year one

We were married in May. A planned elopement. The only decoration for our wedding was the Just Married sign strung along the back of your car. I made it out of construction paper from JoAnn's the night before.

We wanted our wedding to be extremely intimate, and in the last year it blew up the Internet. When Googled, your name is now more closely associated to our wedding than your snowboarding career (sorry about that).

We made love for the first time. We were husband and wife for the first time. We traveled to San Francisco together so our families could congratulate us in person, then we went to the Caribbean for our honeymoon where you very quickly learned I was a terrible swimmer (thank you for still making me feel like I was a mermaid). We continued to learn things about each other all year, good things and bad.

I hope it's always like that.

In June, you started working full time at Anchored Ship. The coffee shop where I wrote my book the previous year... our coffee shop. You fell in love with coffee seemingly overnight. You used to carry that Coffee Manual everywhere with you, until the pages were so worn you had to print out another copy. I tried to read through it multiple times, but never could finish. Your love of coffee inspires me, and motivates me. I love how purely and passionately you fall in love with life. You put all of yourself in everything you do.

You told me I was selfish. I had never known. I think I wrote a blog post about it. My sins, previously neatly hidden even from myself, were rapidly exposed, one right after the other. It wasn't easy to grapple with.

In July, I took my weave out. We ate Paleo. I remember drinking bourbon out of a mason jar on the beach as the sun was setting on Independence Day, fireworks mere minutes away, and missing you even though you were right next to me. I tried to summit Mt. Hood with you, unsuccessfully. Let's try that again this summer.

Our first year was hard.

In August, we traveled again. After a tiresome summer, we were both itching to pull our passports out. In the Canary Islands I went inside my very first casino with you and you taught me how to play blackjack. I remember taking a selfie in the bathroom that night wearing your Iron Maiden tee, thinking I was badass. When you were so sick with food poisoning in Morocco the next week I laid awake next to you night after night as you slept, listening to your heart beat, making sure you were alright. Remember that terrible meal we had in Madrid on our layover?

So many Starbucks stops. The more we fell in love with specialty coffee this past year, the more we seemed to end up at Starbucks. We both secretly love those red cups. That's how I know you're my soulmate.

In September, I began to admit to the world how depressed I was. I struggled with the weight of my life, the weight of past decisions. I said I was living for Jesus, but it didn't feel like it. You didn't fully understand how to help, but you tried. Thank you for loving me through the dark moments.

I worked on octopus paintings and you poured latte art.

In October, the rain came. Despite the gray, we continued to take bike rides together all over Seattle, you always leading with the occasional glance over your shoulder to make sure your visually impaired wife was doing okay. Which I was. You have taught me how to expertly weave through traffic, a skill that is already coming in handy in Portland!

In November, we explored Bend, thinking we would move there. Your coffee dreams were blooming faster than ever. It has been a privilege to watch your heart grow this past year. We biked up Highway 40 on Thanksgiving with your family, an easy feat for you, but a marked accomplishment in my memory as I continued to try to make my body stronger so I could keep up with you. I remember pedaling back to your Dad's house in Truckee that afternoon, watching families fish together on their docks at Donner Lake, feeling a deep yearning in my soul to have those peaceful moments be ours someday.

The deepest desires and dreams of my feminine heart, even the tiny ones so exquisitely tucked away that they're often forgotten, are completely met in you and the life we live together, serving our God hand in hand.

In December you picked me up from the Seattle airport when I flew home from Shanghai, wisps of smog still lingering in my lungs. We embarked on yet another road trip up and down the west coast. We decided to see The Hobbit together in Rancho Cucamonga and on our way to the movie we took a jog in the streets with Coldstone in our hands. The word Smaug still makes me laugh. We took your brother and sister snowboarding in Tahoe the day after Christmas. Memories over materials, you always say.

In January I learned how to make the perfect blueberry scone. We were pretty obsessed with Breaking Bad. We talked a little about Portland. We prayed a lot together. I met with my ophthalmologist, who told me I'm losing a degree of vision every year. Comforting and terrifying at the same time.

Before we began dating, I was obsessed with my eye disease. It very much defined me. I thought about it almost constantly. It was always an excuse  usually, a valid excuse. Frankly, I just felt sorry for myself. With a jolt, I'm realizing that I never think about my disease anymore. And so much of that is due to your impact, your love, your kindness, your support, your example, your leadership. I can choose to not allow my impairment to get in the way of my life, or I can choose to let it be an excuse (even a valid one). You taught me that.

In February I scraped up my knee when I crashed my bike after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl as we rode down the street, high on life and maybe a little whiskey, high-fiving other screaming fans. I ate more Skittles that month than I'll ever care to admit. We took the ferry out to Bainbridge Island a few times. We laughed a lot. I woke up to snow when you were in Maine. We ate sushi the night of your birthday, the same night we decided we would move to Portland after months of deliberation.

In March you quietly accepted your job at Windell's. We took a train to Vancouver and made fun of Canadians and learned what a beluga was and ate and drank a lot. Remember that conversation we had that one time about how taste is such an underrated sense? Not for us, babe. We wine and dine well! Also that month, A TV reporter interviewed us. I don't remember what we talked about because all I saw was her huge pearly white smile.

We entered our late twenties. We've been adults for awhile, but now it really feels like it.

In April we learned you really can never trust a mollusk. My parents visited us, and we had a blast. I stopped into Anchored Ship to get coffee from you after my workouts. I decided to get baptized on Easter Sunday, which was one of the best moments of my life. It meant the world to have you there, supporting me through that time. Then I got the job in Portland, and moved down, away from you, away from our home, unexpectedly early.

It has been an incredibly difficult year, and simultaneously an incredibly joyous year. So much transition I wasn't ready for (are we really ever ready?) and so many nights questioning myself, questioning God. You were moving away from one career into another while I was trying to figure out how to move into one. Unexpected quarter life identity crisis.

Our Pinterest culture obsesses over marriage, the ring and dress and wedding invitations and all that, but not the nitty gritty day-to-day life that really makes up marriage. Past the elopement video that went viral, past the Instagram photos, past the charm, in our first year we learned what living together and accepting one another really meant. I am more committed to you today than ever. Thank you for being strong for me this past year, and being a leader simply by the way you live your life. I would marry you again in a heartbeat.

Happy Anniversary, Huz. I love you so incredibly much.

photo by  Benj Haisch

photo by Benj Haisch

remembering our wedding day with instathis

It was a Thursday.

As I got ready the morning of my wedding in a quaint little hotel room overlooking Ballard Ave, I chatted endlessly with the photographer, videographer and makeup artist... all friends of mine, but this day, they were my family. I kept my iPhone close by, expecting my actual family members a few hundred miles away to call every few minutes, but it was strangely quiet. Everyone assumed I was busy, that I had other things to attend to; today I was the bride, after all. I remember desperately wishing my best friends and family members were there to see me pop out of the bathroom, dress on, for the big reveal. It was one of the most anticlimactic moments of my life. No one said anything. It wasn't their job to tell me I was beautiful. As Benj and Janssen geeked out over lighting and lenses, Janae double checked my hair. I felt strangely alone. Something about it didn't sit quite right. I had my media team snap some photos of me that I texted to a few people, and felt a little better when I immediately got the responses I was looking for: "OH MY GOSH! HE IS GOING TO LOVE YOUR DRESS!" and "Laura, you look so beautiful."

It's amazing  no matter how hard us females work to be strong and independent, inwardly we still desperately need to hear we are lovely.

As I rode along with the videographer Janssen to the mountain where we would meet Nick for the wedding, the weather outside changed from the typical overcast Seattle May day we had been expecting to blazing sunshine. I began to sweat. In the 45 minute car ride, I read my typed vows over and over and tried to pray, all the while having to continually adjust the gel cups affixed to my boobs which had begun to make an unfortunate bid for freedom due to the sweat dripping down my chest. Where the hell was all this sunshine coming from?! I glanced over at Janssen who appeared slightly terrified at having the no small task of transporting the bride on her wedding day.

Finally, we arrived at Rattlesnake Mountain. I was instructed to wait at the bottom of the trail so everyone could get set up for the first look before Nick and I exchanged vows, and I found myself alone for about twenty minutes. I composed myself and began to pray. I felt like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Finally it was time. I walked towards Nick in the forest, keenly aware of Janssen's eager second shooter practically dogging my steps in order to get the perfect shot, my heart beating out of my chest. The clouds had finally rolled back in, and the forest was still. A few hikers passed by me on the trail and almost jumped at the sight of me. One said I looked like a ghost. I didn't know how to respond. The next said I looked like a goddess, which made me feel better.

When Nick saw me, he burst into tears. He was stunned, literally speechless. The first words to come out were how divine I looked, how incredible my dress was, how absolutely enraptured he was in my beauty. Everything else melted away.

Then we got married, and hiked up and down the mountain together.

No matter how you choose to get married, you are giving up something. In our case, eloping meant sacrificing having loved ones present, supporting us and sharing in our marital bliss. On our wedding day, it was truly just us and God. As I scampered up the mountain with my new husband, not caring how much mud got on my dress, I knew I had made the right decision. The very moment we reached the breathtaking view at the top of Rattlesnake Ridge, a thunderstorm broke out. It was as if the mountains surrounding us had erupted in a standing ovation; like God Himself was applauded our union. It was the most stunning moment of my entire life.

Our wedding day was intimate, a memory only we share. Since then, a few of the photos from the day have spread all over Tumblr and Pinterest like wildfire. It's a bit ironic. Even our parents weren't invited to our wedding day, but somehow the whole Internet showed up. We didn't plan for our elopement to go viral (I didn't promote the wedding at all, other than a few Instagram shots like any bride would do), although we're both certainly grateful for the inspiration it has lauded. All that to say, I am grateful that the most intimate, precious moments from our wedding day are still private between the two of us: sharing jokes and laughing hysterically as we hiked... the embraces, the whispered promises of an eternal devotion... the magnificent thunderstorm... the moment we showed up for our wedding dinner at Canlis that evening — one of the nicest restaurants in Seattle — completely soaked, the other restaurant patrons glancing over disapprovingly.

That was almost a year ago now. The first year of marriage has changed me beyond recognition; has stretched my faith farther than I thought possible. Marriage is by far the hardest and most rewarding thing I have ever known.

The most important day of marriage isn't the first day; it's the last day. Where will you go in your lives together? How will you stand by one another when life gets the best of you? How will you parent children together? Where will you go? Who will you be? While our wedding day was only Day 1 of an everlasting adventure between my beloved and I, we'll carry with us the inspiration and adventurous whimsy it fostered until the Last Day. It's important to remember; to keep our hearts young and alive for one another and for God.

Over the past few months, I have been thinking how best to display a few of our wedding photos in our bedroom. I recently ordered large aluminum prints from InstaThis, a company that prints your Instagram or regular photos on wood or aluminum; they even make coasters. After a friend's strong recommendation, I ordered a set of six gorgeous prints. Last night in our pajamas Nick and I worked together to hang them. The result is stunning. They have turned our bedroom into an art gallery. We spent the rest of night lounging in bed, staring at the photos, remembering. I snapped a photo this morning of the prints before we left for a weekend trip to Portland. Forgive the photo quality — we don't get the best light in our bedroom!

I am proud to partner with InstaThis to offer 20% off your order with code LLCONT20. I am not getting paid to endorse these guys — their customer service and product quality simply blew me away and I had to share! There is something incredibly special and profound about hanging a photo story — it makes the memories come alive again.

I will cherish these prints, along with my wedding day memories, for the rest of my life.

I was stunned when I learned our elopement was rated the #1 Wedding of 2013 on Green Wedding Shoes. If you haven't seen them already, check out our photos from the day, and wedding video: