Thursday, February 20, 2014

The One?

I went to dinner with a great, new, old friend this week, and I had several ah-ha moments in that margarita filled 1.5 hours. I love my old new friend, Madison. She is a free spirit who's so full of life. I have true, meaningful, intelligent conversations with her about life and love.  Basically, she's great and I love when we slow life down for a little while to laugh, happy cry, and catch up…and eat Mexican food.


Love. She and I are on different spectrums when it comes to love. She is getting back to loving herself after a long year of loving someone else, and I'm in the early stages of sharing my love with someone else. We talked about finding, having, and the existence of The One.

 I posed the question to her, "How is there a "The One" for you among billions of people roaming the Earth?"

I have a lot of thoughts on this, but to summarize, I don't believe in stumbling upon the one. The One should be God, or whatever higher being you believe in. There are billions of people on this planet; how in the world can there be just 1 person out there for you? If that's the case, then we are all doomed to a long life of forever-searching and comparing. There's not 1 single person out there for you.

 Madison's response was epicness. "There's not someone that we just accidentally bump into and a switch goes off saying that he or she is "the one." Instead, WE PICK who "the one" is for us."

We pick. Who knew we had a choice?

This is something we all know…we've all known…all along. However, television, music, movies, and Nicholas Sparks' novels romanticize the idea of love and relationships. They create a fantasy. If you live and love according to Twilight, then you believe that there is only 1 person/vampire out there for you, and life can't go on without them.

Well, anyone that's been in a relationship knows that they are NOTHING like the movies. In fact, they take a lot of work and time…more time than a 90 minute movie or 200 page novel.

Real life is way more involved…and that's what makes it so much better. That's where the emotion comes in. In reality, we get to pick and choose who we spend and share our life with. It must be a mutual picking to start a relationship with someone, but the point is that two people choose to become important parts of each other's lives. You have the power to pick who you want to have in your life…then it's up to both people to build on that choice and create a relationship.

When you think you've picked the one, you better keep your fingers crossed he or she has decided on you too.

This, my friends, was an ah-ha moment for me. It's something that I already knew. It's basic common sense, but it didn't hit me until Madison said the words, "we pick who the one is for us."

No one picks for you….but you.

You are never stuck with someone. You are never trapped in a bad situation. You get to choose whether or not to stick with them or get out. You get to pick who you share your laughs, cries, smiles, and love with. When shit's tough, you get to pick whether or not it's worth pursuing. (That's one sign of someone being "the one"). There's no one writing rules to love…but you.

I believe in fate and destiny and "everything happens for a reason," but if you don't take the hints, then you are missing your chance to choose the right one for you. I could go into my qualifications for who would be fitting as the right one, but it boils down to this: 30 years from now, you should still be saying that he or she is the most amazing person you've ever met.

That, again, are wise words from Madison.

You should join the conversation! Do you believe in "The One" or having the choice to choose the one?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sarah + Michael

It's VALENTINE'S DAY! Normally, I really don't care for this day. I feel like it's lost the true meaning. It's become commercialized and somewhat stressful for the male species. Let's be honest, ladies put too much pressure on their men and set them up for failure. So, what better way to remember the meaning of Valentine's Day than with Sarah and Michael's touching love story. I must thank Linda and Kortni from Historic Cedarwood for connecting me with Sarah. Get some tissues ready because this is a good one!

(Sara Kristen Photography) 

From Sarah:  ”Michael & I met in a very unusual way – through an electronic communications network called the in-ter-net. It’s something Al Gore invented. You may or may not have heard of it. Specifically, we met on what one would call a “website” in which you create a profile to inform members of the opposite sex that you are interested in dating and/or pursuing marriage. This is where our story begins.  I (Sarah) had attempted to meet a future spouse via the in-ter-net in the past, but had not experienced success. It had been two years since I had tried to meet someone this way, when my best friend, Dr. Ashley Watson Johnson, encouraged me to try yet once again. Michael & I were matched up within one week of me starting my subscription. Michael requested communication with me first. I was very attracted to Michael & who he was, but he had a very heavy/intense story. However, he was very open & honest with his story from the very beginning and I truly appreciated this about him – which made me like him even more.

 Michael’s heavy/intense story involves him losing his wife, Beth, of 14 years in August 2012. Beth passed away due to complications with a medication following her second brain surgery. Michael & Beth had 4 kids together – 3 biological & 1 adopted. Katie (12), Mikie (10), Gabriel (8), & Scarborough – nicknamed “Scar” (21 months). Scar was adopted from Ethiopia 9 months before Beth passed away.  Here is a video about Michael & Beth’s story if you are interested in knowing more about the adoption of Scarborough: (At bottom) 

I (Sarah) was hesitant about starting a relationship with Michael. But not because I had concerns about him or his kids, but I felt as though getting involved with him not only meant being involved in his life, but also the life of 4 beautiful children (who had recently lost their mother). This was not something that I took lightly. I felt as though I was not the right fit & I was concerned about my ability to not only become a wife, but an instant mom of 4 children. Additionally Michael lived in Hopkinsville, KY and I lived in St. Louis, MO.  I told Michael that I was willing to get to know him, but that I really felt he needed to be with someone else – someone more capable to handle his situation. Well, Michael disagreed & wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. So pursued me with a fierce passion (ok, so maybe it wasn’t that fierce, but since Michael put me in charge of writing our story then I get to write what I want – smiles.)
Michael & I emailed every day for a week. We asked each other a ton of questions. In one early email, Michael wrote:  “I realize that my story is overwhelming, but God has already brought good from Beth’s death.  As you have seen in the videos and the blog, God is doing AMAZING things!!  I decided to get on eHarmony for the fact that I know God has someone else out there for me to share this life with.  He has many great things left to do with my life and I figure He can be glorified even more if I have someone to share/live His story with.  I’m not looking for someone to just help raise my kids.  In 10 years 3 of my four kids will be out of the house.  I’m looking for someone to join with me in the story God has for my life.  I have an awesome life and miss being able to share it with someone.  I have a great group of friends that have supported me through the whole process, but it’s not the same as having that person that is there night and day.”   After that week, Michael asked me if I wanted to continue down this path or if I wanted to end it and we could go our separate ways. I didn’t answer him for 2 days – instead I decided to think & pray about it.
I responded that I was up for at least meeting to see if there was chemistry between us. He was pleasantly surprised to hear from me (at least that is what I tell myself – smiles) and we decided to meet half way in Marion, IL. Our first date was quite entertaining, to say the least… that’s a story we can share at a later time.  After our first date, we began talking on the phone and skyping each other almost every day. Our conversations would usually last about 5 hours. We continued to talk, laugh, & cry through these conversations over the next few weeks. After reading the book “How to Date a Widower” in 2 days (smiles), I decided to come to Hopkinsville to spend more time with just Michael before I would agree to meet the kids. Soon afterward it was time, and after meeting the kids, I decided to move to Hopkinsville. I then started to become a part of their lives. I would spend time at the house. I would arrive early in the morning to see them off to school. I began to do their laundry, pack their lunches, help them with homework, & helped put them to bed at night.
By April, Michael & I had decided to get married. Michael proposed to me on his 39th birthday. We had planned a scavenger hunt with the kids on that day, and Michael decided to surprise me on our first stop.  As we rushed to an old gazebo in a small park near downtown Hopkinsville to escape the rain, I realized we had left our scavenger hunt paper in the van. I ran back to go get it & when I came back to the gazebo, Katie (Michael’s 12-year-old daughter) handed me flowers. At first I just thought the flowers were part of the scavenger hunt. Then Michael turned to me & said, “We’re all taking a vote….and then he turned to the kids one by one & asked all of them what their answer was. After each of them said, “Yes”, he said, “We all agree, we want you to become a part of our family. Will you marry us?” Of course I said yes & some tears were shed. Michael placed the ring on my finger & we rushed off to continue our scavenger hunt.  After all, we couldn’t let a marriage proposal interfere from us winning (smiles.)  We were married on July 12, 2013 at Cedarwood in Nashville.”

You should be crying and feeling the love now! Sarah and Michael's story can remind us all of the true meaning of Valentine's Day. Carry the love and spirit of today with you every single day! It's okay to be Love Struck all the time…not just on Valentine's. 

 Be sure to watch Michael's and Beth's story adoption story below, and also see more photos from Sarah and Michael's Cedarwood wedding

Friday, February 7, 2014

Kristi + Bill

This week's story features a fun, quirky couple. I discovered their story through a contest I was running at Wedding 101. Couples were to submit their love story to win a chance to be our models for a style shoot. I had several submissions, but Kristi and Bill's story won my heart. It's funny how place, time, and the courage to start a conversation can lead to finding love. Enjoy!
(Allan Williams Photography: Samary Plantation Style Shoot, Fall 2013) 


Perhaps we chose a weird day to get married - March 15,2014.

“I know what March 15th is!” Bill declared (he just knew it was famous for something) about 30 minutes after we had booked the church. “It’s the Ides of March!”

The Ides of March is a pagan feast day devoted to Anna Perenna, the goddess of the year, but arguably better known as the day Julius Caesar was murdered in Shakespeare’s famous play of the same name. So, maybe it is a weird day to get married, but its connection to a book also seems kind of fitting considering a book is actually how we met.

We met on a bus. Yes, like in the commercials, except in real life. Bill was busy reading his book, and I was concerned about getting the last available seat that was not next to a weirdo. When I asked him what he was reading, he sheepishly revealed that it was a fantasy novel. He immediately began to ignore me assuming that with his vast nerdom already revealed I would be disinterested. Fortunately for Bill, he did not look like your typical nerd—more Abercrombie and less World of Warcraft—and I was feeling chatty that day.

When Bill gave in and put down his book, we really hit it off. And when my stop came up before his, he gave me his business card. (He will admit now that he hoped the gold embossing would impress me.) We became Facebook friends, but we never talked again for two years, owing mostly to a former long-term relationship of mine. However, I kept that card for some reason—and now, we all know the reason.

When my high school sweet heart ended our nine-year relationship, it was like a plot to a bad rom-com or a Shakespearean tragedy. We broke up on a Tuesday, and I had to fly to my hometown thatThursday…to stand in my best friend’s wedding… in a bridesmaid dress that was “my color”…at the church I had planned to get married at…followed by a reception at the venue I’d always dreamed of. In a frenzy of updating my Facebook with pictures of me living my wonderfully fabulous, single, independent life (and deleting all those pictures of my ex) I posted a picture of me in that amethyst satin bridesmaid dress. And that dress just happened to catch Bill’s attention. He sent me a Facebook message that read, “I hope I’m not breaking any rules, but you look really gorgeous in that dress.” And who said bridesmaid dresses were useless after their one wear?

For our first date, Bill took me to meadery, which is like a winery, but for mead, a honey wine. Coincidentally, mead is also the drink of the gods in Norse mythology. So, it feels as storied as Shakespeare or cheesy television commercials or romantic comedy plots, and Bill and I just got giddy off the enchanted history we learned from the mead makers and the taste of a really good first date.

But having just gotten out of a long-term relationship, I was hesitant to dive back into anything too serious. So, I dated Bill, and Bryan, and David, and Keith, and Mike, and some other online dating disasters for a while. But I always kept coming back to Bill, a Cleveland, Ohio native—this man who had always proclaimed he hated three things in life: Southerners, lawyers, and people with dogs. (Bill now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with an attorney and our Yorkshire terrier, Scrappy. And I maintain that God has a great sense of humor.)

We fell in love in the Fall of 2010 and have been together ever since. He made me listen to a lot of metal music, and I made him listen to a lot of country. We fell in love with Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” And over Memorial Day weekend of 2013, after renting a delightful bed and breakfast in Gatlinburg for the weekend, Bill drove us two hours out of the way to Johnson City, TN, where he proposed, so that we could always share a glance and a smile when the honky tonk bands on Lower Broad inevitably play “our” song. Rock me, mama.

Now, you see exactly why I picked them! They certainly won some bonus points by having "Wagon Wheel" as their song! I'll be thinking of them on the Ides of March as they exchange their vows! :)