Our Dating Story

Don’t tell anyone (as if its not already clear) but Jess and I are hardcore nerds. Yes, that’s right, we both grew up homeschooled. I even grew up a preachers kid. As teenagers when we were doing the Running Start program at our local community college (where high school students take college classes) my dad would drop us both off either in a church van or in a beater truck that was painted like a solar system. I didn’t get my licensee until I was seventeen. Jess didn’t wear jeans to church until she was like thirteen. I could attempt to convince you more, but I don’t see the point. My guess is that you’re already convinced…and, oh, how I’ve just begun.

Neither of us dated much. Jess had one boy friend that could be considered legit. I technically dated two girls before Jess…I think I may have held their hands once. Lets just say it never got hot and heavy and there wasn’t much depth to the ‘relationships’!

Essentially we are both of our first loves. As an eight year old Jess journaled about me as her “hunk”. I think early on had I journaled about her it would have been as my “best friends annoying little sister”. But oh how things change!

We fell in like over my last few years of high school. Jess’ brother moved away and I (relationally) moved in. I started to see this girl for who she was, not as a little sister but as a genuine hottie. Jess claims she always knew that I was a hottie and was just biding her time. As is the case for most of you, I’m certain, your first venture into sharing your love for your new bff was via email. Right? Isn’t that how guys and girls do it these days? So I wrote Jess an email proclaiming my love for her in not so many words. Over time we decided that there would be no reason to date unless we were going to get married (remember, we’re still acne riddled fifteen/sixteen year olds right now). So what did we do? We talked to our parents of course!

“Mom, dad, I really like Jessica and I was wondering if you thought she was someone that I might one day marry?”




“We were thinking about dating but we didn’t want to do it unless it might one day lead to marriage. And we wanted our parents approval and advice”




(I’m sure my parents said something but it was the verbal equivalent to…crickets…which could probably be translated as “my son is effing nuts. What is he talking about and why is my nerdy little boy talking about getting married? Maybe the kid should get his drivers license first!”)

Jess did the same thing with her parents and received about the same type of response. I don’t remember chronologically how things happened next, but it was on January 1 of Y2K that we started officially dating.

Our first kiss was at Scarpelli Hall. What is Scarpelli Hall? Well it’s only one of Clark Community Colleges buildings with one of the nicest waiting rooms on campus! Plush blue chairs, little to no privacy, pop machine, foot traffic. What more could a boy ask for? And remember this: I’ve never kissed a girl before in my life (mom, sisters, aunts–you don’t count). I think the scene went a little something like this:

Me: Hey Jess I’d really like to kiss you. I’ve never kissed a girl before and I think that I deserve to finally do so. I’m kind of a dweeb and I don’t really know how to…


Jess: quietly sings ‘hush little baby don’t say a word…”


Me: (I begin my pucker about ten inches away from any known face in the region and slowly move in)


Jess: (She quickly cuts the distance between my long pucker and her mouth by kissing me in a more appropriate fashion)


Me: (in shock and surprise I receive a real kiss.)


Some kid from some unknown science class lights off sparklers and dances around us as another student lights off some mortars in the background to celebrate my first kiss and, more importantly, OUR first kiss.*

So we started dating in January and it was in July that I moved to Lubbock, TX and eventually Lisbon, Portugal. For two years we did the long distance thing. Jess spent lots on phone cards (lots!). I spent lots of time charging my phone. We wrote letters, we made each other videos. We made lots of gifts. From pillows with my smell on it, to ugly shirts with my face. From her sending my whole Lubbock class (about fifty of us) home made cookies and gifts to her sending me specially made journals to write her back in. We did the long distance thing well. All the while, however, knowing that it was a long shot that it’d last. We tried to break up numerous times but it just never worked. We just couldn’t do it. We knew we were made for each other.

There was no one else like Jess. Seriously. I traveled the world, I sailed on the Greek Mediterranean seas only to discover that the only woman for me, the only woman who would do, the only woman who had ever capture my heart was the woman waiting for me back in the ‘Couve. Loving long distance was miserable but probably the best thing that ever could have happened for the two of us. It forced us to get to know each other in ways that we never could have experienced otherwise. We talked. And talked. A lot. What more do you have over an ocean than to talk or sing to each other? (yes, that’s right, she made me sing to her sometimes)

When I finally moved back things had changed. Jess was funnier than she had ever been before.** She was more confident as a person, more sure of who she was, and she was funnier (did I say that already?). She had new friends, she was more beautiful than before, and–oh, and I was different too. It took some adjustments but by September it was clear that we were still in this together and that the awkward request we put to our parents some three years prior was still right on. We were gonna get married. And so on the day before her October 4th birthday I surprised her and offered her a ring. And come June of the following year we tied the knott.

And we’ve never ever looked back.


* I may have embellished some of this portion of the story.

** Some would argue that she was always funny and that I only now realized or gave her credit for it. But only SOME say that.

Awkward: Video Blog 8-1-12

Ok this is a very random, very awkward, very…something video entry today. Enjoy if you’re able!

Why I’m a Little Confused

It makes me laugh even as it regularly confuses me. You see, I fall asleep constantly. For example, as I watched the new Batman movie the night before last night I fell asleep at least six times throughout the epic film (while watching it on one of the largest screens known to mankind). I can fall asleep at any given moment in any context. It’s been amusing to be sitting on the front row of a venue where I’m about to speak only to find myself fighting to stay awake! Shouldn’t I be nervously alert and wide awake at those moments? How about while I’m getting pushed around a grocery store in a wheelchair? How about as i’m in a conversation with my wife about important things?! Don’t worry, though, Jess doesn’t take it personally, she realizes that it’s a combo of pure exhaustion, medications, and actual sickness. She knows she’s not boring (clearly she’s not boring!).

I just. I just fall asleep. Everywhere. Anywhere. All the time. Right now….

Here’s the funny part though, because I live in a constant sleep/awake state and because the sleep that occurs is instantaneously a very deep deep sleep–I often am unaware of what is real and what has been a dream. No joke. No exaggeration.

Just last night I commented to my mom about how many weeds had popped up in our front yard overnight! I mean, seriously, it had turned in a virtual weed-locked mess out there…oh, wait, nope…yeah, that was a dream wasn’t it? Crap. Never mind mom.

Or the other day I told Jess about seeing Southwest Washington’s famous Dave at the oncology clinic. I started to tell her about it and then we both laughed ’cause we both quickly realized that it was a dream. Ha, Dave doesn’t go to my oncology clinic! Silly Ryan is getting dreams and reality mixed up again…until we were there a few days later and there was Dave at my oncology clinic! Turns out this one wasn’t a dream! How’s a boy to know?!

Over and over again I start sentences and stories with Jess only to realize that they never really happened. To be honest it’s often a little disappointing ’cause they’re usually interesting things to talk about. I wish I were crazy enough to get confused about big awesome things like aliens coming to earth or apple pies growing in our garden or Cheez-its coming out with a new flavor, or something fantastic like that. But, no, it’s usually more connected to a new stretch mark that turned green or our car getting dented or or our towels all getting bleached or…or something simple like that. But it’s still just the weirdest and strangest thing to live in this mystery of what is real and what isn’t. It’s a bit disconcerting but honestly more awesome than anything else. It’s a power that I’m glad my wife doesn’t abuse (could you imagine the power she could wield over me?!)–Actually, hmm, what if she were to constantly play it up? What if she always threw fake things out there to mess with me? I’d be a mess…a hilariously confused mess! Hmm…this gives me an idea. A gift. A gift I could bequeath to my wife right here, right now, forevermore….

Here’s the official deal:

if I ever get to that place where I’m clearly dying soon and I’m practically in a  veggitized state I hereby give my wife permission to confuse me with my own ‘dreams’. Hear ye hear ye let this officially be known: Jessica Woods has my permission to do such dastardly deeds without the social ramifications of being considered a jerk in any way whatsoever. This will allow Ryan in his last days to still be a part of something fun and amusing–to which he will be forever grateful. Let it be so.


Yours Truly,

Ryan Woods

The Baddest Video of ’em All

This stuff is just too funny to not pass on to the general public.

First off, somehow my wife stumbled across this stunning website that was created by a 39 year old artist. There are no explanations–in fact there really are no words to capture how…how… intriguing this blog is.

Secondly, and more importantly, these videos are absolutely amazing…

F&$%ing Ironic!

Alanis Morissette’s got nuthin’ on me. She wants to talk about irony? A traffic jam when you’re already late? Not so ironic unless you happen to be a city planner. Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife? Maybe if you just cleaned out your kitchen and threw away all your knives. Meeting the man of your dreams and then meeting his wife? Nope, not so ironic unless you happen to have just had your spouse cheat on you. Yeah, Alanis didn’t really get irony. But I think I’m starting to get it.

Oh the irony. Let me see if I can’t capture it a bit…

We’ve started a movement marked by the phrase “we’re inviting people to die to self in order to live for their neighbor” and now in a great ironical twist we are seeing the emergence of this movement in our neighborhood in the midst of literal death. Jess and I have lived our lives (at least the last five to six years) to this end, learning, growing, and pushing ourselves toward this way of life only to see (potentially) it happen without us.* We’ve attempted to see an experimental community that is willing to love in radical ways, willing to respond to the needs of those around them in sacrificial ways which demands first a posture of hospitality and listening, we’ve always accidentally been on the front edge of innovating and thinking through new ideas and realities…and now…ironically, we find ourselves once again guinea pigs to our own experiments. Ironically we’re not the ones being able to love others but are instead are being overwhelmed with love, with people responding in creative ways, and with people trying to figure out how in the hell you show hospitality to a family whose only commodity is their precious time. Oh the irony of it all! I could go on…the list gets quite long…but ironically I prefer shorter blogs.

This is just too effing ironic isn’t it?! I mean, come on! Alanis, you’ve got more skills than I, but you didn’t really get the whole irony thing. Let me take a stab…

And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think

It’s like getting cancer when you’ve got no family history

It’s starting a movement about metaphorical death then you end up dying

It’s the idea of inviting others to love your neighbor only to be loved yourself

Who would’ve thought…it figures

Like my previous blog post attempts to capture, what’s emerging in our neighborhood is amazing and beautiful (and I didn’t even write or share about what is happening amongst the amazing co-conspirators who are shaping the Grassroots Conspiracy movement!) But seriously…it is incredibly ironic…painfully ironic…humorously ironic…annoyingly ironic…oh the irony.


* Again, don’t get too caught up in the freedom in talking about death. I prefer to speak as if death is the reality (because medically it is) while keeping hope that Jesus will bring an alternative reality. Also while Jess will still be a part in whatever ways she wants or is able, it will nevermore be ‘us’ insomuch as we’ve been partners in most everything we do.