Mantel fall Thistlewood

This weekend my husband and I spoke at a ladies retreat in Tennessee.

He strummed his guitar and sang praise and worship songs and I stood on stage and squeaked along with him and wished I would have brought a tamborine.

Squeaking aside…..

… was an amazing experience.

After the singing finished, my husband squeezed my hand and walked off the stage.

And then in front of an audience of some of the most incredible women I have ever met and a pair of twinkling brown eyes….

….I started to speak.

fall desk decor thistlewood

I started at the beginning.

I told about our first date with the Christmas lights and the prairie skirt and Snow White and the Seven dwarfs dressed up as elves.

And how his eyes twinkled.

And how he held my hand.

I talked about the Rush concert and the bow with my name on it and the smoke and how I somehow got the wrong group.

I spoke about dating and long-distance and driving and college and how he enlisted in the navy and how we broke up.

And I walked away.

Only to realize in the middle of a dozen brownie sundaes and seventeen pounds later….

… wrong I was.

Close-up of fall Mantel Thistlewood

I explained how the phone rang six weeks later and I picked it up and I told him I loved him thirty-seven times and that I was so wrong and what was I thinking and that I had been eating brownie fudge sundaes to get over him and could he save me and my waistline by getting back together.

He laughed.

And told me he knew I loved him all along.

And that he loved me.

And could I come to his boot camp graduation?

I continued on with my tale of how I immediately gave up brownie fudge sundaes and planned the most perfect go-see-your-boyfriend-at-military-graduation-looking-extraordinarily-patriotic outfit with door knocker earrings and Lee-Press-On Nails.

And how that weekend he asked me to marry him.

white pumpkins fall mantel

And the story continued as eight months later we stood in front of God and our parents and a room full of guests and promised to love each other forever.

And ever.

And he held my hand and his brown eyes twinkled and he sang his heart to me at our reception.

And I knew that I knew…..that I knew this was going to be the point in the story where we rode off into the sunset together to years and years of wedded bliss and a white picket fence.


Isn’t that how the story is supposed to go?

Fall Master Bedroom Thistlewood Farm

Except it didn’t.

There were good years.

Wonderful, incredible years full of joy and laughter.

And there were not-so-good years.

I told the story of the challenges we faced and the valleys we went through and the days and weeks and months of sadness.

Days when I wanted to give up.

Days when his eyes weren’t there to twinkle and the mountain we were climbing felt overwhelming and too much to handle and how I almost broke except for a faith that sustained me and lifted me up and carried me through.

Mantel fall Thistlewood

And so it was that all these years later I stood in a room in front of a group of ladies and shared my heart.

And told the story.

Our story.

Every. Single. Chapter.

When I finished I walked off the stage and slowly made my way to the back of the room to where my husband stood with his eyes twinkling at me with shared joy and and outstretched arm to greet me.

And I knew.

Right then and there.

I knew that I knew that I knew…..that I knew.

I would walk each and every one of those chapters again….

….holding onto his hand. 🙂

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for lisa at celebrate creativity lisa at celebrate creativity

    Hi Karianne, what a love story. So many chapters and you're writing new ones all the time. Any video of the guitar performance? Your rooms are gorgeous and that fireplace with the fire-red florals is stunning. What a statement arrangement. Lovely and always a pleasure to browse your pretty pictures and home. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Image for Deb Huffaker Deb Huffaker

    I was there....watching and listening intently and thinking to myself that after 38 years of marriage....after trying to mold my man into what I wanted him to be.....that it was so not my place. ONLY GOD can do that and ONLY GOD has brought us through 38 years of unemployments and financial issues and laughter and tears and a daughter and 4 grandkiddos. Oh, my....what a GOD....HE is the GLUE!!! How I could have listened to you and in my mind's eye (since you had no pictures, remember I asked about that?) pictured those amazingly awesome outfits of yours......LOL Be blessed, sweet blessed!!!!

  3. Image for Kimberly H Kimberly H

    Such an incredibly beautiful story and also beautifully shared. Thank you! The Fall mantle and urns are breathtaking. I could stare at them all day!

  4. Image for Leona Leona

    Kleenex Please...............and I am sure many of us could identify with your ups and downs .......but cannot say it any better. Thanks Marianne

  5. Image for Stephanie Ray Brown Stephanie Ray Brown

    Oh my in tears again!!! So very glad you also had a friend in Jesus and a Father who loved you in the lows in the valleys and the rejoicing with the highs on the mountain tops! Bless you for sharing the whole love story so many I am sure we're blessed by your honesty. Also tickled you can still make those brown eyes twinkle!

  6. Image for gina gina

    I've laughed with you, cried with you...but this was a different and deeper cry. It's like...ahhh, yes!.... I know!... Don't we all get to experience these ups and downs? All are blessings! Each day is a blessing. And we live happily ever after....

  7. Image for Rose Rose

    OMG - I received such a gift with this writing. ~ I just read this story to my husband and the two of us had tears in our eyes. I love real stories - this was beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing Kari Anne Enjoy holding your husband's hand always.....and seeing the twinkle in his eyes that's real love. Much love, Rose

  8. Image for Patty Patty

    Still feel we need a book of all your wonderful essays! I would buy it in a heart beat. You always weave a beautiful story that I thoroughly enjoy...AND...I want to live in your beautiful home with all your pretty furniture and decor.

  9. Image for Michelle Rudis Michelle Rudis

    What a wonderful, precious telling of what makes a marriage and what sustain it--hard work and lots and lots of faith. Thank you so much for sharing, Karianne.

  10. Image for Shonee Shonee

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. It is so wonderful that you can put yourself out there to share and uplift others......wish I was there!

  11. Image for Cindy Brown Cindy Brown

    Awwww, that is so sweet and I would have hung onto each and every word had I been there! My parents are celebrating 53 years of marriage on Veteran's Day. Dad was in the military stationed at Ft. Bragg and Mom lived in New Jersey. He had the holiday off so drove up and picked her up and drove down to South of the Border, South Carolina, where there was no waiting period and they got married before the Justice of the Peace. Now Dad is in very ill health and at 85 years of age, my Mom is taking care of him while not in great health herself. It is very hard watching them both fail. My husband and I drove to their home (1 1/2 hours away) yesterday and took them a cake and balloons and a week of prepared meals and had a very nice afternoon celebrating them. Always look forward to your posts--it's like sitting there drinking sweet tee (with lime) with you!

    1. Image for Gail Gail

      This is your holiday gift from God. May not be want you wanted or needed at this time, but it is his gift to you. Love them with all your heart. Make their time here a time of knowing how they were loved. They may not say it but they are so appreciative of you in so many ways. Merry Christmas.

  12. Image for Shelly@ConfettiStyle Shelly@ConfettiStyle

    What a beautiful story Kari Anne. We'll be celebrating 25 years of marriage next year and just like you I've found my one and only and although it hasn't always been sunshine and roses my heart has always been full and I always get my back rubbed at night. #itsthelittlethings Thanks for sharing these special moments and memories. Shelly

  13. Image for Marilyn Marilyn

    Oh my Goodness! You are a wonderful writer...and you have so many blessed moments that need sharing! You even LOOK the part!, lol! You are a beautiful lady! I wish I could have been there to witness your story first hand..and meet the both of you! I love this blog! Look forward to seeing what you are excited about next and I hope you keep entertaining us day after day with your dreams. I wish you would write a book, you certainly have the ability. I would be your best customer. Keep up the good work and may God continue to bless and keep you and yours....and those twinkling brown eyes!

  14. Image for Gail Gail

    This is what the holiday season is about. We always think of what we can buy someone or if we bought enough. Your story has probably touched more hearts, given faith and hope to many, shown what a real blessing looks like and shown that Gods love isn't always easy, fast, or always what we want, but it is true and steadfast if we just allow him in. Thanks for the early Christmas present. God Bless

  15. Image for Lanita Anderson Lanita Anderson

    What a great story.....I wish I had been there to hear the whole thing! What a blessing you are! Your love for God and for your husband and family truly shine through....thanks for being willing to share! Much love, friend, Lanita

  16. Image for SilvanaJoanne SilvanaJoanne

    What a heartwarming post! True love is capable of knocking down all the obstacles Karianne and it seems to me like the love you and your husband have is the toughest of all bulldozers :-) twinkly eyes and all

  17. Image for Sheila Sheila

    After being married 42 years...I understand! There is real life! And I always knew that my kids were watching and learning how to navigate the good and the bad by my/our handling of it. Congratulations on walking the walk! Sheila

  18. Image for Terri Terri

    ummmmm.. please tell me your speaking engagement at the Ladies Retreat was not in Gatlinburg or in that vicinity???? BECAUSE.... I was in that area for a week with my family and some dear "Besties"!! Love .. love the Smokey Mountain Area.... and would loved.. loved to have met you!!!! :) ..... as always... your "Love Story" makes me all misty eyed... sniff sniff!!! Beautiful!!!!!!

  19. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Well KariAnne, you've done it again. You've made me cry for happy because I love a happy ending. I know most of your stories but in order to make sure I didn't miss one single solitary word I'll go back and reread your stories. I simply love your stories. Honey and I are going on 46 years and there have been a few downs but as you said -- through it all we knew it was forever. When you know it's forever you work so much harder and you love more deeply!! Wish I could have heard you. Big hugs my friend.

  20. Image for Marian@CMShawStudios Marian@CMShawStudios

    So glad it's not just me. We're coming off a really bad set of years, but I can see things changing, thawing, the hand of The Lord making up the difference. Bless you for giving those women a good hard look at your very real life. Sometimes that's all a girl needs, to be able to lean on your faith and experience just long enough to take a deep breath and say the prayer, "Lord please help us to be more than we are, help us to desire the things we don't" and have the hope to see it come true. You little angel, you. I'm so proud of your courage there. Well done! The Other Marian

  21. Image for Shirl Meckley Shirl Meckley

    I cried with joy. What a story. I love all your pics and wish I just had half your imagination and dreams. Thanks for posting and sharing. We all love you.

  22. Image for Debbie Esparza Debbie Esparza

    Beautiful story of you and yours. Thank you for sharing. My husband and I have been married for 42 years and yes, not all happy times. But seems we get through and grow from each and every experience. I love him more today than all those years ago when I first met him. God has kept us going and given us strength and blessed us with beautiful children and a precious granddaughter. Life is sweet!

  23. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Karianne- You had me right there with you...through the dating...the sundaes..the 17 pounds..the 37 I love yous...the door knocker earrings...right through the good and bad years...and with much laughter, joy and tears..again I felt every step with you. You continue to amaze me with not only the stories you share...but, my rock star amaze me with WHO YOU ARE! Love to you! Happy Monday!!!

  24. Image for Polly Polly

    I love your story and the happy ending chapters!! Well, guess what, I might have my own happy beginning with my first ever long years ago love of my life!!! Will be sure to let you know, thanks for being here!!!

  25. Image for mary beth mary beth

    Such a sweet story and your twins looked just like you as toddlers. (but you know I'm gawking over your beautiful bedroom. I could fit my whole house in there. Gorgeous!)

  26. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    A tissue alert would have been nice, but I should have known, that when you started talking about those twinkling brown eyes that this would be the case! Wish I could have been there.

  27. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    That was awesome. I loved you and your hubbies story of love. Very moving..I can just imagine your first date. That would have been awkward but it turned out wonderful. Thanks for sharing that for us all. We all have ups and downs but through it all we do have LOVE. Thanks!!

  28. Image for Debrah Nash Debrah Nash

    If all of us who read your blog were honest we would acknowledge that without putting Jesus first in our marriage none of us would be able to get through the good years and the "not so good" years. I met my husband of 41 years at my parents coffee shop and on our second date he asked me to marry him and I said yes. The story is we went to see" The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford" ( as an aside, yummy eye candy in both of those actors). As we sat there to quote you, "I knew that I knew that I knew…..that I knew" if I would build a life together with him, it would be "until death do us part". I leaned over to this handsome man and told him and I quote, "I could spend the rest of my life with you." Risky, yes.... Later as we were going to go back to my house, he said to me, "so marry me"! I replied, "okay". That was May of 1974 and we got married on August 18th of that year. Three children, two son-in-laws and a daughter-in-law, six grandchildren later, he is still the love of my life. The lean years and the years that abounded were so much easier because I had found my "Soul Mate". Now, I don't know what would have become of me if the Lord and had not brought us together. Thanks for your story and I pray that many more years of "twinkling eyes" will be yours together. For us it just gets better and better. Blessings to you Kari and to your sweet family.

  29. Image for Toni Toni

    You know what......YOU ARE AN AWESOME STORY TELLER......story tellers write when will you write yours?

  30. Image for Lisa Mothersead Lisa Mothersead

    Sweet and honest.... My 30 yr old daughter wrote a sweet tribute on our recent 35th anniversary about marriage being work through the good and the bad and that we have shown her and lil' sis that even a marriage of great love, is work. (You've just done your kids a favor, I'd say.❤️)

  31. Image for Rebecca Turner Rebecca Turner

    Aw, so sweet! Thank you for sharing your story with them, and with us too...because the world is in need of hope for happy endings. People need to know that happy ever after CAN happen! Marriage is not always easy but with God at the center it stands a much better chance. What is that saying about a cord not easily broken? My husband and I were wed as teens, and thirty eight years later we are happier than ever! (With an empty nest and two grandchildren!)

  32. Image for Sue B. Sue B.

    So very thankful that your faith was/is strong enough to keep you from "breaking." Just thinking of all your stories and how so many people would miss out on them is a sadness in itself. Hope you continue to have those twinkling brown eyes keeping your heart happy.

  33. Image for Amy W. Amy W.

    It's the ole Carly Simon song..."It's The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of!!" Actually, your story is even better! I've come out of the war trenches that Summer and early Fall brought.....held on tight to The Faith as the fires from He_ _ ...blazed away.......only to find out in the after-math that what was burnt has now produced in it's path a beautiful and bright future with my loved one. Once again your post was so deeply touching to me! How gifted! Beautiful you are! Wishing you a Super Most Wonderful Fall Day!

  34. Image for Khadija Khadija

    Sniff, I should know better to read your posts first thing in the morning but I can't help it. I'm either crying in my coffee or choking on it from unexpected laughter. LOL Not only are you wonderful, but you have a bunch of wonderful commentors too. :D :D :D

  35. Image for Sharon H Sharon H

    Oh, Miz are ah-mazing. I love your beautiful love story and what an awesome gift you have in those twinkling brown eyes....just one of many gifts that God has given you.

  36. Image for Linda Linda

    Thank you God for great loving husbands and faith. Loved your story. What an encouragement to many who will remember your words when those time of almost not making it come 'round. Affirming to hang in there gals! I have and wouldn't do it any other way. Blessings, Linda

  37. Image for Moriah Moriah

    God has gifted you with so many amazing talents. Thank you for sharing them with all of us. Loved your story, your bedroom, and thankful you love Jesus, too :)

  38. Image for Susan Susan

    I'm just catching up on some of your posts here...this one took much longer to go through because, not only was I fighting through tears to read your touching words, but I clicked every single link and re-read each of your moving stories...I could never tire of them...your words hold that sort of special magic that keep me coming back for more! Thank you for sharing each and every chapter of your precious story with us via your blog,'ll never know how much it means!

  39. Image for Becky Mullowney Becky Mullowney

    Oh my gosh...I've got tears in my eyes! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful love story! Blessings, Becky M.

  40. Image for Michelle Holland Michelle Holland

    What a gift of writing you have been given! I loved reading your story, God is so Good! Tears and smiles! Blessings, Michelle

Comments are closed.