Friday, July 30, 2010

You say you want a revolution...

Yesterday was such a wonderful, beautiful day. On Wednesday, I was ready to cancel my whole wedding and elope!! Weddings are meant to be a celebration of God's love for us and for the gift of marriage, not a multi-million dollar business!! We all know that weddings have gotten increasingly extravagant over the past several years. You can turn on the TV at almost any time and catch a show like Bridezillas or, my personal favorite, Say Yes to the Dress and watch brides spend oodles of money on their "dream" wedding. On one SYTTD (yes, I just abbreviated) episode, I saw a bride choose a $25,000 dollar dress!!!! I was thinking, I am not even making that much PER YEAR!

But this is not a rant about other people's weddings. This is a rant about MY wedding.

I don't want to spend a ton of money on our wedding day. First of all, we don't have a ton of money! Blake is finishing grad school and I'm in my last year of the education program and I can't even have a job this coming year because of my internship!! So, we are having to be smart spenders and make the most of the money we have. Anyway, some things quickly fell into place - the site is free thanks to my lifelong membership (!), our photographer is incredible, and my AMAZING dress was a STEAL!! So, I was feeling goooooood about our budget.

Until I started calling caterers. Eleven dollars a person... FOR BRUNCH?! I should just buy everybody a breakfast combo from Chik-fil-A!!! That's just way more than I can spend right now. Maybe I should have prepared myself better for the estimates I was getting, but... geez Louise! It was overwhelming. I almost cried. I wanted to elope.

And then my cousin/maid of honor calls and says, "You should have a waffle bar!!" and started giving me all sorts of good ideas on how we REALLY can do-it-ourselves AND make it look & feel like a lavish wedding. I am not even going to TELL you all of the amazing ideas we have because I want all of our guests to be surprised at how savvy we are! My sweet fiance confirmed all of these ideas and got on board with helping me envision the best way to make our wedding truly a CELEBRATION and not a burden!!

So, all this to say... I am so thankful. I am thankful for my friends who have sent me emails and texts with ideas and encouragement. I'm thankful for friends who are lending their services pro bono and for friends and family members who are biting at the bit to lend a hand. THIS is what MY wedding is supposed to be like.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.... well, it also takes a village to help build up young couples. I don't want to have to pay thousands of dollars for strangers to help me impress my friends and families (I am not calling anyone out who has spent a lot on their wedding! This is just MY heart!). I want to include my friends and family in the details... not to overwork them or put a strain on them. I would never want to do that! But, my friends and family are incredible... they are willing to help and excited at the thought of helping make the start of my marriage a memorable one!

I'm excited about planning this wedding and even MORE excited about marrying Blake! He has been so kind and patient through the past four weeks. We are moving right along... planning as much as we can now so that we can relax a bit during the school semester. He is involved in every decision and has an input in everything... I love it! And... when I get stressed, we just go to Belk and look at George Foreman grills and towels... it makes me happy. :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Things I've Done

Sometimes I like to sit back and think about some of the amazing opportunities I've had throughout my life - places I've been, things I've done, people I've met. Just yesterday, I was having a conversation with a friend and I was thinking to myself, I am talking to someone who grew up in Hong Kong. WHAT!? I have a friend from Hong Kong. How crazy is that?

This morning, I was reminded of my trip to New York City in 2004 where I saw a live opera performed at the Metropolitan Opera House. On that same trip, I got to perform with a mass choir in Carnegie Hall. Carnegie Hall, people!!! Sure, I wasn't up there singing a solo, but it's not every day that you get to stand on the stage of Carnegie Hall, where some of the world's most talented musicians have played, and sing to an audience. I also got to see Beauty and the Beast live and got Christy Carlson Romano's (Belle) autograph afterward. What an experience!!

As a child, my parents took me on two incredible road trips. The first was a westward expedition - at just ten years old (or so), I got to see the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, TEXAS (that state takes forever!), the Rocky Mountains... and so much more that I can't even remember! The next year, we went north for two full weeks. We drove all the way to Maine (my granddaddy's home state) and back - what fun! I saw the Liberty Bell, Niagara Falls, my first glance of NYC, Historical Williamsburg, and explored the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I've ridden horses, traveled to Honduras (and ridden horses in Honduras), been to DisneyWorld for three Thanksgivings, traversed through New Orleans three times, been photographed & featured in a magazine, para-sailed, seen the Mets and Phillies play, seen Alison Krauss and Robert Plant in concert, met Chris Thile.... the list goes on and on.

I just love experiencing life. I love traveling and visiting famous places. There's still lots I haven't done that I want to do... and I'll get around to it, eventually. This is not a list of "look what I've done!" but rather just an outpouring of gratitude for opportunities and experiences. They pale in comparison to experiencing God, but to me, traveling and being a little adventurous helps connect me to God.

Because when I travel or do new things, I am reminded of just how small & insignificant I really am. Standing near the Grand Canyon as a child, I remember feeling the vastness of God's beautiful creation. And now, as an adult, I am reminded of how many people have seen that Canyon. How many people have stood in the same place and admired God's creation? And there I was, standing in a place that thousands - maybe even millions - of people have stood in before me. I feel connected.... connected to people, connected to the God who created them.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank God it's Thursday!

We all have "those days" from time to time. You know, the days where Murphy's Law seems to be in full effect - everything that can go wrong, will... and does. Yesterday was definitely one of "those days."

It started fine - read a good bit of James and spent time with the Lord. I really think that's the only reason I held it together yesterday! But, after reading my Bible, the trouble started. First, I just generally didn't feel well. Then, it was a discussion with my mom that brought out hurt feelings (not with my mom, I was just telling her about a situation). And things just started to snowball from there.

It seemed like almost everything that came up yesterday was tainted. I even went to donate blood (I had scheduled it a couple of weeks ago) and that ended up being a mild disaster! It took me twice as long as "normal" people to fill up the bag... I guess my heart just pumps slower than most! And, if you know me, you probably know I hate needles anyway plus I have "rolling" veins so... it was just not the best of experiences! I have now learned that I am not a prime candidate for donating because this is not the first time this has happened.

The day was also long. I left the house around 9:20 a.m. to go to work and wasn't scheduled to come back home until about 9:30 (I babysit 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays). It seemed like the day was never going to end.

The reason of this post is not to complain. Even though yesterday was really difficult, I just tried to roll with the punches and try to do my best to make it through the day. And I did, but not by my own strength!

At one point in the afternoon, one of the pastors from the church gave me some very encouraging words (and didn't even really know how rough my day had been). Then, my amazingly amazing best friend, Ashley, talked me through more tears and then enjoyed a manicure & pedicure with me! Babysitting was wonderful - 1-year-old Macey was cuddly and fell asleep in my arms while 21-mo.-old Jameson kept me laughing. And, to top it all off, Blake drove from Birmingham (where he's working for the summer) to help me babysit and then came to my house to take care of my still-sickly body.

What wonderful people the Lord has placed in my life. While driving home last night, I couldn't help but be thankful. Sure, yesterday sucked... to be blunt. But, there were tons of lessons learned, tons of perseverance, and plenty of people in my path to pick me up when I needed it most.

Oh, and Nicole Richardson kept posting hysterical pictures on Facebook of our friends' faces on celebrity's bodies. My personal favorite is Jonathan Cook as Nick Saban..... just sayin'. :)