{Our Story}

Monday, November 01, 2010

Tim and I met the summer of 2002 at Kanakuk Kamps. I had just graduated from Taylor University and was on Leadership while Tim was a first year counselor and senior at ORU. It had been since my junior year of high school since I had seriously dated someone, and I was content focusing on becoming the "bait" I needed to be in order to catch the "fish" I always wanted. That said, the last thing I expected was to meet and fall in love with a curly haired boy from Oklahoma.


I remember Tim walking around kamp in his Patagonia river shorts, Chacos, and Kavu hat thinking, "Holy cutieness, Batman. Who is this guy and why does he cause me to lose my balance every time I'm near him?" For an entire month I
quietly watched him interact with the kids and staff while growing more and more attracted to his character.


Before long we ran into each other on a night off in Branson. After discovering a mutual appreciation for a book I was reading Tim suggested that we get together sometime and discuss it. I agreed and in an excited moment of bravery decided to leave a note on his car before heading back to kamp. The note was simple, unsigned, and had a quote from the book we had previously discussed. What followed was completely unexpected: a series of unsigned letters that we passed back and forth for the next four weeks.


During this time we rarely interacted, but wrote each other faithfully. Eventually Tim mustered up the courage to leave me this note and skipping rock in my mailbox. From that point on our friendship grew as we spent our off periods together playing frisbee, checkers, fishing, and pretending to be cowboys and Indians along the banks of Table Rock Lake.


Our first official date happened just before the end of summer when we went to Berryville, Arkansas to do laundry and watch a movie. I remember learning more about his recent trip to Africa, passion for medicine, love for percussion, and finally discussing the book that had initially brought us together. After discovering we had several additional things in common our fondness for one another grew. Both of us would tell you that we didn't want the night to end!


The following week kamp was coming to a close and Tim asked if he could pursue me long distance since I had recently accepted a job in Dallas. I of course said "yes" and could no longer deny that I was completely smitten for this curly haired Oklahoma boy.



Over the next year and a half we continued to write each other letters (we have suitcases full!) and communicated mostly via phone calls and emails with monthly weekend visits. This was not ideal, but looking back the distance between us undeniably forced us to focus on our friendship rather than getting caught up in the romantic side of things. A year after we met we finally had our first kiss (don't be too impressed, it lasted 3 hours) and knew we would soon be heading towards getting engaged.


In October of 2004, Tim proposed at one of my favorite places: The Ranch. We had a six month engagement and started premarital counseling with our dear friends Brett & Sheri. It was here that we quickly realized we had lots of personal work to do before getting married. As mentioned in our post "{10 Things} That Have Made All The Difference In Our Marriage", we acknowledged that knowing yourself and dealing with your family of origin junk is one of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse. (But more on that in a bit).


On April 30th, 2005 (and with a $5,000 budget) Tim and I tied the knot at a park next to our favorite willow tree. Close friends and family were invited to the ceremony while additional guests were present for our outdoor reception. After throwing my bouquet Tim and I rode off into the sunset on a tandem bicycle. It was truly a magical day.


As I've mentioned before our first two years of marriage were surprisingly tough. We both struggled to feel loved and known by one another simply because we didn't know how to communicate our needs. After reaching a breaking point 4 months into our marriage we started attending Celebrate Recovery where we finally learned how to attack our problems together, instead of attacking each other about our problems. Eventually we began to see that the scary monsters we once thought were keeping us awake at night were really just piles of dirty clothes that needed to be sorted through.

In addition to dealing with our junk we stopped trying to change each other. This allowed us to love one another again with reckless abandon. Developing our Weekly Questions and writing each other letters also helped bring romance back into our marriage.

Since then we've learned that good marriages are a dime a dozen, but great marriages take lots of hard work. We work at ours everyday. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it's really hard. But regardless Tim and I are committed to figuring things out.

We hope our story offers you hope that grace makes new beginnings in marriage possible. The last 3 1/2 yrs of ours have been truly wonderful and worth every bit of effort we've put into it. If you'd like to hear more about the work God has done in our lives, you can listen to our Re:Engage talk here.

Much Love,
Em & Tim

64 comments:

Katie said...

I hope that I eventually have a marriage like yours!

Random Question: Did you like Taylor University? I'm applying basically everywhere, and your opinion means a lot :)

Amanda Moury said...

My husband and I dated for 5 1/2 years before we tied the knot this past July. I hope we continue to date for the next 50 :) What a great love story, one to go down in "The Great Love Story" books. I love that you two wrote letters, it's such a dying art form, and not to mention terribly romantic! :) Cheers to great marriages!

Ashley said...

What a sweet post!
Like Amanda, my husband and I also dated for 5 years before getting married (and we just had our 2 year anniversary!). Even though we've known and loved each other for so long our marriage, like all marriages, still takes work. So thank you for being such an inspiration to me and making me want to strive to make my marriage that much better. It's so easy to sit back and just let things be "okay" or even "good." You've inspired me to really challenge myself to be a better friend, partner and spouse - and to challenge my husband to be the same to me :)

Michelle (michabella) said...

Thank you for sharing this! LOVE your story! So amazing! So happy you two worked through things, instead of giving up like most marriages do these days! You two rock <333

Dawn said...

This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you sharing. The unsigned letters back and forth - how cool!

As a struggling newlywed, I remember a friend once told me...the first 2 years are hard...expect them to be but work towards making them easier. That was 6+ years, 2 kids, 2 houses and 2 cars ago. Life still isn't perfect but it's pretty darn good. All great things take work.

Again, thank you so much for sharing. This might be my favorite post of yours.

Laura Merrill said...

Beautiful.

girlseeksplace said...

Thank you for sharing this. Your love for each other never ceases to amaze me. I'm a little bit addicted to your blog, actually. I dream of finding a husband like your Tim.

Jess said...

Your story sounds so much like my boyfriend and I's story! We met this past summer while working at a Christian conference center. We live 1,187 miles from each other. We skype weekly, text all the time, talk on the phone almost daily.. and my favorite: write each other letters :) We pray over the phone before hanging up. I've started a box of letters and anything related to him :) your story gives me hope!

Kaity said...

Snaps and piggybacks for being AWE-to the-SOME.

Sara said...

Thank you so much for sharing this... and your daily letters. You guys are such an inspiration.I hope one day to have a marriage as successful as yours!

ashratz13 said...

Thank you for sharing your love story with us. I too have completed a 12-step through Celebrate Recovery and God has worked wonders in my heart and made the first 2 years of marriage wonderful.

Cat said...

How wonderfully sweet! I love hearing stories of how people met. (I think that makes me nosy!) I have to say, this reminded me so much of our story because it's the same year and Tim is wearing things EXACTLY like my husband did that year. And, the sparkle in tim's eyes in the picture where y'all are sitting on a porch together, reminds me SO much of pictures of us when we first met. He had that same "I'm so in love" sparkle in his eyes. :) Oh, and the pic of you on his back! We have a pic of us doing that same exact thing a few months after meeting (on Thanksgiving). So, now it's a tradition and we take that picture every year. We get older, I may get fatter, but we still do it. ha! :) Your story is inspiring. thanks for sharing with a whole bunch of strangers and stalkers. :)

Teresa said...

Thanks for sharing the roots. This whole world is work and nothing is more satisfying than working together on your marriage - man it makes life fun.

Shandell said...

thank you for sharing your lovely story. your authenticity is rare + refreshing.

Jennifer said...

totally seeing a book of your story & the letters now & then. beautiful, inspiring, & authentic.

nicole said...

thank you for inspiring us all. i see the light in you both shining brightly.

CelestéMarie said...

I graduated from ORU as well (Class of '06 woot), so if he was a senior in '02, I guess we were there at the same time, weird...seeing as I have made "Today's Letters" part of my bookmark bar on the top of my safari browser...it makes the people I'm reading about all the more real and less other-ish like I'd make you in my imagination :)

I am so glad I am finally able to read the "full story" of the lovely couple I've read so much about.

bonjourvictoria said...

JOY JOY JOY!!!

Darla said...

I love that it all started with a letter .. or note as it were! I love Kanakuk! Just took my daughter there for the first time last summer.

Sweet, sweet story. We've been married for 20 years and I couldn't have said it any better ... "good marriages are a dime a dozen but great marriages take a lot of work".

DeeDee said...

I have been reading your blog for a bit, but haven't had the nerve to comment before now. Something about your love story made me comment. You two have inspired me to think much about the communication required in married life. I just got engaged in August.

May you have many more years together.

BP said...

Ha, I finally have the courage to post a comment and I see that what I'm saying is about a dime a dozen for people who follow your blog. I literally stubbled upon your blog by chance during a time when my boyfriend and I were going through a very rough long distance patch in our relationship. We're not even married, but were having problems feeling loved by the other and basically just sucked at communication and we were lost until I read about your Tuesday questions and what we now call our "love journal."
We met at a Christian camp and conference center in California, began dating and then I moved back to Chicago to finish college and it was not ideal for such a young relationship, despite our feelings for each other. When I found your blog I felt like I received a gift, so thank you for sharing... I hope that both you and your husband know that you have blessed the lives of others by sharing your stories and struggles, it's not always easy to admit you're not perfect, but it is helping younger couples grow. So thank you from a stranger.

Brooke said...

Yippee! Thanks for hanging in there with one another and making your lives better and your marriage a healthy and holy place. Here's to another 33 and a half baby! Wahoo! PS - you totally made this post LOOK like Texas. Nice touch on including a pic of the Ranch! xo

cait said...

Such a beautiful, honest story. What a testimony to how God can work through the difficulties in our lives!

Hubby and I just started your Tuesday Questions...which we do on Thursdays. We're already seeing such a huge difference in our approach toward each other during the week. Thanks for being a blessing to our own marriage!

Michele said...

lovely lovely! not being dramatic when i say that was one of my most favorite things read on the internet this year! or maybe ever! it has warmed my heart & i'm smiling for you!

congrats & keep it up & thanks for sharing!

Kelsey! said...

This does give me so much hope! Im only 16 and have never had a boyfriend or any type of real boy relationship but this makes me so happy to know whats in store for the future and remind me of what I'm waiting for. Thanks for being my favorite example of a cute christian and cool couple! Also- I am one month into Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest" and I absolutley love it. It's changed a whole lot about my faith already! Thanks for being an awesome encouragement and brightening my day with this little blog of yours! I can't wait to one day be suprised by my own little Mr.

Melissa said...

How awesome! The hubby and I just celebrated our 15th anniversary. Love to see other couples keeping it real and working it out together.

xo

CAgridlock said...

This post capped a FAN-TAB-U-LOUS weekend off beautifully. So I'm going to go roll around in all the awesome and win and love emanating from this blog. Forewarning: there will be shimmies.
-Katie

Sasha said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story! Transparency at its best!

Katie B said...

I love this story! And I love Kanakuk...I only worked there one summer (K-Extreme '99 baby), but it was one of the best summers of my life...wish I could have done more, but had other obligations!
Your thoughts on marriage are so right on. My husband and I also struggled through our first year of marriage and finally went to "newlywed counseling" which was much better than premarital counseling if you ask me. I often wondered if other christian couples were struggling with the same things we did...I figured we couldn't be alone...unmet expectations (or unrealistic) was our hardest thing to work through....thank you for sharing...God bless you and Tim! Do you still work for K-life???

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful story of how you met and developed your relationship. You both are very inspiring.

Han said...

Hey Em and Mr L :)

It's so awesome to hear how you guys got together. My friend tells me the story of her and her hubby got together and its super sweet like this.

There is a girl and a lad in our youth group at church and they celebrated their 6 month anniversary this week. Chris says he thinks they are forever now it's really cute!

Tim your curly hair is awesome - love it!

Thanks for sharing lovelies!

Anonymous said...

You are very fortunate to have learned these lessons so young in your marriage!!! I have been married 17 years and love my husband with all my "guts". It has taken us a lot longer but have learned you just have to be patient and laugh a lot. With two children, life just gets better... You are wise wise owls!!! Your blog makes me smile and reminds me to appreciate the small stuff!!! I have got to start a blog!!!Susan

Paradise Regained said...

Hello Loerkes!

I don't normally comment on all the blogs I follow but this one hit home. Comrade Lover and I have been married nearly 3 years and our first and second years were filled with so much confusion. My husband longed for a transparent and intentional relationship, which isn't to say I didn't, but I didn't know how to go about it healthily. Somehow, by the grace of God and a very determined husband, I've learned to embrace transparency and ask questions. I've learned that I can take things personally but I sure as hell better make sure that's his intention (and it never is). I have loved this process. I love expanding my mind, learning more, and watching this relationship grow into something so very beautiful. It's so easy though to forget it takes maintenance.

Thanks Loerkes for your transparency - good stuff right there.

CAW said...

Holy skipping rock lilo and stitch dirty laundry tandem bicycle willow tree batman!! Your love story rocks!! I would love to send you a sursie- I love what I collect and would like to buy one to send to you- shoot me an email of where to send it?!
bertchicarley@gmail.com
I heart Em + Tim

Don Dinnerville said...

Thanks for sharing that story. I think that somewhere in the depths of my heart, it's possible that I sometimes lose hope of finding someone to love. I've probably become a little cynical as I've gotten older. Thanks for igniting that spark of hope again. I hope that when the right girl comes along, I can be as purposeful to pursue her as you two have been.

Monica said...

wow! Taylor University? Hello from Northeast Indiana! I'll say ditto to everything said above. You guys make me so excited to get married in a few months.

Carol Benoit said...

how motivating your story. I am going to the second year and I needed some inspiration to keep up with the effort. Thank you very much for sharing.
you guys rock! felicitation! vous êtes très beau tous les deux!

amy said...

hold on to everything you've learned, it will come in handy (be a necessity) when/if you have kids. as probably the only 40-year-old geyser reading your blog I can say without a doubt that the weekly 20 min. meeting I have with my husband is by far one of the most important parts of my week. it reminds me that I am not me, we are we. here were my recent tips for making marriage work for a dear old friend: http://knitsimplyknit.blogspot.com/2010/09/answer-for-claire.html

Stacy said...

Love it!! So glad to finally know your story. It truly is a beautiful one. Thanks for sharing. Hope one day (soon) I'll meet the Mr. that causes me to lose my balance too!

Nicole Davis said...

This is so cute, I love it!! Thanks for sharing and inspiring :)

theheatherchronicles said...

Until reading this, I've always forwarded your site around telling all my friends, THIS is the perfect couple. THIS is what great love stories are made of. Reading that you weren't always perfect made me smile and cry and so thanks. I think you guys are fantastic.

Chelsea said...

The above post is incredibly inspiring..
BUT i just wanted to say that reading your story was encouraging and uplifting!! I am only a freshman in college and have been in a relationship for over a year and half.. of course we've had our ups and downs, and we've been going "distance" for about 4 months. Yes we are still MAJORLY young, haha, but some of the things in your story that you pointed out about the two of you and how you worked through things is very applicable to my life.. so thank you for posting and I wish you the best of luck.

p.s. I'm your newest follower :)

Anonymous said...

I knew Tim as a child and see that he has grown into a wonderful man and husband and he is so lucky to have met a girl like you. I loved reading your story. Another Emily

Rebekka Seale said...

I LOVED reading this. This was adorable. I'd love to write out our little romance-story as well. Hmm.


Love your blog!

Kirsten said...

Thank you for this post and for your commitment to each other and to making your marriage work. Your blog has helped me to verbalize what I adore so much about my hubby.

Kev and Erica said...

I love your story! I actually stumbled on your blog and kept thinking, "Why do they look so familiar?" As I read your story, I realized it was because I was at kanakuk with you in 2002. My name then was Erica Janovec (I'm now married). It sounds like you guys have an amazing love story!

caroline. said...

this is such a beautiful story! thank you for sharing. Its good to know that things aren't always perfect... i think a lot of times it seems like if you're both Godly people, your marriage/relationship/whatever should be without flaw. (or at least I get this feeling in my own relationship) but that's not true. Our purpose for being in a relationship is for one another to grow in Christ and sometimes growth is painful!

Serene said...

Again, inspriring.

Beth said...

OH my goodness. This story is beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

kelsey said...

Your story is so amazing. My husband and I have been reading together and we are looking into Celebrate Recovery. We have been married for 4 years, and we've spent the last two trying to make up for the mistakes we made during the first two. Thanks for your encouragement!

Laura said...

This story gives me hope for the human race. Thank you SO much for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I found your blog on Pinterest! I just wanted to leave a comment and tell you that I grew up near Berryville and Branson, so it's pretty neat that you two met there!

Today's Letters said...

anony, berryville was where we had our first date! nothing like doing your laundry at a laundry mat while watching lilo and stitch. ha!

Jessica said...

Small world, I am from Indiana and have been to Ivanhoes and Taylor and now live in Texas. Love your blog and your inspiration! I am recently engaged and looking forward to implementing some of your ideas! Blessings@

Today's Letters said...

jess, tell me you ordered a #58 sundae! i still crave them all the time. btw, congrats on your engagement! hope you stick around our blog awhile ...

perfectionisnthappy.com said...

I just found your blog through Pinterest, and I love it already! I'm from Indiana and considered Taylor when I was looking at schools :). My fiance and I dated long distance for a year and a half, as well. It was tough, but I'm glad that we were able to get to know each other over the phone. I think it made us stronger. I'm getting married in July, and I look forward to keeping up with your blog!

Dache said...

I discovered this blog on pintrest and I love it. I love the story about green metal box. I have two weddings to go to in the next few months and that would be my gift on both :D
Just now I was looking at your wedding pics, I love them. I just got engaged and the party (yap, not wedding reception) is going to be outdoors, in a park. and the bikes are soooo IN :D.
Looking forward to reading more on your blog.

gypsyelle said...

I found your blog through Pinterest, but as I kept seeing your photos, I thought, man, that guy looks really familiar. Then I read this post and realized he, my husband, and I all went to ORU at the same time. How funny and random! Seems like no matter how many years go by, ORU people always look familiar. Bless you guys!

Robyn said...

i read you blog and love letters all the time-but this is the first time I have read your story. it is beautiful and honest. i love the way that your love letters are real and help your relationship stay a healthy and loving one. You both sound/are very special people

Kayla said...

Loved reading your story. My husband and I dated for 6 years before we got married. We've been married for a little over a year and are about to celebrate 8 years being together. We've had rough years in the past that made us stop and do a lot of the things you & your husband do. We have a great, "easy" marriage so far. It's a joy to wake up next to him every day :). We are going to take a few things away from the site that we have never thought to do; such as weekly questions & the metal box. We try to ask random questions a lot or just have the other one tell something that the other doesn't know about him/her. It's work being married, but it's fun!

Chelsea Slevin said...

Em, J and I happened upon your alls ReEngage talk and we are so thankful bc of how much encouragement we received from it! We can learn so much from you all! So glad you all are here in Lou and my dude cant wait to meet your dude.

Kristen Hale said...

What an amazing story. My favorite line? "Good marriages are a dime a dozen, but great marriages take lots of hard work." 5.5 years of marriage have proven that SO true to me. Thanks for sharing your history!

Allie O'Neal said...

I saw your post "{10 things} That Have Made All the Difference" on Pinterest and followed it to your site. I then stumbled across this story and started reading it. I was quickly roped in whenever you mentioned Kanakuk Kamps. I just finished my first year at College of the Ozarks, right outside of Branson, and will be working at kamp this summer for the first time. I just started dating a pretty neat fella and we will be writing to each other while at kamp. I was already excited about sending letters back and forth and after reading this, that only increased! We're very excited to see what God has planned for us. I loved reading your alls story and realizing what a small world we live in! I'm so glad that you and your husband have found ways to make your marriage great, I hope to do the same thing someday! Thank you so much for sharing!


Hanna said...

Hi Em!

Your story has been such a beautiful source of encouragement for me! Truly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing! I am 5 months into marriage after dating for almost 6 years, and it has been an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. Not what I was expecting: marriage challenges me in ways I've never been challenged before, it also is beautiful in ways I've never known. Thank you for your vulnerability and thank you for sharing your story - it provides hope to those who need it (me!).
The Lord uses your bravery and faithfulness to fill the spaces of the earth - thank you for such a beautiful example of commitment in marriage. And P.S. Brave is just the cutest!!!!

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