September 30, 2012

grandma gets a wild hair!

Celebrating Gramma's 89th birthday at The Admiral Risty, Palos Verdes, CA

I am in Redondo Beach, California for a week to visit family and soak up some much needed salt-air and sunshine. My sweet grandma is here visiting until tomorrow and I am so grateful to be able to spend some quality time with her, walking by the ocean, brushing her hair, even jumping into the jacuzzi with all her clothes on! Wild runs in my blood, baby.

She told me that she is at home here, that she feels it in her soul, and I believe it. For six decades she built her legacy here. This is her home, and just as a thousand miles and mighty mountain ranges separate me from this place, it will always be mine too.

Friday afternoon we all went to lunch in the Riviera Village and then laid by the pool as the sun started to set. It was then that Gramma got a wild hair and started hinting about going into the jacuzzi. "Can you just imagine?" she asked repeatedly. Finally my mom and I helped her to the edge, so her feet could dangle in the warm bubbles. About ten minutes later she asked me to help her in all the way- only pausing for a minute so my mom could take off her wool cardigan, fully aware that submerging her sheer blouse would mean attracting the attention of unsuspecting fellow loungers. Needless to say, it was a sight to see, and a memory we'll always have. Later Gramma said she thought the hot water was healing, that she felt renewed.

When I asked about her favorite memories from her trip, "oh, that jacuzzi!" was her first reply, followed by the "beautiful dinner " we shared at Admiral Risty- her old favorite seafood place- last night. I could see the joy in her eyes and that made my heart full. I don't know when I'll see her again, but having a few precious days with her, back in the place we know as home, was something for which I am so grateful.

mom & gramma lounging by the pool at sunset

me and my grandma in the jacuzzi, one of us is fully clothed.

We love you gramma! 


September 27, 2012

Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe: 100 Everyday Essentials

Hmm?  What is that you say?
No sane person would write a four-step series on organizing their closet, complete with visual aids?
Well crazy is as crazy does, and crazy is what we do here at TheDaileyLife!
Locate the nearest exit now. 

I promised a double-post whammy this week if you did your homework  and I am here to delivah!

First, a recap. As of now, here's where things should stand:
1. You understand the benefits of a fabulous and functional wardrobe
2. You have done some decluttering and have taken inventory of your closet conditions.
3. And you have put things in perspective with some magical list making.


Isn't that how you felt when you discovered you had around 229* things crammed into your closet, post de-clutter?
*the number stated is based on my personal issues and is not an accurate reflection of society as a whole.

What if I were to tell you that you could create hundreds of outfits for every occasion, year-round (as in, all four seasons), with less than half that?
Work, play, home, away, even weddings and parties- alluvit!
That's what I'm here for, ladies.

We have been brave, we have been bold, we have embraced our minimalist goals with grace. 
Finally the fruit of our labor:

100 Everyday Essentials
to Maximize a Minimal Wardrobe

basic tops collection

basic tops tunics accessories

basic sweaters and outerwear

basic dresses for every occasion

basic skirts and jeans

basic coats pants belts and bag

basic shoes for every outfit


Obviously, this is a reflection of my personal taste but it can be easily tailored to suit your {life}style. You may not need heavy winter coats or maybe you're not a stripe-lover... simply swap them out! The beauty of this guide is that no matter your specifics, you can still Maximize a Minimal Wardrobe with a fraction of the things you probably already own!

Check back for Dailey Wears posts to see how I am making use of mine!


September 25, 2012

Experimentation in Homemade Cold Curing Concoctions

Last Thursday morning I woke up feeling like my head was filled with concrete and my throat like I had practiced swallowing fire in my sleep. I blinked open my eyes and at the exact moment I tried to push myself out of bed, realized my attempts were futile, and collapsed back into bed. 
I was sick. Guess it was finally my turn this year. 
Being sick is the worst feeling in the world (breaking news!) but having a cold that practically paralyzes your parasympathetic nervous system is a real drag. Of course I was in denial- my symptoms were simply a result of my new exercise regime I began last week after joining my company's 6 week fitness challenge- and so I pushed myself to work, clean the house, run errands, and do anything that didn't involve resting. Not recommended. 
By Saturday I was desperate. I started googling all sorts of homemade hocus-pocus remedies to the common cold since DayQuil was failing me. I found a few ideas that intrigued me so I decided to give them a try.
Crazy Cold-Curing Concoction #1: homemade cold medicine
People all over the always-reliable medical web swore by this and since I already couldn't smell or taste anything, the ingredients didn't scare me off.
Recipe via

¼ teaspoon Cayenne
¼ teaspoon Ginger
1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar 
2 Tablespoon Water
1 Tablespoon Honey 

 The verdict: I swallowed about 6 tablespoons of this throughout the day and by the evening I could breathe easier and some of my tasting abilities had returned. I think the cayenne and ginger helped increase circulation which may have helped my body attack the germs.
I would try it again in the future, probably at the first sign of sickness and see what happens.
Crazy Cold-Curing Concoction #2: hydrogen peroxide bath soak

You heard me. 
I found this link plastered all over Pinterest and some of the comments were positive so I figured what the hay. The instructions say to run a hot bath, add some grated ginger (again the circulation thing) and 3 pints of hydrogen peroxide solution to the water. Supposedly the hydrogen peroxide helps your body purge itself of toxins... kind of like an antiseptic for your insides, as it's soaked in through the skin. Hydrogen peroxide sounds super scary but normal over-the-counter bottles are already diluted to 3% and then adding a few cups of it to an entire bathtub dilutes it further. I could barely breathe through my nose so the smell didn't bother me.
The verdict: I don't know if the effects were more a result of the hot bath water and ginger or the hydrogen peroxide but I definitely felt my head clear up a little and my muscles relax. I slept well that night without NyQuil or any meds but didn't feel much better in the morning. The website said to repeat the bath up to 3 days in a row for symptoms but I have yet to try it again. This one may be a hoax but any excuse to run a hot bubbly bath is alright by me. 
>> <<
So it's now Tuesday and I am starting to feel better but my body has definitely taken a hit. I feel so sluggish and achey all over. Thankfully I have been able to work from home sending emails and making calls without fear of infecting innocent bystanders. Against my will, I am realizing that resting my mind and body is probably the only thing I can do to kick this cold for good. 

Stay healthy friends!

September 24, 2012

Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe: The Final Countdown

Hello lovelies! 
We've  made it to the third chapter of our Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe series- The Final Countdown!! 

 You can dance if you want to. 
So far we have covered the basic benefits of having a wardrobe that works for you and how to avoid making common closet mistakes (no sloppy copy cats 'round here!) in Part One and tips for giving your closet a little S.O.S (Sort. Organize. Sell) help in Part Two
Hopefully you were able to weed out your tiresome wardrobe with ease- I don't do this just for fun you know... wait, yes I do! In fact- wait there!-  I'm on my way over with Moscato and cupcakes and I'll sit on the edge of your bed and look at Pinterest and laugh with you while you clean out your closet!! Later we can learn to fishtail braid and paint chevron stripes on our nails.
 (Wait, is chevron still in? Also, when did chevron start referring to stripes and not a gas station?)
Anyway, I hope you are having fun too! Hooray for organization! Hooray for closets!
Actually,  as long as you aren't a sobbing mess each morning as you attempt to get dressed, I'll count that as a win. You didn't used to cry while getting dressed? Yeah me neither. 
Now that you have pared down your possessions to the things you really only love, wear, use, and enjoy you are ready for your final mission, should you accept: 
Count everything in your closet.*

*minus pajamas, workout clothes, costume items, heirlooms, or jewelry

What    the    beeeep!?
A little but I'm working on that. 
Seriously, this was a huge reality check for me and it's a great way to get a grip on what you have and what you may really only need to still have a closet you love. 
Start by counting your basic tops (1st layer)- tshirts, tanks, blouses, and long sleeve shirts. 
Then shirts (2nd layer): plaid, chambray, button-ups. 
Then count sweaters, cardigans, and light jackets. 
Then count skirts and pants.
Then jeans. Then dresses. Then coats.
Then scarves, belts, purses, and hats.
Then... shoes.
The contents of my former shoe problem collection. Roughly 40 pairs. 
40!! I got it down to a mere 26 a few months ago.

That was just the beginning. 
I counted 49 tops, 24 shirts, 26 sweaters, 13 skirts, 10 pants, 12 pairs of jeans, 25 dresses, 7 coats, about 15 scarves, 8 belts, 6 hats, and 8 purses, 26 pairs of shoes...
for a grand total of:
229 things!

I don't know if there's anything that anyone needs 229 of, but seeing that number after I had de-cluttered my closet was a bit of a shock. 
229 things in my closet,  and nothing to wear. 

After counting my crap, I went back to my Pinterest board and as I scrolled through hundreds of outfit pins I made a list of the general items I saw in each picture. 
Like this:
Striped long sleeve shirt.
White cotton tank top.
Cream blouse.
White t-shirt.
Black cotton dress.
Light color casual dress.
Black pencil skirt.
Khaki skirt.
Doing this helped me not only see patterns in the types of things I was repeatedly drawn to, but I was able to dissect the anatomy of the outfits and realize that most of them were made up of...

different combinations of the same general things
Oh. My. Gosh.

(Let's just say I may or may not have done this at around 5am one morning when I couldn't sleep, so my mind-blowing experience may have been slightly influenced by external factors).
Making this list has been super helpful because I was able to go back to my closet and match my things item to item, rather than trying to recreate an entire look from scratch. It also helped me see what I could use to round-out my wardrobe and create a shopping list for this season.

So guess what I did next... armed with my wardrobe wish-list and list of things I had picked out from Pinterest, I ambushed my closet again and rid it of another 50 things!

Just. Like. That. 
A sweater I held on to since it was "fine", a dress for spring parties that I haven't worn in 3 years... 
 Before I knew it, I had added another sizeable stack to my sell/donate pile. I even got rid of things that were super cute in theory but didn't fit in with the style I was aiming for and I realized holding onto them was making me crazier than if I had just let. them. go
The best part is that in the end,  I have never regretted getting rid of something.
Er, except that time I thought I brought a pair of black heels that were slightly too small for me to a clothing exchange, only to realize the next day that I had given away my brand new pair instead. Womp.
I got them back though,  thank you Ely!! :)

So... Did you count your closet? What was your number?!
Have you ever gotten rid of a piece of clothing that you regretted giving away?
If you all behave I may just surprise you with a few more M.M.W. posts this week!
Who's excited?!?


September 21, 2012

Thrifted, Three Ways: polka dot button up

thrifted // three ways

polka dot button up- Gap


{ sweater: Loft, jeans: Levis, flats: Fossil }


{cardigan: Loft, skirt: BananaRepublic-thrifted, shoes: Target}


{ chambray: Ralph Lauren-outlet, scarf: Aran Islands -thrifted, jeans: Levis, boots: Steve Madden }


September 20, 2012

Flying Lessons: facing my fears

A few months ago I signed up for an e-course taught by one of my favorite artist/blogger/entrepreneuress's, Kelly Rae Roberts, and only four days late, I caught up on the first few lessons today. I was inspired to write a letter to myself to re-read again in a few months, and to list both my fears and goals in order to dissolve the discrepancies between the two. She said that writing out her fears, "naming" them, made them seem less vague, and therefore... less scary. I actually struggled over this because I couldn't even think of the perfect words to convey what I really felt- to make my fears seem as big, and mean, and real as they are. 

Alas, I came up with three choppy sentences.
Three somewhat pathetic reasons for all of the things I claim keep me from pursuing my wild, crazy dreams. Even of those three, there was only one truly identifiable fear: failure. 

Fear of:

Failing to use my resources well. 

Failing to meet expectations of those who support me. 

Failing myself and feeling stuck.

Then I had to come up with as many counter-arguments. This was surprisingly easy.  After all, I've known the answers to them all along.

Trust God to provide and the desires of my heart.

They already love me for WHO not WHAT I am or do.

Embrace challenge. Learn from mistakes. Keep going.

So there it is. The big bubble that hangs over my head; over every choice I make; and in between where I am now and wherever I am trying to go like an impenetrable fog. This fear that has put so much doubt in my mind over time. So now that it's there, and I know where I need to go- 
I just need to figure out how I'm going to get there. 

So this is it. For the first (and last) real time.
Steps I can take TODAY to finally face my fears:
1. Pretend to be confident & strong in all I do. 
2. Start to envision myself already living the life I dream of.
3. Take risks, prepare to face trials. Rejection does not equal failure.
4. Live my life in a way that honors God, myself, and the love around me. 

something 'bout suburbia

I came across this lovely work of art in front of an apartment building while walking the dogs the other day.  For all I know, an adult may have made this masterpiece and if you know our neighborhood, it it's not unlikely... but part of me really hopes it had been drawn by little hands on a late summer afternoon. 

Living in the city, particularly near busy streets, there are not many signs of children in the neighborhood. I hadn't given this much thought when we were buying our condo and since we were many years away from starting our own family it wasn't a priority for us. But for some reason, during our first Halloween in our new home, when we didn't get a single trick-or-treater and were stuck with an overflowing bowl of candy (the good stuff, too!) I was really bummed. Most of the people that live around us are young, working professionals who rent and go home for the holidays each year so again, we are usually the only house on the block that hangs lights or decorations- or that pays any actual attention to our property for that matter, but that's another topic. 

After three years, we still love our neighborhood for the same reasons we were drawn to it in the first place- a historic neighborhood within walking distance of some of Denver's best parks, restaurants, events, and nightlife- but part of me longs for a place that feels more like home. We want a yard to let the dogs run around in while we make dinner and chat with friends inside. Dan dreams of a garage where he can take on tasks that don't require our dining table to be out-of-commission for months on end. Heck, I want to hear kids screaming in sprinklers and drawing hardcore hopscotch courses down the sidewalks and I want to order cookie dough and wrapping paper from the comfort of my front porch.

...dare I say it, but we may be wanting to make our way to the ::shudder:: suburbs sooner than we thought. But where? When? How? For how long? 

Obviously, we have zero plans for this as of now. But seeing that sweet little chalk drawing the other day stirred something inside me and made me smile. Even if we're still a few years away from starting our own family, there is a certain comfort that comes from living in a place where others aren't far away.

September 19, 2012

Inspiration: six

"We are shaped by our thoughts, we become what we think.
When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. "


September 17, 2012

Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe: Closet S.O.S.

Hello brave, closet-conquering babes!
Welcome to Part II of our Maximizing a Minimal Wardrobe Series!!

Is your closet a chaotic catch-all that stresses you out?
Do innocent accessories disappear into the depths of darkness?
Are "new" clothes dangling off their hangers with their tags still on?

No? Oh, well then, mind if I come take a peek?
that's what I thought.

Do not be ashamed, sistah! 

All you need is a little 
Closet S.O.S.
{sort. organize. sell}

I'll break down the basics of getting your closet back in fabulous fashion, but you must be brave and boldly go where many a minimalist have gone before you!


This is usually the most overwhelming step of the process but how you choose to approach it will affect the rest of your journey to closet-contentment. Take as much or as little time as you need, everyone is different, but be as thorough as possible. This is about knowing what you have (six striped long sleeve shirts), need (jeans that cover your crack), and ultimately want (a gorgeous coat) in your wardrobe. 

Step 1: Make your bed (neatly) and clear everything off the floor around it. This is your instant work space. Light a candle. Put on some tunes. Pour a glass of wine. You. Are. Fierce.  and Fabulous. 

Step 2: Rapid Elimination Round!! Take as many clothes as you can carry at a time (either on hangers or from a drawer) and place them in a pile on the bed. Giving yourself no more than 2 seconds to make a decision, pick up one thing at a time and place it in a "YES" "NO" or "MAYBE" pile.

Step 3: Neatly return the "YES's" to your closet or drawer. The instant satisfaction of seeing your most lovely and beautiful things together, hanging up or folded nicely, is a great confidence boost. Breathe.

Step 4: Move the "NO" pile out of sight (to the hallway, into bags, etc.). Cruel, cruel world. 

Step 5: TRY ON everything in the "MAYBE" category, pairing it with other items or accessories just as you would if you were getting dressed. Sometimes this pile contains hidden treasures that you knew you loved but weren't sure how to wear them. Other times, most of this pile is added to the NOs but at least you've given it one last try. Think about how a piece feels, and how you feel in it. Ask yourself the following: Is it flattering on me? Do I feel attractive in this? Does it suit my current life style needs?

Step 6: If a MAYBE item meets the above criteria, put it back in your closet amongst its pretty companions. (add NOs to the out-of-sight piles). Take another armful of clothes and repeat. sip. repeat. 
You've got this, girl.


Now that the hard part is out of the way, it's time to have some fun! (what? This isn't your idea of fun?!) The reward for the purging that just took place is for you to be able to display all of your lovely things in a way that is both pretty and practical. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for organizing your space, only you know what works for you. The goal is simply to be able to see and access everything you own easily and efficiently - out of sight is often out of mind, and that's no place for your pretty things to be. (I have learned that I end up getting rid of 90% of the things I thoughtfully "store" under the bed or in other nooks and crannies because I never use them and eventually forget about them). Unless it's your wedding dress, an heirloom, or costume-worthy, keeping your items within easy reach will not only ensure you use them, but also enjoy them, more.

Step 1: Take everything out of your closet (yes, again). Vacuum and mop the floor, dust off shelves, and wipe down walls. Adjust lighting (use brighter bulbs). To help clear the air and keep your clothes smelling fresh, hang a natural deodorizer  or make your own:

- fill an organza bag with baking soda, cedar chips, and a few drops of essential oil, cinch with ribbon. 

Step 2: Take a minute to think about your available space, how you have used it in the past and what worked or didn't work for you. You may be working with a fairly small space or even sharing a single closet with your spouse so this isn't about having a designer dressing room, it's about using the space you do have, well. 

The shelves, bars, and hooks inside my closet (pictured at top) were already installed when we moved into our place in 2009. The only thing I did was saw off a few inches of the wire shelf in the middle to give me enough room to hang my Ikea organizer that holds belts, scarves, hats, leggings, folded sweaters, and two smaller purses. I am also using cheap, stackable wire shoe-racks and an Ikea storage box on the floor that I put sandals in during winter, a gym bag, and some sentimental pieces I hardly wear but want to keep (gasp! I'm only human).  I also have a fairly substantial dresser that holds t-shirts, gym clothes, pajamas, socks, jewelry, underwear, bathing suits, and small clutches/wallets. 

Step 3: Now that you should have lots of loose hangers lying around, swap out any that are a funky color (off-white-ish), size (too tall or short), or material (wire) for a nice, uniform look. 

 I use simple, white plastic ones with notches on each side for straps for almost everything, and heavy-weight ones for coats and heavy items. I also use wooden clip hangers for skirts and clamp hangers for pants (although I would stick to the clips for pants as well, unless they are super delicate, because the clamps don't hold a lot of weight and some pairs slip out while hanging.)

Step 4: Hang all of your items neatly on their hangers and facing the same direction. Fold and put-away items on shelves or in drawers. 
 - Partially button or zip on cardigans, shirts, jackets, and sweaters that have them (instant head-ache eliminator)
 - Iron and fold dress pants or trousers that will be hung. Neatly fold jeans, shorts, and leggings. Hang skirts and dresses.
 - Roll belts and scarves or hang on hooks.
 - Most hats can be easily stacked to help maintain their shape and take up less space. 
 - Pair up shoes and place on racks, in cubbies, or in here - as seen on tv! (in case you aren't sure how to use one)

Step 5: Organize items in a way that makes the most sense and is aesthetically pleasing to you. You can group like-colored tops and hang them from short-to-long sleeve, or you can group like-items together (tank tops, long-sleeve, cardigans, pull-overs) and then by light-to-dark. Think about how the light hits your closet and make sure smaller items don't get lost in dark corners or behind bulky things. 

I have used my hanging organizer to divide my closet in half. All of my clothes face left on their hangers because the light source is coming from the left of my closet (so the fronts are illuminated). On the right from end-to-middle I have dresses (long to short) and skirts. On the left, from middle-to-end, I have tank tops, short-sleve, long-sleeve, button-ups, cardigans, and pull-overs. On the shelf I have folded sweaters, shorts, and jeans. On the lower left rack I have jackets and blazers, sweatshirts, and pants and my storage box (that my boots sit on top of). On the low right are my shoe racks. Phew.


What if I told you you could actually sell some of that stuff you cleared out of your closet to make some cash-o-la to put towards that thing you reaaaaally want. Pretty sweet, right? In almost any town or city there are a few options for consigning your clothes so ask around or Google some good places to try. I usually stop at three different places depending on what I have - Plato's Closet for everyday items, Buffalo Exchange for vintage/unique/good quality, and Common Threads for nicer/designer items (let's just say I've only been there once- my inventory in that dept. is fairly low). 

Consigning can be totally intimidating. Nothing like hauling your old beloved clothes up to the snooty associate at the counter who carelessly picks through them with long nails while you glance around the store uncomfortably watching from a distance. But here are a few tricks to make sure you have a successful consigning experience. 

1. Research various consignment stores and find out what their policies are. Most stores have a percentage split that they base your payment on (20/80, 40/60- the lower being yours of course). Some stores will give you cash or store credit on the spot, while other's pay every 30, 60, or 90 days depending on what sells. MOST stores donate anything that doesn't sell immediately unless you call to check on it near the end of your term. Also be sure to ask what they are currently accepting and check their websites for lists of brands or specific items they normally accept. 

2. Prepare your items for market by washing, ironing, hanging, and repairing (loose buttons, seams) those that need it. Clean and polish bags, belts, shoes, and jewelry. Making a tiny effort to make everything look as good as possible drastically improves its resale value and chances of being consigned. Be discriminating- try to see everything through the lens of a customer and ask yourself if it is something you would buy in the current condition. The best way to protect your clothing investment is to make smart, quality purchases and take care of your things over time. Pass on tempting, temporary fixes and instead save for the real deal.

3. Know this one little secret about clothing labels. Some of the larger clothing brands (GAP, American Eagle, etc.) label their items with three tags: one on the top with the brand, size, and "made in ___" info, the next usually on the side seam with care instructions, and the THIRD... a tiny white square hidden under one of the other tags with a small code with the date/season the item was made, i.e. Hol/2009 or Sum2011. Remove this little tag before you consign- there's no reason a perfectly good piece should be overlooked simply because of a silly number. 

4. There are plenty of other options to consider instead of consigning or donating your items to a catch-all thrift store. Here are a few ideas:

   1. Host a clothing swap with friends, co-workers, etc. Provide or ask each participant to bring a bottle of wine or treat to share. Prepare your items the same way you would if you were consigning them... you don't want a crumpled pair of skivvies falling out of a pant leg or someone to ask about a mystery stain. Offer to donate the remaining items to charity- saving your friends a trip!

   2. Find a cause you care about and ask if they have or host any fundraising events (flea markets) that you could donate to. Schools, churches, animal shelters, and local service groups usually have rummage sales a few times a year so get these dates, donate your things, and even offer to volunteer for the day!

3. Up-Cycle old items into fun, functional things you'll use again and again. Turn old sweaters and jeans into fun quilts or use the material to make patches, pillows, headbands, etc. for free.

You are a rockstar. 
But we're not done yetttt!

Next I'll show you how to truly Maximize Your NEWLY Minimal Wardrobe and how you're probably a lot closer to doing it than you think!

Stay Classy. 


September 14, 2012

Inspiration: Five

"I wanna make a jigsaw puzzle that's 40,000 pieces and when you finish it, it says 
'G O  O U T S I D E.' "
- Demetri Martin

September 13, 2012

Our story: Part Four... renewal.

{Read the stories about how we met, our engagement, and our wedding}

This is the hardest post I have ever written
...and also the most joyful.

In the spirit of the decision we made a year ago today, we are choosing to share this part of our lives in this way. I know that no matter how much or how little I share, what words I choose, or how I may feel about it all, I'll never be able to fully reflect, or express, the truth in its entirety. While we are afraid of disappointing those who love us, it's a glimpse into a part of our lives that we would not be where, or who, we are today without and we hope that others with similar stories know they aren't alone.

So here it is...

Our first year of marriage was the absolute most challenging, most miserable, most painful time of our lives. Following the wedding of our dreams, we quickly realized we were not at all prepared for marriage. We could plan a perfect party alright... making it through married life was a very different game. 

We fought.yelled. cried. cursed. hated. hurt. attacked. insulted. threatened. and literally broke each other down, until neither of us believed it was worth it anymore. We had practically given up. 
What we had was not the marriage we hoped for...
 wantedexpected...... thought we deserved. 

Ultimately, our relationship entered what we believed was the point of no return. The unthinkable happened, the  bottom had literally dropped out beneath us, and our whole world as we knew it came crashing down around us. 
lies. betrayal. pain. disbelief. emptiness.

But in the midst of it all, I called a counselor and set an appointment. Dan agreed to go with me.
And so we went...and went... and went.

We went to counseling once (sometimes twice) a week, every week for over a year. Six months were spent trying to understand Dan and his darkness. Six months were spent digging through mine.
It was a painful process.

 We would take two steps forward, one step back.
For that year, we tread carefully, unsure whether or not we could trust our new relationship with all of our weight. We both believed the other would simply walk out one day. We didn't.
It did not always feel like progress. It did not always feel like healing. It did not always feel like love... 
but for the first time ever, we felt safe.

In spite of the devastation, betrayal, vulnerability and chaos, we slowly began to feel secure in each other, and in our marriage.

 For almost half of our young marriage, we fought to rebuild something we never truly had.  We began to lay a new foundation of trust, security, honesty, and love that had never existed before.

September 13th, 2010 was the day our marriage began it's renewal. It was the day we confronted everything we had been struggling with, laid it all out on the ( microscopically-thin) line, and faced the culmination of so many months of hurt...  but it is also the day that Love was victorious in our relationship. Our lives, as we knew them ended that day, and we are so incredibly grateful that they did. For too long, for the sake of selfish pride, we had sacrificed the life, the love, and the marriage we now know God designed for us. If we had continued building walls of betrayal and bitterness, we would not have been able to experience the joy of our Heavenly Father's redemption and grace.

God's grace comes through confessing our sins, turning from our evil ways, and seeking His face. When we do this, he promises to hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and restore our land. 
(2 Chronicles 7:14).

This was one of the verses I  read  to Dan during our ceremony, as we renewed our vows on September 13th 2011...beside a flowing river, isolated from the outside world...alone, except for our officiant (our counselor) and a dear friend who captured the moments in photographs.

We had both felt God tugging on our hearts to do this, but we had never experienced anything like a "vow renewal" before... except in images of happy couples celebrating milestone anniversaries, wearing flower leis in Hawaii, and joking about fitting into their original wedding attire. 

We just knew it was something we were being called to do. So that morning, we got dressed and drove together, to the little spot we had picked out the week before. We had written our vows, selected our most significant verses from the past year, brought bread and wine for communion, I made a little bouquet and boutonierre, and had flowers in my hair. It was not a wedding, but in some ways it was? It didn't compare to our wedding, but in some ways it seemed more... real? It was a day we both wished had not come, but were so excited that it had... 

Our counselor began the ceremony with a prayer. We read our verses.
We exchanged our vows. I surprised Dan with thin silver rings (hammered all the way around with tiny grooves marking the "bumpy road" we've traveled together). We washed each other's feet in the river. 
We took communion. We prayed for each other and our marriage.

We tearfully, joyfully began a new chapter of our lives together.

{We didn't even have to wait until the end to kiss.}

{Thank you to our sweet and talented friend, Meghann for her amazing photos from our day.}

~Thank you for reading our story. For most of our friends and family this is the first you're hearing of this. We have struggled with wanting to both share and hide this part of our lives for so long; wanting both to deny it's existence and to stop being so vague about our "hard times"... but that is not the gospel of grace and redemption, healing, forgiveness, and renewal that God has written in our lives. Our story is not for our glory but His. While we certainly wish we could go back and change so much about who we are-  broken beings- we believe that God can use us to bring light to others in this world.  In our weakest moments we felt so alone in our suffering and shame, we ultimately want others to know they are not, and that while our experiences and lives may differ, the God who created and loves us is the same. He is a God of grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness and this world will do anything in it's power to keep us from truly believing it. ~