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.

Happy Mother’s Day Jessica

How in the world am I to write this blog? Yesterday I slogged through telling my mom how much I loved her. That was hard (and rewarding). But to attempt to capture today my love for my wife–for the mother of my children–kill me now. There are not enough words, I don’t have enough words, there aren’t enough tissues to catch my tears as I sit beside her in bed attempting to write.

The problem, and at some point this might be considered unhealthy, is that there’s no me without her. Our lives, our identities, our stories are completely enmeshed. We literally only have a few stories that are not shared. Our lives have and will continue to be done together in every sense of the word until we’re forced apart. What’s clearly so hard is that we genuinely never thought that we’d be forced apart. Not like this. Not this early.

Anyway, I realize that I wrote this blog (the blog that I’m fighting against writing all over again right now, the blog that attempts yet again to tell her how amazing and wonderful and loved she is…) a little over a week ago too, so today instead of re-writing that blog I will focus on why my wife is quite possibly the most amazing parent you’ll ever run into. No joke. No hyperbole. She really is that amazing.

Jess truly, above all else, values people. She values children. She values them as human beings, as people with dignity, with inherent worth, and as creatures filled with life and significance. This alone sets her far above the rest of us. To Jess children are not things to be controlled, they are beautiful short people needing to be empowered and listened to. Jess spends much of her time cultivating an environment in our home where our kids feel safe and loved, where they know that their feelings are valid, and where they are confident in exploring new ideas. Rather than seeking control Jessica invites our children to look for answers and to explore ideas that they’re intrigued by. She’s always encouraging and inviting them into new experiences…and it’s a beautiful thing.

One defining thing about my wife, something that not only defines her as a mom but as a human being is that she makes every moment special and unique. If she makes pancakes they’re going to be in shape of dinosaurs. If the sets the table there will be little notes to say why our kids are special. If she’s showering while the kids eat she’ll place all their food on special trays and setup a mini-picnic upstairs. If we go on road trips she works tirelessly to think of games, activities, and little gifts that’ll make the time go by. If she does something she’s going to transform it into something special and specifically tailored to the person(s) she’s caring for. ‘Cause the thing is: Jess notices everything. With her nothing is wasted. No moment is left behind because she’s always attentive to what is happening, to how this moment can be a blessing to her children, to her husband, or to another. She remembers what you love, she remembers what you said about this that or the other, she remembers how special something made you feel and she’ll remember it next time so as to bless you with it. She’s always remembering her children and how to love them more fully. Jones and India’s feelings, thoughts, opinions, reactions, etc. are never wasted or forgotten. They are stored up and dwelt on, they are remembered and built on, and they are used to care for them in whatever ways are available as time moves on. As a person who does not pay good attention to much, I view this as a nearly miraculous gift!

Jess fills Christmas stockings better than any person i’ve ever seen. Enough said.

Jess knows and loves children’s books. Our kids have hundreds and hundreds thanks to her…which I should say is directly correlated to our children having a love of books…thanks to her.

My children have always eaten healthy thanks to her.

My kids have feeling journals thanks to her. How cool is that?

Jess makes my kids awesome treats: gluten free chocolate chip cookies that are to die for are at the top of the list.

While Jess’ forte is in creating special moments, the last year especially has been filled with monotony. Care-taking is not a job that leaves much space for uniqueness and creativity. And, again, while I am attempting to not make this blog about how amazing Jess is towards me, it is hard not to pause here to say that the way she has stepped up to care for me in my sickness has been nothing short of perfect. She has carried our family. She has stepped into the boring and not-so-exciting duties of taking care of a sick dad and showing compassion for emotionally exhausted children. Because the reality is that our children are not the same today that they were a year and a half ago (understatement of the year right?). Behaviorally they have regressed, emotionally they’re more volatile, India is back in pull ups, Jones is no longer able to regulate (there are some special needs here I’m referring to), and Jess is the one who tirelessly works to love us all through this. In the midst of my sickness Jess has worked countless hours figuring out Jones’ health care (he’s on separate insurance than the rest of us), she was the one who made sure our kids were in play therapy, she’s the one who takes Jones to his occupational therapy, she’s the one who makes sure they’re still seeing a dentist, she’s the one who has had to maneuver through our kids’ newly discovered fruit allergy (not sure I can communicate how big of a ‘maneuver’ this is/was), she’s the one who is making sure that ALL of us are having our practical needs met. It is too much for one mom to carry…and yet she does it gracefully and without ever (ever!) complaining about it.

I’ve got to stop. Again, like I said yesterday about my own mother, I could write on and on. I have been blessed to have two (three if you count my daughter) beautiful women in my life who far exceed a persons normal expectation for love and care. And I could literally write paragraph after paragraph ’till my tears (yes, the ones that are still flowing) dried up.

Above all Jess makes people feel loved…and it’s because she’s truly a person filled with love. Jess is one of the most capable people I know. She can do anything she puts her mind to (I really mean that). It terrifies me to think of leaving her behind, to think of her being a single mom, to think of her without me–but it’s not in any way, shape, or form because I think she can’t handle it. No, I’ve got no question that like everything else she touches, she will invite God’s love, grace, and imagination into her parenting as a single mom of our two amazing children. The reason it terrifies me is just because I know how hard it is going to be…and I know how hard she is already working…and I just want her to receive some rest. She deserves a rest. In every way Jess is capable, in every way Jess is built to succeed and to be a conduit of love and compassion for children who are in crisis and suffering. But does it have to be so?! Like I said in the beginning: Jess is my partner. There is no me without her, there is no her without me, our children only know an us…and until the us is just her I will continue to celebrate the gift God has given me of doing life and parenthood with the most beautiful, gracious, loving, compassionate, creative, memory-making, generous, hard-working mother I’ve ever seen. One day she’ll have to do it without me–and when she does she’ll do it beautifully (as she does in every avenue of life)–but until then she’s stuck with me!

I love you Jess and I feel guilty for being blessed beyond all others to walk this path with you. Jones and India are the luckiest children to have such an amazing mom. Please don’t ever ever forget it. You are incredibly special.

Back from Hawaii and back to blogging

I keep putting off writing this blog because I want it to be perfect. In some way I want to effectively capture with pictures that have been edited and with stories that have been shaped well enough to capture how wonderful our time in Hawaii was. But that ain’t gonna happen! Turns out when you’re gone for eight days life continues to move forward and quite a large pile of things to do builds up! Writing the perfect blog is losing out to other necessary and good things that top the to do list.

For those of you who do not know, Jess and I were surprised by her family with a trip to Hawaii (Oahu, where her brother is stationed). It was a last minute affair where we had less than two of awareness before we flew out. We spent three nights at a secluded resort on the rural/tropical side of the island where we were surprisingly upgraded to a room with our own private deck that overlooked the bay. Each morning we sat on our deck serenaded by roosters, splashing fish, and tropical birds of a thousand kinds. We spent those three and a half days on that side of the island and the older North Shore side. We ate lots of good food, watched sunrises together, shopped randomly, and even went to bed by 5pm one night (don’t judge me). Next we transitioned to staying at my brother and sister-in-laws home where we were able to spend time with their family. They took us snorkeling with sea turtles, we toured Pearl Harbor, we ate more good food, spent some time in Waikiki, and enjoyed being together.

Honestly I didn’t ever think I’d be a “Hawaii guy”–you know, the dude that comes home and always raves about it and talks about how he wants to go back…but, yeah, it was pretty fantastic. More than anything I got to spend time with my wife. If you called, texted, or facebooked me you were completely ignored (at least for the first four days). It was our time. No kids. No doctors appointments. No work. No hospitality. No housemates. No housework. Just us…and a lot of chickens and roosters (seriously, they were everywhere!).

I could tell you lots of stories and I hope they emerge over time. Stories of Jones’ jealousy, stories of my awkward buoyancy, stories of sunrises at garbage filled beaches, stories of monsoons, of scattered and dissolving medicine…good stories.

For now, here are a few quick and unedited photos from our trip. Glad to be back and I look forward to writing again.



This is where we went snorkeling. So much fun! (aside from all the cuts on my legs from the coral! One of the pains of not having feeling down there!)

Good picture of the turtle...not a great picture of Jess...but come on, we swam with frickin' sea turtles!

The view from our deck!

It was nice to be able to kayak any time we wanted right in the bay at our resort