Thursday, July 31, 2008

Best Friends For Life

"Someone asked me to name the time our friendship stopped and love began.
Oh, my darling, that's the secret. Our friendship never stopped."
-Lois Wyse

The Wedding Party

:: M A I D O F H O N O R ::
Sister of the Bride
:: B R I D E S M A I D ::
Hannah Ingrid
Friend of the Bride
:: B R I D E S M A I D ::
Sister of the Groom
:: B R I D E S M A I D ::
Friend of the Bride
:: B R I D E S M A I D ::
Hannah Joy
Sister of the Bride

:: B E S T M A N ::
Sergeant First Class Jason Meyers
Friend of the Groom
:: G R O O M S M A N ::
Specialist Eric Dymesich
Friend of the Groom
:: G R O O M S M A N ::
Sergeant Justin Wallestad
Friend of the Groom
:: G R O O M S M A N ::
Private First Class Gabriel Otterson
Brother of the Bride
:: G R O O M S M A N ::
Private First Class Chad Longenecker
Friend of the Groom
:: F L O W E R G I R L ::
Janae Brooke
Niece of the Bride
:: R I N G B E A R E R ::
Landon Zachary
Nephew of the Bride
:: R I N G B E A R E R ::
Alex Daniel
Nephew of the Bride

Wedding Details

Brittney Leigh & Private First Class Andrew James will be married
Saturday, the thirtieth of August, two thousand and eight
at two o'clock in the afternoon
at the Maranatha Evangelical Free Church
in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.
Reception at Lehman's Supper Club
is to begin at five o'clock in the evening;
Cash bar opening at four o'clock.
Dancing will follow.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Our Love Story

It would be unfortunate for any fairytale to commence without the quintessential, "Once Upon A Time". And so, let me begin my story--Our story--of love.

Once upon a time God created love. Remember when He did that? Way back in the beginning when He saw that Adam had a void in his life. It didn’t matter that the entire world was at his fingertips, and all that could possibly be possessed was in Adam’s keeping. He had a real man-to-man relationship with the God in heaven, and yet still he was incomplete. So God created a companion, a sustainer, a helpmeet, a woman. A gift, tailor-made, for Adam to love and be loved by.

And so, throughout the pages of history this love and romance has developed its own unique charming theme. Its depths remain uncharted, the emotions remain unquenched, and the raging passions continue to flame the heart of the vast majority of men and women alike. For they are created for each other, and thus together, in a God-destined fashion, they fulfil one another. Love becomes the fairytale of their lives; only, love is real--quite unlike fairytales.

It is of my own personal opinion that this particular love I speak of reached the ultimate hilt of its climax when the pages of history reached the time and place that brought together the man I have fallen in love with and myself.

But allow me to back up a bit...

It was a cold, snowy day in February of 2007. My brother had just joined the army, would soon be leaving for basic training down south and was coming home to bid us goodbye. I baked him a batch of cookies—his favorite. But he wasn’t hungry. Too excited to eat. I knew I wouldn’t see him for months, and would hardly hear from him either. I hated to see him go, but I was so stinking proud of him. I said goodbye. I watched him drive away. And I knew at that moment, my life was going to be the life of a woman loving and supporting a military man. Something told me that Gabe would someday bring a soldier buddy of his home to me.

Fast forward a long year in which I often wondered where my life was taking me and why the many things I attempted fell apart in my face. Yeah, it had been a difficult year. One of those "crisis stages" long-term single people seem to happen upon, but I was coming through. I determined to put aside the nagging doubts, the preconceived ideas and notions, and anything about me that was less than genuine.

It was, at that time, that my brother posted an adorable photo online of him and his girlfriend. It procured a lot of feedback. I innocently enough left my own two cents worth. And then this army dude whose name I vaguely recognized asked me to accept him as a friend. He was picking on my brother, my sister, my friend, and now me all on this photo. I, feeling a bit sassy, told him I might consider it—emphasis strongly on might. But I, out of the sheer goodness of my heart, accepted the little request thingy and commenced to the next two weeks of squabbling and truces. Gabe, meanwhile, got his matchmaking gears spinning.

I was not interested in this guy. I took sly pleasure in outwitting him, and he was a good sport, but Nothing more. Period.

But Gabe had other ideas.

Saturday morning, March 29, 2008. It was sunny; spring was in the beginning stages of thinking about entering our wintry world. Gabe informed me that he and a couple army buddies were coming out to our place to spend the morning shooting their guns. He was to arrive at such and such time.

Ah, but Gabe is a sly one. He and one other buddy were dreadfully late. As in more than an hour late. But a different, unsuspecting individual was right on time. And it was that guy, that Andy, that character who was poking so much fun at me all week.

We had no other choice but to meet in person. "So, we finally meet." He declared.

"Yep, I’m Britt."

I smile thinking about it now. We were so casual, having no idea the course our lives were about to take.

He spent that day hanging out with Gabe at our house. They shot their guns, played basket ball in the snow, came inside for some fresh-out-of-the-oven sweet rolls and coffee... I tried not to notice too much, but I was really having a hard time shaking the thought that, Wow, he’s really a nice guy!

It wasn’t long before Andy initiated more personal contact with me. We began to talk. And talk. And spend a lot of time talking about anything and everything. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. I was starting to sacrifice sleep to talk to this—this—this guy!!! What was my problem?

I told God that, Andy is really quite the guy, but I’m sorry, God, I’m not going to get my hopes up. Too bad.

And then came that week where everything went wrong, and that particular day when it was all crashing in on me. I was bound and determined to not speak to anyone about it. I would just crash in bed and do something dramatic like, cry myself to sleep or sit in dust and ashes for forty days and forty nights. The chat program on my computer automatically signed me in when I had to go on quick to send a note to someone. Andy immediately popped up. Oops, I thought. I’m going to bed, I don’t have time to talk to this guy. I tried to be my normal self and make a quick departure. But it will forever remain a mystery to me how Andy was able to pick up on the sad state of my heart. He asked me if I was okay, if everything was alright. Andy’s genuine concern and care for me touched me deeply. His true and kind friendship meant a lot to me.

I couldn’t help myself. I was slipping into the swirling vortex of love, but would I really fall? My sister Courtney was quick to pick up on the insecure hold I had on being in control of my feelings towards this fellow. She knew Andy was the guy for me. She knew I knew too. Andy, however, was certain that there was no hope that I could possibly love him and I wasn't about to voluntarily admit anything. Unbeknownst to me, Andy was talking to Courtney about certain specific things. Namely, this sister of hers that he really admired.

One afternoon she asked me pointed questions about my view of the friendship that I had with Andy. "On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best, how would you rate your friendship--Maybe about a 1.7?" She teased. I was entirely naïve, thinking I could trust this sister of mine. I answered all of her point-blank questions out of the full, genuine honesty of my heart, having no idea that she was copying and pasting my words and passing them on to Andy.

That night, after Courtney had successfully aroused the feelings I had been trying to quench all this time, Andy started talking to me. He informed me that he had a deep question for me later on that night, but wasn’t quite ready to ask it yet. Could it be….? So we talked about light-hearted things. After awhile he finally asked me if I was ready for the deep question of the night. I told him that I was if he was. It was 11:26 on the night of April 27. "Go check your email," he replied.

My breath caught in my throat as I read what he thought of me, how he felt there was no way he deserved me, how he wondered if I had come to care for him the way he had grown to care for me. And then those words, "I am asking for your permission to start a relationship with you."

I instantly knew what my answer would be. There was no doubt in my mind that we were meant for each other. But do I tell him yes now? Wouldn’t that kind of seem like I’m impulsive? He’ll think I was pursuing him all along! I nearly busted in the one half of an hour I spent trying to convince myself to hold out on him. I finally blurted out, "Yes! You have my permission." It was 12:04 AM, April 28.

And so all feeling of sense and sanity went to the wind as I tumbled, head over heels, straight into love. I was just glad that my US soldier Andy was there to catch me, and we could get sucked into this amazing vortex of love together.

Ah, my soldier. I desperately loved him. But separations were imminent in our future together. He had weeks of training and a yearlong deployment in the very near future. Many of my friends wondered at my courage to fall for a man with such things on his plate. But there was something immensely special about loving a soldier. He knew I didn’t like to think of the times when we would be apart, but he was so careful to communicate to me what our future was to hold. And, in so doing, our love grew deeper and our bond grew stronger. I was and remain grateful to God for giving me this man.

It didn’t take us long to come to a mutual understanding. God had created us for each other. We knew there was going to be a wedding… but when? That was the question. The more we prayed about, thought about and discussed it, waiting two years until after his deployment made less and less sense.

On Friday, the 30th of May, Andy asked me out to eat. "Don’t worry Britt, I will propose to you, eventually, I just need to get some things squared away first." He told me that afternoon. After dinner at Applebee’s Andy asked me if I felt like going for a little hike at a local park. Naturally I’m always up for a hike with my man. It didn’t matter that thunderstorms were forecasted for that night. If it rained, ah, it would be all the more of an adventure!

We parked the car at Waukanda. I noticed Andy slipped his brown jacket on. Hm, that’s odd, I thought, it’s not cold out, and he doesn’t normally wear a jacket for such temperatures. And then I dismissed the thought.

He took my hand and together we embarked on the sawdust-covered trail… It was a slow, romantic stroll in the park; which was fortunate since I had donned high heels for dinner, which don’t happen to fall under the category of sturdy hiking shoes. We found a bench, and Andy seemed eager to take a little break. But the seat was wet from a recent storm, it’s view of the lake was dreadfully distant and there were people coming and going. Andy suggested we find a place closer to the lake.

We found a secluded canopy that housed a picnic table. Andy put his arm around me as we sat and watched the lake glisten as the setting sun tinged the sky in red. It was one of those moments where words are not necessary. One of those moments in which silence speaks the language of the heart with deeper clarity than words could justify.

Suddenly Andy stood up and fished in his afore-mentioned jacket pocket for something. He stooped to one knee and held out an open velvet-lined box in which a sparkling white-gold diamond ring was nestled.

I gasped.

"Brittney," He told me, "I love you very much, and I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?"

I looked into his handsome blue eyes. They reflected the precious lifelong commitment of love that he had for me.

I said yes. With no hesitation.

He smiled and slipped the ring on my finger and pulled me into his arms. We spent the next couple hours oblivious to time and the storm that was rolling in. The sparkle of the diamond on my finger was captivating. The warmth of the love we shared glowed in our hearts. We were going to be husband and wife! He held me in his arms and whispered over and over his love. It was truly the most beautiful evening I had ever experienced.

Love is a beautiful thing. It feels like a fairytale. But it's real. And since Andy and I have fallen in love, Happily Ever After just got better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photo Archives

:: T H E H O N E Y M O O N ::
a week of bliss on a carribean beach
:: W E D D I N G B E L L S ::
pictures on my camera from our big day.
[unfortunately, we do not have access to the rights to our professional images]
August 30, 2008
:: T H E B A C H E L O R E T T E P A R T Y ::
cram nine girls into a hotel room the night before the wedding and share gifts,
chocolate, laughter and... tattoo's!

very fun way to spend one's last night of being single.
:: T H E R E H E A R S A L ::
decorating the church, practicing the music, rehearsing the wedding.
the big day is almost here!
:: G I R L ' S D A Y ::
girls' day shopping the week of the wedding
:: F A M I L Y T I M E ::
last opportunity to participate in family events as a single girl
August 2008
photos from the bridal shower
July 28, 2008

:: D A T I N G D A Y S ::
love so new and fresh and unexplored.
May 2008