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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…