Our Life...

Our Life...
...summed up in one photo.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Our Story - Part 4

For those of you who are keeping track, yes, we met on-line in October, met in person for the first time in November, were engaged in December and married in February. Four months. No, for the record, I wouldn't recommend doing it that way. :-)  Experts would say there is no way that is enough time to get to know someone. But this isn't a "how to" story about the proper way to meet someone, fall in love and get married. This is Our Story of how WE met, fell in love and were married. And we believe 100% that God was in it from the beginning and continues to be today.

To recap our wedding week-end, on Saturday we were married, Sunday we caught our breath and Monday we finished packing up my life into my Chevy Malibu for our 3,000 mile journey to Colorado. We stopped on the way out of town to say one last good-bye to my parents. It was bittersweet. I knew with everything in me that this was God's plan, yet there was still a sense of sadness. I was leaving everything I had ever known. I had lived in the same place for 30 years. And of course there was the nagging thought in the back of my mind, "What if this is the last time I see my mom?" Her battle with ovarian cancer was such a roller coaster and took so much out of her. I don't remember my exact prayer that day, but I'm sure it was something like, "I trust you Lord, please don't let this be the last time I'm with her. I want our children to know her. We need more time."

After saying good-bye, we traveled to Tennessee to spend the night. The next morning we drove to Hot Springs, Arkansas for a short honeymoon, then onto McKinney, Texas, Chris' hometown, for our second wedding reception. After spending a few days there with Chris' parents, we headed "home" to Pagosa Springs, Colorado to unpack and attend our third reception hosted by his church. We felt very received. :-)

My first few months in Colorado were spent job hunting and adjusting to the altitude. Pagosa Springs is a very small tourist and retirement community best known for the hot springs found there.  Job opportunities weren't abundant. The ones that were available with Sundays off, well, let's just say I couldn't be very choosy. After my graduation from college I had two jobs in 11 years, in the next seven months I had three different ones. Thankfully the last one God provided for me was exactly what I needed at the time.

Besides the job hunting, we found time to enjoy the hot springs for which Pagosa is known, the incredible scenery and hiking. I was definitely homesick, but being married to Chris was (and still is) pretty wonderful. He did everything he could to make the transition easier for me.  During the summer, we adopted two boxers from a rescue organization. I will never forget the four hour drive to Grand Junction, CO. No highways, just narrow, curvy roads that wrapped up the mountain side, without guard rails! We were even met by a mountain goat in the middle of the road as we went around one turn. I definitely wasn't in Maryland anymore!  Just another chapter in the adventure.  
Did I mention there were no guard rails??

In the midst of our first few months of marriage, we began to sense we wouldn't be at the church in Colorado much longer. We started to pray, sent out resumes and waited...again. I was so naive. I thought because of my extended season of singleness I had already learned the "waiting" lesson. HA!  I hate to break it to anyone who thinks the same way, it doesn't really work like that. :-)  Thankfully, this wait wouldn't be quite as long.

To be continued... 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Our Story - Part 3

In the middle of the excitement and planning, things financially took a turn we weren’t expecting. A few weeks after returning to Maryland, I was "let go" from my job. I had never been fired from a job in my life. After being up front with them about leaving, helping to find a new marketing director and beginning to train her, they realized they didn't really need me any longer. Apparently giving too much notice isn't a good thing. :-)  As devastated as I was at the time, looking back now I know that even that situation worked out for the best. I needed that time to prepare and pack!

As I began planning the wedding, I have to admit I felt rather clueless. Chris’ suggestion that we elope was getting more and more tempting, but I kept moving forward.  I know most little girls dream about their wedding day, but honestly, my dreams growing up were more about being a wife and a mom. Not that you can't think about all three of those things at the same time, I just never did.  I think even that was a God thing. I mean, you can't exactly be real picky about your wedding day with only 45 days to prepare one! That has its pros and cons. One of the pros was I was completely open to anything anyone wanted to do for me. The cons, well, as mentioned earlier I was pretty clueless. 

One thing we had been praying about was an inexpensive place for a reception on very short notice. I decided to look into having it where I had been working. (well that is until my untimely departure)  It was operated by a different organization and I wasn’t sure if they would go for it or even how expensive it would be. Prayerfully I asked and they agreed! The cost?  $50! It was already beautiful, so we wouldn’t even have to do much to it.

For the next month as a need came to mind, almost immediately someone offered to do it. Most would not accept payment, because they wanted to do it as a gift. Chris’ mom took care of so many details for us before the wedding and my amazing mother, who was still very weak from battling cancer, insisted on doing the food. A few of my aunts and some friends of our family stepped up and helped that day and it all came together. Several people even asked who we hired as a caterer. The cake was done for us also as a gift by a very special friend and it was beautiful!

So, on February 19, 2000, we were married. My nieces and nephews were my bridal party, the bride's side of the church spilled over onto the groom's as they were a bit outnumbered, about 150 to 4.  And the sermon went on and on and on and on.....which is so funny (now) for a number of reasons. But mostly because any wedding Chris has performed, the entire ceremony is wrapped up in close to 15 minutes. The sermon alone at ours was longer than that! Eleven years later I would like to formally thank all those who stayed awake attended the ceremony.

(One regret I have about our day (besides the extra long sermon) is that in my limited thinking, I didn't even entertain the possibility of Chris' extended family being able to make it. Knowing them as I do now, I wish we would have given them the opportunity. I think they would have moved heaven and earth to be there.)

There are many things I'm thankful we included that day. The music is at the top of the list, the words of each song we chose had special meaning to us. I'm also thankful for the pictures. I wanted to make sure we had many different ones with our families. That's something I would have wanted no matter what. The fact I was moving so far away made it even more important.  After all, who knew when I would see them again? 

To be continued….

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Our Story - The Prequel

I am going to save Part 3 for the next post and insert the prequel instead. :-) So, here is the Prequel to Our Story, Michelle's Story & Chris' Story.  I probably should have started with this one, but now seems like a good time to add it.  So, here we go....

Michelle's Story

"I wish I could say that ALL my years of waiting were spent delighting myself in the Lord, but they weren’t . Many, or most, of my years of being single were spent whining and complaining about it. Doubting that it was part of God’s plan for me to be married and believing that if it wasn’t, then there must be something wrong with me.

(I think that’s such a tempting lie for singles to believe, by the way, and sometimes we in the church can be guilty of contributing to that.  Another post for another day J. )

There were many years in that span of time where I ran from God. Believing that if I didn’t help things happen, they weren’t going to happen!  But thanks to His never ending patience with me,  FINALLY in the last few years of being single, God brought me to a place of contentment and I actually began to enjoy that season.  That new found contentment allowed me to begin enjoying some amazing opportunities. A mission trip to Ukraine, a number of wonderful retreats, involvement in several ministries, being Aunt Shell, being available to my sisters and my parents and many other things that fit perfectly with that season of being unhitched. ;-)  It was also a chance to build some incredible friendships that I still cherish today.  I didn't do everything right of course, but my heart was changing. Unknowingly, as I became more content and drew closer to Him, God was preparing my heart for the one He had for me all along."

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:4-5


Chris’ Story (In his words)

“As I lived my life, trying to Pastor a church, I grew tired of seeking God about my future mate. I just couldn’t think about it anymore. I asked five people to agree to seek God on my behalf about my future spouse and I stopped thinking about the subject! A few months later, God brought me Michelle! Wow!”

He has shown you O' man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. 
Micah 6:8


OK...now back to the wedding stuff....