So, I already shared about the crazy hills we had to climb -- both literally and metaphorically -- to get to the wedding on the morning of June 9. What I didn't share were all the hills that preceded those ones. Seriously. We seemed to hit random speed bumps everywhere we went, so much so that we started thinking those bumps were way too bizarre to be random.
There are actually quite a lot of these to share, but here's our top three.
Random Event #1: I'm Sitting Where?!
After weeks spent working with a premiere travel agent in Winter Park -- and spending the accompanying moolah such a benefit costs -- Kirk was quite disconcerted to learn we weren't paired together on the flight out of Orlando into Philadelphia. And, it was a flight so full that getting new seats together meant we'd need to take an altogether new flight that was set to leave its gate in just under an hour. You know what that means: Run!
Random Event #2: Oops, That Thing That Just Broke? That Held My Wedding Dress
Of course, I wasn't about to let my wedding dress out of sight. It went with me as a (very heavy) carry-on so it couldn't possibly be routed to Milan when I wanted it to show up in Shannon, Ireland.
This meant, then, lugging it on the hanger everywhere we went. But, wedding dresses being as heavy as they are and airport maneuvering being as harried and hurried as it is, the hanger broke sometime en route from one gate to another in Philly.
You should have seen the crumpled look on my face.
I'd been pretty calm through all the stress of the week until that moment, but suddenly I was sure it was all going to be ruined. Instead of carrying my beautiful wedding dress right-side-up and flat on a perfectly functional hanger like a proper bride should have been able to do, I now had to fold it in half and carry it over my arm like some old sweater or raggedy doll.
In the end, Kirk reminded me that a wrinkled wedding dress could not possibly have the final word on our wedding day. He said I would surely take his breath away no matter what the state of the dress -- wrinkled, rumpled, dirty, or even caked with mud.
Okay, so he didn't say exactly those words, but he said enough to calm my fears, dry my eyes, and getting us moving along again. Such a sweetheart. He can make me feel better about seemingly bad news in a heartbeat, simply because he knows how to put things in perspective.
Random Event #3: Honey, I Can't See You 'Cause My Eyes Are Swollen Shut
Just so you know, ancient abbeys and cathedrals can be found everywhere in Ireland. I say this so you don't make the mistake we did on our very first time on the road from the Shannon Airport to Galway.
We were driving along quite well, actually, even though Kirk was faced with the challenge of not just driving on the opposite side of the road but driving with a steering wheel and stick shift planted on the opposite side of the car.
And we were nearly to Galway, really, maybe just 12 kilometers away, when suddenly we saw it: an old church that looked ancient. Falling-down ancient. Crumbly, made of stone, situated in a beautiful field, and without a proper roof ancient.
You have to know both of us to know how we would respond to this, especially in the first few hours of exploring our way through the Emerald Isle on our wedding and honeymoon trip.
"Honey, look!" Kirk cried.
"Wow -- that's beautiful!"
"I wonder how we get there?"
"Me, too," I said. "So weird that it's right behind all those new track homes. Why'd they build all those homes right there, in front of an ancient church?"
"I don't know," Kirk said. Pause. "Wanna try and get there?"
"Pshaw, yeah, I do!" I said. Well, maybe I didn't actally say "pshaw." Who says that word, anyway?
Off we went, driving in and out of the new track home development until we realized that route had to be a dead end. There wasn't a road through to the church, none that we could find, anyway, and we weren't quite sure what to do next.
"Is it worth it?" Kirk asked.
"Are you really asking me that?" I replied.
"That's what I thought."
I nodded. "So worth it. Maybe we could ask someone who knows."
"Probably a good idea, at this point," Kirk said.
Luckily -- or, depending on how you interpret the end of the story, not quite so luckily -- we found an old guy who looked official and decided to ask him.
"Excuse me, sir. Can you tell us how to get to that church?" I said, pointing to it.
"Oh, the old abbey?" he replied in his thick Irish accent. "Right around the corner from here, there's a group of new homes. You know it?"
"Yep. We know it."
"Drive through to the end of the main road there, park at the end, hike through the field behind the houses, cross the railroad tracks at the other side, and then you'll be to it. Or you could just follow the railroad tracks here, if you like."
"Hmm," I said, squinting my eyes as I peered down the long lane of tracks. "That seems way easier. Do you think a train will come?"
He followed my gaze down the tracks. "Not sure. I don't think one's been for a while, so it might."
Um, thanks, but no thanks. We decided to take the wild field route. We like wild fields, right?
But this was no ordinary field. It was a field of weeds and grasses waist-high. That kept getting higher and higher the further into it we went. At one point I remember thinking, Oh good, I'm glad my allergies aren't flaring up. I used to get major allergies in high school, and with all the seedlings and pollen floating around that Irish field, I was surprised my eyes and nose weren't reacting.
I must have thought that happy thought too soon.
By the time we reached the end of the field -- probably just after Kirk had jumped the creek between the field and railroad tracks, steadying his balance on the other side by grabbing onto a branch that immediately produced several itchy spots on his arm, and I inadvertently rubbed my eyes for just a moment-- the light itching of my eyes had begun. Which soon turned into major itching. And watering. And, well, goopiness.
I knew this feeling well. It was the exact same feeling -- and symptoms -- that happened every spring during secondary school, for which the doctors had a technical term: conjunctivitis. In other words, pink eye.
I didn't really enjoy that abbey visit.
So, What Happened?
Kirk's rash went away after a few minutes, but I spent the rest of the day holding cold compresses on my eyes, every once in a while dropping Visine into them to reduce the redness, or spreading hydrocortizone on them to reduce the swelling. Thankfully, these homemade "prescriptions" had been learned by years of dealing with this exact same problem in high school, and this attentiveness to the problem helped it get mostly better by morning.
Plus, Kirk reminded me (yet again, being the man that he is) that nothing could possibly detract from the specialness of the upcoming day, no matter how hard Satan might try to make it.
And those kinds of conversations in the moments leading up to the wedding are what reminded us of who we are and the importance of what we were about to do. Because we aren't just two human beings who fell in love because they thought the other one was kind of cute and fun to be around. No, we're two fierce warriors in God's kingdom, joined not just by human interest but godly appointment to complete specific work for His glory on earth together. We firmly believe we're much stronger and more effective for God's glory together than we could ever be apart and that God brought us together for a reason.
And all that means we have a destructive Enemy seeking to steal, kill, and destroy whatever he can in our path. He's shown up a number of times already in our short life together over the past year, seeking to pull us off course by small-story stuff or lies about what defines us or even sheer busyness, not to mention actual hardcore spiritual warfare. He's an Enemy, in fact, who will try all he can to keep God's purposes from being accomplished in us. It's like C.S. Lewis wrote: Since he can't have our souls, he puts everything he can into defeating us into ineffective or complacent or "safe" lives with his lies. Lies which we're not the least bit interested in buying.