I woke with my childhood best friend by my side. I had known her for nearly ten years, and she had traveled hundreds of miles to be with me in the last few days before I became a wife. Spending this time with her was nostalgic and surreal, and would’ve been impossible apart from the Lord’s grace that saved me two years prior.
A Resurrected Friendship
There was something different about her. Her genuine friendship, her authentic compassion. The way she treated everyone so well almost irritated my middle-school aged self because it exposed the nastiness I didn’t want to acknowledge in the depths of my sinful heart. There would never be another friend quite like Kellie, I was convinced. I told her we weren’t just best friends for life, but rather for eternity. I didn’t completely understand the reality of that promise until we went our separate ways after I moved to a different city before high school, and states away for college. Several times I would call her, out of the blue, when I nearly hit rock bottom, just to get enough of her remarkable wisdom and love to keep me going a few more months.
I had no idea of her faithful prayers sent to God on my behalf, throughout all of those years.
Neither one of us can tell you exactly how we reconnected in the summer of 2015, but I can tell you it wasn’t long after I made the life-giving decision to follow Jesus. We don’t find it merely coincidence that the Lord who rose from the tomb on the third day is the same God who resurrected our faded-away friendship. It was as if we hadn’t missed out on years of life together – we talked, daily, asking questions (me, mostly) and encouraging in Biblical truth (Kellie, mostly).
Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you now have. (2 Peter 1:12, CSB)
I was right all along about Kellie. She was truly remarkable – but in a way, I couldn’t quite comprehend until I made the faith she had a commonality between us. Her grace-filled friendship over the years and the incredible sister-bond in Christ we now share is nothing short of a testimony of God’s faithfulness, goodness, and ability to breathe new life into anything he chooses to.
I mean, really. Who re-becomes (even better than before) friends with their middle-school BFFE? (Best Friend For Eternity)
The Lord Pursued Me through Them
For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:2, ESV)
Esther had a sort of glow about her. Something radiated from all around her that drew me in – I wanted that wisdom, that peace, that loveliness about her. I met her in a Bible study my sophomore college roommate invited me to. She spoke with such power about her love for God and her husband, it drove conviction straight to my heart and made me cry out – I need that. It took a few more years for my calloused heart to become tender enough to the Lord’s call, but all along the seeds Esther sowed in my life were waiting, patiently, for the water to come.
My younger sister and I started talking about God when I was in college, and one year requested a Bible for her Christmas present. Her curiosity sparked my own, and I picked two out at a store with a fish on the logo and a “Bibles Sold Here” sign. That Bible sat unopened until I met my now-husband, but was waiting there ready for me because of Melissa.
Read how I decided to follow Jesus here – when I started reading the Bible after I met Silas!
Looking back on my journey to a relationship with Jesus, there are so, so many people who let the Lord love me through them, and ultimately played a role in my spiritual growth. In the moment, people’s actions pass by with little notice. But as I reflect I am nearly brought to tears every time a bit more of the Lord’s pursuit of my soul is revealed to me.
I would’ve never been the Bride I am today if it weren’t for all the people in my journey – neither Silas’ earthly bride nor a part of Christ’s Eternal Bride.
Trading Guilt for Thanksgiving
Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, CSB)
Every answer of “our family and friends will help!” from Silas drove me more and more to want to forget planning a wedding and just elope. I am so glad he insisted I push past the pride disguised as shyness to experience the beauty of my community coming together to bless us in the start of our marriage in countless ways.
My mom insisted on throwing me a bridal shower with her friends – friends who weren’t invited to our small family wedding. I wasn’t about to let her invite all of my friends to an event that, in my former opinion, was unnecessary and awkward (receiving gifts is not my favorite thing and actually stresses me out sometimes). My mom reassured me that her friends wouldn’t mind at all, she simply wanted the chance to celebrate her daughter’s upcoming marriage with those she was close to.
It was a beautiful celebration. From the homemade treats and decorations she had carefully crafted, to the many hands of women carefully displaying it all: women who I’ve known for years traveled hundreds of miles by planes and cars just to show their love. My mom understood the importance of celebrating marriage much more than I did, and the shower she threw for me completely humbled me and filled my heart with gratitude for the Lord’s goodness poured out on me by all of these women.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16, ESV)
By the time the second shower came around (in the blink of an eye!) I was much more comfortable (excited, dare I say) for the celebration of our upcoming covenant. My new family would all be there, to welcome me as one of them. My mother-in-law’s details on both my bridal shower and Silas’ groom’s dinner was truly an act of love. She went all-out creating a “secret garden” theme party for me, complete with handmade flower-piped cupcakes and a miniature chapel in a fairy garden.
The groom’s dinner was cozy, intimate, and surrounded by homemade “thin blue line” decor (Silas was even fashionably late, due to his LEO training!). The way she transformed her home into a welcoming place that displayed a little bit of us both was incredibly special.
It Takes a Tribe
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17, CSB)
Putting together the chapel for the day of the wedding was no light task. Set-up day started with my father and new cousin drilling the door of the chapel back on, and only ended in a few hours thanks to the many hands we had on board.
I had only met Jessi months before my wedding date, but her friendship was just as genuine as if I’d known her for years. She poured her love out for me in incredible ways throughout the wedding preparation: working hard in set-up (ironing all of the tablecloths!), gathering last-minute necessities (more command strips, please!), and always having uplifting words to encourage me with (and making me eat the morning of the wedding!).
Laura’s pure passion for weddings is the biggest inspiration I had to finally accept the beauty of celebrating marriage. Her incredible friendship bloomed like a thousand peonies every step of the way. She let me wear the most important dress in her life, co-hosted my bridal shower (you need her lemon bars and her Scattergories game in your life!), let us invade her home as our bridal-party suite (and made the most amazing brunch spread!), led us in decorating the chapel (and brought probably 1/2 of the supplies we needed!), made macaroons and tiramisu for the wedding desserts . . . the list goes on. The first day of our marriage wouldn’t have been as beautiful without all of the love and care Laura gave it.
And I can’t even begin to describe to you how special it was to have not one, but two treasured friends take our wedding photos. Having Esther and Melissa follow us around the whole day and be there to capture the intimate moments shared just before and right after we were joined as one – husband and wife – only added to the joy of the day. Esther, the one who I’ve looked up to for so long for her faith and esteem of marriage, the one who walked alongside me in the first few months of my walk with the Lord, the one who knew me from when my curiosity of the Lord was just budding. Melissa, the sister I shared my whole life with and loved so dearly, the one whose grace always overrode any annoying sibling tendencies I had, the one who did my makeup for prom and then again on my wedding day. Seeing the two of them work together, smiling, encouraging our new marriage, capturing our love on camera, was a huge blessing.
I can’t imagine what our wedding would’ve looked like without all of the amazing people I had “behind the scenes” making it truly the most special day of our life. (shout-out to my new brother-in-law Drew for being our last-minute DJ!). Knowing all of the people who prepared with us, helped us set up and put it all away at the end, all the while encouraging us in our new marriage was such a humbling privilege and experience. The Lord opened my eyes even more to how he designed us – his Bride – to work. To come together, serve each other with a willing and joyful heart, and to accept other’s love with only gratitude and humility, not shame or pride. Just as it took many to share the truth of the gospel with me before I began a new life with Jesus, it took many to prepare me to start my journey of being Silas’ wife.
There are many more people who helped and supported our new marriage. To everyone who helped, a lot or a little, we are eternally thankful for your love!
P.S. Check out a few more fun family + friends photos below . . . the boys had way too much fun with their photo session!