Part 3: On living love.

Need some context? Check out Part 1 and Part 2.

And we survived engagement--and it was crazy, and we had our moments, but we kept going, because we love each other.

And then it was Wedding Day--and it was perfect, and I cried and he cried and we left together, hand in hand, because we love each other.

And now we are newlyweds--and we are starry-eyed and crazy about each other and it is easy to ignore faults and say I'm sorry and look ahead together, because we love each other.

And I look around and sometimes think How can this last? or Will it start to fade? or I wonder what he'll think of me ten years from now... and sometimes it is scary.

Because there are no guarantees. No How To's. No These Five Steps Provide Absolute Marital Bliss (even though bookstores are covered with titles that claim otherwise). Not even loved ones who have all the answers.

This is real life. Our life. And it is very much unscripted.

And look around! Sure, there are stories upon stories about boy-meeting-girl and all the romantic giggliness that follows...but so many of those end in heartbreak. Because marriage is hard. Love fails. People get bored. And do stupid things. And if they do that, you do this because you have to watch your back. So just enjoy the season and when it's time, let it go. Or so society seems to say.

We are obsessed with failing couples. We excuse our broken vows. We applaud those who Have the Courage to Stand Up for Themselves.

But who is standing up for Love?

And who is saying I said I will and I will and you will and hey, yeah, we will fight and not like each other and we will each make so many mistakes.

And it will probably get hard and then even harder and maybe one day we won't even know who we are anymore. And it won't feel awesome.

And Anything Else will look easier.

But we will have a choice.

Because no matter what is going on around us or how Hollywood decides to define love, we aren't These People or Those People or even Those People over there.

It is just you and me and a journey of learning to live out the words we had read that day--words that may be tired but no less true.

Words we will spend our lives exploring, defending, protecting, celebrating.

Because we love each other.

Because we made a promise.

Because our journey has just begun.


Part 2: On love and logic.

Just now joining? Read Part 1 first.

And then I started dating my best friend.

It was a time of constant discovery--a roller coaster of nerves, excitement, adventure, anxiety. And there was always something to question.

For in the movies, as I'm sure you are aware, love goes a little something like this:
Boy meets girl.
Boy falls in love with girl during a plethora of excruciatingly adorable dates, where everyone wears super trendy clothes and perfectly-timed cheesy lines are exchanged (under the moon, in front of a setting sun, during a gondola ride, etc.).
Something happens to thwart love. (girl discovers boy has made an ugly bet with a friend to date her, boy and girl discover they were each playing games with each other but accidentally fell in love but don't trust each other, boy discovers girl actually has a fiancee but he is terrible and she should obviously be with boy, etc.)
Love overcomes obstacle. (often in an airport, at the top of the Eiffel tower, even occasionally during a wedding when one is about to marry The Wrong One)
Annnnd end scene. (Happily ever after, of course.)

Oh sure, I consciously knew these stories were ridiculous (who actually falls in love over a radio show and flies and meets up in New York? Or how can I be so happy that two people each broke off an engagement for each other just because they each reached for the last pair of Christmas gloves and thus are Destined for Each Other? And who really believes that the girl that constantly runs away from love at the altar repeatedly settles down for a guy who cares about what kind of eggs she prefers? You get the point.).

But there is a certain comfort in the predictability and honestly, one feels a kind of justice has been served when Boy Gets Girl No Matter What Amen. And as much as I hate to admit it, these stories and expectations absolutely did shape my view of love.

It made any sort of personal assessment difficult since, you know, real life, is NOT a perfectly packaged two-hour rom com.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, my experience was pretty darn close to Hollywood-esque-- first kisses on a starry night, a snowy drive just to be together for the holidays and sneaking wine into the park for a summery celebration.

But intermixed were scary times, sad times, heartache times, questioning times and just plain awkward times. Lots of awkward times.

I often felt fragile, exposed, and totally and completely overwhelmed.

But how do I know? I wondered. When will it make sense?

So I would look around.

"I'm not sure what to tell you," some friends would shrug. "For us, things just fell into place."

"OMG you guys are PERFECT!" others would gush.

And my head kept spinning, spinning, spinning.

I wish I could tell you I had A Defining Moment or had That One Conversation or realized This Life-Changing Truth.

But that would be me trying to pretty up my story, and I guess if anything, that is what I learned--that my journey, our journey, is one of highs and lows and hard times and good times, and to negate one without the other merely for story sake would be to misrepresent us.

And oh, it was hard.

To realize there is no template. There is no absolute affirmation that we are doing the right thing or meant to be or that we have what it takes. And that no one knows.

But what I can tell you with certainty is that through it all, even at the worst of times, I found myself clinging to hope. A hope that surpassed even the crappy times or the convoluted reality and urged me to believe and to keep fighting.

And Adam did the same.

And so, on a Friday night about 9 p.m. after he waited on a park bench for two hours and I arrived breathless and ooookay fine, UNSHOWERED, Adam asked me to marry him.

And I said absolutely YES!

And whoo-eee did things get interesting.

Part 3 to come soon. Thanks for reading!


Part 1: On love and lepers.

I used to hate love.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I loved family love and friend love...but I mean romantic love.

Of course, I had an obsession with it, even during my season of love disdain, because hellooooooo, sometimes a girl just wants to wear sweatpants and watch Mr. Darcy sweep a girl off her feet and believe that someday, I too would be so pursued by a dashing young gentleman (preferable not quite as brooding, but I tried to keep an open mind).

But when the movie credits would roll, I would be reminded yet again that I had no Mr. Darcy. (And also that I also spilled ice cream all over said sweatpants. Again.)

Thus the love hatred.

Sometimes, when I was feeling extra Bridget-Jones-esque, I would escape with my journal and scribble pages upon pages of angst. What am I doing wrong? Why not me? and sometimes the obligatory Boys suck.

And I would convince myself that I had better start loving cats and collecting needlepoint phrases and doilies and learn to say, "Oh, my ticket is separate, thank you!" without noticing the pitying smiles.

And I would hear my friends complain when their boyfriend did this or their husband did that, and sometimes I would want to scream, "DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?!" And would truly (unfairly) believe that their problems weren't nearly as big as mine as a single person because they had someone to share their journey.

I realize this makes me sound like a total narcissistic jerk with a complex (and unhealthy eating habits), and that is probably a fair assessment. But neither is it the whole story.

The thing is, it's not like I wasn't happy for my friends. I wanted exactly what they had, after all. It's just that they were entering a new phase of life that somehow made me feel immature. Or behind. Partly because I was even told flat-out, "Yeah...you just really couldn't understand my problem right now. Maybe one day, after you're married YOU LEPER."

(Okay, she didn't say the leper part, but might as well.)

Everywhere I looked in my ever-shrinking Midwestern Christian bubble, I felt more and more certain that my life was missing something--the something--that would make me complete.

And that something was marriage.

"Hey," my friend's Dad winked at his daughter's wedding reception, "when we gonna see you walk down that aisle, kid? Time's a'wastin!"

And the standard holiday family gathering, "Soooo, why aren't you bringing any boys around?" Yuk yuk yuk...

And the well-intentioned-yet-demeaning, "Ohhh, you're single?! That's o-kay!" (Yes, thank you, I know that's o-kay...or at least I did until you said o-kay like it's not o-kay, OOOOOKAAAAAAY?!)

Or the perpetual--"...have you met my friend, so and so?! You guys would be PERFECT!" which would instantly cause my stomach to turn into a thousand knots as my cheeks immediately inflamed.

I was an honors grad. A ball of social energy. A school ambassador. A bookworm. A leader. A traveler.

A sister, a friend, a daughter, a maid of honor, a volunteer, a writer, a planner, a worrier, a student, a full-time worker.

I was a lot of things, but all that really seemed to matter to most people was that I was young. A Midwesterner. A Christian. A female. And single as single could be.

And there was no Mr. Darcy in sight.

Note: If you think this is heading towards "and then I got married and life is perfect"...please gag and then keep reading next week.


O! What a city.

Okay, who here knew that Omaha was awesome and WHY had no one told me?!

I'll let my pictures do the talking...in case some of you are doubters.

First, really awesome food:
The sign speaks the truth.
$3.50. One patty. TRUE STORY!

Second, a really fun zoo! (not pictured: BATS and other crazy nocturnal animals from "Kingdom of the Night." Also missing is my fave, the gorilla.) Let's just say we were there until it closed.
The desert dome.
Third, a really fun area called Old Market that is walker-friendly and quirky enough to keep you guessing. (not pictured: our awesome Indian food, bakery goodies, brewery lunch, etc. etc. etc.)
The art museum.
Fourth, and the absolute best, escaping the craziness of life with this guy:

Road trips are the best.

Thanks for everything, Omaha! Hope to see you again soon!


I spy with my little eye...

The scene: Saturday morning, before the sun is up. I awake with a start to a strange pop-pop-pop noise. Naturally, I dash to our kitchen door to peer at the parking lot. Nothing. I return to bed with a fussy sigh, waking up Adam. I report the noise. He takes a look around.

The rising action: Pop-pop-pop! There it is again! This time, from the street outside our bedroom window! Sneakily, I peek out of a smidgen of space in the blinds. I see a white SUV! With their headlights on! My heart rate skyrockets.

Adam! I hiss. But before I can even report my finding, the overhead light turns on in the car! I lean in closer.

The climax: Without warning, I witness a burst of flurried activity. The driver (who is alone) begins exceedingly fast hand gestures. (Car dancing? I wonder. Drug-induced behavior? Who can really tell?!)

And then the frenzied driver begins digging in...what's that? A bag!? Full of...unidentified items?! Could it be I am watching our neighborhood catalytic converter thief IN ACTION?!

ADAM! I hiss frantically. Get.IN.HERE! HURRY!

And just as he is hurrying through the doorway, the car door opens.

The driver snatches one of the bagged objects and steps out. I hold my breath, one hand reaching for my phone.

And together, we watch as the middle-aged, apron-wearing woman carries a roll of toilet paper with her as she walks into work.

Honest mistake.


And we said Amen.

And so we sat on the hard wooden pews and wiped tears from our eyes and struggled to Believe.

And asked why? and how? and why not? and where are You?!

And tears came and hands were squeezed and we tried to smile trembly smiles and pretend to be brave for them. But our aching hearts gave us away.

And then he began to speak.

And when he said, "It is not supposed to be this way," his voice caught and we all felt that truth deep in our bones--but we felt it together and somehow Comfort trickled in that space and filled in the cracks of sadness.

And he kept going.

"It is not supposed to be this way," he said again, a little stronger this time and he continued firmly, resolutely, pleading yet believing, "...but this is not the end of the Story."

And he said that is the Truth.

And we clung to His words.

And we said Amen.


Excuse me, my shallowness is about to show but...

Gap has a new logo?!

And uhhh...it looks like this?


Um, I know I'm not the best with change and I know that the world does tend to be a tad dramatic about these things but...let's just say this isn't exactly going over so well.

Personally, I could get over the font...but the blue square?! Ehh?

Think you could do better? Take a look at some of these ideas and design away!

Meanwhile, I'll try to get over it.


*edit: Guess they took the design contest down. Bummer.

*edit #2: Now Gap is accepting design ideas as well! ...Okay I'm done. Promise.

*edit #3: I know I lied about being done...but I have to share this with you all. You're welcome.



  • Battling a ferocious eye twitch that makes me all squinty-eyed and awkward looking. So much so that I had been shamelessly closing one eye and peering at the computer screen all pirate-like. And then my co-worker caught me. Drat. How do you recover from that?!
  • I can feel the fussiness rising in me as the weather gets a chilly twinge that WILL NOT END for MONTHS, PEOPLE! But it's okay, I've been getting excited about fall foods for once in my life and have made delicious pumpkin cookies (if I do say so myself) ummm...at least three times in the last month.
  • My husband's response to said fussiness is to smirk a bit (because he survived the beastly summer heat...which is HIS fussy season)...and then tell me that instead of calling it "cold," I should call it "invigorating." I DISAGREE, DEAR.
  • Speaking of fall food (I was, up there...before I interrupted myself a million times with usual sassiness), you guys! I HAVE A PROBLEM. I am compulsively copying recipes from food sites I have no business visiting and have successfully filled up an entire folder in my email with grandiose ideas...seriously. Obsessed. For no reason. And did I mention we only eat at home ummm MAYBE three nights a week? (Don't get me started...we have an insane lifestyle OKAY?!) But for some reason I am all inspired--slow cooker recipes? Yes please! Award winning entrees? Absolutely! It's a yo-yo kind of emotional rollercoaster, though, when I look at the directions and completely get the deer-in-headlights look with one glance at the ingredients. It can be so intimidating!
  • Searching for how to fully appreciate the present season--all the busyness, heartache, joy, sorrow, second-guessing, missing, wondering, hoping and longing it entails.


I said a hip hop...

It's Monday.

You stayed up too late last night eating ice cream and watching that TV show that took America by storm (which you resisted when, you know, it was actually COOL, then totally fell victim to its addictive quality once it went off air...FINALE TONIGHT! OMG!).

You've already had two Lindt chocolate truffles. (Holy.CRAP. YOU try eating just one...I dare you!).

But hey, whatever. It's Monday so the name of the game is merely survival.

And with that, I would like to beg you to please please please watch this video if you haven't already. (I would embed but the stupid link is broken.)

Hi-lar-i-ous. (my fave is JT's Snoop impersonation...feel free to share yours.)

And if that doesn't make your Monday a little brighter then I don't know what will.



Comfort food: Parmesan Roast Chicken.

What to make when you feel really crappy, your husband feels crappy, and your week has been a big dose of heaviness:

(adapted from a HyVee recipe that credits TRY-FOODS INTERNATIONAL, so I should too I suppose. And thanks HyVee! Love you and your NuVals!)

Parmesan Roast Chicken

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. basil (or whatever spice you prefer...go crazy)
2 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard (this will change your life)
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 4-oz boneless, skinless chicken breast

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease ovenproof glass baking dish.
2. Combine cheese, breadcrumbs, basil and salt and pepper to taste on one plate.
3. Combine mustard and oil on second plate.
4. Dip chicken in mustard mixture, then in cheese mixture, shaking off excess. Place chicken in prepared baking dish.
5. Bake 30-40 minutes until tender and no longer pink.
6. Feel awesome, count your blessings and tell someone who love how special they are.

Serve with mashed potatoes and enjoy in front of the TV. 

Follow later with ice cream and a LOST episode that you pay $.98 for on Amazon because you are desperate and Netflix is FAILING YOU.

Got a comfort food to share? Let me know! I'm always up for suggestions...

Happy weekending friends!