Thoughts on life after marriage.

I just read an incredible article written by a woman that has been married for 19 years. I can’t remember the last time I had anything (other than my parents and my sister) for 19 years! What an incredible testimony- marriage can and does work, you just have to be intentional and committed, and in my opinion, centered around God.

I know this is easier said than done for me right now. I’ve been infatuated with my fiancé for the last year and a half. Our pre-marital leaders call this the stage the “on drugs” stage. Rightfully so, but I’m happy on love drugs right now! I happy not getting enough of him and never being satisfied with the amount of times and ways I say ‘I love you.’ I am well aware that things will change. Life will get in the way, dirty laundry and sick babies don’t make you feel sexy or excited about much, but I’m not there right now. When we do get there, I know our foundation will be strong enough to make it through, because our relationship isn’t based on the drugs feeling that we have right now, we have a much firmer foundation.

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(picture: us on love drugs)

We started our relationship after finding out that we went to the same church. Within 4 months of us dating, we were enrolled in a “Seriously Dating or Engaged” course through our church (led by Roger and Beck Tirabassi- which I would definitely recommend!). This course is designed to either bring couples together or tear them apart. It sounds harsh, but I believe one of the best gifts you could ever receive is the opportunity to know that this person is not the one for you, BEFORE you get married. We learned so much about love, God, relationship and ourselves in those 5 weeks- it was incredible! And a few months later he popped the question more confidently than ever, and of course I said YES more confident than ever.

We go to church together, we pray together (out-loud!), we are taking finance courses together, and we are also enrolled in pre-marital counseling with our pastor and his wife. I don’t share this to pat myself on the back, but more to show what intentional relationship looks like. We’ve made a pact not to let life happen to us- we are going to happen to life!

I’m so happy we have these things in place because I know we will fall back on these when times get tough. We both care deeply about making this work, and I can only hope that in 19 years I will be able to look back and write a blog much like this one: http://www.wearethatfamily.com

The countdown.

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On Monday I decided to start an official countdown to the wedding! Just a little something I can see every morning on the bathroom mirror, with an old lipstick that I never used. It’s fun because Todd and I wake up every morning and make up silly songs about the number of days that we have left. However, it’s also painful sometimes. I already feel like we’ve been in the 70s for so long (we are at 73 days now) but I know I’m going to blink and we will be down to 20 and then 10, and then it will be here!

At least, that’s been my experience with anything I’ve anticipated in the past. Time is a funny thing- we use it to judge each other by calculating the number of hours we’ve been on the earth. We use it to gather people together in the same space and time for meetings, weddings and funerals. We use it to measure our speed and efficiency. Yet, in the moments that you anticipate the most, it seems to move unnaturally fast, like someone put their finger on the 2x fast forward button. Then the moments of despair, feeling lost or simply waiting, time drags on and on, where days are weeks and weeks are years. It’s such a finicky thing, fleeting by quickly here and ticking so slow there, yet we rely on it so heavily for nearly every decision.

Right now, 73 days sounds like an eternity to me. I’m so ready to be married so we can enjoy the other parts of each other that we’ve been holding out for. I’m ready to merge our lives officially and get on the plane to Bora Bora (our honeymoon destination) to celebrate! I’m ready to buy a house and make some babies (ok, maybe a few years on the baby thing but still). But, as my mind wanders, I wonder how short 73 days would seem if someone told me that’s all I had left on this earth. Or even just in California. Or even at my job… how my attitude would change knowing the end is such a measurable short time away.

If time is all we have, I guess for now I’ll just hold tight to the days that fly by and relax into the ones that move like molasses J

Overwhelmed in the Best Way.

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My last post was focused on Engagement in the terms of my fiancé and me. However, it does expand much further than this… all the way to our friends and family.

Yesterday was my bridal shower, which means things feel REALLY real now. I was so nervous about the shower… well, not really the whole shower. Just the part where everyone stares at you while you open gifts. I mean, the last time anyone watched me open pile after pile of gifts was probably my 6th birthday. I’m not as entertaining as my fiancé is, so I was stressed about how this could possibly be fun for anyone besides me.

Am I opening the gifts too slow? Too fast?
Did I say ‘thank you’ enough?
Am I being overly appreciative?
Is it too quiet in here?
It is too quiet. Can we turn music on? Or is that not what people do at a shower?
Am I the only one sweating?

But of course, it’s just me and my friends and my family, so we laughed at each other and the whole gift-opening only took about an hour- not too painful! And the décor and food and gifts and friendship and love were FABULOUS! My best friend of 11 years (wow- still can’t believe it’s been that long) took charge of all the details and my soon-to-be Mother-in-Love (because let’s face it, “in-law” sounds like a forced legal arrangement to me) hosted at her beautiful home in Laguna Beach.

I could write for hours about the details, because those were the things that hit me later that night. As I laid in bed wishing for sleep, I recounted all of the thoughtful gifts and gestures from the day and was completely overwhelmed! My mother, sister and a few of my aunts Skyped in to be a part of the shower (since they all live in South Carolina) and even through the blurry, garbled screen, they spent their Sunday gathered around an IPad to be part of the fun. The monogrammed gifts and hand-picked cards and thoughtful words each yanked a heart string as I recounted every person that had been there. And then, I started bawling. It felt like a cry that came from pain, and I was really confused. With my fiancé by my side as I rambled through tears, he said the sweetest thing: “Babe, I think you are just overwhelmed, and sometimes when you feel overwhelmed with happiness like this, it comes out in tears. That’s all.”

And he was right. I don’t think it is humanly possible to feel as happy and as blessed as I felt yesterday, so it exploded out of me into big, fat, juicy tears. Now I understand the phrase “Overwhelmed with Joy.”

Engagement. It really is as cool as I thought it would be.

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I’m starting this a little late. I’m just over 7 months into my 10-month engagement, but I feel the urge to write. Please don’t mistake this as a place for me to vent about wedding details, or talk about color schemes or picking the right photographer. I could never claim to be an expert on any of those areas (however, happy to share my experience if asked!) What I really want to write about is what all-too-often gets forgotten in the wedding planning craze… the Engagement.

No, not the engagement as in the day we got engaged, but these horribly beautiful and tangled up 7+ months that have been our attempt at becoming a family. I looked up the definition of engaged and there were a few options- my favorite was: “emotional involvement or commitment”.

A quick backstory: If you don’t know us (me and my future hubby- Todd) we’re everything the same and everything different. We met at work, and over a few conversations about avocados in the kitchen, we progressed into friends. Then we became friends that spent hours talking on the phone, making plans to be in the same vicinity on the weekends, and eventually accidentally kissing after a night that lasted a glass of wine too long. But it was beautiful. And when I finally admitted that I really liked this person that was pursuing time with me, it was even more than beautiful.

After 9 months of dating (wow, that sounds short) he popped the question. He says he knew right when he met me that he was going to marry me. I think that’s what gave me the confidence to blossom in our relationship- he came into it with a purpose. It wasn’t forceful; just confident, patient and intentional. The engagement weekend was a perfect blur of excitement, accomplishment and pure giddiness. He had surprised me with a weekend away to Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, so we were staying in an incredible hotel. The night that he proposed, I remember not being able to sleep a wink (and for those of you who know me, I can sleep through anything)! In my head, the whole event was already forming- the wedding date, my bridesmaids, his groomsmen, location, colors… this was all new to me! I wasn’t the girl who had her dream wedding planned, so every aspect was a new idea! I finally rolled over around 3am and he wasn’t sleeping either, so we decided to revel in our excitement and ordered a huge meal from room service and talked until morning about our big plans. I’ll remember that night forever.

Coming back to work that Monday was strange- everything in my life just changed but was still the same. Everyone had questions about the date and the dress and I felt overwhelmed, but also like I was just admitted into a new club- a “Bride to Be” club. My days were filled with phone calls to venues, photographers, DJs, negotiating contracts and managing the many flying opinions from family and friends that circled me everywhere I went. It’s humorous if you let it be, and I learned that I had to let it be.

All that said to get here, 7 months in. The trials and confrontations that God has given to my fiancé and me over the last few months have completely surprised me. At times we felt like the ground was snatched from under us. I can write about them now because we’ve landed on new, unfamiliar and what appears to be stable ground. Stable as in something we can start building on.

I guess no one warned me of this because no one’s story is the same. I’d love to give a blueprint to future bride and groom-to-be’s, but I’ve come to realize that I’m just not that smart.

Our first big fight was over a mission trip to South Africa for which I signed up. I made the commitment about 2 months before we were engaged, and blindly thought I had his support. Only once we were engaged, I found out how fearful he was and how he truly did not want me to go. What!? I’m following something I feel God laid on my heart and he’s against it? How could he!? Ok, this must be my test- God wants me to go and now he is going to make me choose between my future husband and him. How cruel! What am I supposed to do? Ok, I will choose God.

That’s how it played out in my head, and I honestly thought I had figured it out. We prayed and prayed and PRAYED, but my fiancé never got in the same boat as me. I felt tormented. I begged for peace with my decision and fought with myself over what was right. I chose God, and I knew that didn’t mean it would be easy or peaceful (all I had to do was re-read the stories of His disciples to know that choosing Him does not equal a life of comfort and ease). But there was something else- it felt like I missed the point even though I had figured it all out. This was a test. And I was going to follow God and pass with flying colors no matter what, dangit.

Yea, not so much. And then after MONTHS of tear-streaked fights with each other and wrestling with this and lying on the floor in prayer, God did something really cool. He made me change my prayer. I prayed “Lord, I’m not going to go to South Africa. I’m stubborn, committed, and the last person to back out of anything. Maybe I should back out of this. How do you feel about that? What do you want from me?” And I waited. And then, I felt peace. Now I do realize, this peace could have come from the fact that I knew it would make my fiancé happy, and knew that there would be no more arguments and we could close the book. And I’m sure some relief came from that. However, I chose to wait a few days and sit with the decision before telling anyone. I kept asking God for reassurance and I kept receiving it in many different ways. On the night I decided to tell Todd he cut me off before I could speak. He said that he had been praying and knew he needed to support me even if he was scared. So he donated to my trip the night before. I was overwhelmed with joy and knew that I could count on him to support me, yet I was also confident in the decision that God gave me. I told him, “I’m not going to South Africa.” He was confused and worried that I made the decision for him. I told him about the lesson for me here and how it wasn’t the one I expected. For me, going to a foreign country and loving on children in poverty is easy. I’m not afraid, and I’ve always been up for an adventure. What is hard for me is sacrificing my need for excitement, adventure and big stories and putting someone else’s need before my own. For me there are two big lessons here. Lesson #1:  Put my future-husband first (though not before God). Lesson #2: Listen to God and discover what he is teaching ME. Don’t try to outsmart what God has planned.

To me, this story- this trial, this is engagement. Loving each other enough to change your perspective. Loving each other enough to go all the way through to the end of a disagreement. 

Writing Out-Loud

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I love quotes. Like really good quotes- the kind that can add wind to your sails or knock the wind out of you they are so good. And I’ve found, like with Bible verses, that quotes can often strike me differently at different stages of my life. The recent quote that almost knocked me out and simultaneously lifted me up is by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway.” This is me in my life right now. Afraid of critics, disappointing others and disapproving glances.

What I find empowering about this quote is that it has proven to be true in many aspects of my life. When I was single and wild with a hap-hazard (yet exciting!) lifestyle, I was criticized. Now I’m engaged, walking deeper into my faith and trying on some responsible shoes, and I’m criticized. Whether I never set foot in a gym or was going 5 days a week, whether I ate gluten or sugar or was doing a 7 day cleanse, there is always criticism. And it doesn’t always come in the form of words either. It’s not always aggressive or obvious. Sometimes, it is probably more real in my perception than in reality. It can be a glare, a friend that has gotten distant, or disapproving sighs, but it’s there. To me, knowing that it will always be there… that is freedom. Since I can’t escape it, why worry about it?

So I’m writing. It’s been a long time coming. I guess I never did because I worried that I might offend someone, or over-share, or turn someone off… but since I’ll do that somehow, someway, no matter what, I feel empowered to actually write- out loud!