My Love Story: The Happily Ever After {chapter 13}

My Love Story

This is the story of how my crush became my husband. It was a pleasure to share this story with you in 2013, but today I’m adding an extra chapter! Do you want to read my real life love story from the beginning?  Start here with The Window.

I owe you a big apology. 

Recently, we signed up for Netflix. I love a good drama, but for some reason I have been pulled to romantic movies. After watching my fair share over the past two months, I have come to realize that many of them end rather abruptly. There is a lot of build up between the leading lady and the leading male, there is some kind of conflict, and then the movie ends with their magical kiss to symbolize the start of a beautiful life together.

It really isn’t very satisfying.

I want to see what happens after the big magical kiss. Do they get married? Do they have children? Do they truly live happily ever after???

Back in 2013 I shared my own unique, real life love story. It started with the first moment I saw Nate and it ended with our beautiful wedding. At the time I thought that was enough. Since I share bits and pieces about my life here (and on Facebook and Instagram), perhaps it was a nice way to finish our love story series, but personally I’m not satisfied.

I want to give you a satisfying “and they lived happily ever after” montage to finish off the series. Many of these things have been shared on the blog before. You are more than welcome to read more details of these adventures by clicking on any accompanying links or you can check out the entire Our Real Life category.

The “Happily Ever After”

(or at least the last ten years of it!)


november 2005

November – We were married only 2 short months when I made a Thanksgiving feast just for Nate and me. We realized that year that we both get excited about all the side dishes and don’t give two hoots about the turkey. The next year we made another Thanksgiving feast for two and completely skipped the turkey! (Note: My mother-in-law’s perfected turkey technique has since changed our views.)


paris 2006

March – I was working at a travel agency, and I won free airline tickets. We went to Spain and France.


baptism july 2007x

July – Nate was baptized in a special pool-side service by our pastor and with me assisting.

india 2007x

December – We traveled to India for 2 weeks. Our purpose was to distribute supplies to orphanages and encourage local Christian leaders. Just a few hours after this picture was taken I became violently ill. It. was. epic.


Love to Give April 2008x

April – Nate launched his online company Love To Give. For a variety of reasons, we later closed the door on this business venture. This is one life experience that didn’t turn out how we had expected, but we are thankful for everything we learned.

outer Banks September 2008x

September – It was on this trip to the Outer Banks, NC that we prayed seriously about if we should start a family. By the end of the week, we both felt like God was saying yes!


pregnant with grace

July – 32 weeks pregnant & more photos here (photo credit: Doriana Musselman)

clown party 2x

September – Nate and I are always the clowns of the party. Or… eh… always the creepy ones at the party? (photo credit: Donna Shenk)

first family photox

September – Grace was born, and then there were three. This was our first family photo after Grace’s fast (and natural!) birth.

newborn photo shoot 2009x

October – Grace is just 3.5 weeks old.


December – Nate graduated with his Master’s Degree in Business Administration. The differences between Nate and I can be seen so clearly when it comes to what we’ve studied. I told him once that I am in his life so it can be documented with pictures, and he is in my life so the captions to the pictures are spelled correctly.


Easter 2010x

April – Grace’s first Easter. (You can see more pictures here.) I love that Nate is holding Grace’s pacifier.

bought house may 2010x

May – We bought our house and said goodbye to our apartment.


July 2011x

July – Nate and I started going to a small group at our church right before we got married. That group of friends is still incredibly important to us, and has had a huge impact on our lives. This picture was taken at just one of the hundreds of times we were together with those friends.

Ocean City August 2011x

August – I was “barely” pregnant with Noah on this vacation. Can you ever really be just a little bit pregnant? Probably not, but if so this would be that time. We didn’t know I was pregnant yet, but we did talk about it because I was going to the bathroom a lot. It seemed impossible to have any symptoms that early. We came home from the trip and had a positive pregnancy test!


pregnancy photo shoot 2012x

March – 34.5 weeks pregnant & more photos here (photo credit: Cicely Berkey)

Noah's born april 2012x

April – And then there were four. Welcome, baby Noah! Noah’s breech birth was a surprise, but it went well.

newborn photo shoot 2012x

May –  Noah exactly 2 weeks old & more photos here (photo credit: Cicely Berkey)

ocean city july 2012x

July – Noah’s first trip to the beach.


august 2013x

August – Grace thought the photo booth at this party was the best thing ever. Noah? Not so much.

ocean city sept 2013x

September – One of our several family vacations to Ocean City, NJ.

ugly sweater nov 2013x

November – We kicked off the Christmas season with an awesome ugly sweater party. Our natural beauty can’t be stopped by ugly sweaters!! (Or at least we like to think so.)


may 2014x

May – Grace took this picture of Nate and me on Mother’s Day.


August – Yet another beautiful week at the beach! This pictures is from the boardwalk at night. Never underestimate your ability to bless someone else!

Truthfully, this is just a glimpse into our story. What you can’t see in these pictures is the true depth of our happiness and love. You also can’t see the tears, stress, and fights. There are no sleepless nights in these pictures or moments that brought us to our knees in prayer.

Every true “happily ever after” is sprinkled with laughter and tears – with life and loss. I am incredibly thankful that I have Nate by my side on this journey. I would chose him again and again and again. In fact, I chose him daily.

If you want to hear more about how we got to this point, you can start by reading The Window.

What would you include on the “highlights reel” of your happily ever after?


  1. Thanks for sharing the sweet photos of your love story! It’s gotten me thinking about maybe making a photo book or something similar for my hubby…one week from today is our 13th anniversary. 🙂 I would have to include pics of our 10 year high school reunion, which is when we first got together, the births of our girls, special moments, trips…now I need to make sure I don’t procrastinate doing this!!

    1. Stephanie, that is a super sweet idea for an anniversary gift! Also, I love that the two of you connected at your high school reunion. Did you know each other well in high school? Was there any interest back then or was it all new to you guys at the reunion?

      1. Thanks, Rebekah! No, we were just casual acquaintances in high school, but our mutual friends did some not-so-subtle matchmaking at our 10 yr. reunion. One even went so far as to follow me into the bathroom to keep telling me I should get together with him…even though I was in KS and he was in Utah! Guess it worked, because we exchanged contact info., we kept in touch with calls, e-mail, and cards and he basically courted me long distance for 6 months until he moved back to KS. 🙂

  2. Loved the whole love story AND the update. Do the Hoffers have any relatives in West Chicago, Illinois? We had a Hoffer family at our church there but that was back in the 80s. I’m quite a bit older than you! Love your blog and podcast.

    1. My husband’s family is all located in PA and they are a quite a small family. Thank you so much for reading and listening to the podcast!

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