Author Archives: juliediterrell

The gift of Gab… 6 yrs!


Every few months, someone brings up the topic of Gabi’s birth.  Nathan and I laugh at the funny memory, and then someone will ask to hear the story again.

Remember in the cartoon movie, Monsters, Inc. when a human child’s sock makes it into the monster world on accident?  Everyone runs around in a panic, yelling “2319!!! We have a 2319!”  A child (or something belonging to a child) had entered the monster world.  Well the moment Gabi was born, my wonderful doctor handed her to me and said, “Time of birth: 2319.”  I laughed outloud, in the middle of catching my breath, and several people in the room stopped to look at me.  I’m sure they thought I had lost my mind.  Just 2 minutes earlier, I had an oxygen mask on my face because I was starting to pass out in the middle of the transition contractions.  Maybe they thought I had suffered some kind of oxygen deprivation?  Anyway, they stopped and stared.  I continued to chuckle as I said “there’s a child in the monster world! Remember? 2319?”  Nathan smiled as he realized what I was saying, and the chaos of a hospital birth resumed.  Truly, I had no idea what a sweet, gentle, loving, precious light our Gabi would be in this monster world.

From the moment she was handed to me, she began staring into my eyes with those baby blues! I melted then, and I melt now.

From the moment she was born, she began staring into my eyes with those baby blues! I melted then… I melt now.

1 yr old! And just as sweet as ever.

1 yr old! And just as sweet as ever.

Gabi's 2nd birthday. Actively winning everyone's hearts!

Gabi’s 2nd birthday. Actively winning everyone’s hearts!

3 yrs old! She consistently melts us with her sweetness.

3 yrs old! She consistently melts us with her sweetness.

Her 4th birthday.  How we love that timid smile!

Her 4th birthday. How we love that timid smile!

5 yrs old, and suddenly not a toddler. But a little girl!

5 yrs old, and suddenly not a toddler. But a little girl!

Every year on each of the kids’ birthdays, we take them on a birthday date.  They get to choose where we go.  Gabi chose tacos and ice-cream!

ice cream tacos

As we ate, I decided to ask Gabi a few questions.  Here are her delightfully Gabi-like answers!

Me: What happened on your last birthday?

Gabi: I turned 5. I don’t remember what I had. When I woke up I went out the door and I thought there was aliens! But they were balloons hanging in the door!! It was funny. Oh and then Miss Jessica made me pancakes and sausage cuz you were at the hostabitle having William! And now we’re birthday buddies cuz he was born on my 5th birthday! OH! And then I got to spend the whole weekend at Mimi and Papas house and it was super fun.

Me: What did you learn this year?

Gabi: I learned how to swim and hold my breath under water. I sorta learned to read, too.

Me: What do you want to learn this next year?

Gabi: I want to learn to ride a bike. Oh and skate! And science.

Me: What are you going to be when you grow up?

Gabi: A science girl and a gymnastics girl. Cuz it’s cool to do tricks and stuff. I really enjoyed being 5. It was a great year.

Gabriella Joy, the world was blessed with extra sweetness and beauty the day you were born.  I am humbled at the responsibility, and honored by the privilege of being your mom.  I can’t wait to see what amazing things God is going to do in and through you this year!


Chiapas-grown coffee give-away!


*** Thank you for your entries! Lora Jacobson won (and already received) her 1 lb bag of Carajillo coffee! ***


You asked for it!   When I asked my Facebook friends  a few weeks ago what they would like to see me give away on my blog, the answer was loud and almost unanimous.  Coffee!!!


But I’m not just giving away any old bag of coffee.  This is Chiapas coffee.  Chiapas is famous for it’s coffee, internationally.  Have you ever noticed the “Shade Grown Blend” at Starbucks?  Yeah, that’s Chiapas coffee.

Meet Don Victor. He is the head coffee grower for the cafe I love!

Meet Don Victor. He is the head coffee grower for the cafe I love!

I used to buy my coffee from Cafe Selva (and if I’ve ever brought you coffee from here before, it came from there).  I liked the idea that they worked with local farmers and such.  Come to find out, most of the cafes here do!  Haha!  That’s what happens when coffee-growing is a huge industry in your state, I guess.  But recently, I’ve been less impressed with Cafe Selva.  One cup I got tasted burnt.  Another had sortof a rancid taste.  And then someone introduced me to Carajillo.

Oh yeah. Life is a party in San Cristobal!

Oh yeah. Life is a party in San Cristobal!

See those bags in the doorway?  That’s what I’m giving away!  But I must warn you.  Even if you aren’t a coffee drinker, this coffee has the power to convert you.  Just the smell of the bag is enough to make the most avid tea-drinker say “oh okay, I’ll try a small cup.”  I’m not even kidding.  It’s that good.  And I will send you half a kilo of the stuff.  For free.

Here’s what you have to do to be entered into the drawing.  Just post a comment at the bottom of this post, stating your preference of either ground bean or whole!  Yep, that’s it.  I will tell you that coffee DOES have a shelf life!  All coffee!  Whole bean coffee has a longer shelf life (3 months) as opposed to ground coffee (3 weeks).  Of course you can drink it after that, but the BEST flavor and aroma will be found within that time frame.

Want an extra entry in the drawing?  Share the link to this give-away on your Facebook page (and let me know you did it), and I’ll put your name in the hat again.   I’ll be going to the U.S. next weekend (and buying your coffee the day before I leave), and I’ll send your bag as soon as I can!  So we’ll run the give-away until next Friday (Aug 23rd).  Good luck, and happy posting!   🙂


**Just so we’re clear, Carajillo has no idea who I am.  They aren’t sponsoring this give-away.  I’m buying it from them, to give to you.**

The story of us :: Part 12 – afterthoughts


Ever since I hit “publish” on Part 1, I’ve been getting messages from people.  Strangers, friends, acquaintances… here are some of the questions I’ve gotten:

*Will you use that home-school program with your kids?

*Why did you stay in that home-school program if it was so bad?

*Do you resent your parents for any of the hard parts of your story?

*Are you going to allow your children to date?

*Would you recommend this courtship thing for everyone?

*Do you think your marriage has been harder because of the method you used and the fact that you didn’t know eachother very well?

*Do you feel like you missed out on anything by not dating?

Wow.  Talk about a bunch of loaded questions.  But I promised that I would answer them as best as I could.  If you don’t get a question answered to your satisfaction, write me again.  I’ll keep trying!

In regards to the program (Advanced Training Institute):  No, I will absolutely NOT be using this program or anything related to it or produced by it.  There is so much that I could say on this topic, but maybe that’s another post for another day.  For now, I will say that in the last few years as I’ve really spent time looking objectively at what is being taught and modeled by ATI, and it’s effects on myself and my peers, I’ve found it to be incredibly contrary to Scripture.  Sometimes it’s subtle things being pushed on naive young people (most often in “apprenticeship sessions” where there are no parents present) , sometimes it’s blatant misuse and twisting of Scripture.  I have a lot of friends who also grew up in ATI who have worked hard  to compile their own experiences and thoughts on the matter (I have contributed a bit, where I could).  If you are interested in learning more about the program, this is where I would direct you:

Why did I stay so long?  That one is complicated.  The biggest reason is probably because I was taught (by the program, ironically) that this program was the only godly option.  College was strongly discouraged as a dangerous idol and threat.  ATI was the only viable option presented to us, and I bought it hook, line and sinker.  I remember my dad asking once if I wanted to go to college, but I couldn’t think of anything that I would love to study.  I’d rather travel and “give God my youth” anyway.

Do I resent my parents?  Absolutely not.  I truly believe they have always done their best to give us great opportunities and learning experiences.  When we started homeschooling, there were not half as many curriculum options as there are now.  I can definitely see how ATI would appeal to parents as a “fool proof” method and Christian curriculum.  Besides, that Scripture verse (Romans 8:28) that talks about everything working together for our good?  It applies here, too.  If not for those years in ATI, I might not have met Nathan or the hundred other wonderful friends along the way.  In short, I love my parents to pieces and am so thankful to call them mine!

Can I roll two of those questions into one?  Am I going to allow my children to date, and would I recommend courtship to everyone?  Here is my answer: God doesn’t do cookie-cutters.  My hope for my children is that they will follow God.  My greatest desire to is raise adults who can hear from God for themselves and have the wherewithal to be obedient to His voice alone.  I have no desire (nor do I see it as being remotely Scriptural) to be the voice of God in their lives!  I’m quite certain that the Holy Spirit can speak to them as easily (perhaps more so)  as He speaks to me.  So if that means that God leads them to date the man of their dreams before they get married, I believe it’s possible to do that in a God-honoring way.  Courtship is not the answer to the world’s problems.  In fact, in many instances that I’ve witnessed with my friends, it can be even more dangerous and painful than a dating relationship.  But even if it’s done “right” and ends well, I have seen many negative effects.  The first of which is probably pride.  I’m sure you’ve heard it, too.

“My daughter has never kissed a man in her whole life!  She is PURE and WHOLE and has worked so hard to maintain that status!”  Or maybe “We saved our first kiss for our wedding day.  It was hard, but we did it.”  Or even “We have committed to not even touch until we are married.”  It often reeks of a list of human accomplishments.

At the same time, the rules and standards and “ideal courtship” has produced so much guilt and shame.  Because who among us can honestly avoid crushes through our teenage and young adult years?  I certainly couldn’t.  But I felt such horrible guilt over them!  So in order to maintain the appearance of absolute purity, you pretend.  There’s your next bi-product… deception.

The piece of the typical courtship model that I *do* like is parental input.  Notice I did not say parental *control*.  By the time my children are old enough to be considering marriage, I do hope that we will have a relationship of mutual trust and respect.  I will not be demanding obedience or submission from my adult daughters!  I pray that they will feel free to ask for mine and Nathan’s opinions and counsel regarding any man that catches their eye, but that they will be able to pray about it and decide for themselves.  I *do* like that the typical courtship model includes more group settings and family involvement.  Because that’s real life.  One-on-one trips to the theater are not the best for determining a person’s true character.  But toss him into the middle of a family game night and you may get a better glimpse. 😉

I could go on and on about this topic.  But hopefully my point is already made.  I think courtship *can* be good.  I think dating *can* be good.  But mostly, I think that God has to lead it.  There is no formula for a perfect marriage.  There is no cookie-cutter for a safe and pain-free journey to the alter.  How can you learn to love without making yourself vulnerable?  I love this quote by C. S. Lewis… “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

Do I feel that my marriage has been more difficult because of the method we used?  That’s rather impossible to answer, seeing as I’ve never been married before and have nothing to compare my experience to!  But the issues that we faced early in our marriage were, in my opinion, more easily attributed to the long-distance relationship.  Like I mentioned half-way through Part 10, I did a terrible job of addressing issues that came up during our engagement.  Because it’s easier to just get off the phone and not bring it up again.  Guess what… you can’t do that once you’re married!  So that was (maybe it still is) a learning experience for us.

Do I feel like I’ve missed out on anything by not dating?  Yes, sometimes I do.  Sometimes I wonder if my marriage would look different if we had met, been able to develop a friendship, allowed to have a crush, fall in love, THEN commit to a lifetime together.  However, that coin has another side.  Our relationship has been about commitment from the very beginning.  I committed to love Nathan long before I *felt* any love for Nathan.  It was never based on feeling.  So I wonder if that doesn’t give us more stability when our marriage hits a rough patch or dry spot, as all marriages do.

I do not regret the crushes I had before Nathan came along.  There were plenty of them!  But each one taught me something about myself.

I most *definitely* do not regret saving myself physically for Nathan alone.  Not one iota.  And I’m thankful that he kept himself for me, as well.

The point of me writing out our story, in as much detail as I could recall, was not to fling another “this is how it’s done” article into cyber-space.  There are already way too many of those floating around.  The *very last* thing that we want is for anyone to read our story and say “that’s how it ought to be done.”  God doesn’t use cookie-cutters.  One of the things I like about our story is how delightfully different it is.  God wrote it that way.

My #1 goal in writing all of this was for my kids.  Because I remember asking my parents to tell me their story.  Many times.  I always wanted more details!  Maybe it’s built into our DNA.  We love a good story.

A piece of our 6-month long honeymoon. Teluride, CO!

A piece of our 6-month long honeymoon. Teluride, CO!

Over the years, people have told us to write our story and publish it.  We have always resisted, because of our hesitation to become a cookie-cutter.  But when I recounted the story to someone who asked a few months ago, I was disturbed at how hard I had to think to recall certain parts.  That did it.  I started writing the next day.  This is God’s story.  He orchestrated it from long before we met, until now.  I don’t want any more details to be lost!

We’ve been married over 10 yrs!  It’s safe to say we’re getting better with age.  We have more fun together, are more comfortable together, love eachother more, we’re better at supporting eachother and resolving conflict, and… well… everything has gotten better.  I will be forever grateful for God giving me Nathan Terrell, and am SO looking forward to the next 10 yrs!

Even more in love than before. April 2013

Even more in love than ever before. April 2013

The story of us :: Part 11


Friday, September 13, 2002.  A day that will go down in history.  At least, it was a big one for us!  WEDDING DAY!

I woke up at 8am, excited but much calmer than I anticipated.  I took advantage of the giant garden tub in my room at the Abriendo Inn Bed and Breakfast, and soaked until I was too hungry to soak anymore!  Kimberly (my little sister/maid of honor) and I headed downstairs to check out the buffet.  It was fabulous, though I soon discovered that I was too excited to eat as much as I thought I wanted.

We drove out to my mom and dad’s house in time to catch the end of the breakfast craziness.  Can you believe that my parents made breakfast for the large crowd of friends and family staying there at the house?  I think at one point, someone counted 30 visitors on property… aside from my family!  It was a ton of fun.

There was a flurry of activity as everyone gathered dresses, shoes, curling irons, nail polish, my over-night bag, wedding planner notebook, and a hundred other little things that would come into play before the day was done.

Our first stop was the salon.  Who would have guessed?? 😉 We counted 95 tiny hair pins, carefully positioned to hold each little curl in place.  My friend Amanda did my makeup.  The moment my stylist said “All done.  How do you like it?” and showed me the mirror is the moment that everything went surreal.  Maybe it was the tiara.  Or the pile of curls on top of my head.  Whatever it was, I suddenly went from “WOW this is happening today!” to “this can’t be real.  Is this actually happening?”

I would love to recount every detail of that day in this post.  But honestly, the rest is fuzzy.  We went to the photographer’s later to don THE DRESS, and that is where Nathan and I got to see one another in all our decked-out attire!  I do remember his face when he walked into the room.  At that moment, all he said was “wow.”  What more does a girl need to hear on her wedding day?


We drove with Leslie (my friend/photographer) to a nearby park for some beautiful outdoor photos.  And we had a blast!  Who knew taking wedding pictures would be so much fun??


As we were wrapping up there, it started to rain.  Now, that might not mean much to you.  But that summer, Colorado was suffering a horrible drought.  It had been a hot couple of months, and absolutely no rain.  Everyone was so excited when those drops starting hitting the ground with such great force!  I’m not one to be a party-pooper, but I did start getting nervous.  It’s raining.  I’m outdoors.  In a beautiful white gown.  I can’t get muddy before the ceremony even happens!  Enter Prince Charming.


Seeing my beloved and getting to laugh and take pictures before the ceremony was the best thing ever for my nerves.  I was so excited to meet him at the end of that aisle.candle lighting

The ceremony was perfect.  If anything went wrong, I certainly can’t recall it now.  It felt like a dream.  The music, the candles, the vows that we wrote for eachother, everything.  Nathan suggested that we do something a little different… so we washed eachother’s feet as symbol of our commitment to serve one another.  Yes, as part of the ceremony!  I was a little hesitant about that idea, but it ended up being incredibly special for us.  My one regret is that we don’t have a good video of our wedding.  That is sad.  But I’m so thankful for beautiful photos!

wedding party

Right there is another thing we are so thankful for.  All the wonderful friends and family who were a part of our wedding!  It would not have been the same without any one of them.

Back then, everyone thought it was super fun that I was marrying a Mexican! 😉 Okay, he’s technically American.  But he’s lived in Mexico most of his life!  Someone suggested that we do a Mexican-style reception.  So we did!  Chips, guacamole, taquitos, and about a thousand little tortilla pinwheel things that my dad (and several friends) made.  It was a blast!!  My sweet uncle made us plates, in case the food was gone by the time the receiving line was over.  I did not realize that it would take so long to get 350 people through a receiving line!  But truly, I would do it the same way again.  I loved getting to hug and greet every single person there.

It’s hard to choose a favorite part of the reception.  But if I had to, I would say it was this one…


I don’t remember whose idea it was to have our fathers give us a blessing.  I had never seen anything like that done, and really wasn’t sure what to expect.  But it was precious.  Both mine and Nathan’s dad prayed that God would bless our marriage, future children, and lives.  I wish I had that on video.

Now let’s be really honest.  A reception is not really a party until the cake comes out, right??  We had amazing cake.  Almond poppy-seed with vanilla buttercream frosting.  Lots and lots of it.  And now I have the urge to go bake something.

It was an incredible day.  One that I will always remember with deep appreciation and fondness.


“I’m so glad I found you. If I had my life to live over again, next time, I’d find you sooner so I could love you longer.”

The story of us :: Part 10


The rest of our engagement was a whirlwind of activity!  Dress shopping, cake tasting, list making, day dreaming, and even a few visits with my beloved.  I learned during this time that attempting to please everyone in every area of wedding planning is completely impossible.  But boy, did I try!  My parents were truly amazing through the whole ordeal.  For every decision, there was first my opinion to weigh.  Then someone (other than my parents) would object to some piece (or all) of it.  Then came the negotiating.  Many times I would ask my parents “what do you think?  How should we do this?”  I can not recall any response that didn’t boil down to “it’s your wedding… we just want you to be happy with it.”  They were amazing.  And so extremely patient.

I do remember one time that there was a particularly stressful decision on the table.  It was one of those “darned if you do, darned if you don’t” kind of things.  I agonized over the options, knowing that someone would be unhappy no matter what.  It was at this point that my dad said, “how about I just give you all this money that we’re spending on the wedding, and you and Nathan can elope.”  I think he was kidding. 😉

When I met Nathan’s family for the first time, we had already been engaged for over 4 months!  (For those who are not familiar with our family, Nathan’s parents moved to Mexico to be missionaries when Nathan was 8.  They live in the Southern state of Chiapas, which is a looooong ways South of the border.  So coming to the U.S. is a huge event that does not happen often.)  They were traveling all over the U.S. and planned a stop in Colorado to meet my family!  The only trouble was that I was leaving *early* the morning after they arrived to drive to Dallas with my sister Kimberly.  Which means that after they pulled in at midnight, we sat up and talked until 2 and then I said “sorry, I have a 12 hr drive tomorrow. I have to get some sleep!”  Bummer.

I was able to see Nathan 3 times during our engagement.  The longest was for his family reunion in California!  He paid for my flight, and I think I bit my nails all the way there.  Actually I’ve never bit my nails.  But if I did, I would have been on that flight.  I was so nervous to be meeting all of the aunts, uncles, grandma, cousins, and actually be spending a bunch of time with Nathan’s immediate family!  It didn’t take long for that nervousness to be replaced by excitement.  And maybe a little bit of intimidation.  Nathan’s family is so much fun!  It was a big reunion, with family from all over 2 countries.

Who wouldn't want to spend a week with this crazy bunch?? Can you find me and Nathan?

Who wouldn’t want to spend a week with this crazy bunch?? Can you find me and Nathan?

This reunion was just 3 weeks before our wedding.  I felt slightly insane being that close to the wedding date (SO much left to do!) and leaving the state for the week.  But it was totally worth it.  I fell in love with Nathan’s family that week.  Had some great talks with his aunts and grandma, got to know the siblings a bit, and of course enjoyed getting so much face time with Nathan!

At a beautiful dinner during the reunion. Great memories!

At a nice dinner during the reunion.

When it was time to go home, I said goodbye to Nathan one last time.  So relieved that the next time I saw him, it would be for our wedding and we wouldn’t have to keep doing this long-distance relationship!

Is this a good spot to talk about long-distance relationships?  Allow me to tell you one major issue that I discovered with ours.  Of course, I did not realize it was an issue until well after we were married.  We never learned to fight!  I’m not a good fighter, anyway.  I tend to avoid conflict like the plague.  I’m not sure why, it’s just how I’m wired.  Maybe that’s okay some of the time!  But when you’re married, or even about to get married,  you have to learn how to DEAL with conflict.  Not just breeze over it.  However, if your relationship is long-distance, it’s MUCH easier to just brush it under the rug.  So that’s what I did!  When we came across a topic that we did not agree on, it was simple to just say goodbye and hang up the phone instead of actually getting into the issue and working through it.  Obviously, this became an issue after we were married and I couldn’t just hang up.  But that’s another post for another day.

Sep 1st, all of the wedding fun began!  My girlfriends began arriving from all over the place, and we all had too much fun to bother with things like sleep.  😉  There were nails to paint, dresses to pick up, hairs to curl, rental items to check out, parties to be had… it was a fun time!  Remember, I was still living at home all this time, so it was my parent’s house that was overflowing with girls and hair products!  Once again, they were fantastic.  So very patient and tolerant of the late night giggle-fests, even cooking one amazing meal after another for us!

Nathan left his job at ETMC, packed up his few belongings, and drove to Colorado.  10 days before the wedding.  The next thing we knew, it was rehearsal day.  We set up and decorated, and things started to feel very real.  My parents did this huge amazing BBQ for our entire wedding party and all of the out-of-town guests.  It was definitely the party before the party!  As I sit here remembering those wonderfully busy days, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude once again.

For my friends, who worked tirelessly to help set up and tear down.  For my photographer and friend, who insisted on putting me and my sister Kimberly at a Bed and Breakfast the night before the wedding (she was sure I wouldn’t get any sleep with 8 girls camped out on my floor).  For the sweet ladies in our church, who helped make so much food and drinks.  For my precious grandpa/pastor, who patiently walked through the rehearsal with us more than once… and kept us laughing the whole time.  But most especially for my parents.  They went above and beyond when it came to our wedding.  They invested many hours of cooking, cleaning, setting up, and calming my nerves.

I drifted to sleep that night feeling so blessed.  This was my last night as an unmarried woman!  I knew that tomorrow would be wonderful, I just had no idea HOW wonderful.

The story of us :: Part 9


The next month was… too much for just one descriptive word.  Surreal.  Awkward.  Wonderful.  Scary.  Exciting.  Overwhelming.  Happy.

Our engagement photo

Our engagement photo

Nathan got a job at my dad’s shop for the few weeks that he had left in Colorado.  He asked if he could come down before breakfast every morning so that we could do our morning Bible study together, and those times rapidly became my favorite time of the day.  We would read a bit of Scripture, then spend a few minutes praying together.  That’s when I got to know the real Nathan.

There is a piece of a person that is only revealed when they are speaking to the Creator of the universe.  I loved what I saw and heard there.  When Nathan prays, there is a boldness and familiarity coupled with humility.  The first time I heard him pray, I was taken back.  With me and my family he is gentle, kind, very respectful, and often silly.  But when he prays, he becomes a warrior.  There is a verse (Heb 4:16) that reminds me so much of Nathan.  It says: Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need.

Every day, we would have that quiet time together, then I’d run and get ready for work so we could drive into town together in Nathan’s car.  It was a stick-shift, but we managed to hold hands and change gears together somehow. 🙂 Holding hands was the extent of our physical contact thus far, as we were both operating under the assumption that the other wanted to wait for our wedding to have our first kiss.  That was the generally accepted standard in our circles, and we had not questioned it… yet.

We had talked to my parents about this issue of physical boundaries.  In essence, they told us that we had to decide.  We needed to discuss it, draw the line where we felt it should be drawn, and stick to it.  Their counsel was that drawing the line *before* kissing made it a nice clear line.  After that, it becomes more difficult, if your goal is to save the most intimate things for after you are married.  That was good advice.  Draw your line, wherever it may be, and stick to it.

February 14th, 2002 was our first Valentine’s Day!  But Nathan had to leave early that morning in order to get back to TX.  He was signed up to help instruct a dive trip in FL, then begin working at East Texas Medical Center after that.  I was not a happy camper about him leaving, but especially on Valentine’s Day!  I decided to make the best of it, and woke up at the crack of dawn to make a special breakfast.  I’m pretty sure my mom helped me with that big breakfast, because I was not remotely comfortable in the kitchen at that point in my life!  (Thanks for the help, Mom!)

After breakfast, we said goodbye.  We hugged for a few minutes and I cried.  Saying goodbye at this point stung badly.  We had just begun getting to know eachother.  The only wedding planning we had done was deciding on a church.  I wasn’t sure when I would see him again.  It was a sad day!

We talked on the phone A LOT over the next few months.  Nathan moved in with a family he had grown close to at ALERT, and worked insanely long hours at the ER.  He loved it!  I’m sure his cell phone bill was outrageous.  And my poor parents basically did not have a phone for the hours that I was home from work (sorry about that again, Mom and Dad)!  During one of these long conversations, the topic of the first kiss came up.  My take on it was something like “I don’t want to share that special moment with 350 people.”  Nathan’s response was “OH GOOD! Neither do I!”  I’m glad we got that settled!  I had no idea when our first kiss would be, but felt relieved that we didn’t have to share it with a crowd.

My 22nd birthday (April 24th, 2002) was supposed to be a regular old day.  Go to work, come home, probably have a dinner party with my family.  Instead, I was awakened long before my alarm was set to go off.  By someone coming into my room, carrying a candle, kissing me gently on the forehead and saying “happy  birthday, Beautiful.”  It was Nathan!!  I squinted at him for a minute, trying to decide if this was real.  Nathan is in Texas.  I think I’m in Colorado.  What is going on??  I sat up and said “what are you doing here??”  He laughed at my shocked face and then told me he drove up late last night so he could spend my birthday with me.  YAY!  I suddenly became very aware of my morning breath.  He said he wanted to take me to breakfast, so hurry and get ready.

We went out for my favorite breakfast food: cream cheese blintzes with strawberries at IHOP!  After I had thoroughly stuffed myself, we walked out to my car.  I pointed out the hill behind IHOP.  It was just a bare hill now, recently cleared for construction.  We drove up it and talked for a few minutes, enjoying the slightly elevated view of the city.  And then, there it was.  Our first kiss.  Not just OUR first kiss, but my first kiss EVER!  It was short and sweet and we both smiled like idiots for the rest of the day.

I’m sure I received other gifts for my birthday that year.  But that was the most memorable one!

The story of us :: Part 8


We left the restaurant and rode home in her Jeep together. Alone for the first time. She was wearing an engagement ring and she asked me how old I was, my middle name, if I had siblings. I was a little shocked at how little she knew about me and yet had said yes. A very trusting person with a heart of gold. I am a very lucky guy.


The next few days were interesting.  Nathan moved up to my grandparent’s guest room (they live on the same property with my parents, just 1/4 mile away) but spent all of his time down at our house.

The day after I said yes was our first disagreement, and my first glimpse into marital compromising!  We called Nathan’s parents so I could “meet” them.  Until now, he and I had only been talking about us.  Getting to know eachother, etc.  Remember we’ve been engaged (or betrothed, depending on who you asked) for less than a day!  As we talked to his parents they asked about a wedding date.  Oh.  Yeah.  Maybe we should pick one.  I said “well I’ve always wanted a Christmas wedding.  With white lights, poinsettias, and snow!”  Nathan and his parents said “Christmas is just a day… and that’s 11 months away!”  That was a good point.  None of us wanted an 11 month engagement!  But I had a hard time letting go of the Christmas wedding idea.  Nathan’s only real opinion on the issue was something like “the sooner the better.”  Eventually we settled on September 13th. 8 months and 3 days away.  Let the countdown begin!

Our parents were planning some sort of dinner for us that coming Friday night.  I think they called it a betrothal dinner.  They invited all of our family from around the state to join us for a big dinner at my parent’s house.  I can’t remember which parent requested it, but they asked that we not hold hands until then.

Nathan and I went ring shopping a couple of times that week.  He had just graduated from ALERT, had not begun working yet, and had a very tight budget.  He told me how much he had to spend, and we began hunting… each time dragging one of my little siblings along with us!  At one point, a beautiful sparkle caught my eye.  We looked at the ring, then I saw the price tag and quickly handed it back.  NOT in the budget!  Moving on!  But Nathan saw.  As we left that store he said “oh hang on!  I want that guy’s business card for later.  Be right back!”  He ran back into the store, returning in less than a minute.  I was discouraged.  I had really hoped to have a real ring on by Friday night.  Oh well.

Friday night rolled around, and dinner was wonderful!  My mom has a knack for making meals perfect.  Candles, tablecloths, the whole 9 yards.  Over the course of the dinner, we told our story.  Much of my family thought this was insane.  Engaged to a total stranger.  But they listened sweetly anyway!  After we finished telling the story, my parents gave us a box that Peter and Jamie (Nathan’s parents) had ordered.  In it was a silver cup, engraved with our names.  My dad read aloud an e-mail they had sent as well.  It was all very sweet.

My dad giving Nathan my hand.

My dad giving Nathan my hand.

After the cup, my dad giving Nathan my hand, and a precious prayer over the two of us, it was official.  We were betrothed.

Shortly after all of that, I noticed that Nathan was missing.  Maybe he’s hyper-ventilating in a corner somewhere?  Or maybe he freaked out and is on his way back to Texas?  I asked Kimberly if she knew where he went.  Either she’s a better liar than I thought, or she was as clueless as me.  A few minutes later, there was a knock at the front door.  When it opened, there was Nathan.  With one of our horses.  He held his hand out to me, then lifted me up onto the horse!

Side-saddle in a jean skirt. Off into the darkness we rode!

Side-saddle, bare-back, in a jean skirt. I should add that to my resume.

We rode off into the darkness.  I had no idea what was going on, but I loved that Nathan had planned something.  We rode up to the top of a hill, then Nathan hopped down and stood in front of me.  He said something about being honored that I agreed to be his wife, and excited to start our lives together.  Then he slid the plastic ring off my finger and replaced with something much heavier.  I strained to see what it was, but MAN was it ever dark out there!  I couldn’t see a thing.  I knew Nathan had a flashlight (we weren’t sure how Jed, our sweet horse, would do riding in the dark) but he wouldn’t let me have it!  He got a kick out of torturing me all the way home.  But as soon as I got inside, I saw it.  THE RING!  Nathan went back and got the one that caught my eye.  That’s when I knew.  He’s a sweet one. 🙂

Back at the house for dessert, now with a REAL diamond on my finger!

Back at the house for dessert, now with a REAL diamond on my finger!