The Joy of 2017

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As 2017 started, I had no idea how difficult this year was going to be, but I also had no idea how much joy it was going to hold as well.  I began this last year just like many of you, making goals, but I also set the word of joy before me.  One thing I have learned about joy is that if you want it, you have to fight for it.  2017 was no exception to this rule.

My job is a fulfilling one, but over the last year it has been a struggle to find joy as I teach.  Many of my students live in severe poverty and their stories make my heart ache.  One students’ parents struggle with alcohol and drug addictions so bad that the student had to flee in the night with all their possessions in black plastic trash bags. Another student shared a story of having to, at the age of 12, drive herself to school because her parents were each working one of their three jobs.  Both of these students know the meaning of joy and their smiles have helped light up my classrooms.  As they fight through the struggle that their lives are, they do not stop.  So when my job became a struggle, I chose to be like them and to fight for joy.

Therefore in February, just as I was told my job was going to be cut, I flew out to California with April and proposed to her.  She said yes! What joy!

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The disappointing school year ended and even though my job had been retained, I no longer felt wanted where I work.  But I entered the summer with a coming wedding and joy filled the air.  But we had to fight for that joy.  Just like many engagements, ours was filled with drama.  It seemed to pop out of nowhere, but it was hurtful and forced us to make a last minute change to our wedding party.  However, one person’s attempt to steal the joy of our upcoming wedding only made me love April more.  She never stopped caring for that person and it is that grace April shows to the people in her life that truly amazes me.

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My wedding day was a true adventure.  Not the type of adventure like my bachelor party where an 800 pound black bear showed up to end the party, but a crazy string of events that nearly caused me to miss my wedding.  April spent all day with her family and I stayed with mine.  I shared a calm morning with my niece and nephews, trying to stay present in the moment and not worry about my wedding.  About an hour before my groomsmen were to show up so we could meet Becky Rice, our photographer, I was packing my car with all that I would need for after the wedding.  As I walked out to my Civic with the last suitcase I was surprised to find that my car was locked.  I grabbed my keys and pressed the unlock button, but nothing happened. It was as if my car was dead, unlock-able with all of my wedding items trapped on the inside.

I ran inside to grab my spare key to see if it would work, but no luck.  Time started to slip away.  I tried calling Honda to see if they could help.  No luck!  As I was on the phone, Luke and Taylor, two of my groomsmen showed up.  I gave Luke my car keys and said, “See if you can fix it.”  Just as I was telling the Honda agent, “No I can’t have it towed into your shop today because I am getting married,” Luke came back downstairs and told me he had done a miracle.

With my dad, Michael, and Taylor as witnesses, Luke had walked up to my car, said a prayer to Saint Michael the archangel and then punched my car.  It immediately unlocked.  Joy returned! We were free to leave for my wedding, but then I couldn’t find my wallet.

We scrambled to search all of the locations I had touched only to give up thirty minutes later.  We were already late and our photography session with Becky was slipping away.  I hopped into my car, figuring I would just go wallet-less only to jump back out and run inside to find it in the last place I looked.  I had left it in the drawer with my spare car key.

My wedding was the most joyous day of the year if not of my life.  I know that God will grant me days just as joy-filled and maybe even more so, but dang my wedding was fun.  As I drove to my wedding after finding my wallet and having my car miraculously unlock so we were free to leave for Hudson Gardens, I choose to live in joy and not take on the stress that had attempted to ruin my afternoon.  April and I danced, we were able to eat our food, but the best part was the joy in knowing that April said, “I do,” to me.

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My wedding ended and as we left the reception, surrounded by friends and family who love us dearly I knew I would have to hold onto this joy.  I know that through sickness and health, through the good times and the bad times I will need to remember the light of that night and the love Christ has given me to be able to choose to love and serve April.  I will choose to fight for joy because I too said I do.

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Also, it turns out I needed my wallet.  April accidentally left hers in her car and we wouldn’t have been able to check into our hotel room without a credit card and a form of identification.  I laughed with joy as we made our way to our room.

That was July and the rest of our year has had ups and downs, but through it all God has taught me about His joy.  If you want it, you have to fight for it.  If you fight for it, it will be like having Christmas with a three year old.  It will light your dark night and shine light into your day with a smile that will last for days.

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April and I shared our second Christmas together and we were awoken, okay I had been up since 3:30 because I love Christmas too much to be able to sleep, by Addi, Linc, and Breck.  Their cries of joy and delight were so much fun to share in.  Breck couldn’t stop running around in excitement.  Who knew 6:30 in the morning could be so much fun, even Treagan was all smiles.

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What a blessing of joy it was to share Christmas with my entire family.  2017 has been a year of joy for me, but I hope my readers understand that it was also a very difficult year.  But there is a joy in my life that even in the darkest of nights, I will continue to fight for and I hope you do to.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and peace and joy be with you!

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An Adventure of a Lifetime: Today Is The Day!

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I was chased out of camp by an 800 pound black bear.  I rafted down the ice fields of clear creek.  And I was thrown the most beautiful rehearsal dinner.  But the most amazing and loving event happens tonight.

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Today my nephew, Linc my six year old Jr. groomsman, is going to help me with my vows. When April and I were selecting our wedding party Addi, my 8 year old niece, and Linc were two of the first people we wanted to ask.  I had told Addi that she was going to be in the wedding party before I had even popped the question to April. Through screams of joy she told me she was more excited about my upcoming wedding than I was, which was not true. I mean come on, I have waited 33 years for this! And now it is today!!

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This is where Linc comes in and how he is going to help me.  To ask Linc to be in the wedding party I wrote him a letter.  It asked him to be my Jr. groomsman, and according to my older sister, Linc carried that letter around for 4 hours.  He wasn’t quite sure what he was supposed to do as a Jr. groomsman, but now Linc just finished Kindergarten and is all up on his reading and writing skills so he knows what will help me with my marriage.

No, Linc is not worried about helping me vow to love April patiently, even though I pray I will be able to do that.  He told his dad that during the ceremony his job is to whisper the write vows into my ear.  A. E. I. O. U. and maybe even Y.

As an English teacher, I never thought knowing my vowels would be so important to staying true to loving April, but last week he sent me a video telling me how to say my vows. A. E. I. O. U.

Maybe A. stands for Always be patient and E. Endure all things and I. It bears all things, but what about the O or the U? I think Linc’s little misunderstanding of vows and vowels is as important as me being able to tell April that I vow to love her with a patient, kind, enduring love.  It shows me that he loves me and with his desire to help me say my vowels wants to help support me.  The support I have felt from my family and friends this week has been amazing.  I feel like without them I would be a word without a vowel.

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Tonight as I say my vows to April because of the community of people around me I can tell her I love her.  Without everyone I would just be a pile of lv and and be able to boldly tell her that I L.O.V.E. her.

So thank you to everyone who has helped support April and me on this adventure! My wedding party has blessed me by loving on April and taking me out adventuring on wild rivers, but nothing has compared to being prayed for and showered with hugs.  I am not screaming and jumping up and down with excitement like Addi was, but I am that excited on the inside.  Also, I might scream and jump tonight on the dance floor!

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My Risk Will Be Rewarded With Joy: One Week Until I Am Married!

View More: http://ketphotography.pass.us/brendan-and-april-engagementsWhat is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?  I love to think I am a risk taking adventurer, but in reality I love safety.  That is why back in October I broke up with April.  Her love was challenging me and I got scared.  Thank God he didn’t leave me alone.  His grace stepped in and allowed me to realize the error of my ways.  That was when I told the biggest risk ever and asked her to come back into my life.

Now in one week I will be saying my vows to April.  This will not be the riskiest thing I have ever done, but the vows are the reward of putting my selfish desires down and seeking God first.

The riskiest thing I have ever done is to say to God, your will for me trumps everything else.  If I’d had my way I would have remained selfish and not texted April back, but he challenged me to speak my heart and I am so glad that I followed him.  I told her that I loved her.  Taking that risk has changed my life.  I am amazed by how his love has changed me and brought April and me closer together.

So with a week remaining until April and I are one, I’ve been counting down the days until my wedding with joy.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may have noticed that I can’t stop posting pictures of us and proclaiming my love for her.  Its because I know all that I have is due to God’s grace and I can’t shut up about it.

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When I am with April I can’t help but laugh and smile.  Her smile is contagious.  To think I risked a life without April.  The girl who has taught me the power of the gif.  Who can’t stop laughing when I try to kiss her in public.  And the girl who has taught me how to fight for the joy inside of our relationship.

Over the last month I have learned how to fight for April when our God given joy has been threatened and I know that over the next week it will be stressful and parts of the week might even feel joyless. But that is where God comes in.  He told me to tell April I love her and he has honored that risk I took so I am going to continue to trust him.

We want to continue to take risks that honor God and each other, but we know it will not be easy.  So if you could you pray for April and me so that we have the strength to love each other and fight for joy each day.

When we trust God we will love better.  True love is patient and kind.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and love never ends.  But most of all love is not easy, it is risky.  I know that things will fall apart.  April and I will have rough days and maybe even some things with our wedding will not go as planned, but I am going to chose to find joy in God and love April with out end.  So please pray for us and let me know what you have done to help keep love alive in your life and your relationships?

 

Lucky Seven and One Month Till Our Not So Hodgepodge Marriage!

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On July seventh I will make an unbreakable vow.  When I proposed back in February the wedding date seemed to be forever away.  Now it is coming up on April and me like a bullet train.  This makes me more excited than anything, but still before we know it our special day will be here and that is a little nerve racking.  Kind of like the massive migraine that knocked into me while I was at work today our wedding is going to come up suddenly, but not unprepared for.

Our wedding is going to be hodgepodge free because July seventh is a special day!

It is not just a special day for April and myself.  Back in February when I proposed, I had July in mind because that would give me a month off from teaching to help plan the wedding and a month after the wedding to recover and I hoped for either the 17 or the seventh so that our anniversary could read: 7/7/17 or 7/17/17.

The numbers seven and 17 are special to me because seven is the number of completion and 7/7/17 just sounds good and then my birthday is on the 17 so obviously it is special to me.  I mean without that date and that number I wouldn’t be here.  Oh and 2/17/17 was when I proposed so I figured making July 17 would be a fun wedding date.  Well, as it turns out July 17 is a Monday so that was a no go.  But then April wasn’t sure she wanted our wedding to be on July seventh.

She was a fan of July sixth for a couple of reasons.  Thursdays are a more affordable options for marriage and neither of us had any desire to blow up our bank accounts for our wedding.  But I was persistent and wouldn’t let go of 7/7/17 and I am so glad that I did not.  Not just because I am a huge Broncos fan and now that we are tying the knot on July seventh I am able to have John Elway‘s number in my wedding, but for an even cooler reason.

Shortly after our engagement April invited me over to her parents house for Dinner.  She had been talking to her mom about potential wedding dates.  I was sure her mom would have an opinion and throw a completely different date into the mix or say something like I think you two should hold off on marriage for another year so that you can save for the wedding.

But she didn’t do that! She said in Spanish that July seventh is a special date in her family as it is her anniversary and the anniversary of her parents.  So with her blessing she asked us to be the third generation in her family to be married on July seventh!

Now that date is a month away and I feel like I have so much to do, so much to learn.  Yet, I have already learned so much.

Planning our wedding I never thought I would learn something so simple yet so important like that my dad doesn’t know how to hodgepodge or mod podge and what the difference is between the two.

I know you’re wondering how this all came up, but I promise you that it came quite simply and rather hilariously.  April and I have been struggling to figure out what to do for our guest book and about a month-and-a-half ago we were eating lunch at her library and I mentioned having our guest book be a photograph of the two of us from our engagement session with Becky Rice.

Somehow April thought I said that we should do a mod podge guest book because my dad knows how to do mod podge.  So when she asked me again what we wanted to do I was confused as to why this item was resurfacing as I had thought the matter was settled.

She asked if we wanted to do a guest book where our guest left a cute note and then said she didn’t like mod podge. I said, “don’t you mean hodgepodge,” and she said, “no, mod podge because you said your dad knows how to do  it.”  Not quite sure what she was talking about I replied, “Um I don’t ever remember bring up hodgepodge.”  This went on for about thirty minutes and broke down into laughter.  It is my believe that she had a dream where I said my dad would do mod podge hodgepodge.  She still claims it was a real conversation but instead of arguing about it we chose to laugh about it and decided to go in a completely different direction for our guest book.  It helped that I guaranteed April that my dad, like me, doesn’t have a clue what mod podge or hodgepodge are at all.  It turns out mod podge is where you glue cut out magazine pictures to a page or something like that and hodge podge is where things are thrown together haphazardly.  So let’s just say hodgepodge has nothing to do with our wedding and neither does mod podge because April is classier than that.

So what I really learned through that is wedding planning is stressful and somethings can be misheard.  It is best to give grace to your loved ones and give each other the ability to laugh when a weird disagreement occurs.

Just as importantly I learned about having a plan that way nothing in the wedding becomes hodgepodge.  We have worked our tails off to have a plan for what we want in our wedding and how we want to pay for our wedding.  Having a plan for your wedding budget is a must.  We are paying for our wedding mostly on our own and because of that I figured we would have to go into debt.  Debt is not okay.  And yet I figured it was something that had to happen.  But, as it stands right now, God is helping us pay for our wedding without going into debt!

I have learned the power of being blessed.  Several friends and family members blessed us with the ability to pay for our catering right by the due date.  I had no idea back in February how I was going to write the check for all the food, but yesterday I was able to place that check in the mail and for that I am grateful.

So I still don’t have a clue what God will do in my life and in my relationship with April over the next month, but I know that I am going to strive to be grateful for all of his blessings and act gracefully at all times.  My hope is that my wedding is not a hodgepodge but a blessing of love to all who come to help celebrate the special day.

I know that when I give God all of my anxieties he will help my wedding come up sevens!

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