September 10, 2013

The Crazy, Spontaneous Life of Newlyweds

Finally, a blog update on the Graefs!
As most of you know, David and I were married on Friday, August 9th - a month ago yesterday! We both agree that it feels as though the time has completely flown by - and rightly so, since our last blog update was back in July after we had returned from our amazing summer in Eastern Europe! It has taken me a while to get back to blogging simply because we have not gotten internet yet at our new place. So, because it's been a while, this blog update may end up being rather lengthy - this is me apologizing in advance haha However, God has done some amazing things in our life these past few weeks, and we want to make sure that we give Him as much glory as we can by praising His mighty works loud and clear! Even if it means a looooooong blog entry!
When David and I arrived back to the states, our goal was to spend ten days in Chicago trying to find a place to live for the next school year. This first story begins with us heading to Apartment People on Sunday, July 21st, where an agent took us from apartment to apartment hunting for the right one. The first apartment that he took us to was a studio in a little building in Lakeview on a street called Stratford. David and I really liked the location and the quaintness of the apartment, but we knew that we had quite a few other potential places that our agent, Craig, was going to take us to. We kept the Stratford place in mind as we went to the next five or six places. With each apartment, David and I felt that the Stratford place was still our top pick, and by the end of the day, we were applying for our first place! It was a very exciting time for us! Craig told us that it would probably be a day or two before the landlord contacted us, and so David and I left the Apartment People offices feeling very hopeful and very excited.
Over the next few days, David and I eagerly awaited a call from Apartment People, but the call never came. We decided to do some apartment hunting on our own, and checked out a few more places in the city only to feel more and more strongly with each day that the Stratford place was the place for us. By the time the weekend approached, David and I were so apartment-hunting-sick that we decided it was best to leave it in God's hands as we waited to hear from the Stratford landlord and head up to Lake Ann to visit some friends for the weekend.
During our time back at camp, we received a phone call from Apartment People saying that we did not get the place. Apparently the landlord had had a rather noisy tenant the years previous, and had had some complaints from the tenant below. She felt that having two people in a studio would make the noise level only increase, and so she declined our application. David and I felt pretty hopeless and devastated, since it had felt so of the Lord that we were to live at that place. We returned to Chicago and began our quest for a place again - this time with only two days left before we flew off to Hawaii.
On Monday, our last day in Chicago, our agent, Craig drove us around to a few more places. It was bittersweet, but through it all we clung to the hope that God would provide. Sure enough, on the afternoon of our last day in the city, Craig brought us to "the one."
Although we had felt so strongly that God was leading us to the Stratford place, it was so amazing to see that what in fact had happened was that God had lead us to pursue the Stratford place so that we would hold off on an even BETTER apartment! Imperial Towers, our home right off of Lake Shore Drive, was better in every respect than the first apartment that we had applied to! A more affordable rent, nicer amenities, a beautiful view, and a larger living space! We live on the 15th floor of the tower, and our view is facing the North. It overlooks a small park, part of the city, and the lake. We have a fitness center located inside the building, as well as a doorman in the lobby for added security 24/7, and a pool available during the summer months! We absolutely love this place, and although we are not sure how long exactly we will be in this apartment, it definitely feels like home to us now! We feel so blessed that God has once again blown us away by providing above and beyond what we've requested!
The next chapter is a small one entitled……. THE WEDDING!
Yes! We actually made it! We are married now! When David and I arrived back in beautiful Hawaii, we hit the ground RUNNING! There were programs to be made/printed, favors to put together, decisions to make, a bridal shower to attend, and SO MUCH MORE! Let me just say now to all the girls out there that might be reading this whose weddings I have attended: WAY TO GO! I HAD NO IDEA HOW MUCH WORK YOU PUT INTO YOUR WEDDING! And I have a WHOLE NEW appreciation for it!!!!
One of my favorite things about being back in Hawaii before the wedding was that my sister and nephew flew over from Kauai to help out with wedding plans! This was definitely one of the most special things that I will remember from my pre-wedding time. It was so nice to have my mom, sister, and I all together again! I love them so much, and they were so supportive and helpful with SO many details and facets of the wedding! Plus, little Kingston was around too, brightening everyone's day with his dimples and blue eyes. Later on in the week Jordan was able to make it out too, which was so awesome! David and I felt so special and so blessed! We can't possibly put it into words.
After already spending the whole summer with the Graefs, it was so exciting that we were also able to see them again - this time in HAWAII! David's grandparents also were able to make it out, all the way from Kentucky and Chicago, as well as one of David's good friends, Florin from Romania! My mom's wonderful future hubby, Lee, was kind enough to arrange a place for them to stay right in the heart of Waikiki, and then take them all over the island for tennis, snorkeling, rock jumping, eating, and MORE! David and I were so glad that they were able to have such a great chauffer to take them from place to place while we were swamped with wedding details! We were able to go to the beach with everyone a couple of times, which was such a great way to relax amidst the stress of wedding craziness!
Well, before we knew it, it was the BIG DAY! Everyone told me that the day would fly by, but for me it was the longest day in my life! From sun up to sun down the day was completely packed! Nails, make up, hair, flowers, shoes, dresses, pictures, decorations, favors, vows……………. The day was so full! One of the things that I will take with me from that day and remember most was how much everyone helped to make the wedding happen! My bridesmaids and my now sisters-in-law were SO HELPFUL! They were not your typical bridesmaids - no, these girls worked - HARD! They put together favors, arranged flowers, decorated the sanctuary, created centerpieces… these girls were like bridesmaid/sister-in-law superheroes! Our wedding literally could not have been pulled off if it wasn't for all of their help - or if it was, it would have been just David and I awkwardly saying our vows in a flowerless, decoration-less, favor-less church with a lot of unhappy guests! I am so grateful for each of them (Ashley, Cortney, Hannah, Hannah, and Jess). They say that it takes a village to raise a child, but in a similar way, it takes a bridal party to pull off a wedding!
The wedding came and went pretty quickly, but in the blur of the night, all I can remember only gives me warm feelings and butterflies. Scott, our friend who completely decorated the church basement, did an amazing job making the good ol' church basement feel like it had been completely transformed into a magical, warm, fairy tale reception beyond any of my dreams! It was gorgeous. I will always look back on that night and feel as though my old little church where I'd grown up over the past 24 years was under a fairy godmother enchantment!
Another memorable part of the night was the band, Streetlight Cadence, that performed throughout the night! A couple of the band members are my friends from the Baptist Student Ministries in UH, and they had happily agreed to play at our wedding ceremony and reception! It was so special that they not only learned all of our favorite songs, but that they even played a breathtaking rendition of How He Loves (the song that David and I played together at camp last year and first began falling head over heels for each other during) for the processional! They were a HUGE part of our night, and added a unique twist to our evening that made everything all the more magical.
Of course, the best part of the day for David and I was becoming man & wife united in Christ in front of all of our loved ones. If there was anything magical about the night, it was all because of the beauty that surrounds a marriage blessed by God and uniquely created and brought into existence by Him! Everything that made this wedding, this couple, and this new covenant family a reality was because of God's divine intervention and predestination! We stand together now as man and wife only by the grace of God! And that grace is still what gets us through each day even now. God, we are in awe of Your goodness to us, for we are so undeserving!
After the wedding David and I honeymooned in Kauai for a wonderful twelve days! We stayed in a little plantation cottage in Waimea, and enjoyed relaxing and taking the days easy after all the wedding hustle and bustle. At the end of our time there, we stayed with Ash and Jordan for a night and were able to get some beach-going in for a couple of days as well! Our time with the McMurdies was actually one of our highlights from the honeymoon!
Well, on August 23rd, David and I found ourselves sitting as man and wife on an airplane headed to a new home in Chicago. It was so hard to believe everything was done and over and that this new chapter in our lives was actually beginning! We hit the ground running once again - I had an interview at a preschool just a few hours after the plane landed! I felt like a mess and a little lost, but somehow ended up walking out with the job! I am now a part-time preschool teacher at a school in Lakeview (actually on the exact same little street that the Stratford place was on!)! The past couple of weeks I have been going on home visits to our preschool family's homes, setting up the classroom, making phone calls, and speaking at parent orientation night! It has been a wild past few days but God has been our continual strength through it all!
David started school on August 26th back at Moody! He has a couple of great Bible courses this semester, as well as some other enjoyable classes like Grammatical Analysis (a linguistic's dream lol)! He has really been happy to attend school every day, but is even happier to be able to leave it all behind him when he heads home, instead of heading up to his dorm at the end of the day like last year. He is a married man now and has definitely been acting the part! Not only is he constantly flipping through books or taking quizzes (yes, even this early in the semester!), but he has also put together ALL of the furniture in our apartment - with nothing more than a screwdriver! I am so proud to call him my husband, and am definitely impressed with his fire and determination at fulfilling his God-given task as being the leader of this family. *sigh* I love him…
Well, with that, I believe that this blog is FINALLY up to date! Hopefully we will be able to be more consistent now that we are more settled! Thank you for your prayers and for the love and care that you each show us by reaching out to us! We are so loved and so blessed.

All our love,
From our engagement
photo shoot session with

Randie Megan (and David)

Prayer Requests:
- RM's testimony at the preschool, and her relationship with her co-teacher
- David as he continues to keep up with homework and reading
- Getting settled

From our honeymoon in beautiful Kauai

Ze Pooool

Waiting to go on our Na Pali coast boat tour!

Oh yes he did!

On the boat

Getting splashed at the beginning

Lookin' pretty white and nerdy in our rain jackets provided
courtesy of the Na Pali coast boat tour people due to the rain

We jumped off the boat and snorkeled for a while

If we didn't convince you of how nerdy we looked before,
now we have.
Inside the famous open-ceiling cave

Along the coast - it was breath-taking

Check out this hottie!!! xoxoxoxo

Lookit this little urchin we found on the beach! haha jk we
spent a couple of days beach-going with Jordan, Ash,
& Kingston!

Oh my gosh. He kills me.

Our husbands were so proud of their raft they
made themselves

Testing it out in the ocean

Captain Kingston!

It's the Swiss Family McMurdies stranded ashore on a
deserted beach!! Thank goodness for this life-saving raft!

Flash Forward to CHICAGO
Stage 1: Fresh off the plane from our honeymoon!
 In our place for the first time since seeing it in July!

Stage 1: Totally empty - but so much potential!

Stage 1: The tiny kitchen

Stage 1: Entryway, kitchen, living room, closets, etc.....

Stage 2: UNPACKING! On our way to our apartment with
 all of our stuff that was being stored at David's aunt's house!

Stage 2: Living out of bags. It was not fun.

Stage 3: Finally beginning to feel like home!
Stage 3: The kitchen
Stage 3: David lookin' cute studying for his Bible Intro class
Our view
Randie Megan's classroom - to any of my MPI coworkers
who might be looking at this: trust me,
 it's a Reggio work in progress!
The church we've been visiting the past
couple Sundays: Covenant Presbyterian
 Church of Chicago -
 it's in an old Polish cathedral!

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