• Coming Christmas 2019

Countdown to BLISS-Day 9

“Are you nervous?” by Zack Valentine

It is nine days from the wedding. It is nine days from saying “I do.” It is nine days from being married to my best friend.

Marriage License

I can’t tell you how many times I have had individuals ask me if I am getting nervous following the proposal and the closer the calendar moves toward March 21, 2015.

My general response is to simply quip “No.”

However, that may not be the full truth.

It’s not so much about being nervous from fear, but rather the joy and excitement of starting this phase of my life with my best friend! The reality is truly embedding itself on my brain and the thought makes me glow as well as brings a smile to my face.

I am so glad that Valerie is a planner. She has made the entire engagement and wedding planning an absolutely easy process. Between her and my future mother-in-law, they are a dynamic duo like that of Batman and Robin!

As much as I have wanted to be actively involved with the process, there is only so much I can do working full-time, running my Remix (youth) group, attending my college classes, and packing stuff to move into our home. As of this writing, I have taken charge of the transfer or activation of services like our internet, water, and electric (we wouldn’t want to have any of those shut off a week before the wedding).

If anything, I am not nervous about the actual wedding.

I am more nervous about what soon follows…life.

Zack and ValI see the responsibility that God is calling me into as I transition into married life with Valerie. Our pastor, Marty Sloan (Harvest Time, Fort Smith, AR) absolutely loves marriage. Pastor Marty has been so good to Valerie and I in sharing with us a glimpse of what marriage life will be with resources of counseling sessions, one-on-ones, as well as reading materials. I see the future roles of our immediate families and having to take considerations of mine and Valerie’s needs when seeing and spending quality time with them, especially during the holidays.

So am I truly nervous?

That question brings up a scene from one of my favorite comic book characters, Iron Man. In Phase II of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Iron Man 3 explores Tony Stark’s fear of whether or not does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man? In this case, I make the suit.

Once the wedding is done, my suit (tux) will be off and returned. Then it’ll just be me. I’ll go from being trapped in that suit for an entire day to being freed from it and Valerie will officially be Mrs. Valentine.

That’s when life happens.
That’s when the journey begins.
So to answer the question, “No. I am not nervous.”

Countdown to BLISS-Day 10

Lasts by Elaine H. Baldwin

One aspect of this wedding planning thing we didn’t realize would be so relentless was the amount of shipping that would take place. We’ve shipped everything from jewelry to sparklers to programs to favors to photo books to flowers.IMG_2962 And we’ve been doing so pretty much weekly since January. Amazon, Shutterfly and Oriental Trading Company are my new best friends.

Some of the massive shipping is because the long distance planning piece of this wedding, but anymore with Internet options, IMG_2961shipping is a factor that needs to be considered in any wedding scheme and budget.

And speaking of shipping, one of the first of several “lasts” happened today.

Today I shipped the last boxes of wedding stuff to Valerie. A box of homemade wedding mints, a precious photo of my deceased parents and a box of everything else I forgot are on their way to Arkansas. It was a surreal moment to realize that all the hard work was winding down and will soon culminate in the wedding vows of my precious daughter and her fiancé .

But another last snuck up on me and it took my breath away. It was in the simple task of filling out the mailing address on the third box. For the last time I wrote down my daughter’s name…her Baldwin name. After March 21st, any letter or box I send, I will be addressing my daughter with her married name AND that is awesome!

God is so very good to give her this blessing called marriage and to a man who loves Jesus and loves her so much. She’ll always be a Baldwin, but soon she’ll have her own Valentine family and that is a very precious thing.

Since sending off those boxes today, Sweet Valthis Mother of the Bride has dabbled in a little bit of precious remembrances of other lasts in her baby girl’s life.

Things like…

The last time I held a bottle to her tiny lips.

The last pink onesie sold at the garage sale.

The last time she jumped down from the high chair.

The last time I rocked her to sleep.

The last time I put her on a school bus.

The last time she used training wheels.Val and boys

The last time I listened to her AWANA verses.

The last time she let me put a perm in her hair!

The last time she put on catcher’s gear.

The last time I bandaged a knee.

Val and meThe last time I sat in the gym bleachers.

The last time she let me in the Macy’s changing room.

The last time she let me help with her homework.

The last time I inspected her “clean” bedroom.

The last time I stayed up late until she came home from hanging with friends.

The last time I grounded her and took away her car keys.

The last time I drove her to the horse barn.Val and Delta 2

The last time we talked all night about stupid boys and life dreams.

And the last time we cried together about growing up and God’s unyielding faithfulness.

Valerie 2Lasts are not to be feared. They are simply transitions to the next God has for us. And this Mama is already celebrating the next He has for my daughter in 10 short days!

Countdown to BLISS-Day 17

Party 11Details! Details! by Elaine H. Baldwin

It’s crunch time for the Baldwin Clan. But we are not in a panic and I am confident we will not be in a panic during wedding week and even on“V-Day”, as Valerie has come to call her wedding day; the day she becomes Mrs. Zack Valentine.

The reason we aren’t “sweating the details” is because we have paid attention to those very details and at the same time, held those details loosely in our hands because we can’t control 99% of the circumstances surrounding said details. It’s taken me awhile to figure that out.

As my poor kiddos and husband can attest, I have too many times let the details control me which wasn’t very pretty to watch much less experience. And it would be easy and probably politically correct to say that now, “I don’t let the details control me, I control the details.” But that wouldn’t be the best God has for me either and is really an oxymoron anyway.

It’s really quite impossible to say we control the details because we have absolutely no control over anything. Even the next breath we take is completely out of our hands. And all God has to do is send a little snow or send a little wind and all our human grandiose plans come to a grinding halt!

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan or take care of the details, though. The Bible is full of God taking care of details and expecting us to do the same. From creation to tabernacle building to manna gathering to festival planning to 12 baskets full of leftover food or washing some else’s feet, God is all about details. And He has plenty to say about the slothful, foolish, lazy person who refuses to even think about the details let alone take care of them. And none of God’s thoughts or treatment of such a person is pleasant.

So, Valerie and I, with the help of so many have thought about, listed, re-listed, and taken care of as many details as Detailspossible in getting ready for “V-Day”; well really “V-Week.” It is our hope that by attending to as many details now, the wedding week will be an enjoyable and even relaxing experience for everyone involved.

Now we are not so naïve to think there won’t be any glitches to our details during wedding week. That’s the whole reason for taking care of details now so when the glitches come, we won’t panic…we hope! That’s Plan A, anyway. Do not panic!!

After all, it’s just a glitch. And bride and groom will be husband and wife come 5:20pm (give or take a few minutes) on March 21, 2015 no matter how many of our so carefully planned details go down the wedding glitch drain.

In practical terms, every wedding has some very basic details that must be attended to. There must be a bride and a groom, a preacher or justice of the peace, two witnesses, a marriage license and a date/time/place for these folks to show up and have the ceremony and then sign off on said marriage license. That’s the basic details. Every other detail is the icing on the cake.

Party 10For this MOB and her bride daughter, though, we like lots of icing (figuratively and literally)!! But we have not been extravagant either in budget or design. We’ve worked hard to keep a healthy balance as we’ve learned a balanced life doesn’t just happen, it does take effort.

So what have we learned about wedding details?

  1. We’ve forgotten something. Don’t know what it is yet, but there will be a detail or two or three we’ve forgotten. When said detail is remembered, handle it. That’s all you can do.
  2. The more attendants you have the more details there are! Lots of fun and wouldn’t change it, but it does increase detail management. But it also increases the workforce!
  3. Planning long distance increases the amount of details and increases the chances for details missed. Can’t change it, so go with the flow.
  4. The reception carries not only the largest chunk of wedding budget, but also the largest amount of details. Be sure to work with a venue and/or person who gets this and is willing to guide you through the myriad of details involved in a wedding reception.
  5. As often as is needed, get the details down in writing. This not only applies for church and venue contracts, but also with timelines for the wedding party, photographer and others. Don’t rely on verbal instructions. Write things down and get it before the eyes of those who need to see it.
  6. If budget allows, hire out as much as you can or delegate like crazy or both. Saving $200 bucks may sound great until you’re shopping at midnight at WalMart the night before the wedding because groomsmen found the meat for the reception in the fridge and ate half.Zacks bliss blog
  7. Surround yourself with willing and able hands. Valerie and I could probably do it all ourselves, but why!? Half the fun of planning a wedding is doing the planning with people we love and they love us. It’s been a joy to share in these kinds of moments. That’s what we’ll remember, not the details.
  8. In light of #7, delegate, delegate, delegate. And then delegate some more, especially the day of the wedding. Things won’t get done just the way you want, but who cares! Things will get done and you will or should be able to relax and enjoy this special day.
  9. You must have alternate plans. It matters not what season of the year your wedding day takes place, the weather can change everything. Too hot, too cold, ice, snow, tornadoes, or crashing rain will all change your details. Even a few sniffles, or God forbid, flu bugs and the like will indeed change your details.
  10. Don’t sweat the details, but do take care of them. There is a difference between the two.

Photo Booth Fun 5Plan A-Don’t Panic Wedding is in full swing for this bride and MOB. The test will be in 10 days when I arrive for wedding week. But, with God’s help I think there will be few panic moments and trust they will be fleeting. We have too much to celebrate, too many loved ones to embrace and enjoy to let a few detail glitches spoil “V-Day”!!