Saturday, July 8, 2017

At Long Last

I’ve dreamed of getting married for my whole life, you probably know that.
For years, I tried in vain to find “the one”.
I had lots of failed attempts to make things work with the wrong guys.
I knew what I wanted, but I knew changes needed to happen first.
I left my home and started a new journey in Stillwater.
It was tough, as I knew almost no one.
I didn’t think I wanted to, but I went to church.
It was the best thing I ever did.

I made a myriad of friends, Thomas being one of them.
I can’t remember our first conversation (neither can he!)
He was a friend, but we weren’t close.
We were too different. (so I thought)
I was interested in other guys. He was interested in other girls.
Nothing worked for either of us, but we persisted.
We continued trying in vain to find “the one”.
I felt hopeless. So did Thomas.
Each of us just wanted someone to give us a chance.

Then one day, something changed.
Thomas saw a light in my eyes that sparked something in his heart.
He had his own “what ifs”.
He was scared. He felt hopeless.
He just wanted something to work. He wanted to feel love in his life.
He confided his feelings to a friend.
She told him to go for it.
So he did.

He sent me a Thanksgiving day text.
I was utterly confused (and disappointed).
We came back from break, and he sought me out.
With a trembling voice, he asked if I’d go out for coffee…or frozen yogurt…or ice cream.
On Friday, or Saturday, or even Sunday. (He would be there all weekend!)
I didn’t want to, but I said yes to Friday.
He left, promising we’d secure our plans on Wednesday.
I left, lamenting about my weekend plans to Rebecca.

She told me it was just a date. (She dated him once herself!)
She told me a date doesn’t equate marriage, just an evening of my time.
I told a few other friends.
They sang his praises.
I reconsidered.
I changed my attitude. God softened my heart.
I got excited.

God turned my sorrow into joy.
I felt hopeful for the first time in a long time. (So did Thomas!)
Friday came.
We went to dinner.
We talked the whole time.
It was too early to part ways.
We went to the lake (it wasn’t that cold outside!)
We walked and told our stories.
We saw a shooting star, and internally hoped it was a good sign.

I still had my fears, but I shared them.
He didn’t care. (He kissed me to show he didn’t!)
We made it official right there!
Life was great!

Then we were apart for a month.
His grandpa died.
Mimi was slowly dying.
We talked nightly.
It sustained us through that month of longing.
It set us up for our future.

He helped me through student teaching.
I helped him through his tough class.
Then Mimi died.
He stayed with me that night to comfort me so I wasn’t alone.
I knew then that I didn’t want to lose him.
I got a job.
I graduated, and I didn’t know where the summer would take us.
He found something close to me. (I couldn’t believe it!)
He loathed the job. But he loved getting to see me.
We made the best memories that summer.
He learned more about my life and my family.
I was certain we’d make it.

 He started his senior year.
I started work.
I hated being away from him during that time, but the weekends were great.
We continued making memories.
Then reality hit—he needed an adult job.
I promised my support of whatever he pursued.
We knew we could make it.
We knew we were ready.

He got a job, but it’d take him to Arkansas. Somewhere else eventually.
I didn’t want that. I wanted him close. I was mad.
He wanted a good future.
I knew he would thrive. I supported him wholeheartedly.
It was tough, but we did it.

That cold night in December, much colder than the year before.
He took me to the Shrine. I knew what was to come, but I said nothing.
He asked me the question I’d waited forever to hear.
I cried. I shrieked. I was in shock.
I said “YES!”
Life was good.

Then we spent another month apart.
Mother Nature conspired against us, lessening the time we’d spend together.
I was in a wreck. He hated being away from me.
Somehow I survived.
He came back, and we eventually celebrated his graduation and my first year of teaching.

He moved to Arkansas.
Reality set in again.
We were the farthest we’ve ever been from each other for the longest amount of time.
Weekends sustained us.
So did nighttime phone calls.
Arkansas was good to us.
I loved it more than I expected.
I was happy for Thomas.

School started again, and the stress returned for me.
Dallas beckoned, and Thomas accepted.
I wasn’t happy, but I knew it’d be okay.
We trusted each other, but we trusted God more.
He moved, again.
I reluctantly bid Arkansas adieu.

We found a new normal, yet again.
This time, it meant more time apart than ever before.
Nightly calls continued.
School continued, punctuated by events reminding me of all that awaited us.
We were showered by love (and gifts) so many times.
We found our first home (an apartment).

Now school is done.
I found a job, though not what I expected. (God provides, right?)
Thomas is in the apartment.
Everything is getting closer.

The white dress, the flowers, everything.
It’s all for us.
It’s our time.
The two will become one.
The distance will end.
Nightly phone calls will end.
Living separate lives will end.

Our marriage, at long last, will soon begin!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Pre-Wedding Updates

I thought I’d drop in and leave a quick update, because who knows when I’ll get back here next! The wedding is scarily close…less than 2 weeks away! WOW. After waiting for over 1.5 years, it’s finally almost here!!!

Last time, we were about to move into our apartment, so I’ll pick up there. I like our apartment a lot. It’s way bigger than Thomas’ Arkansas apartment, so it currently feels like a palace! It is set up well and flows nicely. We’ve gotten most of our shower gifts unpacked. Even better, we’ve been able to use quite a few of them already! I’m especially loving our Fiestaware. It’s beautiful, simple, and fun to use. (Who knew it was possible to have fun using plates?! I think I’m officially an adult now…) So far, I’ve only found a couple small downsides to our apartment. The first is that we are situated on the third floor, so it makes unloading vehicles full of groceries or wedding gifts a little more challenging than we’ve been used to. Also, every time I’ve wanted to go swimming in the complex pool (yes, we have a pool!) I have been foiled by rain, unseasonably cool weather, or inadequate time. That bums me out a lot more than you’d think, but I know I’ll have all the time in the world after I move down, right? Also, I figured out a workable solution to help us unload vehicles. I decided that it’d be useful to keep canvas tote bags in each vehicle, then load those up with grocery bags. That helped quite a bit and saved Thomas and me having to go up and down all the flights of stairs 4 times.

Quite a bit of my time this summer has been devoted to toting some combination of my nephews to some sort of day camp, whether it was for basketball, baseball, or Totus Tuus. They’re all done with summer camps for now, so it’s back to their carefree summers!

A few weekends ago, the Liese side of Thomas’ family had a reunion in Georgetown, TX. Although it seemed like a long drive down there due to traffic and construction, it didn’t stop us from having a great, relaxing weekend. Truth be told, it was like a mini-retreat from wedding planning. Friday was a travel day for everyone, so most of our activities were slated for Saturday. We kicked off the day by visiting Thomas’ great-grandparents’ original home. The current owner was sweet enough to let us invade her home, which was surprisingly well-preserved. She took a lot of pride in explaining the history of the house and comparing notes with the grandchildren who still had vivid memories of the house. During our tour, Thomas ended up winning a large bag of pecans that came from the trees his great-grandparents planted many years ago. We were quite excited about that, because we both love fresh pecans. (Store bought pecans taste like cardboard in comparison with fresh pecans…just saying!)

After the tour, our smaller group (us, his parents, his sister, his aunt Jean, and his uncles Jay and Mark) all went down to the Georgetown square to look around and grab lunch. It was typical of most historical small-town squares, as it was packed with antique stores, and other novelty stores. It was nice to roam around with Thomas, as it was the most carefree time we’d spent together in quite a long time. My favorite place we stopped on the square (besides getting lunch) was the chocolate shop. It was a little family-owned shop, and we had the privilege of having a good chat with one of the owners. He was a kindly older gentleman who was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary that day. He gave us his blessings for a happy marriage and told us the short history of their family chocolate shop. To make things better, their chocolate was absolutely amazing! We met up with our group after some time, when Thomas was gifted an antique nut cracker, found by Jay and Mark at the only antique store that Thomas and I didn’t go into to look for one.

We capped off the day by swapping photos and stories in one of the hotel meeting rooms and dinner at a quaint German restaurant in Walburg, which was a stone’s throw away from Georgetown. The food was comforting to me, as it is quite similar in flavor to many of the foods my family makes or has made. We ended the night out the in the beer garden behind the restaurant, just talking and enjoying the cool evening in the shade of the trees, listening to a polka band that gave us their best rendition of AC/DC songs. (I never imagined that I’d hear “Highway to Hell” with an accordion harmony line…)

We finished the reunion by traveling to some of the area cemeteries to visit the burial sites of various Liese ancestors. It was an interesting history lesson that was diminished for me only for the fact that I incurred a sunburn on my shoulders, thanks to the fact that I didn’t realize we’d be outside for so long, and, let’s face it, cemeteries usually don’t abound with trees. Oh well, story of my life! The highlight of our trip home was getting to stop at the Czech Stop in West, TX and get kolaches. They were heavenly, just like the ones my family makes. Did you know that in certain places, they call sausage rolls (pigs in a blanket) kolaches? For shame. They are wrong, but they’ll never admit to it, so life somehow goes on.

Since then, I’ve been in OK working on tying up loose ends for the wedding and soaking up my last bits of living here. In the time from then to now, we’ve had a fun evening talking wedding plans at Liz’s house. (They recently moved into a beautiful new home and have volunteered their home for a wedding day bridal brunch! They’re the best!) I grabbed lunch with my teacher friends and met the teacher who’ll replace me. (She seems nice!) We also had an impromptu dinner with my immediate family and a few cousins and family friends. It was such a nice evening!

The million-dollar question these days seems to revolve around people wondering if I have all the plans done and if everything is ready. The overwhelming answer to this is a resounding “kind of.” I’ll give you a run-down of what I’ve accomplished!

I had my pre-bridal pictures taken last week. This helped me to have a run-through of my hair, makeup, and pictures. (Fun fact: Liz has been so sweet to volunteer herself to do my makeup for the wedding. Have I mentioned lately that she’s the best?) I’m anxiously awaiting the text from my photographer letting me know that she has finished editing my pictures! This past weekend, I celebrated my last shower and bachelorette party with some of my favorite ladies! My sisters, Mom, Liz, and Tonisha did an amazing job putting everything together and making it happen! It was absolutely perfect! Ladies, if people tell you that you have to have an all-out booze fest/wild night for your bachelorette party, know that they’re wrong. We ate at a Mexican restaurant and went to a painting studio and consumed absolutely no alcohol in the process. After the painting studio, everyone went their separate ways. I was with my mom and sisters, so we went to Target (extra crazy), and capped off the night with appetizers, dessert, and a drink from TGI Friday’s. It was the perfect night! During my events, besides the people I already mentioned, I also got to see Sierra and Rebecca (my St. John’s bffs), Mary (my other high school bff), Laura and Aimee (my teaching bffs/classroom neighbors), Robyn and her girls (my flower girls who I used to babysit), Aunt Pat, and my cousin Tim’s wife, Silvia and their daughter. Everyone had a blast together, and I loved getting to see/talk to everyone!

Speaking of my flower girls, I have to giggle a little bit, as one of my flower girls pulled the classic little girl stunt—I don’t want bangs anymore, so I’m going to take matters into my own hands and actually prolong having bangs. (Long story short, she cut her bangs.) Surprisingly, I wasn’t concerned by this at all. It happened almost a month ago, and they’ve grown out alright. Life goes on, and hair grows back.

We also put in our flower order with our florist. We opted not to use one of the bigger florists in Enid, so we went with a smaller florist. I’ve come to realize that the only downside of utilizing small businesses is that they are prone to greater instability since they aren’t backed by a larger corporation or copious amounts of money. About a week after ordering flowers, it was announced via social media that the shop was being put on the market to be sold. I wasn’t too concerned since it never came up in conversation during our ordering session, but to be safe, I called and checked in with the owners. It turns out that there is nothing to worry about, as they are slowly starting to step away from accepting new jobs, but will fulfill everything they’ve signed on to date. All things worked out well, no crises here!

Last week, my mom and I were fairly productive. Our crowning achievement for the week was that we finished making up our punch. Since the recipe calls for the punch to be frozen, it can be made quite a while in advance. It was nice to cross that item off of our list!

The last item of note is that I am currently without my beloved engagement ring, as Thomas repossessed it yesterday. I say that, but really, he’s taking it to the jeweler to have it cleaned and to have my wedding band soldered on to it. I won’t be able to wear it again until the wedding, so I’m going to miss it quite a bit over the next two weeks!

Today (I guess now I have to classify it as yesterday) was a good Fourth of July. It was much simpler than our celebrations in most years (for obvious reasons). We assembled wedding programs, then Scotty grilled delicious hamburgers for us. After dusk, the older boys headed out to the pasture and set off our fireworks. We also were able to see displays for miles around us in all directions. It was a simple, perfect night with my family. I really love nights like these :)

I’m hoping to get at least one more post in before the wedding (which could be a tall order to fill), but if I don’t, the next time you hear from me could be after I am a married woman! Here we go!