Post Wedding Uff Dah

I’m not sure why we decided to open gifts so early the day after our wedding. Some advice to pending newlyweds, gifts can wait! Sleep in and then go on a honeymoon instead!

Steve and I were completely exhausted! The week before your wedding is so busy. Running errands, crossing things off your to-do list, not to mention all the emotions that come with approaching the biggest day of your life.

Then your wedding day finally comes and then it’s just over and you’re left feeling like, what just happened?

I think all couples should go on a honeymoon, even if it’s just for a long weekend. We didn’t go on a honeymoon as we were in no position financially to be taking any trips. Between the wedding, child support, plus all the added expenses of combining our lives, it just wasn’t possible for us to go. We were okay with not going at the time because we decided we’d go after we had paid off some of our debt.

The day after our wedding was a snowy one. My family stuck around to enjoy brunch and gift opening. It’s insane to think about what it takes to get your life started as a married couple. We were blessed incredibly by all the gifts from our amazing families and friends.

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Combining two worlds makes for a whole lot of trial and error, compromise and patience. It’s the ultimate team building experience, except you’re committed for life. There’s no quitting allowed and no switching teammates, at least not in my book.

The craziness continued.

I had my Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Training Program Holiday Show at the Mall of America the Monday following our wedding. This is an annual event in which the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders, the Training Program and MVC All Stars showcase their dances for some holiday entertainment.

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I quickly switched from wedding mode to dance mode, practicing and reviewing choreography for the big show.

 

It was a blast to perform in the Best Buy Rotunda. To make it to that stage was a major accomplishment for me. But honestly I was more proud to look into the crowd to find my handsome husband smiling back at me. Steve was my biggest supporter always and in everything.  Which meant the world to me. I didn’t have to battle to convince him of my crazy dream filled ideas. He was all in all the time.

 

Our life together was going to be incredible. We were two people completely in love, driven and passionate about truly living life, helping others and keeping Christ in the center the whole way. Who wouldn’t want to embark on an adventure like that?

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Fifty Shades of They

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I was recently asked to do a review of Ed Young’s book, “Fifty Shades of They.”  If you’re unfamiliar, Ed Young is a the Senior pastor of Fellowship Church. This church has three different campuses: Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, Miami, FL and London England. For more info. click here.

“Fifty Shades of They” discusses the importance of who the “they” are in your life, and by “They” I mean the people, places and things that contribute to who you are as a whole. I would say we all know that relationships are important because we are relational beings, but the challenge is understanding the impact that our “they” truly have on our lives. Sometimes the relationships we partake in–(not just the romantic type, but ALL relationships) are positive. Our “They” would be considered life-giving and positive. These are the types of relationships that propel us forward towards reaching our God-given potential. Everything in your life– people, places and things either bring you closer to God or take you away from Him.

Think about it.

 

 

Other times we participate in relationships that are not only unhealthy but that suck the life out of us. These relationships cause us to miss the mark. We fail to see and reach our God-given potential because these unhealthy relationships with our “They” lead to death. Death in purpose, perspective, and potential. We often tolerate this nasty type of “They” because we don’t know any better, we’re in denial, change is hard, and our vision is clouded by our sinful nature.

This book is filled with 50 short chapters detailing the different types of “they” we may find in our lives at any given time and the simple ways to identify them. Ed shares short stories that highlight the “They” and the Biblical truths that support the importance of having the right “They” in our lives.  

If you’re like me, you appreciate a book that is straight to the point and “Fifty Shades of They” is exactly that. This book is a short read and you could finish it in a few hours. I’m all about finding great reads that give me new perspective on my faith and life, and that help me to be a better me. I don’t just read books, I highlight and mark them up. I found myself challenged by the content and God affirming recent changes in my life. In fact, I think it’s time for a re-read!

If you’re looking to give your life a relational makeover, “Fifty Shades of They” will help you do just that.

 

Follow Ed Young on Instagram and Twitter!

*Who you follow is part of your “They.”—What in the Hecknology! Read the book and you’ll understand what I’m talking about!

 

I mean what I say when I say, “I Do”

Today I was getting married!

After 6 months of planning, we’d finally be able to enjoy all the work that went into this one day.

When I woke up I thought, this is the last time I’ll ever be sleeping alone in a bed! I would now get to go to bed next to my husband and wake up next to him every morning. How cool is that?

I’m not the type of woman who ever thought I needed to live with my boyfriend to “test the waters” before getting married. Why would I give a marital privilege to a guy who was only committed to me at a boyfriend level?

If you’ve been following my story, you know that one of the challenges in our relationship was that Steve became dad out of wedlock. I firmly believe that children are a blessing regardless of how they arrive, but that posed a major challenge in our relationship.

Part of the reason was, I had been disciplined my whole life with my standards as they related to sex. In dating I had the mentality of why do you think you should get to date me? Of course this wasn’t in an arrogant way, but if I was going to give every single part of my being to someone, you better believe I wanted to be with someone who valued my conviction in these matters.

In all honesty, Steve hadn’t lived his life in the same way. I know that a major part of this was because of how he was raised. He wasn’t raised in a Christian home where these values were taught, modeled or emphasized. Some people live their life in the manner in which they were taught because they think that’s the norm and they don’t know any different. If you grow up in a home where you’re not taught about boundaries, expectations and why they’re important, you’re probably not used to thinking in such a way because it’s normal to do whatever you want in your life and relationships.

I had dated a guy once who called me a unicorn. I laughed when he called me this because I didn’t get it at first. He said, “You know, you’re the girl every guy has heard about but no guy has ever actually met.”

I liked that. I’m a unicorn! That was a major compliment to me. Being disciplined and being a woman of character was worth it in every way. There are still women out there who have high standards, that won’t settle, that love Jesus and that value guys who do the same. I promise it’s worth it to stay true to yourself and your beliefs!

At the same time, just because you’ve had a past you’re not proud of, that doesn’t mean that Jesus won’t redeem you from previous mistakes. Lord knows I’ve done plenty of other things I’m not proud of. Thankfully Jesus forgives this imperfect woman every. single. time. He’ll always do the same for you.

He can take our biggest mess-ups, failures and lapses in judgment to shape our character and mold us into what He wants us to be. Yes, it’s true, some times we have to learn the hard way. We can face, what seems to be devastating consequences, but with God’s strength, we can come out on the other side stronger than ever.

My girls and I met at the church early that morning. My mom did my hair for my wedding. If you remember she’s a cosmetologist, so you better believe I wanted her to do the most important updo in my life!  I was the first child to get married in our family. Between my brother, sister and I, we had a bet going. We called it the race to the alter and the first one to get there would get $100 from each sibling.

Now I’m not saying I sped up this process to claim my $200, but I had to laugh when claiming my prize during the speeches at our reception because this former commitment phobe won!   It was just a funny little bet between us and of course they thought this runaway bride was far from getting hitched, little did they know they’d have to pay up!

We got married on a chilly Friday in November. I was relaxed about the whole thing. I didn’t care if things didn’t turn out perfectly because all that mattered was that I was marrying my best friend.

We took our wedding pictures before our guests arrived.

It was time for the wedding to start. Our wedding party lined up in preparation for the processional.

I was excited, but I was a wreck! I had envisioned this moment when I’d see my man, my forever, my husband looking back at me as I walked down the isle.

As I mentioned in the previous post, music is something I’m passionate about. The song I was walking in to was called “Make us One” by Cindy Morgan and boy was it a powerful one! One of my best friends, Carie, who was part of our wedding party walked down the isle to that song at her wedding. It was perfect.

It’s the type of song that builds and crescendos perfectly. We timed it just right for the doors of the sanctuary to open, revealing me in my wedding dress as I made my walk down the isle. My family and I listened to that song so many times together before our wedding day and every single time we couldn’t listen to it with dry eyes.

It was time for my dad to walk me down the isle. We hugged, I kissed him on the cheek and tears began to pour down my face. If one didn’t know better, you’d think I was sad about the whole thing because I had the ugly cry going on. That crescendo got me every time I heard that song. All the events of my life led up to this one moment in time. I was in awe reflecting on how God’s divine hand was all over my life and Steve’s too. He had orchestrated things perfectly so our paths would cross and we’d come into each other’s lives at the most opportune time. He needed me and I needed him. Wow. Thank you God!

Making a life-long commitment to get married is no small thing. Today we vowed to love each other forever. “For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health till death do us part.”

And then our Pastor said, “You may kiss your bride! Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Steve Toms.”

Wedding Eve

The day of our wedding rehearsal was Thursday November 17, 2011, which also happened to be my parent’s wedding anniversary!

My mom had come down earlier in the week to complete some last minute projects and to run errands for Steve and I. She picked up our programs, decorated our candy bar glassware, and ran supplies to Brackett’s, our reception venue.

I couldn’t believe in just one day, I’d be saying, “I do.” There were so many random times throughout the week as I’d be counting down that I’d just stop and realized, I’m getting married this week.

We had the best wedding party. Seriously, top notch friends and they were good looking! We each had six friends stand for us. I chose my sister Melia, my best friends from back home—Jill, Carie and Michelle, my brother’s girlfriend Lisa (soon to be fiancé) and mine and Steve’s friend Tamara.

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Steve’s lineup included Lance, Edog, Cory, Chris, Terry, my brother Keaton as well as Dan, Rod, and Ben. Steve’s best friend Stien was living in California at the time and his wife was expecting around the date of our wedding. Unfortunately he couldn’t be the “best man” in person, he still holds that title. Lance stepped in for the day and fulfilled his role.

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We also had a flower girl, Asia and of course JT was our little ring bearer.

Our rehearsal went smooth. Both Steve and I had musically talented friends. Carie practiced her solo “One Thousand Miles” by: Mark Schultz, which would be sung during the lighting of the unity candle. Terry sang “When I Say I Do” by: Matthew West.

 

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Typically I’m a steady person when it comes to emotions. I process things internally and it takes a lot to get me fired up. But then there’s music. It literally takes three notes and something inside me just opens up. Whether it’s the lyrics that touch my heart in it’s deepest places, the melody or a memory associated with the song, my emotions flow uncontrollably with music.

Today was the first time we had heard the two songs we chose for our wedding live. When Steve told me Terry could sing, I had to ask him, “You mean he can really sing, or he likes singing around the house and in the shower?” I just had to double-check to make sure we were on the same page. I knew Carie could sing because I’ve heard her sing dozens of times growing up. Steve confirmed that Terry, could in fact, really sing.

Listening to the lyrics made me realize this was really happening. I mean obviously I knew that, but I mean I was really getting married. I felt so blessed.

 

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Before I was a commitment phobe. If you were to ask my sister, she could probably give you a list of relationships that I’ve ran from in my life.

I remember a time when I was dating guy in high school and he lived about two hours away from me. He gave me a ring, a simple silver band and that was enough to send me running to the hills! I thought, oh my gosh, he thinks I’m going to marry him! Now this ring didn’t come with a proposal nor was it presented to me on one knee, but my mind just ran with it. Needless to say we weren’t together much longer after that. If you’re reading this…sorry about that!

But I wasn’t a runner any more. I had found the one that I could love, trust in, the one who challenged me to be better in every way and the one who made my heart overflow with love. I was ready to open up and share my authentic self with him. Steve always joked with me that I was the rock of Gibraltar, and that he finally cracked me and got me to open up. All I could do is smile at him because I knew he was right. I was so thankful to have found Steve. I had waited a long time for a husband and the journey we’ve had together up until this point was crazy.

We rehearsed that day, one groomsman short. Edog was flying in from California and he missed his flight. Of course he got an earful when he showed up at my house for the groom’s dinner. Pretty boy Hollywood was late; Steve wouldn’t let him hear the end of it.

We had a great time sharing stories that night. I learned more about Steve from his guy friends than I’d known before.

We all said goodnight and it was time for bed.

 

By this time tomorrow, I’d be Mrs. Steve Toms.

 

 

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All Things For Good

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My plate was full. From wedding planning, to bridal showers, pre-marriage counseling, teaching, and practice for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleaders Training Program, things were insane. The stress of it all was getting to me.

 

Wedding planning was overwhelming. If I wasn’t working on wedding plans, I felt the guilt of not doing enough. I’m not the typical girl whose had her whole wedding planned since she was a teenager, but my vision for what I wanted things to look like was coming to life. I chose to have the bridesmaids wear black dresses and all the flowers would be red. I wanted Steve to pick out his own suit and coordinate with his groomsmen and ushers for their suits as well. I didn’t want to be responsible for everything, so I gave him little tasks to complete. It’s all part of the strategy–divide and conquer.

Tuesday evenings I had practice for the Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader Training Program and it was intense. In the beginning of the season we had the option to weigh in before practice. We made the one time choice of choosing to weigh in and if you did, you’d be required to do so every practice. Some people might think that’s a little crazy and perhaps a bit too personal, but when your goal is to be part of an elite organization there’s always a higher standard. I never wanted to just be “good” I wanted to be excellent.

 

Knowing that I chose to weigh in, I did feel pressure to make healthy choices during the week and make improvements in my fitness. It was challenge for me to balance the stress of wedding planning, my workouts, and keeping up with the demands of the training program. We had one practice to learn the choreography and then we were expected to perform it well the next week. The pressure was on!

 

Tuesday nights at practice we kicked things off with our warm-up, running the block, which is the equivalent of a 5K. I loved the workout days because fitness was in my wheelhouse. I reveled in anything fitness related and have always been energized by a physical challenge. I love pushing myself and seeing what I’m capable of– you know, the “Eye of the Tiger” mentality.

 

Today was a special day because my Training Program team and I got the opportunity to perform at the Minnesota Vikings pre-game show. We had prepared for this day for weeks and had consolidated practice time with the Vikings Cheerleaders, which was inspiring. The pool of talent of the MVC was breathtaking.

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We walked out on the field and in that moment, I got a small taste of what it would be like to be a Minnesota Vikings Cheerleader. I soaked in everything, taking in the panoramic view of the Metrodome. As we stood on the sideline I watched as the players warmed up. It was amazing to witness these professional athletes in their element. Their pre-game prep, their routines, the camaraderie they share and all the other facets of what goes into their game.

I’m an athlete and I have a heightened sense of awareness at sporting events. I don’t just attend games or competitions to simply watch the game, I love taking in the finer details. I have a heightened sense of appreciation for the craft. My mind began thinking about the lives of these athletes and how much dedication and sacrifice they’ve put in  to be the best.

I love being around talented people—but not just the kind of people that are skilled, but the kind of people that naturally bring out the best in you simply by being in their presence. The kind of people that motivate you to go beyond being comfortable and they convince you to take a chance and tap into your God-given potential. I love those kinds of people. These same people can influence others without saying a word, which is truly a gift–and yes, I want to be the person I just described.

 

As I stood on the sideline, I couldn’t help but reflect on my life. I was in awe as my mind flipped through the pages of my past. The people I’ve met through the years and the roles they played in me becoming the person I had become.

Then I thought about all the choices I’d made prior to auditioning. From the initial idea to audition for the chance of becoming an MVC and then actually following through with it. So many things had to come together in order for me to experience this moment on the field.

 

WOW, I thought,  I’m blessed!

There wasn’t just a smile on my face, but my heart was smiling too.

I was overwhelmed by God’s goodness in my life that day. His faithfulness and constant care as He’s seen me though every crazy endeavor I’d ever attempted. He cares about every single detail of my life and yours, and He’s the Creator of it all.

I’m thankful for the faith I have and the perspective it’s given me in the good and challenging times. I know that for some people finding the joy in life can be a struggle, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I struggle too.

I have moments when I don’t feel like writing because the words won’t come or I feel like what I just wrote won’t encourage anyone. There are days when I just plain old don’t feel like writing. At times I would rather read, go outside or do ANYTHING but write.

I also have moments when I have to give myself a pep-talk before I speak in front of people or to convince myself go to the gym. It’s quite silly actually, given my background and my passions that I would ever struggle in these areas.

It’s in these moments that I’m reminded that every good thing comes from God. It’s only by His provision that I am able to do anything.

The same is true for you. Regardless of where you stand or how good life is right now, we all face battles. When things aren’t going so well we can fall into the trap of tunnel vision with our sight set on the bad. Other days we wake up feeling like a complete rock-star ready to tackle the day.

 

My challenge to you is to have tunnel vision for the good. Find the golden nugget in your situation. Choose to focus on the things you are grateful for in every situation and thank God for it. Praise Him for it AND tell others about it! When grateful words roll off your tongue, your focus will start to change and you can’t help but feel joy in your heart.

 

What you’re going through is refining you for God’s greater purpose. His Word says:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

 

Things may not necessarily be “good” right now, but hold on to your love for God and His love for you and know that He’s working things out for your good.

 



We had an exhilarating performance that day, but that day pales in comparison to what was to come…

 

 

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