This father's day I have something extra special to be thankful for - a future father-in-law.
Family is incredibly important to Brandon and I, and I am so incredibly thankful to be marrying into the family I am.
My future in-laws and my parents
It seems clear that it is becoming more of a rarity for both a husband and wife to come from in-tact homes. Only a couple of weeks ago my parents celebrated 39 years together, and today my future in-laws are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary! The best part about it is that if you would ask any of them the secret to their successful marriages - they would all point back to their faith and a shared love for and dedication to the Lord.
Brandon and his mom
Last weekend Brandon's parents were able to make a quick stop in Michigan to meet my parents! Given the distance, they had only exchanged e-mails before this and had never had the chance to meet in person. Brandon and I had a great time showing them around the wedding venues and we all had dinner together at a potential rehearsal dinner spot (or groom's dinner according to the Minnesotans...).
My future mother-in-law, myself, and my mom
Brandon and I are both very aware of the differences between our families :) We know that the next year will bring many adjustments as we get used to different family interactions and traditions. But we are ultimately so grateful to the men and women who raised us and hope that we can follow in their footsteps in our commitment to one another and in raising a family dedicated to following Christ.
My ideal baseball game ends after the 4th inning, basketball wraps up at halftime, and football after a couple of quarters :)
Don't get me wrong, I love to be active, I just tend to get bored when I'm not actually participating in the game and have been known to get more excited about the hotdogs at Comerica Park than the actually score.
BUT there are a few exceptions - and one of those exceptions was this past week when I experienced the most exciting professional sports game of my 24 years.
Why was it so exciting? Well, my little cousin (age-wise, not size wise) was on the pitching mound - and he did an incredible job at his major league baseball debut.
Gerrit on the mound
We've known this day was coming for quite awhile, and had our fingers crossed he would be moved up sometime this past month, but reality hit when the call came on Saturday.
Luckily for my family, Gerrit was drafted to the Pittsburg Pirates 2 years ago this month - meaning he made his debut at their home field - PNC Park in Pittsburg, only about a 4.5 hour drive from our home. My mom, dad, brother, and I drove to PA to meet up with my aunt, uncle, cousin, and a few other close friends (including Brandon who was able to fly in from MN!). Total, there were about 15 of us there to cheer Gerrit on. To add to the excitment, Gerrit was going to be pitching his first game against the San Franscisco Giants - the team his girlfriends older brother plays for! We teased Amy that she should have gotten a split jersey made for the occasion :)
Loved getting the chance to spend time with my cousin Erin!
To top it all off - Gerrit couldn't have played a better game. It was a blast to be able to be there and cheer him on in person. I was telling a friend the other day that I have 3 favorite memories of the night....
1. Gerrit's first pitch was a strikeout. Actually, his first 3 pitches were. I don't know about the others, but our whole family was standing there and it was as though a huge sigh of relief was let out after those first 3 pitches zoomed across the plate.
Oh yeah - rocking the foam finger :)
2. Because the Pirates are part of the National League, their pitchers get to bat. At Gerrit's first time up to bat we were all standing again with baited breath....considering Gerrit hasn't exactly hit in a game since high school. But he let loose with a solid single and brought in the first run of the game. By this time the camera's had found where our family was sitting and there is a great clip of my aunt going crazy after that hit!
The video I took of Gerrit's hit. I love it because not only can you tell how crazy it got after his hit, but you can also hear his friend Tyler heckling him in the background :)
3. After Gerrit had pitched 6.5 innings the coach walked out on the field and we all knew he was done for the night. Then, as they had several times before, the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation. I can't even imagine what it felt like to be on the field at that moment, because even to be in the crowd it was incredible.
After Gerrit threw his first pitch they officially started making his jersey for sale - I told Brandon this might make me rethink changing my last name!
We celebrated in true Cole fashion afterwards :) Meaning - dinner reservations at a steakhouse post game (in this case I think we got to the restaurant around 11:50 p.m) and a ridiculously large meal made up of a lot of red meat, good wine, and much laughter. When we were walking back to our hotel (around 2:30 a.m) I officially welcomed Brandon to the family - because you really haven't truly experienced a celebration with my dad's family until you've been to one of these dinners!
My favorite man at our first baseball game together! (and Gerrit on 2nd base in the background)
I don't agree with how professional sports players are honored or treated today, but I will say that I am in awe of my cousin's talent and proud of him for making it this far. It was an incredibly fun evening and I'm sure will be one of my favorite memories of the summer (although considering 95% of my summer will consist of me sitting at home studying for the BAR, he didn't exactly have a lot of competition!)
A family friend congratulated me the other day, which really seemed ridiculous - but I later told my brother that I decidedly accept congratulations, given that I'm pretty sure I sacrificed any possible genetic athletic abilities to Gerrit :)
Last weekend Brandon and I started working on our wedding registry. I have to admit that I didn't expect for this to be a part of wedding planning that frustrated me...
Although Brandon is older and has lived on his own for over a decade he definitely has a bachelor kitchen (you might remember my adventure making cookies in his apartment last year with a decorative bowl and pizza pan) and his bedding and towels were hand-me-downs when he inherited them. I have several basics I've been saving for my own home someday, but they are more decorative and kitchen accessories than what we will practically need.
I THOUGHT we were prepared going in. We had scoped out several stores and had decided on 3 places to register based on what we were looking for - Target, Macy's, and Crate and Barrel. I had 4 spreadsheets that broke down exactly what we were looking to register for and some price comparison information I had researched between the stores. (yes I freely admit I have a type A personality - especially since these spreadsheets were organized by room/area and alphabetized)
But the whole process was still overwhelming.
First, regardless of where you register, the prices are still overwhelming. Typically I am an incredibly frugal shopper. Before making any major purchase I like to research different options for quality reviews and price compare. At the end of the day however, I much prefer quality over quantity. Brandon is the same way. We'd rather spend more on a nicer, more reliable brand that will last longer than save a few dollars in the moment. This means that we will often wait longer to make a purchase, but that is fine with us.
This process works great when we are making our own purchases, but when you are registering where do you draw the line? Do you go for the more expensive item that you might typically be willing to pay more for, or what might seem to be a more reasonably priced item?
The funny thing is that after we had haggled over making our initial selections at Macy's we sat down with a salesman at the wedding registry station to download our scanner and he commented about how inexpensive our choices were so far! We both looked at each other shocked - since we both felt the opposite!
Second, it's hard to anticipate what we will need! Brandon won't be moving to Michigan until September and we likely won't have nailed down a place to live for another month or two (and we needed to get onto wedding registry now because my future mother-in-law is throwing me a shower when I am out in Minnesota in August). We have some color preferences and a general idea, but for the most part we are going with a lot of neutrals right now.
The lists some stores recommend just seem so excessive and wasteful! For example, we've chosen not to get china but are going with a nicer everyday plate - I know too many friends (and siblings :)) who have registered for china and a decade later it is still sitting in a storage box - never used. Along with that we are foregoing crystal and silver. I do plan on finding some chargers and different table linens to dress things up if we do want to have a fancier sit-down dinner.
So any recommendations? Anything you've registered for and loved? What about something you would do differently?
Over the last couple of years I've heard and read a lot about different perspectives on the benefits/detriments to dating. Recently I've been thinking about how my opinion on such matters has changed since Brandon and I got engaged - and many of the retrospective pieces of advice are much more understandable.
From an early age I remember being overly concerned about getting married and having a family. I longed to be a wife and mother and I was scared of the possibility of that never happening. As a result I started seeking and desiring a relationship strongly, especially as I entered high school. I think really, I was looking for confirmation that I was someone who a man could want, that I had that wife potential. I was incredibly insecure about who I was and my worth. Throughout this period in my life I should mention that my parents were incredibly supportive and encouraging. However, I was thinking the other day that I wish during that time someone had encouraged me to put more energy towards my relationship with God rather than striving for a boyfriend. I was so focused on validating my worth through earthly relationships that I wasn't fully giving my heart to God and fully devoting myself to him.
Senior year of High School - 2006
The reality is that at that time I was no where near ready for marriage and consequently shouldn't even have considered entering a dating relationship. BUT, my parents and one of my brothers/SIL met each other in high school - so it was always a possibility in my mind that I should be keeping my eyes open.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
Enter my college years. My attitude didn't really change during my early college years. I attended a small Christian college and there were frequent discussions about this being the perfect time to meet your future spouse and how much your chances would diminish after college (inferring that it would be unlikely that you would be in a place with so many other Christian singles at the same time). My freshman year of college I had my first boyfriend - a guy I actually had known several years earlier. In reality, I was much more enamored with the idea of having an official boyfriend than I was with the guy himself! I gave him my first kiss.
Junior year of college brought more challenges. At this point I lived in a house with 4 other girls - 2 who were engaged, one who was "pearled" (pre-engagement) and the fourth who had a serious boyfriend. It was a long, hard year, during which I often felt very lonely and angry. However, I should mention that this was also a time of significant spiritual growth for me - I was growing closer to God and fully believed I was focused on putting him first in my life.
Junior year of college with my housemates
Then came senior year and another man entered my life. Those of you who have read my blog for awhile know about Justin - a man who was a critical part of my life for nearly 3 years. For a long time I convinced myself that he was the one God had planned for me. But please notice those words....I convinced myself. I gave him my first "I love you."
"Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose."
It was only after things ended with Justin and I that I really realized my problem. I was still coveting marriage. I was still putting my desire for marriage before my desire to commit myself fully to the Lord - to accept whatever plan he had for my life, whether that was to serve him as a single, or as a wife. I needed to say no to marriage and yes to God before his plan was revealed.
Honestly, I still don't know what I think about dating. I don't think there is anything wrong with it - although I do believe that one shouldn't consider dating another unless they are in a position where they are ready to get married. Why? Because the reality is, as cliche as it may sound, I did give parts of my heart away to men other than my future husband. Mind you, I have saved alot for Brandon :) but I still wish he could have it all. For me, one of the hardest things was separating myself from a man and a family who I had grown incredibly close to.
But yet I still can't say that I am fully against dating. Both Brandon and I dated other people before we met each other and were both very aware of what we were looking for in a spouse. For us, key factors were faith, communication, and the importance of relationships. I know many people tend to make the argument that dating and breaking up is like practicing for divorce. While I can see their point, especially in today's society where teens and pre-teens are "dating" and moving on at such a young age, I still see a benefit in getting to know a person and ensuring where their priorities lie before making a marriage commitment - however I think you can do that without getting involved with a lot of the baggage that is typically associated with dating.
When Brandon and I started dating we were very cautious. Our first conversation included a long discussion about how if we entered into a relationship it was with the intentional end goal of getting married. We both spent time in prayer and talking to others before we talked to each other. We set strict physical boundaries for ourselves and waited to say "I love you" until we were engaged.
Last month with Brandon, my fiance
At the end of the day, I don't regret my past relationships - but I can't deny the hurt and sadness that has come with them.
"The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him"
Michael Plantagenet H officially arrived Tuesday night! He made his way into he world incredibly quickly and at a solid 8 lbs with tons of black hair.
Now if anyone actually knows the origin of Michael's middle name I will be incredibly impressed :)
My future brother in law John is actually a medieval history professor at a college in Baltimore. Recently he finished writing his second book on Henry II. From what I understand a Plantagenet was the royal family's name at the time of he reign of Henry II.