Wedding Week Day 4-The Wedding (Continued)

Our wedding ceremony was probably my favorite part of the whole wedding.

We were so blessed by the community that came together to make it happen and to support us in our commitment to God and one another.
One of my favorite parts of the wedding was the “soundtrack”.
First we had a full praise service-
1.) Come Thou Fount
2.) Great is Your Name
3.) Be Thou My Vision
4.) Though I may speak
5.) Memorial Candles were lit/Grandparents were seated to Motion Picture Soundtrack by Radiohead played by a string quartet.
6.) Mothers were seated to Sheep May Safely Graze by Bach.
7.) Bridesmaids/My processional to Only Hope by Switchfoot
8.) Nate sings an original song I hadn’t heard yet!
9.) We recess to what started as The Bridal March but morphed into “Good Love”
It was so randomly and perfectly us. 


I look back at the words of “Though I may speak”:


Though I may speak with bravest fire
And have the gift to all inspire
And have not love, my words are vain —
As sounding brass — and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess
And, striving so, my love profess
But not be giv’n by love within,
The profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come; our hearts control.
Our spirits long to be made whole.
Let inward love guide ev’ry deed;
By this we worship and are freed.


it is a hymn I haven’t sung since our wedding day six years ago, and I find myself struck by what little that 21 year old girl/woman (still feel like a girl/woman, but that is for another post, at another time!) knew of what true, real, hard, life, love looked like and would look like. And yet I/she knew enough that there was truth to these words, that something resonated with what this marriage thing was supposed to look like. What a gift. what joy, what bliss, this deep true friendship and community I have been given in my husband is!
I am so aware of how “lucky” I am. So grateful.


And often times when I laugh so hard that I fart in bed, because of the hilarious things he says, I half expect a parent to come in and tell us to be quiet, that it’s time to go to sleep, because I don’t know how I got to have a sleepover with my best friend every night, I feel like I must be doing something wrong to have so much fun and get to spend every waking moment with my best friend.


Bet you didn’t expect me to talk about farting, but that’s how I roll. 
Or better yet, how WE roll!




peace to you,
meredith








Wedding Week-Day 3 The Wedding

We got done with Bible Study and it is late so I am posting pictures now, and more on the wedding tomorrow!

My favorite individual pic of my love. 
He still rocks a newsboy cap like nobody’s business.
My favorite individual pic of myself.
Tres dramatique, no?
Right after the ceremony, so excited!
Leaving the church! 
Our First Dance to “The Luckiest”.
More to come tomorrow!
peace to you,
meredith

Wedding Week Day 2-The Proposal

It was Valentine’s Day 2004. I was soooo excited because I had never been “dating” anyone on Valentine’s day and this would be my chance to grasp the Hallmark holiday in full glory!
Nate had other plans, or so he led me to believe.
At the time we were both undergrads majoring in Theatre. Nate was at WIU and I was at ISU. We saw each other EVERY single weekend during our dating/engagement, which can now admittedly be chalked up to some OCD on my part. 
He was in a production of Phaedre as Theseus. 
Right off I was ticked. 
I have waited 20 years to have a date on Valentine’s Day and I HAVE TO GO SEE A TRAGEDY ON VALENTINE’S DAY!?!?
This seems really fair. . .
and it just kept getting worse. 
My family was going to see the show that night, Nate’s Mom was coming that night, Nate’s brother and childhood friends were coming that night.
Fabulous. Perfect setup for a romantic night. Exactly what I was picturing. 
To try to make up for this Nate asked me to come early to his dorm room, so we could exchange gifts. 
I had been meticulous about his gift. It had numerous parts, with numerous nuances and meanings.
When I got to his dorm room, he handed me a card made of notebook paper and suggested we watch Edward Scissorhands. 
No words. I was fuming on the inside. 
I got to the play. I was greeted by my family, Nate’s family & friends, and other students I knew. The play was pretty packed and I looked around for a seat. Quickly the director Stephen came and ushered me to a seat they had saved for me, which was weird. 
I watched the play. My man was amazing, because he is an amazing actor! 
During the curtain call Nate began to take off part of his costume. I turned to my future sister in law and said:
“Why is he taking off his costume? This is sooo unprofessional, it’s embarrassing.”
Someone brought out a stool and a guitar. 
Nate sat down and said:
“I didn’t want everyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a tragedy, so I wrote a song for the love of my life Meredith Joy Owens”.
A collective awwww went through the crowd. I too awed. 
But then came the last line of the song. . .
“You have changed my life, may I have the honor of making you my wife?”
The audience was hushed, other than the one guy who apparently wasn’t in on the plan. 
He yelled out:
“OH SHIT!”
That snapped me back to reality, Nate came down the aisle, got on one knee, and officially proposed. 
I of course said yes, and we all went out to pizza. 
Despite the less than intimate circumstances, it was the most romantic Valentine’s Day anyone could imagine!
peace to you,
meredith
I don’t have any pictures of the engagment on this computer, 
but this was right around the same time!
True. Young. Love.
meredith

Wedding Week Day 1-How we met

This Saturday (November 19th) will mark the 6th year Nate and I have been married.

WHOA!

To try to grasp how long this is, it would be like making it in the same relationship for all of Junior High and High School. . .

I realize that this isn’t the point, but it does give you a tangible way to grasp the length of time.

I have dubbed this wedding week, where I will take time to highlight different aspects of our relationship so far!

Monday-How we met
Tuesday-The Proposal
Wednesday-The Wedding (worked out well alliteration wise eh?)
Thursday-Where we have been
Friday-Where we are going

It was the Summer of 2003. I had come home from my freshman year at Millikin University and had already made plans to transfer to Illinois State University, switching from Music to Theatre. It had been a wonderful year of finding myself thanks to so many wonderful people, and an asset was that many of those wonderful people introduced me to wonderful music. I needed a job, and had slacked off in those efforts. My wonderful friend (and future Maid of Honor) Michelle, suggested that I should work at East Bay Camp on Lake Bloomington. I had been to EBC many times as a child and adolescent, but something about being stuck at camp for weeks at a time seemed suffocating, and I was hesitant. I wasn’t working hard at finding anything else, so EBC it was. Miles Price (an amazing friend and future reader at our wedding) hired me to be in charge of implementing a new daily day camp.

So I begrudgingly took my dyed black hair, blunt cut banged, industrial ear pierced, vintage track jacket wearing, Norma Jean/Flaming Lips listening self to the first day of orientation and training.

It was June 6, 2003

All the counselors had assembled, except for one.

In came this tornado with a sideways cap, hoop earrings, thick black glasses, tattoos and a soul patch. He didn’t seem phased by being late, and just jumped right into the conversation.

I just thought COCKY,COCKY,COCKY, cute, but, COCKY, COCKY, COCKY.

Well, thinking the cute boy was cocky wore off pretty quick.

We flirted (a lot).

We prayed together (a lot).

We read the Bible together (a lot).

And by the end of the Summer, we were already talking about marriage.

This was overwhelming for me in so many ways. I had a list of I never’s that I have talked about before. This was when I knocked the first two out of the park. Nate was the first guy I had ever dated that was shorter than me, and he had experienced a call to pastoral ministry.

1.) I will never marry a guy who is shorter than me
2.) I will never marry a minister
3.) I will never live in Bloomington-Normal permanently after school

2 out of 3. . .for a time.

I had never been serious enough about a guy to have the “meeting of the family”.
I was terrified. A twin brother who was the president of his Christian Fraternity who was engaged to a beautiful petite art major, and a Mother who was a music teacher, but also a ridiculous composer and musician.

The first time I met Jake and Kenz was in Peoria at Ruby Tuesday’s. I think I cried most of the way there begging Nate to take me back because I was so petrified.

When I met them, they were great and so nice. But I did notice they looked at me a little odd when we first walked in. I was already PLENTY self conscious about our height difference. I am 6ft. he is 5’8, and figured they just thought we looked funny together. Later that evening we went to meet his Mom and stay the weekend. She too gave me an odd look.

What I found out years later is that Nate said this to his family right after we met.

“Mom, Jake, I think God wants me to marry a big girl.”

So why the odd looks? They weren’t expecting someone tall, they were expecting someone overweight. They thought I was a new girl, and they were obviously perplexed since he had talked about marrying the “big girl”.

He hasn’t ever lived that one down, probably never will.

I’m glad God wanted him to marry this “Big Girl”. Very glad.

peace to you,
meredith

Can you spot the two love birds? 
A staff picture our first summer together.

Photo Friday-Tattoo Inspiration

I have been debating for so many years now about getting a tattoo. My husband has a few :), and I have been itching lately for some ink.  These pictures are some inspiring ones to me, and you can also find them on my Pinterest!

The problem is, ever since I met him, and ever since I have seen his amazing artwork on Nate, I have only wanted one person to do my tattoos, if I ever got them.

That person is Jimmy.  He now lives in Eugene, Oregon. And that makes a tattoo REALLY expensive. Although a total bonus would be visiting Mindy Rawlins and The Blair Family.

Trying to justify, trying to justify, trying to justify.

Do these images inspire you as they do me?

Really want this on my body and on everything I own (with even more labels added in!). 


What a vital reminder in a walk with Christ about loving everyone, 
because we so DO NOT deserve the love we have been given. 

But maybe my forehead would be too much? 🙂


 What do you see when you look at this?
 If you don’t see a hat, you know why this is so lovely and meaningful. 
If you do see a hat, go read Le Petit Prince, and have your spirit lifted and outlook changed. 

I have always been incredibly drawn to shepherd/sheep imagery when it comes to my relationship with Christ. 
This image is a visual representation of something far more amazing, 
but it grants a little understanding for my feeble mind. 
Mother and Child, Mother Mary and Christ, Father God and His Children. 
This sculpture is so beautiful to me, 
it encompasses such intimate, passionate, nurturing relationships.
These are just a few inspiring images. Don’t worry, you won’t see all of them on my person any time soon (ferociously types in search engine “Cheapest Way to get to Oregon”).
peace to you,
meredith

Did I give birth to Mike Tyson’s Vampire Spawn?

It happened.

Eleonore bit someone.

REALLY hard.

And she drew blood.

And it was traumatizing.

Probably the most for me.

I knew it was coming. Like a snarky little shadow that lingers a few feet behind Eleonore and I wherever we go, tiptoeing along is “The Possibility My Child Will Do Something Out of MY Control That Can Upset and/or Hurt Someone Else”.

If you aren’t familiar with the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE (pronounced tee-pee-mick-wood-soom-mic-tic-wah-o-see) Monster, thank your lucky stars. It is a nasty little booger, and it will get you when you least expect it.

Perhaps I was getting too prideful. Eleonore loves other people. She loves to smile at them, and wave, and brighten their days. She is quite adorable, biased or not, it’s true.

But. . .

there are these teeth that most of her peers don’t have yet, or if they do, not as many.

A woman from my father’s church said it was a sign of intelligence that she has so many teeth, probably COMPLETELY false, but at the same time, like all of you Mother’s and Father’s out there, I decided in my head, “well yeah, probably, makes sense. makes sense to me”. It’s just what you do when someone validates what you think about your child, you decide it’s true. 


In retrospect, if the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster feeds on pride and a puffed up Mother’s chest like I think it does, it was getting to be a chubby TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster, and had more than enough energy built up to attack.

It had taken a little trial run a week ago, when Eleonore bit my good friend Kelly’s baby Kinley. Luckily no blood was drawn, and Kelly and Kinley both took it in stride.

The next time it went full fledged and it was poor Wolfie as Eleonore got her first taste of blood. With a little “milkies”, his blankie, and some snuggles with his Mama Deb, he was up and playing with Eleonore once again.

Deb was EXTREMELY gracious. It didn’t phase her at all. I was in awe, and shocked that I wasn’t getting yelled at, or cursed at, or thrown out by my collar.

Wolfie was fine, Eleonore was fine, Deb was fine.

I wasn’t.

I felt completely, and utterly, powerless.

Seeking others advice on the matter for the most part made it worse, and I went to bed feeling like my baby had major psychological issues that I had spurned on by some sort of majorly inadequate parenting technique that had been put into place by my “style” of parenting.

I didn’t sleep a lot. Visions of being “the biters” Mom kept dancing through my dreams.

The next morning, Nate, Eleonore and I were sitting on the couch laughing and playing. Nate was tickling Eleonore and we were all giggling, then he started to nibble on her ear. . .
he looked up and we had both made the connection at the same time.

He nibbles on Eleonore’s ear when they are playing, she equates this with happiness, and love, so she OBVIOUSLY WANTS TO BITE EVERYONE’S EAR.

I felt such a sense of freedom in that moment, but at the same time my heart was filled with an extreme weight of responsibility.We learn how to love. There is no question. We can’t know how to love, unless we see how to love. It’s pretty straightforward and simple.If we learn to love from those who love abusively, we abuse, if gracefully, then gracefully, if passively then passively, and the list goes on and on.

This time it will be a relatively easy fix and the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster will be thwarted by no more ear nibbles for Dad! It is not always so easy, for many children, the way they have learned to love has done irrevocable damage to themselves, and to the world around them. The vicious cycle continues, because no one gave them grace. Because no one thought fit to name them, like I talk about in this previous post.

I myself am learning to live with the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster. They are always there, and always will be. I invite the TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monster to walk alongside me. I am not afraid. I will learn to handle each situation they throw at me with grace. Grace is what slays TPMCWDSOOMCTCUAOHSE Monsters, didn’t you know?

It gets most of the other Monsters out there too.

Try it, and you’ll see.

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.



peace to you,
meredith



Tonight we had our Wednesday night Bible Study. 


It was a wonderful time of fellowship, study & food. 


Some of our community is still around and it is 12:22 AM. What an inexplicable joy. 


So my post will just be a quote by my favorite author “on community”.

 A community, to be truly community, must have a quality of unselfconsciousness about it.-Madeleine L’Engle


You will be hearing much more about her in days to come. She is utterly lovely.


peace to you,
meredith

A photo shoot sneak peek!

You have already had a sneak peak of one of our photo shoots with Eliza Morris of Eliza & Liz Photography


I thought I would share the highlights from our last ridiculously fun shoot. 


We are so blessed to have found such a talented photographer to capture Eleonore as she grows so quickly!

I am smitten, and done in for all of eternity, 
I get to have these two in my life EVERYDAY!

The little details are something that you don’t want to forget, 
and they pass by, just as quickly as everyone says!
We are a motley crew, but wherever we go, 
and whatever we do, we’re gonna go through it together!
Every photo shoot we have had so far, 
I make sure to get pictures of her in this red hat, 
with a white onesie on, and her Deer Ugly Dolly.
It will be so fun to see all the changes but in the same “get-up”.
I seriously can’t gush enough about Eliza and her work. The capturing of my family, and my memories and these fleeting moments in time are so valuable, and I will be forever thankful.
I am a blessed woman, I know it, and I am completely unworthy of it.
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” 
– Thornton Wilder

peace to you,
meredith


music to the heart and soul

This Saturday will be  a dream come true for me.

One of my favorite musical groups of all time will be playing a show in Bloomington, at a childhood friends apartment.

I have been dubbed a “Superfan” along with my dear friend Lindsay who will be absent this concert since she currently lives in Arkansas.

Lindsay and I first saw Rue Royale in 2007 at Uncommon Grounds in Wrigleyville. We didn’t pay much attention or realize what amazing food was there. We were there strictly for the music.

Our fates were sealed, and since then we have tried to make it to every show that has been accessible to us.

Our 3rd concert at Subterranean Winter 2007! 

There isn’t really much to say about their music, it is better to listen, and feel.

Cornerstone 2008. I had an appendectomy,
 so I wasn’t there.
 There was an empty seat in my honor.
At Schubas, end of Summer 2008! 

Fall 2010 in Macomb
Spring 2009
Their Moving to England show at the Hideout





I can’t describe their music and even begin to do it justice. 
Listen, and if you like what you hear, contact me for the concert details!
peace to you,
meredith

a bosom friend.

Tonight we had the distinct pleasure of having dinner with my lovely friend Liesl and her mother Susan who was in from out of town. 
Liesl is one of my oldest and dearest friends (since the summer before 7th grade, when I first saw her in her Chuck Taylors, and Bogie’s Diner Jersey), and she was one of the reasons (other than God of course. . .DUH) that moving back to Bloomington even seemed slightly tangible to me. 
There is such enormous beauty in friendship. In tried and true friendship. It’s the stuff that Jane Austen writes of, and what Lucy Maud Montgomery describes as having  a “bosom friend”. 
You might as well just see a picture of Liesl when you look for the definition of the term, because she is mine. 
Look up “Bosom Friend” in the dictionary,
and this is what you’ll see!
She has been with me through so much. And has become a great friend to Nate and a wonderful Auntie to Eleonore. 
Sometimes it is a bit overwhelming to see all the beauty she puts into the world, to see how big her heart is, and how free her spirit.
Overwhelming, and at the same time utterly inspiring. 
During Liesl’s time in Belgium working for Young Life I had the AMAZING opportunity to travel there to assist her with moving back. We attempted to chronicle the adventure with this blog. I think we could easily get paid for traveling together and writing about it. Or maybe I just think we are funny and no one else does. . .nope, we’re pretty funny.
Liesl and I enjoying a good “brew” on our German Day Trip!
Life has lots of ups and downs, but there is so much joy to be had in friendship and fellowship. 
It is truly one of God’s gifts to us.
I hope you all have a Liesl in your life. I can’t imagine how empty mine would be without her. 
peace to you,
meredith