That One Trip to Starbucks: 10 Years Ago

I remember when I saw you for the first time, ten years ago today.

The summer sun still clung to the sky behind scattered clouds as I entered the Starbucks across from the dance studio where I taught. It was the first week of the new dance season, and like many times before, I was headed to the coffee shop for some post-class refreshment.

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And a blind date. That’s really why I was there.

The young man sat just inside the door to the left: broad shoulders, dark blonde hair, and eyes bluer than I could’ve hoped for. (Will our son have your eyes? A mom can hope.) As he stood to shake my hand, I thought to myself, Here we go…In that moment, I had just met my husband.

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Ten years feels like a significant milestone in our timeline, but it’s all relative, isn’t it? In ten years, we’ve finished degrees, gotten married, celebrated eight (almost nine) anniversaries, gone on lots of trips, worked together AND renovated two houses without killing each other, adopted a dog, consumed copious amounts of Chick-Fil-A and Icy’s, endured heartache, survived a pandemic, laughed and lived life together.

And this year, we get to begin one of our most anticipated chapters: becoming parents.

For that I am grateful.

I am grateful to my friend who had the courage to listen to what God was telling her and connect the two of us.

I am grateful I went to Starbucks that one Thursday night, ten years ago.

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When Aslan Comes in Sight

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

It’s no secret that I love reading and also no secret that I love the works of C.S. Lewis. My mom first read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “The Magician’s Nephew” out loud to my brother and I when I was in the fourth grade. Simply put, I fell in love with Narnia. I went on to read the rest of the series myself over the next year or so, searching out the themes of each of the books.

Though some books took more than one effort, I went on to read many of Lewis’ other books and one of my last electives I ever took in college was a class just on C.S. Lewis.

Fast forward a few years from college and my husband and I found ourselves facing an adversary we never planned on: infertility.

It would be impossible to trace the entire journey our hearts have taken over the last seven years (84 months/2500+ days), but suffice to say for now our hearts have traveled to the lowest depths they ever have; we have uncovered every emotion; we have thought ugly thoughts and shouted at God. Along the same path, we have found renewed strength and hope even when circumstances hadn’t changed. We have rejoiced and praised God even when circumstances hadn’t changed. We have lived our lives and started new jobs and projects along the way. We have served the local church. We have traveled the country. And we have gone to the end of ourselves and found God and kept going. And some days, we did the only thing we could do: sit on God’s lap and cry.

I have re-read some of the Narnia books periodically throughout our battle with infertility and found my heart connecting with themes my fourth-grade self glossed over.

Always winter, never Christmas. Yes. God, a thousand times yes. That’s exactly what infertility feels like.

Throughout the unfolding events in the Narnia books, when Aslan steps on the scene, peoples’ hearts are changed, even if the circumstances don’t change immediately. And often, that is how God meets us in our own trials first. Changing our hearts by His presence, even if our circumstances don’t look different yet.

So this poem has become a touchstone for me, especially over the last couple of years. It’s displayed in my office reminding me we hope in someONE not someTHING. And one day, at the end of time, everything will be made right.

But praise be to God, a glimpse of heaven on earth. At the sound of His roar, the sorrow of infertility is melting away like the last of the winter snow. We are humbled to announce we are expecting after seven long years of infertility. Baby Hanni will arrive November 2021 on the wings of thousands of prayers. There’s a lot more to the story and perhaps I’ll feel like sharing more in the future, but for now, we remain so grateful to those who have prayed for us and encouraged us throughout the years.

Baby Hanni, we can’t wait for you to join us on our adventures. You’ll be joining us in the fall, but already, spring has finally sprung in our hearts.


Year 6 of Marriage: Right Where We Should Be

In case you didn’t know (or couldn’t tell), I relish the chance for introspection (ISFJ to the MAX). God continually uses reflection as a tool for my growth and I don’t do it because it sounds relevant or sophisticated – I do it to survive.

So as I looked back on our sixth year of marriage, I struggled at first to pick out a theme or to sum it up and I hated that feeling! But then God reminded me of a few things. There have been specific areas in our lives and marriage this year that I have had more than a *few* ideas of how to move forward or make a change. In other words, I had my eye on making progress, a little forward motion. And it didn’t happen.

I felt like we SHOULD BE doing this. I felt like we SHOULD make this move. And each time, the door was not only shut in our face, but I’m pretty sure we heard the key turn in the lock as well.

The truth is, God didn’t desire for us to make a change. It wasn’t necessary. There wasn’t (and isn’t) anything wrong with where we were. In fact, we were right where we should be. If we look at how God spoke to his people in the Bible, yes, there were many times he called them to a specific action. Yet the stories that bounce off our instant-or-not-at-all hardened souls are the ones where God calls his people to pause and let him act. To take a beat.

Right where we should be. What a powerful, liberating phrase.

Certain “Should Bes” snatch joy right out of our lives, like a little kid (or dog) swiping a cookie from the counter. What “Should Bes” haunt you?

  • You should be married already.
  • You should be promoted already.
  • You should be a parent already.
  • You should be graduated already.
  • You should HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER already.
  • You should be THERE (wherever there is) already.

Whatever “it” is, I encourage you to give it up to the Lord and dare to believe that you are actually where you need to be right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love setting goals and tackling them. And sin needs to be dealt with. But maybe it’s time to rest in the grace of Jesus. Maybe it’s time to turn down that internal voice that screams BE MORE DO MORE GIVE MORE LIVE MORE GO MORE MORE MORE.

Yes, we are going to grow, learn, and change. Kurtis is not the exact same person as when we first got married. Neither am I. Next year will feature a slightly different version of us as well. However, right here in this moment, is right where we should be. It is enough. We are enough.

How can we make this claim? It is because of Christ. This year, the phrase “Christ is enough” has quietly challenged me on the stage of my mind month after month. Is it more than a cliche? Do I actually, truly, deeply believe this? Do I understand what I have to give up in my mind for this to be true? Because at the end of the day, Christ really does have to be enough.

Did you read that?

Christ HAS to be enough.

Yes, there are big, big things we are longing for, hoping for, praying for. We have dreams and goals. But our sixth year of marriage has been about letting them rest in an open palm, not squeezing out through clenched hands.

Because Christ is enough, and we are right where we should be.

So we relax our grip, and remind ourselves to take a breath. Even if we have to remind ourselves hourly.

So this anniversary weekend, I’m going to enjoy time away with my hubby, eating lots of tacos, and getting that extra hour of sleep! Because that is enough.

I love you more than Chick-fil-a, Kurtis. Happy Anniversary.

With you is right where I should be.

Since November 2012…

  • Trips: 17
  • Miles traveled together: 35,000+
  • Total number of books read: 500+
  • Trips to Chick-fil-A: *CENSORED*

Read last year’s post on our marriage.

And the year before that, if you feel like it.

Year 5 of Marriage

Are you familiar with the black hole of the internet? You know the one where you start out looking for one photo for one blog post and spend 45 minutes sorting photos from your senior trip 10 years ago?

Or the one where you need to add one item to your shopping list and end up searching for a pair of shoes through six different sites, one of which might have been on the dark web? OK, not the dark web, just a really sketchy sales site.

Or perhaps it started off with your friend or spouse showing you one funny video of marshmallow farmers (it’s a thing) and ended up two hours later arguing over the coldest/hottest places on earth. The coldest place is in Russia, like we’re shocked by that. The point is, it’s very easy to start off in one place online and then quickly be swept to far off lands.

(BTW, the above scenarios may or may not have happened IRL.)

Marriage is kind of like that, you know? You start off in one place (the altar) and in a short amount of time, you find yourself swept off to unknown places.

In fact, I feel a Tolkien quote coming on…

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.

– The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkein

Stepping into the Road

I just lost some of you there with a LOTR quote (Ugh LOTR! So long! So complicated! What’s the big deal over the ring?!?) but I’m also betting I just made some new friends too (Ah LOTR! I feel second breakfast is in order) But like Bilbo says to Frodo, when you step into the road on your wedding day, you definitely don’t know where it will take you.

Your wedding day is *finally* here, the family is in town, the caterer arrives, candles are lit and there you both are, at the altar. And while it may feel like you’ve spent your whole life preparing for this moment, the truth is, untold adventures are waiting as you step down from the stage, and walk hand in hand with your new spouse.

We are only five years in and our road has already taken us some places we never expected, like it does for every couple. What unexpected places has your marriage taken you to?

Unemployment? Relocation? Opening a new business? Adoption? Infertility? New church? Deaths in the family? What has that looked like as you’ve learned to face your adventures together?

Keeping Your Feet

Marriage is indeed a dangerous business, dangerous in the sense of what’s at stake. You’ve made a covenant before God and friends and family to love honor and cherish one another. You are no longer two people pursuing self, but one flesh pursuing the heart of God.  If you don’t keep your feet, you can be swept apart instead of facing the tide of adventures together.

This is one of my favorite pictures from our wedding, because it reminds me that we no matter what, we face our adventures together. Everyone else had walked down to the reception and we lingered at the sanctuary entrance. Just the two of us, a team, joined together.

There is truly no one else I’d rather have by my side than Kurtis. Even when (when not if) we face challenge after challenge, even when we have those *imaginary* discussions that cause communication problems, even when we are both moody as heck, I will gladly step out the door every day into the road, because even though I don’t know where it will take me, I know who is by my side: Kurtis. (Well, Kurtis and Jesus)

Happy 5th Anniversary, Kurtis.

Feel like crawling down the dark hole of the internet RIGHT NOW? Then browse through four more years worth of marriage posts!

Year 4 Thoughts

Year 3 Thoughts

Year 2 Thoughts

Year 1 Thoughts