Thoroughly Showered

I never would have guessed last November 27th when Adam asked me to marry him,

That I'd be having 4 parties thrown to celebrate our marriage...prior to the wedding week.
But, last Sunday I had my 4th of 4 bridal showers. Count them: one.two.three.four.

Excessive? Perhaps. But people kept offering to throw them in each of the different cities I consider home. And I just kept on being extremely grateful for their generosity.

And how special they each were.

Two lovely girls threw this last one.

Steph, has guest blogged here, so you may have met her. She also writes a fabulous blog of her own. She is one of my bridesmaids, and one of my dearest friends. She was that two-year-older-but-I'm-going-to-reach-out-to-you-little-freshman person in my life. After meeting me once, my first year at UVA, she emailed me and told me that I was going to join her Bible study and that she'd be picking me up Tuesday night. At 7:45. And so she did. And so started my 4 year AIA involvement that led to many of the closest relationships in my life...

Which leads to Ash, who worked for AIA, led my Bible studies for most of college, discipled me, became one of my closest confidants, greatest role models, and sweetest friends. The first time I ever hung out with her was at the AIA camping trip. I'd known her for about 3 hours and she was sitting next to me by the fire and put her head on my shoulder. I don't know why I remember this so distinctly. But it makes me smile because it shows how immediately we felt comfortable around each other. And she really still is one of the people I feel most comfortable with.

Anyways, they threw me a shower for all of my closest Charlottesville (and surrounding area) friends. If you read my blog, you know how much I love Cville. So just IMAGINE how much I love all my Cville people.

Heaps and heaps and heaps upon endless heaps. That's how much I love them.

And, as we stood in a circle at this shower doing an ice breaker game, I looked around and actually started getting teary-eyed.

Just standing there looking at everyone. Teary.

Because, it's overwhelming to have twenty plus of the people you love most standing all around you, knowing that they are there because they love you. Knowing they are really there because of how much God loves you. It's like the circle was just radiating love. And I think that's why I got teary-eyed.

I couldn't help but remember what is was like to live in the same town with ALL of these amazing godly women. What a life.

I also couldn't help but get giddy, when I realized that all of them are going to be together with me again. In less than a month. And so many others as well.

This shower, as they all were, was a picture to me of how great God's love and his community are. And it makes me joyful, because that's what I want our entire wedding to reflect. How great is the love of God. And what a great gift when He gives it to us to share with someone else.

So showers are over. Now on to the main celebration. 4 weeks from tomorrow. Yippeeee.

Oh, and in case you are interested...Steph posted lots of cute photos from the shower here. Enjoy!

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Just As You Are In Me

Last night in community group we talked about biblical community.


Biblical community consists of things like:

Meeting together regularly, practicing hospitality, praying together, sharing meals, etc...

Easy enough.

But, it also consists of being willing to be available to others on their terms, be vulnerable with others, hurt for each other, share everything we have with one another, taking care of one another even before our own needs, loving sincerely and not just loving people to make ourselves feel good or to show off at something we're good at.

Not pretending that we have it all together but really allowing people to see the things in our hearts that are in the dark.

What things in life keep you from having true, biblical, godly community?

-Time?
-Fear of man?
-Feeling like you already have enough people who you let in, and not wanting to open up to anyone else?
-Meeting with others and being excited about what it's going to do for you?
-Using community as an outlet to vent and gossip rather than actually committing things to prayer together?
-Wanting to be heard more than you want to hear?


In John, the last thing that Jesus prays to the Father about before He is arrested to be crucified, is this idea of us being in the type of community with each other that He is in with the Father. Complete unity and perfect fellowship. Y'all that is kind of profound. Think about the relationship that Jesus has with His Father. THAT is the kind of oneness He prays that we will have with one another. And with Him.

This must have been really important to Him. I mean, if I were Jesus and I were praying for Elise right before I was was about to go die for her sins, I'd probably be praying something like,

"Oh geez, Father, just forgive this girl of all the crazy things she is going to worry about.
All of the mistakes she is going to make trying to prove that her way is the best.
All of the discontent she is bound to feel in her heart when she focuses on what others have rather than on all the treasures I have in store for her.
Oh, and pleeease help her sort out her priorities when she'd rather be blogging, working, sleeping, or running than spending time with us.

She is going to be a handful. Just love her unconditionally, Father. Because, it certainly won't be conditional on anything that she's going to do..."

But, clearly I am not Jesus, and I am not going to be crucified for my sins, and I am not going to say that Jesus didn't know how to intercede for me perfectly. And for you perfectly. And, this is what he found most important to pray for us about in that moment: "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you...I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one--I in them and you in me--so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17)

The point of us having this unity with one another and with Christ, is to glorify God. So that others see this and know who we follow. We are one with each other in Christ. And by this, we are all also one with the Father.

Christ is the uniting factor here folks. He always has been. He brings together things that are completely unalike and makes them one. This is my prayer for you and your community this week.



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Adam miss.doc


Adam and I were best friends for a long time before we started dating. And, as ideal as that sounds, it wasn't always ideal. In fact, a lot of the time it was quite unideal. Basically, God just let Adam know that we were going to get married about five years before He let me know. And this made being just friends, well, complicated. For us and everyone around us. And it made the fact that we weren't really just friends painful at times.

There was a critical point in our friendship when I had left to study abroad in Italy and Adam was getting ready to move to New Zealand for an undetermined length of time, that we decided we needed to sever our communication. Talking everyday kept us both way too emotionally invested in a relationship that was not actually happening.

Last night as I was laying in bed feeling sick for the fourth day in a row, I had a flashback to one of the most vivid memories I have of that year we spent not talking. It's something I always think back to and laugh. Laugh at the way that God uses the smallest, simplest things to nudge our hearts.

One week in February, about 6 months into our "year of silence", I got a 48-hour bug. And boy it was a nasty little bug. And as I was laying in bed, sick sick sick as could be, my two besties/roommies were there bringing me water, strawberries, and hugs around the clock--taking excellent care of their ailing friend.

Yet, I remember thinking to myself, "I wish Adam was here in my tiny little bunked bed, just holding me. I think that would make me feel all better."


I had a word document that I kept during that year. I added to it anytime I missed Adam. It was titled "Adam miss.doc". And I filled it with notes to him that I knew he'd never read. It was just an outlet for when I needed to talk to him about something. This probably makes me sound ridiculous.


That night I opened up Adam miss.doc for the first time in months and wrote:

"This is going to sound weird, but I have been sick for the past two days, and it's really making me miss you. For some odd reason, out of everyone in the world, I think I wish you were here the most to take care of me. Maybe because I know that you would really, really care...I miss you, and as I'm lying here in bed sick as a dog, the best thought in the world is you lying here next to me."

Last night, this same thought went through my mind as I laid in bed sick--if only he were here lying next to me I think I'd feel better.

And then I remembered writing that note years ago.

And then I smiled (despite the nausea).

Because, he is here now.

And in 39 days, he will be lying right next to me.




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I Love:



Today is my Mamma's birthday.

I won't say which one.
And you'd never guess by looking at her anyway.


I love my Mamma about as much as any girl could ever love her Mamma. And that's just the truth. I love:

-Her laugh when something's really funny.
-Her dance moves.

-Her ability to host anyone, anywhere, and make them feel welcome and comfortable.
-Her southern hospitality and personality.
-The fact that she will never forget something you mentioned, even once, that you want.
-That she likes to think up reasons to justify her doing special things for you.

-That she still calls me Baby Doll.

-That she serves her family humbly and passionately.
-That she is sweet and hilarious.
-That she is extremely generous.
-That she is the most organized person I know.

-Her photo taking compulsiveness, that has resulted in the most thorough documentation imaginable of our entire lives. Which is such a gift to us now.



-Her patience.
-Her kindness.
-Her sacrificial spirit.
-That she is so much fun to hang out with.

-That she would spend her entire birthday week addressing invitations for my wedding.
-Her perfect handwriting.
-That she is a wonderful servant of Christ and a wonderful example of how to be a Godly mother, wife, sister, and friend.
-Her amazing cooking skills.
-That she is a prayer warrior.

-That she is a coffee addict and a kind of slow in the morning.
-Her morning hair.

-Her amazing legs. They are so long and thin.
-That she knows the trends months before they become trendy.
-That she is classy.
-That she likes both bourbon and cosmopolitans.
-Her habit of gnawing on chicken bones because she thinks the meat closest to the bone is the yummiest.

-Her tender heart
-Her book worminess.
-Her adventures side.
-That we share clothes and accessories.
-How she sometimes buys things for herself that she knows I'll like, keeps them for a little white, and then gives them to me.


Mamma,
Thank you for being the epitome of what a Christ-led mother should be. Thank you for putting up with me when I'm grumpy. When I'm selfish. When I have crazy ideas. When I try to overcomplicate life.

You have always been right there to listen to my heart, hold my hand, and point me toward my loving savior. You've gone out of your way to make me feel special and loved me whole life. You've stood up for me when others have been ugly, even if I'm the only one who can hear it. You don't mind when I only have five minutes to talk between classes and I spend the whole time talking about me. I don't know how I could ever be the mother that you are. I just hope that you are there to hold my hand then too.

Have fun in your sparkly blue dress tonight. Party like the Birthday Girl that you are.

Love you always my sweetest Mamma.

Xo,

Leesie

PS. I loved this moment.

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Sweetly Broken

Adam and I have recently joined the most ridiculously awesome-beyond-words couples small group.

And tonight at small group we were talking about Character.

One of the questions asked something to the effect of "On a scale of 1-5 how much do you think you have grown in your character this year?"

Yikes. What a question.

And, as I reflected on this question throughout the week and again during our discussion tonight this is what I realized:

Being engaged is exposing. This past year, God has exposed my heart. Like a surgeon. He has opened me up and shown me areas of myself that I never knew that I never knew. And a lot of them were very, well, messy. And often ugly. And also, hidden. Hidden really deep in places that I'd never really had to deal with before now.

You see, God is preparing my heart to marry Adam. To become one with another human being. To unite in soul and purpose with another imperfect person. And what I didn't realize was just how contrary this is to the idea that is deeply rooted in each of us--that we are individual beings, with individual agendas, needs, desires, goals, you name it. And marriage, it tests our character by challenging this idea.

As I thought and prayed over the forbidding question of whether I have grown in my character this year, I got confused because there were two conflicting realities going through my head:

On the one hand, I felt like this year has been a year where I've seen God work and nudge and prune me to an extent that I have NEVER been pruned before. And it's made me healthier, grown me. It has begun to purify some of the ickiness.

And yet, on the other hand, I feel like I've never been so aware of my own depravity and of my inability to exemplify Christ's Character in my life.

And here was my conclusion: I have grown in character this year.

At a cost of course. It's hurt. It's been convicting, humbling, frustrating, and painful at times. After all, being laid bare, exposed, and corrected is not easy (as fun as it sounds). God breaks us sometimes to build us back up into a more holy version of who we were. It's called sanctification--being transformed by the power of God, to be more like God, all of course, for the glory of God.

As I pulled out of small group tonight with a new gratitude in my heart for the character of God and His willingness to extend that character to me, I heard this song on the radio. And it described the only place where I could have been this year:

"At the cross you beckon me. You draw me gently to my knees, and I am lost for words, so lost in love, I'm sweetly broken, wholly surrendered."

Sweetly broken. Wholly surrendered.

If we are to grow in character. To really resemble God's character. To bear fruit. We will most likely get broken.

And,
When our response is a surrendered heart,
Our hands are open, releasing our pride and selfishness to the One who has already redeemed and saved us from these very vices,

We grow. We start to look more like our Maker. And He is glorified.

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50 and Sleepless


Today is the 50 day mark.

Woah.

50 days till I become a wife. Adam's wife.

And for some reason my very first wedding freak out moment came last night. ALL night. Right before bed, I'd been Skyping with one of my best friends, Corrine, and I was telling her all about how much I loved planning my wedding, how it has been such a joy, that I haven't really felt stressed about it, and how I want to plan her wedding someday too--that's how much I love it.

Hang up. Click.

Quick call with Adam.

Then all of the sudden Wah-bam. It all hits me like 50 large rocks. Or maybe 50 shots of espresso. But sleep was not upon me. Not at 11:00pm after getting up at 6:00am and taking no nap. This is MOST unusual for me. Adam thinks I'm a professional sleeper. Well, it was not so last night.

I did that thing where I'd try to sleep and then convince myself that if I just worked on some things my mind would feel more at ease about sleeping. So around 11:30pm I turned the lights back on, opened my computer and searched the web frantically for ideas for guest books, seating charts, place settings, programs, menus, bridal portrait photos...

Then after bookmarking a few good things I thought for sure I'd be able to sleep, so by 1:00am I tried again.

Nope.
Sleep was still evading me.

Up again, this time trying to think through day-of logistics (especially photos), wondering if anyone we know has a flip cam they would loan us for the wedding weekend, wondering how long Adam should grow his hair for the wedding (my mom likes it short, but I LOVE it a little longer), figuring out a few more honeymoon details, wondering whether I'd have cute outfits to wear on my honeymoon...

Oh, and not to mention, WHO is going to make all of those pies????

2:30am and I'm in a little ball, all tucked in, trying to sleep again.

To no avail.

So by 3:00am I was alphabetizing my entire guest list because eventually this has to be done, right? What good is a guest list that is not alphabetized...

I was thinking through the seating chart and wondering who is going to be there.

When 4:00am rolled around I felt like I had basically stayed up all night worrying about the wedding.
I felt tired.
Very disgruntled.
Extremely silly.
And scared of how grumpy I'd be when I woke up.

Surely enough, I fell asleep soon thereafter.

And of course 7:30am came around and my eyes popped open. Hello day.

This cannot happen again. God has given me the gift of joy during this planning process and I won't let that be stripped away. Not by my silly, anxious, sleepless, little heart.

So, here's to 50 days and hopefully 50 nights of good sound sleep--knowing that everything is going to work out beautifully. And, at the end of that 50th day, I'll be married to my best friend.

And he will be my husband.

And I will be his wife.

And let's be honest, that's the only thing that will matter.


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Book Worminess



School is back in full swing now.

This has many implications but one of them that I like least is this: No. More. Pleasure. Reading.

(And probably much less blogging.)

As I sit here in self-pity over my lack of time to read a book a week, I'm remembering all of the good books I did get to read this summer. This is what gets me through. Here are a few of them:


HEAVEN IS FOR REAL: This was the first book I read in Nepal and it was also the first book I've ever read on an Ipad. Or any type of digital reader for that matter. I heard a lot of hoopla about it so I decided to read. I was a little unsure of how to react to it. Have any of y'all read it? What did you think? If nothing else, it was a sweet story.




THE SHACK: This was the second book that I read in Nepal. I remember a lot of people reading it a few years ago and wanting to talk to me about it. I never got around to reading it then. But one of the girls had a copy so I read it. Without commenting too much on the ways in which I agree and disagree with it theologically, it did give me a new appreciation and gratefulness for the intimacy that we can have in relationship with God. He is personal. He is our father, our Counselor, our Comforter, our Provider, our Friend. And He is very present. All the time. Even in our pain. These were all things that I needed to be reminded of while I was in Nepal. I loved reading this book.




THE DISAPPEARED: One of my teammates brought this book to Nepal and so after exhausting many of my other reading options there, I decided to give it a try. It wasn't my favorite of the summer, but it is pretty moving (once you got past all the mushy romance). It takes place during the Cambodian genocide under the reign of the Khmer Rouge.



THE HISTORY OF LOVE: This book was one of my top two favorite reads this summer. It's artistic, poetic, creative, ah, just beautifully written. As soon as I finished I wanted to turn to page one and begin again. I hope they make a movie very soon.



THE KITE RUNNER: So sad, but OH-so good. Everyone should read this book. Period. Ok, next...





SAY YOU'RE ONE OF THEM: This was the first of two books this summer that I didn't finish. It was very good but so sad. Which I usually don't back down from. But it just wasn't quite the thing to read while working day-in day-out with refugees. I'll definitely try again. Maybe on the beach next time?





THE ROOM: This is the second book I didn't finish. It intrigued me but I put it down when my dear friend Emily loaned me her copy of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (see below). I bought this one in the airport, meaning it was over priced, meaning I'll be sure to finish it just to justify the money spent...


EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE: Definitely one of my favorite reads of the summer and of my life! It is about a young boy whose father died on September 11th. It is written by Jonathan Safran Foer, the same guy who wrote "Everything is Illuminated" and "Eating Animals." Oh my word, I don't know how to tell you this but,

JUST READ IT!

So there is an insight into some of the things I read this summer.

What have y'all read lately?

(Not that it will do me much good right now.)

But hey! I do leave for a honeymoon in 50-some-odd days.
I guess reading on the patio of our Italian villa doesn't sound all bad.

So please, let me know what is honeymoon suitcase worthy!


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