I Am From


I am from that spot we planted the evergreen tree, outside my second story window, a baby then but grown now, both of us.

I am from brown shutters, second on the left when you hit the cul-de-sac. 2066 Childs Ct.

I’m from unlocked doors and open windows, sunspots on the carpet and blankets over heating vents to trap the hot air.

I am from Christmas Eve at Nani’s and finding the best surface for roller skates like unfinished basements, or garages, or Camp Duncan in November.

I am from Kay and Dom,
from Florence and Joe, the children of Italian immigrants and practicality earned in The Great Depression.

I’m from “Have I told you today how much I love you?” and “If you puke make sure you hit the toilet.”

I’m from touching something red at 11:11 and making a wish.

I’m from small town mid-west, close enough to the City and the cottage in Wauconda.

I’m from watching my dad clean fish he’s caught and oatmeal cookie dough kept in the freezer, and seafood gravy at Christmas,

I’m from Friday night-lights and take your daughter to work day, and playing in the field house.

I am from lying by the fireplace while snow piles in the driveway and piling in the car for late night drives to the city for Italian Ice.

I’m from hide-and-go-seek in the dark and kick-the-can.

I am from the predictable cadence of Catholic mass and the beauty of forgiveness found at sixteen.

I am from God, even when he is a stranger to me.

And I am from the Love and Beauty in it all.


*Written as a free-flow exercise, part of the SheLoves SYNCHROBLOG: I Am From  Click on the link and come play along.  Leave a comment with a link to your own I Am From poem!

A Love(less) Story {Chapter 5}

Below is the final chapter in the tale of how I met my husband.  Thanks for reading:)

Here are the previous chapters, in case you missed them:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four


The drive back to Chicago was a bitter, cold assent back into reality.  What a fool I was for even dabbling in the possibility that a romance spanning the vertical distance of the United States would be possible.  Had I imagined his interest in me? Surely, I must have.  He made no attempt to further our engagement.  Perhaps he was more of a Frank Churchill, flirtatious yet impervious with no regard to the concept of stringing along my fragile heart. I’d wrongly painted him as a larger-lipped Mr. Knightly.  How true it is that “vanity working on a weak mind produces every kind of mischief.”

Friends, I could Jane Austen the situation into oblivion, you understand, so I will just stop there. But it will suffice to say that I would never see Lips Loveless again. I was dashed upon the rocks of heartbreak once more.  (Do you sense my flair for the dramatic? 😉

We arrived home Saturday evening and I curled up on the couch at my mother’s house.  She inquired about my trip and I told her, through tears, about this seemingly remarkable boy I’d met. After a good consoling, I dragged myself up off the couch to briefly check my neglected email and head to bed.

It took forever to log in, blasted slow-speed Internet. I was waiting for my mid-term grades and expected some end of semester correspondence with a professor.  But then, in an instant, there it was:  an email from Joe.

He said he’d gotten my email address from Josh (duh!) and wanted to know if he could have my phone number so we could continue our conversation.

I died.  Literally, I lost it right there in my living room.  I starting screaming and jumping up and down and generally freaking out in a manner quite unbecoming but I didn’t care. The story wasn’t finished yet.  It was absurd and so unlikely but STILL, somehow our tale would continue.

I emailed him back that night and gave him my number.

I waited four agonizing days for him to call. It was basically a week.  On the fourth day I called Josh because I had a very real (made up) and important (insignificant) question regarding something very urgent (trivial).  At the end of our conversation, I casually brought up the fact that his brother hadn’t called and I was wondering if he was the type that meets girls on Spring Break all the time.  Josh assured me he wasn’t that kind of guy and would get to the bottom of it.

Fifteen minutes later, my phone rang and it was Joe.  Apparently, he was trying to play it cool.

We talked for over an hour.  And then, the next day, we talked again.  And the following day, we talked again.  And soon, Joe made plans to come to Chicago to “visit his brother and sister-in-law.”

It was on that visit that we had our first official date.


We went downtown Chicago to see Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre.  Our seats were on the second level, stage left with our backs against the brick wall about mid-way to the back of the house.  We had to turn our heads in order to see the show and I could feel Joe watching me through out the evening.  Every once in a while, I’d turn my head and catch his eyes and he’d look at me with an unhurried gaze that would completely demolish most of my functioning capabilities (like breathing).

After the show, we went to the 96th floor of the John Hancock Building and sat in The Signature Room Lounge.  We snagged a cozy spot in the back with a wall of glass to our right overlooking the Chicago skyline. There was a candle at our table radiating a red glow and I could feel my cheeks matching its color because Joe was still staring at me with that look.  I was completely a goner.


We made plans for me to visit Orlando again at the end of May for Joe’s 20th birthday and again at the end of June for his brother, Jon’s wedding.  In between each of these visits were hours of talking on the phone.  We called every day, sometimes twice a day.  In many ways, the distance between us accelerated our relationship. All we could do was talk, hours and hours of asking better and deeper questions of one another.  We saw each other once a month on average and waited in anticipation after each goodbye.

We dated long distance for 10 months.  Then, on Christmas Day, 2004, I packed up everything I owned in my white Nissan Altima and moved to Orlando. I just wanted to be near him and I knew I loved him.  I loved him the moment I saw him staring back at me from that photograph.

On June 9, 2006, in Orlando, FL in the presence of God and our family and friends, I became his wife, Mrs. Lips Loveless.

There are many, many more stories to tell about our 10 months of long distance or the year and a half we finally lived in the same city.  There are stories for days about our wedding (Joe wanted a shwedding – part show, part wedding!) and how we started our family.  But this is a blog not a book and I promised this would only be a five-part series.

I write in this space so that I can keep telling our stories.  So, I will do that.  I’m thankful for those of you who have read this far.  The joy of telling a story is having someone who will listen.  I count you as friends.

Blessings to you and yours,




A Love(less) Story {Chapter 4}

This is the story of how I met and fell in love with my husband, Joseph Loveless.

Here are the previous chapters, in case you’ve missed them:

Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three.

Thanks for reading along!


We made it to Sea World around 9:30 am and without haste, the theme park enthusiasts in the group (not me) marked out a plan ensuring we hit all the favored shows and attractions.  I’m not one to name names (Kaitlin), but there were professional tourists with us, you guys.  I’m talking sunscreen, maps, tennis shoes, packed ham & cheese and peanut butter jelly sandwiches, the whole kit and caboodle.

My fanatic friends darted from one sea creature to the next, while Joe and I spent the day finding our way next to one another.  We chatted through the dolphin show, talking about our families and funny stories from childhood.  We ate soggy sandwiches and catalogued the differences between Chicago and Orlando, North vs. South, Bulls vs. Magic.  We spent a long time talking about ministry, school, his job, my involvement and passions in the church.  At one point, during our tour though the Shark Encounter, he told me he was hiring someone to manage the Student Ministry Small Groups at the church.  Without mincing words or missing a beat, I offered myself as a sure winner for the position.  It was a spectacular display of unbridled confidence and totally naive chutzpah.  I was mostly flirting, half serious and half wanting to see his reaction.  Shocked, he smiled, “I should, should I?”  We bantered back and forth on my qualifications, experience, and all that he’d be missing out on should he pass up this magnificent opportunity.  Unfortunately, he’d already set in motion hiring someone else.  I shot him a smile, “Your loss, buddy.”  He grinned at me, eyes shining, “You’re right.  It is my loss.”

Late in the day, everyone wanted to go ride Kraken, the only roller coaster at Sea World.  I HATE roller coasters. I DESPISE them.  I DETEST their very existence, rendering them puke-inducing death traps, but I was feeling all love stuck and brave and standing in line with Joe was more appealing than waiting by the ice cream vendor selling Shamu on a stick. So there we were in line, about to get on the ride, standing very close to one another. All of a sudden, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to wrap my arms around Joe’s midsection. It was an other-worldly force, compelling me, you guys.  Don’t worry — I restrained myself in a formidable feat of self-control.  BUT WHAT WAS GOING ON? The Florida heat was getting to me.

After the roller coaster incident, I tried to make it a little less obvious that I was losing my druthers. I repeated very slowly to myself through my clenched jaw, the words I said when I first saw his picture, “At. Ease. Soldier.”

Joe had other plans.

Our day at Sea World was coming to a close but he offered to show us more Orlando hot spots.  He called his buddies for back up, later confessing it was to distract my friends so he and I could have more one on one time.

We decided to go Universal City Walk. The plan was to take a ferry ride to a coffee shop at the Portofino Hotel.

Joe knew enough about the college I attended and the town I lived in to know that coffee was something of a currency for us. We needed coffee to exist. We judged all things based on how much coffee we’d already consumed that day. It was a good move on his part to let us get some caffeine pumping through our veins. He wasn’t a fan of the bean, but was now trying to win my heart.

As the ferry pulled into the bay, we were transported to Portofino, Italy.  It was spectacular. Vespa’s were parked at the shoreline and Italian music hung in the background. While the rest of us were distracted taking pictures of each other on scooters, Joe snuck away into the coffee shop.

Knowing he had little time, he quickly leaned over the counter and whispered to the barista, “What’s your strongest coffee drink?” She shot him a puzzled look, “Probably an Americano,” she answered.  “Thanks!” Joe said and ran back out to meet up with the group.

Eventually, we made our way to the coffee shop and Joe stepped up confidently to place his order. “I’ll take an Americano,” he said nonchalantly.  The lady must have smiled, though I didn’t notice.  I did note, however, what Joe ordered and it left an impression. Apparently, fast cars, feats of strength — these do nothing for me, but strong coffee makes me all weak in the knees.

Joe choked the whole thing down.

It wound’t be until much later that Joe would confess his distaste for coffee and spill the beans on what happened that night.


It was 3am before we said our goodbyes.  The girls and I had to trek back to the great white North in the morning and we needed some sleep.

After Portofino, we moved the party back to a friend’s house to watch a movie.  Joe and I sat in the kitchen all evening, chowing down on pizza, and up to our eyeballs in flirty banter.  I super-liked him and all signs pointed to reciprocated feelings on his part.  But as the evening ticked on, we got closer and closer to the moment I would travel back to Chicago and Lips Loveless would once again become a high improbability in my life.  There was no discussion of seeing each other again.  He didn’t ask for my number, and though I’m not one to shy away from opportunity, I didn’t have the courage to give it to him.  The whole thing was bizarre and would be over 24 hours after it’d started.

When it was deemed time to go, everyone got up to say goodbye at the same time and it felt like Joe and I were stepping out of a bubble.  We all exchanged goodbyes and I felt like I was 13 again, bidding farewell to my boyfriend in front of my parents.  Joe leaned in for a hug — A SIDE-HUG.  I read him wrong and swung my arm around for a full frontal embrace.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to turn a stiff armed, side hug into a regular hug but let me tell you, it is a horrifying display of human awkwardness.  It involves lots of, “Oh, um, er, ah…” and then hand pats on the shoulder.  EPIC, EPIC FAIL.

After that, we said things like, “It was so good getting to meet you!” and “Drive safely!” and “Bye!”

What I really wanted him to know was that it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world had he kissed me with those lips of his, but the side hug was a good indication that the lips weren’t making their debut.

After a few more rounds of awkward pleasantries, he was gone, with no indication that we’d ever meet again.

**Continue Reading: Chapter 5