A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How Great Is Our God!!

I am a HUGE fan of Christian Musician Chris Tomlin's music and follow him on Facebook.  A few days ago the following post from Chris Tomlin came across my news feed:

With the upcoming release of How Great Is Our God: The Essential Collection on Nov. 15th, some media are looking to highlight a few stories showing what these songs have meant to people.

If God has used any of these songs in your lives and they've meant something special to you, we'd love to hear it.

Send your story to info@sixstepsrecords.com by October 21st. Thanks.

It didn't take long at all before I KNEW I had to email them my story of how and why "How Great Is Our God" is such a special song to me!  I thought I would share that same email with my blog readers.  I didn't include the picture that I included below, although now I wish I would have! We have been married for 100 days today! :)

Here is the email I sent:

     This is an extra special song for me! It brings me back to my wedding day, which was just this past July 8th, 2011! :-) My Fiance and I wanted our Wedding to be a Worship Service. You see, we were both single for a very long time. I (Jennfer) was 37 and Jonathan turned 36 two days after the wedding. We were both single, never married, with no children. We both knew what it was like to be alone in a "couple's society". Our hearts yearned for someone to share our life with, but that just didn't seem to be happening for either one of us. My Dad was called home to heaven when I was 25 years old. Two months later my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Life alone, with out the support of a significant other was difficult. But our God knew exactly what he was doing and brought us together at just the right time! March of 2007 I was living in Milwaukee, WI where I had lived for 15 years (I went to college there and stayed). I was praying about moving back to South Bend, IN because of how Mom's cancer had progressed. I lost my job the very next day! I had NEVER lost a job before. If that wasn't an answer to prayer, I don't know what is! I moved back to South Bend, IN where I was born and raised 5/1/2007. South Bend is near Elkhart, IN which is the RV Capital of the world. Needless to say, jobs were extremely hard to come by. I was on unemployment for 6 months and then finally got a waitressing job to pay the bills. March 17 of 2008 I finally got a better job at a large insurance company. October of 2009 an acquaintance in my department at work said she had a friend who worked in our building who was interested in me. She set it up a double date for me, Jonathan, and her and her fiance. That date was 10/09/2009. The rest is history! We got engaged 12/10/10. Now December holds a happy memory for me. You see. Dad passed away 12/8/99. Ever since then December has been a very hard month for me. Now it is a month that holds good memories too! :) We planned a beach wedding on Sand Key Beach in Clearwater Beach. FL. His Best Man was also our Pastor. He did an amazing job! There were 18 of us total who traveled down to FL. The wedding was scheduled for 7:15pm. It rained SO hard ALL day the day before the wedding and all day the day of the wedding. We had to get married under a pavilion. But thankfully the weather cleared and afterwards we were blessed to get amazing pictures at sunset on the beach.
Anyways, the reason "How Great Is Our God" is so special to me, is that we sang this song, with the track, at the beginning of the ceremony. The wind was blowing, the spirit was moving, and I was holding back tears. God knew what He was doing all along and I knew my Dad was there in spirit. There aren't words to describe the joy that filled my heart that day and that continues to fill my heart as I watch the wedding video and think back to that day. God doesn't always answer prayer in our timing, but His ways are best. It just took a long time for me to get my "Happily Ever After". I'm blessed Mom could be at the wedding. Her cancer has since spread and is in her bones in addition to her stomach and bladder. She has fought this ugly disease for almost 12 years and is the strongest woman I know. I finally feel like I belong with Jonathan, who is in many ways, God in flesh to me, showing me daily what it's like to be loved unconditionally.
I invite you to visit my blog to learn more about me and see pictures of us! :) I will also post a link to the wedding video below so you can see us sing "How Great is Our God". Thank you Chris Tomlin for making our day even more special. There's nothing sweeter then singing that song in worship to our King, on the beach, with powerful winds, as you are about to marry the one God had planned for you all along! :)
Our Wedding Video: http://vimeo.com/27437017
God Bless You and Your Ministry! :)
Jennifer Stanley
South Bend, IN

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What I've Learned In My 1st 95 Days of Marriage

     As you probably have already guessed after reading the Title of this post, we have been married for 95 days today!  :) Wow!  Time flies! In some ways I feel so comfortable with Jonathan that it feels like we have been together forever.  In other ways, I can't believe we've been married for over 3 months already!  I would be lying if I said this transition has been 100% smooth sailing.  After all, we are 2 human beings who only had to think about ourselves for years.  This isn't to say we were selfish people, it's just that we didn't have anyone else to consider in day to day living.  If I wanted to watch "The Notebook" on a Friday evening, I would watch "The Notebook". If Jonathan wanted to watch "Lord of The Rings", he would watch "Lord of The Rings.  We can still watch those movies, but now there is someone else's opinions/preferences to consider as well.  Jonathan turned 36 two days after the wedding.  I turned 37 in January. (I'm such a "cougar"!) We both had a long time to get "set in our ways".  All in all we are both very happy!  We are beginning our marriage on the foundation of the one who created marriage.  I think I appreciate Jonathan and my marriage to him so much more, simply because I had to wait for him for a very long time.  I know what it's like to be alone, to not be part of a family, to not have someone know if you live or die on your drive home.  Sad, but true.  Now I see clearly that God was preparing me for my "Mr. Right".  I'm learning that His ways are ALWAYS best.  He knows what is best for me.

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. ~Barnett R. Brickner

Here are the Top 5 Things I've learned in My 1st 95 Days of Marriage (in no particular order):
  1. I'm thankful for commitment.  The first 2 weeks after we moved into "our" new place were a bit rough.  We were both used to living alone.  We both, especially me, don't like change. There were many times that we butted heads.  It was in those times that I understood why the commitment of a marriage (till death do us part) is so important. God knows that too! :) I'm happy to say things are much better now that we've had more time to adjust!
  2. If I'm focusing on something I think Jonathan needs to work on, I more than likely need to turn the focus back to what I can do to work on improving myself.  I can't control him, nor should I try to, but I should be focusing on how I can become a better person/wife, not focusing on what I "think" he needs to work on.
  3. I'm learning balancing marriage with my social life is easier said than done. All of you singles out there know what I mean when I say singles can feel forgotten because their friends are so busy with their husbands and children.  I still don't fully understand how hectic life with children can be, but I do have more of an understanding of the fact that even in a marriage, there is less time to devote to friends.   Maintaining and growing our friendships with others is very important to both of us.  I'm very thankful for that!  Jonathan has his times with his guy friends, and I have my times with my girlfriends.  We also do things with other couples.  When I lived alone, I was texting/calling friends a lot more than I am now.  I finally feel like I belong.  I belong with Jonathan.  I'm still working at finding balance in time with Jonathan and time with friends.  It may be a little more challenging because we work such different work hours and only have 1 weekend off together a month. 
  4. Sex is not as big of a part of a marriage as we both had made it out to be in our heads before we got married. Don't get me wrong, sex is wonderful and God's plan for marriage is best!  We are far from perfect, but with God's help, we both waited to have sex until after we were married.  Yes, I know this is practically unheard of now a days, but we are both glad we waited. When you feel you "can't have something (due to Christian beliefs"..ie...sex before marriage)"...it makes it that much more appealing.  All thru my 20's and 30's,  I hoped I would get married soon so I could have sex before Jesus came to take me home to heaven, whether at the end of the world, or thru death.  We both have said that we built it up so much in our heads, and gave it far too much importance prior to marriage.  It's an awesome part of marriage, but it's not everything. We are learning together and I'm thankful we don't have baggage to deal with in this area of our life together.
  5. The financial aspect of our lives is SO much easier with 2 incomes and 1 rent.  This is NOT a reason to get married, but once you find the right one, this is a HUGE perk! :) I had NO idea how much easier it would be before I got married.  I had always supported myself and lived alone.  After we got married, I changed my marital status for my taxes.  I did not change the deductions, yet I am getting over $93.00 extra in my checks each month!  We are paying less on auto insurance due to the multi-car discount, we only have 1 rent to pay and we no longer have to save/pay for the wedding!  We just paid off the rings (no interest!) last weekend!  In less than a year we will be debt Free! :)  However, it is also important to note, that we both learned how to handle our finances and get a grip on them before we got married.   We are now tithing faithfully and can't wait to be debt free.  

Friday, October 7, 2011

My 4th Annual Fall Appreciation Day!!

On Sunday, October 2nd, I celebrated my 4th Annual Fall Appreciation Day! This time I got to celebrate it with my husband! :) I usually celebrate it on the 1st Saturday of October, but since I had to work that day, we celebrated on Sunday this year. Due to the fact that I love Summer and dread the dark cold dreary winter days, I'm not a fan of Fall. I started Fall Appreciation Day as a way to put a positive spin on the Season, as well as experience the finer aspects of Fall. We were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous day filled with lots of sunshine! :)  Here are some of the fun things we were fortunate to experience on Sunday:
  1.  Went to the Niles Apple Festival - We had some awesome apple treats and purchased Apple Butter among other things!
  2. Took a drive to South Haven, MI - We got to see some pretty fall colors on the drive up.
  3. While in South Haven, we took a leisurely walk thru Stanley Johnston Memorial Park.
  4. We visited many of the local shops in the downtown area.
  5. We visited a winery where we did some wine tasting and purchased a bottle to take home.
  6. We loved visting The Blueberry Store, where we purchased blueberry coffee and blueberry scones to make at home! 
  7. We took a walk out on the Pier (South Haven is on Lake Michigan for those of you who don't know).
  8. We had dinner at Clementine's before driving back home to South Bend.

My husband was a good sport, and we had a wonderful day! I hope you enjoyed the pictures! :)  If you have any suggestions for the new name of my Fall Appreciation Day, feel free to leave a comment!  I thought of J-La-Sta's 4th Annual Fall Appreciation Day!  Or should I add Jonathan's name to it, so it is OUR Fall Appreciation Day?  I would love to hear your thoughts/suggestions.  Happy Fall everyone! :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

J-La is Now J-La-Sta! :)

You may be asking, "Where has she been the past 2 years?"! :) You may have also noticed that all of the "I'm Single" type of banners are gone from my blog. You see, at just the right time, God sent me my Mr. Right! :) His name is Jonathan and he is the love of my life. Our first date was 10/9/09. We got engaged on 12/10/10 and were married on 7/8/11 in a small intimate ceremony in FL. It's been a busy but awesome past few years. Our destination wedding was amazing and I wouldn't have had it any other way! We had an Open House for friends and family 6 weeks after the wedding. It was so much fun to see everyone and celebrate with them! We are very happy and I feel very blessed to be Jonathan's wife. Here is one of my favorite wedding pics of us. It was taken by my amazingly talented SIL Sandy of Sandra Ellen Photography! You can view our wedding website here, if you would like. Stay tuned for more blogs about my transition from YEARS of singleness to marriage at the age of 37! If you want to be married someday, I am proof, that wonderful things happen for those who wait! :) Don't lose hope! God has a wonderful plan for your life! Marriage is great, but had I not grown as an individual first, I would be having a huge wake-up call right now! It is true, that if you aren't happy with who you are as an individual, you won't be happy in a marriage either!