Thursday, July 26, 2007

163 Days ~ she knows me well

No, I don't talk to my wedding binder like it's Wilson, the volleyball in "Castaway," but it's definitely comforting to utilize and carry around as a reminder of my bestest friend and matron of honor. She made a wedding binder for herself two years ago and enjoyed it so much that she has made one for her closest, engaged friends ever since! As you can see from the photos, she went along with my red color scheme to personalize it all the more, and included some things I would not have even thought of. The binder is complete with a customized six-month calendar, a checklist organized by month, and plenty of dividers and pockets all to help me keep my head on straight (if at all possible). If organization is ever a spiritual gift, then she is surely gifted! This is not just a binder that I casually picked up at Hallmark, but rather one that my dearest friend took the time to put together for her dearest friend's most important day. Such a gift is indicative of how well she knows me, and just how much she desires to help in whatever ways such a close friend can. I love you, friend - "to infinity and beyond!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

165 Days...Saying "I Love You"

'Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his
wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'
This mystery is
, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the
church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the
wife see that she respects her husband
. ~Ephesians 5:31-33

Who knows how many times I've read, "This mystery is profound." I could not even begin to understand, or see a glimmer of, the depth and wondrous mystery of marriage apart from entering into such preparation. Both my heart and mind have been increasingly overwhelmed at the changes that are and will occur in my life. Any believer can attest to the truth in such passages as Ephesians 5, and even Philippians 2 when it comes to putting the interests of another above his or her own, but then one reads it with marriage in view. Regardless of the various nonverbal responses from others, I am more than thankful that my fiance' and I waited this long to become engaged. Yes, there were seasons (some longer than others) when I questioned and grew impatient in waiting for the day when he would, Lord-willing, ask me of all the women on this earth to be his wife. I can say without a doubt that this man is my best friend. He is my best friend, knows me better than anyone else, and still loves me. Apart from all that encompasses my relationship with Christ, I don't know of any other reality more humbling than this. Most people do not know this, but we rarely said "I love you" during the four years of our dating relationship. I can probably count on one hand the times when we looked into each others eyes and uttered those words. We were both always hesitant, not because we ever doubted our love for one another, but because our lives are solely in the Lord's hands. My medical problems last year revealed such truth to us more than ever, and that time early last year is one of my most vivid memories of him looking at me and telling me that he loved me regardless of what the Lord brought our way. I asked him one day last week when he knew, when he really knew that I was the one he desired to marry. He did not hesitate to tell me that it was last year during that difficult time, a time that clearly affected me individually, as well as our relationship. Can anyone describe the comfort that comes from such a realization? Can anyone explain just how wonderful and indescribable it is to know that he knew I was the one during what has been the worst season of my life to date? I cannot fully express how profound all of this is. When I am tempted to get caught up in the plans of the wedding, when I am prone to anxiety, there is a comfort beyond words that helps me persevere. That comfort is that the mystery is profound; the mystery of marriage and how it so intimately reflects Christ and the church is profound. The display of Christ's love for His church is undeserved and should move us to tears of both praise and humility.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Call me overly-sentimental...

Call me whatever you wish, but I cannot imagine myself ever being a candidate for the current "Trash Your Wedding Dress" trend. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the title speaks for itself: photographers being paid to take pictures of wives, post-wedding, in their wedding gowns. These are not your standard portraits, but rather ones with the sole purpose of letting the bride trash her dress. Reasoning? She has no desire to stick the dress in a closet. After all, she will never wear it again.

Trash the Dress is only one of several sites where you will find photographers advertising such an opportunity for women to have these photos taken. The following is taken directly from their site:

Go ahead, you know you want to. Trash it. Get it dirty. Get it wet. Roll around in the mud. Drench it in the ocean. Totally trash it. Why? … Why not? You’ve
made a commitment to your husband. He’s your one and only true
love, right? Then you’ll never need the dress again. And no, your daughter
won’t wear it in 20-30 years. So you have two choices:
1) Suffocate it in
plastic and throw it in a closet

2) Show your husband how committed you are by trashing the dress, and get
some great fun pictures while you do it!
Then after you do it- send the pictures to us to publish for all the
world to see. What are you waiting on? Call one of the trusted photographers
on this page or find one you trust and go trash the dress!

One should not be terribly surprised that such a trend exists. Not only do we live in a culture that devalues and often misses the entire purpose of sacred marriage, but some also read less into sentiment than others. Anyone who knows me will attest that I hold the value of such things quite close. I am not a lover of material possessions, but I also have my own marriage ceremony coming up in just over five months in which I will walk down the aisle in a gown that means more to me than a mere article of clothing. I cannot simply toss it aside once the ceremony and festivities have subsided. How can I discard something that will forever remind me of such a day? I do not take lightly the value of such a gown, nor any of the other details of the ceremony. All are intended to reflect this central truth - Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. He did not do so out of the Church's own merit, but rather makes His Beloved pure and spotless before a living and holy God. "Oh, I'll never wear it again," and "I know my daughter won't want to wear it when her day arrives" fall short as valid reasons for deciding to take photos of yourself sitting in a swamp or even looking mysterious under the surface of murky lake water. Again, some may disagree, but I see a most symbolic gown cheapened by the mere desire to rid oneself of such so-called clutter.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"You make me want to be brave"

(photo courtesy of
The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been
'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love,
Your love, that cuts the strings
So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave
I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...
Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?
I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
~N. Nordeman~

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

I think it's safe to say that we went all out for the 4th of July celebration. There were only four of us, yet my fiance' managed to buy enough food that would seemingly last until the end of time! My dad came into town for a few days, and one of Bob's closest friends joined us for the royal feast.

The kabobs turned out the best and they were so pretty! Four steaks followed the kabobs on the grill, as well as seasoned corn on the cob. I wish I would have taken a picture of my neighbors' shindig - they were grilling veggie burgers...VEGGIE burgers on the 4th of July! I think that should be outlawed...

And here are the men in all their glory, proudly displaying the fruits (meats) of their hard labor. Don't worry, I didn't just take pictures! I was hard at work on the salad and roasted potatoes. I would have taken pictures, but as you can see from this picture, my kitchen gives off a very odd yellow color...not very pretty... but there is nothing quite like roasting some seasoned red potatoes in a blazing gas oven!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the girls. Nali hung out on the porch with all of us (probably wondering if she was going to get some extra special treat for good behavior). And where is the other one you ask? See below...Maia gets a little nervous in unfamiliar environments, so she steered clear of the grills and the occasional boom of fireworks nearby.

My fiance' and I are still trying to master the art of self portraits (PandaMom, you are still the queen!) I love this picture I took of us! I would have liked it better if I hadn't crammed my eye up against the side of his face... Oh well, he likes me anyway, lazy eye and all!

My dad and I had a great time together. Neither of us were in the mood to go out and do a ton of things while he was here. We simply enjoyed the time spent together, went out to eat a couple of times, and of course he was able to give some guidance to us newbies at the grill!
But what was for dessert after our magnificent spread on Wednesday? Oh yes, that was all mine. I slaved away for a whole ten minutes on the beauty that is strawberry shortcake. A perfect final touch to a relaxing day of fun and fellowship!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

the written version

We were "supposed" to have a double date with our friends Joe and Sarah last Tuesday night. Joe is college friend who is also in seminary with us now; they're getting married in Dallas this weekend, and all the gang minus myself are driving down for the occasion. We wanted to do one last nice date night, so the guys were saving up for the steak night for awhile. Well... the double date never was a double date. However, Joe played it up, called me, and said they had to cancel at the last minute. I called Bob and told him, and we decided to still go even though they would not be able to join us. So we drove downtown all dressed up (I'm the goof who didn't bring her camera) and walked into this EXQUISITE steakhouse. (If you listen to the news, it's the one O.J. was asked to leave during Derby weekend.) My man let me order a petite filet and we ended the meal with some ridiculously divine chocolate dessert. I then recommended that we go for a walk, not knowing at the time that I was playing right into Bob's hands! The sky over the Ohio River was breathtaking. There was a huge storm heading our way, but it was still far off in the distance. The sun was setting behind it, and we could see the rays beaming from behind the dark clouds. I was so enamored that I was clueless as to how frantically Bob was trying to find us a place to go. I then, again playing into his hands, suggested that we go sit down somewhere as my feet don't do well in dress shoes. We found an unoccupied park bench facing the river, framed by the two river bridges, with that magnificent storm as the backdrop. No sooner had we sat down Bob turns to me and says, "Well, I have a confession to make. Joe and Sarah came and ate here last night." My response was nothing more than a rather confused expression. He then proceeded to tell me that they came to scope out the riverfront for him, and that I was beginning to find myself in the middle of a pre-planned scheme. As I am sitting there with my mouth hanging open in utter confusion (attractive, I know), trying to assess what in the world is going on, Bob reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out a handwritten letter. One of my "natural highs" in life is a handwritten letter, and considering Bob has never handwritten more than a sweet note to me, my brain began turning to mush when he asked me to read it. I got to the third line and started crying... He informed me as I was reading that he had about thirty drafts sitting at home, signifying that he spent a substantial amount of time writing what he truly wanted to say. The only way I know to describe the moment is that it was completely surreal. I honestly asked myself if I was dreaming, if this was really happening. As I am thinking all of this I get to the last line of the letter where he humbly asks for my hand in marriage. I put my hand to my face, unable to control the tears, as he kneels on the ground and asks me, "Jennifer, will you marry me?" I managed to say "of course!" and all I could do was hug him. I was crying so much, and in such disbelief, that I didn't even see the ring when he first placed it on my finger. The entire proposal was a complete surprise. Even my parents were impressed by how well he was able to plan the event without dropping any hints to which I may catch on. As often occurs in hindsight, I was able to quickly look back to little things over the next six months that may have caused me to wonder, but Bob's just that good.
I went home after the proposal and reread his letter. How in the world did I
come to this place, where the Lord was gracious enough to place this man in my
life? As I write this, I still have trouble believing that all of this is really
happening. After years of attending the weddings of all my closest friends, I am
having to wrap my brain around the fact that this is my wedding I am planning.
But, oh, so much more than that. More than the wedding, planning for pretty
dresses and what everyone will eat at the reception, one thing stays primary in
my thoughts: I get to marry him. I get to marry him! I look in his eyes and try
to believe the wonderful reality that I will be looking into those same eyes in
twenty years. I look at him and I am all the more amazed by this great mystery
that is marriage. I have found myself, moreso than ever before, reciting the
words of my favorite song, and I find it increasingly more impossible to fight
back the tears. And do you know what is so glorious about such tears? There is
no reason to fight them. This day that every girl anticipates will arrive in six
short months, and I am continually drawn to thinking on how precious our Lord
is. He has taken me, this broken and sinful little girl, and prepared me for
this indescribable union.

The Church
I have come with one purpose
to capture for Myself a bride
by My life she is lovely
by My death she’s justified
I have always been her Husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water I will wash her
and by My Word alone
so when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone
cause I haven’t come for only you
but for My people to pursue
you cannot care for Me with no regard for her
if you love Me you will love the Church
I have long pursued heras a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon Me
she will drink and thirst no more
so when you taste My flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone
there is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids
they can never be My bride