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You all are just the best. I had promised my email subscribers that I would get Part One of our love story published last Wednesday, but it was nearly bedtime before I got the post finished. I hit “Publish,” sent it out via email, then shared it on Facebook and Instagram. Within half an hour there were so many people trying to read the post that my website couldn’t handle the traffic…and this continued until noon the following day! I’m sorry for the glitches y’all experienced during that time! My awesome tech guy made some changes so hopefully that won’t happen again…at least not for a little while. 😛 I wasn’t expecting quite so many of you to be so interested in my love life, but it’s very heart-warming to know that you’re not just here for the food! And all the comments you left. Some of them almost brought me to tears, they were so sweet! To know that some of you were even praying for a good man for me – that means so much and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. God heard!
One very important piece of business: I LOVE all my middle-aged women readers! 😉 Just thought I’d clarify that.
Thank you all for the questions you left on Part One! I figure I might as well write about what you’re interested in, eh? (The Canadians are rubbing off on me already.) You’ll find answers to some of them below.
“I would love to know more specifically how he discovered you? Did he know your cousin, someone you went to South Africa with, or did he stumble across your blog?”
He literally just stumbled across my blog. Apparently it was a “Suggested Blog” in the sidebar of someone else’s personal blog, so he clicked over, read some of my spiritual articles and South Africa posts, and the rest is history!
“How long was he ‘following’ you before he came to see you?”
I only found this one out after dating for several months. 😛 There was less than a week’s time between when he found my blog and drove 8 hours to come to my church that Sunday morning. In his mind, it was an urgent matter because someone else could come along and snatch me up at any time! During those few days, he sent my website to his mom and a few friends and made some phone calls checking up on what kind of person I was.
“How did he know what church to show up at?”
This one cracked me up. I generally try not to give out specific information about where I live, but he knew that I had sung with a certain group so he went to their website and found my city in the singer biographies. From there he went to the ever-helpful directory of conservative Mennonite churches and found my church, then called the number of the pastor listed. Once he got to the answering machine, he quickly hung up before leaving a message because he realized that he had actually called my dad! He wanted some unbiased information before he made that call, so he found the number for one of our other pastors. 😛
“I would be curious to know more about his upbringing and church background, and how yours and his are different/similar.”
With a name like “Burkholder,” he’s definitely born and bred Mennonite of some stripe…haha. You’ll find many, many Burkholders in Lancaster, PA, among other Anabaptist population centers. Ryan and I actually believe very similarly about theology and practical application. Both of us have grown up in a conservative Mennonite church setting, and we’ll be attending a small church of that type where he is in residency in Louisiana.
Someone else mentioned in the comments that I didn’t say anything about Ryan’s love for God, so I’ll have to remedy that. 😉 One of the things I appreciate the most about Ryan is the fact that he scorns pretense. He is the most open, transparent person I know and expects other people to live the same way. Ryan’s transparency extends into his relationship with God, and one of my favorite things to do together as a couple is to pray together, partly because I just love to listen to Ryan’s real conversations with God. He doesn’t put on any fronts – he simply is. And he has been a wonderful spiritual leader for me, setting boundaries in our relationship where there need to be boundaries, reminding me to seek God before seeking Ryan, and discussing all the deep issues of life as they relate to God and His Kingdom.
“Where in Ontario is his family from?”
“How did your siblings react to him?”
When I got engaged, my 8-year-old brother Josh said, “I knew this was going to happen.” (With a half grin on his face.)
My siblings were accepting of him, but they were in the sit-back-and-observe stage for quite awhile. Unfortunately because of Ryan’s schedule after starting his intern year of residency in July, he hasn’t been able to make many trips to my area to spend any time with my family, so they’re still getting to know him! Especially my siblings. My parents have been able to interact with him a little more thanks to technology. But my whole family is very supportive of our relationship and I think even my most skeptical siblings have grown to like Ryan and realize that he’s a pretty good match for their big sister. 😉
“When you move to Louisiana, will you have animals to care for?”
Maybe some roaches and mice, but other than that…. We will probably be living in the city close to the hospital for now, so I’m afraid not! Traveler, my horse, will be staying at home with my family for now. I’m bound and determined to put a garden in somehow! Although gardening without readily available horse manure is going to be a new challenge for this farm girl!
“I would like to know what it is like for Ryan to be in the medical field and practice his spiritual beliefs as a Mennonite. Also do you have an address you are willing to give out for those of us who would like to send a wedding card?”
That’s a good question! I told him that you all want to hear from him at some point, so hopefully he can guest post sometime.
That’s very sweet of you to ask about sending cards! I plan to set up a business post office box when I move to Louisiana, so perhaps I can share that address a little later. Someone else asked about a wedding registry. Again, thank you so much for thinking of us. Honestly, the best gift you could give is to keep coming back to the blog. 😉 Presence is more important to us than presents, which is why we actually have not set up a wedding registry at all.
On our first weekend together, I found out that Ryan loves a) mini golf and b) taking pictures of me.
Two weeks after we started dating, we took a road trip to Ontario with his family to attend his cousin’s wedding. We stopped in Holmes County, Ohio, on the way, and got ice cream together at the Winesburg Dariette. Why does the south not have these little roadside soft-serve ice cream places?? Side note: Ryan is wearing my coat because he didn’t bring one…it wasn’t that cold in FL in May. Another side note: one time near the beginning of our relationship, Ryan told me that he thought ice cream was for birthdays. 😛 He really has changed the way I see food, but more on that some other time. We do eat ice cream together sometimes, don’t worry.
While we were in Ohio, I took Ryan over to the place where my cookbook is printed and Leroy (the manager) gave us the grand tour. Ryan was so interested in the whole process and delighted in taking pictures of me looking all professional.
On the way up to the wedding we swung by Niagara Falls; I had never been there!
On the way home from the wedding, we stopped at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. It was a very fascinating place! In the picture below, the tent you see is a reenactment of a Civil War doctor messing around on an amputated arm, complete with blood and all kinds of nastiness that was making my stomach queasy. Ryan, being a doctor, thought it was awesome. I was getting sick to my stomach and didn’t want to risk fainting in front of my brand new boyfriend, so I went and sat down.
Extremely funny story: we got back to South Carolina that night and I saw that I had been tagged in a picture on Facebook. One of my blog followers had recognized me and taken a picture! She didn’t come up and introduce herself because she saw that I was otherwise occupied. 😛
If I had to sum Ryan up in one phrase, it would probably be, “Quality over quantity.” That’s been the thesis of our relationship. We don’t get to see each other very often, but when we do we pack a lot into it and our times together are very meaningful. We did a lot of in-depth talking on that road trip to Ontario and back which really helped set the stage for the rest of our relationship. Communication (on deep, worthwhile subjects) is SO important!
But we don’t always go to tourist spots. 😉 The top of a mountain at sunrise is breathtaking:
Ryan came to visit me in South Carolina in July, right before starting residency. I got him onto a horse, and he was actually the most low-maintenance greenhorn I’ve ever ridden with.
Since we couldn’t be together over his birthday in August, we celebrated early with my family! My sister made my new peach cobbler recipe and we stuck 26 candles in the top.
Some of my siblings had never been mini-golfing, so we convinced my whole family to go one night. Ryan still beat me by one point with his consistent game. 😛
Shopping at a discount grocery store, because we both love good bargains!
In July we went to a restaurant together for the first time, and it was so special! Ryan loves Indian food and I had never had it before, so he took me to a very elegant Indian restaurant. The food was a-maz-ing. My family doesn’t eat out much, and when we do we don’t branch out a lot (because not everyone in my family has taste buds as odd as mine), so trying different cuisines with Ryan has been so much fun! And very inspirational for my culinary experiments. Expect Briana’s take on Indian food in the next cookbook. 😉
My handsome dinner partner…
This was my mom’s kitchen before I drove to Louisiana to see Ryan in August. He doesn’t have a lot of time to cook, so I made a bunch of stuff both for us to eat while I was there and also to leave there for him to pull out of the freezer when he needed a home-cooked meal. Vanilla waffles, non-THM bread, pulled pork barbecue, stir-fry and rice bagged in individual servings to keep in the freezer…Ryan’s dad dubbed me “The Meals on Wheels Brigade.”
While I was in Louisiana, we drove to Dallas, Texas, to do some sight-seeing. Ryan and I both love history, so we enjoyed a tour of the city, then went to the 6th Floor Museum.
Mediterranean buffet: another new cuisine style for me! The baba ganoush with smoked paprika (left) was definitely my favorite thing on the plate.
On a day that Ryan had to work, I did my work during the morning and afternoon, then did some cleaning for him and made a special supper. Tuna steaks (Walmart was out of salmon!); a nice salad with toasted pecans and sunflower seeds, colorful peppers, and feta; and red quinoa. And Blueberry Cheesecake Delight for dessert.
Oh – and sparkling cider for something special. 😉 Please note that not everything in this post is THM-approved….
On my trip to Louisiana in October, we went to Texarkana, where the line between Texas and Arkansas goes right through the center of the town!
We rented bikes and rode around the sleepy little town in the gorgeous fall weather.
Ryan found coupons for a private Victorian house tour on Groupon. Very neat!
Yet another new cuisine – Thai! I got a delicious curry, which I recreated when I got home. You’ll be able to find it in my next cookbook. 😉
After our engagement, Ryan sent me the most beautiful bouquet of roses I have ever seen. The note that came along with them was even more special than the flowers because I still have it! He’s a very gifted writer and has sent me a nice stack of cards, letters, and postcards over the past year!
Well, I hope I appeased some of your curiosity. 😉 The next two months will be bringing lots of changes, that’s for sure! I very much look forward to setting up my own house with my own kitchen and cooking for Ryan. If you want to stay in the loop with new recipes, wedding planning, and maybe the occasional peek into my new kitchen, you can sign up to get my posts via email by clicking here. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you and your family have a very blessed Christmas!