When I started college, I was in kind of a weird place in the area of relationships. I had spent two years of my high school career dating a guy that I just wouldn’t admit was completely wrong for me (to be fair, I was also completely wrong for him...it was a two way street, people). So I was kind of turned off to the whole relationship thing for awhile. During my freshman year of college, I entertained the idea of dating a couple of different people, but ultimately God kind of laid it on me that neither of those opportunities were in my best interest.

So, like any sensible person would do, I decided I just wasn’t going to even bother looking anymore. I had better things to do with my time, like fervently read my textbooks and have a nonexistent social life.

My sister, on the other hand, was in a pretty serious relationship at the time (this is not the man she went on to marry, PRAISE JESUS). It was a long distance relationship, with a lot of insecurities on his part. He didn’t like the idea of my sister spending time with, or even really being friends with, any other guys. And she was respectful of this.

However, she had this one guy friend, Patrick. I knew who he was, but had never spent any time with him. He was in a couple of my sister’s classes, so that’s how they got to know each other. He was a super nice guy from what I could tell.

At this point in time (and kind of previously mentioned) I was pretty well consumed with excelling in my studies, and I would often use the wee hours of the morning to extend those efforts. As a result, I cherished my daily naps (don’t worry, this is completely relevant).

It was during one such nap that our story begins.

There I was snoozing away on the top bunk of my sister’s and my bed when none other than my sister herself came waltzing into our dorm room. Next thing I know, I feel a poke on my arm as my sister beckoned, “Chelsea, wake up!”

She proceeded to explain to me that her friend, Patrick, wanted to go to Origin Coffee for an afternoon drink, but she didn’t want to go by herself for fear of upsetting her boyfriend, so she asked me if I would go with her.

My answer was a flat no.

After a few minutes of begging and bribing (I believe she agreed to pay for my drink), I very reluctantly rolled out of bed and followed her downstairs and out of our building to meet Patrick.

Keep in mind he and I had heretofore never met.

I hopped into the front seat of his white Mercedes and we chatted the entire ride over to the coffee house. To say that we made Heather feel like the third wheel is probably an understatement. We just really hit it off.

I can actually remember standing in line to order our drinks thinking to myself (and these are the exact words that went through my mind), “Dammit, I think I just met the man I’m going to marry.”

Like I’ve said before, I’ve always been a go-with-your-gut kind of gal.

Don’t misunderstand me, this wasn’t a love at first sight situation. I just knew it was going to be a big deal in my life. And though I didn’t “love” him that very instant, I was completely open to the realization that I would love him eventually, and that that moment was the start of a very important part of my future.

In high school, as the result of my deep involvement with youth group and some of the relationship advice that had been pushed there, I had set rules for myself in relationships. I was not going to kiss a boy until I was married. I was not going to say that I loved a boy until we were engaged. I was definitely not going to go out on a date with a guy until we were actually dating.

Patrick shattered all those rules. And it was the most amazing and blissful thing ever. About three weeks after meeting, we went on a date to Macaroni Grill, where we spent the evening feasting on delicious italian food and drawing on the tablecloth with crayons. Two weeks later, he asked me to be his girlfriend. Another two weeks would pass before he visited me over summer and we shared our first kiss (and no, not the kind of kiss you would give your grandma). Two more weeks later we said those three little words. And WE MEANT IT, probably more than we’d meant anything in our entire lives.

Sure, it would be another three years before we would get married, but those three years were nothing short of blissful. I learned what it meant to love, in ways that I could have never imagined. I learned so much about who Patrick was (and still is), but I also learned a lot about who I was, and who I was meant to be. And in a lot of ways, he actually brought me even closer to my sister (who obviously played a huge role in this whole thing!), something that I so desperately longed for.

And he freaking proposed to me at YOSEMITE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!!!!! Dream come true. (Though I was admittedly a little miffed when he didn’t do it on Mt. Shasta two weeks earlier as we made a grueling day hike past the tree line….I mean, it just seemed like a lost opportunity. Interestingly enough, at that time I specifically told myself the only way he could make it up to me was by proposing at Yosemite, so I guess some things are just meant to be <3).

And he is the dad that every little girl should have. He is patient (though he would disagree), he is kind, he is playful, he is caring and dotes on our daughter’s needs with such sincerity of heart. I know he probably never dreamed he’d be a dad at 24 years of age, but for someone who thinks he fails on a daily basis, he is sorely mistaken.

When I see him with our daughter, I am inspired to be a better mother, to give more of myself to make sure that both she and he feel the fullness of life that I so fervently want for them.

And I love how every day with Patrick, as my husband and as Olivia’s father, is a day in which my understanding of love deepens. It shifts and changes, much like the ins and outs, ups and downs of life. And it is beautiful beyond comparison. And it is all mine. He is all mine.