Simply Sather

date your spouse | bowl

And we’re off!

The first date of our 100 dates as husband and wife (how it works here) began with this one…

14 | B O W L

our first date of the 100

Mister chose this one with enthusiasm.

He was ready to set the bar high and start our intentional dating fun off on the best foot.

So we headed to the newly built…

Pinstack

We’d both driven by it many times, but had never been.

In fact, in our 13 months together – we had not yet been bowling.

It was a 45 minute wait for the regular lanes, so we decided to splurge and have the V.I.P. experience for $12 more and no waiting.

always a gentleman

We got our own lane in a room set off from the rest of the place with 7 other lanes – only half of which were being used. For this easily extra sensory, easily overwhelmed person – this was actually a huge win.

can you tell which is which?

Neither of us are great bowlers and the one glass of wine we each had (Malbec for Mister and Pinot Noir for me) didn’t really help our already struggling games.

Mister + Beauty

It only seemed appropriate that we’d have some sort of science-y tidbit on the screen when playing, but it was also a big win when I got the courage to enter our nicknames.

Mister has been “Mister” since before we met. It’s how I prayed for him before I even knew who he was. When we finally met, I lined him up against the things I’d been praying for in a godly man/husband. Once I knew we were committed to one another, I kept calling him “mister” and it’s just stuck.

After our engagement, he started calling me “Beauty”.

It means so many things to him – not just about how I look, dress or present myself – but so many of the things that I have hidden from others because I was fearful of what they might do with my very vulnerable, sensitive parts and pieces. He shines a light on them and calls them beautiful and me, his “beauty”.

I entered our names on the screen, deleted mine and then decided to add it again – and leave it.

No one said anything and it mattered less and less what others might say in that hour; I was with my Mister and he was making me feel completely beautiful in his company.

apple bacon marinara flatbread + brisket with mac-n-cheese wrap with fries

Great food and wine, not-so-great service.

We had to ask for the simplest things multiple times – it just seemed they were not ready to provide V.I.P. service for the V.I.P. money we’d paid.

the Sathers bowl

Overall, we had fun.

We were cheerful and felt like kindred spirits but agreed we were sure we’d like to do a lot of other things before circling back to this one again.

I learned to celebrate after a good round of bowling and that we are fairly similar in our approach to games we don’t normally play, our style and willingness to attempt to compete. The trash talk (which we didn’t do very much of) was completely unnecessary – we were not great at this game. But, the laughter and connection that came from experiencing something familiar with one another was really special.

Simply Sather

three wedding day supermoments

I realize I’ve shared so much about Mister – our courtship (1, 2 + 3), our efforts to simplify and most recently our first getaway to intentionally dream and focus on our marriage – and haven’t shared anything about our wedding.

Not that it wasn’t lovely and beautiful and fulfilling in many ways, but I am kind of a “funny” bride…

Funny because I am an introvert and can also be incredibly particular. I’m also not a fan of super traditional things just because it’s traditional or because someone says I should do it that way. Or if it does not have meaning that will carry on for a long time, long after the day’s festivities are over, then it seems wasteful and I don’t really want it.

So, we hired a dear friend to be our wedding coordinator and she handled it (and me) especially well. Thanks to her ability to listen to us, her willingness to learn about us as a couple and her skill at making things happen – we had a beautiful, simple, wonderful day.

And while there are many things that go into a wedding – and she handled them superbly – there are three supermoments from our wedding day that play back to me regularly.

THE DRESS

I bought my wedding dress three years ago.

Before I moved away from Wisconsin. Before I knew exactly where in Texas we would land. Before I knew Mister existed.

I’d been a few months out of a separation and divorce that took 22 months when I agreed to host a small group of women working through some things at a soul care retreat. I had been through one and knew that I could help women work through hard, desperate things even if I had not been through them myself.

I was looking forward to the “day of silence” – which is usually on the second day and starts just after breakfast and ends just before dinner on the same day. It is a very intentional time set aside for participants to get alone with God however they best do this (napping, coloring, walking, kayaking, swimming, reading, journaling, etc.) in order to hear from Him.

Since I’d had some experience with it, I got it in my head that I would help God tell me what I needed to hear.

I mean, my life was a mess and I needed to clean it up.

So I went straight to the dock and sat with blanket, Bible and journal digging into the Old Testament and scriptures on the law.

It is what I felt I deserved. God hates divorce and therefore He was upset with me and I needed to be under strict rule to fix my life and get back on track.

Within the hour of trying to hear from God while telling God what to say, I got frustrated and went and did other things. I painted a word on a rock and then another one, went around watching to see what other people might be doing (even though I couldn’t talk to them), I got in a little canoe – which lasted all of 8 minutes – and when I still couldn’t hear, I decided to get further away from everyone else and go for a walk.

Not even 50 feet into my walk, I heard – clear as day – “you will marry again”.

Yep, black girl walking in the woods – I jumped.

Then laughed at myself for jumping.

And then in disbelief, sure that God couldn’t be saying that to me (the recently divorced sinner) shook it off and kept on walking. I didn’t share with anyone in the groups during the weekend – partly because I was there to listen to the women in my group, but mostly because I didn’t believe it.

I didn’t deserve the blessing of marriage again.

The retreat ended the following day and I had time to kill before picking up my son from wherever he’d gone so that I could go retreating. I ended up in the tiny village of the city where we lived and moseying in and out of shops closer to the time that I got to see him again.

I went into the Ace Hardware to find it’d been purchased by women and turned into a vintage women’s boutique. It had the smell good soaps and lotions, with colorful duct tapes and all the signage about being a woman in a man’s world, coffee and platitudes about exercising. I was enjoying myself when I turned the corner and saw this dress on a dress form.

I took it into the dressing room, tried it on and wept. Quietly – I wasn’t trying to get kicked out or anything.

I wept because it fit me perfectly and because I thought I looked stunning in it and mostly because I was overwhelmed thinking about what I’d heard and tried to block out the day before.

I bought the dress knowing that I’d be moving to Texas in a few short months.

When Mister proposed and wedding planning began, I never tried on another dress.

I did get a little insecure about it when it got closer because when I would try it on from time to time leading up to the big day, I didn’t get the very same feeling I got the very first time I’d tried it on back in 2015.

But on my wedding day, I was in disbelief.

I welled up.

Spun around in circles looking at myself in that dress so many times…

I was so moved by how I felt I looked and especially that I was standing there in a promise from God.

I am so very grateful our photographer caught this moment.

I am even more grateful to God for planning and preparing it all along.

And when he saw me for the “first look” in this dress I’d told him about, his response was beautiful, amazing and powerful. Time slowed and let us soak in the blessing and gift of God’s promise and we received it.

I love this dress.

It was handpicked for me. Truly a non-fussy bride, who knows what she likes by what she doesn’t like. One who wants decisions to be few and simple. God chose this dress as a reflection of the woman I’m becoming and I am so grateful that Mister is the one who got to see me in it.

THE CEREMONY

We got married at the most loveliest place.

The drive, not my favorite, the place – the best of both of us.

If you didn’t know, Mister really, really likes nature. And Stonebridge Wedding Venue is 40 acres of beautiful countryside with circus history and one of the top ten tallest live oak trees in all of Texas. And for me, the amenities of the bridal cottage and lovely decor in Tuxedo Hall (where we dined) seemed as if I’d picked them for myself.

A February wedding in Texas could go all four ways – (rain, sun, snow, ice) all in one day – so we were sure we’d be willing to wed if it was 45 degrees or warmer.

Apparently somebody else needed it to remain around 52 degrees that day, so we had a bit of a chilly ceremony.

But here’s what I so loved about our little ceremony…

We got married in this area surrounded by trees wounded and lit into a knot (it was called The Braided Knot) and we were only the second couple to hold our ceremony in that place.

It was so intimate that we did not need or use any projection equipment for people to hear.

Oh, if it’d only been a little warmer.

Even more precious than the place we chose to wed, was the part of our ceremony where Mister turned to my son to share some words with him:

I appreciate teaming with you to help take care of your Mom, but now you can confidently hand that baton to me.

And I did the same to his children…

I’m saying these words to your dad, but know that the promises I make to him are to overflow to the two of you.

It was precious and meant the world to both of us to let our children know that this was an addition, not a subtraction.

Oh, and Mister gave me his coat so we froze together. But, so gentlemanly…

Y’all. I remember being cold. And I remember hearing words about God and love and saying promises and sharing my heart. I recall beautiful singing and I know that there were people there, but what I most remember about this part of our wedding day was how peaceful I was standing before him.

Aware and believing that challenges would come our way but completely sure that he was the one set aside by God; the one I would be experiencing new, big, incredible things with as his wife.

As I stood alone in the Bridal Cottage waiting for the clock to strike 4:30p, I sang and worshipped and teared up a little. Never once wondering if this was what I was supposed to, with this person. Never once concerned as to whether or not he would be waiting for me or change his mind.

I was giddy.

We had fought the temptation to act in married ways that are to be saved for marriage. We had talked about any and everything – multiple times. We had prayed and asked for guidance and wisdom, input and support.

Our ceremony was the manifestation of doing it “God’s way” for me.

It was an amazing experience.

As if it couldn’t be topped, we had another super moment.

A QUIET MOMENT – JUST THE TWO OF US

This man.

He just loves me.

Which I no longer say is so difficult to do, because he does it so well.

And I should have known it would be the case since he had demonstrated his love for me appropriately, respectfully and consistently from the day we matched on that dating site.

You see, I’ve been badly hurt by boyfriends, partners, husbands and I knew that I was attracting brokenness in many of those relationships, inviting co-dependency and un-health.

It took me years to figure out how to be better at just being by myself.

Which as an introvert, I know I can take to extremes at times. Nonetheless, I knew that it was better to go way to the other side and be alone and letting Jesus court my hurt heart than to keep on doing the same old things.

So years ago, I bought this small sterling silver ring that I wore on my wedding finger. Even when I wasn’t married. Sometimes even when I was.

And that ring signified my marriage to Jesus. The priority of that relationship.

I didn’t always do it well or right (don’t believe the person that’s trying to convince you they’ve got it all figured out) but I was really trying. It wasn’t the ring that made me want to be better, attract better, listen better, respond better…it was my relationship with God.

I read more studies, more Truth.

I said no to things I would normally salivate to say yes to, to even try.

Wearing that ring became so normal for me that I looked up one day and realized that I was acting like a content, happily married woman before I’d even met the man who would make that label true.

Mister asked me about the ring and what it meant to me.

He also asked to keep it so that he could size out my engagement ring (I’ll have to post about the supermoments from the proposal because it was amazing too) and I forgot all about it.

Until we got married, kissed as hubby and wifey and strolled down the aisle and hopped on the golf cart to get photos taken.

Now mind you. I’m freezing and while I want beautiful photos, I’m done. I just want to be married at home with new husband.

And while the photographer was setting up one of our last shots before the reception. He turned to me and pulled out that stirling silver ring and placed it on my right hand with a gleam in his eye.

One of the most romantic moments I’ve ever been a part of. For real.

It was so delicate and sensitive and protective and loving – I pray it remains clear in my head for the rest of my life.

There were hundreds of very special meaningful moments leading up to our wedding and on our wedding day and even after we got married. So very many.

But these.

These are super moments.

Ones that I share to let you in on my view of the day. What was most important to me and what I long for others to think of when they interact with us – that our love is far deeper than what we looked like on this one day. Our love story is written by God and it is our honor to walk it out.

Simply Sather

OUR FIRST SOUL CARE RETREAT

Perhaps some of why I was so overwhelmed was that I was busy planning our very first soul care retreat.

Even though we just got back from our honeymoon earlier this month – which I’m super excited to post about really soon – I’d been really pumped about this weekend away, just the two of us with minimal distractions to get quiet and connect more deeply with God.

I’ve been doing something similar to this for years – over a decade actually; taking time to rent out a room at a B&B, to take a pile of books (and only read half of one), take walks by myself, sit next to water and journal. I would sometimes go to a spa – alone or even sometimes house sit or stay at a friend’s home while they were out-of-town. And especially more intentional, I went on two “soul care retreats” with Holy Yoga and absolutely devoured the opportunity to join a bunch of other women stretching at their ability level, being vulnerable about their challenges in small groups and particularly finding power and love in the times of silence.

When I posted about being overwhelmed last week, I was aware that I needed this kind of time and was also aware that it was coming – I was planning it for us – but wasn’t sure how it would go for us as a couple.

I was about to share something pretty sacred and meaningful for me with my new husband and was a tiny bit nervous about how it might actually go. How might he receive it? Would he be resistant? Think it was too early for us to be taking these types of preventative, intentional, God-focused kind of getaways? I mean, we did just get married, right?

But, exactly because we are newlyweds – with past marriages and past hurts that want to rear their ugly heads at all the worst times – we needed to prioritize this retreat time away – together.

I wanted to gift this to my hubby, so I saved and set aside the money, arranged for the place to stay, did all of the shopping, created the agenda – even pre-filled the car with gas and did the driving so he could have fun relaxing into the whole thing.

48 hours – not planned to be rigid  but so that he could see what was in my heart about this time away; we had an outline of the foods/meals I’d cook, the big wins and the why behind the whole thing. It was a simple thing, though simple doesn’t always mean easy. It definitely took some effort.

While Mister was preparing for our honeymoon, I was planning for this weekend.

I prayed about it.

I thought about the desired outcome and what we would feel like returning home from the weekend if the intentions set were actually met.

I asked him to pick out recipes he really liked or wanted me to try.

I also pleaded with him not to ask questions – partially because I wanted to surprise him, but mostly because I wanted things to remain fluid; if something I wanted to happen wasn’t going to, it removed the pressure because he would never know what he was missing and not be disappointed or feel something was lost.

I shared with only a few people the details of what we were doing only a couple of days before we left.

F R I D A Y

We arrived at our location – a very generous lake house loan from dear friends – later than I’d plan because – well, traffic – but immediately unloaded the car, unpacked, got the lay of the land then settled into a conversation like old friends connecting again after a little time apart.

a favorite wine and a yummy snack
encouragement from Mister’s daughter

We sipped wine, read scriptures that were highlighted from the Bible set out at our wedding and talked about the one area we’d like the other person to work on most in our marriage, as our partner.

I’m gonna go ahead and share that my sweet husband would like for me to grow in being less nagging (even though he says I’m only a little naggy, he’d still like to have it eliminated). I won’t waste anytime telling you that I argued with him about this. It had already come up during a trip we’d taken together before we got engaged, early on in our marriage and then again on our honeymoon (which we took three months after being wed). I added bossy and sassy to the mix and told him that we would take some time the next day to get quiet with God and petition Him for help.

(Since I’m the writer and sharer here, I’ll refrain from sharing what I asked hubby to improve in – maybe he’ll want to share in this space someday – but for now, you’re gonna hear about me.)

the plan; we did about 85% of the stuff on here

I shared with him the overall agenda – hoping he wouldn’t flee from the lake house in the night at his wife’s planning abilities – and he smiled and received the plan with gratitude sharing that this was new for him.

Oh! I forgot the frozen pizza, so we snacked (glad I packed snacks) – and it was all good – see fluid!!!

We talked for a while longer and then settled into the night open to what the next day would bring.

S A T U R D A Y

We woke up without an alarm!

Even if you’re not in a position to travel or getaway for a retreat, try this one little thing on the weekend and let your body tell you when to open your eyes; game changer!

We did light fare breakfast, snacking – setting up the morning and preparing ourselves for the time to be quiet.

Mister was going to walk and I was going to sit by the lake.

Though I’ve experienced times of silence for much longer, I thought I’d ease us in as a couple this first time at 1 1/2 hours.

I knew we each needed something different in order for this to be effective. I needed to be able to journal, look up/at words and then sit still to listen and hear. Mister on the other hand, needed to be in nature, in the trees, walking and moving and interacting with the outdoors.

We arrived in the kitchen within minutes of one another.

salmon, asparagus + cauliflower lunch

As I prepared lunch – he really, really, really enjoys good fish – we started chatting about what we heard in the areas we’d mentioned the night before.

I won’t go into detail here, but we both heard the simplest, sweetest, most loving message which was basically – come to Me first and I will give you the strength you need to give the other what they most desire in this season of your marriage.

proverbs 3:26 for me

We spent time in the Word, finding scriptures to help us focus when the flesh wants to pull us away. And then we spent a couple of hours laying out a dream map; dreaming big ideas for 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2028.

Mister reading me the scriptures God gave him

Y’all there are some big, beautiful (somewhat scary) dreams on our map. But, the experience of dreaming opened us up to one another in areas of our souls we’d not yet discovered or revealed to the other. There were no major surprises, but bold, big prayers for things we’d not allowed ourselves to even put words to before.

S U N D A Y

Slept in again – yes!

omelet in a skillet in the oven – delicious

And then made another new dish for breakfast. While I cooked, he chatted and we listened to worship music.

reflecting on our assessments with this view

We spent some time down on the pier of the boathouse and opened our pre-marital counseling assessments. There are a lot of pages but rather than get into the weeds on every page, we got quiet and went through the packet separately, each chose one page and then discussed a couple of things from each page together.

We were able to be honest with one another and then prayed aloud as boaters and jet-skiers whizzed on by, while turtles popped their heads above the water and fish sometimes surprisingly leaped above the surface.

Y’all it was so wonderful.

Peaceful.

Relaxing.

Simple.

We experienced freedom from distraction and busy, laughed and played with one another as friends and partners and learned to love more about God and one another in an effort to strengthen our connection.

the smile on my face reflects the way he speaks about + to me; he was so pleased with our weekend

I recommend soul care retreats for everyone.

capturing him resting his eyes made me feel like I won everything

If you’re up for it and think you’d like to plan one for yourself or someone you love, it might help to consider for the following:

  • the distractions that need to be set aside
  • getting away for at least 36 to 48 hours
  • keeping the plan simple (don’t try to plan too much of anything)
  • make room for God to speak – get silent for a little while (don’t talk to one another)
  • share with people you trust what you’re going to do so they can ask you about it and pray for you to be focused and successful while you’re away and help you when you return
  • dream
  • choose a place that speaks to you and how you interact best with God
  • choose at least one scripture to carry away from the weekend
  • before the weekend wraps up, choose a month/time for the next one

Make it happen, make it your own and be open to what may come.