For my first Wedding Wednesday post, I present to you, our ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS, done by the lovely Sammie Culpepper! It was so much fun working with her, since all we had to do was be ourselves! We are so thankful for the memories and the photos that we now have to share with our family and friends. If you haven’t yet, check out Sammie’s website, and look forward to meeting her at the wedding in January!
A few things to note:
I was having a really, REALLY good hair day, if I may say so myself.
Cason was the cutest, sweetest, funnest Cason on this photo shoot. Had I not started getting hungry/grumpy, I could have taken pictures with him all day.
You can click on an image to make it larger–then you should be able to scroll through the larger versions of the images.
Family & Friends: If you would like to see the full album or order photos, feel free to text/email me for the link!
“I want a marriage more beautiful than my wedding.”
This week in all of my wedding planning, I came across the most recent volume of Southern Weddings Magazine. I was so thankful for their view on weddings and their belief that, “planning for a wedding means planning for more than just one day; that there is nothing on this earth more important than family; and that while details are nice, true love always, always wins.”
Throughout this planning process, I’ve found it difficult to express how important planning for our marriage and joining our families is to me, and it is nice to see that people understand. People get it. And while we may get caught up in the wedding planning as a process, I’m thankful for understanding friends and family who know that marriage is beautiful and sacred–that a wedding is a tiny glimpse into the joy that is to come.
I’m thankful for this week of planning with my friends and family. I’m thankful for sweet vendors and wonderful wedding planners. But what I can’t forget is that I’m also thankful that when I fly back to Texas, I have a loving fiancé to celebrate life and family with. I have someone who gets me and wants to grow with me–beyond January 3, 2015.
I believe the path God set before us did not start with an extravagant wedding day, nor will it end there. However, that day will give us a time to gather with friends and family and celebrate the work that God is doing in our lives together. So while I continue to plan and prepare for that day, I will also continue to plan and prepare for my marriage.
The Sweet Tea Society is comprised of a network of brides, wedding planners, vendors, and Southern Weddings Magazine, united in the belief that marriage is about more than one day–it’s about life and family. For more information, click here.
My sisters are chatting about candle lighting ceremonies. My cousin has made herself available to help with questions and contest entries. Local friends have given me names and websites for photographers. My aunt and mom have already started planning. I now own several magazines. I have a rather large rock on my hand.
It’s official, I’m engaged!
For the story of how we met, click here.
And without further ado, here’s the detailed engagement story you’ve been waiting for…
Our engagement story:
On Friday, November 1st Cason went in to work and I planned an afternoon of shopping followed by an evening of studying. I was at Target when Cason texted me to let me know they had too many people for his shift, so he got to go home. I asked if we were making plans for the night, and he said he wanted to have a nice date night since we hadn’t planned one in a while. (This is not unusual–we like to randomly plan fun nights, spur of the moment, where I put on a dress and he wears something besides athletic shorts.) He picked me up at 6:30pm and we ended up going to dinner downtown at a place called Sam’s on the Square. They had about 10 different kinds of tacos to choose from–I got fish tacos, and they were surprisingly delicious. At dinner we did our fair share of people-watching; we constantly overhear tons of hilarious conversations among “college kids.” So at first I didn’t notice how quiet Cason was being. Towards the end of dinner I remember asking why he was so quiet–come to find out, he was super nervous.
After dinner we went to one of my favorite places in Waco–Katie’s Frozen Custard. We get Katie’s at least twice a week because it’s so delicious! Then we took our frozen treats to Baylor instead of to my house to watch TV, which is perhaps when I realized something was up. We parked on campus and walked towards Pat Neff Hall, passing the Judge Baylor statue and stopping in the gardens to sit and enjoy our frozen yogurt. At one point in our walk I got pretty excited about the shrubs because they were cut to spell “Baylor Bears,” and I remember thinking it was strange that Cason seemed indifferent. (We usually get excited about random/new things, but he had seen the shrubs before when he scoped out the location, and he had other things on his mind–which is obvious in retrospect.)
So we sat down in the middle of the garden looking at the glowing green Pat Neff Hall. I’m trying to eat my frozen custard, but it was unusually cold outside for Texas so I gave up and listened to Cason tell me the history of the glowing green light. (I’m still rather shocked that he did his research.) After sitting for a few minutes I told Cason that I had to go to the bathroom, so he said, “Well then I will make this quick.” (This is it!) Then he got down on one knee, with the glowing green building behind him, and he told me how much he had always looked forward to finding the right person, how at times he wasn’t sure it would happen, and how he was blessed to have found me. Then he said my full name and asked me to marry him. I said, “Yes” through my tears and I got down to hug and kiss him. Then he stood up and asked me if I was going to say yes (which apparently happens in more engagements than you would think), and I told him that I did say yes and that I do want to marry him. So he put the ring on my finger and we smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged. Then, since it was dark, he pulled out his iPhone and turned on his flashlight so I could see the ring. (It’s perfect, by the way. We previously looked at rings, so he had a good idea of what I wanted, and he just took it and ran with it. 🙂
We walked back to the car, giddy, and I asked all sorts of questions like, “Were you nervous? Did you think I would say no?” etc. (Yes he was nervous but not because he thought I would say no.) Once we got back to the car, we called my parents and face-timed them so they could see the ring. Then we face-timed Cason’s parents, who were on their way to Florida with his youngest brother. It was all very exciting to start sharing with family. I also called my aunt and my nana, and my cousin’s reaction was priceless.
People asked me if I was surprised, but I think the better question is, “Were you pleasantly surprised?” Truth be told, if I had no inclination that it was coming, I would have been surprised, but I’m not sure that I would have liked it. Cason’s proposal, for me, had the right balance of expectation and surprise. So yes, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a special moment shared between the two of us, which we will never forget. Even now when I drive by campus at night and see Pat Neff Hall glowing green in the distance, I get this big grin on my face.
Cason and I met back in high school through a program called Teen Advisors (TAs). He was homeschooled, but he came to my high school for TA sessions. We knew each other, and we had plenty of mutual friends, but we weren’t close at the time. (Cason says he had a crush on me at one point, but he steered clear because I was dating someone throughout high school.) After I graduated, Cason and I didn’t stay in touch. When I was home from college during Christmas and summer breaks, I went to a young adult ministry called The Door, and we ended up reconnecting through that ministry.
During my sophomore year in college and after a recent breakup, I bumped into Cason at Fantasy in Lights over Christmas break (2011). We chatted like old friends–he asked about my experiences at Mercer and shared about his adventures in Australia. Given my introverted nature, a conversation this detailed, however brief, was a big deal to me. Cason, naturally social and chatty, probably didn’t think twice about it.
The next time we saw each other was during the following summer break (2012). We both attended The Door one evening, and afterwords Cason invited me to Buffalo Wild Wings with him and some friends for his birthday. I accepted his invitation, which was also probably a pretty big deal for me–if you know me, you know that in all honesty, I probably just wanted to go home for some alone time after being with a group of people for two hours. We talked about our travels including one pub in London that we thought we had both visited. After I got home that night, I sent him a photo of the pub that I took during my travels, but I never heard back from him. (Thankfully, we can now laugh about how he never responded to me.)
By the spring of this year, I had graduated college and returned to our hometown to prepare for my trip to China. However, Cason was interested to hear about my travel plans, so he messaged me on Facebook one night and invited me to grab coffee with him. It’s funny because the day before he messaged me, I was feeling pretty bored at home without all my friends. So I was trying to think of people to hang out with, and I saw that he was online on Facebook. I went to message him–opened the chat window and everything–but I got distracted by my parents and ended up not messaging him. (Though it’s unfortunate that the trip to China never happened, I think now it’s obvious that God still had great things in store for me.)
If you ask me about our first date, I would say it was that February night at Starbucks, though Cason will admit that he didn’t think of it as a date at the time. I was quite surprised by how naturally we hit it off, and I remember wondering why we never hung out more in high school. Cason is genuine and very forthcoming about his life and experiences, and I appreciated that very much. I think we can both agree that at that point in our lives we were tired of unhappy endings and playing games with people; we were both looking for something real. I must have seen that right away in Cason because that night after Starbucks, I told one of my friends, “I’m gonna marry this guy.”
In our dating relationship, we were very intentional about getting to know each other. (We knew of each other for so long, that it made it easy to transition from the general to the more specific.) Early on, we both realized that we had found what we were looking for, so to speak, so naturally we talked about getting married; we already had the mindset and the devotion–we wanted it to be “official.”
Over the summer, I found out that I got into Baylor, and I was both thankful and surprised to find that Cason was more than willing to move with me to build on our relationship and embark on this new journey with me. Not only was he willing to move 700 miles from home with me, but he also would have married me before-hand, had we not been brought back down from cloud nine.
So we moved to Texas together, and though it has been difficult at times, Cason has been a great blessing to me during this transition. I know that the move has been just as difficult for him, and that helped us grow together and closer to Christ in the process. We’ve found a church and made new friends and just have generally done life together from day one here in Waco. We had talked over the past couple of months about getting engaged so needless to say, I knew that a proposal was imminent.
Connecting with ADPi alum/Baylor advisors made my week last week. We talked over an amazing dessert, and I’ll hopefully be getting more involved in helping with the ADPi chapter here at Baylor!
My first social circles group at the BARC (autism center) went as well as could be expected. We had two kids who didn’t come last week, so I’m interested to see what tomorrow’s social circle will look like.
I meet with the parent of a 13-year old boy with autism today. I will be tutoring him in math this semester. I am eager to meet them and get started, but I’ll admit that I’m also nervous about this new experience.
I have resolved to be more intentional about connecting with people from home/Mercer. The days are all a blur right now, so I honestly can’t keep track of who I’ve talked to and when. Sorry about that! I’m working on it.
I’ve been doing surprisingly well with my new budget! Eating at home and packing lunches helps a lot!
I’m enjoying getting to know my cohort better and interacting more with them in class. I’m ready to just “know” everyone.
Cason and I still love visiting new (to us) places in Waco. We went to Katie’s this weekend, and it was by far the best frozen dessert I’ve had. (They sell amazing frozen custard.)
Mondays are the absolute WORST. I’m still trying to figure out how to successfully navigate those without crashing at the end of the day. Work plus two 3-hour classes is more mentally exhausting than you would think.
Ending on a positive note, I’m very thankful to be a part of this program at Baylor. I know that my experiences here will be invaluable to my future career and life in general.
Remember that even though you’ve experienced 4 years of college, graduate school is a new experience. Amidst learning a new schedule, meeting new people, figuring out professors’ expectations, and completing loads of assignments, I have to take a moment to myself each day to pause and just breathe. Some days just stopping to catch my breath, counting the number of slow inhales and exhales, relaxes me. Graduate school is stressful, but there’s something about consciously breathing in and out that reminds me that I’m alive! I’m going to make it! It’s a great way to pause and refocus before moving on to the next task in a list of many.
Gone are the days of staying up until 1 or 2am and sleeping until 10 or 11am. Gone. Now, 12am is a late bedtime for me, and sleeping until 8:30 or 9 is a luxury. Honestly, I’m more okay with that than I thought I would be. Completing tasks in the morning and early afternoon gives me a sense of accomplishment. Waiting the night before an assignment was due never gave me that.
Sleeping on a regular schedule actually reduces stress. Yes, I know that people have told me this for years, but I’m finally realizing it. Perhaps I’m a slow learner at times, but now that I’ve got this routine down, I feel indescribably better. Sleep is now something that I look forward to, as opposed to a burden. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial in graduate school. The days will be long and miserable after a poor night’s sleep.
…don’t just eat–eat well. Okay, okay, so I’m still trying to cut out those sodas at dinner and the fast food junk when I’m in a jam. BUT eating well boosts energy and overall attitude. Snacks that are high in protein have become a staple for me. I keep almonds in my desk drawer at work; I’ll throw some low-sodium jerky in my purse for a snack; greek yogurt with fruit and granola is quickly becoming a favorite; and peanut butter will always be my protein comfort food. I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and energy level on days when I forget my snacks. Nobody wants a tired, grumpy graduate student, so handy snacks are a must.
Oh, and breakfast is ALWAYS a good idea. My Keurig is great, but the caffeine from the coffee is not going to last. Muffins, breakfast bars, fruit–a must. I never thought I’d become a believer in breakfast, but I’ve been converted.
Do the assignments. Do them ahead of time. Plan every hour of every day and squeeze in reading time whenever possible. I print out articles and carry them around in my purse. I carry my books to the office and read between appointments. I read over breakfast, lunch, and usually dinner. I read constantly, it feels like. Sometimes the professors cover the material and sometimes they talk about something entirely different. Either way, completing the reading gives me a better idea of what to expect in class and enables me to answer questions and discuss things with the class.
That’s the best advice I have, and just to be honest, I typed it out mostly for my own benefit. My lifestyle changed drastically in the past three weeks, and it’s a good change. This post will serve as a reminder to keep it up when I feel like giving in.
My first couple of weeks of class have been stressful, it’s true, but they have been overwhelmingly good. Even though the work is never-ending, I am thankful to finally be able to focus on school psychology. I’d rather read 5 articles and upwards of 10 chapters a week about school psychology than have a smaller load of gen. ed. classes.
THREE WEEKS…and the excitement is currently overwhelming. I get excited/overwhelmed and cry at everything. I don’t sleep. It’s going to feel like the night before Christmas for the next few weeks, and honestly it may get a little ridiculous. I feel like a hormonal teenager, but I’m honestly just super excited.
This week everyone in my cohort found out their graduate assistantship positions. By the grace of God and extreme devotion and hard work from our program director (and potentially others, behind the scenes), everyone in our cohort has 100% tuition remission for the fall and spring! That means we pay nothing but fees for our first year in grad school! If you don’t believe me, here’s the email:
In other exciting news, I got my first book for grad school today! Along with my professor, this book will teach me all about the DAS-II…don’t ask me what that is. Just kidding…it’s a “psychological assessment instrument” (aka, a test) that measures certain cognitive abilities for children from the ages of about 2-17 years; at least, that’s what I gather from the first page. 😉 Here’s a photo of me with my happy face and my new book:
I think I’ve really found where I’m supposed to be. I’m ready to get to Texas. I’m ready to start learning. I’m ready for the next chapter. I don’t doubt that it will be difficult. I don’t doubt that it will take work. I do hope, though, that for the most part it ends up being fun work, and I do believe that it will all be worth it. I forgot how much I love to learn, and I’m just ready to get back in the groove. I’m ready to have more of a schedule. I’m ready for everything…except the rest of the packing that I still have to do. Oh, and the drive. I’m not ready for the 13-hour drive. Other than that, let’s get this show on the road!
Back when I thought I was going to China, I had a to-do list that I was updating fairly regularly here on athousandnewpaths. (Sidenote: If you haven’t read about where the title for my blog originated, check it out here.) Well I thought that I created a Baylor to-do list to replace the list for China, but I can’t seem to find it. So, here it is:
Finalize my sell, donate, & keep piles for my room at home
Extensive cleaning and organizing of room at home
Pack winter clothes Sell/donate clothes & shoes I no longer wear
Organize summer clothes
Pack mementos, crafts, & miscellaneous
Sew a canopy for my new bed/room
Register for classes
Pay bill online
Add class schedule to new Lilly planner
Add GA schedule to new Lilly planner (after receiving GA schedule) Create a budget
Take my dog, Georgia, to get her yearly vaccinations
Take Georgia to the groomer
Find/purchase a small dog crate
Check all refills for prescriptions
Buy more contacts
Bank accounts Get car oil changed and tires rotated and balanced
Compile a list of freezer and crock pot meals Purchase another crock pot
This seems like a long list of things left to do in less than four weeks, but I’m pretty confident that I can manage it! Cason and I are getting very excited about moving to Texas. It gets more and more real every day! I will keep you updated!
Updated: 8/5/13–Only a few things left to do and just a few for days left to do it!
Updated: 8/13/13–I can’t believe the big move is almost here! I finally compiled a list of crockpot meals, which will help tremendously when I do my first round of grocery shopping at the end of this week. I’ve also succumb to the fact that some things on this list will need to be completed IN TEXAS. That’s actually rather exciting!
I decided on a program.
I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but I decided to pursue another passion in college, psychology. Along the way I realized that I still wanted to be in a school setting and make a difference in the lives of children. Then I discovered the field of school psychology and I realized that I was made for it. So I looked for graduate programs in that field and to my excitement found a 3-year Specialist program. This would give me a year of full instruction, a year of instruction and work in the schools, and finally an internship year. When I first realized I would have to go to grad school, I honestly was not thrilled about more school. However, this program seemed to be tailored to my needs in that it would allow me to actually start doing what school psychologists do under the supervision of professors and other school psychologists. Plus, more education in a field that I am thrilled about is actually appealing to me now.
I decided on a region.
When I was young, I was a homebody. I never ventured far from my parents. As I’ve gotten older, my comfort zone has expanded somewhat, and I knew that I still wanted to be in the south for graduate schools. I looked at schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
I applied to most of the schools with my program in the region.
I applied to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, University of Alabama, and Baylor University. School psychology is growing but still relatively new, so it’s not a program that everyone has. I know it looks like I was pretty selective in where I applied, but I honestly had pretty slim pickings. The good thing though is that these are all incredibly amazing programs.
I interviewed with schools via Skype and in person.
Georgia Southern accepted me without an interview, but I Skyped with three of the faculty from Baylor, and then I did an all day interview with the five faculty at Appalachian State.
I made a pros and cons list.
This is somewhat of an inside joke for anyone who saw the pros and cons list. One school had all the pros. We will just leave it at that
I picked the program that was the best fit for me…
…and that program is BAYLOR UNIVERSITY! I am so pleased to announce that I have been accepted to their school psychology program for this fall, and I have accepted their offer. (Many of you know this already, but it feels more official now that it is on the blog!) I will actually be visiting next week, and I am thrilled!
I was so excited once I finally accepted their offer that I could not sleep. I stayed up making poster prints like the one above to hang in my apartment in TEXAS. This feels like an absolute dream come true, but looking back I realize that I worked my whole life (up until this point) for this. The goal has always been to do well in school, find a job that I am passionate about, and do what it takes to get there. This is just another stepping stone along that path, and I am so blessed by and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way. I recognize that this achievement cannot be credited to my work alone. I needed the help and support of my parents, family, friends, and teachers. Who I am and what I have achieved is a combination of my experiences and interactions with others, and I don’t take that for granted for one second. Finally, I must acknowledge that my Creator and God had his hand over all of this. I can look back and say that there were definitely times along the way when I wanted to give up, and I would not have made it through without my relationship with Christ as the foundation of my life. All the glory goes to Him and the way He has placed people and experiences in my life to form me into the woman I am today.
Here it is…the post that you all knew was coming, and the one that I have honestly been putting off for a while.
I’m not going to China.
I still don’t have the words to explain why or what changed in my heart, but something changed. It was taking forever to get an invitation from the government, and I saw the potential time I would be spending there slowly dwindling. I didn’t like that. I wasn’t a fan of the fact that my 5 months in China was going down to 4 and eventually only 3. Sure, any length of time in China would be an experience of a lifetime, but I was putting my entire life here on hold and it was unhealthy.
I was afraid to build friendships and relationships in my hometown. I was afraid to go back to my college town and hang out with my friends because I knew I would be leaving them soon. It felt pointless to get a part-time job when I had no clue how long I’d be available to work there. Everything was in limbo, and while I was doing my best to trust God’s plan for the situation, I was emotionally overloaded and highly stressed. That’s when it occurred to me that God’s plans for this trip perhaps changed. I can’t explain it, but I felt and still feel like I need to stay here for now.
It was terribly difficult to decide not to pursue a dream that I had been planning for so long, but after the decision was made I felt relieved. Life is not always about making the right or wrong choices; it’s about making wise choices that you can live with. That’s exactly what I elected to do in this situation. Would I still like to be going to China? Sure! But do I regret the decision I made not to go? No, I don’t. Later down the road if I find myself saying, “Man, I wish I had gone to China,” then hopefully I will be in a position to plan a trip at that time.
And that’s how I feel about that.
P.S. I know this blog started as a way to document my path to China and my journey while I was there, but obviously that has changed. I definitely plan on updating the blog regularly with info about my life, relationships, and graduate school. However, I’m still trying to figure out a clear direction and plan for the blog, so bear with me while I work to bring the best to the table here.