All of my boys are so different. So it's really fun to think about what this next boy will be like. How different can he be from the other three? One of the joys of watching them grow is seeing what they're interested in. My oldest child is so into baseball right now, especially the Giants, that we literally have to keep his fetish in check. We let him watch the highlights of the game on the computer and every night that there's a game, he gets to fall asleep listening to it on the radio. But he knows every player, their stats, all the rules of the game, and we'll often hear him cheering/clapping when a good play is made once he's in bed. He has fallen hard for America's favorite pastime.
Little Joshua is very into working outside. He loves dirt, he loves trucks, he loves messy things and he loves hard work. Often he will outwork his older brothers (with outside chores that is). He's got some brawn to him and his favorite thing to do, besides stacking wood, is to work with his Daddy in the garden, filling his wagon with things to load up into the truck to be carted away on a trash run.
And Caleb, he's always been our builder. Both older boys have their Dad's math mind (we don't particularly know about Joshua yet, nor does it matter much... he is who he is). But Caleb, like I've mentioned before, is also very interested in Physics. He wants to know why and how everything in the world works. And when he builds something, there is always a rhyme or reason to how he makes it all work together. Recently, he and I did some experimenting with levers and yesterday morning, he was delighted he was able to make his spoon balance on his oatmeal bowl by equally distributing its weight. "This side is longer than that side Mom." He said very matter-of-factly. "But it works because this side has the spoon on it. They weigh the same." He literally wouldn't eat another bite of oatmeal until I took a picture of it (to show Dad later). Cracking me up.
Last night, he gave us another glimpse into his little mind, when he built his first "machine".
He called it his Printer.
Both Steve and I had no idea what he was doing as he gathered his materials. It looked like a bunch of junk at first. But then, it all started to come together, taking shape and after much sweat and determination on his part, he had built his first machine. And the best part of it all, is that it worked.
Today marks two special events in our family. The first is that it's been 12 years since Steve and I have been together. Yeah! I think we'll celebrate by both crashing early. Such is the life. The second is that our fourth child and only daughter was born on this day two years ago. What joy, tenderness, femininity and sweetness she's added to the "roughness" in our home. Since she's most likely going to be the only girl, we treasure her presence immensely and are so glad she's ours. Happy 2nd Birthday Elle! We love you!
Soon enough we were back in San Luis Obispo with Fall
Quarter underway. Many people in AGO
were shocked to hear we were dating since most didn't have a clue that we liked
each other at all before the summer.
Many assumed we had been a camp romance and so we had to set the record
straight a bit, which was fine. One of
the biggest blessings for us was that we had so many older couples, who had dated
or were dating while in AGO, who were either engaged or married, that served as
amazing examples of godly relationships.
We also had many peers and close friends who had gotten together too so
we had many people to emulate. As we
dove back into our regular way of life, we watched and learned.
Early on in October I suspected our first kiss might be
coming and I was hoping it would be soon.
Steve had kissed my hand at the end of the summer and then one night,
when he was helping me study for a math exam (and I was a bit frustrated with
my studies), he sweetly kissed the top of my head. I was guessing the cheek would be next but, I
really wasn't sure. All of my roommates
had bets on the cheek. I was hoping he'd
skip the cheek altogether and go for the prize...it was getting harder for me
to wait. Whenever he held me close I had
to use all my self-control to not steal a quick little peck but the fact that I
was determined not to be the one that
kissed him first, kept me in check!
It was a beautiful fall Saturday in October when Steve asked
me to hang out for the afternoon. I
didn't think much of it at all. When he
showed up in his buddy Scott's car with a red rose in his hand I thought,
"Oh how sweet! He's
learning!" And that was pretty much
it. I wasn't sure where we were headed
until we began driving away from San Luis Obispo and toward Montana de Oro,
which is a beautiful, rugged beach lined with breathtaking cliffs. Steve had packed us a lunch of sandwiches
from Gus's and after hiking down to the water, we ate our lunch down on the
Right after lunch I asked him if we could take a walk. He said, "No," pretty quickly and
firmly. I thought that a bit strange so
I tried again to get him to come and walk with me, but he wouldn't budge. Little did I know he was mustering his
courage. I grabbed his hand trying to
urge him down through the sand but instead he pulled me close. I pulled away teasingly and told him that we
should start walking. And then he got
serious. I realized he wasn't in a
joking mood so I stopped messing around and listened.
He pulled me close again.
I didn't think much of it since for four months I had been in his arms
on numerous occasions and that was it.
And then he started talking.
"Nikki, I know you've waited a long time for me to give you flowers." I nodded in agreement, halfway hoping inside
that the flower-giving would start to pick up now that he realized how much I
liked it. "Well, I waited to give
you flowers until the day I would kiss you for the first time because I wanted
it to be special." Then I
knew. But before I had any opportunity
to be scared or shy or even totally excited out of my mind, he kissed me.
It was the sweetest, most gentle kiss ever and before I knew
it, it was over. Way too fast in my
opinion. I had waited so long for that
kiss. So without even thinking and void
of any decorum at all, as soon as he pulled away, I blurted out, "Kiss me
again!" He laughed, smiled and then
reached for me to kiss me again. That
time I was ready. The first time I
wasn't expecting it so I didn't get to savor it. But the second time I was able to take it all
in, the sound of the lapping waves, the salty breeze, his hand on my face and
his tender lips on mine. And in doing
so, I was able to capture that little snippet in time and etch it on my memory,
so that I could store it up in my heart and remember the moment forever.
Life in the kitchen was pretty fun. I definitely felt a bit disconnected to what
was going on with camp as a whole since I was mostly worried about helping feed
the masses but, I was getting to know my coworkers better and I really liked
the work itself. I also realized pretty
quickly how gracious God had been to put me on the kitchen staff that summer
rather than on the counseling staff because Program Staff and Counselors hardly
had any off-time together. My job in the
kitchen didn't clash with Steve's nearly as much. We were able to steal a few minutes here and
there to talk and sometimes at night we could get a bit of time.
By some strange stroke of providence we just "happened"
to get the same night off too. One of
the Program Staff, who did the schedule, knew we were dating and was really
kind to do that for us. The first
Tuesday night that we were both off together, I didn't know quite what to
do. I really wanted to hang out with
Steve but, I wasn't about to ask him to go out so, I just made my own plans to
run errands in town.
As I was walking to my car I saw Steve sprinting to the
parking lot. Breathless, but grinning he
said, "Wait! Do you, uh, want to
hang out tonight?" "Nice,"
I thought to myself. "This guy is
pretty awesome but, it definitely shows that he doesn't have that much
experience with wooing girls." I
decided quickly to put all of that aside though. He can learn.
What matters is who he is, not whether or not he's a smooth
operator. "Sure." I agreed.
He climbed into the driver's seat and off we went.
When we pulled into Scotts Valley, his hometown, we ended up
at the local Baskin Robbins. After
getting our ice cream, we made our way out to the tables outside in the warm
summer night air. And we started talking
and didn't stop for hours. The more we
talked, the more the pressure started to fall of our shoulders. We had already admitted our feelings. We had finally defined what we were. And now, we were just learning to enjoy each
other's company in light of our new status, like we had before. It was the
first night we started getting comfortable in our new skin. We were figuring things out. Things were starting to feel less
"business" and more natural.
Not that it wasn't necessary to iron things out, but it was so nice to
just soak each other up without a bunch of extra pressure. We laughed and laughed and we shared deeper
things. When the Baskin Robbins staff
started to pull the tables inside, we knew it was time to go, so we reluctantly
went to my car to go back to camp.
But it was clear. Neither
of us wanted the night to end at all. And
we had until midnight. So right before
we got back to camp we pulled off the road just a mile before the main
entrance, opened up the moon roof and watched the stars to drink in every last
second of that night. Before I knew it, Steve
had his arm around me and he was running his fingers ever so gently through my
hair. Not much was said. Neither of us had much to say at all. We were just being present trying to take it
Yet as we pondered the beauty of God's amazing creation, way
up in those majestic mountains, we knew that God was doing something pretty
amazing in our lives. He had brought us
together in such a thoughtful way and He alone was allowing us to take such
pleasure in His plan. And it was clear,
we were both enjoying His gift to us more than we ever knew we could. It had definitely been worth the wait.
* * * *
The summer passed pretty quickly. We spent many Tuesday nights going out in
Santa Cruz and at times went north on Highway 1 to walk along the beautiful
beaches that lined the rugged California coastline. There was one beach in particular that we
frequented often and after falling so in love with it, we termed it "our
beach". Many times, in order to squeeze every last second out of those nights, we pulled off the road right before camp and watched the stars before driving into camp at the stroke of midnight. It was during those times that we had some of our best talks about life, our faith and where we thought "we" were going. In between date nights, we
did our jobs, talked when we could and kept things quiet. Slowly, over the summer, a few more people
found out we were dating but at that point, camp was winding down and most
people didn't give it much thought.
Often on the weekends, we went and visited Steve's family
since they lived so close. Steve would
sleep on the couch upstairs and I slept in the guestroom. Then we all went to church and had lunch
afterward. It was a nice rhythm and I
got to know his parents and siblings much more than I did before. All in all, it had been a perfect summer.
But August hit and it was finally at an end. I was headed up to spend a few weeks with my
parents before Cal Poly started in late September and Steve was staying in
Santa Cruz until then as well. We knew
it might be some time before we saw each other again. Seeing each other every day at camp had
spoiled us! The thought of being apart
for a few weeks was definitely daunting.
But we knew, in the end, it was just a matter of time before we'd be in
San Luis Obispo again.
As Steve walked me out to my car to say "good-bye",
he knelt down, grabbed my hand and gave it a tender kiss. He had never
kissed me before. We had only held hands and at times, he would hold me close but, there had not
been any kissing and that had been on purpose.
In the beginning, he had told me it would be some time before he would
kiss me and I had no idea when it would occur.
When I drove away I kept replaying the whole scenario in my
mind. Had I imagined it or did he really
kiss my hand? Yes! Yes, he did!
Because if he did, then that meant we were at least on some sort of
track for a real kiss sometime soon. The
thought of that whole element of our relationship scared me to death but it
also thrilled me to the core. I had
liked this guy for months now. We had
been dating for the whole summer and we both liked each other even more now
than when we started. So it seemed
natural that would follow. But I'd have
to be patient. This Steve Dauphin was
very logical and methodical. He'd kiss
me when he was ready and when he thought we were ready for it. I kept telling myself these truths over and
over in my head.
Yet, in reality, after that kiss on the hand, I didn't know
if I'd be able to hold out for much
I'd finally found the place.
It had definitely been an adventure getting there in my new car. The Santa Cruz mountain roads were windy and
very hilly (death to the novice stick shift driver) but, I made it in one piece. As soon as I walked down the road, I saw all
sorts of other staff members unloading their cars and moving stuff in. I scanned the crowd looking for Steve but I
didn't see him. Yet as I walked up Hamburger
Hill, unsuspectingly, I ran smack dab
into him. I surprised him so much that
he dropped the package he had been carrying, which was from his parents,
spilling the contents. Unfortunately for
him, the much needed boxers and socks they sent him were littered all over the
ground. We both got quiet immediately at
the sudden awkwardness and then he laughed, breaking the silence. "Don't
look at those!" he snarled
playfully with a laugh while quickly picking them all up. I was beet red of course, totally embarrassed
by seeing him again for the first time and uneasy about the "personal"
contents of his package.
But I quickly forgot all about the package because in the
next instant, before I even knew what was happening, he grabbed my hand and
pulled me in close to him wrapping his strong arms around me. Immediately, I got lost in his shoulders and
his chin rested on my head. "I'm
glad to see you," he whispered softly as he grinned down at me. The moment was brief but it was
significant. For except the recent driving
lessons, when he occasionally had helped me to shift leaving my fingers
tingling, it was the first time he'd ever really voluntarily touched me at all
in the whole six months. It was
definitely the first hug he'd ever given me, that's for sure. And as he held me close, for those few
seconds, I felt like the luckiest girl in the whole world.
* * * *
Camp Orientation was going really well. The first night we were all woken up at 3 am
and were forced to hike to the top of Pine Mountain (team building I guess). It was a bit crazy but, a lot of fun. After that we headed to the Central Valley to
Space Camp where we did a lot of team building exercises, got to know one
another a bit better and spent the warm nights just hanging out. One of the nights we all were up late playing
basketball. One by one people started
heading off to bed until there were just a handful of us left. Soon enough the last person left and it was
just Steve and me. I had no idea what
time it was but I was pretty sure we weren't really supposed to be out. However, I also had a premonition that this
might be the time when Steve would get the courage to talk to me about us. So I rode on that feeling and continued to
shoot baskets with him for awhile.
Just when I was ready to give up on him and go to bed, he
asked if I wanted to talk for a bit.
"Finally!!" I thought to myself. We sat on some cement steps and he began talking. "Well, I have a hunch that you and I
want to be more than just friends."
I smiled broadly and he continued talking about how he had liked me for
some time but wanted to make sure he understood my heart, see how I acted over
time and discern whether or not I genuinely loved the Lord. I laughed inside because I knew I had been
doing the same. I also knew I wasn't
going to pursue him. So that was another
reason I had been silent and just waited.
After him talking for a bit he suddenly looked up, with a worried look
in his eye and said, "Wait, I'm right aren't I?" I laughed out loud and quickly put him out of
his misery. "Of course! I've liked you for many months now. But like you, I wanted to make sure I knew
you were the real deal. I needed to see
you through some seasons to get a good feel for what kind of man you really are." Relieved, he then continued and we talked for
We discussed our desire to only date with the intent to
marry. Neither of us wanted to mess
around with something that couldn't potentially lead that direction. Not that we knew for sure we would marry each other but, that's what we had spent so
much time ahead of time doing, trying to discern if the other person was
suitable. Because if that was the case, once
we got to know one another a bit better, then our end goal was marriage.
Our talk was a bit awkward at times as we stumbled through
logistics, what we thought about each other, what Steve wanted our relationship
to look like and what I felt about his thoughts. But even though it was awkward, as we felt
our way around, it was a talk that was needed.
We needed to define things, get things out in the open and finally be
honest about our feelings. It felt good
to tell him with confidence that I really liked him and it was exhilarating to
know he felt the same.
After awhile it was really late and both of us knew we shouldn't
be out any longer, especially by ourselves.
So he walked me back to my room and gave me a quick hug. Those arms...I just loved being in his arms. We still hadn't decided what we "were"
yet. We had just finally admitted our
feelings. I knew we'd figure it out in the
coming weeks. We decided to keep things
a secret from the surrounding staff for awhile so that we wouldn't be a
distraction to them or to any campers.
But to us, we were a secret no longer.
And as I fell asleep that night, I couldn't stop thinking about him
saying those silly little words to me, "I have a hunch you and I want to
be more than just friends...Wait, I'm right aren't I?"
* * * *
Lady friend? What kind of cheesy
name is that?!" I thought to myself
as we walked out of church. It had been
a week and a half since we had admitted we liked each other and the obvious unknown of what we "were"
was becoming apparent. All morning,
while we visited Steve's home church, he had introduced me as his lady friend and
after awhile I was straight-up annoyed.
Either I'm his girlfriend or I'm not.
But lady friend, no thank you.
We climbed into the car to make the trek back up into the
beautiful Santa Cruz mountains and I remained quiet wondering how to bring up
my annoyance at not having an official title and not knowing exactly where I
stood. It wasn't my job to make the moves,
that was his deal but, I was definitely feeling a bit uneasy about what my
"You're really quiet, " Steve ventured. "Are you doing okay?" After taking a deep breath, I finally spilled
what I was thinking, "Yeah, I guess I'm just not sure exactly where we're
at. I'm mean, what 'are' we? I know we like each other and everything but,
where are we going from here?"
Steve paused for a bit and then answered. "I've been wondering the same
thing. I haven't been sure what we
should do this summer since we're in the middle of camp and stuff but, I'm
starting to see that being in limbo is a bit strange." I nodded in agreement.
The roads were getting windier and the trees thicker, as we
made our ascent toward camp. The silence
hung in the air as both of us sat there pondering what our next move should
be. I was determined to let him figure
it out since he was the leader and he was trying to discern the wisest thing
for us to do. Should we remain friends
for the summer and wait until we got back to Cal Poly to be official so that we
weren't distracted from our jobs at camp, or should we take the plunge and officially
start dating now?
That's when he looked over at me with a determined look in
his eye. He had made a decision. "Nikki, will you be my
girlfriend?" Immediately I
answered, "Yes!" And then we
both started laughing. "That wasn't
so difficult was it?!" He
said. I agreed it wasn't. "But I still want us to keep things
quiet." He went on. "The worst
is when people start dating at camp and everyone gets all wrapped up in their
romance. This is between you and me and
maybe a few other pertinent people who will need to know, like our roommates
and some Program Staff. But other than
that, let's keep things very quiet."
I thought that was wise and so I agreed.
It wouldn't be easy dating on the sly but, I knew it'd be simpler to do
it knowing exactly where I stood rather than just being some sort of "lady
friend." This way, even if it had
to be mellow, I'd at least know I was important.
The rest of the ride up was a relief. I had a place in his life and he had a place
in mine. Knowing that, I felt we could
face whatever God had for us that summer.
"Andy called while you were out today, " my mom
casually mentioned in conversation.
"He said that he'd love you to come hang out with him tomorrow in
San Jose. Some of your friends from Cal
Poly are going to be there and he thought you'd want to come." It was the middle of Spring Break and I was
at home visiting my family. Silently I
wondered what "friends" he was talking about. I knew that he and my Big Sis, Steph, had
just started dating (which I was ecstatic about) so I figured she would
probably be there. But who else? Steve lived just over the hill in Santa Cruz
and I wondered if Andy had somehow schemed to get us both in the same place for
the day. Currently Andy was the only one
who knew I had any feelings for Steve. I
had finally admitted it to him after that night at Megan's house. Chances were that he was scheming, because he
loved Steve and I knew Andy thought we'd be a perfect match.
Later that night, when I talked to Andy, my suspicions were
confirmed. Andy was willing to drive all
the way up to Pleasanton (where my parents currently lived) to come get me and
then he was going to drive all the way to Santa Cruz to get Steve. Stephanie was visiting Andy with her roommate
Lori and all of us were going to hang out for the day. It was an unbelievable opportunity and I was
quick to say, "Yes!"
When we had finally gathered everyone from around the Bay
Area, we went and simply messed around for the day in San Jose running errands
for Andy's mom (a small price to pay for getting to use her car), going out to
eat at Chilli's, and then going on a silly walk through the nearby Toys R
Us. Somehow Andy and Steve ended up on
the Pogo Balls, a throwback to their childhood for sure, and by the time they
were done, we were getting the "eyes" from management to get the heck
out of there. So we did. It was time for us to take Steve back home
anyway for Andy still had to drive me home in the complete opposite
When we arrived at Steve's, his parents were both home and
welcomed all of us so warmly. I was
immediately shy and just tried to fade into the crowd. They were cooking up some sausages on the
stove so we all stayed for a bit and chatted about the day while getting a
little after dinner snack. It was
delightful to be there but totally overwhelming. I had a feeling Steve was just as interested
in me as I was in him but, there wasn't anything said between us yet. So I felt the need to just be another friend
that he knew and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. It was safer that way for both of us.
As we were leaving, Steve caught my eye and said something
totally unexpected. "Do you
remember how you told me about that English class you're taking next
quarter?" I nodded. His eyes sparkled as he spoke, "Well, it
turns out I need it as a GE so I went ahead and registered for it. Looks like we'll see a bit more of each other
this Spring." I about keeled
over. That class met four times a
week. Four times! That meant I'd be seeing Steve nearly every
single weekday. I wasn't sure if I was
excited or just plain scared to death! In
a moment, I decided I was both. I smiled
back at him and said, "Wow, we'll definitely be seeing a lot of each
other, that is if you come to class.
Because as you know, I never miss class-ever." He grinned back and said, "I think you
can count on me to show up pretty regularly."
That conversation right there made my whole Spring
Break. Class with Steve Dauphin nearly
every day. Next quarter was definitely
going to be exciting!
* * * *
Spring Quarter was going really well. I was seeing Steve most days of the week and we
were starting to get to know one another much better. Walking to and from class together helped and
working on some class projects outside of class also helped too. But things remained really mellow. Both of us kept things pretty under wraps
with our friends and there wasn't any mention of feelings at all between us. We were just being friends and it felt
wonderful. I loved getting to know who
he was more without the pressure of knowing we liked each other. It was perfect.
However, I was definitely at the top of my game. No showing up to class in sweats. It took a bit of work but every day I wore
some sort of cute skirt or outfit with ribbons adorning my hair. I wasn't stupid. I wasn't sure I had totally
"caught" him yet, so I had to keep up appearances. I'm not the girliest girl on the
planet...well, I'd say I'm just not pretentious in that area. So it definitely took some deliberate
effort. Yet the smile he had waiting
just for me, whenever I saw him, made all the work worth it.
I had also gotten a job offer to work in the Camp Hammer
kitchen. All of the counselor positions
had already been filled by the time I applied.
It wasn't what I was originally looking for because I wanted to be a
Counselor. However, it was a job and I
was thankful for it. Plus, Steve would
be there working on the Program Staff.
That definitely made it worth it to me.
Toward the end of the quarter I bought my first car, a 1990
Toyota Celica. I paid $1000 cash for it
and it was mine. All mine! The only problem was that it was a stick
shift and I didn't know how to drive a manual transmission. But I was determined to learn. Right before finals I found myself at the AGO
house and a bunch of us, Steve included, went out. As I stalled and stopped, totally embarrassed
at my horrible skills (I only had the car a few days at that point), Steve
grabbed the stick shift, put his hand on mine and helped me shift. I was relieved he knew how to drive the car
and I instantly relaxed. Within a few
days of lessons from him, in which he showed immense gentleness and patience,
I'd mastered the stick shift. I figured,
oh well, even though I looked like an idiot at times to him, it was still quite
a fun way to learn.
The next week Steve left for camp early after taking his
finals in advance, since he was on the Program Staff, and I stayed at Poly to
finish up finals. I had gotten so used
to seeing him all the time! I missed
him. So I sent him some cookies, partly
in an effort to totally embarrass him knowing the staff up there would make him
do something silly like sing for his package, and partly just to make some
contact with him.
I thought I was so brilliant. The package was sent to Steve "The
Prince" Dauphin (Dauphin literally means "prince" in
French). And the return address read,
from Nikki "The Greek Goddess" Georgatos (because I'm Greek). Ha! It
was the boldest I'd been with him in the whole six months. And it sure embarrassed him all right. All of the Program Staff who knew and loved
Steve well up at camp were wondering who this "Greek Goddess" was
coming from Cal Poly who sent Steve the cookies.
A couple of weeks later, as Presidents' Day approached, we were all getting ready for the annual
AGO/LSM Ski Trip. Pretty much the whole
fraternity, guys and gals, were going to be staying at my Big Sis's parents'
home in the Central Valley while heading up to the slopes during the day. The weekend itself was fairly eventful. There was a lot of time to get to know more
people, snowboarding to do during the day and worship/devos all together at
On the way home, I got to ride in Donna's car. She was definitely somebody that I looked up
to as she was a few years ahead of me.
She and her friend Megan especially really took me in and looked after
me during that first year. Donna was
pretty good friends with Steve and when I climbed into the car, I noticed that
he was sitting in the front seat.
"This could be interesting, " I thought to myself. As we pulled out of the driveway, he popped
in a U2 cd. I never really listened to
U2 before but something inside told me to just pay attention during the drive
home. "See what Steve's like. See what he's interested in. Just pay attention." These words ran through my mind as we drove
back to Cal Poly.
All the way home, that's what I did. Halfway there, at a
rest stop, he switched spots and ended up next to me in the back. I hardly said a word to him. I just watched and learned as much as I could
about him as he conversed with everyone in the car. He was a Junior, much older than me, and
seemed out of my league as he was a favorite amongst many in both AGO and
LSM. I was a little freshman, just shy
of 19, and a new girl. But despite these
minor challenges, I still wanted to quietly learn more about him. I wanted to know if this funny, incredibly
magnetic guy had any substance to him.
For truthfully, even though I felt drawn to him for some
reason, that's what I cared about the most.
Was he genuine? Did he truly have
a heart for the Lord? Was he real? Because if anything were to ever come of my
budding feelings, he would have to be the real deal. I wasn't about to enter into a relationship
with anyone I didn't think I could marry and I wanted a man who loved God with
his whole life. That's what mattered the
most to me. Everything else was
secondary and I knew it.
All of these thoughts were swirling in my head as we
careened toward home. I hadn't come to
any conclusions but had only determined that time would tell. I was determined to remain quiet about things
and just watch him for awhile hoping I'd get an opportunity to get a real
glimpse at his heart. Yet, despite my
cautious attitude, though I wasn't exactly sure why, one of the first things I
did upon arriving home, was buy a U2 cd.
I simply thought of it as a wise investment. A very wise one indeed.
* * * *
It was another rainy day and many of us AGO had congregated
in The Avenue, which was a popular hang-out spot (technically food court) on
Cal Poly's campus. It was pretty typical
to find a few AGO there at any given time, but since it was raining, it was
fairly packed. Winter Quarter finals
were coming up and it was getting close to LSM Activation. I was busy cramming for a last minute midterm
when Steve walked in with an announcement.
Camp Hammer was visiting the Career Faire in the University Union (the
U.U.) and he wanted to know if anyone wanted to go get an application. Evidently, he had already worked there for a
few summers and was looking for more recruits.
Little did he know I had been looking for a summer job and working at a
camp was at the top of my list. I
already had an application for Hume Lake but figured I'd give Camp Hammer a
shot too. I had been a camper there as a
kid and had fond memories of it. So I
expressed interest and quietly followed him up to meet the Camp Director.
Neither of us said a word on the walk up. We were both too shy. But when we finally made it up to the Career
Faire, I smiled at the director, grabbed an application and quickly headed back
to my dorm room. For some reason,
whenever I was around that Steve Dauphin I could hardly breathe. Once safe in my room, I determined to not think
about him again (at least for awhile) and just focus on getting through finals
and securing a summer job. So I filled
out the application quickly and sent it off.
Who knew if I'd be there for the summer or not? I just had to wait to and see what God had
* * * *
I was stuck and I felt a bit panicked about it. I had three finals to study for still and no
way to get back to the dorms. And not
only that but I felt a bit on edge because I had ended up at Donna and Megan's
house with Andy and Steve. Donna and
Megan were upstairs deep in conversation about something and they were my
ride. If only I had brought my backpack
with me! I wasn't even sure how I had
ended up there but I definitely felt nervous.
The kind of nervous that crawls into the pit of your stomach and sits
there churning without relief. "Are
you all right waiting for a ride Nikki?"
Andy asked. I responded,
"Uh, sure. I guess we have
to." Andy replied, "We'll just
all hangout until the girls are done talking." Easy for him to say. He wasn't sitting across from animated boy
who made me so nervous I could hardly move sometimes. And Andy probably wasn't that worried about
his finals either-typical smart boy who never had to study. I definitely had to apply myself to do well.
I, however, saw the writing on the wall, knew the girls
might be awhile, and decided to just change my attitude and wait. What harm could it do? I'd get home eventually. I just might have to pull an all-nighter. That's when Andy and Steve started
talking. At first it was about the
presence of a trivial political sign in the AGO front yard. But as the night went on, they delved more
into deeper issues about faith, life and theology. I was floored. Not only was this Steve Dauphin totally
brilliant (and funny) but he had an incredible heart for the Lord. I was riveted. I didn't know there were guys out there like
him who were smart, genuine and truly loved God. It was almost too good to be true.
The two of them talked for hours as we all waited and it was
as if I was a spectator on the scene. I
knew Andy from high school back home and respected him tremendously. So when I saw how much he respected Steve and
how they talked to each other, I knew that Steve was the real deal. I had been asking God for a chance to get a
glimpse at Steve's heart and I had just gotten one. And unfortunately for me, it was just the
thing to set me over the edge. He truly loved
the Lord. He was wise and he was
smart. Trying to keep my heart from
running away from me, I got up abruptly and went into the other room to
But deep down I knew it was hopeless now. I knew I'd just crossed the threshold from
being interested in him to liking him-a lot.
Now, I just had to keep myself
from totally falling for him without knowing what he thought about me. I kept telling myself that I simply had to
keep being logical about the whole thing.
That'd be difficult but I was determined to do it. I'd just wait, keep watching and be his
friend. Time would tell.
However, I knew from that moment on, he was someone who not
only had tremendous integrity, was smart, fun and magnetic, but he was a man
who loved God with his whole heart. I
had seen little glimpses here and there over the past three months. But that night confirmed it for sure. I got a window into who he really was. I mysteriously didn't care anymore that I had
studying to do. That night's encounter
was what I was waiting for. And that
alone made all the difference in the world.
Winter Quarter had gotten off to a rough start.Ever since I had broken things off with
Brian, I tried to just throw myself into my studies.That worked to a certain extent but, it
didn't fill the void.Whitney, my best
friend, tried cheering me up by reminding me that LSM Rush was coming.I could care less.I knew we had been waiting since the fall to
join Cal Poly's Christian Fraternity, Alpha Gamma Omega, as Little Sisters but,
I was just plain melancholy.The night
of the first Rush event had all of our friends from the dorms buzzing."I bet there will be some really cute
guys there Nikki!"Whitney
teasingly said."It is a fraternity you know."Whatever, I'd still go but I just wanted the
whole thing to be over with.
After donning my spiffiest duds, I met up with some of my
other friends who were rushing and hopped into Kelly's SUV.Luckily she had a car.The rest of us had shown up at college
without one.Packed in like sardines, we
all raced over to the AGO House to begin the first night of LSM Rush.Much to my surprise, it was all so wonderful
and my heart began to soften as I was quickly reminded of why I had wanted to
join this group in the first place.The
girls were all older and so nice.I
could also tell immediately that they were genuine in their faith, encouraging
and exactly who I wanted to surround myself with.The guys were just the same and as Whitney
had predicted, they were cute too-an added bonus.I knew immediately that this is where I could
land for my years at Cal Poly and feel like I was part of a family.That night I shook off my disappointment and decided,
no matter what, this is where I belong.I was definitely going to rush LSM.
Winter Quarter had just gotten busier.In between studying for my full load of
classes and all of the reading they required, I was fitting in AGOInitiate duties (girls were called Initiates,
not pledges).This included me having
meetings, lovingly called One-on-Ones, with all twenty of the LSM girls and at
least ten of the AGO guys.In the
meantime, I was also taking weekly tests about AGO history, learning member
names, the Greek Alphabet (which I already knew-ha!) and cataloguing all sorts
of other pertinent information into my brain.Even though it was busy, I was having so much fun.
One of these nights I went over to my Big Sister's house for
dinner.Stephanie had already been such
a great Big Sis, buying me fun little gifts, writing me encouraging notes and
just being a wonderful friend.I loved
her instantly and felt so lucky that I'd been chosen for her.After dinner we decided to walk downtown since
she and her roommates lived within walking distance and San Luis Obispo's
famous Farmer's Market was happening that night.On our way, we stopped in at the AGO House to
see if anyone wanted to go with us.
As usual, the downstairs common area was full of guys all
looking for something to do.While we
were rustling up a group of people, out walked our Initiate Liaison Steve, with
a gallon of milk in one hand and a witty comeback to one of the guys in his
other hand.I hadn't ever really noticed
him before but for some reason, he really caught my attention this time.He was really funny.It took a little while for everyone to get
ready to go but that was okay.Steve was
being hilarious and had encapsulated the
room's attention.Mine included.Once we were all ready to go, I whispered to
Steph, "That's Steve Dauphin right?!"She smiled and answered, "Yeah, isn't he funny?"All I could think to respond was,
"Yes!He's so animated."Little did I know at the time, that he had
On the walk downtown, he melted into the crowd just messing
around and being silly.But after that
night, I began to notice that funny guy a little bit more.He wasn't just another face in the sea of
incredible guys.In my mind's eye, I
kept seeing him with that silly grin on his face, holding the gallon of milk and
for some reason, whenever I did, I couldn't keep from smiling.
Six weeks from today Steve and I will celebrate 10 amazing years of being married. I remember our first anniversary like it was yesterday-seriously. I remember being in awe of all I didn't know ahead of time (and would not have been able to know) and all that I had learned in such a short period of time. Ten years seemed so far away. Now, the years have flown like the wind. Time is so fleeting isn't it?
We've walked through so many things in these ten years and there is so much we will continue to walk through as time goes on. There have been many joys-we are on the cusp of having five children, a nearly completed Masters degree in Math, have many faithful, lifelong friends that we adore, and most of all we are more in love with one another than ever before. And there have also been difficulties, losses, moves and times of extreme perseverance. But something that we believe so strongly is this, "That he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6. Every step we've taken, from the very beginning has been God's good work in us, shaping us, changing us, causing us to persevere to look more like Him. And this will continue for as long as we live.
The last ten years have been God's work. So in an effort to bring glory to Him, and in order to encourage others that God is the One who builds and sustains, I tell you our story, from the beginning. I'll start today and continue on in segments for the next six weeks. It's not perfect nor is it the only way it should be done. But it's ours. And to me, it's beautiful because God has made it that way.
Also, I have to say, the original inspiration for writing our love story came from my dear blogger friend Jenny at the Life I Have Been Given who wrote hers a year or two ago now. I'm blessed to know Jenny in real life and her story is just lovely. Check it out too if you want...it's another amazing story of God's faithfulness and His unfailing way of bringing two separate souls into one.
Our Love Story
Telling him "No," was so difficult. I could see the hurt written all over his
face. He had been patient with me. He had pursued me. And he had done it well. But Andy was right. We didn't share quite the same faith and as a
result, there could be no future for us.
I had waffled for so long over this decision because I really did like
him. He was extremely smart,
responsible, a total gentleman, had great values and was unfortunately very
good looking. Basically, to my
eighteen-year-old mind, he was the whole package and I had just sent him
packing. Bah! Good thing I never let him kiss me. If I had, it would've been even more
difficult to let him go.
I ran back to my dorm looking for some time to myself. I knew Julia, my roommate, would ask me what
was wrong and I didn't want to explain it.
She was an atheist. And although
we both had a great love for one another and a mutual respect, I knew she
wouldn't understand me letting go of such a great guy like Brian just because
he was Catholic and I was Christian. Not
that it was horrible he was Catholic. I
didn't doubt he had a faith and a strong one in fact. He had made that clear over the months we had
been seeing each other. But still, in my
heart of hearts, I knew that there were big differences. And these differences could prove difficult in marriage, and I didn't think I could handle it. He deserved
someone who shared his same beliefs as well.
I almost couldn't believe I had done it. No, I didn't want Julia to comfort me. I just wanted to be alone with my
thoughts. I searched my room and nearly
at once, my eyes fell on my Bible that was laying on my bed. Part of me felt a bit resentful. Yet, I knew I had done the right thing. I knew it.
Despite that though, in my heart, I asked God over and over, "Will
it ever even happen? Will I ever find a
man who will pursue me and love me, yet at the same time love You even more?" It was all I could do to keep the tears
away. So I grabbed my shoes and headed
out to the one place I knew I could run off some steam by myself...Poly Canyon. As I ran the miles away, the tears flowed
freely and some clarity began to return to my mind. I had done the right thing. There would be somebody else.
A doll is among the most pressing needs as well as the most charming instincts of feminine childhood. To care for it, adorn it, dress and undress it, give it lessons, scold it a little, put it to bed and sing it to sleep, pretend that the object is a living person - all the future of the woman resides in this. Dreaming and murmuring, tending, cossetting, sewing small garments, the child grows into girlhood, from girlhood into womanhood, from womanhood into wifehood, and the first baby is the successor of the last doll.
There have been many times over the years that different passages of scripture have been monumental to my understanding of who God is and how much He loves me. In a sense, they have literally shaped my faith. I can think back affectionately on different Psalms that carried me through various trials. There are passages in Colossians that became so important to my understanding of what it means to clothe myself in the gospel and set my mind on things above not on earthly things, that when I'm trying to retrain my thoughts, I immediately go there. The summer before I went to Cal Poly, I memorized 1 Peter with a friend and those verses became pivotal to my understanding of the gospel itself and what God calls us to in suffering.
I call these passages hotspots. They are my go-to's when I want to remember what God has taught me over the years as I've walked with Him. Reading through them reminds me of where I've been at different points in my life and how faithful God has always been to teach me through my mistakes and carry me.
I've needed these passages. Even just looking at them reminds me, I've been weary before, but God has always cared for me. And in doing so, my mind is flooded with memories; at times they're of the struggles, but they are also of the triumphs and the absolute sovereignty and grace that God has given me in my life.
Some of my favorite passages run in the Isaiah 40's. The poetry is beautiful. There is prophecy about God redeeming Israel and Him reminding them that He's laid His anger aside and simply chosen to love them.
Incredible. Humbling and soul-reviving.
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
And then there is one of the first Psalms that ever spoke to my soul about God's help-Psalm 121. Sure it's well known. But to me, despite its fame, it never grows old because it has been soaked so many times into the depths of my heart, that the words have become a part of who I am. And no matter how many times I hear it, I am grounded each time in knowing, "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121:2. Those words have been with me since I was a child. And they will be on my heart until the day I die.
I've been weary lately. I've got ten weeks left in this pregnancy and I
can hardly seem to force myself to keep up with the everyday. Part of
me needs to extend myself more grace. The other part needs to kick the
laziness. And lately so many life circumstances have caused me to look around and think, "I'm weary. I'm trying to just persevere but I need that help. I need that hope that God will set things to right; that He will protect me and fight for me." And over and over again, I'm reminded. "The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Psalm 121: 5-8
And once again, with that reminder, I can dust off my feet, open up my hands and choose to say, "I will lift my eyes...my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121: 1-2
This song carried me after Joshua was born and is once again speaking so much truth into my heart. For it is God's kindness that saves me and leads me continually to repentance (Romans 2:1-4). And in my weariness, the God who never slumbers (Psalm 121:3-4) will watch over me. It was a bit hard to find a suitable version of this song on YouTube without it seeming really cheesy. But just listen to the music...listen to the words. The message is timeless.
"Your kindness is what pulls me up and your love is all that draws me in." I Will Lift My Eyes, Bebo Norman
I am Nikki Dauphin, wife to Steve since July 2002, and mom to four boys and one little girl. Currently my husband is pursuing his PhD in mathematics, so as you can imagine, with five kids in tow, there are many adventures to behold! I'm learning how to raise a brood of boys and one precious princess, be a homemaker, how to be a lovely wife to my handsome and dashing husband and how to love those around me. Stop and stay awhile. Family stories, recipes, musings on life and lessons I'm learning are all a part of this blog. I love the life I've been given and thank God for His many blessings.
Steve-My amazing, fix-it, brilliant, math-loving, puzzle-solving husband is a Math PhD student pursuing his graduate degree through Colorado State University. He is also a Year Round Graduate Intern for Sandia National Labs researching and working on projects related to national security and preparing for his dissertation. We met at Cal Poly, SLO and were married in 2002. Seriously, he's my best friend.
Isaac-Laughter. My precious firstborn. Blue-eyed, blondie, logical, lefty. Particular, orderly, courageous, funny, and intelligent. Sees the world in patterns, numbers, colors and shapes. My first son. My joy.
Caleb-Brave. My mischevious secondborn. Brown-haired, coal-eyed, soldier. Needs explanations about how the world works. "Mathy", inquisitive, architectural and mechanical. Silly, passionate, tough, long-suffering and smart. My second son. My love.
Joshua-Saved by the Lord. My irreplaceable thirdborn. Bubbly, gregarious, social and playful. Loves to be surrounded by his family. Cuddly, kissable, chubby and charming. Life of the party, full of joy, overflowing with humor and laughter. My third son. My light.
Elliana-The Lord Has Heard. My long-awaited daughter. Petite, dark-eyed, beauty. Strong, coordinated, cheeky and spunky. Sharp as a tack and a flitting socialite. Loved by every member of her family. My fourth born. My only daughter. My treasure.
Nathan-God Has Given. My fourth son. Yet, it never gets old. My youngest little gift. Gentle, strong, sweet, angelic. Blonde and light-eyed. Littlest of them all but full of life and love. My fifth born. My littlest man. God's given. My gift.
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