Countdown to BLISS-Day 21

Cold Feet by Elaine H. Baldwin

With just 21 days to go, cold feet are setting in! It’s inevitable I suppose, but still I regret the nature of its showing up just now.

I mean, we do have a wedding!Shoes

Are you worried?

Don’t be!

It’s perfectly natural around this time.

I mean, most of the country (USA) has been in a weeks long deep freeze/winter wonder land weather pattern. Thus the majority of the wedding party and the wedding guests literally do have cold feet.

(Sorry to put you on the edge of your seat, but this writer could hardly pass up the chance!)

I must make clear that there is not any kind of wedding or marital cold feet by either bride or groom, for which this Mama is deeply thankful. God continues to bind two hearts into one and it is a joy to watch, even from a distance.

That being said, there are genuine concerns about the weather that must be addressed. On December 24th, a deep freeze and snow in Arkansas would be counted as a blessing, magical and a most wonderful time of the year.IMG_2737 But in March that same cold and snow are received more like a root canal torture procedure. And for a certain bride and her mama, it is received with just a hint of, “Why did we pick March 21st for the wedding day?” syndrome.

And I am quite sure all our side of the family is probably wondering the same thing; especially since they recall being trapped in Branson, MO with a snow storm for our son’s wedding five years ago. We do not despair, however, because March in Arkansas can just as easily be 80 degrees as 18 degrees. In fact, the average temperature for March 21 in Valerie’s hometown is 65 degrees; very pleasant for all things wedding day.

We don’t think about the tornadoes that are also quite prevalent in that state in the month of March. And rain! Don’t get me started on the downpours of rain that can soak a person in just seconds in Arkansas in the early spring. And we also do not think about the ice storms that cut out power just like “that” because the newly budding trees get too heavy and branches snap onto power lines. But as I said, we don’t think about those things. Honestly, we don’t, not in the way you might think.

When Zack and Valerie started talking about marriage, as all good mothers and daughters do, we started thinking about wedding dates. Valerie has always, and I mean always, wanted an outdoor wedding; and not just any outdoor wedding, one with a jet black horse and canopies and a gorgeous sunset. Well, you say, certainly some day in the summer should have been the perfect choice for a wedding.

But there are three other “musts” that have preempted Valerie’s perfect summer wedding.

The first is to have a good long honeymoon which can only happen during her soon to be husband’s school breaks and spring break was the best choice. The second is to have both brothers stand with her on her wedding day. And darn if those Marines just don’t cooperate in changing their deployment duties to accommodate the wedding wishes of sisters! And third, and possibly most importantly, neither bride nor groom wanted to wait an extra three months!

Add to this crazy mix, Zack’s clan embracing these desires with grace and love. and then we are truly blessed.

Rain and snow and ice and tornadoes have never been on Valerie’s list of wants for her wedding day. Val and Zack 1But we will think about those things and have a Plan B, C, and D ready for implementation so that she and Zack will have a full glorious seven days of honeymoon bliss. And so both her brothers will stand with her and her groom on March 21st. And so she will be Mrs. Valentine three months sooner than horses, and canopies and warm sunsets would have allowed. For no matter what else may happen, as long as Valerie says, “I do” and Zack says, “I do” and the preacher says, “I now pronounce you…”, everything else is just extra and we will embrace whatever extras God, in His goodness and mercy, brings our way!


Countdown to BLISS-Day 30

30 Days until Marriage-by Valerie K. Baldwin

Zack and Val 1I can hardly believe it is 30 days to the wedding! 30 days before I become Mrs. Valentine! 30 days before I go from a “me” to a “we”!

In the midst of the craziness that occurs 30 days before a wedding there is an essential element that keeps me sane, and that is the man that will be standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me. He is not perfect, and he does not “complete me,” only God can do that, but he is the reason I am excited for March 21. He is the reason I am ready for marriage.

In today’s Christian culture, in particular young girls, dream of their wedding day, but how many dream of the man that will meet them at the altar? How many girls marry the first man who asks them, just because they want a wedding with no consideration for the life that will begin the next day? Do not get me wrong I cannot wait for my wedding day. I get to wear a beautiful dress, take lots of pictures, and have many people I love all in one place for a few days! But it is not the wedding that I look forward to the most. It is the life that will start the next day, and the man God has provided for me to do that life with!

The wedding is the icing on the cake of getting married, but it is not the cake. I see the scenario over and over of women in particular marrying men they have no business marrying. Why? I think they do love them, but is the allure of a wedding part of the problem? I believe it is.

For the young ones who may read this, here is my point. The marriage is more important than the wedding. Choose carefully. I was told many times growing up, “you are too picky.” But I can tell you that it is not the guys I chose not to date that I regret. It is not about being picky on superficial things like hair color or what car he drives, but character, work ethic, and does he show evidence of a growing relationship with God.

Anyone can say, “I believe in God,” but do his actions say the same?

There is nothing I love more than serving our church, having a solid theological discussion, or worshipping in service with my fiancé. Our hearts are bound together in our love for God. It is our love for God and serving His purposes that will keep us together when circumstances are difficult. It is our mutual faith that will bind us in the good and bad times.

It is because he is a man of character that I can say my wedding vows knowing he means them as much as I do.

Not every man has personal character, work ethic, or a heart for God; it is worth it to wait for the one who does.

Countdown to BLISS-Day 37

Families by Elaine H. Baldwin

Today I travel to Fort Smith, AR! Wahoo! Five days packed with all things wedding, plays and just being with my kids; including the new kid…Zack!


I am also very excited to have some time to see Zack’s mom and sister at a wedding shower. They are such a joy to be with and I truly value these times to get to know them better. And they’ve been so very gracious with our crazy family’s long distance relationships. It’s not something they are complete strangers to, but the vast majority of their family, both sides, lives within 25 miles of each other. And it’s a large family. Valerie’s first experience meeting Zack’s extended family was a little terrifying as a small army was present. But of course, they were marvelous and enlisted her right away!

Being within a short distance of extended family is something our nuclear family has never experienced. In fact as both sides of our extended family continues to expand through marriage and kids, our distance between each other seems to be expanding as well. Hopefully some day soon we’ll have a massive reunion, but for now Facebook and the glorious touch pad phones are the glue that holds us together. And I am so very grateful.

I won’t belabor the distance thing because I wept over that last time. Why I mention it today is because it simply amazes me that this whole marriage and family thing ever works! Think about it. Valerie and Zack could not have had any more different up bringings. Except for the Christian foundation which both families provided, which is absolutely vital, they don’t have a lot in common as far as their childhood experience. Neither family situation was wrong, though on our part I know we sinned daily, it’s just that the life circumstances were different.

ValFor example: Valerie has flown quite extensively; even as a child. She flew with us to be the flower girl at her cousin’s wedding in Philadelphia. Since graduating high school and her parents living all over the country, she’s flown to many different states to see us and to Hawaii to see her marine brother and his wife. And just for fun and college credit, she even flew to Europe for a concert tour.

Zack has never been on a plane. Doesn’t mean he’s never been anywhere. It just means he’s never used wings to get to where he is going. Honeymoon flight should be exciting!

Young ZackAnother example: Valerie has attended, I think 4 or 5 different school systems and was home schooled for five years.  Zack attended the schools in his town for all of K-12. You can imagine the varied stories they share together of the highs and lows that come with each of those schooling circumstances. Neither bad, just different.

Will that play into their decisions for schooling their own children? You bet and they’ll figure it out. How do I know that? Because my husband and I figured it out and our parents figured it out and their parents figured it out. That’s the crazy part I’m talking about. That two people can come from such varied school histories and still come to agreement on schooling their own kids.

Of course, not everyone figures this kind of stuff out in their marriages and that’s why there are divorce courts. But a vast majority of marriages do figure this all out and that amazes me. And yet, it is God’s first plan. That a man would leave father and mother and cleave to his wife and they would become one. Gods_Hand_leftWhat a beautiful mystery and plan. And I think God honors that plan whether a couple know Him as Savior and Lord or not. Though His master plan is that through marriage, the unbelieving couple would see Him as their God and King.

And, oh that more believing couples would be that picture of Jesus and His bride-the Church.

If I have one prayer for Valerie and Zack it is that they would strive to show Christ to others, together as husband and wife. If they do that, all the differences given to them at birth and the ones developed into them from their families will blend into a mysterious and breathtaking beauty that will bring them many years of true wedded BLISS and bring honor and glory to their Savior, Jesus the Christ.