Thursday, June 30, 2011

final countdown

Did I mention I will be

Mrs. Mary Kathleen Kennedy Sims 
(or Mrs. Daniel Harper Sims)

 in 1 month???

Ok, ok... it isn't ideal, but we're making the best of it! Daniel asked me earlier if he could call me, Mrs. Sims and I said, "Um.... no. That sounds like your grandmother. Really."

a true friend is the greatest of all blessings

I should've written this on Monday, but I have spent everyday in Baton Rouge, on my phone, putting the guest list in Excel, or sleeping. 

Last weekend, I left Clinton around 6:00 PM for Libbo's birthday celebration at J.Crew and Mint. Before I left, I accidentally sent Libbo a message that was intended for my mother. It said, "Mom, I really want to go to Libbo's birthday tonight and see my friends. She doesn't get off work until 8:30, so I could leave here at 6." It was quite humorous when she replied, "Ok. Be careful! Take your vitamins!" Then I realized, "I'm not a girl, not yet a woman (Britney Spears)." With all that being said, I loaded up and headed to J. Crew. When I walked in I swear my body released a million endorphins (haha). After 2 weeks of not seeing my friends and living in Clinton, I was overwhelmed with joy. I didn't realize how much I missed everyone. After Libbo's J. Crew party, we headed to Mint. There were probably a total of 30 people there for Miss Mississippi State University- I was thrilled. It was good to celebrate Libbo's birthday and tell people about the wedding. That night did wonders for me. It boosted my confidence and self-esteem. My friends are loyal, forgiving and understanding. I am so undeserving of a lot of things... especially my friends. Praise the Lord for Mississippi State. 

(Libbo loves when I do this)
(Happy Birfday, Libbers!)

When I moved home, I was somewhat worried about the public. I worked for a church, wanted to do the right thing, "live a life for Christ", obey, and went out of my way to love people when they didn't deserve it. My mom quickly reminded me, "No one is going to say anything negative to you. And if they do, they never cared about you. You don't need those people." So as people are finding out, I must keep that in mind and certainly... "child, you're forgiven and loved." And to be honest, I don't have time in the day to worry about it. Daniel and I are looking for a place to live, a job in Starkville, job in Baton Rouge, videographer (just found him!), silver, dress altered, etc. Please please keep us in your prayers as everything moves quickly. 

Saturday Julie and I headed to Starkville. It was MUCH NEEDED. With Daniel being in school and me at home (wedding planning), we get frustrated really easily. I'm not going to tell you everything is okay and life's great, because there are some major issues. We discussed these in pre-engagment counseling and it will be a learning process. For example, I want to buy everything for a new house. Daniel thinks we should save and live within our means (he's right). I have to learn how to be submissive (as Daniel loves the church- Colossians 3:18) and he needs to learn how to love me. We had a conversation last night that talked about both of those issues. It was THE BEST thing we could've done. You would think after 7 years of talking (except the summer of '07) we would have communication down pat- wrong. It will be a lifelong process to learn. 
(what Daniel thinks of my spending habits)

Needless to say, Saturday was very nice - we sat at his apartment and talked (not about the wedding) for 6 hours. We were reminded that we're the glue. Nothing works without us. We love each other and the devil will not steal our joy. If we are constantly nagging each other, our wedding is going to be a "have to" instead of a "want to".  I have to allow Daniel to do his job of leading our family. I'm hard headed so it's been a difficult lesson to learn. I think when the baby (still hard to say/type) gets here, we will be too happy to argue :)

(Biltmore in '09... where we wanted to get married- hey, nothing goes according to plan, but that's the beauty in it)

Communication is a beautiful thing. We are more than ready to see where the Lord takes us. I know for a fact He will use this situation in many lives. This doesn't deter us from the Gospel, but brings us closer. Daniel actually mentioned to me the other day he was wishing for a honeymoon baby - surprise! No honeymoon, but a precious child. He also said he was going to read the entire Bible before the little kumquat (yes, now a kumquat size) makes it's debut. That's 10 chapters a day. I decided to read the NT and a book. Sweet MK DeWesse suggested, "When sinners say, I DO". I'm thinking we both need to read it! We'll see. 

(at least we know our child will have blue eyes...)
(... and maybe blonde hair)

Another great part of the weekend was Crystal Springs' Tomato Festival - I know, I know... real exciting. I love participating in the 5k with Mrs. Misty Singleton, Mary Landrum Pyron, Elizabeth Pyron and the other CS people who come out of the woodworks. This was my ... 3rd year to run/walk in the tomato festival. I think I'm more concerned about the free t-shirt than walking. The night before (Friday) I visited with the Singletons and Will McBeath. It was exactly what I needed. I wasn't going to tell anyone the big news unless they asked. Well we were all talking in the kitchen about the wedding, and I just felt so comfortable. I ended up telling them right then and there. Will just patted me on the back, Shaw hugged me and Mrs. Misty said nothing but positive things. They were so uplifting and thoughtful. That showed me their true colors. They mentioned they loved Daniel and me very much. I now know 3 more people are praying for us. Mrs. Misty actually walked a little slower on Saturday for me :) I love their family and Crystal Springs. I ended Friday night by staying with Catherine Randall and her grandparents. She is the best listener and so genuine. I really enjoyed talking with Catherine. The Lord just showed me how wonderful life was, rather than soaking in my shame. I also bought 2 bedside/ towel tables for our new place! It was a great trip, to say the least. 

(Our favorite picture of Will- Chi O Camo junior year... the DJ was so bad he started doing MSU chants)

(Tomato Festival '10)

(Shelby Hailey and me)

(Mrs. Johna Tomato Fest '10)

(Tomato Fest '10)

(local vendors)

(Shaw at the Pyron's)

(Tomato Fest '11)

(the epitome of Jack Thompson- afro-sheen)
(so cute!)

(from consignment store in Brookhaven)

Change of subject - this weekend, my sisters and MOH, Betsy Bunch, are throwing me a bachelorette party. I didn't want anything extravagant (ever, but especially with the situation). I think these parties are awkward and uncomfortable. I'm super modest #1. So Riley, my oldest hardheaded sister, decided to combine the party with the "Red, White and Blueberry Festival" in Clinton. There's a blueberry cookoff, 5K (to which Riley got this great idea to have a Kocktail at every Km = 5 Kocktails), golf cart parade, bluegrass band, open stores, vendors, United We Jam, fireworks, etc. I wasn't too thrilled, but thought it was nice of them to plan one. I just want to see my friends and family! It will be a classy/trashy good 'ole Clinton time. 

(Red, White and Blueberry Festival '09)

The most exciting part of the weekend is ... DANIEL coming to Clinton tomorrow morning! We will pick up his ring, my ring, meet with the photographer and eat at our favorite place in BR, Flemings! Our favorite thing to do is go during happy hour and get 1/2 price calamari and wine/beer. We used to eat dinner there...... not anymore. Daniel and I both have champagne taste, but now on a beer budget


This week, I have been listening to a lot of Mandi Mapes (David Platt's Church of Brook Hills). Shelley Pensworth (my little penguin) left it in my car after an (eventful) beach trip in May. I have memorized the album and learned the meaning in the lyrics. My favorite song is, "Take Me Away" you can download it on iTunes, but I encourage you to read these few lyrics.

Take Me Away Mandi Mapes

I’ve got my share of past regrets, photographs of bad mistakes.
I cared what everyone thought but these days I just let the haters hate.
I was caught in the middle. Indecisive in my shame,
but my whole world came fallin’ down the night You called my name.

And sin was suffocating me and I could not see, my heart failed within me. 
But Your arms are not too short to save. 
And what else can I say?
Just take me away. 

Just take me away

I apologize for the long post, but continue to keep us in your prayers. If there is ANYTHING we can do for y'all, please e-mail me at Excited about seeing friends tomorrow! And... invitations go out MONDAY! And... if anyone knows a thing about formatting a blog, help a girl out!

Kumquat is still sleeping, but can't wait for dad to get here tomorrow. Have I lost it? I think so. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

we pray for blessings

This song, "Blessings" by Laura Story has been our theme song. 

Blessings by Laura Story (click to see the video)

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights 
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

This post will show you how God has provided (and was planning this):

#1: I was planning to live with Libbo and Katherine Ross from July 2011 to July 2012. I decided to stay with the Millers with no idea what the fall would bring (job, life, etc.) I decided against signing a lease because of job insecurity. I continued to live happily with the Millers (Riley's in-laws... who are so special to me). 

#2: Daniel didn't need to take summer school, but decided to take 2 of his hardest classes in June to put him ahead. We later found out he could take 2 more classes in July and finish in December with 18 hours (one being an elective). That was HUGE. If we are going to be a family in early February, he needs to be out of school. We were so happy to find that out! 

#3: Daniel and Tyler Ellis were also in a 12 month lease with their 2 bedroom apartment. We knew we had to move to Starkville and find something small and cheap (quick). One day I was talking to Whitney Hedgepeth and she mentioned her friends were looking for a 2 bedroom apartment. She called Daniel and gave him the contact. The guys came and looked at it yesterday and want to rent it! It was also convenient that Drew Norwood had an extra bed at the Sigma Chi house for Tyler to stay. Drew is also leaving in the spring semester so Tyler will have a room all to himself. Now Tyler is situated, the renters are pleased and Daniel is in the process of finding us a one bedroom! Everything has worked out with the housing situation.

#4: Well, here's another curve ball. Daniel was just diagnosed with hemochromatosis - a disorder that results in too much iron being absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Usually when you get married, you're dropped from your parent's insurance- not anymore thanks to Obama-care! Daniel and his dad were panicking to find some insurance. "Blue cross will deny me. Student insurance isn't good. We're going to be broke. You might have to move the wedding if I can't get insurance." That's how frazzled he was. I knew it would workout, because I was not moving this wedding. What didn't make the situation better was me saying, "We'll just pay for it. I have savings." If you know Daniel, he didn't like that. We had yet another talk about money and how you just can't pay for things to go away. I learned I can't touch that money, because we would be broke in a month... but I would look cute for a football game! Anywho, money is another subject. But... we did find out Daniel has insurance- biggest relief! 

#5: Last but not least, I quit my job (makes me cringe every time I think about it). I LOVED my job! I loved Jackson and the atmosphere of working in a church. And for crying out loud, I had to listen to Ligon Duncan every Sunday... hate that! Not. Well in order for me to graduate from Mississippi State, I have to complete an internship working with youth (480 hours + projects). Upon quitting, I knew I would have to end my internship and start again next fall. My dad currently pays out-of-state tuition and that money would be long gone if this internship was terminated (sorry, dad). I will become a Mississippi resident in April of 2012 so I couldn't do an internship in the spring either. So the church has been VERY gracious to let me complete my internship at home. I will "do research for Ligon Duncan". Again, hate that! I'm not sure how this is going to work out, and I'm still waiting to get the "okay" from Jan Cooper Taylor. If it does workout, I know God is planning it. Not that I ever doubted He wasn't, but everything has fallen into place. We are forgiven and loved.


We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

I continue to thank God for where He has provided and will provide. He knows what's best for Daniel and me. He won't let us go without. Of course we didn't plan this, but He is guiding us. Remember to count your blessings... name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done. My southern Baptist grandmother, June would be proud. 

Oh, the olive inside is still in hibernation. Thanks Kameryn for sending me sizes in food. Love y'all. 

Headed to Jackson to finally see friends for Libbo Haskins' birfday! See you soon. Did I mention I'm an extrovert and get energy from other people? I'm excited! Here's a kitten in your honor, Libbers. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

It's not about how you start, but how you finish.

Out of all the wedding planning, future planning, people pleasing, this keeps running through my head... child, you're forgiven and loved. About 3 weeks ago Daniel and I had what we thought, the worst day of our lives. When I called to tell him, he froze. I continued with, "Just say SOMETHING." I have learned through this process how different women and men are when relating to stressful/ emotional situations. He was later encouraging and helpful, but had to get over the shock. At this point, I knew I had to quit my job. Like I told the doctor (who is an elder at the church), "Who am I to counsel girls?" He agreed and went from there. With the help of the Keelers, who I will always love, I left my job professionally. That was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. 

After a week of waiting for Daniel to arrive in Jackson from summer school, I was ready for Clinton, LA. When I saw my mom, she immediately knew. I didn't have to say anything. She wrapped me in her arms and continued to say, "It's all going to be okay." That hug was what I had been longing for all week. Daniel's response was, "I hope they're all that easy to talk to." After that we talked to my dad, who was also very loving. Girls, that's the worst possible way to tell your father he's going to be a grandfather. I was a total basket-case, but deep down, I knew my dad would accept me and not pass judgement. He loved me, Daniel and this new addition. Daniel's original plan was to get his blessing this weekend - we just rushed it. Two weeks ago, Daniel had talked to his parents about proposing. So the engagement was no surprise, but the raspberry inside of me was. After talking to my dad, he reminded me to live out what I believe. I was so stressed/ embarrassed talking to him and he said, "Do you not believe what you read??? Do not be anxious about anything. ANYTHING." That helped me piece things together and realize this situation was bigger than me. 

Daniel and I also hated that our "mistake" effected everyone else... what we didn't realize is their willingness to help, support, and encourage. Both of our parents are divorced and told us how hard it would be to have a healthy marriage and a family. Thankfully Daniel and I have talked on the phone every night (except the summer of 2007) and know each other's weaknesses and strengths. That's not to say we will have a perfect marriage, but we will try our hardest. I'm also thankful we did pre-engagement counseling with J.D. Shaw. He gave us great advice (of course). Daniel and I were planning to get married and start a family, but this is a little bit rushed. Daniel never planned to propose to me at my house in Clinton while I was asleep. His original plan was to fly me to Glorieta, NM where we met. Thattttt was a tad bit interrupted. The engagement was still sweet! He couldn't think and his hands were so sweaty. The engagement will have to wait for another post! 

I've come to realize (after 3 weeks) that God's plan is more than we can ever think or imagine. When I found out we would be a family, I kept asking myself, "How could this happen to me?" That's exactly why this (blessing) happened to me - I am too self righteous. I thought Daniel and I could fight the devil and his evil schemes- we were weak. When I told my siblings, I started off apologizing. Apologizing for being so judgmental to their way of life. I have learned to accept people and pray for them genuinely. When I talked to my sister, Jill, on my front porch one night, I started to see the good in this situation. She reminded me we were a family. She loved me and wanted the best for me. I haven't been super close with my siblings since I moved to Starkville. I take FULL responsibility for that. I thought I was better than them and it turns out they're the glue that holds our family together. What makes this journey so easy is family and friends. 

I have been absolutely overwhelmed with the response from family and friends. I imagined coming home to, "You're an embarrassment. How could you do that?" That is NOT what my family would've said, just the devil feeding me lies. Throughout this entire process, I have not heard one negative comment. My friends have offered several times to help, throw a shower, go on a trip, serve punch, etc. They're not passing judgement - just being a friend. That means the world to me. My family and family friends have also responded joyfully. Of course, they're shocked, but want to help in any way. I am just overwhelmed at what God is doing. Being from a small town, everyone is close. That's not to say they won't talk, but that's expected. I always said I would never move back to Clinton - never say never. Once a situation like this happens, you beg and plead for your family. I want to be close to my mom and dad. They love me for me and will never look at me differently. 

What prompted me to start this blog was "the town talk". Today, the word got out (in Clinton) that I was having a wedding on July 30 and having a precious baby. Surprisingly, it didn't bother me one bit. I did take a nap today and screen a few calls, but I can honestly say it was a good day. If you know me, you know I'm a people pleaser. I want to make everyone happy - life doesn't work that way. You will never make everyone happy. I was actually ok with people finding out. I'm comfortable with the situation now that it's just a part of my life. Am I proud? No. Am I being secretive and ashamed? No. I feel as though people are praying for me, and I'm not distracted by "the talk". Daniel and I want to glorify God through this whole thing. We are wrong. We are dead wrong, but like J.D. said, it's not an unforgivable sin. Child, you're forgiven and loved. I think social networks proved to us on Saturday how much we were loved. That keeps us going, friends. It keeps one foot in front of the other and pushes us. I actually delight when people say negative things about me. It challenges me to pray for them, because I know they're hiding something, too. As Proverbs 11:13 says, "A gossip betrays a confidence" and I believe that. I remember the verse, "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10. All of the sweet, personal text messages are very heart-warming. I thank you for that (and sorry if I'm late responding). 

Daniel and I want to keep the focus on how we can grow from this. We want people to see how we finish, not how we started. I am trying to be confident throughout this entire journey. I KNOW WHO I AM, I KNOW WHO DANIEL IS AND I KNOW THE GOD WE SERVE - who is abounding in love. This will be the best thing that has ever happened to us. Did we plan our future? Yes. Did we plan it this way? No. Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps." What a vessel we will be for the Lord one day when someone else experiences this! We are continually following His steps. So people who were waiting for me to mess up, here's your chance to eat it up. But in reality, what confidence are you betraying? It's not bothering me at all - it's bothering you. If anything, you're helping me. You're helping me be a better wife, mother, friend, mentor and Christian.

On to wedding planning, which I must say I have the best mom in the world - seriously. She has been working A LOT, teaching swimming lessons in the afternoon, taking me to the doctor, my sister to the doctor and planning 2 weddings. We have the caterer, photographer, florist, her dress, my dress, bridesmaid dresses, registered, accommodations, cake, ice cream man, chairs, tents, pastor, landscaping, guest list, invitations, already booked... in a week! Tell me my mom's not supermom? It's actually her birthday tomorrow, too (June 22). Happy Birthday, momma! 

There will be details to come. I have so much more I would like to share, but I'm sure this isn't the timing. Please keep us (Daniel, me, little raspberry and our families) in your prayers. We are getting ready to move to Starkville and start a lifelong journey together. We love listening to advice, so please don't hesitate to share. Love all of you and remember, you're forgiven and loved. 

To the One who loves us when we don't deserve it, 

Mary Kathleen Kennedy... soon to be Sims!