Month: September 2015

The countdown begins

Frenzied.  That’s the best way to describe the 3 or so weeks leading up to my wedding.  Not really in a bad way…there was simply tons going on, and although I enjoyed most all of it, I also found keeping up with it quite exhausting.  I definitely can’t complain of being bored, though! 🙂

I got to spend most of those 3 weeks with my good friend Caro.  You may remember her from my Peruvian exploits last year – she was a fabulous travel companion then and has become a very dear friend since.  Anyway, she was in my bridal party, but wanted to come for more than just a weekend – gotta get your money’s worth out of a plane ticket from France!  Our first stop was somewhere near and dear to both of us – Berry College.  That’s where we met, and it utterly stole both of our hearts, so it was only natural that we would spend a few days back there.  Once there, we did very little together – we had different friends to catch up with and different priorities for our visit.  Caro flitted around all over town catching up with people; I spent most of the 3 days we were there to myself, resting and relaxing and preparing myself mentally for the next few weeks.  I did go to my old church for the Sunday service, and managed to have dinner with some dear old friends one night, which was really lovely.  But other than that, I simply basked in the beauty and peace of my alma mater.  It was a very much-needed mini retreat for me.

From Berry, we drove further north to Tennessee.  For as long as I’ve known her, Caro’s been obsessed with country music, and has always wanted to visit the heart of country music – Nashville.  So we drove up there and spent a few days exploring the world of country music – taking a tour at the Grand Ole Opry, walking down the historic Broadway Street, going country dancing at the famous Wildhorse Saloon, and watching a show at the Bluebird Cafe, a place for up-and-coming musicians that was made famous by the hit TV show “Nashville” (of which Caro is a huge fan).  Reserved tickets at the Bluebird cafe were sold out, so we got there 2 hours before the doors opened in order to get one of the 20 or so additional open seats.  The show was very good, but even if it wasn’t, just seeing her excitement made the trip worth it for me! 🙂

As the days in Nashville passed, however, Caro’s excitement level grew, while mine dissipated.  The nerves and to-do list of my upcoming wedding – at this point just a week away – were starting to get to me, and I was turning into a quite distracted and not very good travel companion.  It had been fun, but I knew that I needed to get home.  She, on the other hand, wanted to stay a day later than originally planned so she could go to a show at the Opry and see more of the city  So, I let her have my car, and I took a bus from Nashville back to Atlanta.  It worked out well – Caro was able to do more in Nashville, and I was able to surprise Michael at work and have dinner with him that evening.  Plus I got to have a few days to myself before the wedding week craziness ensued, the value of which cannot be overstated.

Speaking of wedding week craziness…while up until this point, I was only hosting Caro on and off while she was in town, starting the weekend before my wedding my house turned into a regular hotel.  It started with my dad, sister, and brother Josh coming up on Saturday.  They wanted to have a little time with me to themselves, since they knew they wouldn’t get that the following weekend.  We were able to go to a little community arts and crafts festival together, which was nice.  We all had a lot of fun, and I really appreciated them making the effort to come up and actually spend some quality time with me.

The next day, dad and Josh went home, but Hope stayed with me.  We got to spend a few days together, and she was a lot of help wrapping up last-minute details and keeping me company.  I enjoyed that time with her immensely.  By the time the bulk of the guests started arriving, I had very little in the way of wedding details to still take care of.  That was wonderful, because it allowed me to focus on spending time with the out-of-towners that I hadn’t seen in a while.  I decided a long time ago that that was what I wanted my focus to be during my wedding – not obsessing over all of the little details that no one was going to remember, but spending time with and focusing on people that I love and how much they mean to me.  I went to the airport 3 times in 3 days – to pick up my grandfather, and also my dear friends Sarah and Rachel.  It wasn’t a lot of time we spent together, but it was something, and I treasure the one-on-one moments I had with them.  I also got to have breakfast with my Aunt Cathi the Saturday before the wedding, which was a REAL treat!  She lives in Arizona and we rarely see each other, and I’m not sure we’ve actually ever had one-on-one time like that before.  It was lovely to take a step back and just be there in the moment with her for a few hours.

Of course, in talking about the last few days before my wedding I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful bachelorette party that my mom threw for me.  Most brides would hesitate at the idea of even letting their mom come to their bachelorette party, let alone having her plan it.  But it was an easy decision for me.  My mom is undoubtedly my best friend, and although she drives me crazy sometimes, I never doubt that’s she’s my biggest fan and always in my corner.  I found out later that she was really nervous about planning it, worrying that I wouldn’t like it, but I think it was superb.  It had a perfect mix of tasty food, fun (and somewhat embarrassing!) games, pretty decorations, great company, and godly wisdom and encouragement.  My favorite part was when all of the attendees surrounded me and prayed for me.  It was a good reminder that wedding preparations may be fun, they may be stressful, but really at the end of the day what matters is marriage preparations, and learning how to daily give up your life to serve God and your spouse.  I’ve sure got a long way to go learning that!

It is often said that the bachelorette party and last few weeks before the wedding are a person’s last hurrah.  In some ways, I suppose that’s been true for me, as well.  I got to travel some with just me and a girlfriend, something I probably won’t do very often now that I’m married.  I really enjoyed being able to celebrate my last few days of singleness with dear friends and family.  But I don’t feel like this is the end of the story.  The days until the wedding have been steadily marching down, true…but I hope and pray and truly believe that this isn’t the end of my adventures, but rather the beginning.  The beginning of many adventures that I don’t have to experience alone, but rather I get to share them with my best friend.  Now if only my poor nerves would go along with that and calm down! 🙂

The end of one chapter, the beginning of a new one

I alluded to it in my last entry, but my time at Brightlink has drawn to a close.  At the end of last month, I left Brightlink for (hopefully) vastly different things in my future.  I am still weighing my options on what exactly I want to pursue next, although I do know that I’m going to take a few weeks off to get ready for the wedding.  But in the meantime, I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on the good things that Brightlink has done for me over the past year.  There have been stressful times, of course, and I think that I am making the right decision in leaving.  However, I want to remember the good things, of which there are many.

Brightlink has provided a flexible work schedule and secure income that has allowed me to do a lot of things I wouldn’t have be able to do otherwise.  Most notably, working at Brightlink has allowed me to pay off the remainder of my student loans (which Michael and I celebrated by having dinner at the SunDial restaurant, a famous revolving restaurant on top of a hotel in downtown Atlanta that gives you a complete 360 degree view of the city every hour or so).  We will be starting off our marriage with 4 college degrees between the two of us and not a cent of debt to pay off, which feels AMAZING!

One of Brightlink’s main tenants was the importance of family and encouraging work / life balance, which they lived as well as lauded.  A month or two after Michael and I got engaged, Brightlink threw a “Spring Fling” party for the whole company + families.  They also happened to surprise us with a lovely cake celebrating our engagement.  It was nice to be reminded that the people we work with care about us not just for the work we do, but for who we are.

This flexible work schedule and focus on family also allowed Michael and I to get our engagement photos taken in the middle of the day at Oakland Cemetery, one of our favorite places in all of Atlanta.  It’s where he took me on one of our favorite dates, it’s where we participated in our first 5k together, and it’s where part of his scavenger-hunt proposal took me.  Needless to say, it’s a special place for us, and now it’s even more special because we can say we took our engagement photos there (hooray for being unique AND sentimental at the same time! :]).  I’ve included a few of our favorite shots below:

Anyway, there is not really a point to this post, and I know that I’m rambling and wandering somewhat.  But I mainly just wanted to remind myself of the good things that God has given me over the past year.  For all of my tears shed at Brightlink, all of my frustrations and the times I wanted to give up, I still think it was a good place and was good for me.  I learned so many skills, learned so much about myself and Michael, and got to work with some really amazing people while doing it.  This is why I love writing and recording things – because it’s so easy to forget, so easy to fixate on either all of the good or all of the bad, and forget about the other side of the coin.  Writing keeps me honest, helps me remember that there is always more to the story.  And recording memories like these reminds me that God’s always got my back, regardless of what it feels like in the moment.

Hooray for getting married in 2 weeks!! 😀