husbandy, love

Sneaking Into My Heart

I’ve never really been a girly girl. And that’s an understatement. I was involved in sports from the age of 4 when, my mom says, she enrolled me in rec league soccer to use up some of my energy. 10 years of soccer followed. There is something about Saturday mornings that will always remind me of soccer tournaments. The anticipation of the game, the wind against my jersey as I ran down the field, the thrill of harnessing your body’s energy and becoming exhausted.

Fast forward to senior year of high school and all my athletic energy was focused on tennis. I had been playing since sophomore year so I noticed when new people joined the team. Well a week or two into senior year this boy asked me for a ride to the off-campus tennis courts. I obliged, but was very cautious of him. Gradually, I began giving him a ride to the courts almost daily. We liked each other, but didn’t know it (obvs). The Heartbreak Kid had just come out and I love romantic comedies so I couldn’t stop talking about that movie.

One day, this boy and I were the last ones left at the tennis courts after practice and he yells across the court, stuttering, and asked me if I’d like to go see The Heartbreak Kid. Of course I would!

“I heard you’re going on a date with Sunny?” “No, we’re going to the m–. Ohhhh….um.” And that’s when I realized I was going on a date with Sunny.

The way to my heart is through romantic comedies, a little sneakiness, and a lot of gummy worms when the R-rated parts became too much for my 17 year old self. Note: The movie was not at all what I had imagined. And neither was Sunny. He snuck  his way right into my heart and his ring right onto my finger.

[Linking up with Show & Tell]


Finding Joy (Anniversary Edition)

I recently found a website/blog that is helpful and spiritual and inspiring. And I want to be a part of it. Luckily, Blessed is She has a weekly link-up:

As a child of divorced parents I have seen the risk that comes with marriage. A lot of people who come from a divorced home are skittish when it comes to life-long commitment. My mom even worried if I was afraid to get married  because of divorce.

However, tomorrow marks two years of being married to the man who makes me smile every day, who hugs me just right, whose laughter is infectious, and whose faith has grown immensely. His generosity and caring spirit inspire me to be a better person.

I feel like in today’s culture marriage is taking a beating. But inside my home, between the laughter and the random slow-dancing and the burning cookies in the oven and the “home-cooked” meals from Trader Joe’s and the creamer with coffee we sip together each morning I find joy.

It’s in the small things. And the small things make up life, afterall. PhotoLove_KD087


Lean In

Exuberant. That was the word they used to describe him.

As I sat among hundreds of other people remembering the life of this man, it made me stop and think about how I’m living my life.

He was a professor in the School of Social Work. One word that described him at times was “absent-minded.” He was absent minded in the best of ways. He taught a course on social work groups. In class it was rare if we spent a lot of time reviewing the assigned text. The majority of class was spent in discussion or listening to stories from our professor. The course had a textbook, but all of us students knew that he, our professor, was the true textbook. He had worked in the profession so many years and his clinical wisdom was boundless. He taught us to “lean in” when clients got mad or upset or things got tough. “Lean in” I would hear him say. Of course it wasn’t until I left graduate school and actually began clinical work that I understood what he mean when he said “Lean in.”

When I took his class, he wore a long braided pony tail. Right off the bat, I could tell that there was something different about this guy. This professor told us about Native American culture, he brought his flute in to play for us. Yes, readings from the text were assigned, but they weren’t the focus of the class. His class focused on life. Teaching and preparing social work students to have compassion for the people they would serve one day, going out of ourselves to advocate on behalf of those who aren’t able to advocate for themselves.

How do you grade students in the class of life?

As I sat there in that auditorium during his memorial service I couldn’t help but think of my own life. You see, every picture displayed around the auditorium of this man was unique. Unique in that in every single picture this man exuded the essence of life. I don’t know how else to put it. He was a man who had wrung every last drop out of life. And he was only in his 50s. All the stories told about him had a similar theme–this man loved abundantly. That’s a simple way to say it and maybe and understatement. He loved everyone and spoke directly to each person without distraction.

Maybe he wasn’t focused on the details. His wife said that he often called people by the wrong name. However, he was focused on what truly mattered–making each person he interacted with feel loved and accepted.

Reflecting on my own life, I began to think, “What will people say about me at my memorial service?” Will they say that I loved abundantly? Will they say that I left a mark on them, that I inspired them to do something greater? To be something greater? How do I exude joy and love to others? Like, how is that possible?

Leaving his memorial service, I was inspired. I want to love more deeply, more richly. I want to speak to others with love and acceptance. I want to be true to myself, like my professor was, not afraid to show the quirky side of my self. After all, to accept and love others as they are, we have to first love ourselves as we are.

Lean in. When the fire gets hot, lean in. He taught us that “leaning in” to situations with our clients makes them feel more safe and comforted. Notice how when someone starts to raise their tone or the situation gets heated, you naturally incline your body away from that person.

Lean in to life. Lean in to friends. Lean in to those in need. Lean in and give of yourself. Lean in and love without measure.

culture, love

Teenage love in the time of tennis practice

It all began one summer day during my senior year of high school. He asked me for a ride to the tennis courts because his mom wouldn’t let him drive to school–he had to ride the bus. Since we were both on the tennis team, I didn’t mind giving him a ride to practice as the courts were off campus. I wasn’t sure of this boy who somehow got my number over the summer and called me all the time. He’d ask if I wanted to play tennis and my answer was always the same, “Sorry, but I’m babysitting my cousin out of town.” Which was completely true..but I see how it sounds now. However, I really, truly was out of town babysitting my cousin for the summer.

Fast forward to me giving him rides to tennis practice. i had to stop by my house first and change before practice, but I didn’t really know this boy that well so I showed him to the office and computer while I went to my room, locked the door, and hastily changed for practice. I didn’t know him well enough to guess that he was more interested in watching music videos and funny cat videos than bothering me.

He started noticing that I would leave tennis practice early on Wednesdays and asked me where I went. I told him I went to church and youth group. I don’t ever remember asking him if he wanted to come. I’m pretty sure he asked me if he could come. I was an altar server so he would sit by himself at mass. Looking back that was probably rude of me not to sit with him, but now we’re married so he apparently didn’t think much of it.

One weekend our youth group was having a movie night. I invited this boy and about five minutes into the movie he “stretched” his arm which ended up around my shoulder. I was mildly shocked, especially since we were at a church event so I decided to get us some snacks at that very moment. Awkward teenage love for the win. 

 We kept riding together to tennis practice, getting to know each other as just friends until one day this boy asked, “What would your parents think if you dated someone of another race?” I know that racism doesn’t exist anymore and everything is right in the world..This was a turning point in our relationship because, you see, this boy was Asian–a first generation Laotian American, and I was (and still am) definitely not a first generation American who has red hair and freckles. We live in the South which tends to be slow to accept diversity so his question was a valid one. My answer: my parents would be okay with whoever I date so long as they treat me well and have ambition.

And right there the door of possibility swung wide open.

faith, love

Not your grandma’s family planning {Interfaith marriage and NFP}

Apparently it’s NFP (Natural Family Planning) Awareness Week, so here goes 7 Quick NFP-related takes: Linking with Svellerella

1. A little backstory: My husband was raised Buddhist and I was raised Catholic so we have/had what you might call an interfaith marriage. (He would now consider himself Christian) That being said neither of our parents exposed either of us to NFP. In fact, my family was opposed to us using NFP because they said “it doesn’t work.” Well, I don’t know if this is common knowledge but today’s NFP isn’t your grandma’s NFP, if you know what I’m sayin’. Grandma may have used the “rhythm method” but millennials use the Sympto-Thermal/Creighton/Billings method. Take that, abuela!

2. Furthermore, since neither of us actually knew of anyone who used NFP in real life we were terrified that it wouldn’t work and that it would be difficult and that we’d prove everyone right who told us those things.

3. It’s amazing how our attitudes have changed from starting NFP classes to now: after over one year of marriage.  In the beginning we were terrified of becoming pregnant before we discerned we were ready to responsibly raise a child.  Now we are still postponing pregnancy, but are no longer terrified of becoming pregnant.  In fact, if we found out that we were expecting a child today we’d be thrilled. God’s grace, y’all.

Mother creates scenes around her napping baby. Adorbs.

Mother creates scenes around her napping baby. Adorbs.

4. Some non-Catholic/non-NFP-practicing readers may be thinking “Who cares about NFP?”  I care about NFP because I didn’t want to take birth control and alter my body with chemicals that weren’t necessary. I wanted a family planning method that facilitated communication between my husband and I. And let me tell you, our communication has greatly improved after being able to discuss sexuality and family planning together.

5. We are tolerant and respectful of other people and the choices they make regarding their lives and their family. We expect tolerance and respect in return. This is the method we embrace to plan our family and it works for us.

6. I’m so thankful for couples who teach NFP because my husband and I believe that NFP has been a tremendous blessing in our marriage.

7. I’m no expert on NFP, but there are some great blog posts and online resources for those curious/interested in this medieval (not.) practice. Head over to Stephanie’s post to check out some great reads about NFP. 


9 Months of Marriage

As I write this post, it’s been almost 9 months since Daniel and I got married. That seems so crazy because we still find it weird to call each other husband and wife, but alas–we love marriage! So I want to try to put into words all the emotions of the infamous “wedding week.”

I was taking summer classes so my wedding week was mostly just Thursday, Friday, and then the wedding Saturday. Thursday I skipped class (I felt if any situation called for it-this would be it) and my mom and I situated the flowers and other minor details. Thursday evening my father in law and Daniel’s cousin came in from Oregon. We went to eat pho with them and spend time as we hadn’t seen them in 3 years!
Friday was chaotic, crazy, humbling, and magical all at the same time. My parents took off from work, Daniel’s parents took off from work, my friend’s, family friends and relatives all helped set up the reception hall and church. It was truly a “village” affair and it was so humbling to see so many friends and family giving their time to help us prepare for our wedding.

Later that day was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. There was a wreck that clogged up the main road to the church. For this reason almost everyone was late to the rehearsal. I was so nervous and shaking during the entire rehearsal. I could not believe that the day I had waited 4 years for ( I knew I wanted to marry Daniel early on!) was TOMORROW! Also the reality of “til death do us part” was sinking in-it took a while! For the rehearsal dinner we ate at a famous local Southern food restaurant called AQ Chicken. Then we went back to the hotel where Daniel’s family was staying because his grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousin had come in from Texas and Connecticut. So thoughtful! Once we met them his grandma (whom I had never met) immediately began measuring me with her measuring tape (boobs, hips, butt–you name it, she measured it!) for the Lao wedding dress I would wear two months later at our Lao wedding. Needless to say we got to know each other pretty well!

Saturday morning one of my bridesmaid’s mothers had a brunch for me, my mom, grandma, aunts, bridesmaids, and friends. It was overcast and rainy that morning, but barely drizzly. I remember hoping that the sun would come out! We enjoyed having brunch and mimosas together celebrating the beautiful wedding day. After I headed to the salon with one of my bridesmaids. I had one of my hair dresser friends do my hair at her salon. We had done a run-through the week before, so I wasn’t too worried. My mom met me at the salon later and took me to her house. All I remember there is that I was so nervous I couldn’t eat anything after brunch and that her tv wasn’t working so I had nothing to occupy my mind. The nerves were just ruminating. After what felt like hours we went to my apartment and I grabbed a few last minute items and we headed to the church. Once at the church I knew that this was not a dream– this really was my wedding day. All my bridesmaids were already there doing hair and make up. After getting my make up done by Allyson, my bridesmaid, I got into my dress with the help of my mom. Then Daniel and I did first-look photos where we cried like babies. Better than crying like babies in the church where everyone could see. We took some more photos with our wedding party. It was so windy that day, but the sun finally came out and it was a beautiful day.

After getting back to the bride’s room my bridesmaids and I just tried to soak in the moment and joke around. I’m so happy I had my best friends close for that special time. Then my favorite priest ever- who was celebrating our wedding Mass- came in and prayed with us. Moments later my bridesmaids left to process into the church and I was left alone. I couldn’t believe I was about to walk down the aisle and marry my best friend and partner in crime. My dad came in and got all teary-eyed. Once we were approaching the aisle everything was like a daze. I was weak from not being able to eat and my dad said he kept feeling me leaning on him. The whole time I was walking down the aisle I just kept staring at Jesus on the Cross and praying for Daniel and I as we embarked on this journey of marriage. Once my arm was joined with Daniel’s I was no longer nervous. Fr. John had asked us to give him a list of the 3 things we loved most about the other. I said 1) his beautiful brown eyes and spiky black hair 2) that he beats me in tennis sometimes and that I beat him in tennis sometimes 3) just the person he is- his caring nature. I’ll have to get Daniel’s later! We both cried as we exchanged vows just realizing how much we really love each other. We had so much fun dancing at our reception with great friends and family. We felt so loved and humbled. My aunt made the wedding cake and the groom’s cake (salmon roe w wasabi and ginger). They were delicious and looked amazing. At the end of the reception we had a limo to take us and our bridal party home. We wanted to stop at Mcdonalds but the line was too long. Daniel and I were exhausted by the time we got I our room at James at the Mill. We couldn’t believe we were finally married. All the weeks of preparation and stress of planning a wedding was over and we were finally beginning our journey together. The next day we played tennis with his cousins and ate dinner with his dad followed by ice cream at Braums. Those were the longest, but most rich 3 days ever. I still can’t believe we’re married sometimes. 9 months has gone by so fast!