A Wedding in a League of its Own

By Chaunte McClure

In ministry, I’ve had many firsts, but my experience earlier this month was out of the ballpark. I officiated my first wedding and it happened to take place at Spirit Communications Park, home of the Fireflies, a minor league baseball team in Columbia. It was nothing short of creative and fun.

The couple, both softball coaches at South Carolina State University, had an “A League of Their Own” themed wedding. No fairytale princess gown, no tailored tuxedos, and no formal bridesmaid dresses.Reese Wedding Party

The bride, Cheretta, wore a custom dress made from white and red baseball jersey fabric Reese Vowswhile the groom, Calvin, dressed in the same colors, wore slacks, a blazer, and a baseball cap. They both wore red Chuck Taylors. The bridesmaids were decked in softball themed dress uniforms and white Converses and the groomsmen stood tall in white slacks, blue button-up shirts, white slacks and blue Converses.

The couple stood above the dugout and vowed to love, honor and cherish one another until death as family and friends sat in the stands and witnessed the Reese’s Field of Dreams.

The game wasn’t over after the wedding because the Reese’s came to play all day, even at the reception. With baseball instrumentals and theme music playing, the announcer introduced the bridal party and the new Mr. and Mrs. The couple ditched the traditional first dance for a first pitch and guests could nibble on peanuts until dinner was served.

baseballThe menu? Items you’d find at a concession stand as an option and food you’d find at your family’s cookout as another option. Oh, this event was a homerun. Every detail was well thought out and executed.

It made for a unique opportunity and certainly a memorable moment for my first time as a wedding officiant.

May the Reeses never strike out and pitch countless innings of love, honor, and respect in their marriage.


Hurricanes, Peanuts and Marriage

By: Jeanne Reynolds

I spent nearly all of last Friday doing one of two things: riding in a car in highway traffic clogged with hurricane evacuees, and dragging furniture and plywood around trying to prepare our home on Cat Island near Beaufort for an unruly and unwelcome guest named Irma.

I don’t know which was less fun. The seemingly simple system our builder created for storm prep — numbered sheets of plywood with a map of where each piece goes, predrilled to fit bolts permanently in place on each window — turned out to be poorly engineered. Many of the pieces weren’t drilled at all, or the drill holes didn’t line up with the bolts. And more than half the windows and doors lacked the bolts needed to attach the plywood anyway.

After about five hours of hard physical labor — including a costly trip to the hardware store to buy an electric drill and extension cord — we decided we’d done the best we could. We emptied the refrigerator and freezer, held hands to pray and joined the queue of cars leaving the coast.

Seeing on the Department of Transportation app that I-95 was a parking lot, we stuck to the backroads from Yemassee to Sandy Run. If you’ve never taken Highway 21 on that route, try it sometime. Keep an eye out for Benton’s Peanut Farm shop at Sniders Crossroads (Highway 63), where you’ll find some of the best boiled peanuts anywhere. (If you read my last post, you know I detest boiled peanuts but I was a passenger and the driver gets to decide where to stop, along with which radio station to listen to.)

The next day we were back in the car, heading to the upstate for a football game on an incredibly beautiful early fall morning. By then it was fairly certain Irma had changed her plans and was heading farther west, with outer bands trailing over South Carolina. Although the impact of storm surge was still uncertain, it looked like — plywood or not — we’d be spared the worst.

Was Friday a waste of time, money and stress? I don’t think so. For one thing, we learned the gaps in our home protection system and can get them corrected before the next time — and there will be a next time, sooner or later.

I also enjoyed the luxury of spending a whole day with my beloved, working as a team to accomplish a common goal. Admittedly, the circumstances weren’t ideal, but isn’t that what marriage is about? We pledged for better or worse. And it could have been much, much worse.

Thoughts and prayers to our neighbors in Florida, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere dealing with nature’s fury or its aftermath this week.

Wedding Season

By:Ashley Whisonant

Sure enough, once the spring and summer roll around, wedding invitations begin to arrive. The older I get the less wedding invitations and more children’s birthday party invitations arrive. I do usually get the chance to witness at least one or two friends or family members get married each year. I love a good wedding. Weddings are the essence of love, giving of oneself, and sharing with loved ones. I can’t help but think back on my own wedding in 2009.

Our engagement was short lived before the wedding planning, appointments, parties, and tastings began. Everything seems so important and life altering. Each decision kept me up wondering if I made the right choice. It all seems silly now. The show of a wedding is not important. If I could marry my husband, Matt, all over again, I would do it differently. No fuss, no expensive cake, fancy decorations, and oodles of people we rarely speak with now. It would be just him and I-sharing that special moment.

Today I am thankful for my forever wedding date. He is the man who makes me stronger, confident, and never lets me accept less than I deserve. Looking back on our honeymoon pictures, we were babies. If we could just go back to these two and set them straight. Knowing us, the old Matt and Ashley would never listen in the first place!

Love is …

By: Jeanne Reynolds

My husband and I just celebrated our 24th anniversary. Our wedding was traditional: I wore white, the processional was Pachelbel’s Canon in D, and the scripture was I Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

I’ve been to many weddings where those verses were read. They’re always beautiful, but perhaps even more meaningful now than they were 24 years ago. I think it takes awhile to realize how true, how important and how aspirational they really are.

It’s not as easy as it sounds to live up to these verses. Keep no record of wrongs? How many of us haven’t sighed in exasperation because we’re apparently the only one who can see the kitchen trash can needs to be emptied — again? Does not dishonor others? Ever heard someone making the person supposedly dearest in the world to him or her the butt of a joke? Does not delight in evil? Has a self-satisfied “I told you that wouldn’t work” ever crossed your lips?

My husband isn’t perfect, but he does a much better job of living these words than I do. I’m going to keep trying, and trust he isn’t keeping record of my wrongs.

Also, here are few modern translations I’ll add from our marriage:

  • Love is rooting for someone else’s birdie putt to drop even if it means you’ll lose the hole.
  • Love is spending time with each other’s sometimes-crazy families without complaining.
  • Love is saying thank you for every meal prepared, even the less-than-stellar offerings.
  • Love is commenting — or not, depending — on a new haircut.
  • Love is not commenting on the recently snugger fit of a favorite old pair of jeans.
  • Love is hours of yard work side by side when the temperature is exceeded only by the humidity.
  • Love is silently buying a replacement when someone accidentally throws away a piece of the lawnmower.
  • Love is letting someone else have the last Klondike Bar.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

When Are You Getting Married?

By: Chaunte McClure 

Single ladies, if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. When are you getting married? By now, the words rolling off someone’s tongue sounds like fingernails across chalkboards in your elementary school classrooms. Like those chalkboards, you want the age-old question to be a thing of the past. While I’m a married woman, I can totally relate. It’s like when people would often ask: When are you having a baby? Are y’all going to have kids? What are y’all waiting on? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! I’m sure many of you want to marry one day; some more than others, and you’d appreciate if family, friends, and colleagues would just wait for the day when you’ll announce that you’re getting married. Better yet, they should just mind their marriage, right?

Why are we so interested in other people’s womb and marital status? Is it merely just a way to strike up a conversation? Just a hello will do and sometimes that is enough.

With the high divorce rate in the United States, people have the right to remain single until they find the right mate. If you matter, you’ll know when they do.

Most of my friends are single and I took some time to chat with one of them about this subject. Here’s what my 42-year-old single friend, “Karen,” had to say about her experience with the dreadful question from inquiring minds.

Q: What annoys you most about being asked when you’re getting married?
A: I feel like the person asking me thinks I am lonely, I am unhappy, I am of age and should be married by now. Perhaps they’re thinking I should be trying to find someone because my time is winding down.

Q: How often would you say you’re asked?
A: I would say that I am asked this question by one person in particular every time we talk and that is the reason I do not talk to her that often, because I get exhausted trying to explain my “singleness.”

Q: Who usually asks?
A: My friends normally ask me this question and they are not married themselves, so go figure. I have older friends in their 50’s that also ask me. ‘Girl, you’re not married yet?’ ‘What are you waiting on?’ ‘You’re going to be too old after a while.’ Well, I have never heard or read anywhere where it states a particular age range when not to get married.

Q: What is your typical response?
A: I am happy exactly where I am in life. I don’t need marriage to complete me and make me happy. Where I am in my life right now is where I need to be for me.

Q: Tell us about a time when it made you sad or mad?
A: I was at a point when I was going through some major changes in my life and at the time I thought I needed a man to complete me and make me happy, so I became anxious. I found someone and it was the worst thing I could have ever done to myself. I did not allow him to find me. In Proverbs when a man finds a wife he finds a treasure, so I am waiting.

Q: Why do you think it’s inappropriate to ask?
A: I think that it is inappropriate to be questioned about it because it is the same as asking someone who does not have children when they are going to have a baby. It is none of your business and it is not in my control.

Q: I have to ask, why are you still single?
A: I am single because I know for a fact I am not ready to date yet…when I am ready, He will send him.

Are you guilty of asking your friends when he’s gonna put a ring on it? Are you the friend who is tired of being asked? Let me hear from you.

Love Is in the Air – or Is It in the Wallet?

By: Azure Stilwell

Valentine's Day

It’s that time of year, the time where couples celebrate being a couple and single people try to find ways to avoid the day altogether. Valentine’s Day is not a favorite holiday of mine. I find it to be very commercialized and overrated. My husband and I have a hard enough time remembering our anniversary, so forget about Vday. I know those who are in romantic, loving relationships just cringed at the thought of letting a chance to get flowers go by, but I have a funny story about that.

My husband and I had been married a couple of years when for the first time ever he decided to send me flowers for Valentine’s Day. He sent me beautiful roses, a complete surprise because we don’t buy into the holiday or flowers for that matter. I decided to call and thank him. He proceeded to tell me it was a complete spur-of-the-moment decision (which probably means his coworkers were discussing what they had bought and he felt bad) He then went on to let me know that he looked at his bank account and realized he didn’t have enough to cover the cost, so I had to transfer money to his account. It was probably one of the funniest and most “us” moments we have ever had. We still laugh about it every Valentine’s Day!

We decided long ago we are just not mushy romantic people. We are more practical, in the way I find it so attractive when he folds the laundry and he loves it when I cook him dinner. For us, those little things are as – if not more – romantic than the big things.

So for all of you single people out there dreading this holiday, just know that not all couples buy into the hype. And if that doesn’t make you feel better, then buy yourself some flowers and call it a day – but make sure you have the funds to cover it first! 🙂

Thirty-Three Years and Counting

By: Leah Prescott

MarriageOver the last few months, my parents have been going through some major health challenges that are testing their faith and endurance.  I worry a lot about them, but I know that they will rely on the Lord to get them through, just as they always have. I wrote this letter a few years ago, but it is even more true today than it was before. Please be encouraged and remember that the best example you can give to your children is to love your spouse each day with conviction and commitment.

My parents have been married, happily, for thirty-three years.

They have given us their four children, the best possible gift. Growing up we had love, security, and the constant knowledge that our parents loved us, and, more importantly, loved each other. In a world of failing unions and disposable marriages, we were blessed to grow up on a rock-solid foundation of biblical commitment. What a treasure!

Our home was a place of love. We saw that Mom and Dad loved each other, and we could see it when Mom worried about Dad’s diet or when Dad worked on a home project just to make life easier for Mom. They behaved like a team, which, incidentally, made it more difficult to break down their united front of discipline. We knew they were on the same page, and that gave them strength and resiliency. It was hard to find a crack in that armor.

My parents are, and have always been, a hard-working couple. It’s hard to imagine someone working harder than my mother. She raised the four of us, kept house, and educated us from beginning to end. She was constantly working on one or the other and often both. I know she feels she is never finished, but if you look at the results in the four of us, I think she deserves a break.

At the same time, Dad worked so hard to take care of Mom and the rest of us, putting his own needs aside. He often worked two or three jobs to provide for the best home life we could have. He worked so that we could experience the best stay-at-home mother in the world. He loved to be home with us, I know, but he was willing to do what it took to take care of our well being. When he was at home, he was always doing projects around the house, working to make our lives a little richer, a touch easier, or a bit more fun.

My parents love each other and here is how I know: They talk, truly talk, all the time. When they are apart, they spend much of their time on the phone together. Even after my dad has spent an endless day of talking to clients, he still picks up the phone and calls my mom, clearly happy to hear her voice.

They laugh together. They both have a great sense of humor and that’s a good thing with raising four children. I know there are many times that we made them want to cry (or maybe scream?) so it’s fortunate that they could always come back and laugh about the challenges they faced. They passed a love of laughter on to us kids.

Mom and Dad are a balanced team. They are such a strong mix of cautious and optimistic, pragmatic and visionary. I am proud to see them surviving difficult situations like illness and unemployment with a bit of that well-seasoned humor. I also know that even though they are not swimming in earthly wealth, they believe in storing up heavenly treasures instead. I know that they consider their family to be their greatest asset here on earth. I am so happy to be their daughter, and to have observed a godly marriage in action all of these years.

Mom and Dad, thank you for giving us such a wonderful experience as children and a beautiful example as adults, of what a truly godly marriage looks like. We love you. Your union is what created the four of us, who we are and how we live. And all four of us love the Lord more than anything, and want to honor Him with all of our hearts. We want to love our families as Christ loved the church. I would say that your marriage has been an incredible success.

Thank you for giving so much of yourselves to each other and to us. I can’t wait to observe the next decades of marriage and to watch the two of you enter a new stage. Hopefully one that involves a little less work and worry and even more laughter and love. I know that your faith and commitment will see you through the challenges and continue to inspire the rest of us. Your marriage has reflected Jesus in this dark world. It lights the way for a second generation of families to follow, just praying we can emulate the success we see in you each day.

Our New Rule

By: Brady Evans 

There’s a new rule in our household: no cell phones and computers after 8 p.m. I’m a month and a half back into the workforce now and our afternoons are a mad rush between daycare pick up, evening nap, dinner prep, nighttime routine, and miscellaneous Social mediachores. By 8 p.m. I’d collapse with my phone in my hand or my computer on my lap to decompress a bit before my own bed time. I’d scroll through Facebook, look at pictures on Instagram, check out a few blogs, finish up loose ends from work….and when 9 p.m. rolled around I’d wander to bed myself. Meanwhile, my husband was doing the same.

We were both “in the zone” and out of touch with each other. We found our days had become focused on work, then enjoying the baby for the few hours he’s awake after we got home, then chores, then the world (social media). Only with a deliberate conversation did we realize we were leaving the most important aspect out of focus: each other.

The time after 8 p.m. is now dedicated to each other. It is a time to elaborate on our days at work in a way we lacked in the past. It is a time to discuss current events with each other instead of with Facebook. Do I really know how my spouse feels about gun laws? The upcoming elections? The conflict in Syria?

Who knows how long our rule will last? Maybe until we feel sufficiently connected to one another. Or maybe until one person slips and the other follows suit. But for now, it is a healthy change and I suggest you analyze your social media usage, too. I’ll admit that I am very connected and I guess very addicted to my contacts out there in cyberspace. But shouldn’t I be primarily connected and addicted to my contact (my husband) sitting right next to me on the couch?

Tiny Handcuff

By: Lara Winburn

Before you read this you should know I might be carefully tiptoeing on to a soap box. **Consider yourself warned.** But I am genuinely confused about a recent revelation. Maybe you can help?

marriageIn the past couple of weeks, I have heard more than one tale of people who remove their wedding bands when they go out on the town. Men and women alike decide it is more “fun” when they are on a girls’ night or a boys’ night to strip themselves of this outward symbol of marriage and, I can only assume, also their inhibitions.

I have been thinking about this, and I am both annoyed and confused by this behavior. I mean, my husband and I have referred to our wedding rings as “the smallest handcuff in the world.” But we joke. (Seriously, just jokes.) Not to mention, it would take a hack saw or a tiny bullet to shoot my ring off this pudgy finger, which does make it a little like a handcuff.

With this trend, I am concerned about a few unsuspecting souls. (Now obviously, if this “fun” behavior is agreed upon by both parties…whatever floats your boat, people. My boring self will stick with keeping my ring on at girls’ night.) But if this is in secret, what about the husband or wife that is out of town on business or at home with the kids? Are people just throwing caution to the wind and their wedding ring in the jewelry box? (I mean, where do you keep it?) Is someone considering how their spouse might feel about this missing accessory?

But there is something else that outrages me. What about those people out there who are truly trying to find that someone special and they find….somebody else’s someone special. Is it really fair to trick those people? Why bring them into whatever unhappiness you are breeding? Even if this is the agreement you have with your spouse, my friend looking for Mr. Right is not part of this agreement and does not deserve Mr. I-Don’t-Wear-My-Ring-Sometimes.

Mostly, I really just do not get it. I am making some assumptions here, but nothing too drastic, so bear with me.

  1. You choose to get married; it was not some arranged commitment that involved a dowry and some goats.
  2. I am not going to promote nor dissuade divorce. We live in a place where that is a real and – from what I understand – relatively manageable process.
  3. Doesn’t it feel just a little bit like a Lifetime movie or a bad sitcom to “Go out on the town and take your wedding ring off?” I am just annoyed that I have heard this tawdry tale before and did not think it was really a common practice of people I know.
  4. Isn’t life, marriage, love, jobs, kids, laundry, and an iCloud complicated enough? Don’t you already feel like you are barely keeping up? Call me lazy, but this ruse just seems like more work.

With recent debates about who should and should not be allowed to get married (another discussion for another day), shouldn’t you just put your tiny handcuff back on before somebody gets hurt?

Off the Hook

By: Lara Winburn

This past weekend I was the planner for a beautiful wedding. There was a stunning bride, a dapper groom, flowing wine, and so much happiness it made bright sun beam around the happy couple.  I started thinking about marriage and all of the many blessings  it has brought me. My husband is a patient, kind, helpful, and funny man. I am still moony-eyed over him.  In this married life, there are many “favors” I ask of him. “Can you do me a favor?” is a question asked by me so much it may have been the first full sentence our daughter said. (I think it is a nice way to ask when you have A LOT of requests, don’t you?) He will gladly tote my luggage, take out the trash, and Let Husbands Off the Hookdrive so I can nap on a road trip. I am so happy we share our lives, but reflecting on marriage also reminded me that maybe we don’t have to share everything.

Maybe sometimes I should be sharing with someone else. I have learned some things should be shared or requested of best friends, work-out buddies and handy men instead of husbands. Even in the happiest of marriages, I think sometimes husbands should be off the hook.

I recently bought a new dress. I am not a big shopper, so this is a feat and a blog for another day. Anyway, I love this new dress. It is nothing fancy but it fits and it has pockets. (Doesn’t everyone love a pocket?) I should mention it is a shift dress, no real shape.  I put it on and proudly asked, “How do you like my new dress?” His honest response was “Where is the belt?” BONG! As fashion consultant, husband is off the hook.  Ask a friend, ask a stylist, ask a stranger on the street but if you are wearing an item of clothing that you really love, just don’t ask him.

I have also decided that when it comes to diets, the newest gym, or exercise challenge it is better to let the husband off the hook. My husband is tall and thin and does not need any sort of diet plan. He does not need to know what I ate for every one of the small six meals I had today. He does not need to give any input on whether it looks like I have lost weight or inches. (If you have to ask, it may not be that noticeable.) I will leave my fat burning questions for a workout buddy, a trainer, or friend.

Opinions on hair, husband off the hook.  Last year, the hubs and I were watching a movie. It was a bit of a chic flick because it was my turn to choose. As we watched, I asked “Do you think I could do that to my hair?”

He looked at me and said “What hair?”

I said, “Katherine Heigl’s hair, don’t you think I could do that to my hair?”

With the blankest stare, he said “I have no idea who you are talking about.”

“The actress in the movie, the star of the movie, her hair right there on the screen – that braid sorta thing. Could I do that with my hair?”

More blank stares….and out of my mouth slipped, “Sometimes I wish I still lived with my best friend.” In my defense, my best friend and I did live together for 8 years before we got married so we had watched lots of movies together and she would have totally known that I could and should do that to my hair.

Hair stylist he is not – husband is off the hook. Same best friend, same hair dilemma…After I recently cut a good 6 inches from my hair, I took my second official selfie and sent it to my bestie and my husband. The response from bestie was “So cute!” while the response from hubs “wow.”

My response was, “Good wow, bad wow?”

Radio silence……me: “You better answer now.”

More radio silence… my husband responded with, “Good. Great. Awesome.” Reads with some real feeling , doesn’t it? Once the hair is laying on the salon floor, just let the husband off the hook and send the selfie to you best friend.

I could write an entire blog about my husband, my partner, and the love of my life. But I think he, too, would appreciate that I willingly admit there are some “favors” he should not be asked to do. In fact, he may be astonished to learn when he reads this, that sometimes I actually refrain from asking: “Hey, will you do me a favor?” My kindness as a wife is to let him off the hook…