Monday, June 30, 2014

So give me your forever..

This line is from one of my all-time favorite songs that my husband introduced me to while we were dating. It was also our first dance at our wedding. I hear this song and I can't help but smile. I always picture Sam at 17, playing his guitar, and of course smiling his heart melting smile. I can still feel the butterflies, the gut wrenching goodbyes, and the feeling of pure bliss and perfection.

I was young, I mean practically a baby when I met Sam and fell in love. I had thought that I was in love before with a boy that "broke my heart" and I swore off serious relationships and wanted to just be me. Well, I needed a date to the prom. I needed someone tall and of course cute. Enter Sam. He was cute, tall, funny, a little quiet, but really nice. We became friends. I was friends with some of his friends so the transition to hang out was pretty easy. We set up a group of us to go bowling one night. I told Sam to call me and I would give him the details. It was a great plan to get him on the phone :) Well, he called and we talked and talked and talked. For 3 hours I think. Then he came and picked me up and we talked some more. That night he asked me to go ice skating a few days later. I had mentioned that I wanted to go, but hadn't had anyone to go with. He picks me up, and as we are walking in, I start to panic. Is this is a date? Should I jump in to pay for myself? Well, Mr. Cool Guy took care of it and before I knew it, I had ice skates on. I am a terrible ice skater. I can't really stop or really go fast- I am just not that good at it. But, we skated and then we sat down and talked until the place shut down. At this point in our short, and undefined relationship, I think we had divulged our hopes, dreams, and deep dark secrets. He was easy to talk to, there was a comfort with him that I just hadn't experienced before.

A few phone calls later he asks me to prom. Then a few phone calls after that he asks me to officially be his girlfriend. I was ecstatic about the prom, and super nervous about the girlfriend part. I figured that I would get through prom and then break up with him. He was nice, but he was going to college and I still had a year of high school, and well, I wasn't sure we would work out and I was not in the business to be hurt again. That was a very short-lived thought. The months leading up to prom, we went on more dates, talked until 3 or 4 in the morning and had the best time together. I thought maybe that this could work out. The summer started and I was in love with this kid. I learned that no one had actually broken my heart before because I never truly gave it to anyone. Sam had it, all of it. I was in, and I was in deep. I couldn't stop thinking about him and I didn't want to be away from him. I had never felt that before and it scared me. He was going to school, and what would he want with me? I pulled away, starting making excuses and just braced myself for the inevitable. One night, after I watched his band play, we talked for a long time and he assured me he was not going anywhere - he was in just as deep.

This is when I realized this guy was worth holding on to. Even at this point in our relationship, he fought for me. We made it through that year and through the next 4 before we got married. It was bumpy in spots, I tried multiple times to end it. I wanted my freedom. He wouldn't let me end it, but we changed how often we saw each other, giving me more time with my friends. He put up with the most ridiculous things from me, but he was always there, waiting patiently for me to see what he already saw. This was it. It's not that I didn't love Sam,  and it's not that I didn't want to commit to him. I just didn't think that this was it. Who finds the love of their life at 17? Well, we did - oddly enough. I always tell people that we luckily grew into people we still loved and respected. Because 17 year old Dana was nothing like 22 year old Dana and same for Sam. He was a different man than I knew in high school - a better version of himself - but different. We had a great college experience and grew even closer through the ups and downs of life. Even a few years in, we still had this magnetic chemistry that is indescribable. He was what completed me. We fit so perfectly together and I could not imagine my life without him by my side.

We got engaged and life got real. We had to plan a wedding, finish graduating (writing major papers, a thesis, etc), find a place to live, figure out how we are going to pay for this place to live and find jobs. It was stressful, but so exciting to be planning a life with this man. It was like we were 17 again and we could not get enough of each other. I remember one point coming home to my roommate and in tears saying it physically hurt to say goodbye. Dramatic? Maybe, but it was how I felt. Every moment away was a moment too long.

Fast forward 8 years. Yes, tomorrow we will be celebrating 8 years of marriage!! I never doubted we wouldn't make it here - I expected to be old and grey with Sam. However, I never thought that in these 8 short years we would have experienced so much. We have tested our relationship. We have gone to bed angry. We have struggled financially. We have trusted each other because there was nothing else to do. Through it all, we have come out on the other side - happy, stronger, and more determined. I never thought that life was going to be so hard and that the true definition of marriage is to be truly selfless.

There are days when I struggle to find nice words, or nice thoughts and then are days when all I want is to climb in bed and snuggle in the crook of his arm all day. There are days when I look at the man that still holds every bit of my heart and think that I couldn't have picked a better person to walk through life with and then there are days when I can not understand how he thinks and why he says what he says. There has been pain and pure joy. There has been times that I don't want to remember and times that I want to freeze and re-live over and over. Through it all, I can hear this song in my head: "So give me your forever, please your forever, not a day less will do, from you." Because as hard as life can be with all it's ups and downs, there is no one in this world who I would give my forever to, who I love more, and who I would give my heart than Sam. He is my forever, and I am so glad that he gave me his.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The FULL proposal Story:

Today I get the privilege of sharing with you the single most exciting day of my entire life. I want to start out by saying that I feel incredibly blessed. I am so thankful to have an amazing guy like Jason who is willing to fight for me, as well as exceptional friends who are willing to go above and beyond to help him out. I have truly seen God’s love for me through these people.

The sparknotes version of the story, which is what I usually tell people when they ask, is that Jason proposed on top of the tallest building in Raleigh. The problem is that the short version doesn’t even begin to give Jason justice on the effort that he put in to this proposal. So here is my chance to give Jason that justice. Just a small token of appreciation for everything he did for me. For those of you who do not know me and Jason, we started dating our freshman year of High School. Fast forward 6+ years and we are about to enter into our last year of College (so ladies, be patient with your men and wait for the time that is right for both of you).

Let me walk you through my day. I rolled over in bed around 7am to see beautiful flowers and a note from Jason. The note gave me a password to watch a video on his tablet, which instructed me to get ready and head to breakfast with my parents. At this point, I was freaking out. Thankfully, my nerves calmed throughout the day. After a sweet time of breakfast with my parents, I was given a password for another video (there were 9 videos total). Per the instructions on the video, my mentor now friend Amanda picked me up and we completed the ever important task of picking out an outfit. I had a blast with her shopping for a new dress and she took me to the most delicious sandwich place in downtown Durham called Toast. After shopping, and a few videos later, I am getting my hair and nails done with four of my close friends from College (Natalie, Sarah, Rachel and Kimberly). I had entirely too much fun with them.

Everything up until this point was pretty calm; here is where the story picks up. The videos sent me on a little scavenger hunt to some of the important places in our lives (first date spot, field by his house, where I worked in High School). My favorite stop was where my high school youth group met. Jason had prearranged my old High School pastor and his wife (Donnie and Laura Peters) to record a video for me. They moved to California a year ago and we miss them dearly. It was an honor to hear from them about how excited they are for the two of us (there were definitely tears shed). The last stop on the video scavenger hunt was at Global Hope India in downtown Raleigh where sweet Becca Taylor had recorded a video for me. At this point all of the videos were unlocked and we were in downtown Raleigh, I could not have even dreamed of what came next.

The girls walk me around downtown (possibly in a few circles) and we end up at the entrance to a skyscraper. Conveniently for the girls, I needed to use the restroom. So, they walked right in and asked if there was a restroom we could use. The woman at the front desk (I found out later she was in on it) took us up to the 23rd floor of the building. Yes, I was very confused at this point. We walk out onto the patio deck of the building and there is Jason. It’s around 7pm, so 12 hours after I woke up! He is sitting there with a guitar. I know what you might be thinking; oh he’s a musician so that’s a pretty typical thing for him to do. No, up until this point I had never seen Jason play a guitar. He had been learning over the past 7 months in order to propose to one of my favorite songs: “gone, gone, gone” by Phillip Philips. He did an incredible job of playing the song for me and then the moment finally came. He got down on one knee and proposed. At least that is what I think he did because I said “Yes” and I have a gorgeous ring on my finger now. It was such a sweet moment and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

You would think that is where the story ends, I definitely did. As if Jason hadn’t already put forth enough effort already he prearranged both of our parents, small group leaders, and close married friends to celebrate with dinner. I loved being able to see all of them right after it happened. At dinner I asked Jason “are there any more surprises?” and he confidently replied “No.” Well, needless to say, he lied. The final (possibly my favorite) surprise happened when we got back to his house. Little did I know that all of our closest friends were inside the house for a surprise engagement party. The look on my face was priceless. I am thankful that I was able to celebrate with all of the people I love.

I have never been more excited for something in my life 
than I am to marry Jason.

Ladies and gents, your engagement doesn’t have to be so over the top, it can be simple and sweet. My advice is just to communicate what is important to you and put forth effort. Gentlemen, this is your opportunity to prove to your woman that you love and care about her. Putting forth effort shows her that you are willing to fight for her. Ladies, let your men ask in the way that they want to ask. Give them freedom to be creative and don’t expect them to do something that you haven’t made clear. 

I just want to say thank you to all of the people that helped make this day incredibly special for me and Jason. To Jacob and Chaz for the ever important task of teaching him to play the guitar. To Jess for taking lots of amazing pictures. To my girlfriends for pointing him in the right direction and being there to support him. To my parents and his parents for supporting us through all that we have journeyed through. To the woman who worked at the skyscraper to allow us to use the space. And to everyone else who has been there to support us, we most definitely would not be where we are without you guys.

With love,


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Why not??

You see things; 

and you say "Why?" 

But I dream things that never were; 

and I say "Why not?"

George Bernard Shaw

Love this! Even in the middle of the Crazy and Disappointments and Constant work - I look around and see this gorgeous space and remember at one time this place only inhabited my dreams.... and we said "Why not??"!