Real Life TMI Edition

I’m a sharer. I’m an open book. I value vulnerability. I love transparency. I dislike secrets. I dislike surprises. So in the name of all those things, I just wanted to have a chat/update.

As you know, I got married in October. I turned 34 this month, 11 days ago. The hubs will be 33 in a month and some days. As you also know, I love kids. William and I were both nannies in our former lives. A general assumption could be made that we want to have kids. I LOVE being a newlywed and would love to spend many more years basking in the fun-ness of that. However, since we fell in love later in life – time is not on our side. In the name of transparency, I’ll let you know TMI fact #1: we plan to start trying to have kids in August.

Starting somewhere along that time has been the plan since the beginning, though we considered starting earlier but needing to add additional insurance policies and Open Enrollment and dates and such solidified August being the start time. But, since we knew it was in the coming future, we knew there were some health things we wanted to do in the days that lead up to that.

Firstly, pregnancy is terrifying! I’ve heard so many people talk about how challenging and painful it is, and I’ve also heard great stories from people who loved being pregnant. I have some lower back issues (disk degeneration in my L4 and L5), and when marriage happened, and pregnancy became a legitimate possibility/hope/dream, I knew I wanted to make my body and back stronger to be better equipped to carry a baby. In perfect timing, our church started a pilates class in January! It ran from January – May twice a week and I was mostly faithful to go to that. I fell in love with pilates and do it sometimes in my office now on my lunch break, though not nearly as often as I’d like.

Secondly, though I’m all about the body-positive movement, think you should love the way you look AND yourself no matter your size, and hate the D-I-E-T word, we both knew we wanted to be healthier if kids were actually a real possibility/hope/dream. We both wanted/want to be healthier physically on the inside and out so that we could be better future parents who live long lives. We love food, hate working out, and support the idea of every meal coming with dessert. So the discipline to get healthier wasn’t and isn’t something that comes naturally to us, yet. Again, I hate the D-I-E-T word, but in short, we need/needed to lose weight!

A friend at church was (and is) having great success losing weight taking dietary supplements that were seemingly healthy. I am a major diet pill skeptic. I’m a major diet skeptic. I’m a major anything that makes you lose weight in an unhealthy way skeptic. BUT, her weight loss seemed to happen at a natural and consistent pace, and any side effects seemed to only be healthy ones. In a years time, she lost 70+ lbs! And looked healthy and still ate real food. I researched and researched and couldn’t find any bad stories about the products she was using. We decided to give them a try to kickstart our get healthier parent-bod goals.

The picture on the left was taken in January right before we started taking TruVision. The picture on the right was taken last week. And my results are minuscule in comparison to my friend’s! Because we are lazy, we literally changed nothing up about our eating and nothing physically other than pilates twice a week for me. We are both down a pants size, William is also down a shirt size, he’s lost around 15-20, and I’ve lost around 15 as well. 

The supplements, 2 easy to swallow pills that you take twice a day, help give you energy and help curb your appetite. I felt the energy, a very natural feeling energy, not jittery, immediately! I haven’t had morning wake me up coffee or morning caffeine since I started taking them in February. I occasionally still drink coffee for coffee dates with friends, but only because I love the flavor, not because I NEED it like I did before. And let me pause to say, I tried to cold turkey quit morning coffee/caffeine once, and it was the worst 30 days ever!

We also very quickly noticed a difference in the amount of food we ate. We went from having no problem finishing any restaurant meal ourselves, to either sharing one meal together or having a second meal each from whatever we ordered.  I mean, I’ve never had trouble finishing a Baba Burger myself, but now I can only eat half. My snacking decreased majorly to almost non-existent. William already forgot to eat lunch and/or breakfast sometimes (who does that?!). I ALWAYS eat breakfast, but sometimes, depending on what I had, I look at my clock and it’s almost 2 and I have to make myself pause to eat. NOT eating is never good! But I really think it helps you listen to your body when it is actually hungry vs. eating out of habit or giving into food addiction/craving. 

So all that to say, I really do believe in this product! My doctor said it looked good until we get pregnant and then as with most medicines not to take it during pregnancy just to be safe. My friend’s oncologist said it was good to take and that all the ingredients looked good for you. And another friend’s doctor also said it looked like a great product. There are SO MANY success stories. I’ve been hesitant to talk about it or tell anyone about it because I do hate that D-I-E-T word and want people to love themselves and bodies. But, I recently told a friend about it, she tried it for a week, lost 5 lbs in just a week, and genuinely felt in control of her food cravings for the first time in a long time!

And so, in case there is anyone else out there who might feel the same desire to hear about it and try it as she did, I wanted to share our experience with it. If you have any questions or would like to try it, email me, text me, FB message me, etc.! 

Now, onto phase 2 of project parent-bod/TMI fact #2. We are easing into a D-I-E-T (Can we call it new eating style? Let’s!) this week and starting it head on in June. And by easing I mean – I had chocolate cake last night. Because I will never stop posting pictures of my food (#sorrynotsorry), I just want to put this out there. Short version – I have PCOS and we are going to start a PCOS “diet.” Longer version – I have PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome – a hormone imbalance. I have a milder case of it than lots of women. My doctor doesn’t think we will have issues, but one of the most unfortunate PCOS problems is trouble getting pregnant. As we haven’t tried yet, we don’t know if I will have those issues and hope that I won’t!

However, I figured it couldn’t hurt to be proactive and to try to do things in the months leading up to August that would help better prepare my body for pregnancy. As I mentioned, getting stronger (still a work in progress) is part of that, as is weight loss, and as is this new eating style. It’s basically a fertility health diet, low-glycemic, very paleo-like. The basics: no processed sugar (honey, coconut sugar, and stevia are allowed on occasion), no soy, only good oils (olive, avocado, coconut, and fancy butter), low-carb (no grain-based foods in particular), antibiotic and hormone free meats and eggs, limited dairy, lots of leafy greens (especially romaine apparently), high fiber, high protein, more cinnamon, etc.

The real for real kick-off will be June 11th. Why? May 28th I’m hosting a wedding shower. May 31st we have a rehearsal dinner for a wedding William is in. June 1st we have a wedding. June 9th we have a rehearsal dinner for a wedding I am in. June 10th we have a wedding. Problematic! So June 11th. William doesn’t have to do this new eating style, but I’m glad he wants to because I’m not sure I could quit sugar without him. Y’all. You’ve seen my posts! You’ve seen how much I love baked goods.

I am going into this with lots of pouting and kicking and screaming TBH. I already want to quit before we ever even start haha. BUT, whether we are able to get pregnant right away or at all, I know this will be good for us. And if you have spare room on your prayer list, pray that a. we will survive the sugar detox and b. that our efforts are fruitful and getting pregnant won’t be an issue.

So that’s it for this edition of TMI/transparency with Kasia.

PS. If you do the paleo, low-glycemic eating style thing, share your tips and recipes! 

Lent, because why not??

I wrote this ridiculously long post of Facebook, and then remembered I goal’ed to write at least one blog post for February. A. Easy checkmark. B. Saves the people on Facebook who hate long posts from being forced upon one. C. I have a blog, why not use it!


Last week William asked me if I was giving up anything for Lent. I usually don’t, though I have before, so I hadn’t really thought about it. We did order Lent study books to do, but that was my only plan.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday our pastor issued a challenge that made no sense to say no to.

He explained that the goal of Lent is, or should be, to intentionally seek God. To subtract something that will remind you that you’re in the period of Lent.

But he challenged us to not just subtract. I sometimes think when we “just” subtract it’s nothing more than a new New Years resolution or goal (I read an article about giving up Lent that suggested that).

But he challenged us to subtract AND to add. To subtract so that we are reminded to seek the Lord and to add something that helps us seek the Lord.

He challenged us to write out every morning:

Today I will see the Lord by ______.

He challenged us to write out every evening:

Today I have found the Lord in ______.

Because God is God, He gave William and I the same idea for what to subtract. And though I’m reluctantly excited about that, I’m way more excited about a season of intentionally seeking the Lord.

As Steve said, “The more you know the Lord, the more you realize you don’t know the Lord and have so much else to know.” And “when you encounter God, you encounter His rest no matter what enemies you have encamped around you.”

As Kari Jobe’s song says, “The more I seek You, the more I find you. The more I find You, the more I love You.”

As Phil Wickham’s song says, “Better is a moment that I spend with You than a million other days away. I’m running to the secret place where You are.”

And most importantly as Scripture says, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

Whether you are for or against subtracting something or not, let’s make sure we add! Let’s make sure we spend time intentionally seeking the Lord in this season leading up to the greatest thing that has ever happened. Because why not?? May we encounter God and find rest there. May we seek Him and find Him (because He wants to be found!) and want and love Him more and more. May we run to the secret place where He is. May we draw near to Him.


She/He Reads Truth Lent studies start today if you are in need of a study, but there are tons elsewhere as well! (She – http://shereadstruth.com/plan/lent-2017-you-are-mine/ / He – http://hereadstruth.com/plan/lent-2017-you-are-mine/)

From SRT:

“This season is long – in days and weeks, and in conviction and repentance. And this season is necessary; we are forgetful people, and we need reminder of what is true. Lent is a 7-week journey of remembering our need for a Savior, a need met only in Jesus Christ.

We look to the cross, and recall that obedience, mercy, and love held Christ there. We look to the tomb, and remember that compassion, holiness, and power broke the shackles of death, walking fully alive into the light of day. We look to God’s Word, and find it filled with true promises, sealed by the impossible reality of Jesus, who became the sacrifice so we could be redeemed.

God is calling you to a life of restoration, accomplished through the work and power of Jesus Christ. Everything else plays second fiddle to this one true and glorious paradox: You are a sinner, and in Christ, you are redeemed. You are His.”

Thankfulness & Gratitude 

Let’s get businessy things out of the way first.

  1. We all knew I was going to fail that September writing challenge. What was I thinking?! The leading up to the wedding push was insanely busy.
  2. I’m working on a post with my thoughts on marriage thus far. I don’t know when it will come, but trust that it will. Spoiler alert: LOVING IT!

Business meeting adjourned.

 

For the last few years in some way or another, I’ve challenged myself to focus on things I’m thankful for during the month of November. I sort of decided not to do it this year, but today I changed my mind.

Why? 

Why did I do it to begin with?

November has been a harder month for me since I lost my dad (November 18th) and remembering that loss + the stress of what to do for holidays made November a little heavy at times.

Why did I decide not to this year?

This November doesn’t feel as heavy. I have a husband! And not just a husband, but a wonderful one with a wonderful family. Having him helps carry the weight of remembered loss and forever alleviates my sense of restlessness about the holidays. He’s my home now!

Why did I change my mind?

Well, three reasons.

1. It was silly to think I didn’t need to remember to be thankful! In good times and bad, thankfulness and gratitude are important. I’m still selfish and self-absorbed when I don’t focus my mind on Jesus. I NEED to remember ALL the many reasons – big, small, silly, and important – that I have to be grateful.

2. With so much negativity crowding the walls of social media, I’ve been enjoying the sparse posts intermingled of people stating what they are thankful for. I remember last year and the year before thinking it was cliche and there were so many. This year, sadly, it doesn’t seem as cliche and there aren’t as many declarations of thankfulness and I miss it! It makes the world a better place. I think we all need some thankfulness, gratitude, and positivity right now.

3. I like to celebrate things! We are in the midst of celebration season with celebration after celebration and I think thankfulness is just as important to celebrate as Christmas trees and parties. It’s a good think to celebrate to set our hearts and minds on what we are really celebrating once Christmas gets here, which is trees and parties at all. Jesus. He came to fulfil our hope. To be our hope forever. To be the King the reigns eternally.

So, I’m going to be thankful! I backtracked and to the best of my ability made thankful lists for all the days I missed. I’ll post from here on out on social media (and probably do a recap here). But, posting a list of 25 ish things on social media in one post seemed a bit excessively annoying.

  1. free lunch (at Moe’s! download the app) / 11-1
  2. good wholesome tv (This Is Us is killing it!) / 11-1
  3. my friend Anna (who came over to watch This Is Us with me and we had good talks) / 11-1
  4. a wonderful first night at my “new” church Traceridge / 11-2
  5. choir music (I joined the choir!) / 11-2
  6. life-saving Newk’s (I was super hangry and Newk’s saved the day) / 11-2
  7. country drives (especially at sunset) / 11-3
  8. William’s grandparents / 11-3
  9. medicine / 11-3
  10. date nights / 11-4
  11. musical movies (loved Trolls!) / 11-4
  12. a magical movie purse (capable of holding much candy and drinks and basically like Santa’s bag) / 11-4
  13. free Mistletoe Marketplace tickest and getting to go with the best friends / 11-5
  14. holiday coffee (Deep South Pop’s Pumpkinfest latte is legit) / 11-5
  15. holiday smells (everything at Mistletoe smelled magical, somehow even the bathroom smelled like Christmas) / 11-5
  16. veggie trays (Emily had a lovely spread at the craft fair she hosted at her house!) / 11-5
  17. friend dinner and movie nights / 11-5
  18. breakfast casseroles (there was a potluck breakfast at church, literally tried all the savory breakfast casseroles) / 11-6
  19. chocolate milk / 11-6
  20. harmonies (loved singing in the choir for the first time!) / 11-6
  21. the Holy Spirit’s presence as we gather together (majorly felt Him on Sunday, and love knowing people are feeling His presence all over the world as they gather in traditional church building, YMCAs, movie theaters, school gyms, and more) / 11-6
  22. family time (spent the day watching the guys put together a swingset for Evelyn, so fun!) / 11-6
  23. daylight savings time (MOST RESTED MONDAY EVER) / 11-7
  24. free McAlister’s (for a YEAR, well, ish, but we won a contest and are getting a pretty hefty giftcard) / 11-7
  25. Christmas pjs and a husband who lets me order us matching ones (thanks Old Navy for having big sizes!) / 11-7
  26. being able to laugh together at a terrible dinner / 11-7

Blogtember Day 7

Hey, remember that time when I said I was probably going to fail this? Oops! Wedding planning, work, bachelorette weekend, two showers, and life got the best of me, but, I’m back! For now.

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Five things that bring you joy.

Confession: I had plenty of time to do this post when it was the day to write it, and the next, and the next, but I avoided it because I just didn’t want to. I wasn’t feeling joyous and didn’t want to write about joy so I avoided it. And then life got busy. Good news! I’m no longer feeling that way. Joy has returned! The culprit: busyness convincing me I didn’t have time for Jesus. Gets me every time. Joy is restored and now I’ll tell you things that bring me joy!

  1. Time with Jesus. The list could end here really. Joy comes from above! The other things I will list do give me joy, but even they don’t bring me joy if I’m not connected to the true source of joy. NECESSARY! I’m desperately dependent on Jesus for helping me see joy in all of life.
  2. William. I mean it’s cheesy but true. He makes me laugh more than anyone else. He reminds me that I need Jesus. He loves me so well and by doing so reminds me that my Heavenly Father loves me. Doing life with him brings me joy. Hanging out with him in our house brings me joy. Doing things for him like cooking and packing his lunch and praying for him brings me joy. The fact that I get to marry him in 22 days and spend forever with him brings me JOY!
  3. FALL! You know this. But for real. All of it. Decorations even if it’s hot. Seeing pumpkins in the store. All the scents. The glimpses of fall on the horizon via early morning temperatures, the coolness of the shade (way cooler than summer shade), and the less humidity. All the pumpkin-y goodness. Falling leaves. The clothes. The shoes. The scarves. Scarecrows. Thanksgiving. And that it all just perfectly leads to CHRISTMAS! Constant and instant joy galore.
  4. Cooking/baking and anything related to it. I love the kitchen. I love kitchen supplies (had a Pampered Chef shower this weekend and officially obsessed with all things Pampered Chef now too). Cooking for people. Baking for people. Recipies. I LOVE IT ALL!
  5. Knowing people and being known by them. I LOVE truly knowing people. Knowing that they don’t like onions or olives or peppermint flavored things. Knowing their favorite color. Knowing about their family and best friends. Knowing their favorite foods. Knowing how they like their coffee (or that they don’t like it at all). Knowing them enough to pick out a perfectly personal gift. Knowing what makes them happy, what brings them joy. Knowing the scars on their heart. I just love really knowing people.

Blogtember Day 6

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Create a playlist. What are you listening to now? What encourages you? Holiday favorites?

In the mornings I listen to a worship music playlist either on my iPhone or my Amazon Prime streaming music. I usually listen to that at work too, but I have now started listening to my Spotify Christmas playlist (394 songs and counting) that I’ve been building on for three years. On the way home from work I usually scan local radio stations – the top 40 pop one, the best of the 80s, 90s, and now one, and the two country ones (trying to like country at least a little since the soon to be hubby likes or listen to music I’ve purchased or downloaded via Amazon Prime Streaming.

Worship music encourages me, sets my mind and heart in the right place, and helps me not leave space for sin and temptation to easily invade. I really do try to listen to it A LOT. I don’t think there is a magic formula, but for me it helps me think about worthy things and fight thoughts of unworthy things. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8) Music about Jesus and what He’s done for is my go-to. And even though all Christmas music isn’t holy, Christmas music does the same for me because even if the world doesn’t acknowledge it, Christmas is about Jesus being born to die so that we could live.

Here’s some of my current favorites from all the categories of music I listen to:

Radio Pop:
Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
Treat You Better – Shawn Mendes
My House – Flo Rida
Lost Boy – Ruth B

Radio Country:
Comeback Kid – The Band Perry
Peter Pan – Kelsea Ballerini
Vice – Miranda Lambert

My Music:
The Best Day – Taylor Swift
Everything – Michael Buble
Crazy – Ben Rector
Diamonds – Johnnyswim
Brand New – Ben Rector
Home – Michael Buble
Live While You’re Young – Johnnyswim
Million Years Ago – Adele

Christmas:
I Heard the Bells – North Point Christmas
Dawn is Breaking – North Point Christmas
Unto Us – North Point Christmas
Hallelujah – North Point Christmas
O Holy Night – North Point Christmas
Christmas Saved Us All – Jon McLaughlin
The First Noel – Lady Antebellum
God With Us – All Sons and Daughters
Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Away in a Manger – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Merry Christmas Tonight – Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
What Are You Doing New Years Eve – Johnnyswim
Christmas Day – Johnnyswim
O Come All Ye Faithful – Johnnyswim
O Come Let Us Adore Him – Hillsong Worship
Emmanuel – Hillsong Worship
We Have a Savior – Hillsong Worship
Unto Us – Hillsong Worship
Our King Has Come – Hillsong Worship
Evermore – Phil Wickham
Little Drummer Boy – Phil Wickham
Christmas Time – Phil Wickham
The First Noel – Phil Wickham
Heaven Everywhere – Francesca Battistelli
Christmas Is – Francesca Battistelli
You’re Here – Francesca Battistelli
December 25th – Francesca Battistelli
Christmas Dreams – Francesca Battistelli
Emmanuel Come – Pentatonix (also most versions of this song, North Point, Gloriana, Leona Lewis, Phil Wickam, Hillsong Worship, etc)
This Christmas – Pentatonix
All I Want for Christmas – by everyone (Mariah, Dave Barnes, Michael Buble Justin Beiber, Lady Antebellum, Glee)
I Celebrate the Day – Relient K
Cold December Night – Michael Buble

I mean just to name a “few” favorites that I never get tired of…

Worship (easier to name artists!):
All Sons & Daughters
Amanda Cook
Bethel Music
Hillsong United
Steffany Gretzinger
John Mark McMillan
Lauren Daigle
Shane & Shane

Blogtember Day 5

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What was your most memorable birthday?

Oh man. This one is hard! I don’t know that I can pick just one…

My 21st birthday was amazing! All my friends dressed like me complete with drawn on star foot tattoos and fake nose studs (I had one at the time).

My 25th birthday was great! I was determined to do something off my bucket list before 25, and riding a train was on that list. My friends and I dressed up in formal dresses, road the train from Hammond, LA to Baton Rouge, LA. Our two guy friends, also dressed up, picked us up in a borrowed  minivan, and we played putt-putt golf and ate a nice restaurant (all in formal attire).

But, I’d have to say my most magical birthday was 31. I hosted a Fairy Garden Party at my house. Everyone brought “fairy” sized food. We had an outdoor fairy movie, Hook, that played on the side of the house. There was a painting station for kids to paint fairy houses. There was a Scrabble table. There were outdoor games for guys to play. There was a photo booth. The decorations were pink and yellow and fun everywhere. I made edible fairy wands (pretzel rods dipped in chocolate and glitter sprinkles), chocolate and glitter sprinkle covered marshmallows on a stick, toadstool skewers (grape tomato halves with cubed cheese sticks), and fairy dust popcorn (kettle corn with edible gold dust). And there were movie watching stations complete with blankets to sit/lay on, blankets to cover up with, bug spray, movie candy, popcorn, etc. It was a blast (and way over the top haha).

Blogtember Day 3

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Now that summer’s at an end, share a list of favorites from the season!

The summer went by super fast, and as a lover of fall I am NOT sad about that. But let’s see, my favorites from this summer:

Beach vacation with the fiancé and our family and friends.

Hosting a memorial day bbq at our new house for my best friend and her hubby in from out of town and William making ribs, my favorite thing my dad used to make.

Hosting a big family gathering at our new house for July 4th.

TOMATOES, and pretty much an endless supply thanks to William’s granddaddy finding out I liked them.

Hosting a backyard bible club at our house and getting to see teenagers and our friends and family worship and do ministry in our yard.

Pretty Little Liar nights with my friends!

Acquiring a super cute pair of seersucker shorts.

One thing I’m sad about: I didn’t eat a single slice or watermelon!

But other than that to summer I say, BYE!

Wearing my seersucker shorts and white jeans this weekend one last time in honor of your departure. See you next year!

#falliscoming

Blogtember Day 2

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Share a list of your current goals.

Well, I started out the year with great intentions! See my 2016 Goals post. However, I didn’t plan to fall in love, get married, or get a new house.

My goals changed a bit, but right now this is what I’m working on:

  • GET MARRIED! lots of to-do lists come with that one
  • drink 4-5 big yeti’s of water a day
  • don’t buy ANYTHING that doesn’t qualify as a need (having to pay for a wedding kind of helps with that)
  • get completely settled and unpacked in the new house before the wedding (work in progress, but really close!)
  • finish reading Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage
  • start (and finish) Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas
  • lose a little bit of weight in my face before wedding pictures
  • get back into major meal planning after the wedding
  • enjoy and savor every moment of this once in a lifetime season!

My Blogtember Posts 

Blogtember Day 1

My good friend Jessica over at Meet the Magnolias inspired me! The 31-days October challenge that I did last year is totally out of the question this year since I’M GETTING MARRIED IN OCTOBER!

Side note: doing the 31-day challenge last year (and not finishing it until JANUARY) was totally meant to be. I reconnected with my soon to be Hubby at the end of December/beginning of January, and reading those posts (which apparently he did before we ever went on our first date) was a major part of what made him fall in love with me.

The Blogtember Challenge seems a little less daunting and way more doable!  I will probably majorly fail at actually getting all of these posted, but it has writing prompts! Amidst the hustle, bustle, and stress of last minute wedding planning, I feel drawn to this project and it’s writing prompts as a good outlet and reason to be still and calm down for a minute. It won’t be fancy. There will most certainly be typos. I probably won’t have pretty graphics (but I might, I like doing that), but I’m gonna attempt to do as many as possible!

I’m already a day late, but here goes nothing!

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Introduce Yourself

Most of the people who will read this probably know me, so this will be a reintroduction, but in case you’re new, hey!

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I’m Kasia – pronounced Asia with a K. I am 33. I have freckles and red hair (fake, but it should have been real). I am obsessed with fall and most things pumpkin (sometimes they take it too far… chips?! no). I am also proudly obsessed with all things Harry Potter. And as previously mentioned, I am getting married in 1 month and 11 days!

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My soon to be husbands name is William Allen Twiner III and you can read our story (and see pictures!) here – The Prequel, here – The Proposal, and here – The Perpetual Blessing.

2016 has been a year FULL of change. I started a new relationship in January, started a new job in February, became a fiance in March,  bought a house with my fiance in May, in July I moved out of the rental house I lived in with my roommates and started living alone (something I haven’t done in A WHILE) in the house we bought that will be our first home, got a new car and said goodbye to one I had for almost 10 years in August AND started going to a new church, and in October I will get a new last name and forever become Mrs. Twiner. It’s been beautiful, but so refining! BEST. YEAR. EVER.

Other fun facts:

Hufflepuff for life (William is a Slytherin, fun combo).
ENFJ to a T.
Self-proclaimed meal planning expert.
Professional list maker.
I want to write a book.
I work in Higher Education and have for 6 years.
I love cooking, baking, organizing cabinets, reading, and writing.
I hate folding/hanging clothes. It’s a problem.
I’m OBSESSED with fall and even have a favorite day that revolves around fall AND I happen to be getting married on that day.
We’re going on our honeymoon to New England and I’m SO excited.
I’m scared of anything even remotely scary.
I have a favorite everything.
I don’t believe in eating foods out of season: soup is for winter/fall, watermelon is for summer.
I am a supporter of the quirky, endearing Southern rules of fashion like not wearing seersucker after Labor Day or before Easter but I’m also a supporter of you making your own rules and wearing whatever you want to.
No TV show will ever replace Gilmore Girls as my favorite.

Her Story: The Perpetual Blessing

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 3 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Aftermath

We’ve been engaged for a month and a half now. We say I do in 5 months and 7 days (according to the Wedding Party App) or 161 days (according to The Knot app) on October 14th, 2016 at 5:30 pm. We’re neck deep into wedding planning AND future planning (aka buying a house, the bain of our existence).

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We have an amazingly magical venue that my perfect soon-to-be mother-in-law found for us that looks exactly like something she found on my Pinterest that I pinned YEARS ago (free blessing). We have a DJ (free blessing). We have cakes (majorly discounted blessing). I said yes to a perfect fairytale dress (partially paid for blessing)! We have a caterer and florist (who is giving us way more for what we are paying than she probably should). A wax seal has been acquired. We have a wedding website. An adorable custom Harry Potter themed cake topper from Etsy has been ordered. We completed a marriage enrichment class. We have a photographer. We’re reading marriage books. A return address stamp for stamping invitations has been ordered. Our honeymoon travel and lodging are booked. (We’re going to New England IN THE PEAK OF AUTUMN! Flying into Providence, Rhode Island, staying in Cape Cod in Davenport, Massachusetts and visiting lots of amazing stuff like Martha’s Vineyard.We scored a major Southwest cheap flight deal and are using a family timeshare for another MAJOR discount.) Engagement pictures are happening soon. We’ll be starting more in depth marriage counseling soon. There are bridesmaids, groomsmen, a proxy, a director, ministers, and a parade of kids ready to help us celebrate our day. Showers are being planned. Tuxes are being ordered. Gifts are being purchased. Registries are being completed (Target, Belk, and JCPenney down, Bed Bath and Beyond still to be completed. Also, no one ever mentioned how EXHAUSTING registering is.). Money is being saved out the wazoo; we’re paying for everything ourselves and God is giving us supernatural abilities to save like never before and blessing us like crazy through other people. AND MORE PLANS AND THINGS AND TO DO LISTS GALORE!

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It’s busy, amazing, hectic, beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, financially straining and requires major trust that the Lord will provide, warm and fuzzy, and a little stressful at times.

BUT here are the things I know:

1. I love William Allen Twiner III and am called to love him forever. When I wrote that blog post that I didn’t know was for him, I said this:

I say a lot of things, I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times seven without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.” 

 I love his beard, his smile, his squinty eyes, his face, his heart, his soul, and his laugh. I love how he loves me. I love that he believes in me and see the best in me. I love that he wants me to finish my seminary degree. I love how he loves his family. I love how he knows scripture more than I do. I love that he’s ridiculous and pretentious, but would do anything for anyone. I love that he’s a protector and a provider. I think he’s handsome and hot. I love how he loves the Church. I love that he’s a closet nerd and loves reading and knowing things. I love that he wants me to write a book AND wants us to write a book together (WHAT?! who is this man??). But more than any of that, I love that in every way possible he meets every one of the requirements I wrote about before I knew they were about him. He loves Jesus more than he loves me and he knows we can’t do this thing called marriage without the Holy Spirit.

2. I’m a bride. At the end of every day, at the end of any given moment, no matter how stressful or hard or overwhelming it has been. I AM A BRIDE. I am secure. I am loved. I am chosen. When I look back at our proposal pictures, I don’t see the things I see when I normally look at pictures of myself. I don’t see double chins, arm fat, eyes that are too squinty, teeth that aren’t white enough, or a stomach that’s too squishy. I see a girl who is beaming and knows she is loved. I see a blushing bride.

And then it hits me. EVERY. TIME… I was already a bride! YOU were/are already a bride. WE are the bride of Christ. Oh to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us. Oh to be able to go to that place, the place of knowing that no matter what, at the end of the day we are secure, loved, and chosen. Oh to radiantly beam and bask in the love of our Savior and to see that glow vs all of our flaws when we look at ourselves.

3. Marriage and the road to marriage are meant to be a picture of the Gospel! Just as William’s love and my status as his bride push me to understand God’s love deeper, so it is, or should be, with marriage. As all the decent marriage books say, the purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy, it’s to make us holy. It is not to fulfill our happily ever after dreams. I do think I will live happily ever after with Mr. Twiner in the “in good times and in bad” sort of way. But I also know already just from being his fiance, that this road is going to continuously refine us and make us more holy.

I am NOT an expert on all things wedding or love or marriage expert (I’ve been married negative years!). But I know that this marriage, as with all of the other things God calls His children to, is meant to be used for His glory. I believe and KNOW with all of my heart and William and I are stronger together than we were apart. I believe that God is going to use us more in ministry together than he did separately (which if you know us, is saying a lot! Neither of us shied away from ministry because were single). I know that just like the Gospel, it’s going to be hard and beautiful all at the same time, but sanctifying and refining if we let it! In every way possible, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, it will be a perpetual blessing. For blessings aren’t just the good things! And our definition of good isn’t God’s. Being blessed is to be aware of God’s presence and goodness in all of it, the beautiful and hard parts. 

To my married friends: don’t give up! I believe that God can and wants to use your marriage to refine you and make you holy. He wants to use it to demonstrate and declare the Gospel to the world. He can make all things new. He doesn’t waste anything. He can redeem and restore. You are blessed!

To my single friends: don’t give up! I pray for you more now than I ever have before. If you want to be married, it’s okay to want that! I think it’s okay to pray for it. I think it’s okay if for a season praying for it hurts and you can’t for a little while. Hope against hope that God will give it to you, but trust and believe that IF he doesn’t, HE IS STILL GOOD. Know that your life is abundant and useful exactly as is. But also, give people chances! Everyone deserves a first date. Don’t settle! If you are looking for the perfect person, you’re going to be looking forever. Go with your instincts, but not your fears. Risk is worth it sometimes. Sometimes it’s not though. The Holy Spirit is capable and willing of guiding you, invite Him to do so, let Him. Don’t be frivolous with your purity because you think you’ll be single forever. And if you have been, restored purity is possible. Marriage isn’t the end game. It’s a calling. And when God calls you to it and you get to fall in love with the person you’re called to forever with, IT. IS. WORTH. IT. It’s worth all the waiting. It’s worth all the heart ache. It’s worth the agony. You are whole and worthy just as you are. You are blessed!

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Part 1: The Prequel

Part 2: The Proposal