Once upon a time, there was a CCU girl named Daesha Joy Martch. She was a really big deal...like a Really. Big. Deal. Everyone knew who she was. She was the pretty red-head, with the powerful voice, and heart for worship that brought the CCU Chapel team from campus-wide infamy to notoriety.
Backstory – Jared arrived at CCU in the fall of 2013. He had a blast living in the "Ghetto" (apartment complex name because it was the only one with dirt parking) and attending general ed and political science classes...but Chapel every Tuesday & Thursday was admittedly a drag. The speakers were good, but the worship team not so much. The leaders were (whether this sentiment is deserved or not) perceived as arrogant and controlling. Most underclassmen were excluded from participating on the team. And the same songs were played every week. Literally, the worship song "Cornerstone" was the "cornerstone" of every set. I could recite for you every word, as could all my peers.
The Campus director of Chapel received hundreds of emails and personal complaints about the "not so great" worship team. The sentiment became so rotten that he inserted himself into the schedule to criticize the student body for their "misunderstanding" of worship. He lectured the campus saying, "You have to understand that these leaders and their accompanying musicians are up here to perform. They have taken time out of their schedules to practice and organize sets so that they can perform well. This is a very talented group of musicians, likely the most talented we have ever had. You need to check your heart and recognize that just because you have to come to Chapel doesn't mean you can take this frustration out on the music team just because you don't want to be here."
The reason I give this backstory is because without this situation Daesha and I likely would never have met.
I didn't know it at the time, but a high school senior named Daesha Martch visited CCU in the spring of 2014. She was looking for a college where she could grow her skill, her affinity, and her desire to "worship God." I found this out later--but she felt led by God to attend CCU to "change the worship atmosphere."
And oh did that need to happen, and praise God she obeyed the little spiritual nudge to come to CCU (my life, campus life, and the lives of my friends and future family were, are, and will be forever changed by her obedience).
Daesha's Calling to CCU in 2014 = Initial affinity
You see, our story begins here --> CCU's Chapel atmosphere during my freshman year was one of musical performance and not one with a "genuine heart for worship." The Director of Chapel did not get this, and the team he hired didn't either. Not surprisingly, his campus-wide lecture about "musical performance" versus "worship" was not well received. He was fired, and this paved the way for Daesha and Co. to arrive at the beginning of my sophomore year and shake things up. And the changes were drastic, in a very, very good way.
It's not that the spiritual atmosphere of worship at CCU was "bad" before, but it certainly wasn't good. Daesha came in under new leadership in CCU's music program and was offered a spot as a freshman (since the upperclassmen requirement was dropped in favor of people who knew what they were doing, not their class status) who had been leading for over 4years prior to coming to CCU. She partnered with David Tanner (great guy), and our entire campus began to "worship" together instead of listening and watching a performance.
Fast forward Two Years – You might be saying to yourself, geez that's nice and all but what does this have to do with your guys' story?
Everything, because without that initial affinity I would not have sought out Daesha (& spoiler alert -- she had already given up on "immature CCU boys" which made my "CCU boy status" an auto-fail).
Two years went by, and my appreciation for the "red-headed singer" on stage grew. I knew her name was Daesha. Everyone knew her name...because she was in front of the student body more than anyone else on campus. For context, more people knew who Daesha was than our Student Body President.
The problem was, we had no classes together, didn't hang out with mutual friends, she had no idea who I was, and was popular, busy, and doing Jesus stuff which means my chances of gaining her attention were bare-none.
Nevertheless, I had a genuine hope.
After hearing ever-more rave reviews about Chapel worship from the guys in my Senior year Discipleship group, which included some major moments of personal testimony and spiritual breakthrough facilitated by her worship at All Campus Communion, prayers and "brief preacher moments" at the close of each worship night, and Worship Nights.
My life had been impacted. "My guys" lives had been impacted. My fave RA--Matthew Hodgkins--had been touched. I figured Daesha knew what she was doing (clearly), but I doubted she knew just how much of an impact she was having--at least in my circles. I wanted to share this with her and figure out where she developed a "genuine heart for worship"--something that so many "musical performers" improperly named "worship leaders" lack in the modern church. Heck, the "talented group" my freshman year clearly missed the beat.
Problem was...there was no way for me to "ask her to talk" without that coming off as "suspicious" or "weird." I mean how many other guys used the subtly-spiritual "I wanna hear your testimony over coffee" first date line? Probably a lot (Daesha later confirmed).
I didn't have any relationship with her outside of my worshipful participation in the audience. She didn't even know my name.
Months went by. I was busy with Discipleship Groups, work, CCU.TV, and senior level classes. Plus, winning lots of intramurals for the "new Ghetto" stairwell renamed "The Shire." Fall was going great, but no opportunity arose for us to cross paths.
Another spoiler alert -- I wasn't going to "force" a get-together. If it was going to happen, I figured it would be best to let it happen naturally if at all. (I think this passive approach was the secret ingredient that allowed me to slip by her "all CCU boys are immature" date-denier radar). One blip and it was over--at least that is what I came to find out later.
The Anderssen Wedding – This was the moment. My good friend Carl Anderssen called me, to tell me the wedding date had been set...and that he wanted me to be a groomsman! What an honor!
Better yet... Daesha was going to be singing in his wedding.
I didn't know it at the time, but this fateful day was where we first "met" (translate – where Daesha learned my name and that I was a real person who lived on planet earth, residing in zone "CCU Bubble."). Carl & Whitney even have a (#prophetic) picture of us side by side during their send off. Coincidental ;)
Fast forward to the wedding day. Carl will just now learn if he reads this far...that I barely made it. I had a Fly-fishing course (yes, this was a real college class for CCU's Outdoor Leadership Program--you can be jealous), that morning and we had to hike 6miles into our spot. I excused myself early and ran the 6miles back with fishing pole flapping behind my head (didn't catch any fish) and drove at light speed to make it back for his early afternoon wedding. I think I showered in under 45seconds. But I made it and good thing I did.
I arrived. I was looking really sharp. I had the ethos of being a groomsman. AND! Daesha and I were in the same place, at the same time, for an extended amount of time (something we had not yet experienced for the past two and a half years at CCU). If there was any moment to risk approaching her to chat, this was it. I took it.
Brief Aside #DaeshaIsRipped – [We had never been in the same place at the same time for an extended time...Except for the fact that Daesha was always in the gym. I think every time I went in she was there. Seriously, she likes her fitness. But I was not going to talk to her then. Oh no! Especially, not when she was bench flying 45lb dumb-bells, and that's what I was planning to use (sophomore year)... I increased the weight over time, but during the first encounter I think my jaw dropped to the floor and I conveniently did three sets of four at 50lbs instead of my usual three sets of eight at 45lbs...because I was not going to be beat out by a girl.]
September 24, 2016 – A fateful day.
The Ceremony came and went. Dinner came and went. The reception, almost over, was my moment. As the best-man and maid-of-honor speeches were ending, I moved up a table to a spot right beside Daesha and struck up a casual conversation. I wish I could tell you exactly what genius, unsuspecting questions I asked her...but I don't remember. The most important thing is, they worked.
We talked for the next 15minutes––literally the last 15minutes––which included 10minutes of cheers as Carl & Whitney ended the reception early so they could get on to "married activities." You really rushed my chances here Carl, couldn't even buy a guy some extra time huh? It's okay I understand you were a bit distracted.
I cleaned up as long as she did – Then came the cleanup. I "selflessly" continued to clean up as long as Daesha was cleaning up, which lasted until the very end, and as she was heading out, I moved to ask for her number. Cut off! Another guy swooped in before me. Ironically, also named Jared. I was literally two steps away, and he came barging in. So. Awkward. As I now had to twiddle my thumbs (In reality, pretend to do something important on my phone) while they talked. I waited, and waited. And as Daesha was about to walk away I said "Hey, we didn't get to finish our conversation, and I would love to continue it, especially since I have some stories to share about CCU Chapel and the impact you've had. Would you be down to get ice-cream some time?" "Sure," she said.
I avoided the "Can I get your number?" question by presumptively giving her my phone with the contacts page open. She filled it in.
Ice-Cream – She then said she "had to go" get Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, because she was craving it. I thought this was weird given I had just asked her to ice-cream "sometime." I wasn't sure if this was a subtle hint, or if she was nervous around me, or what. But she left. I left.
On my way home, I thought "Why don't I join her if she is going anyways?" So I called. She didn't pick up. I left a message saying if she was still getting ice-cream and was okay with some company I would love to come and chat briefly (I'm a late night guy, so this was totally my usual hang out time). No response.
15minutes later I got a text explaining she had "ice-cream at home" and wasn't actually going to Ben & Jerry's. Furthermore, she had church tomorrow morning (of course, why didn't I know that #BigDealDaesha) so talking tonight wouldn't work.
Three Weeks go by (November) – Apparently, Daesha was impressed I called and left a message. Fancy that! I had no idea, and figured that since I called and she was busy, the ball was in her court for the next "get together" offer. I texted her that same thing asking her to let me know if there is a good time. No text. Nada.
Men's Volleyball – The next I saw Daesha, off the stage that is, was at the first annual Men's Club Volleyball practice. Team leaders Sam Bult & Justin Lucas had asked her to be "the Coach." Cool, I thought.
Then it turned out to me a little more than cool, because she was actually good. Like really good. She could pass, hit...and serve almost every single ball out of bounds because she is legitimately too strong and doesn't know her own strength serving. There doesn't seem to be a "dial back" strength module included. So the ball either went soaring out of bounds, or floated like no-one's business and was impossible to pass.
As a big tease, this athletic hit-or-miss characteristic was prime for poking fun of. I will shamelessly admit that I did flirt with her a bit, along with the other girls (yikes). Dangerous admitting that here, but at the time I was single, ready to mingle. Practice was a ton of fun. She was a ton of fun, and at least for now wasn't pushing me away.
Cafe Rio (late November) – A couple of weeks in, it dawned on me that we still hadn't "gone for ice-cream." I can't tell you why I had forgotten about ice-cream, other then I must have presumed if she was interested she would have let me know. But since that didn't happen, I guess it was time for me to re-deliver the offer. "Hey, we never did go get ice-cream. I'm not sure if you are still interested, but if you are when would be a good time? Or we could even get food, maybe dinner if that would work better with your schedule?" She said, "Sure." Over text, she named the place, and a time was set for Tuesday. Her friend, Nate called me ahead of time to "screen me." He told me "Daesha told me to investigate if this was a date, or not?" I told him, "No, it's not a date. I just want to get to know her and here her story, that is all."
Some of you may be calling BS, at that statement, and from today's perspective & outcome it certainly seems like such. But I will fully admit, that while I was a flirt at volleyball when it came to "dinner & talking" I approached this with completely platonic intentions. I take "my guys" (Discipleship dudes) out for 1on1s all the time--and as a true cultural Californian--always offer to pay. So from my vantage point, this was a casual 1on1 with deep conversation--something I do multiple times a week, every week since I came to CCU. I'm sure girls in the past had thought such meetings were dates, they "technically qualify" but that wasn't my heart's intent.
Reeo-Awkward. Like "Rio but pronounced like Real" – Nevertheless, because it "looked like a date, smelt like a date, and felt like a date" Daesha was nervous as all get-out. I mean really nervous. It was potent. I think the other guys in line could tell our conversation was just awkward, including our buffet server Luis (she knew his name because she goes here so much). I could tell she was highly suspicious of my motives. I may not have bleeped on her "immature CCU boys just out to date me" radar the first time, but all hands were on deck watching the screen this time around.
I kept my cool, and kept asking questions. Family... Fun... Books... CCU Classes... CCU Schedule... You know, the usual 1on1 sorts of get-to-know-you things.
Once the food was ready and she began eating, she settled down and mellowed out. Captain took a break from staring-without-blinking at the CCU-guy-radar system. Daesha loves food. A lot. Especially Cafe Rio--her favorite restaurant.
3 hours later – We completely missed volleyball practice. I mean I thought dinner was going okay-tending-poorly given her suspicious mood. She spent about an hour giving me her testimony, and I liked it. It was nice to hear about her growing up, worship background, her Dad who was also a real-deal worship leader and inspiration. Much kudos to Mr. Martch--you taught your daughter how to love, live, breath, and genuinely worship God from the heart while employing musical talents instead of getting caught up in "self-image" and "performance anxiety" that most musicians do. Thank you! You rocked her world, and accordingly helped rock CCU & my world. Forever grateful!
Her story ended, and so was dinner...so I thought. I figured I was either gonna wrap this up, or she was going to "suddenly get a text from her roommate," demanding she come home to study or need to "get to a meeting" soon.
No Emergency Text – The text didn't come. The excuse didn't either. And she denied my offer to get going. She replied, "But I want to hear your story." I was shocked.
"Do you want the long story or the short story?" I asked.
"The long one," she replied.
"Are you sure?" I implored.
"Yes," she said.
"Alrighty then,...I was born on December 30, 1994, in Calabasas California...grew up a pastor's kid...falling out with the church...my dad is awesome...he answered all of my questions, struggles, doubts, infused me with mentorship and scripture sessions...I heard and responded to God...some cool things happened in middle school...the first two years of high school were the worst...last two years homeschooling was better...then God brought me to CCU on a full-tuition scholarship (plug for my amazing admissions counsellor Angie Noack -- also featured in this great spoof video with Cody & crew), I had a great Discipleship group my freshman year, there were some major spiritual moments of discernment and intervention which resulted in preventing a suicide...etc.
I gave her the full sh-peal. She listened, and while many people, including most Christians, struggle to believe in the supernatural, and the manifest spiritual power (as described in Old & New Testaments) of God, I had experienced it. On multiple occasions. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. He lives. He reigns. And works with power, to work all things for good, and desires that all would be saved. And many have been saved.
Before I knew it, we had spent 3hours at dinner, and she still hadn't asked to leave. I guess you could say it went well.
While some people aren't sure what to do with or how to respond to my testimony, Daesha was pumped. She was excited. And for me, that was very telling. It meant we were likely on a similar page in our "spiritual journey" where God is not some "mysterious removed force" but he lives, breathes, talks, walks, etc.
The Jokes – And I got lots of encouragement. Nate called at the end of volleyball practice to ask where I was. I told him I had a 1on1. He said, "No, you had a date with Daesha at Cafe Rio" to which the whole team cheered, "oohhhed" in the background.
At the next practice, Sam Bult told me that "going out with Daesha was a big deal" because she gives her number out to no one (sends all the silly, immature CCU boys to facebook), and if she agrees to a date it never goes past the first date. She was the "one-date wonder" of CCU.
Funny thing was, Cafe Rio was a "non-date" get together, and I wasn't looking to go on a "date" I was just looking to continue "hanging out."
December arrives – We kept hanging out. More often. Like every night for a week straight. She even went for a late-night hammock session with me to see the SuperMoon. (See the Instagram pic here)
We might have possibly cuddled in the hammock till 3 am...literally freezing, but apparently, I was good enough company for her not to complain.
We kept on hanging out with trips to McDonald's, walks in the park, studying together, more volleyball.
December 3, 2016 – I was invited to "meet the family." Mr. & Mrs. Martch welcomed me in, with lots of discussion, great food, and even "Monsters vs. Aliens" which is an "inner-circle family movie" responsible for many family catch-phrases and jokes. It was and still is a not-so-great movie. But I felt very honored to get to be welcomed into the inner circle.
After dinner, we drove back to Lakewood, went for another late night walk, and I asked to hold Daesha's hand. She said no. I wondered why? She said you have to be my boyfriend. So I asked her "Will you be my girlfriend?"
To which she paused (you are kidding me right?), and then logically concluded "Sure." (Do not like that word).
Sure – I challenged her. "Sure?, Sure? What do you mean sure?" To which she replied, "Well we are compatible spiritually, my family seemed to like you, we enjoy many of the same things...it just makes sense."
"It just makes sense." -- This is and will forever be the most unemotionally engaging start to a romantic relationship I have ever had.
Nonetheless, from this vantage point, I am glad it "made sense" to her and she was willing to become my girlfriend. I have since made her my fiancé. (She said "Of course" to that one...Praise the Lord!).
First Sight – On Chapel stage of CCU in fall 2014
First "Meeting" – The Gym, Spring 2014. I was very intimidated by her super-girl strength.
First Hug – After Chapel in Fall 2016, I told her "thank you" for a great worship set. She thought it was weird, but remembered I was wearing a blue tank top (I lift more than her now ;))
First Conversation – September 24, 2016, at Carl & Whitney's Wedding
First non-date – A Tuesday evening Early November 2016.
November Hangouts – 12 am McDonalds Run, Hammocking for the SuperMoon, a late night drive to see the stars at Saint Mary's Glacier
December 3, 2016 – "It's Official," she said "sure" to dating. Also met the family.
December 12, 2016 – First Kiss. It's a funny story involving lamps, but it ended with Daesha saying "that was smooth."
January 2017 – First Month of Long Distance
March 2017 – First Month wherein Jared is out-of-town for half of it. Daesha conducts "3-month review" at Cafe Rio and asks "Do you want to keep dating." Jared realizes, more quality time & physical touch needed to affirm Daesha.
Also March 2017 – First Vacation. Weekend ski trip with Dad in Telluride
May 2017 – Jared Graduates. Long Distance begins.
June 2017 – Daesha's first visit to the family home in California. Also first family vacation to Mexico.
Summer & Fall – Jared travels the world and drives cross country to move to Washington DC. Daesha is a trooper and supports him from the desk of CCU's Life Direction Center.
November 2017 – Daesha visits Jared in DC, Jared stays with Martch family for Thanksgiving. Jared asks Mr. & Mrs. Martch for Daesha's hand in marriage. They say yes.