Our Wedding Elopement

Solomon 3 vs 4

Ahh . . . true love . . . until you try to plan a wedding around work schedules, parenting schedules, kids, and holidays!  If that was the case, there would never be a “good time” to tie the knot! So Mike and I planned an elopement ceremony in Bella Vista, AR at the Cooper Memorial Chapel.

December 27th was cloudy and cold, below freezing, even in the afternoon of our ceremony. My Dad and I walked into a beautiful orchestrated rendition of “Unchained Melody” where I met my love at the altar to exchange vows and rings. Our Reverend Dee even choked up with the amount of love energy between the two of us! Our photographer, Lacey Whitmer Photography, did an amazing job capturing our elopement. After taking pictures inside the chapel, we went out onto the grounds and ended up at the waterfall where we have taken many other pictures. (Yes, I was traipsing around in the dirt in my wedding gown! I did bring my old running shoes, though, as my toes were freezing!!) There was a lot of love and laughter (and kisses!) at our intimate event. I have too many favorites to show here so I narrowed it down to just a few.  God has indeed blessed me in giving me another chance at love and marriage. On December 27th, 2017 I married my best friend. I truly feel that “I have found the one whom my soul loves” and look forward to a wonderful life of love with this man!

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Tis the Season

I must admit that although I love Jesus, I find the holidays to be a bit of a downer. Well, maybe not a bit, a lot might be more like it. How can I possibly be feeling funky at the most wondrous time of the year when my Savior was born? Hmmm. . . I don’t know. I honestly struggle to interpret the emotional roller coaster I’m on at this time of the year.

Life itself continues to be a challenge but things have changed, mostly for good this past year. The relationship that began the year prior blossomed and I’ll be marrying this wonderful man next week.  I did some traveling to Sanibel Island with my parents and children as well as Colorado and Nebraska.  I accomplished many things – 3 half-marathons and a personal best, hiking my first 14’er, moving not once but twice, volunteering in a new section at church  – just to name a few. Challenges? Knee issues running, significant ocular migraines, strep throat, relationship issues, my oldest son moving not only out but out of town, family/friends death and health issues, my youngest son’s back issues from weight lifting . . . But I prefer not to dwell on the negative. Or at least I try not to anyway!So, what does one do when they’re struggling? Although sometimes difficult to let go, God’s got it. Even though I can’t put into words why I’m crying, He’s got me. When I want to sleep and never wake up, He’s holding me in His arms. When social media is too overwhelming, He gives me the strength to focus on what matters. When those that I love make poor decisions and my heart is hurting, He’s there. God is good.

I’ve mentioned before that God speaks to me through music. I was mesmerized by Tenth Avenue North’s song, Control that I heard about a month ago. I can’t seem to get enough of it! Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall through my hands
You have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe
God You don’t need me
But somehow You want me
Oh, how You love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go, oh …
I pray that you’re able to give God control of your life. If you’re struggling with the holidays like I am, lean on Him. He cares for you. He wants you. Allow Him to fill the voids in your life. He’s got you.

A Refreshing Trip to CO

When the wedding invitation arrived in my beau’s mailbox, I’ll admit I was a little nervous about attending. “Let’s wait and see what the schedule looks like,” I remember saying. I wasn’t looking for excuses really, but something about going to a wedding that involved the family of my beau’s ex was a little nerve-wrecking. Good news was that his ex wasn’t going to be there. Although divorce shouldn’t sever the ties of previous family relationships, my situation, unfortunately, seems to have gone differently. I was genuinely happy that my beau still has relationships with his ex’s family. Once it looked like the trip was going to be a “go”, we planned some activities around the upcoming celebration of love.

Day 1: After many trips to Keystone, I had driven by the shadowed mass on the I-70 of what is Pike’s Peak but don’t recall having actually gone there so the drive toward this particular mountain was incredible. I’ve always wanted to run the Pike’s Peak Ascent but my schedule has never permitted it due to timing of the school year. Some day, perhaps! We arrived after about a 7 hour trip to Colorado Springs and after checking into the motel (great price through booking.com!), we decided to check out Garden of the Gods. This particular location was also listed on my Bucket List board on Pinterest! Inspiring, to say the least! I can’t help but feel closer to God in the mountains, particularly when you see such wondrous sights such as these!

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Day 2: Our morning began early after having purchased tickets weeks ago to ride the Cog Railway up Pikes Peak. We had to be at the depot by 7:30 AM. Of course, I hadn’t planned on having strep throat and still being on antibiotics for this trip either, so although I had wanted to HIKE Pikes Peak, that wasn’t going to happen on this trip.  I wanted to get to the top so the railway was the way to go. Again, the views were spectacular! I was elated that I didn’t get altitude sickness on the way up (I can be prone to that based on my history) and we were both trying to stay hydrated to ward off any potential problems, so much so that Mike couldn’t wait to get to the top and was first in line for the bathroom! The conductor did an excellent job with her commentary on what we were seeing and puns and made the 1+ hour journey up (and back) very enjoyable.

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Day 2 continued: The wedding was also this day so after heading back down the mountain and visiting the gift shop (of course!) we rested before getting ready for the wedding. It was a lovely ceremony and you could just feel the love and contentment between the bride and groom. I felt very accepted and there was no discomfort at all.

Day 3: This was the BIG day! We had planned to hike a 14er (a 14er is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet. See What are 14ers?)and carefully chose Mt. Bierstadt as my beginner mountain. Mike had hiked a couple of 14ers many years ago so this wasn’t new to him but he hadn’t hiked this one yet. We got up at 4:30 AM to drive 2 1/2 hours to the trail head (from Colorado Springs to Georgetown) to ensure that we were down below the tree line prior to any potential storms coming in during the afternoon. I had my Garmin on to see what the mileage would be like but it died at 6.4 miles after several hours on the trail despite having been fully charged prior to departing. The book that we referenced said the trail was a 6 miles round trip hike that should take about 6 hours so I’m curious as to what our actual mileage was since we were beyond that and weren’t even down yet!

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The trail started through willows and then got to boulders. Due to my running, I would consider myself to be quite fit yet my legs were screaming at me to stop because they were so tired of climbing! When we got to the part where we could actually see the summit, it was easier to keep going. A second wind? Perhaps. The end was near! Well, the TOP was! We still had to hike down.

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The view from the top

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Another view from the top. The clouds were starting to gather and you could see lightening off in the distance therefore we didn’t stay on the top as long as we would have liked.

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Tired was an understatement but WOW! what an accomplishment! We hiked a 14er!

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This was the “official” marker of having made it to the top – a cardboard sign! Yep, had to take a picture.

Going down was tough and Mike twisted his ankle more than once. The parking lot seemed a long, long, long way away and we got rained on a couple of times as well as lightly snowed upon. We did pack adequately though, and had plenty of fuel and water to make the trip, for that I was grateful. After spending about 7 hours hiking and getting up predawn, we crashed that night!

Day 4: Since we were in Georgetown , just down the road from where I spent many days in Keystone, I wanted to show Mike the place I love so much so the next day we headed in that direction. After showing him where my parents’ town home used to be, we walked around Lakeside Village and then walked to River Run, sharing stories of my experiences as we went. After shopping at the Silverthorne Outlets following our walk (I took advantage of the savings and did some Christmas shopping!), we headed back to Colorado Springs.

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Day 5: That night we stayed at the Air Force Academy (cheap lodging!) and toured the chapels in the morning. They were absolutely incredible! The larger chapel was Protestant with a humongous organ in the balcony. Below that was a Catholic chapel and Buddhist and Jewish chapels. What an amazing place!

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I only had a week left before I headed back to the classroom for meetings and I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my summer. I accomplished things I hadn’t done before, admiring God’s incredible works and spent precious quality time with the one I love. And in case you’re wondering, yes, I was very glad that I went!

A Verse to Live By

I received this daily Word on the Way on December 31, 2016 through WAY-FM and this one really made an impact on me. I’ve been relying on God’s strength for so long that I was holding my breath in the hopes that things were starting to turn around.  This Word on the Way has been wonderful encouragement for me. I printed it and put on my lamp on my desk at work as a constant reminder that God has the best intentions for me and my life. 2017 is going to be a great year!  I look back on the past nearly five months and I am in awe with all of the new things that have happened. He is indeed making a pathway through the wilderness!

A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4: