An Ode to My YL Leader on Her Wedding Day

My first memory of Kara was from my freshman year of high school when I was quite literally forced by my friends to go to a Young Life club during lunch. It was mid-November and almost Thanksgiving break, which was when Young Life had its annual weekend winter trip, Snow Camp. I went to YL club on a Wednesday and they were leaving for the trip Friday right after school. Kara asked me enthusiastically if I wanted to come and I remember looking at her with raised eyebrows. Who did this random college girl think she was? I barely knew her and was definitely not interested in spending a whole weekend away with some stranger who was a little too perky for my preference.

The thing was, I thought rebuffing Kara that first time would get her off my case. Man, was I wrong! She just kept going. She talked to me, texted me, invited me to everything and even let me paint her nails one day at club in this awful purple sparkly sheen.

No matter my resistance, rudeness and disinterest, Kara wouldn’t stop. She refused to stop loving me, even in my most unlovable moments. One day after hanging out with her I remember getting out of her big red Durango SUV and when I got to my room I burst into tears. I could not understand how this random girl could love someone who was as big a mess as I was. I was lonely, depressed and didn’t even like myself – how could she love me?

Through her relentless love, endless patience and unabashed confidence, Kara taught me about the unconditional love Jesus has for me. She was the first person to introduce me to a Jesus that uniquely cared for me and wanted to know me.

She finally convinced me to go to summer camp – and convinced my mom by promising to apply copious amounts of sunscreen to me at all times – and we drove out to Utah and boarded houseboats. Looking back now, I don’t know how she survived being stuck on a 20 square foot boat with three very moody and dramatic teenagers for a week. But that week changed my life. On a rock in the middle of Utah staring at the water, I put my faith in Jesus Christ for the first time.

For the rest of high school Kara continued to mentor me, care for me and fight for me. She pushed me to not only accept Jesus, but to grow in my faith. She never let me sit in my crap. She prayed for me when I didn’t have the words to pray for myself and always believed in me.

When I say Kara is one of – if not the #1- single most influential person in my life, I am not exaggerating. Kara is truly exceptional. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know. She stays true to herself and stands firmly in who Christ tells her she is. She loves others sacrificially and holds onto truth, even when it is easier to believe lies.

I see Jesus in her with our every interaction. She is quick to repent when she is wrong (even though usually she is right) and humbly proclaims daily that she is not a savior – only Jesus is. She seeks out joy in the daily rhythms of life and is thoughtful in every act.

It is because of all of these things, how Kara has lived for the past 27 years, that I know Kara is going to be an incredible wife. Tyler is an extremely lucky man. (He knows that.)

Four years ago, I flew out to visit Kara in Milwaukee. I also surprised Michele by buying her tickets to come (without really asking) and then we both pulled of the most epic surprise ever by not telling Kara Michele would be coming and then catching her reaction on camera. Anyways, on this trip Kara wanted to introduce me to Tyler. They’d only been dating for a few months, but I had already heard loads about him. I was so excited to meet him! I’d only been trying to set Kara up with every guy in Young Life or at church for like three years.

However, when Tyler finally got there and was walking up the stairs, I got really nervous and did the most ridiculous thing ever. I legitimately locked myself in the bathroom because I was afraid to meet him. I think Kara and Michele were (rightly) VERY confused and slightly concerned about this reaction.

I appreciate that Tyler did not completely write me off as a psycho after that, so that speaks to his character. The thing was, Kara to me is a literal saint. So meeting the guy she deemed worthy of her time was terrifying! I finally calmed down/decided to be normal and not a complete freak and met Tyler. He was taller than I thought. And his voice was WAY deeper than I expected. We all went to dinner and I was impressed by his humor, how gentle he was and clearly patient considering the whole locking myself away from him thing. But really, it doesn’t matter what my first impression of Tyler was when I met him. If someone as incredible and kind as Kara is willing to date a guy, he has to be pretty spectacular.

I am so grateful God brought Tyler to Kara. He makes her happy, he loves her and I’ve seen her grown in her faith in tandem with him. I know he’s the man she’s been praying for. Nothing makes me happier than seeing how happy she is with him.

I would also at this time like to call out that Tyler and Kara took me to church with them that weekend four years ago. And I got the pleasure (horror) of being a 17 year old girl sitting between my Young Life leader and her boyfriend and my current mentor, Michele, while the pastor gave a sermon on sex. I wanted to shrivel up and die – something that Michele and Kara laughed about for half an hour during the drive home.

Anyways, I’ll end with this. Back freshman year of high school when I was still figuring out if I could trust Kara, she and I went to Blockbuster (major throwback) and while we were standing in line, she told me she wanted to be there to zip up my prom dress and my wedding dress. She wasn’t going anywhere.

Kara actually did zip up my prom dress. We’re a while away from my wedding dress, but a week out from Kara’s wedding, I will say this. The prom dress was great and I still want Kara there for my wedding, but that isn’t why I know she’s sticking around or how she’s proven her heart. It has been a million little things. It has been texting me when I posted a dramatic Facebook status in high school. It has been rolling her eyes only half the amount of times I deserved it when saying something stupid. It was sending me birthday presents, accepting my apology of cookies after being super mean to her, driving with me blasting country music, and meeting me for breakfast when our time in California overlaps during Christmas. It has been still making time for phone calls almost five years after she finished officially being my Young Life leader and waking up to a text from her of a picture of her and Tyler the morning they got engaged. It’s been letting me see so transparently how she lives her life and pointing me back to Jesus every single day.

There is no person I think higher of than Kara. Not because she is perfect, I still think she’s kinda weird, but because she loves Jesus with her whole heart and that love overflows to everyone she meets. The best thing Jesus ever did for me (besides dying on the cross, obvi) was introducing me to Kara Vosburgh – soon – to – be – Coppage.
It is all the little things she does that will make her an incredible wife. It is her heart for Jesus and people. I can’t wait to watch her live it out. As I pray for her marriage, I am just reminded of Jesus’ incredible creativity with our stories and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to be woven into Kara and Tyler’s.

 

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