Our Unordinary Wedding

Wedding 041
Our Wedding Day! Check out the “rustic” metal in the background. We were ahead of our time.

Last year I wrote our love story in honor of our anniversary. I never realized how unorthodox our relationship was until I started getting feedback from that post. How does one follow up an unordinary courtship? With an unordinary wedding of course.

He proposed March 8th. We set the wedding date for June 17th. That’s three months later in case anyone is counting.

DSCN1420
Our first picture after getting engaged! It was two days later and we got to see both of our families at Eric’s driving experience.

I was in the throes of student teaching when we first became engaged, and this consumed my life so much to the point that I was seriously doubting whether I was cut out to be a teacher. I was thrilled to be getting married that summer, but the demands of finishing my education prevented me from spending too many hours surfing the web for wedding information. Praise the Lord Pinterest didn’t exist yet.

I was clueless when it came to weddings. Clueless. I had only attended a handful of them, and I was the first in my group of friends to be getting married. I really had no idea how it all worked. All I knew was that I needed a white dress, a pastor, and my intended. That pretty much felt like enough to me. Eric actually planned the majority of the ceremony details.

So, what were the details?

Bridesmaid. Yes, that’s singular for a reason. I wanted my sister to be my one and only bridesmaid because I knew my sister was the one and only person guaranteed to always be in my life. I didn’t want to pick and choose between friends, and I didn’t want to worry about finding a dress that everyone would be happy with. I let my sister pick whatever she wanted to wear because I wanted her to feel pretty too. Her selection then determined my colors. They would be blue and brown.

Wedding 047
My favorite picture of me and my siblings! Taken right before the service began.

Flowers. Okay, blue and brown. What flowers go with this? My soon-to-be Mother-in-Love mentioned blue hydrangeas, so I went with it. When I met with my florist, he told me all the woes of working with hydrangeas for weddings, and then insisted I have them because it was my wedding and that was what I wanted. I really didn’t care. He was right though, as my sister’s bouquet had to be replaced with grocery store hydrangeas minutes before the ceremony began.

The Dress. I wanted something simple and found a few styles I liked at David’s Bridal. At the end of trying on these dresses my mom says, “I could make something like that.” And so she did. My mom worked tirelessly to get the dress just right and leave me with a precious memory. The outcome was almost identical to what I had tried on in store!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Our families prayed for us as we started off the ceremony.

Invitations. Formal invitations were sent to relatives and a few family friends. The rest of our guests were invited by email invitations and an open Facebook event. I am not kidding. We wanted everyone we knew to celebrate with us and to have the chance to hear about the goodness of God.

Food. How do you feed an unknown number of people? Easy. One of our friends bought cases of soft drinks as our wedding present. That was one of the most practical gifts anyone gave us. We decided to have a cookout for our guests and purchased boxes upon boxes of hamburgers and hotdogs from Costco. Sadly, an entire freezer worth of hamburgers was forgotten, so I’m not sure everyone had a chance to eat. We did get to return the extras though! Our cake was a gift to us from a friend of Eric’s parents, and a bounce house was set up for kiddos to enjoy.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
People were gathered everywhere! We may have had close to 500. Here they are gathering for food, with a bit of our fancy trailer and bounce house in the background.

Ceremony. To be held on a Sunday during a church service. Yes, it was our wedding day, but we wanted God to be the focus of it. Not us. We had praise and worship, and the new sermon series called “Once Upon a Time” was kicking off with Adam and Eve. Perfect set up for a wedding. We also decided to include a true love waits ceremony for those in the student ministry wanting to make a commitment to save sexual intimacy for marriage. This was especially precious to me as I was going to present Eric with my own purity ring during the vow exchange.

Location. There was going to be too many people for our church building, so we decided to hold everything outside on the lawn. Eric painted the big trailer outside white to help with the ambiance. It had previously been decorated with “LUAU” for a youth event. We rented folding chairs and a stage for the musicians. Our small group was kind enough to help set up that morning, and I later learned they had to clean silly string off most of those rented chairs.

n25000955_32423261_8629[1]
Our first act as husband and wife was to praise Jesus!
The Mishaps. I’m pretty sure every wedding has a few of these. In addition to my sister’s flowers dying and doing a quick fix, there were a few other experiences that didn’t quite go as planned. It was a high of 97 degrees that day, causing one of our guests to faint. We did a first look that I had hoped to be private, but because we were outside, a crowd of people ended up joining us. The cops were called because our music was too loud. Oh, and we probably should have set the date for something other than Father’s Day. (Sorry, Daddy!)

I really, truly, loved our wedding. I felt like we had the opportunity to bring glory to God and honor others. Neither one of us had much money saved, and our families certainly were not rich by any means. We chose to spend very little so we could start off our marriage focusing on our relationship without needing to pay off debt. Altogether, including all the things, no matter who was paying, the cost was under $5000. This was a tremendous blessing to the start of our  marriage.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Only a few nights prior to our wedding, we decided to do a swing dance. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun! A small portion of our cake table is in the background.

Looking back, I probably would have done it the same way all over again. Looking forward, I love that we get to celebrate our anniversary in new ways. We are hoping to do a very small vow renewal for our 10th anniversary next year. My wedding day, while certainly a significant moment in my life, wasn’t the biggest moment for our marriage.

The biggest moment, in any marriage, is really the little moments day-to-day as we love and respect our spouse. It’s a life-long journey with a success rate not determined by a flawless wedding day. I am so thankful to have started off our marriage the way we did, and I hope to continue in the same mindset of honoring God and others for the rest of our lives.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Bubbles!
Advertisements

A Party for Jesus

IMG_3758

“Jesus is rising from the tomb, so I am making a birthday party for him to celebrate!”

She dashed back and forth between our dining room table and her play kitchen, bouncing happily as she set places for each party guest. Everyone had their designated seat, and when she declared the feast to be ready, we all sat in expectation as we waited for the guests to arrive.

She would exclaim, “They are almost here!” And then, “Jesus is here! Let’s open the door for him!”

IMG_3755

We were all shown to our seats and were told to eat the mini oranges on our plates. We spent our morning dining with Jesus.

For several weeks, I had been trying to figure out an Easter project to do with my girls. Should I buy a craft from Michaels? Make resurrection rolls? Dye eggs? I never landed on anything. But this child, who will be turning 4 in just a few weeks, found her own way to celebrate.

I cannot stop marveling at her creativity and imagination. Her delight as she prepared a place for Jesus has given me a new perspective on what it means to come to him like a little child.

We should come freely with abandon.
We should come with joy and excitement.
We should expect him to show up and meet with us.
We should delight in his word and apply it in our lives. Even if it is with plastic food on our kitchen table.

IMG_3757

How often have I dined with Jesus? How often have I invited him? I’m pretty sure those two concepts are highly correlated.

Today is Good Friday. It is sad, but good, because it was the day Jesus took the sin of the world on his shoulders. He gave his life so that we could truly live.

Sunday is Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. It is a day we should celebrate passionately because it was on this day that Jesus conquered the grave. We live because he died and defeated death.

IMG_3759

It is because of him that we are #ChangedForever, so this Sunday, let’s have a party!

“He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.” (2 Corinthians 5:15; NLT)

Waiting for our Groom

Bride & Groom
All photos in this post by Alexa’s Photography.

I love weddings. They are such a beautiful picture of the covenant we have in Christ. They are a joyful time of celebration as two people dedicate the rest of their lives to serving one another. I love how beautiful the bride is as she presents herself to her groom. I love how overcome by emotion the groom always is as he sees his bride for the first time. I love the thought, the detail, the community, and yes, even the cake, that are present at weddings.

As a pastor’s wife, I get invited to a lot of weddings. This year, by the end of October, I will have attended 7 weddings. 3 of those my husband will have officiated, and for 1 of them my 3 year old daughter was a flower girl. For 2 of those weddings, my husband and I invited the couple over for a series of dinners so we could discuss the pre-marriage curriculum our church offers.

I think it’s safe to say that weddings have been on my brain lately.

So one day, as I was driving, I was listening to the radio and was suddenly struck by the words of Kristian Stanfill’s song, “Even So Come.” I had heard it plenty of times before, but this time I really focused on the chorus:

Like a bride waiting for her groom
We’ll be a Church ready for You
Every heart longing for our King
We sing
Even so come
Lord Jesus, come

The song speaks of the return of Jesus and how as Christians we should look forward to that day. I am truly eager for this day to come so I can be in the physical presence of Christ. While a wedding is typically filled with joy, how much greater that joy will be when we are at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb!

There are so many things I love about this song, but mostly, I keep coming back to the phrase, “Like a bride…”

We are called to wait for the return of our King like a bride preparing to meet her groom on her wedding day.

What does that look like?

A bride spends time making herself beautiful. She puts on makeup. She fixes her hair in an elaborate up-do. She puts on a white gown that will make the crowd, and specifically her groom, gasp. She has taken extra effort into making all the details perfect. Nothing is out of place.

Then, the time comes. The music is playing and the doors are about to open. The bridegroom is eagerly waiting at the end of the aisle for that first glimpse of his bride. In just a matter of moments the couple will pledge themselves to one another for a lifetime. All of the preparations are for THIS moment.

We are so close to being united with Christ forever. The moment is almost here. Our preparations will not go unnoticed the day our eyes meet His. Let’s not grow weary in our pursuit of the Kingdom and striving to complete His work on earth.

What are some ways that you are preparing to meet The King?

“Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:

‘Praise the LORD!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.’
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.

And the angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.’ And he added, ‘These are true words that come from God.’” (Revelation 19:6-9; NLT)

My Love/Hate Relationship with Breastfeeding

*One of my biggest pet peeves with breastfeeding is the social stigma attached to it. Do I think “breast is best?” Yes. But I also know that many families make a different choice because it is best for their family. If you are on a different path, blessings to you! I believe that choice was made with great care, and for that, I honor you.*

It’s official! My youngest has been weaned from breastfeeding. I am, therefore, dedicating this post to the joys and woes of my breastfeeding experience.

What I love about breastfeeding: 

IMG_0094
This soundly sleeping baby is brought to you by breast milk!

Nothing better. There really is nothing better than breastmilk. One of the many things that fascinates me about God, is how He created our bodies to naturally provide the perfect nutrition for our babies at various stages of their development. While I’m amazed at how advanced formula has become, breastmilk has unique qualities that just can’t be found anywhere else.

The solution to everything. Is the baby tired? Hungry? Sad? Irritable? Lonely? Teething? Sick? Persnickety? Breastfeeding is your answer. All of life’s trials are quickly forgotten and everything is happy once again when baby is able to breastfeed. I don’t really know why, it just works.

Convenience. The convenience of breastfeeding is such a gift. It’s always the right temperature, it’s the perfect amount, you don’t have to stuff as many bulky things in the diaper bag, and if you stay out longer than planned, you don’t have to be concerned about whether baby has enough to eat. And let’s face it, sleep-deprived moms need one less thing to worry about.

The bonding. There is a special connection between mom and baby that is found only in breastfeeding. One of my favorite memories with my youngest was when I returned home after being gone for 24 hours. She had plenty to eat during my absence, but when I sat down to let her breastfeed she immediately relaxed. She wasn’t old enough to realize she had questions, but in that moment, all of those questions were answered. Everything that was wrong with the world was suddenly right.

But let’s be real; sometimes I really hate breastfeeding:

IMG_2246
Hooray for the introduction of solid foods!

The only solution. It is so frustrating to know that you are the only person who can make everything better. Hubby offers to help with bedtime? Too bad. Baby screams until she gets to nurse. Out and about running errands? You have to stop in the middle of what you are doing to breastfeed or baby will disrupt all of Target.

It’s messy. So Messy. With my first, I ended up with an overabundance of breastmilk. I count this as a blessing because I know many people struggle with the opposite issue, but it makes for some pretty messy experiences. For months and months I had to wear bulky breast pads and I always had numerous burp cloths to catch the inevitable spills.

Wardrobe issues. When breastfeeding, it is necessary to always consider if your outfit is breastfeeding appropriate. Will I be covered enough? Will I be too covered? I’ve made mistakes on both ends of the spectrum. Now that we are through, I so appreciate being able to wear whatever I want!

So inconvenient. Let’s say you want to go on a date. Or do something that doesn’t involve baby. Will she take a bottle? The process of convincing a baby that a bottle is just as good, but not too good, can be quite stressful. Sometimes it’s just easier to bring baby along! And for all my working mom friends, kudos to you! I will never cease to admire all the work you put into preparing breastmilk for your baby. Speaking of which…

Feeling like a cow. Pumping is awkward. That is all.

It can hurt. Maybe it’s just me, but that first month always seems to be the worst. Blisters? Yowsers! Sometimes I was so sore, I would start crying if the baby wanted to nurse. That would eventually go away, and then a few months later, the teething would begin. A hard chomp with nothing but gums is enough to make me squeal and scare the baby half-to-death. Thankfully, my reaction typically freaked baby out enough to prevent future occurrences.

The cover. Sometimes, moms are chastised for using a cover when breastfeeding. I use a cover because I am more comfortable using a cover. I am ultra conservative, so I would rather cover myself to prevent my own embarrassment should someone accidentally see something. On the other hand, I have quite a few friends who discreetly breastfeed in public without a cover. In your journey with your baby, you will learn what works best for you.

The takeaway:

I can be emotional about a lot of things, but the end of my breastfeeding experience has not been one of them! If anything, I rejoiced!! I am thankful to have walked this road, and now I am thankful for it to be over. Now, I am one step closer to seeing my girls walk into the destiny God has created for them.

“LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD – now and always.” (Psalm 131; NLT)

Welcoming New Life

Baby Boy
Isn’t he such a handsome fellow? (photos provided by his mommy)

I have a friend who I admire deeply. She is choosing a path of faith and hope in the midst of what most would call utter darkness. She has recently brought into this world the precious life of a little boy; her son. Every mother knows the joys and challenges that a new baby brings, but her circumstances are rare. She has chosen life in a situation when many would have chosen death. I am proud of her and the choices that she has made.

Today, with her permission, I am sharing with you the letter I wrote to her for her baby shower. While this letter is written specifically to her, no matter who we are and no matter what our circumstances, we could all use a little reminder of some Truth:

Dear Friend,

Welcome to motherhood! This has been one of my favorite phases of life. There is something so special about seeing my babies grow and learn under my influence. There are times that I am stretched beyond my wildest dreams, and times that I sit back and think about how blessed I am to be entrusted with these precious lives.

God has designed for you to be this little boy’s mommy. Along the way you will face challenges and triumphs. Here are a few truths and promises that you can cling to as you navigate these new waters:

  • You are courageous. In a world that would lead you to choose a different path, you have chosen the hard thing. God will honor this. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; NIV)
  • You have chosen to follow God’s commands whole-heartedly, even in overwhelming circumstances. There is no question that the Lord blesses those who seek His face and His counsel. “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.” (Psalm 112:1; NIV)
  • The LORD will be your strength. When the enemy comes to deceive you with lies, when it seems all of your circumstances are against you, know that God is good and He will be your rock.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31; NIV)

  • By the very definition of his name, your son will be resolved to protect the innocent as he carries the name of Christ to the lost. He will not follow in the footsteps of his earthly father, but those of his heavenly Father. “God decided in advance to adopt us in his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5; NLT)
  • Our God is the giver of life. He has a specific purpose in mind for your son, and you are called to be his mother. He is calling your family to great things. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10; NASB)
  • God promises us so much joy. There are over 300 references in the Bible on this topic alone. Trust in Him and you will have joy. Cherish the moment you see your son for the first time, because His Word teaches that the joy in that moment is like the joy we will have when He returns for His people. “It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:21-22; NLT)

If you need anything, have any questions, or just need someone else to talk to, I am here for you.

Love,

Amanda

Baby Boy 2
Sleep well little one!