When Ashton is overwhelmed or very surprised, he tends to mask his emotions with a very calm expression, and it doesn’t really register until later. I learned this when I surprised him by arriving in Illinois a day early during a visit when we were engaged. So when he turned and saw me in my white lacy gown for the first time, dressed up just for my groom on the morning of our wedding day, I knew his calm smile spoke volumes.
Precious quiet moments, before we became swept up in the events of the day.
Such joy… 9 months of holding back, 9 months of waiting. Finally, the end, and yet just the beginning!
And I am his.
Such utter happiness! (Also, smiling all day is exhausting.)
Pearls, similar to the ones my mom wore on her wedding day…
So many wedding details came together wonderfully, thanks to our amazing helpers and volunteers! But one thing I was ecstatic about was our flowers. Ordered wholesale with the selection help of my dear bridesmaid, Gabrielle, and arranged the day before by my bridesmaids and myself, they turned out exactly like I hoped they would.
I knew Ashton was planning a surprise getaway car, but I had no idea what kind of car it was. When we stepped out of the front doors of the Church, and I saw it parked in the street, I was so very surprised and delighted!
We took our mandatory kissing photos, post-ceremony, before driving to the reception hall…
Oh how I love this man.
And I do believe our photographer was in heaven, too…
And it totally worked with my wedding colors!
Our driver, Tom, was such a fun chauffeur. As we rolled along, the sunshine glinting on the passing cars, headed to our reception, he would whistle in the front seat. Our heads together, hands held, sitting close… stealing a kiss here and there. What a gorgeous Saturday, our wedding day.
Photo credit: Kathryn Grace Photography
Yesterday was the big day- Ashton and I (or rather, our Dads) announced our courtship at our Churches. So, it’s official now! We were both actually a little nervous, I think, for some reason. It just means that now people are watching, and of course expecting this to result in marriage. That’s what we’re “expecting” as well, but it’s still just a courtship with potential to be ended at any time. As I get to know Ashton more, start to “like” him more, AND try to plan for this Fall regarding my studio, somehow I have to keep that possibility in the back of my mind. The other day Ashton and I chatted for 3 hours. 3 hours! I was surprised at how easy it was to let time slip away from us. I always wondered how couples could come up with enough to say to talk for hours at a time. I guess I’m figuring it out!
As we girls were finishing up hair and makeup, the guys headed over to a lovely historical museum called the Joslyn Castle. It has beautiful grounds, a gorgeous stone house, and also happens to be the place where my students had their recital photos taken last Spring. It was such a beautiful, perfect September morning to take wedding photos…
We girls arrived at the castle grounds as the guys were finishing up groomsmen photos. I remember the drive over, sitting in the back seat, chatting with my bridesmaids, thinking… this sunny day seems so oddly calm and normal, and yet so exciting at the same time.
These three girls have been dear sisters in Christ for years. We developed friendships through long distance emails and phone calls, sharing prayer requests for future husbands, talking through struggles, working through differences and ultimately coming out on the other side more grateful than ever for the friends the Lord places in our lives. It was such a joy to have them with me on the day we so often prayed for in years past!
Oh, the memories I have with my sister! Growing up together in the country, we had a lot of fun getting creative and using our imaginations together. She may seem quiet to some, but I remember plenty of times when she stood up for me as my older sister. She was my chauffeur to dance lessons, the one I whispered secrets to when we were supposed to be asleep, my campaigning buddy, my partner in crime. We did so many things together, whether it be volunteering, dancing, traveling, or simply sharing our desires for the future. Out of us seven kids, with 5 being boys, the Lord gave me a sister… and I am so thankful for her!
Prior to the ceremony, so only a kiss on the cheek was allowed. However, I will say that while we made up for it with our own epic kiss during the ceremony, I find a gentle peck on the cheek quite endearing.
Buttons, flowers, lace and diamond rings… these are a few of my favorite things.
Ashton and I don’t have any young relatives who could be flower girls, so the daughter of a dear family from Church (who also took dance lessons from me), and the daughter of one of Ashton’s friends (also a groomsman) served as the cute factor on our wedding day. Kate and Peace did a wonderful job, decked out in their leotards, purple tutus, tights and ballet slippers.
These four young men from Ashton’s Church not only drove out to attend the wedding, but were kind enough to serve as ushers. We had so many people who stepped in and got involved in our wedding… we felt so incredibly blessed!
I am so thankful to the Lord for my family. Three generations are represented in these family photos, and Ashton and I are excited to see what the Lord has in store for our future generations as we submit our marriage to Him.
Our dear parents, who raised us to walk in the fear of the Lord, and prepared us for this day. They poured out so much in 2013 as they walked us through courtship, counseled us through engagement, and did so much to prepare for our wedding. We are so grateful for the godly heritage of our parents. The coming together of two families as Ashton and I became one was a beautiful and joyful thing…
Romans 15:13- “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” What encouragement! He is the God of hope. May I “abound in hope” as I step out in faith and, by God’s grace, continue to grow in joy and total trust in His promises. So… Dad sent “the” email to the B’s, which means that I’m officially courting Ashton! (Or rather, he is courting me.) Oh boy! It’s still a bit unreal. May God be glorified! He is so good!
About a year and a half ago I was in Burtigny, Switzerland, preparing for my trip home to the States and wondering what God would have in store for me. I found myself praying about my future spouse and wondering if he would be my “next adventure”, or what project and task the Lord would give me. One morning, up in the attic of the YWAM base, I was reading through Proverbs 16 and underlined verse 32:
“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”
Underneath the verse I wrote “on the list for a future husband”. While I never really had a written list for my future spouse, at the time it really hit me that Proverbs had a lot to say about things to look for in a man. I knew that I needed a steady yet driven man, who would keep me grounded when I get overly dramatic or emotional (it happens), but at the same time be the driving force in our marriage and family… one who is not afraid of adventure, of doing new things. Of course, a good sense of romance, cleanliness, a willingness to help with dishes, and good looks don’t hurt either.
But being slow to anger… that’s not quality a girl always thinks to be attracted to first. I wanted him to be driven, adventurous, fun, a culture-changer, a leader… but the above verse was a good reminder that before he “takes a city” (to me that meant political involvement, travel, missions, public speaking, hospitality, etc.) he needs to be able to maturely control his frustrations. One of the qualifications of a Church leader is that he first display correct leadership of his family within the home. In the same way, while I desired to find a “knight” who I could adventure alongside, who would fight nobly for Christ’s cause within our culture, I first needed a man who would be patient with my shortcomings at home. I needed a man who would speak calmly even when frustrated, be willing to listen… one who would not quickly burst out his opinions or feelings without considering his words or tempering his mood.
Of course, no one is perfect, and even the seemingly calmest of personalities can be angered and stirred up. However, in terms of what I need and desired in a man, God provided abundantly in my husband. I am daily blessed by the character the Lord gave him, and can testify to the fact that God can indeed bring along that knight in “shining armor”, who possesses both drive and strength as well as humility and meekness.
Happy five months of marriage, Ashton!
Psalm 61:2- “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Wow. What a weekend. I think this past weekend was the weirdest of my entire life… thus far. I’m definitely feeling “shakeable” and in need of a rock to stand on- a heavenly father to lean on and trust when my heart is overwhelmed and my mind confused. Who knew my life could be this dramatic? I didn’t. So yes, I’m a girl and a hopeless romantic. The attention, comments, chocolates, wine, opening doors for me… if nothing else, my doubts over him taking the initiative and really trying were definitely alleviated!
Ashton and Grace arrive on Friday so we are cleaning and coming up with a meal plan. Getting a bit more excited about this weekend, but also really clinging to Proverbs 3:5-6. Trying not to trust in my own heart but really seek the Lord and His will. I feel more at peace and positive, so it must be working. To God be the glory in this week ahead!
Driving down the interstate with the sun shining on the (ever growing) mounds of white Illinois snow as the landscape blurred by, my husband at the wheel, I found tears welling up and spilling over… again. Would you believe me if I said that I seem more emotional, that I cry more now as a married woman than when I was single? It is certainly not for lack of happiness- my husband is the kindest, most caring, most romantic man I know or will ever know. We are in a relatively easy place in life, where our pace is slow, our workload easy to bear, our home cozy and comfortable, and our focus on getting to know each other as newlyweds. So why the tears?
I don’t even remember the reason for the tears on that given day. A slight misunderstanding, words used out of context, a lack of preparedness resulting in disappointment on either party, or perhaps both. It doesn’t take much for me to cry anymore, and it’s with some difficulty that I explain this to my close friends and family. Why would I find myself more teary over small issues now, having arrived at the place in life that I have dreamed about and anticipated for so long?
Reality vs. romanticism
I know, the title of this blog post is rather dramatic. But then, I’m a dramatic person, and as clearly as I knew that marriage is not the “cure-all” for any and every single sadness, prior to marriage there was still a part of me that clung to the “if only” outlook of being on the other side of life, when I would finally arrive at marital bliss. Regardless of my upbringing- observing the very real marriages of my parents and couples around me, receiving biblical teaching on the sanctification process of marriage, knowing that a future spouse will be a sinner, etc. etc.- somewhere deep inside me (human error? sin?) was a seed of romanticism that would rather view marriage as the end… the arrival of happiness, the end of loneliness, the eclipse of perfection.
In an original fairy tale, the old and charming ’40′s film commonly ends with scenes of an (impossibly) thin bride being swept away into a carriage by her (unnaturally) smooth-featured prince, and we read “The End” in beautiful calligraphy as wedding bells toll and the music comes to a climax. The end? But what happens beyond that point? Rarely do we consider the life of that couple post-wedding, and as well, I think it is rare that single women (again, regardless of upbringing) can truly understand the reality of going through marriage as a sinner, married to a sinner.
Why so emotional?
The reason I cried on that drive down the interstate, or as we sat on the couch talking on that Sunday afternoon, or while drying dishes together in the kitchen, was because sanctification is hard, and sin hurts. When I was single, couples seemed to be eager to tell me that “marriage is hard”, but it’s hard in a way they really didn’t explain, and in a way I didn’t understand. Despite the fact that I lived under my parents’ roof up until my wedding day, and had a very close and open relationship with them, the type of sanctification and accountability within marriage is truly 10 times deeper, many times harder, and infinitely more challenging.
Even while I took tears and conflicts and needs to my parents, there were still those little things
here and there that might have bothered or upset me that I didn’t see as necessary to share with my family. This is not so within marriage! When I am even slightly upset, moody, hurt, crabby, or contemplative, it inevitably affects my husband. There is nothing I can (or should) hide from him; no hurt too small, no crabby attitude acceptable, no sin insignificant. Learning to be able to explain every thought, action, or word is both difficult and revealing. It stretches my communication abilities in ways I never imagined, and reveals my innermost (seemingly “insignificant”) sins and flaws to the person I most desire to bless and impress.
It’s one thing to have sins and flaws you recognize, yet kept under wraps all of a sudden be placed under the microscope and displayed to your spouse. It’s quite another to have ones you were not aware of be exposed and dug out! Nothing hurts so much as the thought that I would ever disappoint or injure the man who holds my heart. It’s called becoming one, and the process will never end. For us at 4 1/2 months, it is just beginning.
An exhortation for singles
As a single, instead of tending to look at marriage as completion, the arrival, the end, another entirely new and infinitely more exciting stage of life, I should have viewed it as a continuation of the refining work God begins in His children. There is no doubt that marriage holds a unique joy that you can only know with a spouse, and a deeper level of refinement. However, there is nothing new about the process of sanctification as a spouse vs. a single. It is still hard, it still hurts, and it will still bring you to your knees in humility, in repentance, and sometimes in tears.
As Valentines day approaches, I would especially like to exhort you singles to look at your stage in life as a stepping stone to a heavenly wedding… the true arrival, the true beginning. Even as I encourage you to boldly pray, in faith, for the blessing of marriage to a godly spouse, I want to remind you that your journey begins now, as a child of God. Do you shed lonely tears now, waiting for your significant other? You will shed tears within marriage, longing for the sinless perfection of heaven. Do you have doubts as to the future, and struggle to place complete trust in the hands of the Lord? You will have similar fears and doubts as a mother desiring to raise children in the fear of the Lord, or a husband learning to provide for his family.
Marriage is not the end. Indeed, it is just the beginning of life as best friends, and yet the continuation of God’s perfect work of refining His children, and shaping them into even greater servants for His glory, and for our good.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”
Romans 8:18-25 (NKJV)
Matthew 7:7&11- “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find… How much more will your father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” For some reason all my emotions seem to climax at the end of the day, and especially as I lay in bed trying to shut down and go to sleep. I found this passage to be very encouraging. Despite all my confusion about Ashton and my future, He promises to give me good things and I know He will answer me as I seek Him.
Psalm 125:1- “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” Romans 8:24&25- “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” To be unmovable like a mountain… wow. Not really how I feel in these confusing single years. But if I had all the answers and solutions in front of me, what need would there be for hope? Oh Lord, I hope and trust in your good plan for me…