Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Story of Us

This is our love story from beginning to...well, not end, but I guess from one beginning to another. I wrote this for the guest book at our wedding, but I thought I'd share it here as well. The title of it comes from a Jewish phrase we discovered in Jerusalem. Enjoy.

I Have Found My Heart's Beloved

The near-tragic love story of how Andrew and Julie became Mr. and Mrs. Null.

 Andrew and Julie fell in love on the Mount of Olives.

And as magical as that sounds, it’s not actually where their story began.

The tale of Andrew and Julie started in a tiny apartment in Rexburg, Idaho that was partially smelly, slightly unkempt, and fully unromantic.

Andrew was watching Sports Center, and when Julie walked through the door to visit her brother/his roommate Kyle from Salt Lake, she assumed he was another lame sports addict (which is partially true, minus the lame part).

But then they started talking, and both were surprised at how easy it was.

Julie left about 20 minutes later and that was that…or so they thought.

Fast-forward four months and Julie was back at school visiting her little brother, Tyler who now lived in that very same apartment complex. As she was leaving, who should walk by with his laundry basket but Andrew who just so happened to live next door to said little brother.

Thank goodness for laundry.

Julie did one of those looks. You know the one. She glances at him, thinks he seems (1) kinda cute, and (2) vaguely familiar, but then gets shy and looks away, but then can’t help it and catches his eye? Yeah, that look.

Suddenly it hit her.

“Andrew?” She was delighted he remembered her name too. They talked, and discovered they were both applying to the BYU Jerusalem center for the summer. Julie left and Andrew finished his laundry.

Their next encounter happened when they saw each other at a Halloween party. Andrew was Julius Caesar, and Julie looked like this. 

He wasn’t a fan.

And yet somehow, the zombie thing worked because the next weekend, Andrew asked Julie on their first date. It was November 11, 2010, and they went out for bowling and ice cream.

The date was fun. He liked her but didn’t think she was interested. She liked him, but somehow Andrew was misreading the vibes.

They saw each other here and there. He made her dinner (his curry specialty) and she made him dinner (Cuban chicken pizza), and they soon found out they each got accepted to the BYU Jerusalem Center for the summer—one more reason to be friends.

 Friends. Hah.

The winter passed and aside from a few Sundays of watching Jerusalem videos together (they had to get excited about the summer), they simply remained friends. Andrew still liked her, and Julie still liked him, but somehow that didn’t seem to mean anything.

They ran into each other in Julie’s parking lot as she was running home from the gym and he was on his way to visit another girl (but we’re going to ignore that last bit). They joked about the horrible clothes they would have to wear in the Holy Land due to the strict dress code, and she told him of her plans to serve a mission right after Jerusalem. He asked her what would happen if some guy sweeps her off her feet over the summer. She said that wouldn’t happen, but he wasn’t convinced, and said, “Well at least you know that if some guy falls in love with you there, it won’t be because of your looks!” Oh, the irony.

Soon, the last day of school rolled around.

The night was April 6, 2011. There were still a few piles of snow on the ground, finals were basically over, and Andrew’s apartment still smelled like Pine Sol from clean checks earlier that evening. Because Andrew had never seen The Lord of the Rings Trilogy before, his roommate forced him into watching them before the end of the semester and this seemed like the perfect setting. What better way to make it more tolerable than to invite Julie?

Julie kind of hates The Lord of the Rings.

But thankfully her crush on Andrew outweighed her dislike of incredibly long, staggeringly slow, and cripplingly boring movies.

So there they were, crammed on the couch with a whole load of other people, when Andrew got brave….or was it crazy? Or maybe just curious. Perhaps a mix of all three.

He started with the classic hand on the leg (it was crowded, okay?), then lightly traced the back of Julie’s hand (he couldn’t just leave his hand in one spot the whole time), until suddenly his fingers slipped between hers (…).

That’s when Julie kind of freaked out.

Now what?!! What does this mean?!! What about Jerusalem?!! What’s going to happen there?!! Why did he do that?!!

Andrew just smiled.

School ended, Julie graduated, and they both went home for a few weeks.

During the break, Andrew called Julie for a few minutes to ask about packing, but a few minutes quickly turned into two hours, and Andrew hadn’t packed a thing.

Fast-forward two weeks, and suddenly Julie and Andrew were on an airplane to Tel Aviv, Israel.

They sat in an auditorium the first night overlooking God’s eternal city, heard the Call to Prayer for the first time, and groggy from jetlag, they listened to their teacher’s orientation,

“By the end of the summer, some of you will be ready to be married to each other.”  

Andrew and Julie avoided eye contact.

For the first few days, Julie pretended to not look for Andrew whenever she entered the auditorium, and Andrew pretended he wanted to sit next to other people at lunch. But they weren’t very good at pretending.

Almost a week went by (which in Jerusalem time, is more like a month), and Andrew got lost on his way to the laundry room and ended up in Julie’s hallway just as she so happened to be walking to her dorm.

Thank goodness for laundry.

Andrew smiled at her, and her stomach did a cartwheel. They talked, and decided they should probably stop pretending they were just friends, and should maybe actually try to be more than friends.

So for the rest of the summer, that’s what they did.

But it wasn’t exactly that easy. There were the security guards, the surveillance cameras, the “groups of three” rule, the “no PDA,” the fact that Julie had mission papers ready to turn in, the fact that she wouldn’t be returning to BYU-Idaho in the fall, the fact that Andrew would have a newly-returned sister missionary awaiting him when he got home, and the fact they lived in a fishbowl with 78 other students.

Somehow though, they made it work…kinda.

Three weeks into the summer, Andrew and Julie were in Turkey—Ephesus, actually. After a long day of touring, they sauntered down to the beach where the rest of their classmates were wading in the dark. That was fun, but then Andrew saw the dimly-lit pat that ambled through the resort property.

“Wanna go for a walk?”

He says he wasn’t planning anything, but Julie had this feeling.

They meandered through the trees, talking hand-in-hand, finally alone at last. The path ended and they came to a balcony overlooking the Aegean Sea. The air was warm with a slight breeze, random techno music pulsed lightly in the background, and that’s where for the first time, Andrew kissed Julie.

The rest of the summer months flew by. They hiked mountains together, ate Turkish Delight in an abandoned stairwell, watched the sun set over the Sea of Galilee, floated the Jordan River, snuck off to hidden libraries for study sessions (ahem), explored crusader castles, and visited the Garden of Gathsemane after church on many Sabbath afternoons.

The more time they spent together, the closer they became, yet; there was still the mission thing, and the fact that Andrew would be returning to school in the fall with a different opportunity awaiting him there (that’s what we’ll call her).

Julie stressed, and prayed, and cried, and finally decided to submit her mission papers since any prospect of dating after Jerusalem seemed impossible anyway.

Andrew and Julie continued to spend every minute together, however, and as the summer drew to a close they were afraid that maybe this was more than just a fling.

The day of doom, August 12, 2011 rolled around, and suddenly Julie and Andrew were back on an airplane. Earlier that morning, Andrew spent his last ten sheckels on a Kosher McDonalds ice cream cone for Julie, and they sat at the airport windows watching the sun rise over Israel for the last time. The irony was rude.

Two miserable flights and many hours later, Andrew pulled Julie close and through tears, kissed her goodbye at the Washington D.C. airport, not knowing when or even if he’d ever see her again. She cried nearly the whole way to Seattle.

 Though each was happy to see their families again, both missed Jerusalem, missed the adventures, but mostly, missed each other.

Four days later, Andrew called Julie and told her he loved her.

Julie, still waiting for a mission call, couldn’t take the heartache any longer and called Andrew to invite him to visit her in Poulsbo. She’d pay half of his ticket. Andrew considered it for .623 seconds, and agreed.

Those few days, alone together and out of the Jerusalem Center bubble, were everything they’d each dreamed of the whole summer. Finally in the “real world,” they went sailing together, walked along the boardwalk, explored Seattle, and Julie realized she really was in love. Dang it.

The very next day after Andrew left (September 1st), a big white envelope arrived in the mail addressed to Sister Julie Rencher. She panicked.

“Send it back. Please just send it back.” But it was too late. The letter was there and she had to open it. Maybe it would send her to some horrible place where she wouldn’t want to go, and she could just say no? But no, that would have been too easy. She held her breath and tore it open.

California, San Fernando, Spanish-speaking. Report October 26th—less than eight weeks away.

She tried to be excited; she tried to be happy but instead she just cried. She cried because it was perfect, and she cried because she knew she couldn’t go. She called Andrew, told him the news, and surprised him by asking, “Andrew, I need you to tell me what you want? What do you really, truly want?”

Caught off guard by this question, Andrew didn’t know how to answer. What did he really want? What about his “other opportunity?” He loved Julie, but was it enough to give it up. After a year and a half of waiting, he would finally be back at school with “the other opportunity” in two weeks. Didn’t he owe it to himself to at least see her?

Andrew gave a noncommittal answer which Julie found highly unsatisfactory.

Julie spent the next few weeks as a bipolar emotional train wreck. One day, she was so excited to go on her mission she could hardly stand it, and then next she wanted to give it all up and move to Rexburg to be with Andrew. She was dreadfully lost and horribly confused, but October 26th was looming closer every day.

Meanwhile, school started and Andrew returned to Rexburg with one of the biggest decisions of his life weighing heavily on his mind. He quickly contacted the “other opportunity” and as he walked to her door for the first time, his heart raced with anxiety and excitement. When she answered the door, Andrew realized two things.

1. God does answer prayers.
2. Julie was the one.

Now that Andrew had his answer, he needed to decide whether to ask Julie to move to Rexburg, or whether he could wait another 18 months for Julie to go on her mission.   

September 11th rolled around. Julie had finally been feeling so excited about her mission. She was decided, she was committed, and she was happy.


Man she hated that word.

Andrew called to tell her that after only two days back at school, he no longer wanted his “other opportunity;” he wanted Julie.  

He asked her to move to Rexburg.

Lying on her bedroom floor, she told him she needed to stew, and hung up. She tossed her phone, pounded the floor, and unable to explain it, started laughing uncontrollably. Maybe she was in shock, maybe she was past emotion, maybe for once, she couldn’t cry anymore and could see how downright comical the situation was.

 Julie tried to ignore the predicament for awhile, but she couldn't get Andrew out of her head. Finally she called him on September 20th just to talk. Without planning to, or meaning to, or really even knowing she was ready to, she told him she was moving to Rexburg.

Please hold your applause until the end.

Two weeks later, Julie spent nearly all her money on a car, packed it full of her worldly possessions, and with no job, no place to live, and no idea what she was doing, drove 800 miles to be with the boy she loved.

Crazy? Yes.
Stupid? Maybe.
Right? Gosh she hoped so.

At 3 PM, October 4th, Andrew heard a faint knock on his door. He opened it slowly and his face cracked into a smile as he scooped up Julie in his arms and squeezed her trembling body, somehow gathering up all her broken pieces and putting them back together.

Julie found a place to live, she found her dream job, and instead of reporting to the Missionary Training Center on October 26th, she photographed designer cupcakes at a baking company in Rigby, Idaho.

The next months passed blissfully. Andrew took Julie home for Thanksgiving, and after spending two miserable weeks apart at Christmas, they realized they never wanted to do that ever again. Andrew proposed to Julie just after Easter on April 12, 2012 in San Diego overlooking the city and the ocean.

It was perfect.

And while marrying a Null in the literal sense of the word meant Julie would become nothing, in every other sense of the word, it meant she’d gain everything. 

The end. (and the beginning) 


  1. Loved reading this. Great writing. I laughed out loud a couple of times. Holy cow you guys are so great together. Congratulations.

  2. I love this!! I cried and laughed. That means two things: You are a great writer Julie, and this is a great story. I especially loved the part where all you could do was laugh after Andrew called asking you to move to Rexburg. I also loved all the before Jerusalem details that I only knew vaguely about. I'm glad I took the time to read this! Congratulations on the wedding! Can't wait to see you guys again sometime soon.

  3. Oh, and is that Halloween picture really you!!? Hahaha. I just can't see it.

    1. Thanks, Elise! And yep that really is me. haha

  4. so cute. you guys need to make a movie about your story--it's so awesome! i'm so happy for you two! love you guys :)

    1. Thanks, Jeehee! I'm so happy for you too!



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