She Said YES!

Raising our children for success in all areas of life…. 

When Justin met Holly, after just a few weeks of knowing her I told him, "I approve of this message!" Watching them grow together in their friendship, encouraging each other in their walk with God and their commitment to be strong leaders has inspired me to be more in my own life.  

Yesterday I watched an incredible event take place that was planned in less than just a few hours….  As you'll see in tomorrow's ARealChange.TV episode, we have a friend and client visiting this weekend. John is not only a Ruby client but a good friend of our family. He has been an encouragement to our children and has grown tremendously in his business. We'll be talking tomorrow about the power of Twitter and how just ONE tweet can completely change your future. 

We had planned a Saturday spaghetti feast with John and were also going to see a movie. Doing a photo shoot or watching an engagement was not on the agenda! But when Justin came to Alan and I around midnight Friday night with this look of desperation, I knew something was up.

It wasn't a bad desperation, but actually the look of one smitten and totally in love. He and Holly had been dating for the last two years. They had been talking about getting married. He had already asked Holly's Dad for his daughters hand in marriage …. everything was set for January, but he couldn't wait. He wanted to show her his love and really wanted to propose now. 

They have grown together these last two years and both have a great future ahead of them. Justin is a manager in our client care department and oversees a lot of the behind the scene processes. He started working for me when he was 16. With simple tasks initially and increased responsibility as he grew, he has not only grown his income incredibly, but he has created a very valuable position and income for himself. He already earns more than most people do with a 4 year degree and is on track to increase his income again in 2013.

A young warrior who has always had a strong leadership side combined with a gentle compassionate heart, I always knew Justin would impact a lot of people. Learning to do his own laundry at 8 years old, cooking by the time he was 9 and able to clean, stay on track with a To Do List and keep a regular schedule, he is wise beyond his years. I remember when he was very young and overcame a serious reading disability that came with Dyslexia. Using some very strategic methods to enable both sides of the brain to think together, within 12 months he had moved up more than 5 reading levels and today reads at a college level. He is a protector, a friend and is passionate about the poor, the lonely and those who are hurting.

As we've watched Justin travel to Honduras to love and serve at a boys club, go deep into the heart of Chicago to love people on the street, work hard to lose 60 pounds and get himself into the best shape of his life, I'm not surprised to see him succeeding as he has. He is also working with a personal life coach to become the man that God would have him to be. These are key ingredients on the path of success. 

Success is not a mystery. It's a strategic plan to create the kind of results you desire and then following through on a daily basis to get there. As Justin has sought out how to play the guitar, became a lead guitarist in the worship band, gone through financial training to manage his wealth, improved his people skills, overcame a fear of speaking to groups, learn to read way past the national average, studies cookbooks to not only eat wisely but know how to prepare anything he desires…it shouldn't be surprising that his future was being mapped out.

What are you doing today to train up your children for the dreams that God has for them?

Please don't get me wrong. We are not perfect parents, Justin is not a perfect child. Perfection is a delusion and leads many astray. But a strong commitment to change your life will yield results when you follow through on that commitment daily. 

Holly has been going through an Accelerated Press and Publicity Program at Grace College in Winona Lake, IN. In just 2 years she will have completed a 4 year program, have her degree and a full time position here at A Real Change waiting for her. I've had the honor of helping her select what classes would best suit her future, watch her test out of classes she is overqualified for and get credit. She's a committed cheer leader, has singlehandedly paid down her debt so that she owes very little on graduation day in 2014. And she has worked as my Personal Assistant for 2 years. Recently she was promoted to PR Manager and Social Media assistant. This is a young lady who comes from a beautiful family with 9 children who not only loves God, but I have seen such a grace over her life since the day we met her. She adores Justin. She lifts him up to be a better man. She loves the poor and even spent part of her summer in Fiji loving and rescuing girls who were on the streets in the sex trade, doing anything she can to make a difference. That's the kind of girl I had prayed for since Justin was very little!

Yesterday, on just a few hours notice, Justin said he didn't want to wait until January to ask Holly to marry him, he wanted to do it now. He had purchased a beautiful ring last week, saving his money for just the right one. Listening as Holly described the beautiful Ceylon Sapphire that she longed for, he made her dreams come true with a beautiful ring, sapphires and diamonds. I find it AMAZING that they didn't stick with tradition and they pursued their dream together for this special day. He listened- she wanted a Sapphire. She shared what she wanted. They followed their heart like many in this generation and did what they desired. THIS is the kind of thing I LIVE to see! It was so exciting to watch as Justin did this all on his own, with his girl!

Saturday morning John (our friend who was already visiting) and Justin went to a local park and found the perfect place to propose. Now take note! This was not planned. John didn't come up here to do this photo shoot! He was just visiting with us… and Justin was planning for early January! But love took over!

Holly had NO idea. These are NOT staged photos… they are live, in action, real time shots.

He called her and told her that his Mom, as crazy as she can be sometimes, wanted a winter photo shoot. Yes, I was the coverup. HA! Holly was surprised at first because she KNOWS me and knows how much I hate the cold… but Justin told her that "Mom wants to move south soon, so this is a perfect time to take a great photo shoot with the snow! It might not happen again like this."  Then, it was planned that we'd do a nice photo shoot at 3:30 pm and when it was time for Justin and Holly to have some couple shots , he would ask her.

The day was picture perfect. No wind… beautiful snow fall. And I did good!!! I am a horrible secret keeper and I didn't tell anyone! (Good thing I only knew what we were doing a few hours before!) 


First Alan and I had some amazing photos taken. Everything went well. Holly STILL had no idea. Then, we did a fun family picture! We were missing Jeremy so much in this shot… but we figured Holly would never notice if we just kept having fun.. HA! She didn't even catch that. We were all having a blast!

Then John had Justin and Holly go up…. and they had some really cute photos taken!


And then…. Justin got down on one knee. OH MY GOODNESS … I was crying!





And SHE said YES!!! Woohoo!!! We're going to have a wedding! They are planning for August or October of this year…. and currently looking for a nice house to rent. We couldn't be more proud of them!


My friends, take the time to love and encourage your children. They don't need perfect parents, but they do need you. Don't push them to become what you wish you were. Let them fly. Let them soar and pursue their dreams and their goals. Work on yourself. Become a better parent! Read great parenting books. Invest into your own skill when it comes to being a better person. Hire a coach, get new friends, do whatever it takes to put GOD first in your life. It always comes back for good.

This was such an amazing time in our life and one I had prayed about for many years! Thank you, for who you are in our lives and for sharing this amazing day with us! Feel free to post your well wishes below, Justin and Holly will read every single comment. 

With love,
Sandi Krakowski