the sun always shines after the rain

A few months back, I experienced the best day of my life…my wedding day.

I know, I know–super cliché, but what can I say, it’s true. But not because everything was magical and perfect or because the flowers were beautiful, or even because it was a heck of a great party–though it was all those things, that is not why it was the best day of my life.

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During my nine months of engagement, I buried myself in wedding magazines, sat in front of my computer looking at wedding blog after wedding blog, even watched hours and hours of “Say Yes to the Dress”. I had convinced myself I knew what would make a perfect wedding.

See, leading up to my wedding day, I thought it was the vintage stamps used on my wedding invitations,

or the bistro lights under the whimsical sailcloth tent,

or even having an outdoor wedding with an avocado grove backdrop, that would make my day beautiful.

But now, here I am, six months later and I realize none of those things, though wonderful, made my wedding beautiful.

What made it so beautiful was that almost nothing went as planned. What made it so special was that though that area experienced the most rain it had seen in a while, the vendors worked relentlessly to make it as special as if it was their own daughter’s wedding.

Oh, and if you think I am being a typical girl and exaggerating about the amount of rain, read this article.  And I quote,”Five days into the month on Saturday, Miami had received enough rainfall for December to rank as the third “wettest” in history with a total 7.67 inches, the National Weather Service reported.”

Did I mention my wedding day was December 5th, or also known as the third “wettest” day in Miami’s history?

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So then, if my wedding was nothing like those I had seen in all the wedding magazines or on all the wedding blogs, where did I see the beauty in it?

I saw it in the joy and celebration of the people that surrounded us, I saw it in the eyes of my soon-to-be husband, I heard it in the words of our officiant, I saw it in each of our vendors taking on the storm with us. And I even saw it in my mother’s labor of love as she cleaned my mud-covered wedding dress  with a toothbrush, soap and water for three days straight.

That is what makes a wedding beautiful–the sacrifice, the joy, the love of your soon to be groom and the people–whether it be your friends and family or your wedding vendors.

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I thought I had prepared myself for this rain–the moment the 10-day weather report became available and I saw the forecast, I was ready to welcome the rain with open arms. I was prepared to embrace the challenges it would bring.

After all, I knew that rain is what makes the harvest grow–and it is rain that feeds it–that feeds us and helps us grow.Though rain is uncomfortable and can certainly be messy–it is a source of nourishment.

Mentally, I thought I was ready, but what I wasn’t ready for was the lesson this storm would teach me six months later. And quite frankly, I also didn’t think it would rain THAT much. But because the storm was heavier and much more than I had anticipated, everything I had gained from that day was that much sweeter.

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Like my wedding day, life is full of storms. We can’t predict when or how long they will last. And though we can’t control them, we can control what we do in the storm.

We can either stay inside in fear and hope it passes or we can embrace it–all of it.

We can go outside and get wet and dirty and uncomfortable, and though it is scary, it is temporary. And the best part is if you stay out in the storm long enough, you will see the sun peak through the clouds and you will sit in the glory of the sun  Son.

He will rain reign.

Even if we are scared sometimes, it is worth jumping out into the rain, and even if life doesn’t go as planned, there is still beauty in the unexpected or in the messiness of life.

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And like my wedding day, if we embrace the storm with the ones we love and lean on them to bring us comfort and encouragement, if we sacrifice the things of this world, if we choose joy even in the  midst of the storm, then you will be able to look back with great pride and joy–knowing you have come out of the storm better than you were before.

Nothing rings more true than this quote…

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning how to dance in the rain.”

or in my case,  learn how to marry in the rain. Actually better yet, to be merry in the rain.

And as my officiant so perfectly said right before he introduced us as husband and wife, “may His blessings over you RAIN!”

Oh, they rained on us alright, they rained…

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To view our video trailer, click the link below:

Grogan Wedding Trailer

A BIG thank you to my mom and dad who made this day possible–this day was your day too, and I will never be able to repay you for any of it,

to my MOH,  who had the best MOH speech in history and made us all laugh and cry all at the same time,

to my bridesmaids who loved on me so well and who came around me to pray and provide peace and comfort,

to my brother who told me to “not worry because everything is beautiful” when I let fear in,

to the rest of my family and friends who loved and supported us and embraced the storm, and didn’t let it stop you from celebrating with us,

and to all my vendors, you made me feel like family, and that is all any bride could ask for…

Venue: The Gabino Family at Estancia Culinaria

Wedding Planner: Jessica and Michael Masi at JCG Events

Photography and Videography: Ben & Bekah Hood at Kallima Photography and Austin Berry

Florist: Julia Rohde Designs

Caterer: Mena Catering

Makeup: Tami Donaldson at Hey Gorgoues Makeup

Music & Entertainment: Rock With U Entertainment

 

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my heart is yours

my heart is yours, God.

this morning, i needed to remind myself of this. I needed to remember that when I let go of what I think is mine and what I think I control–He takes hold of it.

and when He takes hold of it–I am no longer the captain of the boat.

there is a lot of pressure being the captain of a boat. The sea can be a frightening place–a place that is home to uncertainty, darkness, storms, fear.

the sea can also be a beautiful place–a place that is home to light, serenity, peace.

when we invite Jesus into our boats–into our hearts–to drive our ship, we are not guaranteed a serene, beautiful and easy ride, but we are guaranteed that He will be with us.

Immanuel, God with us.

in Hebrew, heart translates as lebab or leb, meaning inner man, will, mind

yes, Lord. May my inner being be yours, my mind be yours, even more, may my will be yours.

when we invite Him to enter into our inner being, into our mind, into our will–His comfort, His grace, His love, His glory is magnified.

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17

The Lord desires to settle in our hearts–to find his home in our uncertainty, in our darkness, in our fear, in our storms to keep us strong.

At different stages of life, the Lord has given me a home to settle in–and in each of these homes–I see Him.

In this season of my spiritual life, the Lord has sent me someone named Beth, which coincidentally in Hebrew means home. She has built a spiritual home for me and so many others. I am grateful for her–for her compassion, for her comfort, for her encouragement, for her dedication, for her wisdom, for her guidance, for her faithfulness, for her simple presence–but more than that–I am grateful for how she has been a beautiful picture of what it means for Christ to make a home in our hearts. 

my hope is to be like her and the others that have been a part of my spiritual journey–to completely let go and let Him, who knows the seas, navigate the boat.

my heart is yours, Jesus. May it beat for you.

 

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rain or shine

More and more, He teaches me that nothing, absolutely nothing, is in my control. I want to so badly control everything. I guess it is the touch of OCD that lives inside of me.

But as so many have been telling me in the recent hours, let go and let GOD. I need to listen to them, and not just listen but let it resonate deep within me. More than listen, I need to believe it. For so long, that has been the challenge for me. I hear it and I say that I believe, but do I actually.

Where is my faith?

Why is it so easy for me to tell others to believe, to trust, to keep the faith, but yet, I have such a difficult time with it myself.

I am five days out of my wedding day, and I am consumed with worry that it will rain on my outdoor ceremony and reception. We wanted it to be outside–after all, that is where Cameron and I feel most alive. That is where we feel the presence of God the most, and now we are confronted with a possibility of rain. A big possibility.

I have good people though. People to remind me to embrace it and others that confidently say it won’t rain. Either way, rain or shine, the Lord is still good. He has already blessed me beyond belief by giving me Cameron–and that is blessing enough.

I, too, am reminded that if it rains…the sun always shines after the rain. And that rain is God’s gift to this earth–it is what makes the harvest grow–it is the rain that brings new life. And after all, we are that harvest–we are the people that need to be cultivated each day.

And if the sun shines, then the Lord’s light is shining on us.

Either way, it is good…because when He made it all, He said that it was good. Thanks be to God.

Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.

Isaiah 45: 8

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bride(zilla)

my name is gabi and i am a bridezilla.

they say that is the first step in the recovery process, to admit it.

so here i am, admiting it. i am a bridezilla.

ok, ok, maybe not a full blown bridezilla, but i can name a couple people out there who would identify me as a bridezilla (mom, dad, maybe even my own groom).

i didn’t want this to be me, i didn’t want to be the bride who cared about what type of printing she would use on her invitations or who cared who came to her bridal parties, but i think i might be.

i’ll be the first to say it, it is hard. it is hard to not care, especially when all you see out there are wedding blogs, magazines and Pinterest posts about  flowers, dresses, invitations, and decor. And well, you want it all.

after all, you want your day to be picture worthy–to be remembered.

but i am realizing a few things-i am realizing that this wedding day is more than just about flowers, lights, music, linens and chairs. I would even go as far as to say this day is more than just about me and my groom.

this day. well this day, is about me and Cameron honoring God, thanking God for his goodness in bringing us together, and displaying God and His sacrificial love.

again, i will admit–this is hard. especially when you like all things pretty (and expensive), when you are a bit OCD, super indecisive or when you are a people pleaser.

but each time i get worked up about something small, or get in a fight with my mom, or am disappointed about something wedding related, i hear a small whisper..

 

“this, none of this, is about you…

it isn’t even about you and Cameron becoming Mr. and Mrs. Grogan

but this, this it is about how your love for each other and your marriage after the wedding day will be a picture of the gospel for all to see.”

 

so here i am, a bride(zilla), who is beyond excited to get married to one heck of a loving man, who accepts me as i am. everyday i want to let him know how wonderful he is and how excited i am to see how the Lord will continue to work in our lives, in our family.

here i am, fighting against my human self who wants everything so perfect for my wedding day. but here i am allowing the Spirit to take over, because my God is greater and because He wants nothing more to be the center of our marriage.

here i am, asking for forgiveness when i am difficult and lose sight of the big picture.

and here i am giving thanks to my mom and dad for sacrificing more than i can imagine.

to my mom, who i know i have hurt in this process, i am sorry. i know i will never be able completely articulate it, but i am unbelievably grateful for you-and not just for what you have done for me in this process, but thankful for all that you have taught me–to always be a fighter, to never give up despite the disappointments life throws at you, and to love and care for all. thank you.

to my dad, the only man in my life for the last 28 years. i know you are sacrificing a lot for this whole thing to come to life, but i hope that you see it as a celebration of your girl entering life with a man who will take care of her in the same way you would, and for that, i hope it is worth it. we’ve taken a lot of walks together, papa–walks to the classroom, walks to the softball field, walks in the mall, walks on El Malecon, but the most important walk, will be the one we take down the aisle on December 5th.

here i am giving thanks for my brother, my family and friends.

to my brother, the other man in my life who protects and wants the best for me. i hope you know i will be taken care of.  i know you have great things coming your way, and i can’t wait to see all of them come to fruition.

to my family, each one of you has played a vital role in my life. from my cousins, to my aunts, to my late grandmother-each one has built me up and brought me so much joy. when i am with you, i feel like my true self, living in the spirit.

to my friends, who are loyal and who i love so much. thank you for being there for me and listening to all that i have to say. i don’t deserve you all.

finally, here i am praising God for bringing me Cameron. you’ve turned my world upside down, in the best way possible. i can’t wait to start my life with you–to grow, to learn, to laugh, to see the world, to run the race with endurance that God has set before us…

as husband and wife.

 

 

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growing pains

Some say it is a myth—that it’s all in the mind.

But what if it’s not. What if our muscles and our bones are growing and stretching out, in order to do what they are made to do—to reach their optimum. What if our muscles have to go through a little pain to reach their potential?

Would you go through the pain?

Now, what if life were sort of like our muscles—what if we had to experience a little a lot of pain to be the best us we can be, to have the best life we can have.

Would you go through the pain?

Or relationships. What if I told you relationships were like growing pains? What if I said, you will shed many tears and have numerous tough conversations but that it will lead you to the best love you will ever have.

Would you go through the pain?

I don’t know about you, but I would.

The pain is worth it. The tears are worth it. The hard conversations are worth it.

So yes, I will. I choose to go through the growing pains with grace, with love, with forgiveness, with humbleness, with kindness, with gentleness, and with faithfulness.

We stretch and mature and grow so that we arrive at the place, that holy place, that we were made for in the first place.

And at the end, you will have everlasting love. You will be the greatest you. You will have grown.

And the pain, well…

You will have forgotten about the pain.

Because the sun [Son] always shines after the pain rain.

 

For Cameron

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unlikely friendships

There is this thing that He does that I just love.

This thing that He does just to surprise you.

It is sort of like when He sends a Miami girl to the coldest place in Colorado for a year or like when He sends the Public Relations major to be a High School Spanish teacher.

It is things like that when you know He is working on something.

something greater than any of us even know—orchestrating a story that though may feel odd, has purpose and beauty.

It is those unlikely places and those unlikely relationships that I see God the most. Though He is always there, I seem to find Him when I least expect to.

like when I see Him…

in the eyes of my friend Bekah

in the people of Nicaragua that live in poverty and filth

in the conversations I have with students

in the hospital room of my grandmother

in all these places, I see Him. I feel Him. I sense Him.

An unlikely friendship has manifested in the last couple of months, and I like to think it is an authentic and lasting friendship—his name is Dr. G, but the kids call him “G”.

He is a good, ole country boy—who is gentle, kind, compassionate, warm—sort of like Jesus. He is a vet and a teacher—and I like to think that he is also a healer and a messenger of God. He loves his students well, and he has put me under that same care.

He knows the unlikeness of our friendship, and embraces it still.

A few weeks ago, when I was scared and afraid, he assured me, “You are too wild, too young, too crazy” (to be sick).

So I sent him some words, “…you always come see me and bless me when I am in need of that encouragement.”

And these are what followed:

E-mail #1: God asked me when I was 8 yrs. old to take care of His animals for Him. I consider young people to be in that category. I told Him that I would, and veterinarians do seem to have a different sense of things. They are used to watching life.

E-mail #2: I am still with you….I hope you make the most of your trip there—and be sure to come back.

E-mail #3: It is an unlikely friendship, but God sent me to you for both of our benefit. I put you into my heart today and will keep you there until I am over. You will be fine. G

 

An unlikely friendship indeed, but one I hold close to my heart. He shares truth and has blessed me in more ways than I think he even knows, and for that I am thankful for this unlikely friendship.

 

 

 

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thankful heart

I thank God for protecting me from what I thought I wanted and blessing me with what I didn’t know I needed.

 

I read this quote a few weeks ago and when I read it, I thought to myself…

 

God, yes…And God, Thank you.

 

God has a funny way of doing things. And sometimes, a not so funny way. But we have to be thankful for those ways too.

 

I am learning that more and more each day. Each moment—what it means to trust and to thank.

 

Today, I am thankful. And I want every day to be a celebration of thanks. Through the laughter, through the struggles, in the tears and even in the fears—I want to be thankful.

On the sunny days, on the rainy days, on the feel good days, and on the sick days—I want to be thankful.

 

I want to make sure to go through life and take snap shots of all the things I am thankful for…

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I once read that expectations can be a bad thing. Sometimes we expect things to turn out a certain way, or we expect people to react a certain way, or we expect life to play out in a certain way. So in those ways, yes expectations can be harmful…I believe that.

 

But I think the writer missed something. Something big. Because the truth is, God’s expectations [not mine] and God’s plan [definitely not mine] for my life is very much a good thing—the life that God has designed for me, for us is good. And for that, I am thankful.

 

Usually what we expect and want is different than what God has for us and different than what He knows we need—and so that takes me back to that quote. I am thankful that I am able to look back and see how God protected me—and showing me that I needed something else.

something better.

 

Sometimes it takes a bright, blue, cloudless sky, or reading a good book while the breeze hits my face, or a butterfly dancing around me, or even a delicate flower floating in the still water for me to stop and be thankful.

 

To stop and realize that life is full of special moments.

To stop and thank God for the people He has put in my path to walk this crazy life with me.

To stop. To thank. To Gro.

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