Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Years!!

(And now for the happier update!  Rewinding back a few weeks...)

Joe and I just celebrated five years of marriage.  FIVE YEARS!  I know it's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it's still pretty exciting.  We went to Hawaii for our friends' wedding in July, so we didn't have a lot of time or money to do something "big" for our actual anniversary weekend.  Instead, I surprised Joe with a little "staycation" weekend in Ojai, which is only about 45 minutes from home.  And while I was tempted to try to plan out our schedule with all kinds of events and activities, we instead just had a really relaxing, laid back time there.  We ate good food, walked around town, and enjoyed our in-room jaccuzzi. 

But my favorite thing we did for our anniversary this year was a surprise photo shoot!  I realized earlier this year that Joe and I have almost no pictures together (aside from the occasional smartphone selfie) since our wedding day.  Plus, we had such a blast doing our engagement photo shoot; so I decided to surprise Joe by taking him on a little picnic at a local park and then having my friend (and amazing photographer) Becky show up after we'd eaten!

This whole story is pretty great, actually...

The photo shoot was a few weeks before our actual anniversary.  I told Joe several weeks in advance that we had "something" going on that I couldn't tell him about, and since the date didn't mark any particular thing he was supposed to remember, he had no idea what it was about.  That day, I spent forevvvvvver curling my massive amount of hair and getting all made up, trying on every dress in my closet, and packing up our picnic dinner.  I asked Joe to wear a very specific outfit (once I had figured out mine, so we would be semi-coordinated), and I thought for sure he would figure out that we were taking pictures since I was so concerned with what he was wearing.  Usually if we're going out somewhere fancy, I'll just ask him to wear something nice; but this time I was super specific, and I even stood next to him in the dress I picked out, to see if his shirt looked good with the dress.  But he didn't pick up any of those clues, haha!

About an hour before we were going to head out for the picnic, Becky messaged me saying it looked like it might rain and suggested possibly rescheduling the photo shoot.  I looked outside and sure enough, the sky was completely gray and you could smell rain in the air!  But I wasn't about to have to re-curl my hair again another day!  (I'm not even kidding, you guys, that was pretty much the reason I refused to reschedule.)  So I said, "The show must go on!" and prayed that if it did rain, it would be just the lightest of drizzles.  As I was driving us to the park, it did drizzle a little bit.  I told Joe, "Okay, so...I'm gonna ask you to be a trooper tonight, whatever may happen."  And he said sure, he'd roll with the punches (still totally unaware of what we were doing except that he now knew there would be some sort of picnic since I had a basket full of food in the back seat).  I was thinking it might start pouring and we'd be eating soggy pb&j sandwiches (because I'm super gourmet when I do picnics!) and sitting on a muddy blanket.

So we arrived at the park and had to walk a little ways to the spot where I had arranged to meet Becky, which was in a little clearing with a couple of tire swings hanging from a big tree.  By the time we got to the spot, it had stopped drizzling.  And by the time we'd finished eating, the clouds were clearing away and the sun began to shine!  Woohoo!

After we ate, we just relaxed and played around on the swings while I waited for the arranged time that Becky would show up.  I kept kind of looking around because I wasn't sure where she'd come from, and then Joe jokingly said, "Are there paparazzi hiding in the bushes taking pictures of us?  If so, I hope they get a picture of THIS!"  (And then he grabbed my butt.)  So I figured that would be a good time to let him in on the surprise.  I told him that actually, although no one was creeping on us YET, Becky was on her way to take some five-year pictures for us. 

We had SO much fun with Becky during the shoot!  She took us to a bunch of different areas of the park, and just made us feel totally comfortable being our weird selves while also managing to catch some sweet, romantic moments, too.  Here's a link to her blog post with a bunch of the best shots.  And here are a few more of my favorites!

I was so thankful that we didn't reschedule and that the weather turned out to be absolutely perfect for both the picnic and the shoot.  I'm pretty sure we will have to make this an every-five-years tradition so we can look back on all the milestones of our marriage after 50+ years!  Something about taking pictures together makes me feel extra connected with Joe and grateful for how well we fit together.  Heck, if I could afford it, I'd do photo shoots with him EVERY year!

{All photos by Becky Davis Photography -- don't steal 'em!}

Dolores Mae Lund Palmquist

(Two posts coming your way today -- one happy, one sad, both updates on life as of late.  We'll start with the sad one...)

On August 17, I wrote:

My grandma went home to be with Jesus today. I'm thankful that I got to see her a couple of weeks ago, but also sad and sorry I didn't make more efforts to spend time with her while I could. She loved her big family fiercely, worshiped the Lord with a joyful heart, and has left a legacy of 5 children, 24 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren (and counting). I hope we will all strive to be like Dolores: faithful, loving, optimistic, creative, and full of inexplicable joy in the face of trials. Please send prayers to my mom and her siblings for peace and comfort.

This was the last time I saw my grandma;
I was showing her pictures from our trip to Hawaii.

On August 22, I attended my grandma's memorial service with most of my extended family and many of my grandma's close friends.  It was a beautiful service, and I learned that my grandma was a lot more amazing than I ever really recognized while she was alive.  I mean, she was a human being who messed up a lot just like I do all the time; I don't want to act like she was perfect even though it would be easier to only remember the good things and forget the hard stuff.  But I spent a lot of time during my childhood and teens thinking, "Ugh, Grandma is so crazy; why can't she back off with that darn camcorder?" (and other such cluelessly mean thoughts), and in retrospect I see that most of the "crazy" or annoying things she did, she did because she was so passionate about her family and about preserving our memories for future generations.  She loved every person in her great big family, even when we rolled our eyes or gave her sass or did something that strongly saddened her conservative heart.  She loved her husband even after he had an affair and ended their 56-year marriage.  My grandma was so passionate about her faith in Jesus, and she was always excited to see that faith being carried on in her family line.  Yet, she also tried her best to be forgiving and full of grace whenever she was wronged or offended.

The day after the memorial, my cousin Micah got married to a lovely young woman named Christy.  And the day before the memorial was my uncle Steve's birthday.  My uncle made a very good point about how appropriate the whole weekend was, because my grandma always loved to celebrate multiple occasions while the whole family was together, in order to make the most of our time.  I remember at least once having a cake that had both mine and my uncle Phil's names on it because we both have April birthdays.  So while some may think it strange to have a funeral and a wedding a day apart, it was perfectly fitting that we said goodbye to my grandma and welcomed a new member into the family at the same time. 

And even while I cringed a little as so many photos were being taken during the memorial service -- of my grandma's five children next to her coffin, next to her open grave, etc. -- I knew that it was being done because she would have wanted it.  She believed that even sad occasions were worth remembering and documenting.  (Side note: special thanks to my cousin-in-law Holly for taking on the challenge of photographing both the memorial and the wedding!  Holly was poised and professional, even when she had to step in front of the guys getting ready to lower the casket to get a final shot.)

I've been crying at unexpected moments since my grandma's passing.  Of course I bawled through most of her memorial service, and I cried a little harder than usual at the wedding because it was the first of all the grandkids' weddings that she wasn't at.  But I'm also finding myself crying whenever I think about how this is affecting my mom and her siblings, especially my aunt Carol who was taking care of my grandma the last couple of years.  I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent, even when you know it's coming because they're getting old or have been sick for awhile.  I can't imagine it, but I saw it in my mom's face.  I cried when I saw a picture of my nephew Levi heading for his first day of Kindergarten.  I cried in church during worship this past Sunday, I guess just because I was thinking about how much my grandma loved singing songs to Jesus.

And although I'm sad for all of these reasons and more, I am also so thankful for the comfort of knowing that my grandma is not in pain anymore, and she is rejoicing and singing praises right at the feet of Jesus.  There is no more fear, no more sorrow, no more suffering for my grandma.  Praise the Lord for that!