Because He Loves Me

Nine years ago today, Stephen and I said, “I do.” We had little idea of what we were really getting into, but we were in love and ready to find out what marriage was all about. Nine years later, I’m not sure I know even now exactly what marriage is all about, but I’m so glad that I have Stephen with me while we figure it out.

Nine years ago, we committed to love each other forever, and for the most part, this has been an easy choice. But it has not been always been an easy road, and we have experienced firsthand loving one another “in sickness and in health.” My health issues over the past few years have tested us–tested our faith, tested our relationship, tested our endurance. I have seen Stephen function almost as a single parent at times when I was too sick to get out of bed. He has helped me use the bathroom, helped me get out of the shower, and lifted my legs up into the bed because I couldn’t do it myself–all things I wouldn’t have expected to need help with until much later in our married life. He has pushed me around stores in a wheelchair after my hip surgeries. I have seen him come home from work and immediately start playing with Charlotte, who loves her daddy more than anyone in the world (even me, as much as I hate to admit it). I have seen him make countless lunches for Charlotte, fix endless cups of coffee for me just the way I like it, save the last dessert for me, and put up with my indecisiveness about, well, almost everything. I have watched as he held our girl for the first time, eyes heavy with sleep but filled with love. I have watched as he paced the floor with our girl while she cried and cried and cried as a newborn. I have watched as he has prayed over our girl, read stories to her, and tickled her in all the right places until they are both collapsing with laughter.There were times when we looked at each other after a night of toddler tantrums, not knowing what in the world to do, but I remember being so thankful that in those moments, I could at least be clueless with him instead of clueless alone.

I knew when I married Stephen that I loved him, but that love has only grown deeper as we have walked the valleys of the past few years and as we have shared in the joys and struggles of parenting. He has done more for me in the past year than I ever thought he would have to do for me, and this humbles me and brings me to tears even now as I think about the many ways he sacrificed for me and our family. He would never want me to feel guilty about any of it, and I know he would do it all over again–each and every day if he had to–because he loves me. And not only does he love me, but he loves the Lord, and it’s because he loves the Lord that he is able to give of himself so fully and so selflessly. We only love because Christ loves us, and I have a daily reminder of God’s love for me in the form of Stephen. Because he loves me, I do not have to fear the future because I know I can face anything with him. Because he loves me, I am safe because I know he will take care of me. Because he loves me, each day is a gift. Because he loves me, I can see a glimpse of the immeasurable love that God has for me through his words and his actions towards me. Because he loves me, I love God more.

I love you, Stephen, and am happy to say “I do” to you every day for the rest of our lives.

How We Met

In honor of Valentine’s day, I thought I would share how Stephen and I met. Some of you may already know this story if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, but I know there are many who don’t know, so here you go!

Stephen and I knew each other while attending Union University, but we didn’t really hang out much; we just had some mutual friends, so our social circles crossed occasionally. (One time I drove him and another friend to a movie, and Stephen was singing some song. I asked innocently, “Who sings that song?” When he replied with the artist, I said, “Let’s keep it that way, okay?” I was a real gem.) Stephen graduated from Union two years before I did but got a job working in the library, so I still saw him every now and then. Once I graduated, however, the only time I saw him was when were both in a wedding of some friends of ours.  I then moved to Knoxville to attend graduate school in August of 2005, and Stephen was still working at Union.

While in grad school (or maybe before, I’m not quite sure), I created a MySpace profile. (Remember MySpace? Haha.)  MySpace and Facebook both helped me procrastinate writing lots of papers in grad school, and one day in April 2006 when I was on MySpace, I received a message from Stephen. He had come across my profile and said hello and just wanted to see what I was doing and where I was now.  So I wrote him back and filled him in on the basics, he wrote me back, and then we began corresponding on a daily basis, often with multiple emails. We found several shared interests, and it wasn’t long before I began looking forward to hearing from him and wanting to know more about him. What’s crazy is that not long after we first started writing each other, one of our mutual friends from Union wrote me and told me she had a wild thought: I should marry Stephen!  Hmmm…

After almost two weeks of writing, I gave him my phone number (somewhat nervously and hesitantly), and he called me not long after that. Though I was worried that we wouldn’t have much to talk about and that it would be awkward, we talked for three hours, and it was the easiest thing in the world! Our phone conversations continued, as did our writing (we each have upwards of 130 pages of emails saved in Word files), and it was pretty obvious that we were both very interested in pursuing something beyond friendship. After discussing it and praying about it, we began dating with the purpose of seeing if we could envision a future together. Even though a long distance relationship was not ideal, we made it work. I made several trips to Jackson to see him, and he came to Memphis several times to meet my parents and other family members when I was home from school for the summer. I also went to Illinois and met a bunch of his family when his grandfather passed away.  I was sorry to meet them under such sad circumstances, but it was great to meet his family.

I knew very early in our relationship that I wanted to marry Stephen, and he apparently felt the same way because we got engaged a mere three months after we started dating! I certainly don’t recommend that time frame for everyone, but for us, it worked. There’s the old saying,
“When you know, you know,” and we definitely knew it was meant to be.

I am beyond blessed to have Stephen in my life, and my love for him has only grown, especially now that I am able to see the role he plays as Charlotte’s father. I love you, Stephen!

And I sure am glad Tom invented MySpace. 🙂

Valentine Festivities

Would you believe that as I am writing this, it is snowing AGAIN? For those of you not aware, I live in west TN, and snow just does not come around that often. If it does, it is just a light dusting and often doesn’t stick, but this time makes the third time in a month’s time when there has actually been snow on the ground. While this snow is nothing compared to what the states up north are getting, I’m sick of it all and ready for spring!

I hope everyone had a great weekend. Stephen and I started celebrating Valentine’s Day on Thursday night by going out to dinner. We figured the restaurants would be less crowded on a weekday than when it got closer to the actual holiday. Romantic, right? 🙂 We had planned to go to a local BBQ place, but when we got there the credit card machine wasn’t working, so we left. We ended up going to Chili’s, and we splurged and got ribs and shared a dessert (Chocolate Chip Paradise Pie, and yes, I am aware of how many calories are in it).

Then on Friday at work I got a lovely surprise–two dozen red roses! Sadly, I took pictures with my phone and have no idea how to transfer them to the computer, but believe me when I say they are the most perfect roses I have ever seen. All my coworkers were oohing and awing over them, and it was so fun! He also got me some perfume (Lucky You). I have the best husband! Friday night we saw The Blind Side, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

On Saturday morning we packed up the car and headed for Memphis. My mom’s birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so my dad was hosting a big family dinner at their house that night to celebrate. That afternoon we met up with my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew to get a family portrait made. The last one we’d gotten made was almost 3 years ago, so we were definitely due for another one! Our photographer was a little kooky, but we got some shots that turned out well. All of the grandparents then came over that night for dinner, and we all had a great time. I love being with my family!

Sunday morning was church, and after eating lunch with my parents, Stephen and I headed back to Jackson. I took care of the laundry and went grocery shopping, and then the weekend was pretty much over. It went by fast, as always, but I am so thankful for my sweet husband and my family!

How did you spend your weekend?

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I stole this from Heather, and it works out well because it answers the first question she had: How did Stephen and I meet?

1. Where/how did you meet: We both went to Union and met there because we had some mutual friends, but we didn’t really hang out or anything. I did drive him and some other people to see Star Wars: Episode 3, and apparently I insulted his singing (with the old “Who sings that song/why don’t we keep it that way?”comment). He remembers this, but I don’t because of course I never say things like that. 🙂

2. How long have you known each other: Um, I’m not exactly sure, but I am going to go with 6 or 7 years.

3. How long after you met did you start dating: A long time. Though we probably met in 2001 or 2002, we did not start dating until 2006, when I was in grad school at UT Knoxville and Stephen was working in Jackson. Stephen found my profile on MySpace, sent me a message, then I replied back. Before I knew it we were messaging several times a day, then we started talking on the phone and the rest is history. 🙂

4. How long did you date before you were engaged: Not very long! We started dating on May 5, 2006 and got engaged on Aug. 4, 2006. I’m sure some people probably thought we were crazy, but we just knew it was right, and we didn’t have any reason to wait. You can read the engagement story (and more about how we started dating) here.

5. How long was your engagement: Too long! I had to finish my second year of grad school, so we didn’t get married until June 2, 2007, 10 months after we got engaged.

6. How long have you been married: 2 years, 5 months, and 17 days. 🙂

7. What is your anniversary: June 2, 2007

8. How many people came to your wedding reception: I think about 150.

9. What kind of cake did you serve: The wedding cake was alternating layers of french vanilla and carrot cake, which is my favorite kind of cake. The groom’s cake was an amazing chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and strawberries on top. It was soooo good.

10. Where was your wedding: Carahills Estate in Eads, TN (aka, The Middle of Nowhere). You can read my post about our wedding here.

11. What did you serve for your meal: Since our wedding was at 1:00 p.m., we served hors d’oeuvres. I didn’t eat much of it so I can’t remember exactly what we had, but I know there was a chocolate fountain. 🙂

12. How many people were there in your bridal party: 4

13. Are you still friends with them all: Yes, though we don’t keep in touch as well as we should.

14. Did you or your spouse cry during the ceremony: I cried a ridiculous amount, through most of the vows.

15. Most special moment of your wedding day: Getting married to Stephen would have to be the highlight. 🙂 I also loved that Stephen’s dad, who is a pastor, performed the ceremony. I might be a little biased, but I think it was one of the most meaningful wedding ceremonies I have ever heard.

16. Any funny moments: You can read about the infamous wedding present I gave Stephen here.

17. Any big disasters: Not at the wedding itself, but we did get ourselves locked out of the car while eating dinner at TGI Friday’s in Jackson. I had a minor meltdown in the parking lot because we were on our way to Nashville, and we couldn’t get in touch with anyone because everyone still had their phones off after the wedding. Finally, Stephen’s coworker Paul came by and took us to our apartment, where I ran inside and found a spare key.

18. Where did you go on your honeymoon: Chattanooga, TN. We stayed in Nashville at the Embassy Suites on Saturday night and then drove on to Chattanooga Sunday morning. Chattanooga is one of my favorite cities, and we had so much fun.

19. How long were you gone: 5 days

20. If you were to do your wedding over, what would you change: I would make absolutely certain that we got pictures taken with everyone! We didn’t get pictures of us with our grandparents, and that really breaks my heart.

21. What side of the bed do you sleep on: The right side. It’s weird, but in our other apartment, I slept on the left side.

22. What size is your bed: Queen

23. Greatest strength as a couple: Our friendship. Stephen and I are each other’s best friend, and we genuinely love to spend as much time as possible together. We have so much fun together, and we can be completely ourselves. He brings out the best in me.

24. Greatest challenge as a couple: My inability to handle conflict. I tend to shut down if we are disagreeing about something, instead of trying to talk through it.

25. Who literally pays the bills: Stephen

26. What is your song: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

27. What did you dance your first dance to: We didn’t dance at our wedding. We did dance to Michael Buble in Stephen’s kitchen on one of our first dates, though. 🙂

28. Describe your wedding dress: The dress I wore was the first dress I tried on. My mom made me try on others, but I knew it was the one. It was a strapless A-line gown with a thick fuschia band at the waist and a gorgeous train trimmed with the same color fuschia. Here’s a view of the back, which I loved:

29. What kind of flowers did you have at your wedding: I LOVED the flowers at my wedding. My bouquet had roses and stargaze lillies, and the bridesmaids had daisies and roses. Take a look:

30. Are your wedding bands engraved? No, they aren’t.

Feel free to fill this out if you’re married. If you do, link to your post in the comments!