[kristen and her bridesmaids, her mom, her mom-in-law & sisters]
i woke up from a dream this morning. it was kristen’s wedding day. i don’t remember much about the day except that it felt very real. i thought, that’s funny, i dreamed she was married… but then, woahhhh, she actually got married two days ago. the wedding in the dream was different than the actual wedding on thursday. thursday’s wedding was much better. and it was reality.
[kristen’s gift to her bridesmaids the day before the wedding.]
when most people found out i was traveling to maryland to be a bridesmaid, their first question was, how did you end up with a good friend in maryland?! and maybe, some of you blog readers are wondering the same thing. weddings are a time for reminiscing and i’m going to milk this sentimental week for all it’s worth. five years ago, kristen interned with sarah barlow at her home in chicago. they spent six weeks together and became fast friends. the next summer, it was my time to intern with sarah for a week. we also became fast friends. in february 2009, kristen and myself were both hoping to attend WPPI conference in las vegas for the first time. sarah emailed us both and said, you girls should room together!
[kristen and caleb’s rehearsal dinner, you can tell kristen had been crying. haha!]
and room together we did. i remember the morning kristen walked into the hotel room, looking disoriented and exhausted after a flight delay in san francisco that left them on the tarmac for hours, only to be eventually shuttled to a hotel for 3 hours of sleep before returning back to the plane. a bubbly hello and a hug, her unorganized polka-dotted suitcase trailing behind her. we spent the next four days exploring WPPI together — skipping keynote speakers in favour of sitting in the hallway, talking about boys. [what else are 18/19 year olds to talk about?]
she was different than me. in every sense. we were both christians and we both loved God — but our priorities, our preferences, our personalities — nothing else seemed to line up. except that we could talk. after WPPI, kristen made plans to fly to vancouver in june 2009 to second-shoot with me. then it was the next month, sarah, kristen and i finally hung out together on a california road-trip from san francisco to santa barbara and back. we also spent the 4th of july together. i loved those girls. i just re-read kristen’s blog post and it made me SNORT with laughter. i am dying.
[the morning of her wedding! bright-eyed and excited!]
we seemed to be blessed with endless travel opportunities to see each other, two friends states and provinces apart. in october 2009, my parents and i were on an east coast road trip. one stop would have us in pennsylvania — only 3 hours from kristen’s home. she drove out to stay with us for 24 hours before heading back home. and then again, in january 2010, kristen visited me in vancouver. i tortured her with a tegan and sara concert [she couldn’t stand them] and we spent a weekend cruising around seattle. the very next month, it was WPPI again. simply incredible, looking back, on how much time we got to spend together those first few years of friendship!
[kristen’s amazing dress. bought off the rack and customized. and our gold, glittery bridesmaids dresses!]
in june 2010, i made my way out to maryland for the first time — and it was also one of the most difficult times in our friendship. we are very different people. kristen is messy, i am neat. kristen loves activity-filled homes, i am used to quiet. kristen is spontaneous, i am planned. kristen is crazy about sports, i just like to run. most importantly, kristen had been through a lot of hardship in her teenage years and although i, in my own way, had as well — i had a heart full of dreams. endless, bubbling-over, passionate, all-encompassing dreams of travel, business, music, exploring, accomplishment. i am a dreamer and when i love someone, i share my dreams. my dreams weren’t met with excitement, they were met with “well, but if it doesn’t work out that way, you’ll be fine.” because many of kristen’s dreams [at that point] had only led to disappointment and heartbreak. she thought i was naive and i was genuinely hurt — which is rare for me — by her words and her “disinterest” [or so i thought] in my dreams. i didn’t understand her and she didn’t understand me.
[i loved kristen’s programs, and the words she wrote about each bridal party member. mine meant a lot to me.]
as we walked through downtown DC with a group of her friends after dinner one evening, kristen and i hung at the back of the group. we talked and i cried. i was hurt — and she was hurt. our families could not be more different — and rather than accepting and loving differences, i pointed them out with an attitude of, i couldn’t handle that. she felt judged. i felt judged. it was one of the first confrontational but healing conversations i had as an adult. i needed this friendship in my life. kristen challenged me. and continues to challenge me. we are the definition of iron sharpening iron. 3 months later, kristen met leanne and i for a weekend in philadelphia [what a great city!] and we had so much fun. again, for the third year, february 2011 we were back in las vegas together. at this point, WPPI just meant kristen. :) speakers schmeakers! ;)
[the ceremony site! that backdrop was made and painted by caleb.]
kristen is loyal. she is loyal, thoughtful, dedicated, hard-working, servant-hearted and a do-er. i thought of kristen and her trip to see me in march 2011 while reading bob goff’s “love does.” i was preparing to speak at my first conference, imagequest in Richmond, BC. i was nervous. i prepared for weeks. kristen bought a $600 flight and flew a full day from Maryland to BC to be with me and sit on the front row as i presented. she could only stay for 36 hours. two days of flying for 36 hours. that meant so much to me. and finally, the trip that i’d like to dub the grande finale of kristen’s single years. i emailed kristen on a whim in early 2011, “i don’t know if you’d be down for this… but i am trying to find someone to come to ireland with me… do you want to?” i didn’t expect a yes. but i got one. and i started planning. in april/may 2011 we spent 10 days touring scotland and ireland together and that trip was unforgettable. [read about some of our travels here: scotland and ireland.] in december 2011, i visited her in maryland again! and took these photos of her & her booooooyfriend.
[the cutest tables. hand-made napkins and table runners and electric centrepieces.]
she had started dating a boy from oklahoma named caleb one week before we left. and one week after we got home from the UK, he was packing up his pick-up truck and moving from oklahoma to maryland. it has been the most exciting year and a half listening to kristen’s voice on the other end of the phone/reading her text messages about caleb week by week. he has captured her heart and she has captured his. he is the calm, steady, quiet to her craziness. he’s dependable, hard-working and a true gentleman. they both have the most innocent excitement and joy about them. they get excited over the little things. and they both LOVE children and LOVE family life. they simply work together. i was over-the-moon when they were engaged in february.
[this is the hottest day i have ever experienced. 90 degrees and 90% humidity. it started thundering during the ceremony. the east coast needs to figure out a better weather system. west is best. this ice cold drink felt great on my forehead.]
for being long-distance friends, kristen and i talk a lot. we text almost daily, talk on the phone once a month and email frequently. she has one of the most beautiful hearts i know. she pours every ounce of her time and energy into other people: her family, other families, caleb, her basketball team, her friend group [close and long-distance!], her church… the list goes on and on. i was incredibly honoured to be one of her 8 bridesmaids on thursday, august 9, 2012 as kristen and caleb became husband and wife. kristen is an integral part of who i am today. i have challenged her faith. she has challenged mine. she’s shared all my high seasons and all my low-low seasons — even if it meant typing out a huge email for over an hour… or texting into the early morning. she is always there.
i love her.
and i love the Lord. after kristen walked down the aisle, she stood facing the altar, her dad on her left arm and her soon-to-be husband on her right. the congregation sang one of her favourite hymns, How Great Thou Art. it was my favourite moment of the day. the Lord is faithful. through all the tears, all the heartbreak, all the low-seasons, He is faithful. her wedding day was a day to celebrate. a day to celebrate the union of marriage. the love between two people longing to reflect the love of Christ. i am excited to watch their family grow.
too much more to say. but this is all i have energy for. it was a wonderful day. it encouraged my faith. God has a wonderful plan & i am excited to walk in it. there’s been a few teasers posted from her wedding, by shannon miller and jordan voth. i can’t wait to see more. OK, I’M OUT.
okay i’m not done yet… if you haven’t read kristen + caleb’s love story, please do that by clicking the link below. k great thx.