Captured Joy

Yes.

It’s true.

I’m picking up the blog again.

I fell off the bandwagon once again. But I’m picking myself up, dusting off my pants and ready to climb back up.

I would like to say, that I’m quite certain the wedding pushed me off. It swung it’s, “too much to do in too little time” battle ax. The rest is history.

I would also like to say, that I stopped writing because there were some aspects of the wedding I didn’t want to give away yet. There were some parts that I didn’t know how they were actually going to turn out. And so…I kept them a secret.

Now that it’s all said and done, I can start to share parts of that crazy journey.

First up…our photographer.

When Rob and I began planning, we wrote out our priorities. Separately, we wrote the aspects that were important to us to for not just our wedding, but in starting our life together. If you’re planning a wedding, I recommend this. We really poured our hearts and dreams into these narratives. When we lost focused, when we got stressed, when it all got crazy, I would go back and read our priorities. It was always a surefire way to get me back on track.

One of my top priorities was a photographer. I had very specific attributes in mind…creative, someone who captured the moments I was sure to miss, 8 hours, printing rights, someone I could trust, and of course, a reasonable price. We found Piney River Ranch through a photographer’s blog on a whim. Her photos were beautiful, creative and she was on the table. In fact, she was the only photographer I had on my list for awhile.

But then, one day, I was scrolling through some pictures of the Arndt’s “Tetons and Yellowstone” pictures on Facebook. And there she was…our photographer. Lauren Johnson, fellow Trinitarian, friend and photographer, was living in Denver. I had completely forgotten about her move to the west. This revelation was a glorious moment. She was everything I asked for in a photographer…and more! We had her booked long before we had our venue nailed down!

On the day of, she and Kylie (also a Trinitarian) were absolutely amazing. Not only did she get all the pictures we requested, but they went above and beyond. Lauren and Kylie were creative. They kept our day running on-time. And, my favorite, when taking a group photo they both would take pictures with our guests’ cameras too.  Guests could have purchased the same picture online, but they took the time (and lost the money) to take the pictures.  They also stayed a little bit longer until after Rob and I left…getting some of my favorite photos! (#520—I heart you, Meaghan Peters!)

Annie Leibovitz once said, “I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.” The place we chose for our wedding was truly naturally magnificent…breathtaking in fact. The emotion of our wedding day was pure joy. Rob and I wanted our wedding to feel like everyone was celebrating with us, not at us. And that feeling was accomplished. There was so much JOY at our wedding.

Our photographers, Lauren and Kylie, captured both the amazing awe-inspired beauty of the Gore Mountains and the incredible joy that filled the ranch. As you scroll through the pictures, I hope you too can be inspired by nature’s magnificence and feel the energy of joy that filled our wedding day.

Thank you Lauren Johnson and Kylie Watters for making our incredible day last a lifetime! I absolutely adore all of them.

If you would like to enjoy, please go to:

http://www.ljohnsonphoto.com/Weddings

password: robert

I will be posting pictures in the (not so near) future. Some photos are so incredibly awesome that the story behind them must be told. In due time, you’ll get the story behind them. But for now, feel free to enjoy.

 

30,000 miles

Rob tells a story about a set up his friend tried to put into place a couple months before we met. His friend wanted to introduce him to a girl in Chicago who would soon be moving to Rob’s neck of the woods. And do you know what Rob’s response was?…It’s classic.

“Chicago! What am I going to do with a girl from Chicago?”

Imagine Rob’s quandary when about eight months later, he actually had to call his friend and say, “You’ll never believe what happened…I met a girl. And she lives in Chicago.”

That story continues to bring a smile to my face. This relationship was clearly orchestrated by God, because we would not have chosen this path. The scenario of a long distance relationship was not just too hard…but it was inconceivable.

But here we are. And one day, back in October, my co-worker (and more importantly, friend) Sondra came to my class to teach the third grade teachers about Movie Maker. This was just around the first time I laid eyes on Piney River and was all in a flutter over it. Luckily, Sondra was very patient for I, her student, was far more focused on the mountains than making a movie. However, I did come away learning something about Movie Maker. And when I read about a video Save the Date in Real Simple Weddings…an idea was born.

So this little Save the Date is not what I first had in mind. It’s a lot more schmoopy and a lot less humorous. But as I started this project, it quickly changed from a quirky little movie and became our story. Most of our friends are scattered all over the country and the world. Our updates have merely been through phone calls or Skype, or Facebook pictures. I haven’t met many of Rob’s friends and he has barely met the tip of the iceberg of mine. Many of our friends haven’t been able to watch us fall in love or lay the foundation of our marriage. Making this video was as close as I could bring them to understand what a celebration it would be…when it’s finally July 4th. Oh, Heavenly Day.

**Since we emailed the video out to our guests several months ago, the stats have changed. We have now flown over 30,000 miles that’s over 20 roundtrip flights!**

The Last Week of March

It seems to me, that death has been everywhere these past couple of months. I can’t begin to list the emails that have fallen into our emails at school. I’ve always heard that death comes in 3’s. This year it seems to be in 3’s or 6’s and maybe even 9’s. Most of them, I have not known personally. But each one has had an impact on someone around me.

Over spring break, I went to New York. It feels weird to enter this big city and yet feel at home. I’m learning to understand it more and more (one subway line at a time). But mostly, it has a feeling of home because Rob is there. I fell in love there.

For the first time, Rob and I were able to travel to Long Island without the help of the railroad. We rented a car and could leave, stop and go on our own timetable. This was a lovely experience. One of our Long Island stops included a visit to the cemetery. His mom passed away many years ago– Long before she could see him graduate from law school, to see him buy his first home, to see him get married. We stood there for awhile – sharing in the sadness, but feeling the healing.

As we drove out of the cemetery, I got a phone call from Kate. She told me that Mrs. Bell had passed away. I’ve been trying to write about this for a week now. But yet the words can’t seem to describe how precious the Bell family has been to the Goebels. We come from a small church. And in this church, you are family. This family has loved us.

I’ve been trying to remember a specific story about her. But they all get lost. They jumble together. There are just too many moments for a family that was always an important part of my life. Dinners around their table, her weekly violin encouragement, watching her serve in the church and seeing her paintings around town. Her daughter, Jan, is one of the most influential people in my life. Growing up, I wanted to be just like Jan. I watched how she acted, how she did her hair, what clothes she wore, and how she cared for other people. Now I know, that what made Jan such a great role model, was the role model she had in her mother.

The Saturday night before Mrs. Bell died, my mom went over to sit with her. She kept her company while her husband went to see their grandchildren sing in a concert. I am glad my mom had that time with her. When my mom got home, she called and told me all about their conversations. They talked about the wedding, and how Mrs. Bell had worn a pillbox hat when she got married. She also told mom that she was ready to go.

The next day, I was scheduled to do the scripture reading at church. Wouldn’t you know, it was I Thessalonians 4:

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words

I couldn’t help but think about Mrs. Bell as I read these words before the congregation. My voice was shaky not because of nerves. But, because I knew her time was coming near. He is not a God of coincidence.

A week later, I boarded a plane trying to put into words in an email to the Superintendent what this woman meant to me. I was desperate to attend the funeral. To grieve with my family. As I buckled my seatbelt, approval was granted.

This all happened the last week of March. A wave of emotion sweeps over me every time I hit this time of year. Seventeen years ago, I babysat Diana on the last Sunday night in March. She was a sweet third grader in our church. We were also family. Our moms spent a lot of time together. She was just like a little sister to me. And I mean that with my whole heart. We ate egg salad sandwiches and watched The Fox and the Hound. And just a few days later, she was gone.

I remember standing at the cemetery at her funeral. The sun was bright, there were birds chirping and the ground was soft beneath my feet. But there was still a winter’s chill in the air. As we drove to Mrs. Bell’s funeral, the air felt the same. Winter was passing away, and spring was trying to push through. I am grateful for those little things, that even though we are in our grief, we have hope. Despite that we feel cold, empty and that deep sadness of winter, God has given us hope in a spring. We have the hope of life returning. Eternal life.

Meet Me on March 22nd

This is schmoopy. You’ve been forewarned. You don’t have to read it. I won’t be offended. I try not to be schmoopy often. But sometimes schmoopiness is bound to occur.

Rob and I have not had a Christmas together yet. Nor have we celebrated his birthday together. But today, we get our third March 22nd. Two years ago on this date, I walked into Marble Collegiate Church with Caleb. I was taken in with the beautiful architecture and meeting Caleb’s church family. As I scooted into the plush pew, all breathless from the Caleb-sized walk (in heels) and the cold air, a very New York looking man, a few pews up, turned around and waved. Caleb waved back, leaned over and said, “That’s my friend Rob…”

I have never been one to believe in love at first sight. In fact, I’m a little bit of a cynic when it comes to love. And I was definitely cynical about there ever being love for me. But I will say this. There was something different about the moment I met Rob.

Turning 30 was rough. I was quite confident that the clock was going to strike 30 for me, and I was going to be alone forever. And people would say, “You’ve got plenty of time!”, “I know there is love out there for you!” and “Any moment. You never know when it can happen”. These were never very helpful. Because how could they know? God really could be calling me to a life of singleness. I know plenty of singles who don’t want to be single and are single. And no matter what, it was clear God wanted me single at that time, so I just needed to accept it and move on. But I had a hard time accepting it. So, I went to New York.

And so I was wrong. There was a moment.  It’s so strange. I can remember everything quite clearly about that day. In general, I have a pretty good memory, but that day is vivid. Every detail of meeting Caleb’s friends, walking all over the city, laughing at lunch, the glorious Mac and Cheese- Every moment is etched out in my mind bright and shiny.  It would still be another 5 months before Rob and I would start our dating relationship. But on March 22nd my whole life changed and I’m glad I remember the moment.

Last year Rob and I met up in the Pacific Northwest for a mountainous vacation and a chance to meet some of my dearest friends. We both had a layover in Seattle, but were on different flights to Portland. Rob got me switched to his flight…although to accomplish this task he called me his “fiancé”– thinking that held more emotional weight in getting someone to make the switch. And with a quick search in gmail, I found this flight took place on March 22nd.

Today, I fly to New York. And no, I did not plan it to be on March 22nd. American Airlines and their crazy volatile flight prices led me to flying on a Tuesday. It wasn’t until I bought the ticket and went, “Huh, March 22nd.”

It has been one month since we last said good bye. Sometimes, this distance thing is really difficult. I know this is God’s plan for us right now. I know that we need to be wise with our money and wait for His timing. I’m trying to stay full of faith as we wait for God to reveal His plan. But sometimes, the waiting is painful.

I keep hearing that planning your wedding is supposed to be the happiest time of your life. And I will admit that it has had its truly wonderful moments. But I really would like to get to point where we are married. Because, Lord willing, that means the distance is over. All the looming major decisions and details have fallen into place and we are living in the same place, together. I’m looking forward to the married part.

So, here’s to our third March 22nd and getting a little bit closer to July 4th.

Happy Trails

Before we got engaged we had talked a little bit about what we hoped our wedding would look like. We both wanted outdoors. There is something about being in nature that draws us closer to our Maker more than a church. And we wanted that presence of God as we began our marriage. We also wanted a place that allowed us to spend time with our guests before the wedding. We talked about wedding memories that we loved, feelings, emotions, an atmosphere we wanted to create.

After we got engaged, we had to really think about the where and the how of our wedding.

Wedding decisions for us have to happen really fast (in the small snippets of time we have together) or really slow – as we try to process the decision in our long stretches of time during the in between.

Deciding in which state we should tie the knot was very quick. We knew that we probably couldn’t afford an outdoor area in Chicago or New York. I have often dreamed of getting married in my mom’s backyard. The garden, the trees, the fond memories of running barefoot and climbing trees. It’s beautiful. But I’m also aware that that would be A LOT of work for my mom and my uncle. And I love them. Furthermore, the logistics alone made my head hurt –renting tents, tables and chairs, bathrooms and parking. Nope. That took my mom’s off of the list. Plus, our closest friends live all over the world. Another priority is that we wanted our friends to come in and spend the weekend with us. I couldn’t fathom having all our lovely friends fly in and then…spend time …at the… riverboat?

And the final straw, the probability that it would be very hot and humid in Illinois or New York was about 115%.

And so, we landed on Colorado. Beautiful. Mountains. No humidity. Perfection.

Then, came the next task of actually finding a place. Despite us both having memories and connections in Colorado there wasn’t a place that jumped out at us. My dear friend Amber in Colorado Springs did some investigating and even recruiting from a friend. Rob’s friends, Brooke and Warren, sent us a list of possibilities. And I began a search on the internet. But with every venue, something seemed off. I didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding. The presentation of each venue made me itch and ache and was everything I didn’t want our wedding to be.

I thought perhaps I should start looking at photographer’s websites to see if I could find a venue. That’s a nice idea, if you know photographers. And off to Green Wedding Shoes’ vendor list I went.

There were two photographers for Colorado. I clicked on the first. It was a blog for a photographer based out of Denver. I scrolled through her photos. And the third wedding I saw, took my breath away. The wedding itself was simple and charming. It had all the small details that I had been envisioning, but the setting…was unbelievable. I wanted to get married there. I had to get married there. But, not wanting to be carried away by emotion, I took a deep breath and clicked on the second photographer on the list. And wouldn’t you know he had photos at the same venue.

Three months later, it became the official wedding location.

Our wedding is at Piney River Ranch on July 4, 2011. As much as I love America, I did not choose the day for an all out Americana themed wedding, but primarily because we wanted a holiday weekend for our friends to make the journey and enjoy the location. And Piney River Ranch was already booked on Saturday and Sunday.  (And for an added bonus – cheaper on a Monday!) Unfortunately, their website is not up and running right now. But if you google “piney river ranch weddings” you will understand why we chose this venue. In case you were wondering, Katy and Randy’s wedding with photos by Fresh in Love photography was the wedding that originally caught my eye. There were in numerous wedding blogs so they should be easy to find!

 

Awkward Conversation

Ok. Let’s have it. I know for many of you this probably goes without saying. But nonetheless, I want to just put it out there so we’re all on the same page.

The guest list. I hate that in all the wonderful, gloriousness of being so overwhelmingly happy after getting engaged, one is instantly thrown into the guest list debacle. There is a long list of well-wishers and so many people are happy for you. And then you have to “rank” them. I hated this process. We spent months on it. Going over and over what we could afford, our priorities for our wedding, and who we truly needed at our wedding. I got a gray hair.

If you’re reading this, you are probably one of my many friends on Facebook. You are probably closer than that portion of friends that are merely acquaintances from my past, a friend of a friend, or someone I sat by once in class. If you’re actually taking the time to read this, you probably know a little bit about me. And for that, I appreciate you. But I’m sorry. The guest list is small.

There are so many of you out there that have been my friend for many, many years. Even maybe a good friend I work with, or someone I hung out with in college and so many precious people from Grace Bible Church that I can’t begin to mention. I want you to know that I treasure you. All of you…for the friend you have been, and the friend you continue to be. Unfortunately, space (and money) is limited and we had to make some tough choices.

We’re planning on having an Open House down in my hometown once the dust settles in the fall. We would love to have you join us.

There. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I can start to share some of the things I’ve been working on without feeling so awkward.

Dresses for the Maidens

Bridesmaid dresses.

I shake my head at the thought of them. The dresses I’ve worn. The dresses I’ve seen. The tulle, the satin, the money. All lost on a dress that will probably not(except yours, Freed!) be worn again. In some cases, it will be made into throw pillows that will go on my bed.

Imagine my dismay when I realized I am now in charge of picking out the dress that “you can totally wear again”.

Originally, I was going to go really simple. This is when I thought my dress was going to be really simple. But I had to go pick something not really simple and ruin my plan.

Right away I knew that I would stay away from the typical bridesmaid shops. I know that anything under the description “bridesmaid” is usually not very cute and the material makes me itch. And if the dress actually is cute, it’s not very cheap. Why is the bridal community determined to make your bridesmaids look uncute or take all their money? And sometimes make them look uncute and take all their money.  If brides are really that insecure about being upstaged in beauty by their maidens, they should rethink their maidens or get some therapy.

And so, some internet hunting began.

I scoured blogs and etsy and modcloth, JCrew and Ann Taylor. I live with the Maid of Honor. Usually, she just smiles and nods when I talk about wedding stuff (which means she’s not listening but trying to sound supportive). But on this topic, she was very vocal.

Finally, I found a dress that I loved. And wouldn’t you know…it was going to steal all their money.

And so we decided to have them made.

I have a wonderful “adoptive” grandmother. My grandma passed away in 1999, leaving Kate and me grandparent orphans. That is until Arta stepped in. She had been a long time friend of the family, but with Gramma gone she began to fill in the missing pieces. Baking cookies, mending clothes. She even moved somewhere warm so we can visit her.

As soon as the ring was on my finger, she was sending me an email to let me know she wanted to help anyway she could. I cannot begin to express how wonderful this woman is and how much she is doing for this wedding.

She’s coming in April for a little bridesmaid dress making wedding weekend (minus one Matron of Honor).

But then, we had to hunt for fabric.

I really was looking for a beautiful (and inexpensive) purple brocade fabric. I started with Mood in New York. I’ve never watched Project Runway, but I was told this is where I should go because they go there. It was like walking into another country. I don’t speak fabric, so I just walked around looking at all the pretty colors. I didn’t find what I was looking for. And I came home empty handed.

So we set out on one more adventure one Saturday in January.

I’d like to say the fabric shopping part of this day was the overall highlight. It was not. We went to two places. And one of them smelled funny. The last stop seemed to be promising since there was a Chicago magazine cover of the owner with the headline “The King of Fabrics”. It also had a lot of stars on yelp. But alas, even the King of Fabrics himself could not find the fabric we were looking for. Apparently, brocade is no longer popular and nobody makes it anymore. No wonder that modcloth dress is so expensive, they got the last bits of brocade.

It was not a worthless trip into the city. We stopped by 3rd Coast (my most favorite Chicago café) for the Karrie/Kate special. Kate orders the Turkey and Brie. I get the Chicken Salad sandwich. And we get a half of each. And since, we were originally going to start our hunt in Evanston we had our hopes set on some coffee from Kafein. So we decided to drive on up the lake shore.

In the end, the day was filled with conversation, laughter and good food as it always is with Mindy and Kate. And on our way home we stopped at good old suburban JoAnn fabric. My headquarters for wedding craft supplies. And although we didn’t find the brocade fabric I was looking for, we found a great runner up. It is better than any of the other options I’d seen. And it was 30% off. And JoAnn has a wonderful teacher discount. God bless her.