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.
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.
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?
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.”
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.
It had been about three months since we told my parents about JT and today they’d meet him in person.
It was crazy to think how much of a part of my life this little guy was; yet my parents had never witnessed it.
I had taken on the role of being a mom when JT was with Steve and I. By no means was I trying to replace his biological mother, but I was going to do my best to love and care for him, like any good mom would.
This sweetheart really challenged our relationship, not because he was difficult, but because we really had to work together when he was in our care. We had to communicate, coordinate, and operate in a tag team fashion. When one of us was playing with him, the other one would be preparing his food. While one of us was changing his diapers, the other one could take a minute to rest.
Steve was so playful with JT and I could see how much they loved each other. He got a kick out of making him laugh doing the silliest things.
Now changing dirty diapers was a different story. Steve’s stomach couldn’t handle the mess, so I would voluntarily change his diapers. Steve and I complimented each other in our child rearing.
It was May 1, 2011 and my parents arrived at my house and we anxiously awaited the arrival of Steve and JT.
Steve had picked him up and drove to my house. I heard the upstairs door open. I went upstairs to help him carry the diaper bag as my parents anxious awaited seeing JT for the first time.
The three of us came downstairs. One look at JT and my mom got teary-eyed and my dad smiled and I knew that they were hooked!
His sweet baby cheeks, wild hair that couldn’t be tamed and wore a grin identical to his daddy’s…
I was so proud in that moment. I was proud of Steve because he was such a great dad. He would do anything for JT and he worked hard to provide for his son. He loved him so much. He prayed for him, gave him love and attention, taught him things, gave him correction when needed. He took parenting seriously and wanted to instill in him strong Christian values. We prayed before our meals as a family and before feeding JT. He would eventually understand what praying was all about.
My heart was beaming with joy. Not only did I love Steve, but I loved JT. To think that there was a time when I questioned if this life was really what God had planned for me…fast-forward and there we were. My boys and I spending time with my parents, JT’s potential future grand parents!
Steve and I played with JT and shared with my parents what he was like, what he likes to do, his latest achievements in baby world.
My parents took turns holding him and playing with him. JT was checking them out…who are these people?
We had an amazing day as a family that day. JT even fell asleep on my dad’s lap.
This day couldn’t have been any better. I went to bed that night with happy heart that was overflowing with love. God had blown my mind.
Have you had moments in your life, that from the surface didn’t make any sense, but you later realized that what was planned for your life was incredible?
Isaiah 55:8 says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
My challenge to you today is to reflect on the perceived rough patches of your life. Perhaps what frustrates or pains you right now could be a blessing that has yet to be discovered.
After all, His ways are not our ways, and your Father knows best.
The beans were finally spilled. Both Steve and I could heave a sigh of relief! We didn’t have to keep things a secret any longer.
I finally felt like I could move forward to some degree in our relationship.
Valentine’s Day was approaching, so I figured I should get Steve some sort of card. I needed a card that communicated how important he was to me, without totally spilling my guts to him.
As you know, he had already told me that he loved me, and you guessed it, I still hadn’t told him.
There were times when Steve would tell me that he loved me, and I almost threw it out there that I loved him too.
One time I even started the sentence, “Steve I… (Oh my gosh, am I really going to say this?) I…l—ic oa yoo.”
“Ha ha, what did you say?” he prodded.
“Did you just say you licorice me?” he chuckled.
“No, of course I didn’t.”
It was as if the words I love you would bubble up like a pot ready to boil over, and then suddenly the words wouldn’t come. The heat was turned down and I had nothing to say.
He didn’t pressure me about the fact that I didn’t actually say it, but rather continued to tell me that he loved me and was patient. He knew I would tell him when I was ready.
One thing I’ve learned from my mom through the years is the art of showing people how much you care about them and how to make people feel special.
For Valentine’s Day I thought I’d get crafty and leave Steve a display of my “care” for him.
I had been working on a surprise during some of my free time at school. I used the die cut machine to cut out hearts and letters that read “Happy Valentine’s Day” so I could hang it on the mirror in his bathroom. I figured I wasn’t telling him “I love you” just yet, but he needed to know I thought he was wonderful. I also put a hand written note “Happy Valentine’s Day! I Licorice you,” on a heart. I knew he’d get my point.
While he was sleeping, I snuck over to his house and taped up my beautiful masterpiece so my message could be read as he looked in the mirror. I was so excited, but nervous. I thought for sure that every pull and tear of the scotch tape was going to wake him up for sure. Things always seem louder when you’re trying to be sneaky about it.
I pulled it off. Operation Valentine was complete. He was sound asleep and I managed to escape without being noticed.
Steve had made dinner plans for the two of us so we could enjoy some quality time together. I loved our quality time. We would laugh and joke about everything and have in-depth conversations as well.
Gosh, he was so good at making me feel special. Through no prompting of my own, he signed us up to do “Couples Yoga.” A special Valentine’s Day yoga session, doing poses with my sweetheart.
Us two meatheads were going to give this yoga thing a go.
These poses were hilarious. As a meathead, you always try to muscle your way through things and if something is hard, you grin and bear it.
Not only did we have to figure out how to maintaing stability in these poses individually, but we also had to work together as one cohesive unit. If either of us tried to do something on our own, our whole pose would be thrown off and we’d fall over.
Although it may seem like a silly exercise, trying something adventurous together that day was good because it challenged our communication. We came up with a game plan and then gave it a shot.
Often times in relationships we assume that what we are thinking is obvious. Maybe you are in a current situation of frustration simply because there was a lack of communication.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw
One challenge for you today is to reflect on the communication in your relationships. Are you holding a grudge or letting a miscommunication negatively impact your relationships?If so, clarify your feelings with that person. Try to explain your thought or idea using different language and if you feel as though you have been misunderstood, clarify what you meant. Sometimes using an analogy helps to refine what you were trying to say.
I also want to challenge you to go the extra mile to show the people you care about that you love them. Whether it is a love text, a phone call, or voluntarily doing an activity that they love, you can always brighten someone’s day by showing love.