Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Wedding FAQs, June edition

Have you picked a date yet?

Yes! November 4, 2016

Jeremy, I noticed you're wearing a ring now; did you elope?

Nope, that's my engagement ring! I've long lamented in this country that women get to wear engagement rings and men don't, so I bought myself one and asked Alissa to give it to me.

If you're already wearing a ring, what will you use for your wedding band?

For both Alissa and me, our engagement rings will also serve as our wedding rings.

Is it true there's going to be a Ring Bear at the wedding?

It's true! We were hoping to dress up Alissa's younger brother in a bear costume, but that got veto'd, so instead we plan on having a Beanie Baby bear sitting up front, as our Ring Bear.

Jeremy, why are you so involved in wedding planning? Shouldn't Alissa be doing all that and just tell you when/where to show up?

Alissa and I have basically flip-flopped traditional gender roles when it comes to wedding planning - while she's still very involved, I've been taking the lead on much of it. This has in turn led to a fair number of conversations about making it "our" wedding vs "my" wedding, which we've mostly worked through.

Do you need any help?

If you have creative (and inexpensive) ideas how to decorate a gymnasium to look nice for a reception, then yes, please email me! Or, if you'd be available on November 3rd and morning of the 4th to help decorate said gymnasium, let us know, because we'd love to have your help.

What shenanigans will you get into for your bachelor party? Is there going to be a "Gus Bus"?

My Best Woman Marissa is in charge of planning all shenanigans for the bachelor party. All I've done is suggest that I love laser tag, and key lime pie. The rest is up to her!

Is your wedding going to be the best day of your life?

I certainly hope not. Our wedding day will be phenomenal, absolutely, but if it's the best day ever, then that means everything afterward is all down hill, and then that sure doesn't give me much to look forward to. I'm excited for our wedding day, and I'm also excited for the days of real life that come after it.

Monday, June 13, 2016

An assortment of recent thoughts

I've neglected my blog-writing time for the past few weeks, leaving me an eclectic assortment of thoughts I'd like to share tonight (writing night).

Perhaps you've heard the Christianese saying that the devil's greatest accomplishment was convincing the world he didn't exist. I'd like to append onto that: the devil's second greatest accomplishment is convincing people they face their struggles alone.

I've come to believe this because a couple weeks ago my engagement was in serious trouble, and I have to confess I was tempted to believe the lie "I'm alone; no one else has ever faced relationship challenges like this." I chose to ignore that lie, reaching out to several family/friends to ask for prayers. Nevertheless I remain awestruck by how easy it could be to convince oneself that, "I'm in this alone, if I tell anyone they will judge me, no one will understand." I'm still figuring out what to do with that and how it plays into how I relate with the people around me.

To clarify: everything is better between Alissa and me. Like every relationship, we have issues that we need to work through, but we are both committed to that work, and we know that we have family and friends who wholeheartedly support us and want to see us succeed. We know that we are not alone, that our friends won't judge us, and that other people do understand. (and relatedly, I owe my manager so much thanks for her incredible understanding when I tearfully told her "I need to go home and cry now," and she instantly said "go! Take care of yourself.")

On a happier note, Alissa and I will be emailing out Save-Our-Date's soon! Yep: emailing. Part of our wedding mission statement talks about social responsibility, and for me, that includes: 1) not spending an excess of money on printing and postage, and 2) minimizing our use of paper, and the gasoline (and environmental impact) required to deliver it. Hence, the vast majority of Save-Our-Date's will be emailed, with paper going only to those very few who don't use email. (spoiler alert for those special few who read my blog: November 4, 2016).

"Hang on, Jeremy. Why are you calling them Save-Our-Date's instead of Save-The-Date's like normal people?" Ah, good question, dear Reader. That's because Save-The-Date's carry a rather unfortunate acronym, and since we don't want to be sending STDs to all our friends, we'll be sending everyone a SOD instead.

Incidentally, I've recently had my aging retaining wall removed from my front lawn, and went searching for sod last Friday before company arrived. Turns out Menards gets sod every Friday morning... except for last Friday, because reasons. After talking with four different employees, one of them discovered that, in fact, every other Menards was sold out, too, except one in Oakdale. Thus, sans enough time to find a Home Depot (rumored to be a powerful sod-dealer) I returned home Friday night, sodless.

Having nothing at all to do with sod, Ramadan began a week ago today. Last year at the start of Ramadan I was in Saudi Arabia, mere hours away from Mecca. Though I wasn't required to fast last year in Saudi (simply needed to avoid eating/drinking in public), I did choose to fast many/most days of Ramadan. True, I sort of cheated, because I didn't wake up before sunrise for breakfast, but after breakfast I would fast from food and drink until sundown. This year I decided to try it again on a day-by-day basis.

I discovered the days are longer in Minneapolis than at KAUST. While sunset there was usually around 7 o'clock, here it's been pushing 9 o'clock. So... my first day, I only made it about 12 hours ('til 7:30) before I needed to drink water to ward off my oncoming dehydration headache. After that, I decided for health reasons I would fast only from food, but not water/tea.

A few people have asked me, "Jeremy, you're Christian, why are you fasting for a Muslim holiday?" When I first heard Ramadan described to me by my eye doctor probably... 5 or 7 years ago, I learned it was not only a season of fasting from food and water, but also negative thoughts, anger, gossip, a cleansing of the mind as much as a physical exercise. Ever since, I've always thought that idea was beautiful. And so that's part of my answer. (anyone who's heard me go on a rant when I'm frustrated probably agrees I could use a good negativity-cleanse :)

The other part of my answer: just this year, I learned that the physical portion of Ramadan fasting is related to keeping in mind those who are experiencing hunger and don't have access to safe water or a stable food supply. What I choose to do with that, is pray throughout the day each time I feel hungry. I know I can end my own personal hunger very easily, and so my prayer is gratitude for that privilege, and also supplication for the many people living in poverty for whom "fasting" has never been a choice.

Today at work, a water main burst outside our building, and so from 10:50 a.m. onward we had no running water. Soon after it was discovered the air conditioning had also failed (I guess it's at least partially liquid-cooled). By 2 o'clock when I left for a doctor's appointment, my floor was mostly vacated - almost everyone had gone home to work from there. It made me grateful for the privilege we have of expecting running water, and air conditioning, and for that matter: constant electricity. These are things we take for granted. What an amazing privilege, that I think most people (often myself included) consider more of a "right" than "privilege."

Finally, I still feel feelings of sadness. The big news item this weekend was the shooting in Florida Sunday morning, and that's had plenty of press coverage. What I'm sad about is another shooting, also in Florida, that happened the day before (Friday night / Saturday morning), taking the life of musician and sister-in-Christ, Christina Grimmie. Truth be told I couldn't even tell you a title for one of her songs; all I can say is I happened upon her YouTube channel a few years ago, and was uplifted by her cheeriness and truly beautiful singing. She was 22. I'm sad that her news story has been buried by even more sadness. I'm sad that we, as human beings, have created tools meant only for the purpose of killing one another. I'm sad that this has become the new normal.

When Alissa and I met up two weeks ago to resolve our conflict, we started out by listening to this song that she'd sent me many many months ago. It sings of the miracles Jesus performed. For me, these are much-needed reminders of hope.