Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our Special Day

It is hard to believe that our wedding day has come and gone. Everyone told me that it would go quickly and that the day would be a blur, but I tried to stay present throughout the day and remember the special faces and moments that I know we will treasure forever. We could not have imagined a better day and are so grateful to everyone who attended our wedding, prayed from afar, and supported us through the engagement season. There are so many people who worked together and prayed over our day, and the beauty of the time we spent celebrating what God had done to bring us together and begin our journey as one was overwhelming. There were a few moments that were just breathtaking- walking down the aisle to Rory waiting for me, having our friends and parents pray over us, and walking into the reception and knowing that all of our closest friends and family had come together that day to celebrate us.

Our prayer was that our ceremony would be intimate and worshipful. We wanted God to be glorified and for people to know the purpose of marriage- to paint a picture of Christ and His church. On that day, when we took communion together, the sun broke out through the windows, and it was a beautiful testimony of the light of Christ that we hold in our hearts and pray shines through to draw others unto Him.

Rory and I wrote our own vows to one another, and every time I look at them and think about them, I remember that these are promises we made not only to each other, but to our Heavenly Father. We are not perfect, and there is no way we will completely fulfill each one of these promises each day. But He gives us the grace to love and serve each other each day, and as we cling to Him, we grow closer and slowly begin to understand the depths of His wonderful love.

Our Vows

I, Jessica Nicole, vow before the Lord and these witness to give you myself fully today. 
I promise to remember that Christ is my first love and you are my beloved.
I promise to do you good and not harm all the days of my life. 
I promise to encourage you and remember that we are better together. 
I promise to serve you with a cheerful heart and laugh with you at the times to come. 
I promise to listen to you with understanding and cherish each day the Lord gives us. 
I promise to respect you and submit to your leadership by remembering that you are always for me. 
I promise to love you unconditionally and to pursue peace as we journey through God's adventure for us. 
You are my promise fulfilled, my dream come true, and my best friend. 

I, Rory Alexander, vow to give all of myself to you today. 
I promise to be faithful to you always and to keep Christ as the center of our marriage at all times. 
I promise to love you unconditionally and to guide and protect your heart as long as we are both alive. 
I promise to always be honest with you and to be a true and honest friend. 
I promise to pray with you each morning and each night and to keep myself immersed in God's word. 
I promise to laugh with you in times of joy, grieve with you in times of sorrow, and grow with you in love as we serve the world together. 
I promise to listen to all of your thoughts, your hopes, your fears, and your dreams as well as share with you mine. 
And I promise to respect you, encourage, you , and cherish you as I continue to try and become worthy of your love. 
You are my best friend and the love of my life, and today you become my crown. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why I Love Rory

Photo by Elissa Ewald

So I've told you all about our story and how the Lord led us to where we are today. But here a few reasons why I just love and cannot get enough of my husband-to-be.

He trusts in the Lord above all else. His strength is not his own and he is confident in the Lord, always choosing to see and hope for the best.

He is always honest with me. He never plays games with me or leaves me guessing; he tells me what he thinks directly, but he does so with a tender gentleness and patience.

He makes me want to be the best I can be. He points out my flaws in a kind and loving way and encourages me to trust the Lord to continue to shape and mold me.

He makes me laugh. I cannot tell you how hard Ror makes me laugh. He comes out of nowhere and just says the silliest things, and I am done.

He loves to help others. He is selfless and humble, never expecting recognition but constantly doing things behind the scenes to take care of the ones he loves and the people whom he serves at work each day.

He listens to me. I talk so. very. much. And Ror never asks me to be quiet or stop talking. He just listens and then offers his advice or tells me what he thinks in his quiet and sweet way.

His family is important to him. Rory is an introverted man with a handful of friends who are his lifelong buddies, and then he has his family. He loves spending time with them and helping them, and he invests in them well.

He loves me well. Rory takes care of me, and he tells me I'm pretty or beautiful at least once a day. He prays for me and with me. He fights for me and he respects me.

For all of these reasons and more, I can say with great joy that I am honored to become Mrs. Rory Mathisen tomorrow before God and all of our closest friends and family.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Our Love Story, Part IV

Photo by Elissa Ewald

I remember being so worried about whether Rory and I would have anything to talk about. I had told a few of my friends and my family about him, so there were a handful of people who knew that we would be meeting that evening. My phone buzzed with well wishes when I was on the way, and I then I put it on Do Not Disturb so that I would not be distracted throughout the evening. Rory and I did not lack for conversation topics, in fact, we talked for almost two and a half hours. I made our goodbye a little awkward when I went in for a full hug, but he was gracious about it and didn't hold it against me.

After our first date, I was pretty smitten. I wanted so badly to talk to him and see him again. I was so interested in his life and his story. He was so kind and gentle, and there was a quiet and strong confidence about him that was so attractive and endearing to me. We started texting a little bit throughout that week, and then that weekend I ran the Athens half marathon and had a bajillion other social engagements. Rory promised he would check in and see when we could meet up again, and I knew he would be true to his word.

Rory and I were able to hang out a few more times before I took a trip to Colorado to see some of my dearest friends from Mexico. I remember being so excited to see them and to talk with Lisa, my friend and mentor about him, but also so sad to leave him because I was so enjoying getting to know him. While I was away, I missed him terribly. I read my friend Gretchen's book A God-Sized Love Story on the plane on the way there and cried and prayed for this exciting new possibility.

On October 27, I wrote these words in my journal:

Lord, I simply cannot believe how quickly my life seems to be changing. I am just so undone. It seems crazy because it hasn't even been a full two weeks with Rory, but already everything just feels so different in a good way. In the best way. And I love that. I love that we are so very different in some ways and yet the same in the most important ways. Thank you for that, Lord. I kind of feel like I am going crazy or like I am going to bust out of my skin when I am not with him. I've never been able to talk to a guy so easily without flirting or putting on airs. And I am so so grateful for that. It sounds crazy, and I am not telling another soul, but I want to marry this man. I do. I love his quiet confidence. I love his heart for other people. I love his sincerity. And I love the way he leads and pursues me. I'm not left guessing. And that is so very refreshing. Lord, thank you so much for this gift. Help me to just enjoy it and continue to have a heart of gratitude. 

When I returned from my trip to Colorado, Rory was sick. But when he got better, we pretty much became inseparable. In November, I was able to meet his sister and her husband, and we "defined the relationship." I remember thinking (with joy) how weird it was that I could say I had a boyfriend. :) Right before Thanksgiving, Rory was able to meet my students, and then I met his parents. I went home to Marietta for the week of Thanksgiving and we just about died from separation anxiety. He then met my parents, which went well. And then, before we said goodbye and he headed back home to be with his family, he told me he loved me. I had been thinking the same for a few weeks, so of course I said it back.

Our first picture together the day before Thanksgiving at my parents' house. 

The rest of 2014 was so fun and full of sweet memories as we continued to get to know one another. He was able to slowly meet many of my close friends, and I met his college friends during Christmas break. At the start of 2015, we decided that we could get married within the year. (You can read about our proposal story here. ) I had been praying and thought that the Lord had given me the month of July as our time. Logistically, I'm a teacher and have the summer off; I didn't want to get married at Thanksgiving or Christmas. But the reality is that I just did not want to wait that long. You know what they say-once you know you know. And lo and behold, our wedding day is now one week away. 

I am truly overwhelmed by the Lord's faithfulness and goodness to us. His timing is perfect and His love is steadfast. He is the giver of good gifts and the ultimate lover of our souls. We are so blessed and honored that He has given us the gift of marriage and cannot wait to begin our lives together as Mr. and Mrs. Rory Mathisen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Our Love Story, Part III

Photo by Elissa Ewald; taken where we had our first date. :)
In October 2014, I was quite contented. I had come to terms with my singleness and was not allowing it to define me. I was blessed to have many amazing friends and a family who love me unconditionally, and I had been working at my dream job for about three months.  Maybe a month prior, I had texted my friend Teresa to tell her that I might lose it if ONE MORE PERSON GOT ENGAGED. But a little while after that, I got myself together, and I recall telling my friend Tanya that I was excited and anxious for my love to come along (hopefully sooner rather than later) but that he would "mess up my flow." (Insert crying laughing emoji here.)  My routine was busy and I had a lot going on, and I liked it like that.

One October day, I was on eHarmony and came across a new profile. The user was twenty eight years old and was in Athens, Georgia! And he seemed normal! Imagine my surprise when I clicked through his profile and found that we had a lot in common. I sent him a "smile" and hoped I might hear back soon. Sure enough, we began talking through the steps of guided communication that eHarmony provides for its users. Even online, I could see that this guy was different, and it seemed as though we clicked (pun intended). I told my mom and a few friends that I was talking to a "normal, nice and cute boy" on eHarmony and hoped that we would meet one day soon.

After about two weeks of talking online, Rory asked if we could take the next step. I flipped the mess out and danced around my room, thrilled that this normal, nice, cute boy man wanted to meet me in person. Being the stalker inquisitive person that I am, I had looked him up on Facebook and saw that he attended my church. He called on a Monday evening and asked if we could go to dinner the next night, to which I gladly agreed. He also confirmed my suspicions- we went to the same church but had never met. How's that for a God thing?

The next day, I was a bundle of nerves. It was a windy and rainy day in Athens, and I went in to school late because there was a severe storm. I remember thinking that if the weather upset my date, I would be devastated. I couldn't eat all day long. (For those of you who know me personally, you know that when I can't eat it means I am either dying or incredibly nervous.) All I could think about was this cute boy and whether or not we would hit it off in person.

I came home from school and tried to calm myself down, praying that the weather would follow suit. I got ready and left in plenty of time (also highly uncharacteristic of me since I am always late.) I drove around downtown Athens, just hoping I could find a parking spot near Ted's Most Best, where we had agreed to meet. When I pulled into my spot, a couple minutes later, Rory pulled up next to me. We both got out of the car and then walked to the restaurant together. Little did I know that my life would be forever changed because of that first meeting.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Our Love Story, Part II

Photo by Elissa Ewald

I am a self-proclaimed word nerd. I love to read, and growing up, I always had my nose in a book. I read a bajillion books on dating and began writing letters to my future husband to tell him about what the Lord was teaching me and how I was praying for him. I had started doing this in high school but had fallen out of the habit, and I began anew in Mexico after reading a book entitled Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His. I loved writing to him to tell of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams for our future together.

After being a bridesmaid many times and continuing to pray through my singleness, I took a step back and realized that I had some false beliefs. I believed so much in my omnipotent God to provide, but I was unwilling to do much or take many risks that would allow Him to show up in an unexpected way. I still had that thought in the back of my mind that said I should try eHarmony, but I just wasn't ready. However, in the spring of 2014, I read a book entitled How to Get a Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating in Six Months or Your Money Back. I stumbled upon it one night on Amazon and was admittedly embarrassed to buy it. I mean, the title was soooo cheesy. But the authors were the same men who wrote the Boundaries books, so I figured I would give it a fair shot.

Well friends, this book kicked my butt. It made me realize how inactive I had been in my waiting on the Lord. In every other arena of my life I was active about the things I wanted. When I thought I might want to go back to school, I took the GRE. When I wanted a new job, I went above and beyond to express interest and form a relationship with my potential employer. This tenacity served me well in these situations. So why wasn't I going for what I wanted in my dating life (or lack thereof)?

In May, I turned twenty six. Now remember, I said that if I did not marry by twenty five, I would join eHarmony, so it was time. In June, I created a profile and waited to see what would happen. The summer of 2014 proved to be not at all what I expected it to be. I traveled through most of the summer on mission trips and vacations, and then began a new job in the fall. There were a few little conversations with potential suitors on eHarmony, but nothing ever came to fruition. I admit, I was getting a little discouraged. But God was up to something I couldn't fathom or imagine on my own.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Our Love Story, Part I

Photo by Elissa Ewald

Twenty six years. Twenty six years I waited for my love. To say it was easy would be a bold faced lie. To say it was always enjoyable would also be an untruth. But to say it was worth it would be an understatement.

Growing up, I admired many couples from afar. My parents are a couple who fight rarely and love each other. In church I had many mentors who modeled for me the example of Christ-centered marriages that were founded upon the Rock. As a self-proclaimed girly girl through and through, I loved Disney movies, romantic comedies, and heart-wrenching dramas that involved a fight for a love worth having. I imagined what it would be like to be swept off my feet by a prince who would come for me in my darkest hour, ready to save me and make me his for the rest of my days.

In high school, I made a commitment to the Lord to not date, knowing that most likely any relationship begun at that point would most likely not lead to marriage. When I graduated and went off to school at the University of Georgia, I was sure that would be the place where I met "the one." All through college and in my early twenties, I had a series of what I like to call "pseudo-relationships" and unrequited crushes. As my time at UGA came to a close, I found myself still dateless. I watched as friend after friend found their better half and began a covenant of marriage. And still I waited.

In August 2010, I moved to Mexico, not knowing a soul. It was here that I truly began to understand what I believed, as I was completely on my own in a foreign place with not a friend in sight. There were many valleys in which I came to know that Jesus would be the only constant in my life and my first love. I prayed like I had never prayed before and saturated myself in His word. During this time, I began to pray earnestly for my future husband, whoever he might be and wherever he was. I prayed that the Lord would guide him and lead him. I prayed that he would know the goodness of His love and that his heart would be prepared for mine.

There were many seasons of profound loneliness while I was single. While my heart was always to rejoice with my friends, waiting and continuing to wonder when my turn was coming got old quick. "Have you ever seen the movie 27 Dresses? You're just like Jane!" Yes, I know. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. I cannot tell you how many times people have asked me if I've seen that movie and then likened my life to Jane's. When I returned to the States from Mexico, I attended a gajillion weddings and was in three weddings in just one year. I've been a bridesmaid six times. So yes, I've seen the movie 27 Dresses, and yes, I know I'm just like Jane. Thank you.

I had a running joke with friends that I was going to join eHarmony if I wasn't married by twenty five. I figured it was worth a shot and I couldn't say I hadn't tried it all. Little did I know what would happen when I did...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Currently: July

So this little blog has been a tad neglected as of late, but for now I am ok with that. In ten days I will be getting married, and I could not be more excited! Here's a little taste of what's up around my parts. Currently, I'm...

Craving: married life! We just moved all of our things in to our new place and I am jealous that Rory gets to sleep there and can't wait to live there with him after the honeymoon. 
Grilling: I am not a grill master at all, but the other night while we were at the beach we had some delicious burgers. I tried a fried egg on my burger for the first time and was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. :)
Listening: to Pandora allllll dayyyy longgggg as I unpack everything in our apartment. 
Planning: how to set up our new place and all the final details of the wedding. Things be cray y'all.
Decorating: our new place! Have I mentioned that we just moved? 

I'm so looking forward to returning to the blog after we get back from our honeymoon and before we head back to school. I've missed this little space. As always, thanks for reading, friends. 


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