The first order of business after I moved home from Denver in August 2004 was setting a wedding date, and just that simple task was dramatic and frustrating--it was a microcosm of the entire process, in fact. I'm sorry to say that wedding planning was not the joyful, dreams-come-true time it could have and should have been for me. A year (minus one day) was far, far too long to be engaged; we wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
The long-distance aspect of our relationship got more and more difficult; Steve burned up the road making the 3.5-hour trip between Cincinnati and our hometown. I took on two part-time jobs, thinking that 20 hours of each would be the equivalent of one 40-hour-a-week job (WRONG...oh so very wrong). And I went through a dark, dry, scary wilderness in my walk with the Lord.
Event planning is not my gift; making choices about thousands of details is a nightmare for an indecisive perfectionist. And it seemed like things went wrong at every turn, from the dilemma of finding a church, to the drama of trying to find the perfect dress, to a mixup with the invitations...
|Steve, my mom, and my matron of honor, Julie, helping assemble invitations--we put on dramatic faces for the picture, but it really was a pain!|
...to say nothing of the poor decisions and lack of foresight that led to a lackluster reception. Oh, there are so many things I would go back and do differently!
At any rate, Steve graduated from college in June 2005; I traveled to Cincinnati with his family to celebrate his graduation and move all his stuff back home.
We had three more weeks to finalize last-minute wedding details (and secure our first apartment--and in his free time Steve built a beautiful solid cherry bed for us!) and then...at long last...it was time to say "I do."
After all the stress and frustration of planning, I'll never forget standing at the back of the church on the night of our rehearsal. Our musicians--three dear friends of mine from college--began singing, and I was bouncing with giddiness. I had known they would be fabulous, but when I actually heard them, I was beside myself. People kept asking little detail questions throughout the rehearsal and I was all, "I don't even care! Figure something out! I am getting married tomorrow and I am SO HAPPY!" :)
Though I wish I would have thrown a better party for our guests, the ceremony itself (which had been the focus of my attention and planning) was everything I had hoped for and more. Because of my unbelievably talented friends, we seriously had the best wedding music in the history of weddings, forever and ever, amen.
The parts of the ceremony that didn't go smoothly (like the fact that no one could find a source of fire for the mothers to light their candles, or the fact that there was no wine or juice in the communion goblet) were little things that were funny and memorable even as they happened. And most of it came off beautifully.
So, after sixteen years of knowing each other, seven years of real friendship, three years of off-and-on unrequited love, eighteen months of dating, and a 364-day engagement, Steve and I were finally Mr. and Mrs. on July 2, 2005.
|The cake was one detail that turned out perfectly--I had lots of very specific requests and our baker more than delivered!|
We honeymooned in Maui, a dream vacation...
...and then, two days after flying back home, we packed up our lives and moved to the South. In the space of two weeks we had a new marriage, new job, new home in a new state. But God was gracious to give us a wonderful first year as newlyweds. We had our challenges, sure, but it wasn't the difficult, conflict-wrought first year many married couples experience.
|The two of us at Steve's older brother's wedding, which was just eight weeks after ours--2005 was definitely the summer of weddings for us, as we participated in three besides our own!|
Two kids later (four years and counting past our "five-year plan"), we are still here in Tennessee, and still growing together and loving each other.
In the process of writing this (ridiculously drawn out) love story, I reflected to Steve that it's strange how, ten years later, old insecurities still bubble up. When I read through the details, it totally makes me laugh, and I love it because it's our story. Countless times I have enjoyed laughing with Steve as we tell it in person, tag-team style. But when it came to posting it on my blog for the entire world to read, at times I started to feel defensive and even a little embarrassed, specifically when it came to Steve's perspective.
Suddenly I was reminded that our story was not the fairy-tale-esque story I had concocted in my mind all those years, the kind everyone might have been expecting after nine episodes of build-up...you know, where the scales fall from Steve's eyes and he confesses that he is madly in love with me :) It made me want to jump in with all kinds of disclaimers, like, "but he developed feelings for me soon after that! It wasn't long before he was asking God to ease up on the feelings!"
I wondered if I had stretched out and built up the story too much, to the point where it was really anti-climactic and even odd. Maybe my perspective is just totally skewed. But for some reason, underneath all the laughter, it still made me squirm a little bit to read about how Steve did NOT want to date me and had to be dragged into this kicking and screaming.
When I shared those feelings with my husband a while back, he responded in his usual wise way:
It is interesting reading your perspective here, mostly because it hadn't even occurred to me what you would be feeling. I have been too engrossed in my own feelings to stop and ponder yours.
So, given that, let me give you my perspective. If there is anyone who should feel embarrassed, it would be me. The way I see it, me being apprehensive about dating you has much more to do with my blindness than it does with your value. As I think about where I was way back then, I tend to drift to two main thoughts; my thick-headedness, and God's unmerited grace in spite of that. I wasn't asking for a wife at the time really, and would have likely been asking for the wrong thing if I had been. Yet God, in his mercy, gave me you, whom I believe has done much to sanctify me and bring me joy.
Is our story fairy-tale like? Not really. But, for the most part, neither is anyone else's. What our story does do is point to God as a loving father who knows his children (better than they know themselves) and seeks to glorify himself in the working out of the details of our small little lives. Who ever heard of an all powerful king taking notice of the peasants of his land, to the point of arranging their marriages for their own good?
And that, I think, is a fitting place to end this series. The story of Steve and me isn't a Disney movie or a blockbuster rom-com. In a way, it's better: it magnifies a kind and generous Father who wisely and lavishly loves His children, giving us gifts "far more abundantly than all that we ask or think"--gifts that will make us more like Jesus and bring us joy along the way. Steve has been, and continues to be, that kind of gift to me...and so I give thanks, for the crazy love story God has written in our lives, and the story He continues to unfold.
The Entire Series:
1: Second Grade Beginnings
2: Junior High Crush
3: Kissing Dating Goodbye
4: Falling in Love, Onstage and IRL
5: "Are They Dating? They Should Be"
6: Other Fish in the Sea
7: Enter Prince Charming (Not Steve)
8: Not Actually Over Him After All
9: Have I Just Made a Huge Mistake?
10: A Wrench in Steve's Plans
11: A Revelation: Steve Speaks
12: And So It Begins
13: Cautiously Growing Closer
14: Define the Relationship: Just How Serious is This?
15: Sparkly Jewelry
16: I Now Pronounce You Husband and Wife