Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tribute to Our Not-So-Old Elders

Today was a fun wedding day: Jason and I had our first premarital counseling session and my mom and I took her wedding dress to a seamstress to see what kind of reconstruction is possible. While these errands were seemingly unrelated, they both led me to think about the fantastic framework that our parents have laid for me and Jason.

The errand to the seamstress was one I had been holding my breath about! A little background: my mom and dad got married in December of 1979. When they were married, my mom wore a dress made by my Aunt Ann. It had chantilly lace, a turtleneck and long sleeves. As a five year old, it was fun for me to try on - but never the dress I would wear when I got married to my Prince Charming. Fast forward to 2010...and my mom offers me her dress. Not in a pushy way. Not in a demanding way. Not in a way that made me think there were any expectations I would say yes. So, I did.

Mom told me I could have the dress reconstructed, so we met with Renee today to see if it was possible. Check out some of her work at Just Sew. She gladly took on the project and I am so excited to see what we are able to do to update the dress (so no turtleneck or long sleeves...but hanging on to that chantilly lace.) So quite literally, my mom laid a framework for me - in her dress selection and in letting me use her dress while also making my own changes to it.

Premarital counseling was another moment I had been holding my breath for! I have been just itching to know what the sessions would be like and now that we have done the first one, I am so excited about where we are headed. The pastor who is guiding us through these sessions put us both at ease and we were able to set a framework for how we will move forward as we prepare for our wedding. When we talked with the pastor, he mentioned the influence that our parents have had on us. It got me to thinking about how incredibly lucky Jason and I have been. Our parents have been terrifically, painfully honest with us as they have raised us. They have all admitted to possibly/probably telling us too much. But because of that, Jason and I do not walk towards this marriage thinking that it will be champagne and roses. Jason doesn't like champagne and I prefer tulips and gerber daises....and we both know that the average married day will not hold any of those things.

Because Jason and I were both the first child of parents who were practically infants themselves at our birth, we have both been privy to more than most children. With that honest reality, we did not walk towards adulthood or marriage blind and for that, I honor our not-so-old elders.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Flexibility has never ever come easy to me. I was the kind of child who would cry when the dinner plan changed. In college, when most folks were fine to just end up wherever...I craved a plan of action. As a person of faith, that lack of flexibility is sometimes a challenge to my faithfulness. I want to follow God's call but (and there never gets to be a "but" with God) I want God to lay out the plan from a to z for me.

So what does that have to do with being engaged? oh just everything. All of the wedding websites, books, planners, etc. have some section where the authors and writers highlight the need for brides to be flexible - especially as you near the "big day."

-- As an aside, and with full disclosure that I have at some level participated in this problem: I think using the phrase "big day" for a wedding is 100% THE problem with the wedding industry in the United States. We convince couples, and especially women, that one day is supreme and that their small fortune should be shelled out for that big day and that all of their hopes and dreams will be captured on that big day...and then what? What happens on the day after the big day? Well, the wedding industry doesn't care about that big day. --

Anyway - I have searched high and low for a wedding guide that tells me I can, in fact, control every detail and that the wedding will, without a doubt, go off without a hitch and I have not found one. The reality I am facing is that not everything will be perfect. There will be an awkward moment or two (or twenty). The wind will probably blow and my hair will come loose. Someone will inevitably make a remark that will make someone else uncomfortable. And Jason and I will still get married. And we will make it to the day after the big day, just fine.

We got a little glimpse of the flexibility necessary for a wedding this past weekend. Jason and I had made plans to meet up with photographer Meredith Daniels for an engagement photo shoot. I had carefully picked out spring clothes for the lovely 60s and 70s we have been having in Raleigh. We made our way up to Asheville on Thursday looking forward to a weekend in the mountains celebrating birthdays with Jason's mom and brother. Friday morning, I woke up early to make sure all of our clothers were ready for our photo shoot when I received a call from Meredith. "Have you looked outside?" she said. And I knew - without looking outside - that it had definitely snowed. We made plans to meet later in the day, which later became even later in the day. Our photo session was inexplicably cold. But we made it through the day - and I can't wait to see some of the shots Meredith got. We also had Jasons' mom take a few more the next day (when it was 65)...here are some of those for your viewing pleasure:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

200 Days

200 Days.

It seems like a long time. a lot longer than the 40 days of Lent that are ahead. and a lot longer than the time between now and my sister's graduation, 2 months from today. and yet...

In those days there are 752 tasks to be accomplished, according to theknot.com and realistically...probably about that many on my own to do list. There are dozens of other events (as we have seven sets of friends getting married this year, a sibling graduating and the usual rounds of birthdays, etc.), there is a new job to continue adjusting to, there is coursework and testing for Jason to do, there are friends to catch up with, the list goes on...

But yesterday I marked off one of the most important things "to do:" it was not signing the contract for the ceremony musicians, or arranging my dress fitting, or even figuring out the marriage license. Yesterday, I emailed the pastor who will be doing our premarital counseling to set up our first session.

Now, I recognize that many folks will roll their eyes at the idea that this is the most important thing...how stereotypical of me. But in so many ways, the next 200 days are a season of preparation. And it is time to prepare for more than the ceremony and the dress...and even the government's marriage license.

In the Christian year, we start a season of preparation tomorrow. A season of preparation that involves sacrifice, disappointment, pain...but ultimately fulfillment of a promise, the remembrance of a promise and a marriage: of Christ and the church. Each year, I consider the Lenten journey and I regularly choose to participate in the discipline of giving up (meat in 2011). And some years, like this one, I take on a discipline as well (daily journaling). Because of that journey of trusting and connecting to God (but seriously, I eat a lot of bacon and turkey...so I'm going to need the help), these 40 days are fruitful and formative. And the preparation makes the fulfillment of the promise of Easter, that much more joyful.

And in the Team O'Quinn year, we continue a season of preparation tomorrow. A season of preparation that involves sacrifice, disappointment, maybe some pain...and ultimately fulfillment of a promise, the remembrance of a promise (Christ and the church again) and a marriage. My prayer, my hope is that this season too is fruitful and formative...and that the preparation makes the fulfillment of the promise that much more joyful.

200 Days.