September 28, 2011

Going the distance

(Image from

No one ever goes into a relationship expecting to spend the majority of their time doing it long-distance. At least I didn't.

But here I am, a few months away from my two-year anniversary and I have come to realize that of the past 20 months, the fiance and I have spent a little over half of them apart. Both the fiance and I are kind of appalled we have survived.

We love each other, but as you can probably imagine, long-distancing means we have some good days and some bad days.

Good days look something like this:
- Phone calls that last over two hours, most of which is spent laughing at how ridiculous we are
- Praying with each other even though we're miles apart
- Being with people who know the both of us and encourage us as we continue to spend time apart
- Getting letters/emails/texts is like getting Christmas every day. And I love Christmas.

Bad days look something like this:
- Only talking for 5 minutes because our schedules don't match (ie Tuesday nights, when our work and after-work schedules keep us too busy to even sit down for dinner let alone a phone conversation)
- Miscommunication and misunderstanding over what someone said or didn't say
- Being around couples doing couple-y things and feeling as if we're single because our loved one is too far away
- Having to say goodbye at the airport (I cry every.single.time.)

Despite these things, our long-distance relationship has taught me a lot about how to be more attentive to the fiance. I try (and often fail) to stay focused during our conversations, and I devote time especially for him every night because he is important to me. When we actually do see each other, it's as if I'm seeing him for our first date - I get butterflies and get all's cute/disgusting. All of these things (and more) will help me get in the habit of valuing the fiance when we're married. Because we all know life doesn't slow down or get easier once you're married...

So here's to you long-distance relationship. Thanks for teaching me how to love my fiance!

September 24, 2011

Marriage 101

Marriage has been described to me in so many different ways; its wonderful, its worth waiting to find the one you're supposed to be with....but one phrase in particular keeps coming up: "Best thing I've ever done, but the hardest thing I've ever done."

I'm not even married yet and I already know that's the truth. There are so much things to learn about yourself, your partner, and marriage before you even start that step down the aisle, that sometimes I feel like I'm treading water just to stay afloat. The happiness and excitement of an engagement - while amazing and awesome and totally worth getting giggly over - can sometimes be lost in the mess of  wedding planning (don't get me started on guest lists!) and just the day-to-day things that happen between the ring and the ceremony (life doesn't stop acting crazy after you're engaged, did you know that?).

To help us prepare for the big day, we decided to sign up for pre-marital counseling. Some people laughed at us (me) when we (I) mentioned to others that we were going to do pre-marital counseling. "Counseling before you're even married? You're not even married and you already need help? You must have some real bad problems..."

Problems? Maybe. Things we need to work on/work through to help us better respect, communicate, and love each other? YES.

Here's what we learned about ourselves and each other through pre-marital counseling:

1. We learned our "couple profile" and learned the strengths and weaknesses of couples like us. This helped us celebrate our compatibility, while also keeping us aware of areas of improvement. It helped us recognize the different strengths we each bring to our relationship. It also helped us learn where we can help each other in our areas of improvement. We are, after all, helpers designed for each other. How helpful could we be if we didn't know how the other felt/acted/reacted?

2. We learned how to talk about our biggest disagreement area: finances. I hate talking about money. The fiance hates talking about money. I see money as a luxury and spend it because I know I can't take it with me when I die. The fiance sees money as security and holds onto it like he holds onto handlebars on a roller coaster - very, very tightly. Once we discovered that the area of finances was our biggest  "needs improvement" item, we actually spent an entire session talking through it and brainstorming ways for us to start getting on the same page. Another thing we ended up loving about pre-marital counseling: we were given homework assignments to talk about our finances, show each other our bank accounts (eek!), and even made a mock-up budget to help prepare us for our life together. Pre-marital helped us set up a comfortable and respectful space to open up and share with each other things that we had previously kept to ourselves. It also encouraged me to start being more responsible for my money!

3. Having a Christ-centered relationship and having the opportunity to be led by a Christ-follower in our preparations for our wedding was such a blessing! We had the awesome opportunity to work on staff with Karen for a year, and when we had the chance to do pre-marital with her, we jumped at it. It was such a blessing to know that someone cared about us individually and for us as a couple, and was joining us in praying for our future. Marriage is a big step in life and it can seem scary at times, but having Karen there to help us see the Biblical beauty behind marriage and the blessings of a Christ-centered marriage made us excited once again about our upcoming nuptials.

I could go on all day about the blessings and the fruits of pre-marital counseling that we are still reaping, but I think you get the idea. If you have the chance and the time, find a minister and/or a ministry and go through pre-marital counseling. Worst thing that could happen is that you learn nothing....or did you?

September 21, 2011

Put a ring on it

It was like any other day. I was in town for my spring break, and we decided to head over to the fiance's parents' house for the weekend to see them before I had to leave. We got dressed to go to the beach and had a fabulous BBQ chicken salad for lunch.

We took this photo on the beach.
Shortly after, the fiance suggested we go home.
I was hot. He was anxious.

We got back to the house, and everyone headed outside. I was watching the family dog jump through a hoop.  It was cute. The fiance got up to try, and the dog just sat there. That was not so cute.

Then the fiance got down on his knees to play with the dog and started to act concerned that the dog had something in her mouth. Some people remember "Will you marry me" on their proposal day. I remember: "Eww, come look at what's in the dog's mouth!"

Before I knew it, I was being persuaded by the fiance's entire family to go over to him to see what was going on. I was so out of it. "What a strange request," I thought, "This better be worth seeing."

It was worth seeing.

As you can see from my finger wagging, the first thing I thought of was "whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat is going onnnnnnnnnnnn" and "Is this a joke?!?!?!?! Because if it is, it's not funny!!!!!"

Thankfully the Lord has given me a very patient man and he proceeded to assure me that this was real, that his love for me is real, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Could it get any better??

It got better.

His family was in on the whole thing, and so was mine (side story: my mom knew this was happening but forgot what day it would happen, so she would send me texts periodically asking me if anything "exciting" happened...). The proposal was recorded on a camera, and pictures were taken while I stood there in disbelief. Then as if that wasn't enough attention, they set up a private dinner for two overlooking the river right as the sun was setting. It was their first act of service for me, and I could not felt more loved and humbled to be accepted into such a wonderful family.

Of course our story would not be complete without something going wrong. In his secretiveness, the fiance asked my mom to snoop around my room for a ring size. Somehow she discovered/made up this random number, like 7/8ths and took herself and that made-up number to a jeweler...who probably looked at her strange and then somehow determined that I was a size smaller than I actually am.

The next day, we went to a random, sketchy "jeweler's bench" the next day to get the ring re-sized (I really wish I had a picture of this place; it was described to us as "that place across from the children's play area" and was located in an area where you would usually find an Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Real classy establishment). It was probably the hardest and most nerve-wracking decision we've made so far. I thought the ring was going to be lost/stolen forever. But then we came back, and the ring looked more beautiful than I remembered it from the day before.

He liked it so he put a ring on it!

Months later, I still find myself staring at my ring. I look back at these pictures and I am reminded that there is one man in particular who loves me for who I am, as close to unconditional as he can get. I cannot wait to grow old and wrinkly with him!

September 18, 2011

Too good to be true

I started having feelings for my fiance towards the beginning of fall, after I realized what a great catch he was. But, because of my sour attitude that summer and the way I treated him, I thought I had ruined my chances with him forever.

Then came Thanksgiving 2009. I lived too far away from home to spend the holidays with my family and make it back to work/church on Sunday. So the fiance graciously invited me to his parents' house to spend the holidays with them.

Every Thanksgiving, the fiance's extended family gets together. When I say extended, I mean grandma's-siblings-and-all-of-their-sons/daughters/grandchildren/significant others/etc. I was feeling a little bit uneasy about being there, seeing as I hardly even knew the fiance's family let alone his extended relatives before this. This feeling increased ten-fold when everyone got together for the annual family photo...and placed me dead center. I wish I was kidding.

Awkwardness aside, the fiance was acting kind of strange. Like affectionate strange. He suggested we go take a walk to find his brother (who I didn't know was "missing"). And then he grabbed my hand to hold it on our "walk". Excuse me, what??

Before I could think about what was actually happening, my fiance's brother, cousin and one of his cousin's kids showed up next to us. And then this little child bit the fiance square on his butt cheek. Seriously the strangest Thanksgiving I have had so far.

By the end of the day, the fiance was pursuing me 100% and I thought I was dreaming. Surely this wasn't happening! Oh but it was, and it did.

A week later, the fiance took me out on our first date. We went to a local pizza joint and had a fabulous time....until the bill came and the fiance realized they were cash-only. Guess who paid?

We spent the next six months together, learning more about each other, learning how to work together (literally) and how to love and respect each other.

Then May 2010 came and I moved away. We have since spent the last 16 months dating long-distance (it just took me 10 minutes to count the number of months we have lived apart...16 months is a long time!). We have spent a lot of time shuttling ourselves back and forth for holidays and extended weekend stays. We talk every night and update each other on the exciting day we just had.

Sometimes our schedules get so busy and out of whack that we don't get to talk. Sometimes we go to things on our own and spend our time surrounded by couples doing couple-y things. Sometimes something really funny and/or embarrassing happens to us and we turn to tell the other, but are met with absence. Sometimes it gets really tough. But then I look back at that Thanksgiving not too long ago and I cannot help but smile.

This life is truly been too good, and every Thanksgiving I thank God for giving me this man:

September 14, 2011

What is love?

A while back I did a post on discovering our love languages. We discovered many things through that test, but most importantly, we discovered that we are different people who love and hate different things, receive and give love differently, and are completely opposite (what?!).

We (I) also discovered that getting to know those parts of ourselves (myself) was an important step to take before trying to figure each other (the fiance) out.

We took tests - fun tests. We took the Myers-Briggs personality test (to which our complementary personalities describe us to a T), a love languages test, and a spiritual gifts test (thanks to our church staff retreat back in 2009). Each of these tests played a significant role in helping us figure out who we were - way before we tried to figure out who we were in relationship to each other.

When the fiance and I first met, we were hired to be interns for a youth ministry. We were basically paid to hang out with high schoolers (best job ever - hollaaaa). The following year, we were back and hired to be...not interns. It was probably the hardest thing I did that year (that and having to bleach half of my hair to dye it blue because I lost a bet for a fundraising event). We suddenly found ourselves in charge (ahh!) and kind of lost in these huge shoes to fill. Through the craziness of the summer and all its programming, I discovered that I had so much to work on about myself - emotionally, spiritually - before I could even pretend to understand another person.

So first came friendship, then came frustration. Then we started with those tests I was talking about earlier. And spent a lot of time in prayer (partially because I needed it, but also because the fiance was secretly praying that I would start having a change of character! God does answer prayers!).

Then we discovered the other wasn't so bad after all.
In fact, we found each other to be quite eye-catching.

When I look back at "our story", I start here. I start at a time in our lives where we didn't get along because we didn't understand how our own person could have strengths and weaknesses to be balanced out by another. I look back at those few months and I am so thankful for having to learn the hard way how to love and respect the fiance as a God-loved, God-created person.

Who we are together isn't perfect. We are far from a perfect couple.
But what we have discovered is that it is worth taking the time to find out about yourself, and it is worth taking the time to work on yourself - before working on someone else.

So that's where we started.
Where we're going is coming up next.

September 12, 2011

How to get to ever after

This blog would be pretty lacking during the months of September to November, and then again from December to March if I only used this blog to post about things we have done together...because the fiance and I are separated about 600 miles from each other (let's hear it for long-distance relationships!).

But I'm itching to write. And there is so much more about us than the silence in activities between visits. So, naturally, I was inspired to post a few entries about us, without talking about us.

So now begins a series of posts about us. About us before the "l" word. About our life post "l" word. About our proposal. About why we decided to go through pre-marital counseling. About being in a long-distance relationship. Get the picture?

With the explosion of blogs, the ones I follow and find the most informative humorous are ones about people living real lives, with real ups and downs. I have been so blessed by many of them - their honesty about their relationships (good or bad) and their openness to share their failures and successes has helped me learn about what to do and what not to do in preparation for life ahead.

Maybe this will do the same for you.
Or maybe you'll just laugh.
Because it's ok to laugh.
And we're pretty funny.