)?
My dear friend Anna, whom I have written about on this blog somewhat extensively, especially taking into consideration my total lack of blog content this past year, has a little sister named Mary Brantley. It was Mary Brantley who introduced me to the 13 Auburn Friends, who you can read a little about here, (on a post about Ivy’s wedding). One of these girls is a hot mess named Erin Tumlin - who just goes by ET, or Tumlin, or Mini. But back it up. Before I ever met this girl, I saw her in one of Mary Brantley’s Facebook pictures. Her head was shaved and she looked gorgeous - obviously I was intrigued. I looked for her name, and found that it was the friend Anna and her twin Aimee had told me was SOOOO much like ME!
My first thought was: I wonder if I’m going to shave my head at some point? Second thought: Is she an insecure wild thing too? Third thought: How can I concoct a non-psycho plan to meet and then possibly befriend this ET? We’re years apart in age, went to different schools anyway, live in different cities…it was going to be tricky.
Turns out my crazy plan wasn’t so difficult. All the Maner girls got married back to back and I shot all of their weddings (except for Anna), which provided a great starting point for me to meet and slowly begin stalking ET. Then the 13 Auburn Friends started getting married, and I shot about half of their weddings, providing even more foundation and great opportunities to hang out with Tumlin. On top of all that, she’s a killer musician, and for a while there it seemed like I was running into her at every wedding I shot in The South anyway - she would be singing, I would be shooting. I didn’t even have to stalk her down, we just slowly built a base for a real friendship.
And we really are, like, EXACTLY alike. Is that sort of cool? Totally. Also really REALLY weird? Absolutely. Are our over-the-top similarities endlessly surprising to us? Occasionally. I mean really, it’s just strange to find someone out there who shares your brain and personality in apparently every way - it’s sort of comforting and unsettling at the same time. Does that make any sense? Probably not. Whatever.
I don’t remember how it started, but somewhere in our story we start Hey-Telling each other like crazy. And then randomly, we progress to having late night phone conversations that last hours - super convenient as we both suffer from unbelievable insomnia. And then, it was as if I woke up one day and just realized I had come to truly love this new friend, and was baffled at how it had played out. She had truly become a friend of my heart. And so unexpectedly. I had come to love this crazy little tornado of ADHD and creativity run rampant. I prayed for her, cared for her, started to really invest in her. Then my husband sent the whole thing into warp-speed by flying her out to LA as a surprise, to spend a week playing with me. GAME. OVER.
That week was bizarre. We are so very similar in every possible way, and yet we’ve followed incredibly divergent paths and lived our lives to our mid-twenties as differently as possible. The Lord had been calling us in the same ways, and we had answered Him as opposite as two people can. Yet He won us both and has broken us both and matured us both. Seeing our walks and the journeys we’ve taken was eye-opening, and with a jolt of startling clarity, my faith grew firmly as the friendship deepened. And at some point during that play-cation in Los Angeles, she became Mini and I became Mac…
I’ve prayed for this girl and her future husband fervently. If you pour over my journal, you’ll see them both lifted in prayer time and time again. I didn’t know who or where he was - but I knew he had to be seriously legit and seriously PREPARED to take on a marriage to a woman who is the miniature version of me. Lord help Him. And also, who in the world would be able to pursue and win THIS girl?! He would be a champion of the many who’ve tried and failed. She deserved the best - no clue what that was going to look like, and couldn’t wait to find out. I watched some ‘Oh HELL no he’s not The One’ guys take a shot, and they would pursue her like crazy lunatics (one or two may have been). And then, out of nowhere, a guy I forced her to un-follow on Twitter (whole other story, which I had forgotten and he reminded me of) fell in love with her. Head over heels. And she fell for him too. And he’s PERFECT. For ET, he is her Reese’s Pieces. And she’ll follow him just like the original little alien followed that candy no matter the course…because that’s the woman she was created to be. You see, MY ET is going to be Bubba’s wife. She was made for him. I can’t BELIEVE he’s here and I got to watch their story unfold. Wow.
So a few weeks ago my husband and I flew to Nashville to be with these two the day they got engaged. We made it to the engagement party with not a second to spare and it was fabulously perfect - I wouldn’t have changed a thing ;) SO, to make what I want to be a long and heartfelt story more blog-friendly, that’s the gist of this love story for now. Both mine and Mini’s, and most importantly, Erin and Bubba’s. Much more to come. Plan on reading a lot if you come back to the next post on this girl and her inspiring journey that has impacted my life so significantly. I’ll write about the good stuff for real in the next month or so - it’s happening.
And finally, here is the happy couple that I adore, in an alley in downtown Nashville on the night of their engagement :
Image specs: *35mm 400 film pushed to 1600 with multiple exposures* - I love that it’s a whirlwind of life and beauty and the craziness of this world, with a calm and gentle subject centering the frame.
‘My beloved is mine, and I am his…’ - Song of Songs 2:16
‘…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.’ - Colossians 2:2
‘The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.’ - Psalm 138:8
My congratulations to you both! I love you more than you know and am blessed abundantly by your friendship. Here’s to 100 quickie pep talks, living for the bigger picture, trusting Him for His perfect ways, and daring to love. Best wishes and lots of love! And as J would say (or did say) - if it’s horrible, don’t worry, you will get through it - just live in grace, and call him for tips and advice…