only help my unbelief


74 days
February 3, 2009, 11:12 am
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I had this grand idea yesterday where I would blog every day for the remaining 75 days until the wedding, and so I began my grand idea by not blogging.

So here we are with 74 days to go. 74 is not a nice, round number. It’s almost a prime number, in that the only numbers it is divisible by is 2 or 37. (On that note, last week on Jeopardy,  there was a category called “Pick the Prime” where you had to pick the prime number out of a group of 3 numbers. I nailed it. I wish there were more categories like that and less categories about not-so-famous philosophers and authors.)

I’ve learned that wedding planning is actually only as complicated as you make it. By that I mean that if you want to spend thousands of dollars, then you can. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

It is hard, though. Not the planning – the waking up one morning and thinking, “WILL EVERYONE HATE ME BECAUSE I DIDN’T WRITE THEIR NAMES AND ADDRESSES IN CURSIVE ON THE INVITATIONS!?!?!!?!?!” I generally fret about this for a minute or two, and then realize that anyone who is offended maybe shouldn’t have gotten an invitation from me in the first place, because I try to surround myself only with people who think that my handwriting is neat and tidy and perfectly acceptable for wedding invitations.

The other hard part is dealing with people who seem to think that planning a wedding must be complicated. Someone came up to me at church a few weeks ago and asked how it was going. I said it was fine, that we were keeping things simple. “Yes, but it’s still so complicated!” At first I wanted to chuckle, but then I wanted to FREAK OUT. Maybe I had forgotten something huge?

Side note: I laughed out loud during The Office special after the Super Bowl when Michael said, “I knew exactly what to do, but in a very real sense, I had no idea what to do.” This epitomizes wedding planning for me.

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that a wedding is nothing more than this: A worship service followed by a party. The worship service part is easy:  All we have to do is pick out music. The wedding director tells us when to go down the aisle. Also, we have to wear somewhat dressy clothes. The party is a bit harder, but all you really need is food. And people don’t really care where the food came from, as long as it tastes good. Well, they might care, but they don’t have to know where it came from, so as long as you’re subtle about it, you can even make it yourself.

That’s really all it is. If you start with that framework and work up from there, it is surprisingly easy. On the other hand, if you begin under the premise that a wedding is where you have to prove something to everyone you’ve ever known, or where you have to make sure absolutely no one gets offended, even for silly things, or where if you don’t spend a certain amount of money it doesn’t count, then, well, good luck.

It probably also helps that my standards are incredibly low. Honestly, why can’t I wear my Rainbows when I walk down the aisle?

Oh, and I may or may not blog any of the next 73 days. Just sayin’.

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One thing at a time
December 19, 2008, 2:58 pm
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Yesterday my mom said that she wanted me to finish up the guest list so we could get a head count. Guest list? I thought. Right. The newest version is probably in that binder I bought for wedding stuff... which has been sitting in the back of my car for several days.

I don’t really know what’s going on. I’m excited about the wedding, and I don’t feel like I’m putting things off. There just isn’t a whole lot that needs to be done right now, and for once in my life, I’m not getting ahead of myself.

And I guess the things that are generally A Big Deal when it comes to wedding planning haven’t been that Big Of A Deal.

Case in point: The Monday after we got engaged, I went with my mom to a bridal boutique near our house to try on dresses. The store owner said that most of the dresses take 15 weeks. At that point, we were 18-19 weeks away from the wedding, so I started to get worried. What if I didn’t find one in time?

I felt a little better the following Saturday when I went to try on dresses with my friend Emily. They said it wouldn’t take that long, and there were a lot of dresses that I really liked. But they were still a little pricier than I wanted to pay, and while there was one in particular that I really liked, I wasn’t in love with it.

After that, I kind of forgot about the fact that it’s traditional for the bride to wear a wedding dress. More than a week went by. Last Sunday we had lunch with some friends who got married in June, and they said that one of the things they learned in wedding planning was just to pray about everything.

And so on Monday, when I thought about the dress, I prayed that God would help me find a dress.

Later that day I was browsing the website of a store that sells dresses and ran across one that I really, really liked. It was about a fourth of the price of the first dress I had tried on. They had my size. It was modest and simple.

I showed it to my mom and she loved it as well. We decided to go ahead and order it, and if it didn’t fit, we could just return it. The next day I prayed again, asking God to give me peace about whether the dress would fit and what else I would need to do in this area.

It came in the mail today. When I went home for my lunch break, I tried it on while my mom made me a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich for lunch.

It fit like a glove. It doesn’t even need to be hemmed. It covers me in all the right places, and it looks exactly like I want my wedding dress to look.

I kept it on for about two minutes, took it off, ate my sandwich, and came back to work.

It was, in the best possible meaning of the word, anticlimactic.

So I have my dress. And we have a church at which to get married. We’ve reserved the reception site. We’re about to start pre-marital counseling.

And that’s good enough for now. We’re going to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s and enjoy time with our families, and when January comes, I am hoping and praying that God will continue to bless us with peace and sanity and contentment and wisdom as we get ready for marriage.



Eight things
December 17, 2008, 11:24 am
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I got this from Leigh’s blog.

8 TV shows I watch:
1. The Office (The funniest show on TV, although this season seems lamer than others…)
2. Jeopardy (My favorite part, aside from pretending to be a genius by confidently yelling out what ends up being the wrong answer, is the stories the contestants tell. Oh really, you make up songs about your cats and sing them to the dear animals?)
3. The Biggest Loser (I am SO glad Michelle won. I hope that Vicki is embarrassed by her foul mouth.)
4. Top Chef (I don’t normally know what 80% of the ingredients are, but it’s a cooking reality show with very little drama.)
5. LOST (My all-time favorite show ever. I watched two seasons over the course of a couple weeks. January 25 21* cannot come soon enough.)
6. Anything on FoodNetwork. My favorites, though, are Paula Deen, Ina Garten (if only she would stop talking about Jeremy!), Giada DeLaurentiis, Tyler Florence, Sunny Anderson, and Sandra Lee.
7. House (Christian and I call this “our show,” because we watched it for the first time together. We LOVE it.)
8. Everybody Loves Raymond (I used to watch this every evening while I made dinner)
8 favorite restaurants:
1. Moe’s
2. Taco Bell
3. D’s Wings
4. Red Bowl Asian Bistro
5. Crust (local pizza place in Sewanee, where Christian went to school)
6. Olive Garden
7. Egg Roll Chen’s (only local Columbians know the joy of this place)
8. Steak ‘n Shake
8 things that happened to me recently:
1. I applied for a new job.
2. I ate dinner with my friend Alexis at Red Bowl Asian Bistro (see above).
3. I ate lunch at Taco Bell (see above)
4. Christian and I explored some new apartment options.
5. I ordered my wedding dress.
6. I called my mom and asked her to plug in my camera battery so it would be ready for Behold the Lamb tonight.
7. I cleaned my keyboard with some compressed air. One of the highlights of my day, seriously.
8. I watched Michelle win The Biggest Loser last night (see above). AWESOME.
8 things I look forward to:
1. Seeing Behold the Lamb tonight.
2. Getting married on April 18.
3. My two friends – Emily and Emily – getting married in March and April.
4. Living with my best friend.
5. Spending time with my second-best friend, Sam, in preparation for the wedding.
6. Having babies. Soon, Lord, soon. (Well, no sooner than January 2010.)
7. Celebrating Christmas in a non-stressful way.
8. Having six days off work for the holidays. Glory.
8 things I wish pray for:
1. Wedding planning that is Christ-centered and un-stressful.
2. That the wedding ceremony and reception would be used by God to draw all of our unsaved family members and friends to Himself.
3.  That I would daily be a godly example for my sisters.
4. That God would remove every temptation to fear or anxiety.
5. That the two- and three-year-olds I teach in Sunday school would learn something of Christ through what I do every week.
6. That the words I use with Christian would lift him up and not tear him down.
7. That God would give me the desire to seek Him every day through prayer and reading His Word.
8. That I would become famous through blogging. (Just kidding. Kind of. No, yeah, I’m just kidding.)
*An insightful commenter pointed out that LOST starts January 21, which is sooner than I thought it was starting. Hallelujah!


Chelsey’s life: A mid-December rundown
December 17, 2008, 8:00 am
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Most of my daily conversations are not exactly as enthralling as I would like. For example, I wish someone would ask me something like, “What are your hopes and dreams? Please answer using as many metaphors as possible.” Imagine something like the scene from Never Been Kissed, when Drew Barrymore is in the cafeteria with the popular girls. Except I’m Drew Barrymore, not the popular girls. I have, truthfully, never been one of the popular girls, but thankfully, middle school is long gone.

But if you’re reading my blog and you don’t know me in person, you don’t have the joy of asking me the more mundane questions, so I thought I’d answer some of the most recent questions I’ve been asked.

When/where are you getting married?
The Big Day is April 18, 2009. We’re getting married at our church. The Big Day, incidentally, is six weeks after one of my best friends is getting married and two weeks after my college roommate of three years is getting married.

What are you going to do after you get married?
Probably most of the same things I’ve been doing before I got married. I suppose the biggest difference will be Living In The Same Domicile As Christian. Other than that, I’ll be working, cleaning, cooking, and praying for my very own chubby babies. Christian will still be working at his job, and things should stay that way until we pay off all of Christian’s student loans. Once that’s done, we hope to be headed to seminary, where, as of this writing, Christian will study Hebrew and Greek in preparation for Bible translation, and I will hopefully be raising aforementioned chubby babies (who may, at that point, no longer be babies).

How’s your job going?
It’s going, and I still have it, so I’m thankful. I may only have it until the end of December, and if that’s the case, I will probably babysit and nanny until I find something else. Once we’re married, we will be able to live (very, very frugally) on Christian’s income, but I don’t have a whole lot else to do, so I’m hoping to at least work part-time.

What are you doing for Christmas?
My family is doing something new – we’re eschewing spending the holidays with our extended family and sequestering ourselves in a cabin in North Carolina. Christian is coming with us, and it looks like Christian’s family may meet us there for a day to be introduced to my parents. I’ll be sure to let you know how the 2008 Initial Parental Contact goes.

What are you doing tonight?
OK, so no one asked me that, at least not today. But I asked myself that so I could tell you that Christian and I are driving to Charlotte after work to see Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God show, and I. am. beyond. excited. This will be the third year we’ve gone together (for those who are counting, that’s every Christmas we’ve been dating).

Any other burning questions? E-mail me (chelseykarns [at] gmail [dot] com) or leave a comment. Especially if they’re of the Drew Barrymore variety.



What matters to us
December 15, 2008, 2:16 pm
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It’s like a mantra, ringing in my ears anytime even the hint of wedding planning enters my mind.

It’s not that big of a deal.

I haven’t given up on getting married, and I’m not just being avoidant about the whole thing. It’s just that I’ve been praying, and praying, and praying for God to settle my heart about the whole thing, and this is the word He’s given me.

It’s not that big of a deal.

I guess, in some ways, that’s not completely true. Getting married is a big deal. It’s a life-changing event. And I’m excited about marrying Christian. Really excited.

And certain things about the wedding are important, too. That’s why I’ve picked a few things that really matter to me (and Christian), and the rest of it? It’s not that big of a deal.

We want our wedding to be glorifying to God and Christ-centered.
This means that the ceremony in which we get married will be a worship service. There will be a sermon, congregational hymns, a call to worship and a benediction, among other things. We are aware that this will make some people fairly uncomfortable, but we’re OK with that. Being in the presence of God as an unrepentant sinner should make you feel uncomfortable, and our prayer and desire and hope is that our wedding ceremony will be used by God to save our friends and family members who don’t know God. We want them to see the beauty of Christ in the simplicity and reverence of the ceremony.

We want to wear modest and appropriate clothing.
This applies to me more so than to Christian, I guess, but this really is important to us. We’re not legalistic about styles of clothing or how many inches here or there, but we want my wedding dress and the dresses that my bridesmaids wear to be modest. I’m not planning on this meaning that my dress will look like something my great grandmother would have worn. I’ve actually tried on several dresses that are beautiful and incredibly appropriate. We’re aware that few people at our wedding would probably think twice if I were to wear a dress with a really low top or back, but we care, and we know that God cares.

We want to enjoy celebrating with our friends and family.
What this translates into is a low-key rehearsal dinner and reception, because we don’t want to get caught up in the details of the tableclothes or spending time coming up with seating charts. We’ll have light refreshments, wedding cake, dancing and good music. We’ll talk to our faraway friends and family, and then we will take off for our honeymoon refreshed and relaxed, full of joy at the fellowship we got to experience on what will be thus far the happiest day of our lives together.

We want to be wise with the money that has been entrusted to us.
We have more money than we need to spend on the wedding, but we want to be good stewards of it. We’re going to do the invitations by hand, have minimal decorations at the church, and arrange the bouquets on our own. These are things that aren’t super important to us that we can do very inexpensively. Because really, who cares what the invitations look like? Most people are going to throw them away once the wedding’s over.

I’m so thankful that God has been changing our hearts about how He wants us to plan our wedding. I have so much peace and joy right now, and I’m not stressed or worried at all about any of the plans we have to make. I’ve got wonderful people surrounding me with their counsel and advice, and I’ve got a great fiance who could care less what color the bridesmaid dresses are, as long as we’re both in the front of the church on April 18, hand in hand.

‘Cause marrying your best friend? That’s a big deal. And I can’t wait.



My “friend” and I like each other a lot
December 10, 2008, 4:06 pm
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It was one of those days when I didn’t exactly need, but really really wanted, Taco Bell for lunch.

There’s just something about Mountain Dew and three soft tacos with two packets of hot sauce each that makes my stomach grumble.

And so I drove the short bit down the road to my favorite Taco Bell location, ordered the usual, and settled down with The Christian Wedding Planner by Ruth Muzzy and R. Kent Hughes, printed in 1984. A friend of my mom’s let me borrow it.

I thought, since so many of my friends are engaged, that I would share the most helpful tip I’ve found so far, to be done immediately after the engagement:

If you like, your mother can invite people over to meet your “friend,” and then your father can reveal the “inside facts.”

I’m not sure what the “inside facts” are considered to be, but my dad isn’t really the kind of person to reveal them.

In another book that was lent to me, I’m excited to read the “Top Ten Ways to Plan Your Wedding Using the World Wide Web.” Sounds cutting edge!



And the two shall become one…
December 8, 2008, 2:37 pm
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…on April 18, 2009.

Only 131 more days. 😉