The Time Of Our Lives…A Recap And Reflection

It’s been an amazing week and half and this is the first time I’ve sat down to write about it.  For most who know me, I have lots of thoughts, I like to document things and writing is something I enjoy.  I guess you could say I’m in the right profession.  That being said I wanted to take a break from everything the last week and a half and just experience the moments.  But wow there were a lot of them.

Let me start by telling you I am filled with so much gratitude and joy.  To marry Scott in front of God and so many people who helped us get there…it’s truly an experience I can’t describe.  But I’ll try.

Tuesday April 17th was my last day of work before the wedding.  I might as well have no been working because my mind was already 100 other places.  My mom flew into Omaha that afternoon, Scott picked her up at the airport and I was off work at 6.  We decided to go for sushi.  It is one of our favorite things to do; we picked it up from my parents, who also love going for sushi.

We talked about the wedding and how excited we were for it all to begin.  Then we headed back to the apartment to pack.  It turns out Scott and I had just as much to take with us, as we would be bringing back.  We were super organized.  Bags full of gifts for those who were participating in the wedding, outfits for multiple days and of course I had to pack my dress, and somehow keep it away from Scott.

That night we went to bed about midnight.

Wednesday, April 18th – Woke up and left for Dubuque, an hour later than expected.  But it wasn’t a big deal.  All the way there we listened to music and reminisced so many moments.  The moment we got to Dubuque everything started to fly.  Time passed so quickly.  So much so that I don’t remember much of it. Wednesday night we went to mass at Loras College.  It was so great to see the chapel again and knowing we were getting married inside it, in just a few days, it was special.

Thursday, April 19th – Thursday we all got tans and pedicures.  Scott and I finished up some odds and ends.  The guys tried on their tuxes and we paid the final bills.  That afternoon Scott and I had a “date”.  It was raining and we had planned to go to the 4th street elevator and then maybe dinner.  Instead we went out to Scott’s parents house and rented a movie.

You know, everyone says the days leading up to the wedding are stressful and it’s important to stop and take time to remember what you’re really doing.  That is why we planned our date night.  But we both agreed that things weren’t stressful and we didn’t feel like we needed a break from the stress.  Still I’d recommend it to every couple.  It’s a good chance to stop and take a deep breath, remember what you’re doing and why.  Thursday night Shannon arrived in Dubuque.  After an evening out at the Ready’s I headed back to the hotel with my family.  We spent some time together as the Squires.  I gave them all their gifts too.  That was one of my favorite parts.  It was a special moment.

Friday, April 20th – Friday flew by really fast.  That morning I took my bridesmaids out to lunch in Galena.  We ate at the cutest little restaurant called One Eleven Main.  Then of course, because it’s Galena we went shopping and found a few items worth taking back to Dubuque.  It was really fun and a great chance to thank the women who’ve been by my side through this whole process.

When we got back to Dubuque my great-grandma Hoffman had arrived and was so happy to see us.  Scott had already swept her off her feet.  He fixed her watch and helped her right away.  She even threatened to take him home with her.  That afternoon we spent some great quality time with Grandma Hoffman and I really enjoyed it.  She was the one person from my mom’s side of the family that was able to attend, at almost 90 years old, she had a family member fly with her and wanted so much to be a part of the day.  It was wonderful. This was especially special, because April 20th, is the anniversary of my Grandma Bobbie’s death (my dad’s mom).  She was in the back of everyone’s mind on Friday. And I know she was there, watching down on us.

Friday evening we all headed over to Christ the King Chapel at Loras College for the rehearsal.  It went just fine.  And we felt good to get a practice at our memorize vows.  Fr. Klein did a wonderful job setting the tone.  He reminded us all that everything was already planned, there wasn’t anything left to do except get married. He also set the tone for the mass and how important it was to keep it a sacred space.

We finished the rehearsal and headed over to the dinner.  This was also a wonderful night.  Dinner was delicious and we had the chance to personally thank each and every one of the people who were playing a role in our wedding.  It was seriously fantastic.  We also gave everyone a chance to speak and share his or her thoughts.  That really touched us to hear some of the things people had to say.

The night ended with us heading over to the reception hall, where we found a lot of the hall already set up.  We added our party favors to the tables, put place cards at the family reserved tables and then we said goodnight.  Scott and I parted ways, knowing the next time we’d see each other would be at the altar.  We both gave each other a gift that night, to be opened the following morning.  Scott got me a picture frame that said “The Ready’s” and our wedding date.  It was accompanied with a beautiful card that I’m glad I read before I got my make up on.  I got Scott a personalized money clip that had his initials on the front and “Today your bride, forever your wife” written on the back.  He also got cuff links for his tux with our wedding date and “marry me” written on them.

That night I could barely sleep, not because I was nervous but because I was so excited for the day to finally be here.

Saturday, April 21st – Wedding Day – Saturday morning I woke up three times before my 7:15 alarm.  I opened Scott’s gift, got dressed and met my sister and Micheala to head to the salon.  This was a fun memory of the day.  Before all the craziness started I got to relax, mimosa and all, get my hair done and be with some of my girls.  We all had fun getting pampered a bit.

After all three of us were done, we headed back to the hotel to pick up the rest of the crew.  It seemed to take forever, though we were right on schedule.  At 10:45 we all headed over to the church.  I wasn’t wearing my dress at this point; we decided to get dressed at the church so our photographer and videographer could capture those moments.  The boys were in one classroom and the girls across the hall.  We both had FLIPcam’s so we were able to capture some fun moments.

At the church it literally took forever to see Scott.  We had to steam my dress, get some video of my dress, steam my vale, fix up my make-up, and finally put the dress on.  Then my dad came in and saw my for the first time.  We both lost it, the day had finally come and it was so special.

Shortly after 11:30, 30 minutes behind “schedule” Scott was escorted to the chapel.  He stood facing the side and I walked in.  The only people in the chapel at the time were our photographers.  I remember walking behind him, grabbing his shoulder, heart racing and all.  He turned around and we embraced.  It was a magical moment.  He said he’d been waiting all day and it seemed like an eternity.  We cried and hugged and said a prayer.  We took a moment to thank god and remember how special this day was going to be.  Then we turned around, to walk back to the classrooms, and saw out families standing at the end of the hallway, smiling and peaking. They had been watching from a distance.  It was so cute.

After that special moment things got much more relaxed.  We took standard posed photos in the chapel and then headed outside for some fun photos.  Bridesmaids, groomsman and the rest of the bridal party.  It was so fun!  When we were finished with that, our videographer asked us to stay a little longer and got some excellent shots of us on the Loras College campus.  I can’t wait to see her video.

Then it was time for lunch.  There were literally two sandwiches left for us.  So we scared them down and had a quick FaceTime conversation with my grandpa in Arizona.  He wasn’t able to attend due to health issues.  And I knew how much my mom wanted him to be there so we tried to include him in the day by doing a live video chat.  It was a special way to connect even though we were miles apart.

Then began the waiting, which seems like forever.  Mass didn’t start until 2:00 and we didn’t want to distract from getting people in the church, so we stayed back in the classroom.  Pretty relaxed, considering we were about to get married.

Then the moment came…and the rest of the day seemed like such a blur.  Apparently my dad and I walked down the aisle at lightening speed.  Which at the time seemed so slow.  The mass was beautiful.  David Summers, our singer was fantastic.  We had carefully selected the readings and songs.  And to see it all unfold in such a beautiful way, it was the power of the Holy Spirit at it’s finest.

In the blur of it all, there is one thing I will never forget.  The moment Scott and I said our vows.  Fortunately our memorizing skills proved useful.  We didn’t screw them up.  But it wasn’t the words I remembered, it was the look in his eyes when I said, “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life”. I would imagine when he said it to me I had a similar look.  But it was a moment.  One of those moments where you almost feel like you’re having and out of body experience.  I can’t describe it completely.

Another amazing moment was during the Eucharist.  Scott and I were Eucharist ministers.  We distributed the sacrament to our friends and family.  It was such a wonderful way to connect with out guests on a level that you don’t often get during a wedding.  Each person came up for communion and shared that special bond. It was really cool.

After the mass, the day got crazy. With our wedding party we hopped on a bus and went bar hopping.  It turned crazy quickly.  But it was so much fun!  Once we got the reception I remember bits and pieces, not because we had too much to drink, but because there was so much going on.  After the welcome, we cut the cake, Fr. Klein said a blessing and we ate.  Following that we had speaks from brothers, parents and my bridesmaids.

Then it was first dances and the party started. We danced the night away.  It was amazing and humbling and unbelievable all at once.  There wasn’t enough time in the day to talk to everyone and tell them just what it meant to have them there.  I found my self saying “thank you so much for being here, it means to much to us” and it was so unbelievable true.

In short, or maybe long, the day was completely amazing.  There is nothing we would change, nothing we’d go back and fix.  Everything worked out exactly how we’d envisioned it.  It was amazing, humbling, exhausting, wonderful and magical. For those who were a part of it, thank you.  Your presence made the day truly one to remember…FOREVER!

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Peanut Butter Sandwiches, Two Hours A Month

I have been meaning to write about my experiences at Open Door Mission for quite some time.  When I moved here in June, it was in the middle of summer flooding (which seems to a trend).  Some of my first few stories were about Open Door Mission here in Omaha.  They provide housing for homeless men, women and children.  I remember one hot summer day I was down there doing a story about their need for donations, especially window fans and water bottles.  These are quite honestly things that most of us take for granted.  After doing several stories down there I decided I wanted to volunteer.

You see, they were in the process of building a new men’s shelter, their kitchen was torn down and they needed volunteers to make, sack and distribute lunches for folks at Timberlake Outreach Center and for their streets program.  They take to the streets and offered people sack lunches so they don’t go hungry.

I gathered a group of folks from work and we started volunteering.  Our first time there, it felt like we barely made a dent in the amount of food they needed.  But we got a tour of all the facilities and got a look at what they do there.  I was amazed at their programs and their ability to not only take in the homeless but help them turn their lives around for the better.

Their facilities are top notch and their leaders are passionate about what they do.

Every month, the last Wednesday, I head down to Open Door Mission and volunteer for about two hours.  Since July I’ve made peanut butter sandwiches, bagged lunches and helped with Santa’s Workshop as we bagged toys for kids in need.

This Lent I was reading a book called “Thrift Store Saints” about a woman who wrote about the things she learned while volunteering at a St. Vincent DePaul store.  It got me thinking about my experiences at Open Door Mission.

The truth is, I’m not doing much at all when I go there.  Yes, I’m making sandwiches and my co-workers and I are getting a little bit of time to give back.  But every Wednesday we find a line of people waiting outside (it’s the end of the month).  The fact of the matter is, those people are all there because they need the services at Timberlake Outreach Center.  Some need clothes, diapers or food.  Others need company, someone to talk to and a story to share.  What I find is that we can find God in all of these people.

Over the course of several months we’ve also started volunteering with several regulars. We often cross paths with an older couple that comes down each Wednesday.  They know people by name and they often take leadership of whatever group is volunteering.

There have also been a few Creighton Prep students who come down for a Christian Service class.  It’s been fun to talk with them.

Just recently we volunteered there (and by recently I mean last month…March) and I stayed behind after a few people left.  I talked with one of the women who was doing some required community service because of a drunk driving incident.  She spoke about her son and how much she loved him and wanted to make him proud.  She told me about the things she’s learned in her short time volunteering at Open Door Mission and how it’s changed her life, her perspective and the person she’s striving to be.

I thought it was profound really…considering all we were really doing was making peanut butter sandwiches and sacking lunches. But those go a long way on days when people haven’t had a meal.  It’s a chance to give, it’s a chance to show someone is cared for and it’s a chance to be Christ and see Christ.

I’ll continue volunteering at Open Door Mission, as long as I am able.  It’s a small time commitment with a much larger return.

Try it out.  I think you’ll understand what I mean.

This is a photo of one of my favorite times.  We bagged children’s toy bags for Operation Santa.  It was really fun and it helped thousands of kids have a Christmas.

This is a photo from our latest visit.  Still bagging the sandwiches and sharing conversation.