We are sitting at my kitchen table with fresh-cut apples and the smell of bacon filling the entire house. Sweet and bitter coffee aroma lingers in the air as we pour our cups, munch our breakfast, and begin.
Emy: "What is your full name?"
Katie: "Katherine Marie Burson…soon to be Katherine Talk!"
Emy: "Does your fiancé talk a lot?"
Katie: "He actually does!"
Emy: "Well, that’s a good place to start! How did you meet your fiancé?"
Katie: "We actually met through something called the Jeremiah Project. It’s a junior outreach for middle school students who come in youth groups, but we also serve elderly people with low income, do renovations on their houses. We both staff that. This summer will be my eighth summer and his fourth summer. He always makes a big deal of trying to beat me like, ‘you weren’t supposed to do this summer, I was supposed to be able to catch up!’ Technically we met at a Crossover week, but I don’t remember that at all! The staff changes each week once the campers leave, and we meet and pray together and eat together, then peace out so the new staff can do their thing. So, technically that’s how we met, about two years ago. We started dating after about a year."
Emy: “What made you decide to start dating?”
Katie: “When I first met him I thought he was cool and stuff, but no big deal. We would see each other sometimes and we’d talk on Facebook, but I started noticing something different about him. I was talking with someone and said ‘there’s just something about him. I don’t like him, there’s just something about him.’ And she said, ‘Really? Cause I could really see you two together!’ And I was like, ‘No, that’s never gonna happen.’ Then he and I started talking more and more and all my friends were like, ‘he likes you!’ I visited him in Virginia Beach and he took me to the mall, then had me close my eyes and brought me to a Build-A-Bear workshop! After that I was like, ‘Okay, maybe he likes me.’ He’s told me now that the weekend before we were even dating he knew I was the one he was gonna marry. We decided to start dating even though he was moving to Minnesota. We had also already signed up to staff the same week at camp that summer, and technically you’re not supposed to staff together if you’re dating, so we kept it under wraps for about a month or so. We were only dating a little over six months before he proposed.”
Emy: “What do you love most about him?”
Katie: “His heart. He is so loving. I’ve never met someone so loving, and just firm, and so nice to everyone. He even makes sure he is kind and respectful towards the people he really doesn’t like. He is so willing to do anything for anyone, to make anyone smile.”
Emy: “Well, that’s awesome.”
She laughs. Of course it is!
Katie: “Yeah, I’m not a big ‘I love you’ person. I always thought there was something wrong with me when I’d try to say it. I always felt like I was just gonna throw up or something. But, we were staffing with each other and I just started watching him with the kids. There was this one boy who was kind of like an outcast and he rapped. Justin (her fiancé) actually loves listening to rap, so he would just jam out with this kid and all the other kids would come around and start cheering this one kid on because of Justin's encouragement. I remember watching that and just thinking of it, and it just popped in my head, ‘I love him,’ then I’m like ‘Oh my gosh, Katie! What are you doing? Stop it!’ It just came so naturally and that’s just not how I work. My stepmom usually doesn’t like any of the guys I bring home, and then she met Justin. I was like, ‘So, anything bad to say?’ And she was like, ‘No, I really like him, like I see you two…I think he’s the one, Katie.’ And I just thought, ‘Who are you? What did you do with Becky?’ It was a sign!"
Emy: “Who are the most important people in your life?”
Katie: “Well, first obviously, Justin. My mom. She passed away three years ago. She definitely made a lot of sacrifices for me and my sister. She shaped me into who I am today. Even though we never had a lot of money or anything she kind of…Justin and his heart remind me of my mom, because even though we had nothing we would still give to other people. We’d get free firewood and she’d give half of her firewood to her friend. There was also this girl who my sister Rachel was friends with in high school who got pregnant, and her mom kicked her out of her house, so my mom just took her in and advocated for her. She was always doing things for other people. Then, both my dad and my stepmom. Because I’ve always been in the Valley, here in Virginia, I don’t think I’ve ever truly appreciated it. So now, getting ready to move and starting my own family, I’ve started appreciating it a lot more. I mean, next Christmas I might not be around here to spend it with my family! My parents split when I was a baby because my dad was an alcoholic. But, he’s been clean since I was six. Ever since then, no matter what, he’s made sure he’s been there for me and my sister. Becky treats me like her own daughter. My dad has always given me very good lessons, and I think even though I never lived with him he still shaped me so much. He helped my way of thinking, how to handle money, my work ethic, and all that stuff. I could probably list a lot more people because I think everyone you meet impacts you; even if they’re just in your life for a few moments, they’ve helped shaped you in some way. And it’s the same way with yourself. You might never meet someone and have no idea you’re changing their world. Have you read The Five People You Meet in Heaven? It’s kind of like that."
Emy: “What are your dreams for the coming years?”
Katie: “It’s so hard for me when I think about dreams because I can be such a realistic person. I guess overall, truly having a God-centered marriage, and being able to serve together and bless others. Hopefully people will be able to see God through us. To raise a loving family, find the path God wants me to be on. That can be really hard for me because I am such a planner. I like details, so I’m like ‘How’s this gonna happen? What, you don’t know? We need a plan!’ Justin and I are very different in those ways. He’s always saying, ‘Oh, it’s all gonna work out, it’ll all be fine!’ I feel like we balance each other very well.”
Emy: “Do you have any career goals?”
Katie: “I used to have that all figured out. Originally I was going to go straight to grad school as soon as I graduated, but then I took a year off, and I’m really glad I did because now I’m not sure I want to get my master's in social work. Everything is so tied up with what you do. I feel like half of my work is just paperwork. Since I’ve been working in schools I’ve been thinking of actually going back and becoming a teacher because that’s always been something I’m very passionate about and it’s very important to me. I don’t know. I thought when I was younger I would have everything figured out by now. And now I think, ‘Ehh, what do I want to do when I grow up?’ I don’t know! If I could, one day it would be my dream to open up a card shop, you know, greeting cards, so open a card shop/bakery.”
Emy: “What other dreams do you have?”
Katie: “A ginormous walk-in closet! And I want to be able to travel everywhere. I’d love to backpack my way through Europe, I just think that would be awesome. I’d love to live in Ireland at some point, or somewhere in Europe for an extended time. I want to have four kids, my own kids, but I also definitely want to adopt, or at least do foster care. If I was going to adopt I would definitely want to adopt siblings. I know from my work that some of them need to be separated, but there are so many more who would benefit from staying together and I just think it’s so sad that they do get separated. Justin and I have this crazy dream of some day opening up a foster home where we could take in tons of foster kids, then work with the parents, the kids, and the parents-to-be, because there are so many adopted parents who aren’t prepared for the kind of damage the kids have gone through. You may not think that a two-year-old has really been affected by what’s gone on before, but they really have. So, we want to make sure that the parents are prepared and that everything goes smoothly. But that’s another one of those dreams that’s completely unrealistic.”
Emy: “It sounds like Justin gives you wings to dream like that.”
Katie: “Well, yeah. I just want a happy life, a nice house. I’d love a Victorian style house, big yard, a pet hedgehog.”
Emy: “What is a day in the life?”
Katie: “Roll out of bed between 6:00 AM and 6:45, rush to get ready, work by 8:00. That can go great, or that can go horribly depending on the day. I am starting to do paperwork at work, so now when I get home in the afternoons I have free time and I don’t know what to do with myself! Most days I change into my pj’s and just do stuff around the apartment, or watch TV. I share the apartment: it’s four of us girls. They’re all graduating. We are all at very different places. They’re still in college and partying, but I’m too much of a homebody, I just want to stay home.”
Emy: “What are the highlights of your day?”
Katie: “I like my drive. I like driving. I love going over the hill and seeing the mountains. Also, when one of my kids has a really good day, or a teacher compliments them, or seeing one of them finally start to open up, just to see that I’m actually getting through to them. And, when I get home and finally get to sit down! I’ve realized that one of my kids is just so negative. Justin and I are reading this marriage book together, and one of the questions was 'when bad things happen what are your automatic thoughts?' And I just realized I can be so negative! So, I’ve been working to see the good in things. When other people are complaining I can always show them the silver lining, but personally I’ve realized I need to work harder on seeing and appreciating the small things.”
Emy: “Where would you like to see yourself in five years?”
Katie: “Maybe having our first kid, possibly two by then. Hopefully, moving back to Virginia, close to family, living in our own home. Also, figuring out what I am going to do with a career! I’d really be perfectly happy being a stay-at-home mom!”
Emy: “What are your favorite things?”
Katie: “Zombies, I love the Walking Dead! Batman, dinosaurs, Disney princesses, going on walks, flowers, photographs, reading, eating, shopping, doodling. And my car, his name is Alfred. I like crafting things. I like working with my hands. Our coffee table broke, so I just took out a hammer and nails and fixed it all up. I felt pretty cool! I love spicy stuff, like Mexican food. I love meat and potatoes. Bacon, chocolate. I like to say I have thirty two sweet teeth.”
Emy: “What are the things people should know about you?
Katie: “I am still figuring out who I am. It’s hard because sometimes I wonder who I am really. I can be silly, goofy, a worry-wart, or a negative Nancy. I think Justin has really helped me with that. My first home was on the mountains and we used to run through the woods. I think I’ve started reflecting back to my roots and I’ve been thinking of where I am from, and mountains are firm and rooted. Wherever I end up I want to be surrounded by mountains and trees. Blue describes me. I don’t know why. I just always think of blue.”
So, there you have it, the story of Katie. As we lean back and take a few last sips of coffee I am struck by the quirky intricacies of this spunky, opinionated, no-nonsense woman, who clearly has an elegant, soft, Disney princess-loving side. Batman and dinosaurs also share a place in her heart. She is strong. Firm. Rooted. Like her mountains. Her care and generosity pour out of gleaming eyes and white-toothed smiles each time she talks about her social work, her kids, her fiancé, her loved ones. Spirited and loving.
Introducing, Katherine Marie Burson.