lukeandmanda

The most amazing love story since Romeo and Juliet haha

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

One major advantage of an LDR…More time with girl friends!

So Luke and I have been doing this long-distance relationship (LDR) thing for more than 2 years now, and at the beginning, I found myself really focusing on the negatives of being so far apart. I hated the long countdowns, not being able to see him, not being able to touch him, rarely getting to go on dates together, not being able to cuddle up on the couch and watch TV on Saturday nights  and more. But, I am an optimistic person by nature, so I found that all of my negativity was getting us nowhere. There are in fact many advantages to an LDR. Some of these advantages would include more communication within the relationship (which builds a stronger emotional connection), lots of excitement and anticipation as our latest countdown diminishes to just a few short days, and plenty of time for work and individual professional development activities. However, chief among these advantages, in my opinion, is having lots of extra time to spend with girl friends!

Some days, I seriously could not make it through without having a girls’ dinner & movie night, attending my Thursday evening Bible study group (complete with various desserts), or grabbing lunch on campus with a friend and commiserating about our extremely stressful senior year-workload (This is a shout-out to you, Laura Metcalf! Haha) I decided that life is what you make it, and college in particular goes by way too quickly to do nothing except work all of the time. Therefore, I’ve been making an exceptional effort to spend extra time with my girl friends this semester since I know a few of them are graduating in December, and everything really is changing much faster than I’d like to believe. So, I’ve really enjoyed finding a fancy place for dinner every other Tuesday night with my former roomie, Lauren Hendrix, in the days leading up to her wedding to the love of her life, meeting my friend Rachel Childers for a quick lunch on 15th Street every Thursday on our break from school/work, and squeezing in Mexican/margarita night with my friend Lauren Killen and her roommates, Rachael and Jamie.

One particularly fun experience this month was attending The Society of Professional Journalists’ National Convention in Fort Lauderdale with our vice president (and my friend), Casey Voyles. It is always more fun to travel with friends! Casey had never flown before, so it was really neat to be there for her first flight ever, and she had an experienced traveler to navigate the airports with her! This is also where being in an LDR comes in handy. I can navigate airports like the back of my hand.  (I wont mention the fact that we almost missed our outbound flight after I accidentally led us to the Southwest “Fort Lauderdale” direct flight instead of the Delta “Atlanta connection flight.”) Oops…A quick sprint through the airport saved us, and we were able to board right before the doors closed on the plane. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale for the conference last Thursday, and had a great/productive time, despite the weather being overall stormy and cruddy and me getting sick and then progressively sicker during the trip. Here are a few pictures from our Ft. Lauderdale adventures:

Casey and I exploring the Harbor Beach Marriott’s private beach on our first and *only* sunny afternoon

SPJ National Convention in Fort Lauderdale- Sept. 20-23rd

I ran into my old friend Meg Wagner (from Scripps Leadership Institute) at the Opening Night Reception!

Scripps 2012 Reunion from L to R: Meg Wagner, Walter Middlebrook, Ali Trumbull (my roomie) and me.

We also ran into the JMU SPJ President, Lani Furbank (blue dress) and her VP, Kassie (tan skirt on the end) at the conference. Lani was my Scripps classmate as well.

We had so much fun catching up! Friday night dinner at The Oasis

After returning from Ft. Lauderdale, unfortunately, my simple sinus infection had spread into my chest and lungs. I spent all day that Sunday at the Student Health Center and missed Monday and Tuesday of classes. So, I spent the rest of the week playing catch-up with schoolwork and trying to fulfill all of my extracurricular commitments as well. I ended up selling my Ole Miss ticket for this weekend early in the week, because I wasn’t sure if I’d feel up to going to the game. I did begin to feel better by Thursday or so, but I thought a girls’ night might be more fun than standing in the stadium watching Bama crush the Rebels until all hours of the night anyway. Sure enough, we won 33 to 14 even without me there to cheer on the Crimson Tide. (True enough, I was there in spirit).

Instead, Rachel Childers and I had the most amazing girls’ day/night, in lieu of attending the football game. First, we decided to get lunch at Dreamland BBQ (which was fun until one poor Bama fan passed out in the middle of lunch and the EMTs had to come escort him away on a stretcher).  After a memorable lunch, we went shopping at Midtown (where I bought some much-needed sweat pants and a warm sweatshirt for winter), and then we went back to her apartment to watch chick flicks all night. We ate Gigi’s cupcakes and talked through watched ‘Water for Elephants,’ ‘Kate and Leopold,’ and ‘Wedding Date’ before falling asleep around 1 a.m. (We also may or may not have explored the Wedding Bee site in some detail, dreaming about our future weddings to our respective/wonderful significant others! And no, neither of us is “officially engaged” yet. Boo).

So, today, I am planning to study hard, do homework, have Bible study with Luke, prepare the agenda for our 7 a.m. SPJ Exec Meeting, and go see Pitch Perfect with Lauren Killen and Co. (We are going to a matinee, of course, to save money!)  Such is the life of an overworked, starving college student.

More soon.

P.S. Our countdown is now down to just 5 short days ❤ I love you, Luke Huntington Bradshaw.

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18 days and counting!

Well, we have entered the teens in our latest countdown until Fall Break/Columbus Day, when I will travel to Lawton to visit Luke for three days and four nights! A lot has been happening as the days go by though.

I have been buried in homework and extracurricular responsibilities as  school has really entered full swing. I have a test and presentation due this week, and I am leaving for Fort Lauderdale on Thursday to attend the National Convention for The Society of Professional Journalists, since I am president of the UA student chapter. Today, I spent a couple of hours in Barnes & Noble poring over travel magazines and guidebooks about Spain, since we will be heading there in a few short months to compose the fifth edition of Alpine Living. I could not be more excited about this amazing opportunity, and I am enjoying every bit of the research so far.

I am also trying to make lots of time for my friends, since it is senior year and all — possibly our last chance to all be together for a while. I am making an effort to attend every home football game, despite a less-than-desirable home season and am really enjoying the fact that I attend the nation’s best school for college football. 3 national championships in 4 years of college? Yes, please. I fully believe The Crimson Tide is fighting its way to #15 and am so proud to be an Alabama student.

My good friend, Laura Metcalf, and I before the Western Kentucky game

I ran into my friends Lauren Killen and Rachael Jones on our way into the stadium!

4th Quarter! The game was a complete shut out.

I also joined a girls’ Bible study group that meets on Thursday nights. My good friend Rachel Childers leads the study, and it is such a pleasure to become immersed in God’s word with these amazing ladies. All-in-all, school is going pretty well, and I only have the slightest hint of senioritis thus far. I could do without the four-hour weekly science class on Wednesdays, but I think I will tough it out since I truly need these credits to graduate in May.

Meanwhile, Luke is enjoying his time in Lawton immensely…(This is sarcasm in case you didn’t catch it.) He has another major test tomorrow, so right now, he is helping tutor some of his classmates in hopes that they will all pass and not get into trouble. On a positive note, his dad visited this past weekend because Luke’s brother, Jacob, graduated from basic training from Sill on Friday. I think they had a fun guys’ weekend and watched plenty of sports and ate lots and lots of wings. It was good for the boys to spend time with their dad because they don’t see him all that much since everyone is so spread out now.

We have a web cam date scheduled later tonight, which I am pretty excited about since we haven’t talked all that much lately with our busy schedules. It is really nice to just have 18 days left on this countdown though!

I realize this is an exceptionally boring update, but I try to write at least once a week and after reflecting on our week, I guess not a lot has happened after all. But, boring is good sometimes.  In my opinion, it beats tragedy and chaos any day! One thing we have learned after being together for more than 2 years, is that everything isn’t going to be exciting every single day. Since we know a lot about each other now, conversations are sometimes going to be less riveting than they were when we first met. And that’s OK.  I am truly enjoying this stage of our relationship too, which comes with a certain amount of consistency and stability. Life may not be the whirlwind it once was (and yes, I still miss jetting off to New York on random weekends to visit West Point), but I am content with where we are now too.

So, for today, I will end with a sweet poem that I found online about love and overcoming the obstacle of long distance, which I know we are doing each and every day. It is encouraging to think that each day that passes brings us one more day closer to being together again.

I Love You True

I love you true
No matter the miles in queue
Nothing can split us two
Even if our times together are few.

I love you true
No one else in this world will do
Though you are not in view
In my mind there’s only you.

I love you true
I want you to know it too
So together we can make it through
To look back one day and see how time flew.

-Author Unknown

Sunday evening ramblings…Counting our blessings!

Luke and I just finished our Love & Respect Experience weekly Bible study, and now he is off to bed with a headache, leaving me in the mood to blog for a few minutes before going to sleep myself! Our Bible study tonight was about remaining thankful to the Lord for His blessings despite any negative circumstances in our lives (both as a couple, and as individuals.) In fact, it even suggested that we THANK God for everything, INCLUDING the obstacles and challenges in our lives. This really resonated with me tonight, as this past year has been full of changes for Luke and I. We have certainly grown stronger as a couple in the Lord, but we have had our fair share of struggles as well! Looking back, it is amazing to see how far we have come.

– 1 year ago, my mom had just filed for divorce after 25 years of marriage to my dad. Even though my brother and I knew it was coming, it was still a bit of a struggle to see our family ripping apart at the seams. The divorce proceedings are still ongoing today, but looking back…WOW! Luke and I have made it through some pretty tough stuff and never broke as a couple or lost our faith in God. Luke was there for me every step of the way and continues to comfort me and support me to this day. We both have relied heavily on the Lord to make it through. So why would we ever not be thankful for the blessings in life or be fearful that God can’t or won’t see us through till the end? He has already proven His never-ending faithfulness, even in the face of this struggle.

– 1 year ago, Luke and I had no idea what his branch in the Army would be after he graduated from West Point, and we had no idea what post he would end up going to. He could have ended up in Germany, Korea, Hawaii, Texas, New York, Washington…really anywhere. And yet, the Lord worked it out just perfectly for us so that Luke would get his first choice of Fort Benning, Georgia! It is still hard to believe he will be living only three hours away from me before the year is out!

– 1 year ago, I was struggling to decide what career path I wanted to take and had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduate in May of 2013! After lots of prayers and discussions with trusted mentors and advisers (including Luke, my most trusted human adviser and best friend,) I have decided what I want to do with my life! I want to write, and I want to teach! I hope to eventually become a college communications professor so that I can fulfill both of my passions! In the meantime, I plan to pursue a master’s degree after graduation and work in education or in communication, depending on the job opportunities that I may come across, before pursuing my doctorate degree.

– 1 year ago, I could not legally consume alcohol. I had never seen the Empire State Building, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or eaten a hotdog in Central Park. I had never been to an Iron Bowl at Auburn University, seen Charleston, or gotten a promise ring from my beloved.

– 1 year ago, l had also not yet been hired as a student worker at Business Executive magazine (the Culverhouse College magazine for business school alumni), been elected president of The Society of Professional Journalists’ student chapter or been named editor-in-chief of Alpine Living, an international travel magazine through the UA journalism department.

– 1 year ago, Luke was just a firstie at USMA. He was griping about his numerous classes and being charged with safety/admin duties for the Corps of Cadets. He was using Pro Model, the program that I think he hates the most of any engineering programs. He still had a “curfew” and mandatory breakfast, which he didn’t eat, and was required to drill every day or two. He had not yet taken and passed the FE (professional engineering exam), received some really awesome 22nd birthday presents, including a roll of toilet paper with Duke University’s logo printed all over it, or graduated from the Academy.

This was Luke and I one year ago:

UA v. Vanderbilt- 2011

Tuscaloosa Fair 2011

The Cypress Inn, Tuscaloosa, Fall 2011

We had some really, really great times back then, and I wouldn’t change them for the world, but I am really looking forward to see what God will do in our lives  in the upcoming 8 months before I am officially a college graduate! I know that He has an amazing plan for our lives, and I am confident that He will never let us falter. So, even though life gets tough sometimes and challenges come our way, I can remain secure in the knowledge that He will carry us through.

The Bible study lesson suggested that we make a list of the things we are grateful for, and here is just a short (and incomplete) summary of some of the the blessings in our lives:

  • God’s Son who died on the cross to save us from a plethora of sins.
  • The gift of each other and our unconditional love, even in the midst of challenges.
  • Our family members, and the support and love that we often find from them.
  • Our friends, who continue to laugh with us, love us and support us no matter what circumstances life throws our way.
  • Luke’s job as an officer in the U.S. Army, and my opportunity to pursue higher education at The University of Alabama.
  • The long distance, which has allowed us to grow closer together spiritually and emotionally during these past 2 1/3 years.
  • Having enough food to eat and a safe place to sleep at night.
  • The multitude of private struggles that we have both encountered throughout our relationship and the perseverance and strength that God has blessed us with to overcome each and every one of them.
  • The uncertainty of what lies ahead in our future, because it allows us to rely on God and His perfect plan to carry us through.

“In everything, give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Can’t we just hit rewind and live it all over again? Labor Day Lovin’ 2012

Another ecstatic airport reunion and heart-wrenching goodbye has come and gone along with Labor Day Weekend 2012.  I just put Luke onto yet another plane and drove back home alone again to an empty apartment, but this time was just a little bit different. This was our third Labor Day Weekend together, and we pray that it will be our LAST spent so far apart! The tearful airport departures are down to single digits now, as we are getting closer and closer to the day when Luke will move to Georgia for his first permanent post assignment (just three short little hours away from me!) He has been in Lawton for almost two months now, and if all goes as planned, he will graduate from BOLC on November 20, 2012 and move to Fort Benning shortly afterward! We have already booked our next flight for my Fall Break in October, and we are hoping to squeeze in a Veteran’s Day visit as well, but other than that, I don’t think we will be purchasing any more flights since we hope to be within driving distance of one another before the New Year! So, although I am missing him more than ever right now and am not looking forward to our impending five-week countdown, I am comforted to know that it is one of our last times apart for awhile (God-willing.) Besides, I am still reeling from joy after another wonderful weekend spent together.

So here is a recap of our Labor Day Weekend 2012:

Picking Luke up from the airport- Labor Day 2012

I wore my most patriotic outfit to pick Luke up from the airport last Thursday evening! He loves anything American, so I knew he would get a kick out of my outfit, and besides, it WAS Labor Day after all! I thought this dress would be appropriate to celebrate the last symbolic day of summer and to say a special thank you to all of the men and women in uniform who tirelessly serve in the Armed Forces day after day so that Americans can be free. When I saw Luke was just wearing shorts and a t-shirt supporting his favorite basketball team, I wasn’t at all surprised because he never likes to dress up when he flies haha. This picture perfectly describes us in a nutshell, actually.

It was pretty late by the time his plane landed, so we just headed back to my apartment to relax. On Friday morning, Luke dropped me off at my 11 a.m. class and went and picked up a dozen of my favorite Krispy Kreme doughnuts as a special surprise for me. I am somewhat ashamed and embarrassed to admit that between the two of us, we somehow polished off an entire dozen doughnuts by the time night fell. To be fair, we hadn’t had Krispy Kreme in several months, and it is pretty much impossible to just eat one or two of them. Still though– I have no idea how we ate 12 doughnuts in one day. But it would seem that we did. Haha. Since good food is an extremely vital part of any successful holiday weekend, I will also mention that he took me to Bento for lunch on The Strip right after class (before the doughnut consumption lol). Bento has the best teriyaki chicken in town in my opinion, and we also got an order of California Rolls, my favorite sushi, sans raw fish. (Yes, I do realize “sushi” and “sans raw fish” are contradictory, but it is the only kind that I will order.)

In proper accordance with the laziness that should accompany a holiday like Labor Day, we proceeded to lounge around all afternoon and watch TV, consuming massive amounts of glazed originals, in typical American-fashion. (NO, we don’t usually do this. Yes, I realize America has an obesity/laziness epidemic. But, if you can’t necessarily beat ’em, it sure is fun to join in every once in a while!) That evening, Luke took me to The Cypress Inn, a seafood restaurant on the Black Warrior riverfront in Tuscaloosa. It is one of the more romantic places in town, and we enjoyed sitting at a table right by the window that overlooked the water.

Date Night at The Cypress Inn!

After dinner, he took me to the movies to see ‘Hope Springs’ starring Meryl Streep, Steve Carrell and Tommy Lee Jones. The comedy depicts a middle-aged couple who goes to counseling to try to save their marriage, and while some scenes are pretty funny, I wouldn’t say this is a “must-see” movie by any means. My favorite part of the date was convincing Luke to take pictures with me in the Photo Booth at the theater.

Our Photo Booth experience!

I think our pictures actually turned out to be pretty good, albeit goofy in some frames! We were actually quite proud of ourselves for going to the 10 p.m. movie showing, which meant the movie ended around midnight. By the time we drove back to my place, it was around 12:30 a.m., and since we are both “old people” now, this was quite late for our normal schedules! But who can really blame us, since we both have to get up early every morning now? (Luke would not be happy with this statement, since his version of early is 5 a.m., while mine is closer to around 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. lol).

Anyway, on Saturday, we wanted to go to the pool or lake, but the weather just didn’t cooperate with our plans, so I pulled out some of the cookbooks that my mom gave me and put together a menu for a homemade dinner that evening instead. Since I just moved into a new apartment, we had to buy a lot of spices and supplies and Luke jokes that our “homemade” meal was actually the most expensive dinner of the weekend. But it was very well worth it, if I do say so myself! I made corn-and-potato chowder, baked turkey pastries, biscuits and baked beans (Luke’s idea — not such a good one with the rest of the menu, but he DID learn the importance of thinking about the best way to mix flavors when planning a meal. He also discovered that cooking isn’t quite as simple as he thought :p)  Our favorite part of the meal was actually “orange sweet potatoes”- literally the shells of oranges filled with mashed sweet potatoes and spices and topped with marshmallows. You slice the oranges in half, scoop out the pulp, mix the sweet potatoes and spices together, spoon the mixture into the orange shells, and bake! I got this recipe from my great-grandmother’s cookbook, and it actually turned out pretty well!

Delicious sweet potato-filled baked oranges!

We shopped for food together, and then I spent most of the day cooking, while Luke helped with odd jobs around the apartment and hung a bunch of pictures for me, which was very helpful! It was really nice to sit down to a hot meal and watch Bama stomp Michigan from right here on my comfy sofa!

On Sunday, Luke got up early and cooked waffles and bacon for breakfast, and then we headed out to Moundville for the day. Moundville is an archaeological site sponsored by the University of Alabama, and it is just fifteen minutes or so from Tuscaloosa. The site is well known for its preservation of Native American heritage, through a museum and findings from archaeological digs. The mounds are fun to explore, and there is also a short nature trail as well.

Moundville visit 2012!

We had never been to Moundville before, and it was really neat to learn about Native American religious and cultural heritage in the museum. I also bought a yummy jar of honey that is made in the area! Each Fall, Moundville hosts a festival to honor Native American heritage, and local artisans come out to show off their crafts. I may have to go back for the festival this year, because all of the brochures looked pretty neat, and I want to buy some more of that honey! I tried some in a cup of hot tea last night, and it was truly delicious.

We had a fun Sunday afternoon walking around all of the mounds and along the nature trail.

View from the highest mound!

Me standing in front of the former Moundville Chieftain’s home!

Hiking along the short nature trail at Moundville

Luke outside the gift shop at Moundville

After a memorable adventure to this new place, Luke and I decided to head back to my apartment for a swim. He got to show off his mad basketball skills with the ball and hoop in the pool. We had fun shooting around for about an hour or two, and then went inside to order a Domino’s pizza for a late dinner and had a movie marathon until the wee hours of the morning (i.e. 1 or 2 a.m. ooohhh we are living dangerously now! Lol)

This morning, we got up pretty early to meet our friends Jessica and Will at The Cracker Barrel in Birmingham for breakfast before Luke had to go to the airport to catch his flight. It was pouring down rain this morning so he experienced some short delays but is currently en route back to Lawton. All-in-all, we had an amazing weekend together that I will not soon forget! 5 weeks and counting! ❤

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