Happy Anniversary, Darling

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Happy Anniversary, Darling

I woke up to a beautiful, sunny morning today. The birds are singing sweetly, so I grabbed a hot cup of coffee and sat out in the garden for some morning prayer. I couldn't help of thinking that it was not sunny and warm on this day four years ago; in fact it was cold and extremely rainy. Blake and I were planning a beautiful outdoor ceremony to exchange our wedding vows underneath an enormous, ornate oak tree that stands magnificently on my grandparents' farm. We had been prepping that spot for weeks: mowing and weeding and cutting peonies from every available neighbors' yard to place in jars along the aisle. I was so incredibly bummed when I woke up that morning to a downpour. They always say, if you want to hear God laugh tell Him your plans, right?

Today I am remembering how blessed Blake and I were with a wonderful wedding party and wonderful family that worked their tails off that day to make sure that it was everything that we had envisioned. My bridesmaids were constantly reassuring me that the rain would stop and we could still exchange our vows under the oak tree. They prayed over the day and they prayed over me. Much of my family were working up until the ceremony to ensure that everything was set up beautifully for our guests and that seating was dry.

And guess what...the rain did stop (thank you Lord!) and we exchanged our vows under that large oak tree, surrounded by our closest friends and family. Only sprinkles of rain fell on our faces as we held hands and smiled at one another, and our guests smiled and laughed as they sat beneath their umbrellas. It was the most wonderful day, and I wouldn't have changed a thing...even the rain. Moments from that day have been forever ingrained in my mind, the moment that my dad placed my hand in Blake's and we were all three crying, Blake and I exchanging our hand written vows from pieces of yellow notepad paper, assembling our unity cross that now sits beside our bed in our home, placing our vows and pictures in a time capsule to be opened every five years.

Blake and I still hear today about how neat our wedding was, and how it was the most beautiful ceremony they have witnessed. This makes me smile every time I hear it. Our wedding truly was special in every way, but it was not by our doing...it was because of the love and selflessness of our family and friends, and the love and graciousness of our Lord, that made that day beautiful.

So I'll end with this. A few weeks ago Blake and I had the honored privilege of working with Julie Paisley at the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas for a styled anniversary shoot. I was pampered with professional hair and makeup (something that I have never experienced before!) by the talented Natalia Issa! Julie picked out the dress that I would wear, and Blake wore a dapper blue suit. We enjoyed our time together, walking along the river during the session, remembering our wedding day and our vows to one another. Tourists were walking by us, taking cell phone pictures and congratulating us. We truly had a blast, and to have portraits that commemorate our feelings from that day as we reflected back on our wedding...well, those are priceless! Thank you, Julie, for this special gift!

And to you, Blake: Happy Anniversary, darling. By the grace of God, we have accomplished so much: making our house into a home, joining the most loving and caring family at our church, building a business, learning about new cultures in foreign countries, growing closer together with each passing day. You are without a doubt my dearest friend and my role model; the one person that I adore making memories with. These past four years have flown by, but they have been made wonderful by you.


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Our First Trip to a Soda Shoppe

Our First Trip to a Soda Shoppe

*Memories documented by DSLR and iPhone.

From those who know me well, they will be the first to tell you that I am 100% an old soul. So it probably won't come as a surprise to you that Blake and I and two of our dear friends, Clayton and Kelsey, coordinated a trip to St. Louis about a month ago based solely around visiting a vintage soda shoppe.

When we arrived at Crown Candy Kitchen, the oldest soda shoppe in St. Louis, there was already a line out the door. People were smiling and chatting cheerfully as they waited to enter. A musician sang and played near the crowd, gently swaying and bobbing his head to the beat. The sounds of Jamaica drifted through the chilly winter air, warming all of us up a little. Crown Candy Kitchen originated in 1913, and they are famous for their sundaes and BLTs. We all knew right away that we were eager to try those two menu items.

Inside was all 1950's vintage. A large glass counter full of homemade candy greeted us first, followed by small white booths for seating, and finally the soda counter. This place truly brings out your "kid-at-heart." It was a bit overwhelming to make a final decision on what we would like to try, because everything in the candy counter and everything on the ice cream menu board looked amazingly delicious! But after we reached our little cozy corner booth with the old jukebox, we ordered BLTs and Crown Sundaes to split. Kelsey and I had to split our BLTs because they were so big!

After lunch we decided to visit a few of the breweries around STL, starting off with Schlafly. The tap room was inviting, with large windows that allowed the natural sunlight to pour in. We ordered sampler rounds of drafts to taste a little of everything. I was a huge fan of the coffee stout, while everyone else enjoyed the wheat drafts and IPAs. The lounge at Schlafly was the perfect place to chat and catch up!

Next, we headed to Charleville. This brewery originated in Ste. Genevieve, where Clayton and Kelsey are from...so it was only fitting to visit a slice of their hometown! When walking inside, everyone was smiling and wearing Hawaiian shirts. They told us that they had just finished up a luau, and many of their signature drinks for the day were Hawaiian themed. Maui is my home away from home, so I was really looking forward to taking in the atmosphere. Film footage of a surfer was projected on the west wall, and I especially loved the industrial emerson light bulbs suspended from the ceiling. Lazy summertime music played overhead, while distant sounds of the skee ball machine in the game room clanked and dinged in the background.

It was on to The Hill for dinner. If you have never been to The Hill, it is a small community filled with Italian restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and mom and pop shops. It is colorful and charming and 100% authentic. We chose Charlie Gitto's for supper. This restaurants felt very sophisticated and classic, with dim lights and a warm atmosphere. The waiters moved about the room like clockwork, flowing to and from tables gracefully. Guests were all smiling and chatting, and I often heard the clanking sound of wine glasses. Most of us ate pasta for dinner, while Blake enjoyed pizza. It was truly the best pasta I had ever ate!

The day ended with decaf coffee and tea at Kaldi's Coffee. We were sad that our day-trip had come to an end and that we would soon be heading home, but it had been a wonderful day: full of great food, stories, laughter, and new memories made!

Our Beginning

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Our Beginning

I was at a softball tournament in Union, MO. during my senior year of high school. I knew he was going to be there, and I was so nervous. We had been messaging and texting each other for months, but had never met in person. This was the day.

I remember seeing him walk towards the stands with a friend while I was playing shortstop. I thought, "Wow, he's handsome. Wait! Kelsi, get your head in the game! This is the year that your team is supposed to make it to the State Championships. Every pitch, every play, every second counts. Focus!" It was so hard not to sneak a peek into the stands to catch a glimpse of him every now and then during the tournament. I didn't know it then, but I was about to meet the man I would spend the rest of my life with.

After the tournament, I gathered my gear together, completely sweaty and dirty, with eyeblack smeared down my cheeks from donning and removing my batting helmet numerous times throughout the day. I threw my bag over my shoulder, left the dugout, and started walking towards him with a group of my friends. I was so nervous! What would I say? Better yet, what will he think of me...I must look a sight! I'm pretty outgoing by nature, so I just decided to be myself. I placed my hand on the chair he was sitting in and said, "Hi!" Though I came across as bubbly and excited, my heart was racing from so many emotions racing through my body at once. He looked up at me and smiled, and in a shy voice he replied, "Hi." I know some people do not believe in "love at first sight," but it is possible...and in this moment I was head-over-heels for him.

That evening we went bowling with friends and got to know each other a little more. I remember him offering to follow me home to make sure I got back safely, and I thought to myself, "He is quite the gentleman."

We dated for four and a half years, and he was there for all of my good times and bad, and there were plenty of both. We were studying at different colleges during this time, and we both had full times jobs, but he rarely ever missed taking me out on a date on a weekend, or hanging out at my house to help me study for my exams. I'm tearing up now just thinking about how supportive, and just how humble and GOOD this man in his early twenties could be. I was (and am) completely devoted to him, and I've never been more filled with joy than the night he asked me to be his wife.

This year on May 24th, Blake and I will celebrate four absolutely delightful years together. I will never forget the day we exchanged our hand-written vows to one another, underneath the oak tree on my grandparent's farm. The grass was beaded with drops of rain from earlier in the day, and the smell of peonies cut fresh from my dad and grandmother's gardens filled the air. His vows were on a small piece of white notepad paper, and mine were written on yellow. We put them in a time capsule, and I'm eagerly waiting to open it up and read those vows again on our fifth anniversary.

I'll end with this. A couple of months ago I asked Blake about his first impression of me on that day at the softball fields. I said, "I had to have looked so sweaty and dirty from playing ball all day." He replied, "I don't remember any of that, but I remember how blue your eyes were."


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