My Word for 2016

In 2015, I focused on savor.  2014 was about the word grow.  2013 was a year to celebrate.  This year I’ve chosen the most challenging word yet.  I’m taking grow a step further and focusing on the word deeper.  To be honest, it makes me a little nervous.  I still feel some resistance to this word, but that’s how I know it’s the right one.  For my purposes here, deeper means trying harder, digging below the surface, being more intentional with my time and, really, whatever else God reveals to me this year.

Since it is already late March (ahem), I can talk about what deeper has looked like so far this year.  Here’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.  One way I can go deeper this year is to get more organized so that I can invest time in worthy causes without giving up my peaceful home hours.  

I’ve had a tendency to be too guarded with my time, so as part of my effort to live out my word for the year, I’ve tried to step up my involvement in activities when an opportunity comes up. In February, I ending up helping to plan events for two different groups that I’m involved with in the same week, and I almost didn’t recognize my life with so little down time.  [Please note that I realize this is just a normal week for some of you.  I’m talking to you, extroverts.  :)]  I felt guilty that I wasn’t home much during the day because Ben’s nap schedule was suffering and frazzled without my quiet time in the house to regroup.  Both events went extremely well, and knowing that I helped make them happen was really satisfying.  While I don’t regret participating, I also learned that it’s okay if I need a couple of quiet hours at home most days.

So, this gets pretty detailed, but I need to be able to refer back to it.  In no particular order, here are some goals that have developed out of choosing the word deeper, and steps I’m taking…

Get organized and balance my time

Steps Taken:

  • Drawing inspiration from women who have a routine or structure that is working well.  There are so many great ideas out there in the blog and podcast world, in addition to real life examples, of course.
  • Committing to some weekly routines like MOPS/Bible Study and story time at the library.
  • Being diligent with bed time and nap time for the baby.

Steps to Take:

  • Consider trying a bullet journal.
  • Try to structure time when Ben is sleeping so that I’m using it more effectively.

Go deeper spiritually

Steps Taken:

  • Joining a Bible study.
  • Attending church ladies’ retreat.
  • Having more consistent Bible reading time with my husband.  **work in progress

Steps to Take:

  • Embrace the renewed urgency I feel to deeper in my relationship with God and be prayerful and open to where he will lead.
  • Be fearless when he opens a door I might not have expected.

Build skills at home

Steps Taken:

  • Learning every day how to be a mom to this rapidly growing baby boy.IMG_0926
  • Repainting the cabinets in our guest bathroom!
  • Doing more reading and less TV watching, which makes me feel better about life.
    • TV is not an inherently bad thing, but it can become too time-consuming and even harmful to our spirits, in some cases.  When Parenthood and Parks and Recreation ended, for example, we didn’t replace them with new shows.  Now my beloved Downton Abbey has ended, too, (sigh) and the timing is good.  I’m getting a lot of book recommendations and making more frequent trips to the library.  My little guy is finally old enough for story time!  I cannot even describe the joy this brings to my inner literary nerd.  Libraries are a happy place.
  • Exercising most days
    • Right now that means a fast-paced walk with the stroller on the trail system near our house.  I love it and so does my boy.  This falls into the spirituality category, too.  It’s easier for me to find peace and connection with God when I am outside breathing fresh air and taking in natural scenes of trees and hills, etc.  It’s a win win.
  • In the kitchen— .
    • I made my own chicken broth. You know what?  It really does taste better.  🙂  It is definitely labor intensive, but one thing I love about cooking is how it reminds us that good things are worth waiting for.
    • I’ve enjoyed making food for Ben these last few months as well.  My personal favorite is sweet potatoes with applesauce and a pinch of cinnamon.  Que rico!
    • I’m finding some favorite meatless recipes for us, and I try to do a meatless meal at least once a week.
  • Trying to be more hospitable.
    • We love hosting family and friends for gatherings, whether special meals or just people stopping by.  We have done some of that already this year, and I’m really looking forward to some overnight guests coming up, too.

Steps to Take:

  • Get better at cleaning.
  • Make more progress on the long list of culinary endeavors I hope to tackle.
    • From scratch bread, yogurt, ranch dressing, some recipes from my fancy books, etc.
  • Start practicing yoga again.
    • I’ve heard about a great yoga YouTube channel, and I would like to start utilizing that to work on strength.
  • Take on more home improvement projects.
    • More painting, fireplace, yard…
  • Invest more time in writing.
  • Find more ways to be hospitable.

It should be an interesting and rewarding year, and I appreciate the accountability of being able to talk about my one word in this space.  Can any of you relate to the challenges I’m laying out for the year?  I would love to hear your experiences and any wisdom you have to offer.

Ben’s Birth Story: The Finale

Here is the conclusion of Ben’s birth story!  If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  🙂

At first, I thought the nurse who was with us during this time was less friendly than the others had been.  Then I realized that she was just focused and serious because she needed to be prepared for anything to happen.  This was the main event.  I pushed for about 40 minutes, with Bryan, the nurse and (toward the end) my awesome OB encouraging me.  It really didn’t feel like a long time, and I was concentrating hard on making as much progress as possible with each push.  I was SO ready to meet my boy!  I remember being surprised that for much of this time it was just me, Bryan and our nurse in the room.  It felt quiet and less dramatic than I imagined it would be.  We also thought they would have Bryan put on scrubs.  Apparently, that’s only for C-sections.  I could tell when the baby was close to being born by the increasing pressure and the rising level of excitement in the room.

My heart was beating fast, and a wave of emotion swept over me as I took in the reality of the moment.  “Look down,” my doctor said.  And just like that, she held him up.  I couldn’t breathe.  It was so surreal.  She placed this tiny, beautiful boy on my chest and time stood still.  It was love at first sight.  I don’t remember the OB showing Bryan where to cut the cord because I couldn’t take my eyes off of my baby’s sweet face.  I did a weird laugh/cry kind of thing and looked at Bryan.  His eyes were as big as his smile.  They took Ben over to give him his first bath and do the tests and measurements.  He was fussing a little bit, which was a beautiful sound for us.  When I heard his weight, I couldn’t believe it.  He was not the big baby I was expecting.  Everything looked good.  Praise God!  Bryan told me that he wanted to go out and tell our family, but he wouldn’t announce the name.  He would let me do that.  He came back quickly, and awhile later we were settled in our postpartum room.

Everyone came in walking gingerly and speaking in hushed, reverent tones.  I loved watching the awe on their faces–all these people who have loved me so well for my whole life.  Now, we were making them grandparents, aunts, uncles, great grandparents, great aunts and uncles and whatever you call your cousins’ relationship to your kids.  They gathered around the bed as I introduced him by name for the first time.  I’ve always loved the name Benjamin, and Benjamin in the Bible was beloved.  The apostle Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin.  Our son’s middle name is Walter after my Pawpaw.  I hope I never forget the look on my Dad’s face when he heard that.  The cozy hospital room radiated with joy.  Just as everyone started to pass Ben around, I saw someone outside the doorway in my peripheral vision.  It was the nurse who helped me deliver Ben, and she was smiling.  She didn’t come in, and I don’t think she saw me notice her there, but I’m so glad she got to see our family celebrating this little life she helped me bring into the world.

It was difficult to choose which pictures to share here, but I’ve included a few of those first few days with our little Easter baby.

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Thank you for sharing in our joy!

Project Hohoemi (Part 2)

This story began with Part 1.  If you missed it, you can catch up here.  One day a few months later, I was scrolling casually through my Facebook feed like we do, and I saw a post from Renee.  She was asking for contacts in Japan.  She wanted to make some friends there outside of the military base where they were located.  I thought for a moment and realized I knew a wonderful family in Japan.  Thinking that they may live nowhere near each other, I went ahead and mentioned it to Michiko anyway.  Here is part of my message to her from March 6th, 2012, a little over two years ago…

Hello Dear Friends!

I love seeing the pictures and updates about your life in Japan. Our wedding photographer and her husband just found out that they are moving to Japan in August. Her name is Renee, and they have two small kids. I’m not sure where in Japan they will be living (her husband is in the airforce), but they are a sweet Christian family, and they really want to meet people who live in Japan. Would it be okay if I gave Renee your contact information so she could email you or facebook message you? Bryan and I continue to pray for your ministry there. Miss y’all!

Michiko replied warmly, as I knew she would, and I contacted Renee that same day…

I saw that you guys are moving to Japan. How exciting! It’s funny because I saw your status update about that and clicked on it and read that you want to meet people who live there. Then, right under that, my friend Michiko had just posted an album entitled “Japan 2012”. I knew I needed to put you in touch with her family. She is Japanese and is married to an American guy, Jonathan, and they have three small kids. They have been in Abilene for a few years and really recently moved back to Japan to work with the earthquake victims and a church there. I’m not sure if y’all will be close to where they are, but they are great people to know either way. I sent Michiko a message to ask if I could give you their contact info, and here was her reply:

And about your favorite photographer Renee, please tell her our contact information. When I wanted to ask someone to take our pictures in Abilene, actually she was in our list to choose from because your wedding and engage pictures are so great!!

So, it’s Jonathan and Michiko Straker, if you want to look them up.

Renee and Michiko

I love these beautiful women!

That’s all I did.  It was easy.  And then something amazing happened.  Renee and Michiko did, in fact, live far from each other, but they were able to talk online.  Those discussions developed into what is now known as “Project Hohoemi“.  I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover that when two women with huge hearts get know each other, God does great things.  Renee gathered some photographer friends, and Michiko reached out to folks in her community who were impacted by the earthquake.  They arranged photo sessions with these precious people to help bring restoration and create new memories.  I highly recommend clicking on the link and checking out these incredible photographs (including some great shots of Michiko’s beautiful family)!  The expressions of joy on their faces are just priceless.  I LOVE it.  When I found out about Project Hohoemi, I got all tingly.  It started with my simple decision to connect two friends.  Several months later, I’m still amazed.  So, I will try to take advantage of opportunities to do this more often, and I hope this story inspires you to do the same.  You never know what might come from being a connector.  🙂

Day Fourteen: Commiserating

When I think about grad school, I remember long hours in the library.  I remember doing some tough self-reflection and stretching myself thin trying to balance internships and research.  I remember sleepless nights thinking about client situations that made me feel helpless and eating toast for dinner while I survived on a stipend.  It was challenging.  Once you finish something like that, you’re always glad you did it.  Now I have that degree, and I always will.  But that’s not the only reason I’m glad I did it.

Reflecting on that season of life, I think about conversations and experiences shared with friends that encouraged me along the way.  My colleagues from the program are scattered far and wide now living out their callings in a wide variety of ways.  We listened to each others frustrations—empathizing, validating, blowing off steam together.  The commiserating was crucial.  It was the passionate, intelligent fellow future social workers I studied alongside that made my grad school experience so rich and memorable.  I’m thankful for them and the work they’re doing now to make the world a better place.

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Day Twelve: Pen Pals

I picked up this book about Julia Child and her pen pal, Avis DeVoto, at a bookstore recently.  I didn’t buy it, but it did get me thinking.  I had a few pen pals throughout my growing up years and always loved the concept of exchanging letters.  I still find it so gratifying to read and write handwritten letters.  There is something to be said for taking the time to sit down and write a letter—an update, a reflection, a thank you or show of support in a tough time.  Receiving a letter like this makes me feel special.

People are always concerned with efficiency these days.  It’s become a cultural norm.  But what if we took the time to write down our thoughts on nice stationary and send them to our confidants?  It’s a tradition that I’d like to recapture.  I think there’s something almost magical about it.  One thing that I appreciate about Avis and Julia’s pen pal friendship is that they didn’t just write thank you notes for gifts or sympathy cards when one of them lost a loved one.  They wrote back and forth regularly just sharing about their day to day lives.

I talked earlier in this series about long distance friendships.  It’s remarkable to think that these two women were able to maintain such a close friendship without any of the technologies that we enjoy today.  Letter writing feels very personal, and it kept them connected.  They sustained a strong friendship, felt free to discuss topics that they might not broach in public, and ultimately supported each other over the course of many years and seasons of life.

Julia and Avis

photo credit

I think I’ve just inspired myself to get some new stationary.  🙂

31 Days Celebrating Friendship

wedding blog-10 copy

Good evening, friends!  Tonight begins a writing experiment that I’m really excited to participate in for the first time.  I’m joining The Nester and company in her “31 Days” challenge.  We will write on one topic of choice every day for the month of October.  I encourage you to click over and check out the other posts.  I’m looking forward to reading as many as I can.  My word for this year is celebrate, so I wanted to incorporate that idea.  As for what to celebrate, I went with my gut and chose a topic that’s been on my heart for a while.

Over the years, I’ve lived in different places and met some wonderful people.  I like to think about the lifelong friendships that have grown and blossomed and enriched my life immeasurably.  I’m sure we all have friends that have known us for long enough to remember our awkward years and friends that we’ve wept with and squealed joyfully with.  We have dear friends that we can go without seeing for a year or more and still feel close to and comfortable with when we are reunited.  And we have kindred spirits that we are drawn to and seem to click with right away.

I am an introvert who tends to have a few close friends and hold others at a distance—keeping them at acquaintance status.   Going off to college really challenged me to open up to people and get out of my comfort zone.  It was a challenge I accepted begrudgingly at the beginning.  Now, my girlfriends from this time in life are women that I still consider some of my closest friends.  We have walked with each other through heartaches, illnesses, job losses, tragedies, marriages, births, graduations and moves.  Their sorrows seep into my heart and their joy is my joy.  We live all over the US (and Italy and Canada, depending on the month), but when we can’t get together in person, we email and text and video chat and have phone dates.  And we pray for each other.

Since getting married, I have noticed myself slipping back into my homebody tendencies a little more than I would like.  I can’t imagine what college life would have been like if I hadn’t made myself leave my dorm room and get to know those wonderful ladies.  We have just moved to a new city, and I feel like this is one of those times where I need to get out of my comfort zone again.  I have an opportunity to open up, meet some new friends and reconnect with friends in the area that I haven’t seen much of in recent years.  So, this month I will be celebrating friendship here.  I’d like to tell some stories and maybe ask you help hold me accountable to be more open and engaged in my friendships new and old.

The photo above (taken by the very talented Renee Booe) captures the prayer we said in the bridal room on my wedding day shortly before I walked down the aisle.  I don’t have to look at it for more than a second to feel the love and support of those friendships.  I hope you’ll join me celebrating friendship in October.  🙂

A Love Poem and a Video for Valentine’s Day

I thought this day would be the perfect occasion to share this video of my darling grandparents.  I asked them for marriage advice a few months ago since they’ve had more than 65 years of experience…(Please ignore my weird voice.)

And now for a love poem.

I carry your heart with me

by E. E. Cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It’s Been a Year

Greetings, dear ones!  I hope your holidays were cozy and delicious and full of quality time with your favorite people.  I know it’s time now to look ahead to 2013, so I’m a little late with my reflections on 2012.  I’ve been driving all over Texas the past few weeks, so I am just now taking the time to write about my look back at this past year.  I guess that’s kinda my style.  Someday when we have small children, my family will be the one sending out a New Year’s card for everyone’s fridge instead of a Christmas card.  But I digress.   First, I want to talk about my recent one year wedding anniversary.  The following post was written before our anniversary on December 17th, but with what happened in Connecticut a few days earlier, it didn’t seem like the right time to share it.  As we all were, I was shaken up by the news and only wanted to pray and reflect and hug my loved ones and pray some more.  I plan to be back soon with more reflections on 2012 and aspirations for 2013.  For now, here are my anniversary thoughts…

This is going to be sappy.  (I wanted to let you know up front.)  One year ago I married the love of my life surrounded by our family and friends in the beautiful church building that we call home.  The holiday season will always hold a little more magic and romance for us now as we remember our wedding day and celebrate a milestone in our journey together.  Looking back on that day and on this first year of marriage, it’s hard to put into words what I am feeling.  How can you describe such a gift?

When I met Bryan, I experienced this unique peace about him that allowed me to feel safe very quickly and gave me the courage to open my heart…finally.  We just fit.  And as crazy as it was to be taking this huge step in my life when we were preparing to get married, it also felt very natural.  I am an expressive person (aka…I cry a lot), and several people made comments after the wedding day about how surprisingly calm I seemed.  Beforehand, I wasn’t sure how I would respond to the emotions of the day having never been in that situation before.  It was, in many ways, an out-of-body experience.  It’s impossible to process something that huge while you’re experiencing it (at least it was for me), but I had on my waterproof mascara just in case.  As it turned out, I was outwardly pretty serene.  Mostly, what I remember feeling was eager anticipation.  I couldn’t wait to be Bryan’s wife.  It felt like we had been looking forward to this day forever.  Of course, my heart raced when my dad told me it was time for us to begin our walk down the aisle.  A lot of my memories from that day are a blur.  I was overwhelmed by all the time and energy that went into making the day special.  So many people helped bring it all together, and so many loved ones traveled from afar to share our wedding day with us.  I will never forget how grateful and humbled I felt by the outpouring of love for us during that time.  I felt the full meaning of the verse, “Rejoice with those who rejoice”. (Romans 12:15)Husband and Wife

Married life is truly wonderful with my “alma gemela”.  We have learned so much about each other this year.  We have had conflicts and frustrations, and we have shared so much laughter and joy.  This is a unique time in our lives.  We are more and more aware of the demands on our time that children will add someday as we watch friends become parents, so we try to cherish the evenings and weekends spent together.  Quality time is my love language, so I take advantage of as many lunch dates and lazy Saturdays with my husband as I can.  As cliche as I know it sounds, he really is my best friend.  I hope and pray that we will be making memories together for many years to come and that YOU, too, will find your alma gemela if you haven’t already.  🙂

I memorized this beautiful poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning for an English class in high school.  She wrote it for her husband, and it’s been on my mind lately as I reflect on my own marriage…

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Happy anniversary, Sweetheart!  Te amo.  Thank you for moving thousands of miles to be with me and for asking me to spend my life with you.  I can’t imagine it any other way.

Forest

On Bonding Experiences

The weekend before Thanksgiving something crazy happened while my sister, Katie, and her boyfriend, David, were in town.  We had been looking forward to their visit for weeks, and Saturday was the perfect fall day.  We took advantage of the nice weather with a late lunch picnic on campus.  Golden sunlight streamed down on our quilt, mingled with that thrilling crispness in the air that served as a reminder of the approaching holiday season.  We drank sweet tea and ate barbecue and then tossed a frisbee for a while.  Husband decided to grab his soccer ball out of the car.  Being from Central America, he doesn’t have a lot of frisbee experience but shines with a soccer ball at his feet.  At one point, he kicked the ball super hard, and it went all the way up the steps of the administration building (pictured), hit the doors and bounced back to where he stood.  He was pleased with the impressed reaction he got from the crowd and decided to try this again.  I’ve told you before about his boyish nature. 

On his second attempt, the ball rested too close to the edge of the sidewalk.  He kicked the ball and then the concrete, so his big toe had a head-on collision with the edge of that concrete at full force.  None of us really saw this.  He just rolled onto his back.  I thought he had lost his balance from kicking so hard, and I walked over laughing to help him to his feet.  He didn’t get up, and I heard him moan.  Something was wrong…maybe his knee?  He was holding it and wincing.  Then he told me that he hit his toe and that he could feel his shoe filling up with blood.  The mood changed quickly, and I yelled over my shoulder, “Time to go!”  Katie and David gathered our things and met us at the car.

My big, strong husband grimaced with each step as he leaned on me for support.  This was something new.  I’ve now know him for a little more than three years, and up to this point he hadn’t had much more than a cold during that time.  I had never seen him so physically vulnerable before.  I have to say, it kinda freaked me out.  When we got to the house, he took off his sock.  I’ll spare you the gruesome picture that he captured, but suffice it to say it took about three seconds to decide that we needed to take him to the walk-in clinic.  It was bleeding profusely, and I was apparently so flustered as I filled out his paperwork that I wrote down the wrong address.  I lived at 1109 when I was in college, but somehow that’s what I wrote on the form.  It’s funny what our minds do in these situations…or maybe it’s just me.  I don’t know.  🙂  They assessed the injury and determined that the cut was too deep and the tissue too damaged for them to repair.  They took an x-ray, gave him some shots to numb his toe and sent us to the ER.

We left our guests to find alternate plans for the evening and drove to the hospital where we spent the next five hours, mostly waiting.  Thank goodness they numbed his toe.  They gave us a wheelchair, and he sat playing on his iPhone and not feeling any pain.  The ER on a Saturday night is a wonderful opportunity for people watchers like myself.  I observed a young couple with a cheerful little boy who coulnd’t have been more than 2 and wondered what must be wrong with him.  He was so animated, toddling around the room, lighting up the faces of everyone he passed.  I saw an older woman slumped over in her chair, head down, distraught look on her face.  She got in quickly.  When they finally called us in, I held my husband’s hand while he received more shots and five stitches.  He looked pale and his normally warm skin was clammy and cold.  I tried not to seem concerned.  I smiled and asked him questions to distract him from the scene going on at his feet.  He gazed up at me smiling weakly, and eventually it was done.  

Husband is healing well and got his stitches out yesterday. It has been incredibly hard to see him hurting, but he has handled the whole thing with great courage.  He’s been telling people in an excited tone, “I learned a new word in the ER.  Mangled!”  The nurse must have used it five times.  I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to remain calm and not get squeamish at the sight of the “damaged tissue”.  I learned that I can be strong when someone I love needs me.  I have enjoyed taking care of Bryan while he recovers.  It can’t be easy for an independent, hard-working guy to relinquish control and let someone serve him, but I’ve only caught him hobbling around doing chores a couple of times.   Situations like this remind us not to take our health for granted.  I am thankful for that reminder.  And, yes, this experience brought us closer.  But let’s not make trips to the ER a regular thing, ok honey?

Unexpected Bliss

Today I’m participating in a “Love Carnival” hosted by the wonderful Modern Mrs. Darcy.  Doesn’t that sound like fun before you even know what it is?  I have been enjoying her writing, and I’m excited to join the carnival.  You can read my post below, and then click here to see the other Love Carnival posts.  Enjoy!

There are times when traveling to an exotic land and falling in love with a tall, dark and handsome Latino man is not as glamorous as one might expect.  However, even on your hard days, you tend to receive some sign, some confirmation that carries you through.  At least I think that’s how it works when you keep surrendering your will to God.  Every day and sometimes every hour.

When I left for language school I never expected this to be my life.  I had spent the last two years practically living in the library working on my masters, and I was hungry for an adventure.  Unlike many of my colleagues, I felt directionless as we approached graduation until I revisited the long-dormant idea of studying Spanish abroad.  It was to be a time of spiritual and mental growth, and an opportunity to see a part of God’s glorious creation that I had yet to witness–waterfalls, cloud forests, ocean, and lots of Spanish.  I never imagined that I would fall in love.  That I would find IT.  The real thing.  The Love of my Life.
Once again, God proved to be the best story writer.  I always worried that I wouldn’t meet someone because people say it happens when you least expect it.  Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I was ALWAYS expecting it…except for this trip.  My practical side never would have allowed for the possibility that any relationship could happen in such a short amount of time.  I wasn’t willing to date someone that I couldn’t foresee a future with, and I couldn’t foresee a future with anyone who lived in another country.  So, the old saying was true for me.  It happened when I least expected it.  And it was breathtaking.  To feel simultaneously completely thrilled and completely safe and at home with someone was something I had only dreamed about until I met HIM.  And that was it.  It was just right, and I had peace, and I knew long before I was willing to admit it to myself that he was my person.  I was finally inspired to be courageous and open my heart and do whatever I had to do to be with this man.
After meeting each other’s families and countless conversations and prayers, we made a plan that would allow him to finish his degree in the U.S.  Then, the waiting and trusting and hoping from thousands of miles apart (2,493 miles, to be exact) began.  On that hard day, a few months into our separation, I was having a difficult time trusting and hoping.  The challenges we faced seemed insurmountable.  I didn’t see a solution that would allow us to be together and happy at any point in the near future.  I was furiously typing all of my doubts and worries to him on G-chat (while he was at work).  He tried to comfort me and reminded me to trust God.  I knew he was right, and I was momentarily thankful that he couldn’t see me… all splotchy and sniffling.  Then my phone rang.  We only talked on Skype and G-chat because those were free, so I knew it wasn’t him.  I glanced at the number, annoyed that some undisclosed caller was interrupting my pity party.  I took a deep breath and tried to compose myself.  “Hello?”  It was him.  “I could tell you were crying.”  And then I melted.  Our connection was stronger than ever.  There must a reason for this, I thought.  This must be leading somewhere good.  That afternoon in April 2009 seems like yesterday in some ways.  We were apart for a total of eight months.  About two years after that hard day, he proposed.  And now that handsome man is my husband.  God’s timing is perfect.