Tag Archives: Weddings

Sunday Morning Confessions # 13-15

In an effort to force myself to blog regularly, I’ll be making 3 confessions on Sundays.  Seems like the right day for it.  Please don’t judge me, but do share your own confessions in the comments.  I need to know that I’m not alone on some of these.

13. I am a wedding crier.

This should come as no surprise since I am also a commercial crier, sad song crier, touching sermon crier, sympathy crier, book crier, little kids’ movie crier (Inside Out, anyone?!?), long day crier, beautiful sunset crier, powerful worship song crier, sad news story crier, high school graduations crier, national anthem crier…you get the idea.

But weddings?  Weddings are the worst.  I mean, they’re wonderful, but they’re guaranteed to make me lose it.

The tears typically start when the bride walks down the aisle. Sometimes they fall before I even see her but simply hear the music and see everyone stand.  People still tease me about how much I cried during my sister’s wedding 14 years ago.  I was standing up front BAWLING as Heidi and our dad walked down the aisle, since I realized for the first time that this meant my life was changing too.  Now, just as Pavlov’s dogs salivated at the sound of bells, it seems I have been conditioned to cry at the sight of a bride walking with her dad.

Naturally I lost it at my cousin Jenise’s wedding last week. She is the cousin who set up Paul and I, and as the final two female cousins to wed, we both had waited for our Mr. Rights to arrive for quite some time.  She looked incredible and so very very happy.  God had proved Himself faithful once again through the story of David and Jenise.  So as I watched Jenise lock eyes with David, I remembered God’s goodness and the floodgates opened.

I know I’m not alone in my nuptial tears.  The ring bearer broke down during the sermon because he thought the pastor was saying he would never get see his now married auntie.  And after David and Jenise took the bread and the wine, my sister had mascara streaming down her cheeks as she whispered, “Communion gets me every time.”

What?!  Now that’s weird.

This is also the sister who did not get the floral-print memo for the wedding:


I suppose it should also be a confession that I look like a mannequin seconds before a picture is taken.

14. I jumped on the Birkenstocks bandwagon.

I’ve been copying my big sister all my life and my closet is half-full of  her hand-me-downs.  (Can I get a AMEN, little sisters?)  Heidi is one of those girls who always knows what’s trendy and pulls it off, no matter how ridiculous the trend.  In 1999, she convinced me to buy “pedal pushers” before anyone else was wearing capri pants.  A few years ago, she bought me lacy shorts from Wet Seal before any of the other stores were carrying them.

Two weeks ago, I made fun of her for wearing Birkenstocks because they seem soooo out of style.  But she assured me they had made the full circle and were now back in style.  Naturally I copied my cool big sister and went and bought some of my own.  (Well, the imitation-brand. The real deal are expensive!) Turns out the sandals of our youth are really quite comfortable.

15. I talk to myself.

Based on the number of people I catching conversing with themselves, I’m guessing you do too.  It’s really not so weird.  Sometimes you just gotta talk it out.

But I had no idea just how much I was talking to myself until I got married.  Before Paul, chats with Katie were a normal thing but only my cat would overhear.  Now that I share a room and a bed with another human, I’ve had to curb some of the solo-Katie convos.

However, the other day Paul was at work and I was home packing a suitcase.  Prime time to talk to oneself.  “How many bathing suits will I need? Well, we’ll be there 3 days so I should probably bring 4.  No, 5.  Maybe 6? Yeah, definitely 6.  Should I bring a sweatshirt?  Duh, I always get cold.  But which one?  Let’s see here…. Alaska hoodie, you are the winner.”  

And so forth and so on.  Don’t tell me you don’t have similar self-talks.

But in the middle of the great underwear debate (you never want to have too few undies), Paul arrived home an hour early.  I had left the front door open for a breeze to come through, but this made for an ideal scaring environment.  Paul tip-toed to our room and yelled the classic, “Boo!”

You know the whole “fight or flight” saying?  I think it should be, “fight or flight or scream and fall into the fetal position.”  You can guess which one I did.

Now it’s your turn. Do you scream and fall when startled?  Do others catch you shooting the breeze with your lonesome?  Do you wear ugly shoes simply because they are comfortable or in style?  Do you copy your sibling because they’ve always been cooler than you?  Do you lose it at weddings or cry at weird moments?  I’d love to hear any and all of your me-too confessions.

Closet Full of Stories (Part 3)

Before I left for Alaska and my cat died, I started a series about my closet.  I got a little carried away and what started out as 5 stories about 5 items of clothing, turned into 12 stories about 12 items.   (Here is Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.)

This is the final post about a topic near and dear to all your hearts: my clothes.

The following 4 items of clothing have stories behind them- reasons I won’t ever throw them away and I smile every time I put them on.  They hang in my closet as reminders of God’s goodness.   Here are their stories.

9) My red and white striped bathing suit cover-up.

This started out as a church dress, but I am terrible at doing laundry and shrunk it so much it became inappropriate for God’s house.  However, I recycled it and turned it into a cover-up that shows up at Bass Lake every year.

One summer I was a single girl who spent the vacation wrestling my nephews in this cover-up:IMG_5211

The next summer I was engaged and taking jumping pictures with my fiancé!


Clearly a lot can change in a year.

One of the reasons I love Bass Lake so much is that it never seems to change.  The Forks, the beloved local burger joint, is still decorated how it was in the 60’s.  The mountains never move.  And the lake remains the same.

Until this year.

This year the California drought has devastated not only our state, but also our family traditions.  The lake was drained and couldn’t be refilled this year, so for the first time in 50 years, the Vander Dussen clan is not going to Bass Lake.

I know this is a first-world problem: we have to vacation at the beach instead of the mountains!  The horror!

But it’s more than just the mountains we will miss.  We will miss the place that has been a constant in our lives since birth.  Everything around us changes all the time, but we always knew we could go back to Bass Lake and it would be exactly the same.

So there is something deeply disturbing about our ever-constant lake suddenly becoming inconsistent.

It reminds me that God truly is the only constant in our lives.  I go to Bass Lake seeking a place of refuge and consistency, but I don’t have to drive 5 hours to find that.  I can find it when I open my Bible.  Or when I look up and talk to the creator.

My shrunken, striped cover-up will be worn at the beach this year, but it will continue to remind me of Bass Lake.  It will also remind me that though our lake might change, our God will not.

10) My grey jacket

I love this jacket because it is long in the back and covers my butt.  But I love it for more than just the butt coverage.

I love it because this is one of the many items of matching clothing that Megan and I have.  I bought it for her as a Christmas present a few years back and liked it so much I got myself one as well.IMG_6677

From a young age, Megan and I have enjoyed matching each other.  Whether it was our DARE t-shirts, or matching body suits, we have always loved twinning.  Megan lives in Colorado now but we still like to match.  For my most recent birthday, she bought two of these tank tops:IMG_2672

One for me and one for her.  And she’s not even Dutch.

All the matching clothes I have with Megan remind me that God truly does go before us to prepare the way.  Only He knows what lies around the corners of our lives and in what ways we need to be strengthened and equipped.

Only God knew the friend I made in first grade would be a source of joy and comfort for the rest of my life.  I had no idea how much I would rely on friends like Megan, but God did.  He knew how rich my life would be if I had dear, true friends with whom to share it.  So He provided the friends.  And we provide each other with matching clothes.

11) My traveling pants

Paul named my striped yoga pants my “traveling pants” because I wear them every time I get on a plane.  Can’t blame a girl for wanting to be comfy.  They were given to me as a gift from my mom a few Christmas’s back.  Every year I would get one more present than my siblings.  A “sorry-you-don’t-have-a-husband-to-buy-you-presents” kind of present.  One year it was these pants.

At first I was a little insulted by the extra gift.  I don’t need your pity and I don’t need a husband to be happy!  But then I remembered how much I love presents, so I swallowed my pride and proceeded to wear the pants everywhere I went.

When I enrolled in Biola’s seminary, these pants became part of my uniform.  I wore them to almost every class along with an oversized Westmont sweatshirt.  I used my clothes to make 2 things very clear to my classmates.

 1- I was not here looking for a husband.  If I was, surely I would have dressed cuter.

2- Even though I was at Biola, my true loyalty still lied with Westmont.

These pants accompanied me to all my Greek classes and meetings with my cohort:IMG_7593

Please disregard our demon eyes; I assure you we are all very holy.

My traveling pants reminded me that even though I didn’t have a husband, God was still lavishing His gifts on me.  I had a sweet family that gave me extra presents, the money and freedom to travel all over the country visiting friends, and the ability to go to seminary and take classes I loved and meet guys like the ones in the picture who encouraged and affirmed me for two years.

The pants took on new meaning this past Christmas.

Ironically, my Mom gave me this matching shirt:IMG_0947

She had no idea the shirt matched my old pants perfectly.  But God did.  And how like Him to remind me that while I only knew about the pants, He knew a matching shirt was coming…. along with a husband.

12)  My wedding dress

Some girls grow up dreaming about their wedding day.  They envision the dress, the flowers, the cake.  All they need is the groom.  They make secret Pinterest boards where they pin engagement rings, center pieces, and Save-the-Date ideas.

In all the dreaming and scheming, many of them pin their hopes and dreams to a lie: once I get the white dress, I will be content. 

I wasn’t one of the little girls dreaming about her white dress (mainly because I was a morbid little kid who thought I would die young), but I confess that I did subconsciously start to believe the lie that only a white dress could bring contentment.

Our culture perpetuated that lie.  Well-meaning middle-aged women told me, “One day it will be your turn.”  People with good intentions asked me more about my dating life than about my opinions or my career or my travels, seeming to imply that my singleness was the most important thing about me.

But I have wonderful friends who told me the truth.

My married friends admitted that a white dress doesn’t bring happiness.  It does change your life dramatically and it is a wonderful change, but that didn’t make my single life any less wonderful.  They admitted to envying my free time and ability to travel and explore and do whatever I wanted.  They saw me as a whole person- not just the single side of myself.  And they encouraged me to find contentment in Jesus- not in the hope of a man one day sweeping me off my feet and ending all my sadness and loneliness.

They assured me that nothing was wrong with me and that while marriage is fantastic, so is being single.

I thought about this yesterday as I ate eggs with Hilary on the patio of her new condo.  Hilary is a beautiful, intelligent, hilarious, God-fearing, compassionate, creative, energetic woman.  She also happens to be single.  But that’s not who she is.  She may not have a white dress, but she already has the joy, the peace, and the contentment I used to think came only with marriage.

Don’t get me wrong: marriage brings an immense amount of joy.  I absolutely LOVE being married to Paul.  But I think there is great danger in making the white dress the end game.  If we tell little girls they are not complete until they are wed, that a husband will satisfy all their needs, well then we’re telling them lies.

Only Jesus completes us.

No one can ever satisfy us completely except for our Savior.

Let’s not pin our hopes and dreams on a future spouse who will never know us as intimately as God does.

I love my wedding dress, but my life was not made complete once I slipped it on.  I found contentment long before I found Paul and the white dress hanging on the wall.  And I still feel sad and misunderstood at times, even with a ring on my finger and a new last name.

Marriage doesn’t cure all of life’s problems.

Only Jesus does.

But let’s be honest, it sure is fun to twirl in your wedding dress and dance with your new husband:vandyk09202014-919


Wedding Awkwardness

If you came here yesterday looking for the post I promised, I apologize.  I’d like to say something came up and I made some sweet summer plans, but really my book just got good and I wasn’t in the writing mood.  See, sometimes my personality disappears and I can’t write.  Well, I can write but it is boring drivel.  So I waited until my personality turned back on to write this.

There are a number of certainties that will happen when I attend a wedding.

* I will certainly get lost driving there and will most likely be late if I’m not in the wedding.

* I will certainly get teary-eyed at some point during the ceremony.  (Okay, if you were at my sister’s wedding you know sometimes I full on sob.)

* I will certainly peek during prayer to find fellow prayer-peekers and see who else is taking tissue out of their bra to wipe their eyes. Continue reading


Time again for reader involvement.  In the comments section, write a caption for this picture taken at my brother’s wedding this past weekend.  I’ll tell you the winner and the story behind it later this week.

Go-to stories

Last week I was over at my sister’s house and her boys, ages four and two, asked me to tell them their bedtime story. Before going into their room, Heidi informed me that they like real stories from our past. Wild and crazy stories.
So I told them stories about Alaska.
Jenny, my college roommate, is from Anchorage and the summer after we graduated, my other roommate Lesley and I embarked on a summer of adventure.

Meg n Mere

I had the pleasure of introducing the chapel speaker on Wednesday. She needed no introduction since she’s a bit of a celebrity in these parts, but I consider her a dear friend and used my 2 minutes with the mic to let the kids know what kind of friend Megan is: the kind that has a love for Jesus that seeps out of her pores. And the kind who convinces you to prank someone by peeing in their water bottle.
Many of the teachers at Valley had Megan in class and her science teacher and I had lunch duty together the next day so we were swopping Megan stories and he said something that stuck with me.
“Friendships like that make life rich.”
I smiled when he said it because truly, I am one of the richest girls in the world. My life is full, overflowing really, because of the friendships I have. This journey has been immensly “rich” because of the girls who have walked beside me. Or run beside me, sat, skipped, and jumped beside me.
Everyone claims they have really great friends. The cool thing is, to us- they are just that: really great. Another’s group of friends might bore me to tears but my group is just right for me. It’s like they’re my own personal flavor at Cold Stone. Others might think Vanilla and Chocolate with Reeses and carmel isn’t perfect, that it’s too plain or simple, but it is the perfect amount of flavor and texture for me, the perfect amount of laughter and accountability.
These friends have not only gone through life by my side; not only have they laughed with me and danced with me and sang, pulled pranks, and pranced in rain with me. They’ve molded me. God fashioned my heart and created me and He continues to shape and recreate who I am, but He often uses the hands of several hilarious, God-fearing girls to do so.
Two such girls played crucial roles in the remolding process while in college. They were teammates but much more than teammates; they became sisters and pointed me to God and to the straight and narrow path time and time again by their words and the ways they lived. We were reunited for Megan’s wedding and though our time was brief rather than the concentrated days, weeks, and months we shared in college, I was reminded of they gift they have been to me. I was reminded of the years of laughter we shared but also how a bond was formed during those formative years that I doubt can be broken. Something about living so close, seeing each other every day, eating cafeteria food together and riding busses together; something about spending hours together in the gym or the weight room or airports or restaurants and experiencing life so closely together every day, seems to make that friendship bond infallibly strong.
The last time the three of us had been together was along with our quirky fellow teammate, Katie who I wrote about here, when we flew to Houston for Meredith’s wedding 5 years ago. Megan and I had been introduced as, “Meredith’s friends who can really eat.” We were flattered. Megan wrote a remarkable song for the bride and groom which she performed at the wedding and I did what I do best and caused a scene without meaning to. I left the bathroom completely unaware that abnormally long strips of toilet paper had attached to each of my heels. I walked past a large group of men with strange facial expressions and turned to find Megan and Katie both doubled over laughing so hard they couldn’t speak. We spent that weekend in Houston like we did in college, laughing and laughing and laughing some more. Now, five years later, Megan took her first steps on this same journey called “married life” and Mere and I sat side by side with mile-wide smiles and lots of giggles throughout the ceremony.
I had to leave early from the wedding to coach our game so sadly, I did not get pictures with the blushing bride, but if you are like me and enjoy seeing other people’s weddings, watch this video. It’s the best wedding video I think I’ve ever seen.
Today Megan speaks at high schools around the country. She is bold and fearless and filled with the Spirit. She is a gifted speaker and has an energy and passion that even Red Bull can’t fathom. Like Red Bull, hanging out with this girl will give you wings. She is crazy and hungry for life and for fun but more importantly, for God. And her hunger is contagious.
In college though, her faith was still being refined. I marvel at the work God has done when I consider the wild and silly girl from 2002 who has become the wild and silly yet wise and focused woman of 2011. I have zero normal pictures with Megan from college. If we were on the bus, we were making faces and playing rock-paper-scissors, best out of 50.

Or if the team was playing in an out-of-state tournament, were playing in the hotel room and putting on surprisingly painful, self-heating facial masks.

Mere and I are two years older than Meg so we played our first two years together and didn’t think we could possibly have any more fun or laugh any harder than we had. But then Megan joined the team. Megan is one of those girls who is known everywhere she goes because she is so bizarre and outragous and so dang funny. Mere and I got a glimpse however, that most of the crowds don’t get. We got to know Megan’s heart- to see her hurt and cry and struggle as she grappled to find her identity in those first years of college.
Megan was (and continues to be) a ball of raw energy in college. After hanging out with her it felt a bit like a tornado or the Tazmanian devil had swirled by: we were left exhausted, possibly injured, and with incredible memories. I already had a hunger for adventure in college but Megan fed that hunger. When I was tempted to hole myself up in the library and study, Megan pried my fingers off the books and convinced me to skateboard in the middle of the night or sneak into Steve Martin’s backyard where we discovered treasures you cannot even imagine. Need proof? We found a guillotine, giant slides, fences made out of bikes and this giant rubix cube:

Megan has a knack for making ordinary days memorable. She is searching for fun and adventure around every corner and when it doesn’t exist, she creates it. Her bachelorette weekend was as unconventional as she is and we got quite a few raised eye brows when we went to a fancy schmancy spa with our faces and clothes splattered in paint. She documented that little adventure here. She threw a second annual “Prom” for a New Year’s Eve party complete with balloon arches, punch, a DJ, and a prom king and queen. Here are some pictures from that memorable night:

Me with Megan and Rachel, the two phenomenal prom planners.

Jumping for joy with my brother Travis and sister-in-law Emma.

Emma and I had quite the afternoon shopping at thrift stores for our dresses since we don’t have our original prom dresses. We also had quite the time doing “shake face” pictures.

I also dragged my poor roommates to this random adventure. They might not appear thrilled about it here but they loved wearing these disgustingly poofy and sparkly dresses.

Every time I see Megan these days I am guaranteed two things: I will laugh and I will think. Yes, she is hilarious and wildly random, but she also is intentional and insightful and asks great questions, the kind that don’t allow you to be fake or surfacy. My last two years of college were made wilder and more memorable because of this wonderfully unique friend.
Then there’s Meredith.
Meredith and I have a friendship and a closenss that might confuse those who know us both. She is classy and lady-like, fasionable, and sophisticated with such a soft femininity that it truly is odd that she and I, a girl who wears sweatpants more often than jeans and makes “that’s what she said” jokes probably a little too often, would become such inseperable friends. She was offended when I told her brother’s girlfriend that she is high maintenance but she can’t deny it. (although high maintenance people always seem to do just that) Meredith brought out the “girly” inside of me. She taught me how to wear jewelry and convinced me to shower after our games and wear normal, cute clothes every once in awhile. (Normal and cute in 2000 ironically meant overalls)

I still remember the day we both accidentally dressed as twins and I refused to let her change because I found it so humorous. While she brought out my “softer” side, I brought out her wild and “inappropriate” side and made her laugh at things like horse poo:

We rubbed off on each other in beautiful ways and I see now how God was using the both of us to mold us into the women we would become. She taught me that joy is a choice and when I was angry or frustrated in a game and most people were terrified of me, she would call me out on it and tell me to choose joy. She is brave and bold and I hope a little of that rubbed off on me as well. She taught me about accountability and honesty in friendship and she freely shared her Texas-sized opinions with me when I was being foolish so I freely shared my own when she was dating the wrong guy. We connected on a spiritual level and though we talked about boys and basketball a lot, we talked about God much more. We were on similar spiritual journeys, both seeking more of Him and struggling with complacency and insecurities, and thus we became partners on our journeys to know and desire God more. We had a common love for basketball and getting tan but it was our common thirst for Him is what bonded us. We made countless memories together but it was our mutual love for Christ that differentiated our friendship from the other girls we’d laugh with.
I still remember the first time I ever heard the song, “I Can Only Imagine.” I was in her parent’s home in Houston when she played it for me and I cried and cried and we talked about our longing for heaven. Meredith was always doing that- she was always pointing me to heaven. When I had played terribly and was feeling discouraged, it only took a brief walk to the locker room with Mere to cheer me up. She would say something, just the right thing, to make me laugh and remind me why I’m on the planet. She was like my own personal compass, constantly pointing me back to God and my true purpose when I tried to search for my identity in basketball.
After college, despite my efforts to convince her to stay in sunny southern California, she moved back to Houston- that hot, sticky city full of big hair and big trucks, and well, big everything. She has two absolutely adorable kids, Jake and Olivia, who both have big eyes and big smiles and she has a third on the way. She is a marvelous mother and clearly is living in a VERY different stage of life than I am right now. I hadn’t seen Mere in about 2 years. However, when she came into town for Megan’s wedding, we curled our hair together and chatted and laughed and confessed and encouraged like we were still “bus buddies” travelling home from a basketball game together. (I have lots of matching pictures with Mere. This one was from Midnight Madness and Mere, always trying to be taller, was on her toes and me, always being a punk, went up on mine as well so she’d still look short)

We’ve both changed remarkably since our college years. We laugh about how if we had to do it all over we would have worn sun screen and hats and we wouldn’t have frequented the tanning beds. But as my wrinkles begin to emerge, I hope I don’t grow self-conscious. Rather, I hope I see them and remember all the hours I spent laying on the beach with Mere, or at the pool, or by the library. I hope I laugh about the time a girl hit on her while we sunning. I hope I smile as I think about how we were “burning off our zits” in the tanning beds. Because it wasn’t just the sun that left unchangable marks on us, we left marks on each other; we are permanently changed by our years together. And even now, 6 years after our graduation, we still tend to dress oddly similar.

Both Megan and Meredith played critical roles in the formation of who I’ve become. Both pointed me to adventure and fun but also to Jesus. Both have made my life rich. Deliciously rich, indeed.