throwback : bridal shower

shower invitation

My bridal shower was five months ago. However, my best friends and maids of honor did such an outstanding job and it was so beautiful I knew that I had to share the photos eventually. Even though the busy time before the wedding kept me from making this post then, I’m finally doing it now.

IMG_2938

On the day of my bridal shower, it was a randomly rainy day in March. It hadn’t rained in months and this was the day it poured (there was even hail – a great rarity in southern California.) The party was hosted at a local coffee shop – one that is owned by my best friends’ family. When I arrived and saw how beautiful it looked, I was completely blown away. Every little touch they had chosen for the decor had a special meaning and it was amazing.

IMG_5886-2

IMG_2880

IMG_5906

IMG_5887

IMG_8898

Emily and Hannah are my best friends and have been ever since we were little kids. They threw me the most perfect bridal shower and they rocked the whole worlds-best-maids-of-honor-thing. Gosh, I miss them. Every day, I miss them.

IMG_2923

IMG_5889

IMG_5923

IMG_5891-1

IMG_5893

IMG_2875

So many of the important women in my life were there. My grandmother. My godmother. My aunt. Family. Friends. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many women I admire and who were there to support and encourage me.

IMG_2924

Even Austin’s mom, sister, and grandma drove from Illinois to be there. (Which is out-of-this-world incredible.)

IMG_2953

IMG_2866

IMG_5897-2

 Do they know how to throw a party or what? (the correct answer is YES.)

IMG_5894-1

IMG_5901-1

IMG_2937

IMG_2959

IMG_5908

IMG_2308

IMG_2948

IMG_8880

IMG_8894

IMG_8881

IMG_8913

IMG_8897

I have the best mom and mother-in-law. These women are my role models and I love them both more than I can say. Being able to learn from their examples of how to do marriage well and honor Christ as a wife is such a gift.

IMG_2898

IMG_2876

IMG_8904

IMG_8920

IMG_2326

 One of my favorite pictures from the night. Not glamorous, by any means, but so full of memories. Hannah, Emily, and I had spent many hours talking while washing dishes there over the years after countless parties. Getting to do it again after my bridal shower was surreal.

IMG_5941

It had been an evening of being showered by love by the women who mean the most to me. Yes, it was emotional. Yes, it has been challenging to leave that community behind me. However, it has been so worth it. Marriage is awesome and having those memories of so many wonderful women supporting me and encouraging me and inspiring me to do well in this next season of life is something I will cherish. Always.

While We Were Engaged

I’ve already written about how we met and the way that story unfolded for us. However, I haven’t shared much of the events that have made up this season of engagement so I have decided to tell that chapter of the story today.

Once we got engaged, the eight long months of waiting to be married began. It wasn’t originally our intention to have such a long engagement but, with autumn travels and winter weather and spring events there was no way around it. We would get married in April.

When I first started wedding planning, I knew I wouldn’t allow it to consume me. I was never the kind of girl who had her wedding planned from the time she was six so I was essentially starting from scratch. Especially since the tiniest bits of opinions I did have were all for my dream of having an autumn wedding. Yeah. Not happening.

Thankfully, Austin stuck around for two glorious weeks after he proposed. In that time, we managed to get a lot of the major wedding decisions made even in the midst of beach days, summer concerts, premarital counseling, and horribly sunburned feet. Those were the days we nailed down everything essential such as no suspenders, no glitter, and absolutely no cake.

We did manage to choose our venue (my church) and my dress (from etsy) and our photographers (seriously amazing) and that put my mind at ease because at least I would have a place to get married, something to wear, and photos to commemorate the occasion.

During that time we held hands a lot, ate the cream puffs my neighbors gave us the night he proposed, set up our wedding registry, visited my grandmother, and went to go see John Williams in concert at the Hollywood Bowl. Connor was an awesome chaperone and Austin gave me a collection of glass bottles filled with the most lovely little notes and gifts.

engagment13

engagedcollage00

2014 08 John Williams11-3

engagedcollage01

After those two weeks, I saw Austin exactly three times during the eight months we were engaged. It wasn’t ideal.

engagedcollage02

In the middle of September he sent me flowers for the first time before flying out for a weekend to finish our premarital counseling at my church. We tasted pie that looked amazing but turned out to taste very much – meh.

engagedcollage03

engagedcollage04

IMG_5454

Next, I flew out to Illinois for a week which turned out to be more challenging than I had expected, but more rewarding than I could have imagined. It was a bug-bitten week in which Austin worked on finishing restoring his 1971 AMC Matador, and we all worked on packing and moving and apartment hunting. There were lovely nights of swing dancing and outings to the movie theatre.

engagedcollage05

engagementcollage12

After coming home from that visit, little did I know that it would be five months until I saw Austin again. Those days consisted of trying on wedding dresses and getting The One (not this one, though) and just working hard to get as much wedding-planning accomplished as early as I possibly could. Austin found me a library. I sent him notes and packages while running about attending a biblical counseling conference and traveling to the wedding of my friend (and bridesmaid), Carreen, in northern California. Naomi and I hiked to see the Golden Gate Bridge in the darkness of early morning and it was a thoroughly exciting memory-making experience.

engagementcollage19

Naomi came to visit me after Carreen’s wedding and we celebrated royally with Hannah and Emily and got gelato on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. (Strawberry and fresh mint gelato – be still my heart.)

engagedcollage06

In the midst of planning and packing, there were missing tears and weepy phone calls and times I called him feeling like a complete and total emotional wreck. Real fears began to overwhelm me, but he was always so loving and patient with me and those hard days began to be fewer and farther between. I turned 20 and he sent me the most beautiful red roses I had ever seen. I knit him a scarf in anticipation of the Chicago winter. Christmas came and went. It was a beautiful time with my family, but it felt strange to spend that day without him. I sent him a chess set with the stipulation being that he teach me how to play it better. He agreed.

imgnetflixdate

engagedcollage07

It was a long winter of skype dates, rubber boots, and running to keep me sane. I completed my first 5k race which I set as a before-I-get-married goal. We spent hours talking, had discipleship calls with our mentor couple at my church, and, of course, Netflix dates. Lots of Netflix dates. So many Netflix dates.

engagement17

engagementcollage17

Connor and I went to Disneyland with our life-long friends who are practically extended family by this point, Hannah, Emily and Henry. (Hannah and Emily are my maids of honor and Henry is an amazingly awesome person.) The castle was covered up, but we still had a spectacular day where Disneybounded, ate Dole Pineapple Whip all day long (literally all day long), met Thor, confessed our love of Loki, and Connor danced with Donald Duck.

engagement18

engagedcollage09

engagedcollage11

Finally, in February, we were together again. Drew and Naomi traveled out for a week of blissful nothing-ness. We played card games and watched movies and Austin and I let Connor, Drew, and Naomi, have the scanner at Target to add to our registry. From sympathy cards, to hello kitty tricycles, our registry was full of everything we could never need. Austin and I finally were able to have our first just-the-two-of-us honest-to-goodness date.

IMG_0097

starwarsminilandcollage

Then Legoland happened. One incredibly hot day in February, we braved the sun and spent the day meandering through Star Wars Miniland and throwing ice at each other. It was perfect. All too soon, it was over, and I think it was surreal for all of us to realize, as we said goodbye, that the next time we said hello would be for the wedding.

engagementcollage22

IMG_6649

engagement23

IMG_7064

engagement24

Before the craziness of this Week Before the Wedding started, I made a point to take each of my siblings out on a date. Theresa and I went to the Santa Monica Pier and spent the afternoon going on rides by the beach. Cora went to the American Girl Place for the first time and I shared that part of my childhood with her. (Oh, goodness. Those dolls were my childhood. What can I say? I was a 90s girl.) Connor and I went to see Insurgent and got ice cream after and the date finally arrived for Curtis and I to use our Newsies tickets. Once I found out that it was coming to the Pantages Theatre on tour, I was able to fulfill the promise I had made after I saw it in New York City to take him to see it too one day.

engagementcollage14

Long distance is hard; I won’t lie. But I also know that it has been the best thing for us and for our relationship and there is a reason God orchestrated it as being part of our story. Ring shopping alone isn’t fun. Neither is arriving at your meeting at your church to hear the wedding coordinator ask, “So, where is the groom?” Still, In less than a week, it will be our wedding day and our engagement will be a thing of a past. Austin will no longer be my fiancé and will become my husband. True, our engagement hasn’t looked like a typical one, but is my hope and prayer that we have used this time to grow closer together as a couple and prepare as much as we can to be married. Things aren’t perfect. They never were and they will never be. I still have hard days where I battle the fears and insecurities I had been dealing with since the very beginning. One thing I know for sure, though, is that the memories we have made over these past eight months -even the challenging ones- will be ones that I will treasure remembering for the rest of my life.

Timelines

IMG_8754-3

Today is March 10th. Exactly a year ago today, Austin and I went from being “just friends” to being friends who were exploring the possibility of maybe becoming something more. That was a year ago. Now we’re engaged and, next month, we’re getting married. In some ways, the past seven months have flown by, but, at the same time, there have been weeks where time has seemed to stand still. I’m so excited for the coming adventure, though. To be with the man I love through joys and through sorrows. Through the valleys and through the heights. Through whatever God places in our path to become part of our story. It hasn’t been easy so far and it won’t be easy in the future, but, by God’s grace, we will do marriage well.

I’m looking forward to lazy Sunday afternoons and cooking together and long walks and movie nights and our cozy apartment and exploring Chicago together and road trips and learning how to honor God in this new season of life as a wife. Next month will mark the end of long-distance and airport goodbyes. I will get to see Austin every single day and experience the little joys of life with him and that makes me happier than I can say.

Time is an interesting thing. When we started this adventure a year ago, I never thought that we’d just a month away from our wedding at this point. I never thought I’d be married this young. I never thought things would move this fast. I never expected any of this, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. Each couple has a different story and a different timeline and what works for some doesn’t work for everyone and that’s the beauty of it. This is the timing that God designed for us and everything unfolded naturally and never felt rushed or stalled and, for that, I am thankful.

Looking back over the past year, I can see how God yanked both Austin and me out of our comfort zones and caused us to grow individually and together. We’ve learned to depend more fully on Christ while, at the same time, emotionally connect with each other. We’ve learned how to tear down our walls and be vulnerable and love unconditionally. We still have so much to learn in the days ahead, but I am confident with where we’ve come from and where we are going.

The Minutes Before Boarding

I like airport terminals. Don’t really know why they call the area planes leave the “terminal”- rather unsettling honestly. Anyway. Terminals- they are great. Especially ones departing to a certain sunshine state. Bringing me back to my fiancé, whom I haven’t seen in Five Monthsish. But who’s counting? Sitting here in said terminals now, I thought I would muse upon what it has been like, to go without seeing your favorite person in person for that amount of time.

I’m in a very different situation than Cassie’s. I’ve moved to an entirely new place, found an apartment, and working 50-60 hours a week doing my dead level best each day to establish this newly opened business in a way that is uplifting to the team members and yet turns profit for the owner.

There are days that are a blast, days that suck, and crazy days that you look back on and ask “What exactly happened there?”. My family isn’t in the area, and I’m in a new church, so don’t have any close friends around yet. It is tough to be honest, and in some ways, having Cassie so far away in all of that is even more tough. What’s great though, is she has been there for me all the time. Be it through a random text, a surprise package or letter in the mail, a phone call, or our evening Skype calls… I know she’s got my back and willing to listen to my day whether I vent or whether I share successes. It is amazing how much one person can encourage you even when miles apart.

Ah the things we did to encourage each other and be there for the other. We didn’t want to just know about the other’s life in these five months, we wanted to be a part of them. This included many texts with pictures of snow, selfies, and daily activities, Emails about wedding stuff, Netflix Sessions, book studies, and of course- talking about food. It goes without saying, Skype calls are the one of the highlights of my week. We still talk hours without wondering what to say or having awkward silences. That’s pretty cool if you ask me.

Of all I’ve learned in the past five months, and I’ve learned a lot, the biggest thing is letting down walls of emotion I’ve spent my entire life building. I pride myself in being the “Fort Knox” of inappropriate feelings towards people, and learning to lower those immense walls for the person who should be allowed inside has been tough. It is terrifying to become vulnerable, to show weaknesses, to invite someone into the world of who you really are. And yet, when they are in and love you anyway,  is amazing.  I’ve found emotions are not just fleeting “feelings” of preference, but core pieces of who you are- regardless of circumstance. That when I say “I love you” to Cassie, it means more than words can accurately communicate.

Well, that’s the boarding call. This flight might be the longest of my life, because when I land I get to actually make eye contact with my best friend in the whole world for the first time in five months. 4 Hours, 34min and counting…

~Austin~

I Haven’t Seen My Fiancé in Five Months

longdistance01

Tomorrow my fiancé is coming to see me and I haven’t seen him in five months.

When we started this whole long-distance-engagement-thing, I don’t think that either of us expected there to be a lapse this long between visits. And yet, here we are. After an early-morning goodbye at the Chicago airport after a crazy, exhausting, emotional, bug-bitten, whirlwind of a week in September, I came back to Los Angeles and I haven’t seen him since. While it certainly hasn’t been easy, there are some aspects of long-distance that I love tremendously. Ever since Austin and I first started getting to know each other as friends, being far apart has always been normal. Countdowns and airplane tickets and waiting and skype. Getting to actually be together in person was special and never ever taken for granted. We learned to talk about anything and everything and to be there for each other even when it wasn’t convenient. Long-distance takes an enormous amount of intentionality and sometimes we do a better job than at others. Yes, there have been times where I have let the many miles between us get to me. There have been days of missing and nights of tears. However, this season of separation is one we’ve been sanctified through and, in the past five months of being apart, our relationship has grown stronger than it ever has been before.

With his imminent arrival on my mind, I wanted to express my thankfulness for the distance – even though it hasn’t been easy, it’s been a blessing. I’m thankful for letters and packages and text messages and video calls and the joys of trying to sync our Netflix-watching together with “3… 2… 1… press play now!” I’m thankful for spontaneous phone calls and the way that we can sometimes manage to feel so close when the reality is very far away indeed. I’m thankful for the conversations we’ve had and how it has never been easy to just hang out. In order to spend time together, our only option is talking and I know that the communication skills we’ve learned will benefit us for our entire lives. As much as I look forward spending the rest of my life with my best friend, not having easy access to him during our engagement has been extremely beneficial. This is a season for preparing and investing in relationships with the family and friends here in California that I’ll soon be leaving behind. Having Austin far away has helped me maintain a proper balance in preparing to be his wife, but also realizing that we’re not married yet.

So, here’s to the wonderful terrible thing that is a long-distance relationship. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s difficult. But it’s part of our story and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

when it’s 100 days until your wedding

Roses

When it’s 100 days until your wedding, life looks like empty bookshelves and hand-written letters and cardboard boxes and red roses hanging upside down to dry.

It looks like chess sets and your wedding dress folded carefully waiting to be taken in.

It looks like skype dates and webcam tours of the apartment that will soon be yours.

It looks like 5am and running three miles in the cold winter morning.

100 days until your wedding sounds like beautiful “I love you”s spoken from 2,000 miles away.

It sounds like late-night laughter and discussing future plans and words from books being read out loud.

It sounds like the voices of little siblings saying “I’ll miss you” as they wrap their arms tightly around your neck.

It sounds like text tones and instant messages and cell phones ringing.

When it’s 100 days until your wedding, life feels like a jumble of puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together and home is two vastly different places at the same time.

It feels like missing and expectation and excitement and security.

It feels like frustration at poor internet connections and thankfulness for good ones.

It feels like an in between place of knowing where you belong but not being there quite yet and the amazing rush of realization that thisisreallyhappening.

100 days before your wedding is surreal and scary and incredible and busy and quiet all at once. It’s wonderful, though. Even in the the unknowns and the changes and the craziness, knowing what’s ahead and knowing that God is orchestrating it all for His glory is so absolutely and unbelievably wonderful.

Hunting for Round Things

Well, The Rhodens left, and I was a little preoccupied to say the least.

With what? I’m sure you can imagine. Mainly, finding a round thing people like to call an engagement ring. I’m (more than) a little OCD, and OCD I did on this ring. I did research upon research on diamonds, gold types, what Carats were, what were good diamonds… the lot of everything. Guys, take notes, because I’m about to give you the low down on what you need to know about Diamonds. All this can be found through google, of course, but here is my small contribution to that world.

Essentially, Diamonds are graded a lot like any other collectible item. They have their terms, their scales, and it is up to the buyer to determine what quality they can afford in their budget. Oh- have a budget. Helps a lot. Anyway, here we go. Diamonds are graded on their Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat (weight/size). Of all of these, honestly, the color is the most important. The better color you have, the better the diamonds sparkles (since all cuts are pretty much the same these days). So if you are going to look for a good grade in particular… look for a colorless/near colorless in the Carat you can afford.

Granted, the above information is summarized hugely from all the available information, but looking back, that was what I found most useful. That, and make sure the diamond is in fact, graded. With this, and much more research under my belt, I took mom and we went shopping. I was shopping for an engagement ring. Talk about kinda surreal. We went to one store, was disappointed by the overpricedness and lack of clear answers… Then went to another store, Jared, and was able to find what I considered the “perfect” ring. I was hesitant to go to a big chain store for an item such as this, but it turned out to be a great decision, as the bigger stores have better value, and more selection.

All this to say, take your time when hunting for a ring, bring along your mom if possible- she is an excellent second opinion you can trust, and have fun with it. You only do this once guys, so interact with the sales people and enjoy the experience. A little patience, hunting, and knowing in your gut when to say “that’s the one” will bag you a ring that will not only be treasured by your fiancé, but earn silent nods of approval from your fellow comrades who’ve been there, and done that.

Ring