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Weddington

Say what?

I think it started with a typo she made in a text, but it became one of our inside-jokes, where we started ending things with “ington”, like Paddington — Campington (our first family camping trip), Yardington (our backyard landscaping plans that we built for the wedding), and of course, Weddington itself.

The day was a blur, in the best possible way. We actually stayed at our hotel the night before, as well as night-of, to get some time away from kids. Thankfully Grandma and Grandpa had flown in early to keep them busy and fed and loved while we had our couple-time. That morning, I departed for home to help with wedding setup while she had her gals come do the bridal thing. You know, mimosas, hair & makeup, silly selfies.

The vendors – floral, catering, photog & video – started to arrive at the house, while the nanny wrangled kiddos. I loved being able to help my little boys with their ties and suspenders. Plus I got a sneak-peek at the food and flowers before anybody, which was pretty sweet! Yet in the midst of the scramble, I realized that I had no white undershirt for my suit. Thankfully my sister was able to pick some up on her way in from the airport. I paid the favor forward to our eldest teen who didn’t have a button-up shirt to wear; I had a nice hunter-green number that we’d luckily left out from our furious honeymoon-packing.

When she was arriving to “finish” getting ready (read: more mimosas and formal pictures), I DID avoid peeking, respecting the tradition that I not see her in her wedding dress before she walked down the aisle. (Although I did see it when she picked it out at the store.. Sshhh it’s a secret!)

We’d written a note to each other to read on the morning of, in the hours before the big event. Hers was the sweetest, most thoughtful and precious thing I’d read. And of course, being me, I bungled mine like a big doofus. Thank God she loves me anyway.

So I’m standing out in the backyard, which has now become a wedding venue. (Well, really the whole house was; and this was no small task, involving several hours of deep cleaning and herding kids from one side to the other so they didn’t ruin the aforementioned cleanliness, and booting the dogs out to boarding camps for several days. This is why people pay for venues. But we truly loved the way we did it, despite the sprinkled bits of chaos.) My dad and I step up to the.. what do you call it? The arch, the flower-adorned wood frame under which we’d perform the ceremony and declare our eternal love and devotion. (No, not me and my dad; me and HER! Jeez people.) The arbor. Thanks Google.

Anyway, we chat idly for a bit while people take their seats. It’s a beautiful day, not too hot, and our best man C. is workin the pre-wedding playlist. (Link to follow!) J and I picked out all the music ourselves, including an instrumental Star Wars themed aisle-walk piece that was, honestly, so special to me because she knew how much I loved Star Wars and wanted me to have this big part of myself in what most of our culture considers a primarily (if not solely) bride-focused event.

But I’ll tell you what. As soon as she stepped out that back door into the aisle, I forgot about the music. I didn’t even hear a sound. I lost track of where my feet were.

She. took. my. breath. away.

I’ll never forget the way she looked. Deep adoring brown eyes. Lustrous brunette locks in gentle waves, crowned by the most delicate white pearl & lace. And the dress! Oh ho. The plunging neckline, the white silk, the gorgeous subtlety of so many tiny lacy leaves. And her lovely ivory heels with matching delicate detail. Perfection, she was. Beauty and love and desire and devotion. I could barely stand! I took her hands as soon as I could and held on for dear life, because this moment– this WAS life. She IS my life.

I barely remember my dad’s officiating, which really is no knock on him; I was just so hyper-focused on my beloved bride, J, standing there, seeing me like nobody ever has, accepting me like nobody ever could, and loving me like nobody ever did. We read our vows with trembling voice and breath, tied our Cord of Three Strands, and exchanged our beautiful hand-picked rings. That moment she said “I do” was the happiest moment of my life. Followed immediately, of course, by “You may now kiss the bride!”

We also had a Star Wars song picked out for exiting (walking down? up?) the aisle together, but again, I barely remember hearing it, because I was so ready to escape for a moment into our bedroom (which had become the bridal suite) for a moment alone to breathe and embrace and cherish that moment with her. Then of course we had to assemble for formal pictures — and we got some super adorable ones, including our whole family together (me and her and our kids), which was no small feat with a toddler in a tux mind you!

Thankfully, after that mad scramble, we came back to ourselves with our first dance. “Love Me Like You Do”, a remix by Sleeping At Last; very sweet and intimate song. And once again I simply shut out the world around us and it became just her and me, in warm adoring embrace. I know this will always be where we return to, in times of trouble or tribulation. This is home for my heart and soul. She is my safe place, my calm and peace.

We spent some time with our guests, as you do, and loved on our kids because we knew we wouldn’t be seeing them for a few days (honeymoon time!). Then we ditched the party to finish our photos at the winery where we were staying. Our villa was literally right next to the vines! We got so many amazing pictures, made memories and did adorable, romantic, silly things together. Then we met some of the fam for dinner, since a lot of them came form out of state and didn’t get much time with us. Yet again, though, we ditched them to be alone — are we sensing a pattern here? Hey, we’re allowed to be a little selfish; it’s our wedding! It was a night to remember.

Our honeymoon took us to the most adorable little cabin in Idyllwild, complete with private hot tub. We toured the town, bought way too many things, cooked and ate delicious food, and spent hours talking in the jacuzzi. We even beat Jenga! Yes, literally, we took the tower as high as it would go having no layers of 3 remaining (all 1’s and 2’s). And of course I made fire. In the fireplace, that is.

Doing all this has taught me something. When God answers your prayers, and blesses you with an incredible, amazing partner, you don’t wait and see what happens. You get grateful, you get busy, and you give her your all. Because she’s giving me her all. She is my wife — my supportive, loving, caring, kind, generous, beautiful, smart, giving, best-friend, equal-partner, team-mate, self-sacrificing, treat-me-like-a-king, WIFE. And there’s no denying that. I love her more every day.

So. What have we been doing since then? Well, you’ll have to stay tuned! But, as they say in Harry Potter, “I solemnly swear we are up to no good!” =P

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New Beginnings Part 2

So where did we leave off? Oh yes, ourstory.

She wore blue jeans, black boots, and a black blouse. We drove in my car to a Thai restaurant in Temecula. We talked for hours, yet the time flew by. It felt as though we’d known each other in some previous life. (Those readers who don’t believe in such things, feel free to replace the metaphysical reference with something more palatable.) Also, this “talking for hours” thing would become a long-standing pattern. We’re both communicators, after all!

We dated fairly consistently for the first couple months. On our second date, another dinner out, she actually brought along the toddler, which was a refreshing experience to me because, while I had met the kids casually, I had yet to experience a full-on outing with any of them. Thankfully this would start happening more in the near future. We’d generally go back to her house and spend hours talking at her kitchen counter over drinks/tea/coffee. I think we stayed til almost 2am one time.

We knew that we had a lot of “catching up” to do, as it were. Because of our age and our life journeys, we didn’t have time to mess around with casual “let’s see if this goes anywhere” style dating. So we talked. A LOT. I felt like I could tell her anything, and she felt likewise.

As I’ve mentioned, whenever I was with her, it felt like home. I played with the kids, hung out with her friends and our mutual friends, and cooked a lot of burgers in her back yard. I found myself missing her during the week and wanting to spend more and more time with her. We had undeniable chemistry, both physical and mental.

It was easy to fall in love. In fact, she even predicted it. We still laugh about that. Not because she was being self-aggrandizing or over-confident. But because it was (and is) true. She was (and is) exactly the woman I need, with the sense of self-worth and self-realization that perfectly balances my own.

I knew that I loved her when she threw me a karaoke party for my birthday with our closest mutual friends. I mean, I had felt the feelings, the spark, before that, but it was truly cemented in my mind with the way she cared so deeply and thoughtfully as to make my birthday something that special and memorable. It was the most fun I’d ever had in one night, that’s for sure.

But true love is loving someone for who they are, not what they do. This was merely an item on the timeline that I could point at and say “yes, there!”. She IS kind and generous and thoughtful and fun to be around. She IS supportive and driven. She IS the light of my life, and an embodiment of good energy, beauty and intelligence.

Three months later, I asked her to move in with me. Now, when we tackle our “helping others by our experience” project, this will be a much larger chapter of lessons-learned. But for now, I’ll just say that I had some work to do and she helped me do it, the right and healthy way, and she stuck with me even when I pushed back unreasonably. Again, focusing on the positive, she made this house our home. She put an incredible effort and energy into redecorating and making sure that I liked everything that she did, and I feel that we truly have a special partnership in the way we create a space together.

Two months after that, we were engaged. We picked out the ring together (yes, I highly recommend this), and I proposed the week that it came in from the jeweler. The next day we shared the wonderful news with our family, friends, and church family. Shortly after that, we started trying to pick a date. And all the other planning that goes along with that.

As anybody who’s self-planned a wedding will tell you, it’s a big project. We’ve drawn-up at least half a dozen outlines of timing, vendors, decor, and guest-lists. But we’ve finally settled on just about everything. (Not a moment too soon, as I write this approximately 2 months out!) Through this journey, we’ve learned a lot about each other. And to paraphrase some superb advice we read in a couple’s devotional book, “Don’t let the wedding planning consume your life.” In other words, don’t let it get in the way of just living and being with each other. This is especially true in cases where the timeline is somewhat compressed, as ours is. And I feel like we’ve done a pretty good job of following that advice.

I’m excited to marry her. It’s the most certain decision I’ve ever made. Backed by the truest love I’ve ever felt. And the most real life, which we’re building, with each other.

selfie in the woods
Also, we go camping together. =D
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New Beginnings

Dear readers. It’s been a minute. I need to start by saying that the content you may have been accustomed to is no longer a part of my story. Because I’ve begun a new story. A new life. An amazing, wonderful, joy filled and fulfilling life. And I’m here to tell that story. To actually tell it RIGHT. And even to correct a few misplaced, misinformed opinions.

As you may have noticed from my header image, I’m happily engaged (well, the picture doesn’t show a ring, but we are), and soon to be married, to an incredibly special, wonderful, brilliant, beautiful, kind, caring and loving woman. A woman of God, of faith, of character, and of family. Family is one of the biggest parts of this story. Because I now have one to call my own — by de-facto adoption, step-parenting, “bonus dad”-ing, whatever you want to call it. I have the amazing challenge and opportunity and gift to help her raise her — now our — children. And I love being a father. I had an incredible example and role-model in my own dad, my own parents. I try to live up to that every day.

But this isn’t about my dad or my childhood memories of camping and playing with tools and riding on the back of the motorcycle. This is about the love of my life, J. (pictured, as noted, above!)

We met through church, in a sense through mutual friends but in another sense, entirely by God’s divine providence. She’ll tell the story much better than I can, but essentially, she was driving with her kids down Scott Road (the ex-burb street our church property sits off of) and felt the true-life pull of the Holy Spirit to come check out the church in the white tent.

Side-note, if you do happen to live in or be familiar with the area, we are not the spiritual-cult next-door with the large white tent and the mini-compound of mysterious buildings; we in fact no longer have a tent, but that’s another story for another time.

Anyway, there she was, checking out our church. (I say ‘our’ in the sense of myself and my parents and siblings, since we’d all grown up in it, even though said siblings had moved away and said parents were nearly ready to retire up north.) So, in an effort to welcome the new family, we, the ministry team (such as it was) took them out to lunch at a local pizza place after the service. Little did I know that a number of months later, we (J. and I) would be dining together at the same pizza joint, in much the same capacity — joining our ministry leaders in welcoming another new young couple to the fold.

Backing up a bit. The first time I actually got up the nerve to speak to her was when I noticed that she came to church unaccompanied, and I went to say hi. But the first time I really got to talk to her was when she got baptized a few weeks later, along with her second son, and we had a get-together BBQ at her house with our church friends. I remember being excited to go there and have a conversation with her and meet her kids. And let me tell you, even though we didn’t know we’d end up together, when I walked into her house, I felt at home.

So for one, we have God to thank, for bringing us together. For another, we have her former roommate, to whom she’d rented out her spare room after getting divorced. This person, as girls talk, had found out that J. was attracted to me, and when I helped this person with a computer issue, she said as much. Which of course gave me the courage-boost to ask her on a date!

And the rest, as they say, is ourstory. (Yes, I did just portmanteaux.) But really, all I mean by that is wait for another post, because this one is getting a bit lengthy. But I will leave you with this.

I am happy. I am blessed. I have found the love of my life. She is the most beautiful woman in the world. She has a deep, deep soul. A unique mind. A heart of grace and kindness. An incredible story of healing and of darkness to light. And she is mine. And I am hers. For the rest of our lives.

love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies, by Aristotle
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