She + Him

photo courtesy of Ellie Colburn

That's me. And that's him. And we are just two normal, fun loving twenty-somethings that love God, love one another, love our families and love our life of adventure together.

We both grew up only 10 minutes from one another, and although we had mutual friends, it wasn't until we were out of high school that our paths finally crossed. I met him for the first time on a cold December night in 2003. The memory is sharp and vivid to him, but clouded to me. I was in a relationship at the time; he was single.

One of my best friends worked at Starbucks (yummmm). He became a weekly customer. I thought he liked her. She kept telling me about this guy... the same that I had met on that cold December night. It was the end of February, February 24th to be exact, and she conveniently invited us to a showing of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" that had just hit theaters. And she just so happened to seat us next to one another. The cool thing is that both of our parents tagged along for the night too. Little did they know that they would be witnessing our first "real" introduction. The movie started and I don't remember the first 45 minutes of the movie. I was talking non-stop to this guy. He must have been someone special, because wow, it wasn't until Jesus stomped on the snake that I came to and realized I should probably shut up. We were in a movie after all. A really serious movie, too. I remember exactly what he was wearing that night. I remember I was wearing a really hideous jacket.

Weeks became months and we spent the spring and the summer of 2004 with what became our mutual group of friends. His birthday came in August and I baked him some really soupy, not-cooked-all-the-way, poop looking brownies for his birthday. I think that's the day he fell in love with me. He knew I was a really swell baker. Looking back on it, that was the summer I fell in love with him. I just didn't know it yet.

Somewhere along this story, I forgot to mention that I got dumped. From the guy I was in a relationship at the time, when I met him. I experienced a real life "Legally Blonde" breakup. The kind that says that I was not intellectual enough for his presence, for his future life. I was always more of a Marilyn than a Jackie anyway, just like Elle Woods. So thank you for the compliment; thank you, very much. Looking back on it, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because I knew what I wanted moving forward. And I certainly didn't want to be with someone who wouldn't love & accept me for who I am-- blonde moments aside. But in all fairness, I really do have some pretty funny one liners that slip out every once in a while

On August 19th, 2004 he was hanging out over at my house. And we took a really long walk around the block and made this thing official. As official as dating someone will go. And we were happy. Really happy. We dated for 2 amazing years. We went on dozens of drips to Disneyland, on day trips all around our beautiful hometown, and we just explored. All the time. We never sat still. And it was beautiful. We never went on a vacation together and we didn't live together before hand. We saved those special moments for life as newlyweds. And it was the single most best decision we could have ever made.

The months leading up to engagement were hard. I wanted to be married. Really bad. We had thought it would be cool to get married on our 2 year anniversary, which was a Saturday, a perfect sunny, summer day for a wedding. August 19th arrived and we weren't married. And everywhere we went that day there seemed to be a bride dressed in white. We went to the beach, we went to a different beach, we went to the park. There were brides. Everywhere. And I was not one. Oh, patience! 

He tried to relive our first date all over again that day. I wasn't having it. I was just in a really bad mood. I actually botched, literally destroyed, all of his plans for the day. Little did I know that he had a ring in his back pocket, and that he was going to give it to me. That night. We were taking a walk up on a mountain top overlooking the Pacific. We were below a large wooden cross. It's a popular lookout place in our hometown. Fortunately it was around dinner time, so it wasn't crowed. No one was watching when he got down on one knee and asked me to wake up next to him every morning and be his wife. I said "Yes!," of course.

We planned our beautiful wedding in 3 months. Exactly 3 months. We got engaged on August 19th, 2006 and got hitched on November 19th, 2006. We have a thing for the number 19 in case you have not yet noticed. It was an insanely crazy time of planning but it was the best decision ever. To not drag out an engagement was amazing.

Everyone says their wedding day is beautiful. Ours really was. It was a super sunny day in November and all of our dearest friends were in one spot together. The chances of that happening again are down right impossible. It was a beautiful ceremony and a crazy fun dance party than night. While we were saying our goodbyes, a dense fog crept in, saturating all of the downtown harbor and whisking us away into the darkness. The last song I remember the DJ playing was Imogen Heap's "Say Goodnight and Go." We spent a few nights downtown and then jetted away to a tiny island in Mexico, east of Cancun, in the Caribbean. We swam alone on white beaches and got our Jeep stuck in the sand. And got really sick. But we had a blast.

They say time goes by fast when you are having fun. I guess that's why I don't really know where the time has gone. We are going on 5 years of married life this November. It has been filled with lots of highs and lows, but the highs overwhelmingly shadow the lows. We did a few trips to Hawaii and Mexico and have created more memories together than can be slapped into a scrapbook. But most of all, the last couple of years have taught us to trust in God more and lead on one another in the bad times and the good. We had a lot of frustrating times and difficult times, but we got through them and we are strengthened because of them. We appreciate the good times a lot more now. 


Our first 4 years of married life kept us in our beautiful hometown and we are so happy that was God's plan for us. We got to remain close to family and friends and share special times with them. However, in October of 2010, God literally put a big "arrow" in front of us with the words "GO" on them and showed us that we were to leave our home and start a new life in a new city. There is so much to be said about living near family, and there is so much to be said about venturing out on your own. We miss our loved ones so much, but we also feel empowered. Change is hard, but waiting on change is worse. And what's really worse is remaining comfortable. So we are happy. Really happy. And we are adjusting to our new life in our new city quite well. 

God has written our love story from the beginning and He is continuing to write it. With each stroke and page turned, we are blessed.

Song of Solomon 8:6 -7
"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."

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OUR TESTIMONY

Finding beauty in the ordinary moments of life is something that has taken me some time to embrace again. It's barely been a year since things have started getting better. I will be honest: the circumstances over the past couple of years before that left me hopeless, and somewhat even cynical, about life. 
 
My husband, Joshua, and I had only been married for a year-and-a-half when he and a major crop of people at his work lost their jobs due to the failing economy. I was working at Starbucks trying to finish college. We were blissfully happy newlyweds, freshly back home from a trip to San Francisco for our anniversary and a vacation in Puerto Vallarta. Joshua had a job that we thought would be around until retirement. He had just been told months before the layoff that a relocation to Europe was quite possible if he wanted to grow with the company. Life was great and we had the world at our fingertips. I was making coffee when I got the call that would turn our world upside down.

Joshua was unemployed for over a year before finding a job that sufficed while he was in the hiring process for the federal government job he has now. And after he got that interim job-- managing a hardware store where he was severely underpaid and overworked-- he waited a whole year before he finally got "the job." We were strapped those years; financially, emotionally, and even physically. We were tired all the time. And stressed. We gained weight, but yet were worn so thin. Joshua's blood pressure skyrocketed. I do not wish any woman in this world to have to watch her man go through unemployment. It is such a massive blow to a man's ego. Our relationship and our vows were tried-- "... for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer." We had to fight to make sure our relationship stayed focused on God, and on living life in the moment, on still trying to have fun together-- and not on our circumstances. But it was rough on us. Without God in our lives and marriage, I don't know how we would have gotten through it.
 
To top it off, his truck completely died on us and we had to share one car for over a year. We moved in with my in-laws for almost a year to save money. I hated the job that I had. I was fresh out of college and hated the corporate world and the miserable, work-driven people I worked with that were consumed by materialism and making money. Everything was upside down and not anywhere near how I imagined my first couple years of marriage looking like. I never thought I would be in a position of being the primary bread-winner, or of making more money than my husband. I've always just wanted to be a mom. It rocked my world. It rocked his.

We were just at our wit's end. Everyone around us called us "troopers" and were so kind to ask how we were doing or what was the "next step" in our lives. We became somewhat anti-social to avoid the questions. To this day, I don't think any of our friends or even family have any clue exactly what a difficult season we went through. It was 2 years of patience, of worry, of questions, and of feeling like God abandoned us. There were some great moments in those years, too, I don't mean to not mention those. But -- I hate to say it-- the stress of life really did overshadow the flecks of beauty in our lives during that long, testing season of winter.

I learned a lot through that season and having come out of it, I believe that I can truly say that God will give you the strength that you need to get you through whatever trial you are currently facing. And even if the circumstances seem so out of control, and hope seems so lost, He will never give you more than you can handle. And I'm very confident, that one day... the sun will shine for you and you will see why God brought you through that storm. He will show you incredible things that you would have otherwise never seen had you not gone through it.

I've learned that I want to approach my life moving forward always trying to find beauty in all of life's moments. Even when it's rough. Because there were a lot of things that I closed my eyes to see because I chose to. Because I let my bad attitude cloud everything. Yes, my circumstances seemed out-of-control at the time, but that is no excuse to not thank God for my daily breath, or to punish God because I feel like He had "abandoned" me. Who am I?


Have you seen this?

Let's thank God for each and every season. Even the seasons of winter, when everything is falling apart before our eyes, and when we fell like there are few things to be grateful for. Autumn is here and Thanksgiving is coming. Let's live out an attitude of thankfulness every day, not just one special day a year when we carve a turkey. We aren't guaranteed tomorrow. And life is a gift itself. Will you join me on working on an attitude of thankfulness today? 

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"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now." - C.S. Lewis

November 19, 2006
San Diego, CA