one chapter to the next.

Happy Wednesday! I'm so happy to share another installment in the {distance makes the heart grow fonder} series :) This long distance tale comes from a new blogger, Joanna {from California Dreamin'}. She and her new husband, Phil, are high school sweethearts and are finally together after they spent their college years apart. Due to his deployment in November, Phil and Joanna will be relying on the communication skills they built in college to help them survive this new chapter...

Name: Joanna
Significant Other's Name:  Phil
When did you start dating? We started dating sophomore year of high school!

At what point did you begin dating long distance? When we first went off to college, we "took a break". We thought it best to be single and start fresh. We didn't even talk! Then, when we were home for Thanksgiving, we saw each other and started talking again. Over Christmas break, it became official once again and, from then on, we dated long distance for four and a half years until we were married.

How did you fill your days while you're apart? School played a huge part in keeping both of us busy. Phil went to the Naval Academy, where he also wrestled, so he always had something going on. I majored in elementary education, played club soccer, and loved living with my girlfriends. It was a good time for both of us because we got to have space to grow into our own person but still be together. 

What do you find most difficult about being long distance? I think the hardest thing for us was the actual distance. I can remember getting into an argument over just not being together physically, not being able to drive over to his house and watch a movie or meet up for lunch after classes like all my other friends were doing. I also was always the one traveling because of the tight restrictions at the Naval Academy. I would visit once or twice a month, for wrestling tournaments and other sporting events and had a great time, but after the weekend, I would be wiped. To top it all off, I had a two-hour drive to either airport in Missouri on the back end of the trip! 

How has long distance changed your relationship? I really believe long distance made us the couple we are today. We are best friends. We cherish our relationship and the time we spend together. We have always said if we had gone to the same college that we probably wouldn't have stayed together. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. :) We have such good communication, which really is essential to surviving years of long distance.

What do you enjoy most about the time you have together? Since he is now in the Navy and will deploy in November, we are enjoying every minute we have together. We love to do the little things together. I drop him off and pick him up from work, which may seem trivial, but it really does give us the chance to talk about our days. It's time we wouldn't have if he drove himself or took the train. I'm not looking forward to his deployment because we don't have the time to talk about the little things, grab breakfast, or go to the beach.

What sacrifices have you made in order to make things work? I could name a thousand! A huge sacrifice for both of us was time we spent apart. I could have easily transferred to be closer, but I think we both knew becoming our own person first was really important, though some may have criticized the decision I made to stay. The biggest {personal} sacrifice I have made was moving--and leaving behind my family, my friends, and my job. I love and miss my family {and Chicago!}, but I would do it all over again to be with Phil. Moving to California also made it easier to swallow ;)

How has your life changed now that you're back in the same place? It's amazing! I get to spend everyday with my very best friend. It's like we are kids and we get to have a sleepover every night and giggle and laugh. I do find it incredible how we never run out of things to say! He might, but I always have something to tell him. I plan to write every day when he's gone so he can read it once he's home. It may be a lot of "I miss you's", but in the end, it will just reinforce how much I care.

Do you have a story of long distance you'd like to share? Email me!
Want to read other stories in this series? Click here!

I count my blessings every day that women and men share their spouses so America can
be a safer place. If you're a military spouse, I'm sure Joanna could use your words of
encouragement. Even if you're not, I'm sure she could still use it! Thanks again for sharing
your story, Joanna :) I will definitely be praying for you both in the months to come!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone! More tomorrow! xoxo {av}


  1. So glad they can be together forever :) These posts are SO sweet and always brighten my day. Keep 'em coming!

  2. deployments are harder than regular long-distance because there's always the threat of their safety in the back of your mind. but it gets easier as time goes on and you sounds like a strong, indpendent woman, so you'll be just fine :)

  3. Oh my gosh! Joanna is an old family friend of mine and I didn't even know she had a blog! So happy to see this adorable couple featured!

  4. What a special time! They look adorable!

  5. Oh this story sounds so familiar :)

    I will definitely head over to her blog!

  6. Love their story, thanks for sharing! Love her white cut-out dress.

  7. Military girlfriends/wives are my heroes!! Thinking about their strength is so inspiring and always puts my situation into perspective for me. You'll be in my prayers in the coming months and thank you for the sacrifices you both make for our country!
    Lisa xoxo

  8. Is Joanna a Mizzou grad? The reference of having to drive two hours to the closest airport sounds all too familiar. And I think that's a tiger I see on her shorts in one picture! I went to Mizzou for two years, and Boyfriend is still there finishing his degree. M-I-Z!

    Such a sweet story, and my heart goes out to Joanna and all women with significant others serving in some branch of the military. In addition to being in a LDR, they constantly have to worry about where their men are in the world and if they're safe. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to do that, so kudos to you, Joanna and Phil!

  9. Great story! Once again, sooo needed to hear that I'm not alone on all the ups and downs of a long distance relationship.

    Wishing her the best with the upcoming deployment. Been through one and know the struggles.

    Emily w/Amazing Grapes

  10. they are so cute! that's how me and mark were, apart during college, i totally understand that one!

  11. Their story is so great! I love that they were high school sweethearts. :)

  12. Another great story! Adorable. P.S. Don't miss out on my first foodie giveaway. Happy Wednesday! :)

  13. I love this series. It's so comforting to know other couples are doing the long-distance thing, too, and to know that they have strong and healthy relationships despite the challenges.

  14. My hubby and I spent our dating and first 15 months of marriage apart due to deployments too. It's tough, but makes you so strong! Enjoying these posts so much!

  15. Oh this is just wonderful! This story has just made my weekend! AV I'm so glad you commented at my place, so I could see your lovely blog!
    I've fallin' in love with it!
    Hope you had a wonderful weekend!