Inextinguishable

I wrote this post simultaneously with my last one, consider it a bit of the heart behind the practical application, its the featured post on the Youth Specialties blog today as well.

Read the post here

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Youth Specialties and Other Unmerited Platforms

Purely in the interest of keeping all of my writing in one place, here is a link to my latest contribution to the Youth Specialities blog. It was their featured post last Friday (4/21) and has gotten some good traction on social media.

The irony of course being that 1) I have no idea what I’m talking about, and 2) it was something I cobbled together and submitted late because I was out of time.

Speaking of things that people read that I’m not confident about, CYMT donors and supporters, be on the lookout for an article in your newsletter by yours truly about the first year of the Texas region (I will post it separately later), and feel free to check out this little profile of me in Austin Seminary’s newsletter.

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Blog Re-imagination

As you may have noticed, my blog has a new look, and a new name! The original was created specifically to help money for my time overseas and then share my experiences once I got there. I loved keeping the blog and sharing my journey with friends and loved ones. Now that I’ve been home six months and had lots of new adventures, getting married, moving to Texas, finding a job, I realized I missed the creative outlet, but felt like the blog as a spiritual travel journal has run its course. I wanted something more agile, and less serious. All the old posts are still here, and I’m sure that my followers will still be subjected to a 3,000 word ramble here or there but it will no longer be the norm.

Here are some other things going on in my life I DO intend on blogging about: the books on youth ministry I’m reading, the wonderful weirdness of being a newlywed, this 5k my husband and I are training for, and my process of learning to cook. Consider this my virtual bullet journal, you’re welcome to come along 🙂

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Unsolicited Thoughts on Weddings

Besides all of the other thoughts I’ve gone through since being home (see my last post), I’ve also been working through the process of finishing wedding planning. I’m getting married April 23rd, so the countdown is less than two months.

And this process has given me a lot of thoughts about weddings. Seeing as I already have this blog, and that this is also part of “my life’s biggest adventure” I will take this as an opportunity to share those feelings.

1. I cannot convince myself to care about the wedding as much as other people do. And that makes me feel somehow inadequate.

I am, by nature, not prone to perfectionism, sweating the details, or getting worked up easily. I am, by context of the last year of my life, now even less able to process or relate to other people’s questions or concerns about seasonally-appropriate color schemes. I have friends and family who are getting married months after me, but who already have personalized stamps on their invites, or who give “#120days” “#99days” updates to their followers on instagram. I am not choosing to not be one of those people, I simply can’t be.

And that makes me feel like I’m not good enough. Like I don’t love Andrew enough, like I’m not excited enough to get married because I don’t have a bedazzled phone case that says “Bride.” My lack of opinion on style of flatware, or my bridal party’s shoes is interpreted by our too-busy culture as a fault. Which table setting is more me? None of them, as I am not a table setting.

2. My lack of choices is a choice.

I did not choose my bridesmaids dresses, I gave them a color scheme. This could be easily chalked up to my aforementioned distaste for details, but its more than that. I knew my sister would not be comfortable in a dress, and would rather wear a suit. I will not make her conform to my ideas of femininity, nor will I ask her to conform to what the guys are wearing. She, and everyone else, is free to wear whatever makes her feel comfortable and beautiful/handsome/like a total fox. Some of my bridesmaids will wear made-to-order Nordstroms dresses in the perfect shade of blue. Some will wear a dress from H&M they already owned. They will both look beautiful.

I refuse to force any of these women I love into something they don’t want to wear, because I value my pictures more than their comfort. This is not about apathy, its about inclusion.

3. I did not forget to register for crystal. 

My mother’s friends have been rather dissatisfied with my registry. Its about 30 items at Target, and includes things like Jenga. It does not include the vast majority of things I was supposed to register for, like crystal, china, linens, etc. Here’s my little secret about the registry: I would rather you not buy any of it. My wedding website features 3 non-profits (including IJM, of course) that we ask our guests to consider donating to as our gift. This is not a an empty gesture. What could be a more powerful way to celebrate love then by acting in love for those who need it most? Knowing that relief will come to the oppressed, aid to the sick, support to the child, because of my wedding, seems like a beautiful way to honor the blessing God has given us in each other. It sets our precedent, that our love is not meant only to be a blessing to us, but to give us the capacity us love others, and glorify God. My mother has told me that some of her friends are just buying me things I did not register for because they think I need them, and was either too foolish, forgetful, or uninformed to know that I was supposed to register for them.

I did not forget to register for crystal. But if you buy it for me, I will return it and Andrew and I will donate the funds from your generous gift to a worthy non-profit. This is not about foolishness, its about charity. 

4. It does not have to be good enough for anyone else.

In a Pinterest-consumed wedding culture, its really easy to get wrapped up in all of the hype around every tiny aspect of your wedding. Everything has to be cute and perfect, from the monogrammed over-sized button-downs for your bridesmaids to get ready in, to your chalkboard drink menu, to your perfect first-look picture. But here’s the thing, all of those things seem simple enough when you’re pinning them one-by-one, but when it actually comes to planning, you look at that board, and realized you emotionally committed to DIY-ing like 200 different things. That’s just not going to happen.

Those weddings on pinterest had a few “pinterest worthy” moments or things, as all weddings do, and they were captured and put online. Now as a bride, you’re looking at the internet, thinking you have to have all of these things in your one wedding. You Frankenstein the best moments from 85 different weddings and then think yours can be even cuter than that monster you’ve created. Its crazy, and unrealistic, and makes everyone either lose their minds, feel inadequate, or (usually) both.

No one expects you to do all that. No one will know if you just buy your centerpieces. There will be no panel of infinity scarf-wearing judges who come and see how many of your dreams you realized. No one will criticize you for not writing your fiance a letter the night before your wedding that he can read while being photographed in black-and-white.

I suppose that’s the theme of this whole post. It doesn’t have to be good enough for anyone else. There is no correct way to celebrate love. A wedding is nothing more than a big party you get to invite anyone you want to, to mark the start of spending the rest of your life with your favorite person.

This is not about perfection, its about celebration. 

So Cheers, friends, and hope I see you there!