Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Weekend Getaway

My 4-month old niece is, to put it plainly, the most adorable baby in the world. I cannot fathom any baby being more beautiful and engaging and responsive and brilliant and advanced. My family agrees with me. There are nine of us adults*, and that's a lot of consensus, so this is obviously a fact of the universe.

Please do not apply this logic to anything else. Like recently-founded religious orders with strange rules. Or suspect political schemes. Or basically anything outside the general category of "Adorable Babies."

Half my siblings and my parents live in the Pacific Northwest and get to enjoy my niece regularly. They often text our family new photos and videos of her being The Cutest Baby in the World, and after awhile it starting gnawing at some deep part of my soul. I do not like being 1,000 miles away from the Most Adorable Baby in the World.


And so, when I discovered my husband would be out of town for work this last weekend, I bought a ticket to Portland.

It has been auntie heaven.


I have actually visited the Pacific Northwest every year at this time since I left home 14 years ago. I crave the crisp fall air and flaming colors this time every year, so I soak up as much of fall as I can when I'm here.

It also happens that my parents have the Cutest Puppy in the World. This is a fact I am certain of because of the aforementioned logic.


Logic has always been my friend.

So basically I've been surrounded by cute babies and autumnal color all weekend, and it has been glorious.

We've gone on walks, picked apples in my parents' backyard, and snuggled up by the fireplace.


I've had some limbic system retraining victories, too.

Most notably, I felt well enough to go on a 3-mile hike while carrying my niece!


The endorphins were so plentiful that I felt as if I'd just enjoyed a long, deep belly laugh in the hours after the hike. I love the days when I feel like I'm heading toward physical normality.

The only downside of all these upsides is wishing my husband were here to share them.

I cannot wait to see him today.

I'm comin' for ya, Panther!

Happy Tuesday, friends o' mine.

-Sarah



*My sister-in-love, Jaime, is auntie to two brilliant babies on her side, so we are letting her award Baby of the Universe to all three babies, in a nice even tie.

© by scj

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Our Wedding

We got our wedding photos back! We got our wedding photos back!

And oh, I love every last one of 'em.

My friend Kayci, who was once my student and is now an incredible wedding photographer, took our photos, and I am so excited to share some of them with you! (Check out Kayci's Instagram HERE and her Facebook Page HERE).

Our photographer, Kayci

The ceremony was at Glenwood Community Church, the church I grew up at in Vancouver, Washington. We had the ceremony in the wooded area on the church property, and the reception in the sanctuary.



I have always wanted to get married under a banner of blue sky, surrounded by trees. About 50 of our friends and family made our forest wedding feel just magical. They made chalkboard signs and brought a vintage dresser; they crafted an arch and decorated shepherd hooks; they made music and arranged flowers. Literally every single detail of the wedding was made beautiful by our loved ones. 

 

Our guests arrived to harp music, and my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to "For the Beauty of the Earth," played by a harpist, cellist, and violinist. I walked down the aisle to the string trio playing "Be Thou My Vision."


Jay and I saw each other for the first time that day when I walked down the aisle. I'm so glad we decided to do it that way!

When I was a girl, I did not plan the little details of my wedding; I only ever knew I wanted a ceremony among the trees, performed by my dad. Because he played double duty that day — he walked me down the aisle and performed the ceremony — my two younger brothers welcomed the guests and opened us in prayer. They got us off on a light-hearted yet meaningful note. I can always count on them to do that. 


When Jay and I were planning our wedding, we decided on three non-negotiable ceremony and reception goals: 1) to get married (we like setting very reachable goals); 2) to rejoice in the good things God has done in our lives; and 3) to celebrate the glorious news that we can know God — that his love doesn't have be some distant, pie-in-the-sky idea; but we can know it in a real, personal, I-will-commit-to-you-forever-and-I-would-die-for-you-and-I-will-also-bring-you-coffee-in-bed kind of way.


My dad did a beautiful job sharing a wedding message that reminded us to always fix our eyes on Jesus, the only One who can truly satisfy our souls. 


My college roommate, Rachel, has a beautiful, soulful voice that sounds like a cross between Lauren Hill and India Arie. She is my favorite singer forever and ever, Amen. To my great delight, she sang "What a Beautiful Name" while Jay and I took communion, and then led us and our guests in singing "In Christ Alone." 


Early in our dating relationship, Jay told me he did not want to kiss me until the altar, should we get married. After Jay gave his life to Jesus in his late twenties, he worked hard to learn how to treat women like children of God and how to honor God with his body. He told me he knew chastity was the result of dozens of formative choices, and that for him, not kissing was one of those choices. He said he also thought that building a friendship foundation, without the distraction of kissing, could be wise.


And so we waited until the altar for our first kiss.  


I'm so thankful we did. The decision gave us so much freedom to enjoy each other as our friendship grew. I would do the same thing all over again!

With that first kiss to seal the deal, we were man and wife and ready to party!


 I love the look of joy on our siblings' faces in this photo:


Before we could head to our reception, we took posed photos. We invited our guests to stay and watch the group photos, and many of them did. It was fun to share the process with them!

From left to right: my sister-in-law, my friend and fellow survivor of chronic illness, my college roommate, my sister, my mom, my childhood friend, another childhood friend (the childhood friends are sisters!), my sister-in-law
My niece, Aria — the sweetest flower girl in all the land!

Jay's extended family
Jay's nuclear family
My extended family
My nuclear family




Our reception was so joyous. We ate beautiful, delicious food and enjoyed all sorts of entertainment. My sister-in-law, Jaime, made a slideshow of Jay and me through the years; and my brother's friend performed a hilarious song about me and Jay. The song was written by another family friend to the tune of the Princess Bride theme song, and its performance had a Napoleon Dynamite flair that made us roar with laughter.



Our dessert table was absolutely epic:



The reception flew by: my sister and Jay's brother gave toasts, we cut the cake, and then we danced. A friend teaches group dancing, so she taught us to do the Virginia Reel and Marie's Wedding Dance. Every one who could dance, did. I thought I would pop from the joy of it.


If you've ever seen a Jane Austen movie, then you can imagine that the group dancing was like the movie's ballroom dancing, but with a southern twist.

We danced the Virginia Reel to "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

It delighted me to watch Jay's people and my people mingle. What wonderful people God has given us!


After the last dance, our guests gathered with the party horns we gave them, and they honked to the high heavens as Jay and I exited. It was just the most perfect, playful ending to a truly celebratory day — a day made perfect by our friends and family who labored to make every detail glorious, and who have long prayed this day would come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have prayed God would heal me and bring me a life partner. I am so thankful for this new season of marriage and continued healing.

Happy Saturday,

Sarah



© by scj