Love stories are beautiful. I’m not talking about the predictable, cheesy, rom-com kind of love stories. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I saw a rom-com, and don’t get me started on Nicholas Sparks books. No, I’m talking about love stories that are the real deal. Relationships that have stood the test of time. Couples that hold fast and show kindness to each other, even through the deepest trials. Love that remains strong, loyal, and faithful even on the days when you don’t like each other. It’s the reason that Up will forever remain my favorite love story. Carl and Ellie are relationship goals.
Nineteen years ago today, I said “I do” to my happily ever after. Our love story isn’t one that started with a big crash of fireworks and a Disney chorus singing. It began with a handshake in a driveway and hopping into a van to go teach Sunday School together. In the weeks that followed, we went for long walks where we laughed a lot, talked about common interests, and maybe had a little light stalking on my part. (Which, apparently, he was completely unaware of.) It wasn’t long before we started to believe that the friendship we had begun, was destined to be for a lifetime.
During most of our dating experience, Jeff and I were poor college kids, living in a dorm (at a Christian college… which meant no visitors), with no car. That meant we had to get really creative with how we spent our time together. Our dates consisted of epic Trivial Pursuit battles, coloring in Barbie coloring books, walking across the street to the mini-mart to procure snacks, and hiking through the area’s parks. To most people, that probably sounds insanely lame and weird. But, I am so grateful for our dating experience! We truly got to know each other’s hearts and talk about who we were at our core. It wasn’t romance the way it is portrayed in the movies, but that’s WHY I love it.
And our marriage adventure has been rather unconventional and unpredictable too. Honestly, I figured our lives would be a carbon copy of our families’ experiences. You know we’d move close to my parents, have a few kids, get a middle class job, find a good church to be part of, and just plug into the same pattern of the way things have always been done. But, God is funny that way, and sometimes His plans are not even remotely like the ones that we write for ourselves.
Over the past nineteen years, our lives have indeed been an adventure! We set off to make our own way 500 miles from my home… and have stayed there for almost twenty years. Together, we’ve been through extremely difficult moments that taught us the true meaning of “for better or worse.” We’ve made agonizing decisions that have redefined our definitions of “family” and “home.” We’ve held each other through heartbreaking moments of “adulting” that have changed life forever. Life hasn’t always been fun or easy, but at least we have had each other.
In those nineteen years, we have also shared moments of unspeakable joy and beauty. We’ve traveled to places I thought I would only ever see in the movies. We’ve enjoyed more meaningful conversation and laughter than some couples experience in a lifetime. And somehow our hearts have been knit together so tightly that I longer understand where I end, and he begins. Jeff is my best friend, my greatest encourager, my and my deepest love.
Yes, we are rather odd, and according to premarital counseling shouldn’t work together at all. (Seriously, they told us we were TOO similar!) By God’s amazing generosity and grace, we really do work together. Recently, someone told me that soul mates aren’t real… that there are a whole lot of people we could be with, and that we just choose a good one and it works. I don’t believe that is true. There is not one other person on earth that could complete my heart and complement my soul the way that Jeff does. I believe he was designed with me in mind.
Just like Carl and Ellie’s story, I know our adventure has not been what we thought it would be at the start. It has been so much better! And my heart is more than content to fill my life’s scrapbook with the memories of the “Stuff I Am Going To Do” with Jeff.
True love stories are beautiful. Ours is my favorite.
Listen along with us as we celebrate nineteen years today. Each song on this Spotify playlist is part of our story.