I was the ripe old age of 18 when I first met Denver.
The summer after my senior year in high school I attended a summer camp in Davis, OK called Falls Creek. If you live in Oklahoma you have probably heard of this notoriously known camp. It was my very last year to attend camp as a camper, and I intended to live it up all week, laughing with friends, staying up late and ushering in my college years with a week of light hearted fun. Little did I know that particular hot summer week of camp I would cross paths with my soon-to-be-husband-and-father-of-my-children!
My Dad went to camp with our group that year… just what every senior girl wants, right! ha. No, it was fine with me, I enjoyed sharing that part of my life with him. Until he played the “Dad Card” one afternoon and literally DRAGGED me out of the cabin so he could take a group to the ropes course. He had signed up his small group for the high ropes/climbing wall and at the last minute realized they were ONE person short… So he came to me, and basically said, “Um, you’re going to have to come with our group so we can meet the quota to go to the ropes course.”
Being the snotty 18 year old girl that I was, a bitter seed of resentment started taking root as I pulled myself into the 15 passenger van and bumped my way down the rocky roads to the climbing wall, sitting in the front seat with arms crossed and eyes rolled. My Dad, 12 pre-teen boys and ME ready to tackle the high ropes, oh joy.
As everyone began to scatter I chose to climb the rock wall. Being a little mad, I was on a mission to make my time worth while. I chatted with the ropes course workers and as one was “belaying”, he started talking about someone who worked with them named “Denver”. Instantly intrigued by the name, I turned to the worker and asked, “Who is Denver?”. He pointed to a remarkably tan, dark curly haired guy about 100 yards away in the trees.
At that moment Denver spotted us looking at him. He lifted his sweaty muscular arm and waved down hill to us. My eyes glazed over and I waved back, memorized.
I climbed up the wall, and before sliding down I noticed the oh-so-mysterious “Denver” in my periphery. He sat down on a foldable metal chair under a wooded area and started talking to the other camp staff. As I unharnessed myself from the contraption I walked over to him and commented on his shoes. My first sighting of Chacos only added to my swooning. Nothing more hot to a 18 year old girl than a guy with a deep Chaco tan.
His curly long locks peaking out from under his sweat stained ball cap and his sleeves rolled up revealing his lean chiseled arms, he looked up at me and said, “Uh, Thank you” and then continued talking to his friends. (Are you enjoying my description of Denver, yet? hehe)
He wasn’t really giving me much to work with, so I said something else awkward and still it lead no where.
As my Dad loaded up the middle school boys in the van I attempted one last time to reel in this fine catch of a boy and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Hercules?”.… Now that I think about this comment, I can’t help but laugh at myself. Oh, little Heather, not the best thing to say to the dreamy guy that you just met 2 minutes before. (And before you judge me, you must know that Hercules was the “Disney Movie of the Summer” (I am sure that dates me.)) But still, YES, I called some hot guy I didn’t know a Disney character…. *cringe*
I left the ropes course with my head in the clouds. I jumped in the stinky van and it was apparent to everyone that I was on cloud nine. My Dad looked at me square in the eyes and said, “Don’t EVER flirt with a boy in front of me again.” He turned the key and then we drove off. (As an adult with my own children now, I get where my Dad was coming from…I’d say the same thing. But as a hormonal 18 year old girl who just got a taste of summer love, it sure was fun 😉 )
I went back to the cabin and told every single person I saw about this “Denver Duncan” guy I had just met…. Wowzers, I. was. love. struck. Not in a serious stalker way, but more of a “I am going to hang up my poster of JTT and kiss it every night” kind of way. I knew nothing would ever come of that meeting, but it was fun to talk about and to laugh about. If there ever was a case of “love at first sight”… this would be it. Whew. As some can attest, I continued the week with writing “I heart Denver Duncan” all over the mirrors in bar soap… yea, I am sure it was annoying. 😉
A day or two went by and the legend of “Denver Duncan” grew into a joke amongst friends. Then came a knock at the door. A little scrawny guy came to our cabin looking for me. He asked me for my e-mail address because Denver wanted to get ahold of me after camp….
My jaw hit the ground and I couldn’t believe it. This little joke had become reality!! I was over the moon and tried to not act too excited. I obliged, and sent my e-mail address back with the messenger.
A few weeks after camp, it happened. He e-mailed me! It was one of those e-mails you read over and over and over again. Repeating every word, trying to interpret the meaning in each sentence. “What did he mean when he said, ‘Hi, how are you?'”….
I responded back and after a few weeks we exchanged several surface level e-mails. If you know my husband the fact that we communicated through e-mail longer than a week is a miracle. He is a man of few words when he types, and he has been known to rack up over 100 e-mails in his inbox. If you ever need to get ahold of him, just call. (<---free tip)
|A picture taken at our rehearsal dinner in May 2004.|
August rolled around and I had moved to Norman to go to OU. I sat in my newly decorated dorm room and an inbox popped up on my screen. It was from Denver, he updated me a little and told me he had moved to Norman. As soon as I connected the dots that HE LIVED IN NORMAN and I LIVED IN NORMAN, I immediately wrote back telling him we were neighbors. I couldn’t believe it, my summer dreams were coming true!! 😛
He wrote back and we went on our first date later that week. He lived up to every dream I had, and more. I had no idea he played the guitar, I had no idea he was a creative genius, and I had no idea how he would make such an amazing father to our children…. this was all bonus!
|On our honeymoon in Mexico. June 2004.|
Love can catch you off guard. I would have gladly married him after our first date, but the timing wasn’t right. We dated for 3 years before getting married, and I am thankful for that time we had to learn about each other and grow individually. Part of this story is also the explanation of why we like unique names for our kids since his name was such an intricate part in our meeting.
|After Daxx’s birth. Jan 2008.|
|After Zadie’s birth. May 2010.|
Today we have been married 9 years. Looking back it’s flown by, but a lot has happened. We have added three little ones to our family and our love has matured and grown deeper. The same qualities about him that made me melt 13 years ago still do, but in a different way. Our roots have been set and our hearts watered them with compassion, mercy, and grace, causing that love to set in deeper and stronger.
Marriage is hard work. It isn’t easy. It takes daily care and attention to detail. The one thing that has held us together all these years is our commitment to pray. We pray for each other and with each other. We ask God for help in forgiving, for help in parenting and for help in understanding. When I get insecure, I pray. When I get frustrated, I pray. When we have good times, I pray and say thank you. When we have hard times, I pray and I ask for help. In every situation we turn to God first.
|A pic from Christmas 2012… A PEAK into our reality.|
Just as the trinity exists of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit… Our marriage is a trinity. We invite God to participate in our relationship by seeking Him in all things and so far HE has proven himself faithful. Always.
My hope is not in Denver, but in God. The same holds true for him. We make the conscience choice to put HIM first in all things. Sometimes it feels counter intuitive, but doing so never fails.
|This is pretty much what every family picture looks like these days. I am embracing the “candid” look. he.|
Here is to many more years. Years that are sure to bring trials, years that will require work and years that may include moments of shed tears but it is my prayer that those moments will be overshadowed my laughter and of peace.
Love is never easy, but it is always worth it.
|A photo of us at my brother’s wedding in May 2013
Pardon my “Hurry up and take our picture, we have been standing here through 72 shots” look.
|And this summer, while we were at camp with Denver we came full circle as we watched our little son Daxx climb up the rock wall.|