I had all these romanticized dreams of being a blogger bride starting the moment I got engaged. I'd talk about how I signed off Pinterest, I threw out details that brought along too much stress and I'd offer advice on ways to float your way through a blissful engagement experience all the way to the walk down the aisle (based off of my own drama free, blissful experience). As you can imagine that has not been the case in any way shape or form. At all. Like not even one bit. Yes there are moments of blissfulness (engagement photo session!) and yes there are a very few non-stressful details. But for the most part there has been a lot of the unexpected: the process of navigating new relations, unsuccessfully trying to explain a vision that is in my head to another creative individual, lots of miscommunication, lots of disappointment, details that have been thrown out the window not without kicking, screaming and clawing and trying to force them into existent (it is apparently impossible to get a single live olive tree or branch in Highlands County this time of year. Thank you California weddings for putting an impossible dream in my head). I am still on Pinterest every single day coming up with new impossible ideas about olive branches and painted white barns and the perfect mix of romantic vintage yet modern details. I am not your poster child bride. Let's just get that out there. Phew. I feel better. But what I can offer you, 10 days out from our wedding day (eee!), is a little glimpse into the beautifully messy journey that has been our engagement experience and the road we have walked (and stumbled) along the way. Here's the clincher... the thing that makes all of this mess ok... That road ends at an alter where I lay down this single life of mine and become one with the most amazing man. We together commit to honor and serve our God, our marriage as our ministry, the true and perfect representation of Christ and the church (that is going to look pretty unperfect all along the way). That's pretty much the long way of saying. We are getting married y'all!
Tip #1 ) Pre-Martital Counseling
I'm just going to start off right here. This is seriously one of the first things we set up after we got engaged (actually this was one on my lovely groom's to do list). And I'd have to say this is one of the things we got right. Yay for victories! We decided to meet with two different couples, our own church pastor (Todd, who happens to be Devon's boss) and his wife (Hi, Susan!!) and also another local pastor and his wife, Steve and Pattie, who are just a few more years down the road of this thing called marriage. Their styles of counseling are fairly different but both are just what we needed in this process. We've chatted about everything from marriage and ministry, to budgeting and balance, to trusting God to show up in miraculous ways, to stepping away and shutting off the world for a bit to regroup, to understanding all those emotions, to fighting fair, to growing our family one day. We've read through books like Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas, Experiencing Oneness by Harold Gillogly and The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller. All good stuff. And all things we plan to read over and over again throughout the life of our marriage. We've prayed together, we've laughed together and we've cried together (no surprise if I'm in the room). And my prayer is that this PRE-Marital Counseling thing just eases itself on over to plain ole Marriage Counseling along the way. You need this folks. But ultimately these wise couples pointing us to the one and ultimate counselor, Jesus. I sat a friends wedding years ago and still remember the shocking word of the officiant so clearly. "It's impossible for this marriage to work." Ummm, not what you expect to hear at a wedding ceremony. Maybe a little 1 Corinthians or some Ephesians 5 but not "this thing is gonna fail." But the shock of the statement prepared my heart for what he had next. "It would take a miracle. And that miracle is Jesus Christ."