'Muff'in Dome

Our Love Story

wedding invitation

Stephen shared a bit of our love story here when he gave me more sweet praise than I rightly deserve.

But I wanted to share a bit more on this 4th anniversary of our first date.

This story is our story and even if no one else reads it, I want to be sure I don’t forget any details. I want my children to know the story of their parents’. For isn’t every life just a series of stories woven together? But the moment one dares to fall for another, their lives become inextricably woven together until death do us part. The story of our lives became intermingled for life on our wedding day, but the weaving together began much sooner.fiddling-aroundWe began with a little prelude. And a wonderful prelude it is. <3

 


 

Before I share our first encounter, I must back up a bit and give a little background because the past does inform our future. As much as we want to hide from the past sometimes, when we are able to confront and learn from it, we are best able to move forward in the life God has planned for us.

My first image of Steve was from a Facebook photo. The mysterious man in the yellow shirt. A photo taken from a hitchhiking trip through Mexico, I could see he was an adventurous spirit. At the time, my friend and roommate was the one who had an interest in him.

man-in-yellow-shirt

I was in the midst of healing from a very damaging relationship. I had been engaged to a man who greatly lacked integrity and honesty. We never should have been in a romantic relationship, but discernment of this was greatly hindered by his lack of openness. The truth was revealed by him after much too long, and the damage was done. My soul had been battered by love lost, but also a sense of lost time and terror of what could have been had I not called things off. It was a lot to work through. My ability to trust had completely been torn asunder.

I gave myself some time alone, refusing proffered dates from good men. Even after I hesitatingly ventured back into the dating scene, I kept feeling I was not ready. The Lord was still doing work in my heart. It was not ready to love and trust again. Just yet.

 


 

November 2011. My aforementioned roomie was planning on attending a Thanksgiving Pilgrim-and-Indian party at the “mysterious man in the yellow shirt’s” house. He had invited all the young adults from our local Theology on Tap group. At that time, I was tentatively dating a young man {who remains a good friend to both of us!} and we decided to attend.

As we walked in the door at Stephen’s home, his warm welcome made a great impression on me. I found out that evening that his grandfather, whom he was very close to, had just passed away a few days prior and he had just found out that he did not pass the California Bar Exam on his initial attempt. You would never have known. He exuded joy. His positivity was infectious, although he must have been suffering interiorly.

It was an interesting evening, to say the least — my ex was there and we had a lengthy, jovial conversation about his family like nothing was wrong, which was very odd in retrospect — it became clear to me that the guy I was “dating” was not right for me — and my roommate and Stephen confirmed for each other that night that friendship only was for them.

The world kind of shifted that night. I didn’t realize it at the time, but saying ‘yes’ to that party on that dark and stormy night was one of the best decisions of my life. {Doesn’t a shift in the plot always occur during a raging storm?}

 


 

Over the next few months, Stephen and I ran into each other at various young adult/Catholic functions. We chatted a bit online. He was studying for the bar exam again and was coming down to Sacramento regularly for classes some weekends. In an effort to be hospitable to a kind soul, I invited him over for dinner with my housemates those days since he made a long trek to get there. At the time, I truly only had friendship in mind with him {or anyone else} and I wanted to get to know him better.

Steve & Laurel June 7

Turns out, God had other plans for us.

{He actually was interested in me, but I wasn’t fully aware. He was cautious about asking me on a date or anything because of the prior interactions with my roommate.}

Laurel-Stephen-at-the-beach

In March, my roommates and I held a long-overdue housewarming/St. Patrick’s party. Steve was our knight-in-shining armor, starting the bonfire in the tiny porch on our condo without burning the place down. When he came into the living room, he noticed a framed picture on a bookcase of St. Josemaria Escriva. He questioned whose it was. I remarked that it was mine, a picture of “an old friend.” He, too, called him “an old friend” as he had had an affinity for him since before he was Catholic. One thing Stephen didn’t know was that since being introduced to this saint in high school, I had prayed to him for help in discerning my future spouse. And, then, our “old friend” seemed to introduce us to each other.

That evening was the first time we really sat down and got to know each other. We spent a good portion of the party chatting and learning about one another. I definitely grew in my affection for him that night, but was unwilling to admit it, even to myself.4th of July 2011 Donner LakeOne weekend in April of 2012, we were praying with others at the sidewalk at the local abortion clinic where many young adults gathered on Saturdays to pray. Often, afterwards, we would all go out to a Catholic, family-owned restaurant and creamery as they were supporting our efforts at the sidewalk, so we tried to support them in turn. We did so that particular Saturday. Stephen and I ended up sitting next to each other and both ordered the same open-faced tuna melt. {Obviously destined for one another! ;)} After our meals and ice cream, we all parted ways. It was my father’s birthday, so I was headed to his house to celebrate. Stephen was headed home, an hour away. I stopped into a grocery on the way to my parents’ to pick up a few things, when I got a phone call that the party was cancelled due to illness in the house. Since I now had a completely open Saturday afternoon, I ran through in my mind possibilities of what to do. I had been wanting to visit our local art museum as it had recently undergone some serious renovations. I thought Stephen and I had had a conversation about it recently, and that he had told me he wanted to visit too. So I called him up, didn’t reach him, and left a message telling him that if he was nearby still we should go. He discovered the voicemail within minutes, pulled to the side of the road to listen to it and promptly called me back.

He’d been wanting to ask me on a date and here was his chance. Never mind that we had never talked about the museum! He diplomatically called me back and said he would love to go and was available! He never mentioned anything about the fact we had never spoken about it until later. A dream prompted by a guardian angel? Maybe. 😉

He offered to pay when we arrived; I allowed him to engage in the chivalrous act. We had a marvelous time walking the halls, making fun of the strange exhibit that glorified the death of Mickey Mouse (??). {Don’t worry, there were better things we saw too.} On the way home, we stopped by the Starbucks where my other roommate was working to quench our thirst and continued chatting for a bit.

4th of July 2011 Donner Lake 2

When she got home that night, I was questioned at length about what Stephen and I were doing together, but I was insistent that nothing was going on. He was just a great guy and we were hanging out.  That’s it.

Fast forward a few weeks. Stephen was over at our place again after a Bar study weekend. We had finished dinner and this same roommate I just mentioned was asking him about a “date” he had with another friend of hers to his brother’s wedding. He had invited this girl because she was a friend and he thought it would be great to bring along a “date”, but just wanted a friend. She kind of thought it was something more {even though he was clear from the get-go}. He was telling us that it was unfortunate that she was pushing things when he had been very clear with her where he stood. My brother’s wedding was the weekend following his brother’s, so I remarked that it was great idea to bring a friend along as a “date” to your brother’s wedding, but it was too bad this other girl was rather dense. My roommate piped up, “Well, I’m sure Steve would love to go with you!” Secretly, I’d been wanting to ask him and he’d been wanting me to, so although that was awkward, it worked out in the end.

king-of-the-mountain

Later on that week or so, he asked me on our first “real” date. We were to go to the Jazz Festival in Sacramento the day after his brother’s wedding. I love music and I love the Jazz Festival, so he won major brownie points with that pick. Within minutes of arriving at the scene, we entered our first venue where we kept waiting and waiting for the performers to arrive. It was a group of Mexican mariachi musicians, who, as it turns out, had fallen asleep in their van between performances. Someone, eventually, woke them to let them know they were on. I discovered that it was the same band that had played my post-race performance at a half-marathon I had run a few weeks prior. This was turning out to be quite interesting. Just after the band finished their set, an older couple approached us. They were cousins of Steve’s mom. They remarked, “How nice to meet you at the wedding yesterday!” I think Steve wanted to hide under a chair, but I easily laughed it off as I knew about this previous “date”. It just provided further comic relief to the already odd start to the day.

We spent the day listening to fantastic music and wandering around Old Town. At one point, we stopped on the river boat for drinks. I remember standing on the helm, sipping in the twilight, and thinking, I’m going to fall in love with this guy. want to fall in love with this guy. 

mountain-top-laurel-stephen

For a long time, I had been holding myself back in a big way. It was one of the reasons why every time I agreed to go on a date, sort of take a chance, I couldn’t last past a few dates. I didn’t want anyone else in my life.

But now. Now I did.

I didn’t tell him that night. I was still afraid.

old-town-sac

We finished off the night at a fun Italian restaurant in midtown where we sat at the largest table in the place because it was the only one available. Never mind that it held a dozen people. We found we had a similar, adventurous taste in pizza and shared two of the most exotic on the menu.

The following weekend, we had a great time at my brother’s wedding. We even had the pleasure of driving the bride and groom to the reception when they found a flat tire on their car after leaving the church. {That’s where my brother and sister-in-law met her soon-to-be brother-in-law, from the back of his car, on the way to their reception.}

Berkeley October 2011

Within a week, he asked me on another date. It was a surprise. We drove up to a little hidden gem called Biba’s in downtown Sacramento. It’s an Italian place whose chef is world-renowned. I knew of this place and had dreamed of going there, although I don’t think I ever voiced this to anyone. He was winning his way to my heart step by step {and swiftly}. Sometimes it seemed like he knew me better than I knew myself already.

We closed the place down that night, and before he said good night, as he walked me to my door, he told me in no uncertain terms that he was serious about this, he wanted to date me. His frankness was stunning, yet so comforting.

Truckee July 2011

I told him I needed a little time to think. God seemed to lead us to this place, yet I was still afraid to take the step. I didn’t want to get hurt.

But I wanted to say ‘yes’.

When I finally did a few weeks later, I was almost certain it was for life.

He knew too.

We dated for two months and were engaged by August. But that is a story for another time. 🙂

lets-merry

19 Thoughts on “Our Love Story

  1. Lindy on May 29, 2015 at 12:56 pm said:

    awww I remember this like it was yesterday! I met you at Nancy’s for the first time and promptly told Eric the two of you were going to get married (side note – when Steve call to tell us you were pregnant both times I told Eric that was what he was calling about before we even answered!!)

    • Nancy on May 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm said:

      Haha! I think we were all on the same wavelength 🙂

      When Steve called me to say you two were engaged (I was in Hawaii), I told my travelling companions, “It’s my brother – I have to take this – I think he’s getting married!”

      They didn’t believe me because they knew you hadn’t been dating very long, but Elliot and I had already identified that there was something special between you… and it was just a matter of (God’s) time!

    • You have a sixth sense about these things! 😉

  2. So great to hear the backstory – your wedding was so beautiful, and I knew he must be someone special!

  3. So sweet! And it sounds perfectly orchestrated by God! Can’t wait to hear your engagement story!

  4. There’s nothing like a sweet love story written by the hand of God. Love it! I can’t wait to read the rest of the story! 🙂 (oh and the visual image of the sleeping mariachis had me laughing out loud!)

  5. Okay I just LOVE these kinds of stories…celebrating every little moment! Look forward to the engagement story:) Happy weekending!!

    • Thanks, Patty! Me too! It is so fun to see God working through all those little moments of our lives that we can’t really see how significant they are until we look at the big picture later on.

  6. Thanks for sharing your sweet love story. So special and beautiful.

  7. Beautiful story. 🙂 Also, we share something in common – May 29th was our 4 year anniversary of officially “going out.” Now we’ve been married 3 years in August and have 2 babies as well! Yay for Catholic relationships, Marriage, and having babies for His Glory! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Defending Marriage, Defending Family {The Quoteable St. Josemaria Escriva} | 'Muff'in Dome

  9. Love your love story Laurel! Especially the part of how you both had an affinity for the same saint. That’s definitely God’s handiwork there… :). Thank you for sharing!

    • It is amazing how the saints can have such a profound impact on our lives through God’s grace. The intercession of the Church Triumphant is alive and well! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by, Sara!

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