Category: love

My friend Melissa writes the best love stories. Her tales are enchanting not just because they’re real and true, but because her wonder of Love seeps through every word. For her birthday recently, she asked all the humans of the Internet to send her their love stories. Seriously- she really did that.

My sentimental, nostalgic heart jumped at the chance to write a love story of my own so I took her up on her offer. Husband and I went out that night, and over drinks we sat in a booth for hours recalling and retelling our own version of what happened between us 15 years ago. It was quite possibly the best date we’ve had in years.

I rushed home, typed it out, and sent it off to Melissa. She wrote me back at 5:30 am to say that she was crying on an airplane somewhere, because this story was beautiful and she thought that I should share it. I decided to leave it here for you guys because I think she’s right.

I think all love stories are important and worth sharing.

Here is what I wrote her:

“Dear Melissa,

I suppose if I’m going to tell you my love story, I should start by telling you that I too, have always been a lover of Love. I was a hopeless romantic with big ideas about what my story would look like, but one thing was for sure: I always took Love very seriously. In high school when my friends were trying on different loves like they were outfits, I was always too cautious to let myself go all in. Read More…

“I’m sorry I’m ruining our sunset cruise” I said as I leaned my greenish face against the ropes of the banister.

“It’s okay, honey” he said, patting my back until he remembered that the last thing I want is to be touched when I’m feeling like I’m about to die of nausea.

It was our 15th anniversary so we decided to splurge on a romantic sunset dinner cruise.
I’d managed to sit up and applaud for the couple who’d just gotten engaged on the bow of the boat (or maybe it was the stern?) but then I crawled right back into the coffin sized bathroom below deck to wretch and sway while everyone else slow danced on the deck as the sun went down.

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He waited outside the door, gently asking if I needed anything at 5 minute intervals.
It was maybe the most romantic thing he’d ever done.

One of the newlywed couples with us on the boat mentioned that we struck them as “a couple who seemed to get along really well”.

img_6256We looked at each other and smiled because it’s true, we do, but it feels hard-earned in a way worthy of acknowledging.

Last year I wrote about how sometimes love is like a battlefield, but that’s okay as long as you’re fighting your way TOWARDS each other.

This year our love feels more like a garden, with beauty springing up out of tender places.
And so it goes.

This is real life.

Some years you get sick and ruin your romantic celebration.

Some years you struggle and you wound, but you refuse to quit fighting for the best version of “us”.

Some years you laugh more and kiss more and you make new inside jokes.

Some years you celebrate your anniversary with little fanfare- at home, over takeout on the back porch. But some years feel special so you run away together to celebrate all the good, the hard, the new, and the old.

Because marriage is all of it together. Forever. Amen.

Today I’m over at The Mudroom, sharing a personal glimpse into the real truth of (our) marriage. I’m only posting part of it here, but I hope you click the link and read the rest of it over at Mudroom, because I think the ending is important. I really bared my heart in this one and I hope that you find it useful.

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This morning I sat down with my coffee and some old photos with no other intention than to reminisce. Today marks 14 years of marriage for my husband and I, and to celebrate, I decided to take a little trip down memory lane. Because if there’s one game in life that I enjoy more than “Name that movie”, it’s “Remember When”.

Everyone close to me has grown accustomed to my random blurting of (completely out of context) sentences that begin with “Remember When…”

“Remember when we all snuck out of bible college to pull an all-nighter at Taryn’s house and Danny and John climbed through the window to scare us at midnight? Remember how we all panicked and thought we were going to die, but Amber B. was the only one smart enough to run out the front door?”

“Remember when you had giardia, and you were high on pain medicine and came into the library where I worked at 11pm in your sweatpants loudly demanding some kind of meat, preferably jerky?”

“Remember when we were dating long distance, and you’d call me every night at the same time, and you’d always be wearing that same noisy jacket that crinkled in the background? I still have that jacket.”

I could go on, but you get the picture. I like to relive the past. There is a whole compartment of my heart dedicated solely to nostalgia. Usually the memories I find myself returning to again and again are the happy moments, the funny moments, or the unbearably tender moments. But today was a little different. I found myself looking through old photos, scanning to find an echo of some of our more difficult moments.

Because, can I be honest? This last year was harder on us than we expected, and today I found myself simply needing to remember another time like this. A time when we overcame. A time when we burrowed down into the foxhole together until the storm passed. A time when we learned to tear down certain walls in order to strengthen our foundation.

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While we’ve always been a couple that generally gets along, we’ve certainly had our share of trying seasons before. (Side eye to you, colicky babies.) But if pressed for a reason, I’m not sure I could even tell you why this year was harder on us than most others.

Maybe it’s the fact that after 14 years, we’ve been married just long enough to actually have baggage. Old wounds that have been healed and forgotten can be pricked right back open again in an instant.

Maybe it’s all the new dreams sprouting in our hearts, and the fact that those dreams require a bravery and vulnerability that have left us both feeling fragile and exposed in our own ways.

Maybe it’s all the outside pressures of work, money, schedules, and ministry that press in and down on us at times, threatening to burst our happy, intimate little bubble.

Or maybe?

Maybe it’s just growing pains.

After all, growth means change, and change can be rather uncomfortable at times.

READ MORE HERE:

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Hi! How are you, even?

What’s new?

Summer is turning to Fall, school has started, and all kinds of things have been happening. There’s so much to discuss!

Come sit down. Let me pour you a cup of coffee (or wine, depending on what time of day you’re reading this) and let’s catch up, shall we?

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As you guys know, this summer there was a slightly different rhythm here on the blog than we were used to. I ran a series of guest posts from some other writers and you heard from me a little bit less than usual. I loved introducing you guys to new and different voices, and I was honored to share you, my dear, sweet, amazing readers, with my other writer friends as well.

I know, it all sounds rather polygamous, but I promise, it’s not like that. While the change of pace was fun, it mostly just confirmed how much I missed you all.

You guys are it for me, man.

I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for the long haul.  Do you want me to write you another DTR (Determine The Relationship) letter to prove it? Do you want me to call the local radio station and request Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U?”

Because I will. I love you like that.

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Even though you’ve heard from me a (tiny) bit less lately, just know that I’ve still been writing. Some of that writing is still stashed away- in brave new files on my computer, waiting for the exact right time and place to be shared. Saving up words instead of blurting them all out is strange, new territory for me. But it feels somehow important that I do, and I’m trying to listen to that. Read More…

Today I’m inviting you up onto my blog porch, pouring you a cup of hot coffee, and sitting down beside you to hear from one of my favorite people. When I say “favorite” I mean it in the sense that I have always admired her coolness from afar, not in the sense that we hang out all the time in real life- although I’m fairly certain we would if we still lived in the same city. I have known Bruk for well over 10 years, and watched her grow from a confident, self-assured teenager into an effortlessly cool, relentlessly authentic, stunning-from-the-inside-out, grown up lady. It seems that Bruk has always known exactly who she is, and as a fellow woman, I find that to be both refreshing and inspiring.

She does interesting things like make jewelry, write songs, and take pretty photographs, and she does brave things like live in Africa for a year. The words she wrote here are just one small part of her big story.

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“When she reaches for him, you reach for Me.”

Those words changed my perspective the teeniest bit.

You know… when you know that God has the best plan for you, but you don’t entirely believe it until He gives you a fresh look? Maybe you don’t know. In my mind I’m the only person that doesn’t always trust God, but go with me here. I’m about to get real open about some stuff that I just don’t like getting real open about.

I’m 28 and single. When I say 28, I actually mean 27 and turning 28 next week, which is weirdly freaking me out. And when I say single, I mean it in every sense of the word.

Always. Forever. Single.

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It’s recently been pointed out to me that being single isn’t really the thing I struggle with, so much as the fact that I’ve never had a relationship. While I almost think that’s true, it’s also sort of not.

I’m good at being single. That’s the thing that scares me a little bit. I live mostly on my own. I’m great with power tools. I support myself, move as I wish, travel as I wish, shop as I wish. When I have a date I’m not thinking “Oh man, I hope he likes me!”, I’m thinking, “Oh crap, what if he likes me?” and the self-sabotage sort of starts there. Read More…

Monday morning I sat in a dimly lit gymnasium, smelling that familiar, musky odor distinct to all school gymnasiums, and I found myself unable to stop crying. Not because of the smell, which was particularly unpleasant, but because I was watching an elementary school Talent Show and it gave me a lot of feelings.

Like, a LOT of feelings.

More feelings than I was prepared for.

I knew I’d get emotional when I watched my daughter perform. I knew I’d feel that strange mix of pride and terror as I watched my tiny tender march out onto the stage and do something big and brave in a room full of strangers and peers. I knew that.

I was ready for that part.

I wasn’t ready for the tears that started rolling down my face 30 seconds into the first act, and didn’t stop until the curtain dropped. I don’t know why, but the minute that first little girl scooted her bench up to the piano and started playing, something inside of me came undone. Read More…

There aren’t many things I’d say I’m an expert at. In fact, if we’re counting, I have precisely two areas of expertise:

1) How To Order Taco Bell. (There is a right and wrong way. There are Taco Bell food groups. There is a system and it works. Ask me how I know.)

2) How To Have Zero Chill.

We’ve already discussed my first and real passion (tacos and burritos) so I think it’s time we dive into the other. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but I’ve been publicly wrecking myself for years so I have a lot of hard-earned knowledge to share with you.

This one’s for you, dear reader. All of you nervous-talking, big-feeling, over-thinking, off-beat, sensitive, hilarious souls. I got you, boo.


10 Ways To Have Zero Chill


  1. Have no mystery. This is the first and most important rule of having no chill. You may not be coy. You mustn’t allow your thoughts and feelings to remain safely beneath the surface of your calm demeanor. They should be written all over your face. And on the rare occasion that they’re not, you should just go ahead and blurt them out at the first hint of an awkward silence. This way everyone will basically know your whole deal at all times. And side bonus: you won’t have to suffer through uncomfortable lulls in conversation, which are obviously a trigger for you, so win/win! You might feel like you’re living life as an exposed nerve, but that’s actually perfect because it brings us to our next rule.
  2. Regularly suffer from cold sweats, a nervous stomach, trouble controlling the volume and pitch of your voice, and an involuntary crimson blush that starts at your neck and doesn’t stop until it reaches your hairline. Your body will betray you at every turn but that’s okay because YOU ARE A PERSON WITH ZERO CHILL, remember?
  3. Be insufferably hopeful/ constantly worried. This is a double-edged sword because you will genuinely want the best for yourself and others but because you care so much about everything and everyone you live in a constant state of anxiety about how everyone is doing. Including yourself. Have very high standards in choosing your close relationships because you need people who get you. Worry that most people don’t get you, and handle it by replaying every conversation from all angles, wondering what people are thinking, and spending a lot of time inside your own head. But remain ever hopeful, always assuming the best things in life are just around the corner and headed your way. This will be equal parts endearing and exhausting for your significant other, so remember to choose wisely there. You’ll need someone with a little extra chill to balance you out and bring you back down to earth occasionally.
  4. Nerd out whenever you encounter someone you admire. Say the first thing that pops in your head and just keep rolling with it until you run out of words. This may take a while because you’re a nervous talker, so you know, really ride that wave. Ignore that fact that your face is getting hot which means you’re blushing that telltale shade of magenta, and just keep talking. Say all the things! That way you can replay it in your mind afterwards and have lots of instant remorse.
  5. Oh wait, we didn’t mention that yet? Accept that Instant Remorse is your Siamese twin. Get used to her. You know your own mind but you also share a body, so let’s just say it’s complicated. Instant Remorse is always there, whether it’s when you order the wrong thing at Taco Bell (hypothetically speaking, because I would never actually do that), or when you buy the wrong color Mossimo top at Target. Sometimes you will be able to arrive at the right decision a half second before Instant Remorse, but other times she’ll beat you to the punch. The good news is that it’s a constant power struggle. Yay!
  6. Think everything is funny. This is actually the best kept secret about having zero chill. You get to have lots of fun. Sure, you feel all the feels and you worry a lot, but you also know how to cut loose. This is probably God’s way of making sure you survive. You will laugh when you’re happy, laugh when you’re nervous, and you’ll laugh at inappropriate times. You can laugh at yourself, at everyone else, and sometimes you even laugh while you cry. You are able to find the humor in any situation. Laughter is how you cope, how you show affection, and how you suck all the marrow out of life. This is part of your charm. It also comes in handy when finding your person. Odds are, they’ll be a person who laughs a lot too. You can bond over it and then one day decide that you want to laugh about the same things together until one of you dies. Then you can start focusing on number 7.
  7. Embarrass your children. Your kids will adoringly mimic every single one of your quirks, which will take you from pride to dismay and back again 100 times in a day. Don’t worry, this is normal. They will think you are pure magic and a hero until around the age of 9, when in the presence of their friends, they will suddenly think your very existence is an embarrassment. This means you’re right on track. It’s all part of the plan, (more or less). At the very least, it’s a chance for you to teach them not to take themselves too seriously.
  8. Lose your mind every time you see, touch, or smell a puppy. Go cross-eyed, make guttural noises, and get weird. This one is self-explanatory.
  9. Discuss everything with your people. You are the kind of person who needs to talk things through. It helps you to process and sort things out for yourself. But remember to really let it all hang out. Don’t hold back. Don’t be chill or casual about it. Have a general sense of urgency about figuring life out. You may even want to go a step further and discuss everything with the whole rest of the world. Start a blog so you have your own place on the worldwide web to share your inner monologue and really make sure you have no mystery. It is rule #1, after all.
  10. Lastly, (and this one is crucial): OWN IT.  Go ahead and be your full, unadulterated self. Don’t try to edit who God made you to be. You do you. It’s okay. It’s kind of cool, actually.

Last week I left Melissa a 5 minute audio text all about how I’d reached out to an author I admire and how she, in all her gracious awesomeness had actually responded to me. So then then I did the obvious next thing, which was to ruin everything by writing her back with A FREAKING NOVEL all about what I thought and how I felt about writing a book. (refer to rule #4).

“Blurg! Why do I always do this? Why do I always wreck myself?” I wailed into my phone.

She responded with all caps, saying, “STOP TRYING TO BE CHILL. You’re not chill. You will never be chill. You weren’t made to be chill. It’s cool. Be you. You’re amazing. It’s what makes you Amber… And I like that you don’t have chill and say what you feel. It’s real. The world needs more real humans.”

Guys, I think Melissa is right.

It’s better to be real than to be cool. So if you, like me, are a person with zero chill, just own it. That way you get to tell the joke, not be the joke. And that, my friends, is where the magic is.

My life is full of imaginary brick walls. Some thick and looming, some crumbled and deteriorating, and still others that are bright red and sturdy, shielding me from outside winds.

But the walls are everywhere. 

I told you recently about the wall I’d been building between my husband and I. I confessed how I had picked up each brick one by one, felt it’s weight, and then foolishly set it down between us. Never looking up, I worked tirelessly at my wall. It wasn’t until I stopped to see it for what it was- a lie, that I had the sense to stop. The wall was a lie because I always thought it kept me safe, but it turns out that it really only kept me separate. You see, some walls need to be brought down.

Other walls are brought down by accident, by sudden impact, or even by neglect.

There’s a wall that I haven’t told you about. I don’t think I’m ready to name it just yet. Maybe it’s not even mine to name, but it shares my landscape. This wall has begun to crumble. At first I was all action- running in every direction trying to catch the bricks as they fell away, trying desperately to stack them back into place. But now…

Now I’m just paralyzed in the moment.

I feel myself standing there at the bottom, frozen in a dust cloud of smoke and rubble, watching it fall. I want this wall to be strong again, but I am helpless because it is not mine to labor over. Some walls represent shared spaces, and at the end of the day that is all they are. Shared spaces. I can help clean up the wreckage but I cannot build the wall. It doesn’t belong to me.

Which got me thinking…

I’ve spent too much time toiling over the wrong walls. There are other, more important walls, after all. My marriage, for instance, is a load-bearing wall. It shelters me, protects me, and holds me up. It not only deserves, but requires my constant care. I must abandon my habit of building walls between us and instead build the wall of us.

Because if a wall is truly strong, it cannot be easily brought down. Read More…

“You have to be willing to be hurt by me.” His body language was casual as he said it. He leaned back against the kitchen counter, his hands folded in front of him. But his words were anything but casual. Almost like a plea, they hung in the air between us for a long moment as I froze, absorbing his meaning.

I sat across the room from him at the dining table. The distance between us was short but full of emotional wreckage- the kind that quietly builds up over years and then tumbles out everywhere, touching everything. The tears collecting in my eyelashes finally spilled over onto my cheeks.

My husband is a man of few words. He thinks before he speaks, whereas I tend to throw words around like confetti at a parade. I knew he’d considered his next words because he said them gently and with care.

“I will never intentionally hurt you. But I’m just a man. I’m going to get it wrong sometimes. You have to be willing to GO THERE with me. You can’t close yourself off and leave it all up to me to draw you out. I can’t do that all the time. I can’t be the only one. It’s too much pressure. I want more. I want your vulnerability” Read More…

Tonight is date night. I love date nights. It’s kind of a big deal to me. Maybe it’s the prospect of eating food I didn’t have to cook, or the opportunity to put on some lipstick, great shoes, and feel to pretty, or maybe it’s just the promise of an evening out with my person, but even after 13 years together and countless dates, it all still makes me a bit excitable.

I will be the first to admit though, that sometimes my expectations get a little lofty. Sometimes I hold Date Night with such a high regard that I darn near expect it to be some kind of magical, mystical experience. Why do I do that, I wonder? Expectations are tricky little buggars.

It is at best, unwise, and at worst, dangerous when I let my expectations dictate my actions- in marriage, in work, in friendships, in just about anything. An attitude of “I’ll do this for you, if (or because) you do that for me,” or “I’ll work hard at this, only because it might get me that”, or “I expect you to be A, B, and C to me, and if you aren’t, you are letting me down,” is very dangerous ground to tread, especially in marriage.

I’m guilty of this. Whether I realize it or not, I often let selfishness lay the groundwork for my expectations of others, which in turn lays the groundwork for disappointment, resentment, or hurt. Read More…