only help my unbelief


Steady
February 25, 2009, 1:46 pm
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My mom once described my dad as a rock, in that when difficult things happen, they just roll off of him.

It weirds me out a little that Christian is so much like my dad, but it’s true. He’s steady as steady goes.

There have been times when I’ve wanted him to be a little more volatile, more like me. I’ve wished that he would express his emotions, whether it’s anger or joy. I’ve longed for him, just once, to do something really crazy.

But that’s not Christian. He’s steady. And even if sometimes I want him to be different, in these last several weeks, I’ve been so thankful that he is what he is. Steady.

Because I’m not steady. Not even kind of. I’m kind of the exact opposite of steady. I need Christian to be led by the Lord, and I need Christian to lead me. Desperately.

In other news, we’re moving quickly toward The Big Day, and I actually become less stressed out the closer it gets, because I realize that whatever doesn’t get done just doesn’t get done, and, oh yeah, all I really want is to be married. Our pastor has assured us that he will be there, and we’re both planning on it, and we’ve got the marriage license tucked away in a safe place. What else do we need?



53 days
February 24, 2009, 8:40 am
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In case you’re confused about me saying there are 54 days left, be advised that I started writing this yesterday (Monday), and then things came up. There’s a shocker.

Remember when I said I was going to write every day for the last 75 days before the wedding? That was three weeks ago.

Now there’s 54 days left. 21 days later. I have no idea where the last three weeks have gone.

Let’s just say that I’m glad that I’m only going to do this once, because even though it hasn’t been stressful, it’s kind of put me over the edge when it comes to making lists and staying on top of things. I need a list of people invited to the rehearsal dinner; I need a list of what else I need to do that’s not related to the wedding; I need a list of all the people who have volunteered to help with the reception. And then I think I’ll start working on a list of all my lists.

The one good thing about it has been getting to use Microsoft Excel to plan out every second of my life. There’s a spreadsheet for the budget; a spreadsheet for the guest list; a spreadsheet for the program; and now I’m working on a spreadsheet of the remaining days and what needs to be done on each of the days.

I had a minor moment of freaking out when I jotted down all the days where I don’t have anything scheduled, which indicates a day when I could work on wedding stuff. There were about five days. Insert heart attack here. Then I realized some of the days that had scheduled things were still days where I could work on stuff, because the scheduled thing was in the late afternoon or evening, or just in the morning. It did make me more thankful that I’m not working full-time, though, because I don’t know how I would be able to do anything.

And really, the big things are not really wedding things. For example: Packing up my stuff. I told Christian last night that I want to make a “clean break” so that I’m not driving to my parents’ house to get stuff after we get back from our honeymoon. Of course, I still want to see my parents often, but I truly do want to “leave and cleave.” He was all for this idea, but that means I’ve got to start thinking about what I really want to be a part of my new life and what’s really not that important. This is difficult for me. Another thing: My and Christian’s taxes. I still haven’t gotten all the forms I need, so I can’t start doing mine. I hope they come soon, because in case anyone hasn’t noticed, the date when taxes need to be filed and the date when my wedding is are only three days apart. And that’s pretty much not what I want to be doing the week before my wedding.

On the weight loss front, things are looking good. The last time I weighed myself (Saturday), I was down to 192.4 pounds, which means I’ve lost more than 10 pounds. I was trying to figure out how that was happening, since I didn’t feel like I ate that well last week, but I guess it was because I ran 4 times last week. I was hoping to continue that streak today, but it doesn’t look like I’ll have time to run until Thursday morning, and it’s so cold outside that I’m doubtful I’ll be able to go for very long walks with Betsy over the next few days.

One good thing is that I’m becoming increasingly blessed by the body of Christ in relation to the wedding. I can’t even keep track of how many people have offered to help me with things. One group of ladies is helping me with the reception, and I honestly couldn’t do it without them. When I look at my schedule and start to freak out, God is faithful to remind me that I’ve got people around me who are going to catch me if I stumble. And that’s a good thing.

And while there was a time a couple months ago when I understood why wedding planning can strain the relationship between the future bride and groom, that really hasn’t been the case. Christian has been faithful to listen and to take care of things that I don’t need to be a part of, like the honeymoon and finding us an apartment. I did go to look at the apartment, once, but he’s done everything else. And I don’t even know where we’re going on the honeymoon.

All that to say that this is a good time. I’m not necessarily enjoying it – I’d much rather be married – but it’s all going by so quickly that it’s hard to get discontent. Like our pastor said Sunday during pre-marital counseling: “Three years down to eight weeks? You can make it.”

I concur.



61 days
February 16, 2009, 10:59 am
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About six weeks ago I looked at my calendar and realized that if I wanted to make sure I didn’t pull my hair out in the weeks right before the wedding, I needed to get a certain amount of things done before a certain date. I picked February 21, because that was the day of my friend Emily’s bridal shower, which marked the beginning of 8 solid weekends of something wedding-related.

Today is February 16. I have done maybe half the things on my list, and I’ve really only done the relatively easy things.

In another life, I would already be well on my way to freaking out. I’m not freaking out today, but I can see the freak out train coming slowly toward me. I’d give it less than a week.

I’m not really sure how to get it all done, honestly. Nobody can go pick out my shoes for me. Nobody can figure out what size ring Christian wears.I know that the wedding isn’t a big deal, but it is a deal, I think, and I want our guests to feel welcome and appreciated, and I want everyone to have a really good time.

At the end of every service at our church, our pastor does the same benediction. Sometimes I’m rarely paying attention, thinking about what’s going on after we leave and who I need to talk to. But yesterday, after the morning service and the vesper service, I could only rest in the solid words of God, because there really isn’t any other option.

And to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you could ask or think…

In other news, the “wedding workouts”  plan is not going remarkably well. It was going really, really well, but now I’ve not only started not losing weight, but I’ve started gaining weight. This is probably because I’ve been eating an extraordinary amount of Coke, cookies and ice cream.

Today I’m hoping to go for a walk with Betsy, and I also want to go for a run this afternoon. My goal for the rest of the week is to walk Tuesday and Wednesday as well, and then to go for a nice long run on Friday and maybe Saturday. That’s five days of exercise, and I think I can do it. Also: no sweets, no Coke.

One more time.



I thought this only happened at Christmas, or never
February 14, 2009, 10:23 am
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Christian and I decided to be, as my 14-year-old sister – an expert on all things relationship – said, “party-poopers” and go out for Valentine’s Day yesterday, on the 13th. That was mostly because we had some things we wanted to do today (Saturday) that were going to take up most of the day.

So we dressed up and went to what we consider a fancy restaurant (Olive Garden) and ate some delicious food.

While we were waiting for our check, an older man who had been sitting with his wife across from us came over to our table and put his hand on Christian’s shoulder. I immediately felt awkward.

“Young man, I just wanted you to know how much it blessed me to see you and this young lady praying for your food before you ate. I just wanted to give you something to help with your bill.”

He stuck a $20 bill in Christian’s shirt pocket and walked away.

We stared at each other for a few moments, wide-eyed.

“Wow,” Christian said.

I can honestly say that in the last three years of dating and going out to eat and praying before our meals, we’ve never gotten paid for it.

As we tried to process what had just happened, we talked about what a beautiful picture it was of God’s grace.

We don’t deserve anything, first of all.

And thanking God for our food? Well, that’s just something we do out of gratitude to the Lord.

So $20 in a shirt pocket was something we deserved or earned, and yet God chose to bless us in that way. As a result, we got to see the movie we were planning to see for free, with a couple dollars left over (which reminds me to mention how incredibly expensive it is to see movies. This is why we have Netflix. It cost more to see one movie together than it costs for us to use Netflix for the entire month. Ridiculous.).

And now we have a pretty good story to tell about the Valentine’s Day gift God gave us through an anonymous old man at Olive Garden.



66 days
February 11, 2009, 1:48 pm
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Last night I went to bed wondering what we were going to do about our rehearsal dinner.

This morning I woke up, and, due to a number of factors, thought something really bad had happened to Christian.

In addition, I wasn’t able to shower before I left for work.

After being at work for a few hours, I found out the flower girl dresses I wanted weren’t going to be in on time.

At this point, I was pretty much ready to throw in the towel. Lord, please show me grace.

Within the hour, I had a new flower girl dress picked out, an e-mail and phone call about the rehearsal dinner that resolved all our problems, and oh, did I mention that Christian was fine, and that I ended up being able to take a shower later on?

God is good. I don’t desere it. Life in Christ truly is grace upon grace.



Messy
February 10, 2009, 4:44 pm
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My sister gave me the first book in the Twilight series for Christmas. She knew I would never buy it for myself, or even check it out from the library, so in order to convince me that I really would enjoy the books, she gave it to me, no strings attached. On Christmas afternoon, I settled onto the couch and started reading. I finished the book that day. Since then, I’ve borrowed the other three books from a friend, and each time I start reading, the scene is the same: I start reading after dinner, telling myself I’ll read a bit before bed. Hours later, while checking the room for stray vampires, I collapse into bed.

The books are not necessarily well-written, but the story lines are compelling. The heroine, Bella, is pretty obnoxious, but her one true love, Edward, is flawless, as we are reminded time and time again. How could he not be? Not only is he supernaturally strong and powerful, but he loves Bella fiercely and consistently places her needs above his own (not that he has many – he doesn’t even eat or sleep). It’s hard not to fall in love with him, even through the pages of the books. By the last book, they’re married with a child, and it is assumed that they will live happily ever after, probably without ever having another care in the world.

Last Sunday Christian and I had our first session of pre-marital counseling. We sat in our pastor’s office and went through all the ways love is described in 1 Corinthians 13, sharing in what ways we tend to sin specifically. I saw my sin and Christian’s sin more clearly than I ever had before, especially when placed in such stark contrast to how God describes love. When we were done, I was thankful for all the wisdom from our pastor, but I also couldn’t help thinking, “We are complete messes.” And it wasn’t hard to see why so many marriages don’t last more than a couple days, months, years.

But God’s love never fails. That means that we should strive for God’s love, but I think it means even more than that. I think it means that even when it seems like everything is a complete mess – like the days between Good Friday and Resurrection Day – we can be sure that God is at work, redeeming things for His own glory. That’s what was happening when Jesus was on the cross, and I think that’s what’s happening right now between me and Christian. When Christian forgets to do something I’ve asked him to do, it forces me to die to self. And when I start crying at the drop of the hat, Christian has to fight against his desire to snap at me. These are messy things, not easy things, and it’s probably something that fictional vampires never have to struggle with.

But I’ll take Christian over Edward any day. The tears, the mess, the dirt, the filth, the sin – grace and redemption are that much more beautiful in comparison.



68 days
February 9, 2009, 3:00 pm
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I’ve been getting such sweet and encouraging comments here over the past couple weeks, and I really appreciate them. I don’t really know why I haven’t been setting aside time to write more, but it’s just hard. Every couple days I think about something I want to write about – just to get it out of my head, not necessarily to impress anyone – but it just doesn’t happen. Last week I babysit 8-10 hours four days in a row, and by Friday I was ready to just chill out. Saturday was wedding-related all the way around, with my maid-of-honor, Sam, in town for the weekend for another wedding. Then yesterday was church, of course, along with our first session of pre-marital counseling and a surprise birthday party for a sweet friend after the vesper service. I think maybe being thankful for Monday morning is a sad thing.

*****

Speaking of weddings, ours is 68 days away, which is just under 10 weeks. April 18 seems far away, but when you look at the calendar, it actually doesn’t seem far away at all. Especially considering I’ve got two weddings and at least four wedding showers to go to between now and April 18. I know that everyone always says that after college everyone gets married, but I didn’t know that was actually true.

*****

An easy recipe for a Monday night: Cook one pound of smallish pasta. Saute one pound ground beef, one onion and one clove garlic. Drain, then add one jar spaghetti sauce and one can mushrooms (drained). Let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Spoon a little bit of sauce in 13×9 pan. Place half of pasta over it. Spoon half of remaining sauce over pasta, then spread with sour cream, then spread with 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese. Place other half of pasta over top, then top with remaining sauce and 8 oz. shredded mozzarella. Cook covered with foil in oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Then take foil off for the cheese to brown. The result: The cheesiest, heartiest, creamiest pasta I’ve ever eaten.

*****

The wedding industry is my least favorite industry in the entire world of industries. My other least favorites include the industry of expensive car repairs, the industry of jeans that never fit right and the industry of sleazy Facebook advertising.

*****

I’ve got 5-ish pounds left to lose before the wedding, and while I’m glad to be so close to my goal with almost 10 weeks to meet it, I don’t feel like I really look that much different, and I also am finding that my resolve not to eat things that are bad for me is getting much weaker. Before it was: No soft drinks. Then it was: One soft drink a week. Now it’s: One soft drink a week, except wait, oh yeah, I just had one a couple days ago. I just have a hard time resisting a cold Coke in a can. I don’t know what it is.

*****

I have sweet friends, whom I love dearly. The end.