May 22, 2011

So... Now What?...

So I'm engaged... now what?!  HTB (husband-to-be) left for a fancy shmancy international cruise the day after he proposed, and now I have been left reeling in the aftershocks of new engagement.

The day after was so fun: I got to bring a lot of joy to people just by flashing my ring (which is fabulous, is it not?  HTB did it all by himself, and did quite well, if I do say so myself.).  I feel that in one's life, there are really only two occasions on which you can bring such joy and even squealing-- engagement and pregnancy.  I played a game of hangman with my students until they guessed "Miss Hardt is engaged."  They were thrilled.  All of them wanted to know if they could come to the wedding, and a few wanted to be flower girls and/or ring bearers.  One student ran out the door and yelled down the hall, "She got bling!!!"

But with the excitement comes a bit of nervousness.  Not about HTB, because there is no one else I'd want to be with, ever.  But about the solemnity and reality of marriage.  It's for the rest of our lives, for better or for worse.  That's heavy!!

Seeing HTB's face on google talk after a day and a half of not seeing it calmed me down a bit (it always does), but I have found that I'm struggling with the same thing I struggled with at each new step of our relationship: trust.  It's the lesson God continues to teach me, and I don't know why I didn't expect it with this change.  With each change, I would freak out just a little, and forget that God's in control and had brought us together each step of the way.  And it's the same now, only even more exciting.  Once things got "normal," and "comfortable," I'd stop remembering I needed to trust.  So I've been reminded, and that's a good thing.

If you're looking for something to pray for us, please pray that we both trust the Lord and continue love Him more than each other, and that God would prepare us to enter into a lifelong, 1 Corinthians 13-type love affair.

Meanwhile, I'm ankle-deep in bridal magazines, sketches, planners, and ideas, and only just took a sigh of respite when my dear friends had a "pow-wow" with me, and HTB and I chose a date: January 12, 2012.  Why that date?  Because HTB is a little OCD (enough so it's endearing, not annoying) and he likes "1.12.12."  Seriously. :)

So now that I'm engaged, what do I do?  Pray for God to settle my crazy emotions and give me peace amidst my overwhelming feelings, pray that God would be shaping HTB and me into godly, mature, loving spouses, and get giddy now and then... because if there's ever a time to be giddy, it's now!

May 18, 2011

He Said, "Will You?" and I Said, "Yes."...

Somehow, in the last seven months, my dreams have begun to come true.  Not my nighty-night sleep-tight dreams, but my hopes and dreams.  First, a friend of mine became more than a friend.  Second, we fell in love with each other.

And now, we are getting married.

You read correctly-- GETTING MARRIED!!!!!

Somehow God saw fit for this man

To love this woman
For the rest of our lives.  :)

I can hardly believe it!  It seems unreal, like a nighty-night sleep-tight dream!  After all the planning for others, watching most of my friends pair off in wedded bliss, it is now my turn, and I can hardly fathom it!

"The story!" you say?  Of course I'll oblige.

I'll start by admitting, I was very surprised.  I had thought it might happen this summer, perhaps when BF (wait... he's now fiance, but I'd rather not call him "F."  haha.  I'll have to think on this one-- any suggestions?) would come to visit Chicago.  With that being said, I had a few sneaking suspicions. 

1.  He said he had a skype appointment yesterday... I thought perhaps he was asking my parents for permission to marry me... but surely he wouldn't ask yet.

2.  He said he had bought me something I couldn't have yet while he was in Las Vegas.  But surely he wouldn't give me a ring yet.

3.  He did some mysterious texting that I thought could have been giving some select people heads' up, but I thought, not yet, not when he's leaving tomorrow!

But he still surprised me.  I love this story, because it's pretty funny to me.  I think things didn't go as he planned, and he panicked a little when he actually proposed, which is so cute.  We were at the driving range, practicing golf swings (let's just say I made him look really talented).  He had planned to "tie his shoe" and kneel and propose, but there were too many people around.  He said that as the bucket of golf balls dwindled, he began to panic!  We ended up in his car, ready to go to Rita's for some frozen custard (mmmm), when he handed me his glove and said, "You need one of these-- try this on so I can see what size to get you."  There was something lumpy in it.  I pulled out a red die with white dots and looked at him quizzically.  He said it was something from Las Vegas.  I said, "really?"  And he said, "no."  I was puzzled, but whatever.  He's been known to do/say stranger things. 

I peered over at whatever he was texting, and he insisted that I show him my texts.  I gave him my phone and he snatched it and stuck it in his pocket.  When I asked for it back, he rummaged around in his pocket, mumbling something about, "it will take a second," and I legitimately thought my phone was stuck in his pocket until he said:

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, I got you something else when I was in Las Vegas..." and he pulled out a ring and held it up.  That's right, sitting in the front seat of his Trans Am, he pulled out a ring.  I stared.  I mean really, I just stared for several seconds, then squeaked out, "really?!" a couple times.  I think I couldn't believe it was actually happening, and I was surprised at the way he did it-- though not displeased.

You need to know that when he is nervous, he literally loses the ability to speak how he would normally speak, like when he asked me out and there were lots of long pauses.  So he finally eeked out, "Will you?" just before I almost said, "Is there something you want to ask me?"  Of course I said yes. 

I was shaking.  I couldn't believe it, as I put that ring on my finger, that this was real, that this was my life!  We headed over to Rita's, and despite the fact that I was no longer hungry, I wolfed down my cone as we chatted, still reeling over what had just happened.

It turns out, he'd had a plan, but when it didn't work out, it threw him off, hence his "will you".  So when he relaxed a bit, he told me why he wants to marry me (for the record, he thinks I'm wonderful, and I don't think he's too bad himself), and back at my place he got down on one knee and said, "will you marry me," just to make sure I got to experience that.  It's hard to get down on one knee in the front seat of a Trans Am.  But I wouldn't have changed a thing.  It also turns out that the die is in reference to a comment a friend made at a wedding last week after I didn't catch the bouquet (on purpose, because I hate that).  She said, "I'm sorry, but the die is cast."  She knew I'd be next, and she was right!

So we set a tentative date in January.  He picked that so I could have one last Christmas with my family, which I thought was very caring, but every time I mention that, someone thinks it sounds like they're going to die or something.  That's nice.  Then began the phone calls.  I called my mom, then all my bridesmaids, then every one of the families in my extended family, then texted a select group of other friends. 

We went over to Bestie's house and Bestie Jr. and her husband came too.  We toasted to January, and to us, and we laughed and squealed and giggled... and that was just BF!  JK, the guys pretended to stab themselves with kitchen knives.

After skyping with my parents and brother, we had some alone time to just sit and soak in this big change.  It's really exciting, and so fun to bring such joy to others.  But part of me is still nervous, knowing that marriage is a huge commitment and a big responsibility, and it's for life.  I wouldn't want to spend my life with anyone else, but it's very overwhelming.

And telling my students was fun.  I had them play hangman and when they figured it out, their faces lit up.  I had students ask to be my ring bearers and flower girls, but my favorite was when a student ran into the hall shouting, "She got bling!"

I did.  But even more than the bling, I got HIM.  And my dreams are coming true.

May 14, 2011

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder and Fonder and Fonder...

See this guy above?  I love him.  He just graduated from college {have I mentioned I'm a cougar? :)} and his "real life" is starting.  And I get to be a part of that.
He is now Uncle Mike, with the birth of his niece.  He doesn't really know how to handle newborns.  I mean, he hasn't dropped her on her head, but when she made a gassy face and pooped in her diaper, he freaked right out.  But he still holds her.  And what's cuter than a handsome, bearish, tough guy holding a little girl?  Nothing, I tell you-- nothing. :)

The funny thing is, hipsters might take this picture for real.  But BF was just being a ham sandwich and making me laugh, and my hipster photography editing skills made it look like he was really "in the moment."
So this is BF.  He's away for a while, and we will see each other for only about 3 days from last Wednesday until June 26. :(  But I miss him and love him, and these were just a few reasons why.

May 13, 2011

Celibacy in the Suburbs...

{thanks, Blogger, for losing my post on the one day I happen to update my blog in over a month, and for making BF go looking for it for me, the tech-genius he is.  And by "thank you" I mean "Grrrr."}

Trying to find blog direction these days is difficult. With that being said, I've been meaning to use this post title for a very long time. It's been waiting patiently in the recesses of my mind, and today I'm finally employing it:

According to the world, hereafter personified as "World," I've done things wrong-- all wrong. World must look at me with a cocked eyebrow and say, "Ooooookayyyyy??"

Let's start with my choice of education and career:

World suggests you get into the very best institution you can for the purpose of doing as well as you can so you will make as much money as you can. Ivy League is preferred; state institutions are acceptable. Even some high-profile private Christian universities are sometimes nothing to sneeze at.... Hey World, how do you feel about a tuition-paid Bible Institute that's not accredited? That's what I thought. Even my high school guidance counselor advised against it. I went to a Christian high school.

With a high college GPA, World might believe that I should have pursued a career that would rake in the Benjamins, that would fill my sweaty little palms with cold, hard, cash. Legal, medical, business, design-- all are acceptable career paths. Let me ask you, World, do you think I should get a degree in elementary education and become a teacher at a tiny Christian school, making half of what a public school teacher makes? Yikes, World, you don't have to yell.

Or take my location. I grew up just outside a hub. Not just a U.S. hub, but a world hub-- Chicago. World would say that the networking, culture, and high life are all at my feet in that city. But what would you say, World, if I told you I wanted to move to a coastal town in central Florida? Listen, I know we differ in opinions, but you don't have to be rude about it.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty, as my friend Nacho Libre likes to say.

While World nods its head in silent agreement with Sex in the City, I am living celibacy in the suburbs. World says to date as many men as possible to determine if one of them is "the One." Break a few hearts-- it's empowering! Get your heart broken once or twice-- it gives you wise life experience! Date for fun-- see what you can get out of it! Hey World, you need to know that I have turned down a couple people for dates. Not because the sight of them made me nauseated, or because they lived in their parents' basement as hermits, or because of body odor, but because I knew they weren't marriage material. That's right, I said marriage. I was friends with guys instead, and knew before I even started dating that I could potentially marry that man. There is wisdom in not getting my heart broken, and not breaking the hearts of others, and dating is not about what I can get out of it, but what I can do to love him and honor Him.

World, I know you think I should sleep with my boyfriend because it's just "the thing to do," and "everyone does it," and "it's fun," and "what if he's bad in bed?" Guess what, World-- I'm waiting until I'm married to do that. Pick your jaw up off the floor-- that's unbecoming. While you revel in titilating stories of conquest and walks of shame, I have chosen abstinence. Not because I delight in depriving myself or making life difficult, though difficult it may be, but because God told me that's how it should be, and because of His faithfulness, I trust and obey that. Plus, World, bonus: I'm disease and pregnancy free, so take that with your outbreak of herpes!

And World, when the time comes for me to get married and start a family, you would say that I need to find a fulfilling career away from my family, or I'll "lose myself." Well let me tell you, being a wife and mother will be my dream job. And while I won't be a prisoner in my home, I will revel in my marriage and motherhood because that is fulfilling.

Please don't mistake this post as a self-righteous soap box. It's just a reminder that as a believer, I need to not be conformed to the world but transformed, and that World's view of life is not God's view of life and therefore not my view of life.

So while World might sit around a diner table with its girlfriends and talk about things that might make my grandmother's eyes cross, I think I'll opt for sitting around a Panera table with my girlfriends and talking about things that makes my God smile.