We met in the 4th grade, when Marc's family moved from Pennsylvania to my (Ashley's) home town. The teacher placed his desk right next to mine the first day Marc started school.
In 8th grade, a teacher (of all people) set us up, to date. She carefully and openly selected us to work together on a class project (on American life in the 1920s). It worked, and we became each others' first love. We dated a year before choosing to be apart in high school. We spent high school focusing on friendships, academics (we shared all the honors classes together), and athletics (Marc played football and ran track; Ashley played soccer and was a cheerleader). We stayed good friends as we grew up.
The first day of college, we were surprised to see that not only had we chosen the same college, but were moving into the same dorm. We had our first college class together, and by Spring of Freshman year, we were dating again. We have been together ever since - 18 years ago!
In 2009, after a decade together, God wove a remarkable story in that grand way that only He can, and we both became Christians, without realizing the other was feeling the same spiritual pull. By the end of the year, Marcus proposed to me in a faith-filled moment at Cape Hatteras (a place I consider as the best of NC magic).
Our family and close friends are the world to us. We were blessed to spend 2010 planning our wedding with "our village". Our year was spent celebrating SIX OTHER weddings of family and friends, as well as pulling ours off. From my Mom making the dress and the cake, to Marc's brother DJing, to close friends catering the entire event, and all the framily that decorated our wedding and took photos of the best day of our lives, we are constantly reminded how blessed we are!
Since our wedding, we have spent the last six years with all the sides of our family (and all the new nephews and nieces born into it!), and with our "accidental cat". I call him the "accidental cat" because we had just decided to get a dog - when a teeny abandoned kitten, weak and sick, found Marc while he and his Dad were on a camping week. Marc brought the kitten home to help it recover, and Russell Brand the Cat has been with us ever since. He's the best addition to our home, yet, and makes us laugh every day!
Marcus works at UPS and has for 11 years. I (Ashley) used to work in marketing and television, but now work as an artist and photographer from home. We spent a lot of years thinking about how we wanted to parent (with me as a stay-at-home-mom), and we have cultivated a life to allow that we have every opportunity to spend with our children and take them on great adventures, every day and in ways great and small.
Now, we just wait. We wait to meet the new members of our family, and to see how God will grow us all in the amazing tapestry of life. Meanwhile, we work on home projects (gardening and renovation), visit family and the friends we consider family, play games, travel, read, and laugh... a lot. We are pretty goofy. And... we wait.
With love and prayers...
Marc and Ashley
Our home is snuggly and colorful. It's a mix of ocean and mountains, glitter and nature, and calm and creative.
The main floor has all the family hangouts: a living room full of seating, plants, family photos, and colorful walls and paintings; a dining room ready to seat eight; a kitchen where Ashley loves to bake and Marc loves to cook; a coffee and tea corner, because we like coffee and tea that much; a back deck for grilling and relaxing; and the bedrooms.
Besides our bedroom, we have a guest room ready for family and friends to stay over, and a nursery ready for a child, full of beautiful books and original art, and a beautiful wooden crib.
Downstairs, we are blessed to have a second living room with a fireplace, to snuggle on cold nights. Ashley's art studio is also downstairs, ready for little hands to play in the paint and create their own original artworks. A weight room also provides the Marc and Ashley the opportunity to stay strong and energetic to chase littles and live a grand adventure healthily!
Outside is full of Marc's work. Marc loves gardening, and grows his own vegetable patch every year. All around the house, you can find Marc's flowers, shrubs, trees, evergreens, and tropical plants. The front yard has a dogwood, which is Ashley's favorite tree. The back yard is fenced in with an open area for frisbee and water balloon fights, and the back deck for family weekends and evenings.
Our dream was always to have a warm happy home, full of love from wall to wall. We want to be able to invite the people we love in at any time, and for every room to be full of memories of laughter, hugs, and unexpected joys.
Most of our neighbors have lived in our neighborhood for nearly 20 years. Everyone walks their dogs or goes for walks with their children here. One neighbor (the coolest woman on Earth) says we all live in "the best neighborhood in America" because it is so culturally diverse (with neighbors from all around the globe). We are also close enough to walk to restaurants, coffee houses, and frozen yogurt, and an easy drive to amazing parks, museums, and the state fair!
We never planned to stay in this city, but now that we are here, we know we are so blessed to have so much access to so much community. There is a reason Raleigh is named on the Forbes list of best places to raise a family year after year!
Love. Outdoor Adventurer. Security. Hilarious. If I had to describe Marcus in five words, those would be the five words.
Marcus is the most loving person I've ever known. Love is an action. It is in how Marcus has mercy and grace for the people in his life, like during the long period of grief we experienced after my Daddy died. It is in how he takes care of our cars, so that I am safe when I drive around town or travel. It is in his gratitude for every meal I make him, like all the blessings throughout his life and day. It is in how he talks about his brothers, and how he finds projects to work on with his Dad and Mom.
Marcus is also an adventurer. The outdoors are his favorite place to be. From mountains to coast, he cannot get enough fresh air and wildlife. If a bird, fox, or turtle is within eye-sight, he's the first to notice it. The morning after our wedding, our friends helped us clean up the reception location. He saw deer outside, and ran to get our friend's little girl - to show her the passing family of deer. I watched him in awe and thought how I couldn't wait to see him become a father.
Marc is the part of our marriage that focuses on "Big Picture". He plans for the future with the focus "You cannot sacrifice tomorrow for today". While we make sure to live in the present, Marc is the ground in our marriage, reminding us that in order to make our dreams come true, we do the work today. He is the security of our marriage - wind in the sails that get us where we are going.
One of my favorite things about Marc is his sense of humor. He's SO funny. He's quiet in large groups, preferring a small group of good friends over parties. Marc is so easy-going, and quick-witted. Laughter may be his absolute favorite pass-time, and that is priceless in life. I can be a bit serious, but that twinkle in his eyes and that ability to make the quickest but subtle jokes get me every time.
Marc played sports his whole life, playing football, basketball, baseball, soccer, and college rugby. Marc has a natural knack for cooking, and has fun figuring out recipes. He doesn't have a lot of confidence in his drawing ability, but making pottery comes easy for him. He's naturally talented.
I cannot wait to see him as a Daddy, possibly coaching little league like his Dad did, climbing trees with his daughter or son, and teaching our child how to play in the clay pottery. Most of all, I look forward to seeing him read his child bedtime stories, and sharing years of laughter.
I am proud of Marcus: the man he is, the husband he is, and the father he will be.
~ Ashley Sue
Ashley is a compassionate, intelligent, loving wife. She is a talented artist and truly enjoys conversation.
Ashley is the first to say hello to a stranger, always willing to help a friend, and has the compassion to help people she barely knows. She enjoys helping people, and a simple "thank you" goes a long way to her. Her desire to help others coupled with her ability to follow through is, in my opinion, the base of her character.
Ashley is a talented artist. This is a very broad statement, especially in her case. She probably enjoys photography the most, but she also excels in painting, drawing, jewelry making, as well as crafts. This is an ability she was born and raised with. Her mother is an accomplished artist, and although their styles differ, Ashley benefits from her close relationship with her mother.
If I could pick any one word to describe Ashley, it might be "conversationalist". She perhaps enjoys nothing more in life than talking with family, friends, neighbors, whomever, preferably with a cup of coffee. She enjoys getting to know and understand the many perspectives of others. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and have much we can learn from each other. This is a simple joy and passion of hers.
Lastly, Ashley is a wife. There are so many things that go into being a wife. She is what makes this so important, for anyone can marry, but not all spouses actually work for that marriage. This speaks to the love that she possesses and so much more.
Ashley Sue has dreamed of being a mother since she was a child herself, and I look forward to the day when this is realized. She will be a great Mom.