Meet the Parents

During our quick trip over to America this July, I flew over to Idaho to meet Jesse’s parents for the first time.

Although I was pretty nervous to meet my fiance’s family, my soon to be in-laws, deep down I knew I had nothing to worry about. The way that Jesse had talked about his family to me made them sound like winners- plus, I had met them over Skype and chatted couple times with them. Even during these Skype calls I saw Jesse’s words proved true. This made me really look forward to meeting them in person!

So, as soon as my flight landed and I acquired my fishing license, we wasted no time; the 5 of us loaded up our backpacking gear and we set off on a beautiful hike into the Seven Sisters Mountains.

The hike was a perfect ice-breaker as it created a natural bonding experience. Jesse and his dad lead the way while I trekked with his sister and mom, sparking effortless conversation the whole way up. I loved being able to ask Jesse’s mom questions about his childhood and how he got to be who he is now. Priceless.

Once we made it to the campsite, Jesse’s parents pulled out a hatchet and casually went to chop firewood. It was super legit.

While they made a fire and prepared dinner, Jesse and I took out the poles and he taught me how to fly-fish. His sister went to go help his parents, so suddenly we were alone.

With the sun setting over the lake, falling behind the mountains, I stood on a boulder and practiced throwing my line. Complete serenity. I thought about how surreal this felt, how I came to be here, now, camping with my fiance’s family, fly-fishing in the mountains with the love of my life… I let my spirit silently sing out it’s gratitude.


Breaking the silence, Jesse spoke: “I’ll be right back,” he said. “Ok,” I managed to reply, for I was still lost in the calm. He returned, though, and my heart beat wildly as I quickly realized what was happening. Jesse got down on his knee and proposed to me, again! Except this time, Jesse was holding the REAL engagement ring (the one that we hadn’t wanted to ship overseas to Istanbul).



Of course, the answer was still YES, and of course, I cried again! He took off the original engagement/place-holder ring and replaced it with a stunning heritage ring his grandma made from his great-grandma and great-aunt’s diamonds. I still can’t take my eyes off of it!:)

Dinner was ready, so we joined the family around the fire and I waved my hand in front of them so they could see my new bling. Even though it wasn’t the original proposal, it was still so special for me to be able to share this moment with the family I was being welcomed into. Maybe it was the gorgeous ring weighing on my finger, but I felt a tremendous amount of emotion as the reality set in of what I had been given. How could I be worthy of such a gift, a gift of another family to love, and be loved by? Content, and honored beyond words, I sat among my new family and we dove into our steaming, tin-foil wrapped stir-fry and rice, which was tastefully paired with some boxed wine.

Then, two-eyes glowed in the distance. Jesse’s sister had spotted a visitor! She described the eyes, to which his dad suggested it could be a grizzly bear…. Great. We hung our food far away in a tree for safe measures.

The stars began to come out, and I tried to put the bear out of my mind so as not to waste such majestic sky! We all headed to bed as the fire crackled down to burning glow.

I woke up to a shuffling. I stopped breathing. What’s that?! I woke Jesse up so he could save the day. He pointed his flashlight to where the sounds were coming from. It’s just a deer, he said. I didn’t believe him until I saw it. I attempted to fall back asleep, but visions of a grizzly bear kept running through my mind. I prayed for morning…

Morning did indeed come, and it found us all to still be alive. The sunrise punctured the sky with orange rays and we got the fire going. Coffee, bacon, and pancakes soon made their way into our stomaches as we fueled for another day of hiking. It was a beautiful day! Jesse, his sister and I cheated death as we scaled rock walls to summit the mountain. Totally worth it.

Anyways, despite a sleepless night due to false grizzly bear sightings and sounds, and risking our lives on the mountain peaks, the backpacking trip was a huge success! We all had a lot of fun, and I immediately felt like part of the family. There’s nothing better than camping adventures that bring people closer together:)


Minnesota Minutes

It seemed that as soon as I landed in California, it was only seconds later I was lifted off its turf and then brought back to earth (or water, rather) in the land-o-lakes.

Touchdown goes to Minnesota. Skol Vikings!

Yeah, my pride goes deep. Many a blog has already been dedicated to my adoration for my home state, especially to the Eden of the Prairies:) There’s nothing like returning to familiar territory filled with lanes of memories and friendly faces at every stoplight. It’s a big town with a small town feel.

If my week in California went fast, my week in Minnesota only went faster. Taking advantage of the waning minutes of daylight and dusk, again I recognized how much of a gift this short homestay was for both parties.

For the ones I left behind, my hope is that your encounter with me brought you greater understanding of how my life in Turkey is comprised of more fulfillment and purpose and joy than I could have imagined. Know that your support for me is supporting something so much bigger– I feel your prayers every day and I thank you with bottomless gratitude!

For the returnee, I was still pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Waking up in my family’s home, eating American food, hearing English everywhere I go… it was all so familiar yet so foreign. Then, walking out my sliding door into a yard beautifully arranged with flowers and plant compilations by my most creative mother, the only sounds being that of birds chirping, it was as if I had stepped into my own private park!

The moments of peace and quiet I experience in Istanbul are one-in-a-million, so this was the biggest culture shock yet biggest cultural treasure I felt when re-entering America. Driving down open roads with no other cars on them, tall trees forming sidelines and curving to form overhead bridges… I caught myself too many times with my eyes on the massive sky above me instead of the road in front of me!

However, being squished in the backseat between my two baby brothers who now look like they should be my big brothers was also a bit of a culture shock…

As well as the convenient conversations I could have with my parents instead of the process of figuring out skype dates between opposite time zones…

And actually feeling engulfing hugs instead of written messages ending in X’s and O’s…

And getting to run…

OR walk around my favorite lakes EVERY DAY with my favorite people and sometimes with my favorite iced caribou coffee in tote…

It was all surreal. But at the same time, it was all So Real.

I wanted to make every minute last for as long as I could.

So, for 24 hours of them, I kidnapped my mom and we took a quick escape out to the cabin.

Right as we pulled up to the door, the clouds burst open and gave us the concert of a lifetime. Sitting at a candlelit table, we stared out the panorama windows to take it all in; rain pelted percussions on the tin roof of the farmhouse next door, streaks lit up the sky, mirrored by the lake’s dancing surface, giant booms shook through the entire house, vibrating our very seats!

Bravo, Minnesota. Bravo.

Although my minutes with you were far from enough, thank you for the memories you keep adding to the already-full heart of this Minnesota girl:)

I love you and I miss you already. And don’t you worry, I’ll be back–if only to see another booming rockshow…