We Are The Carpenters

 

 

Ben and I have known each other for five years, and have been a significant part of each other’s lives for four and a half of those. I saw Ben my first day of classes freshman year of college, when he was a junior. We had Survey of World Music together with a professor who wore pajama jeans. We didn’t officially meet until one day when I was having lunch with a friend and he came over to chat with her. She introduced him to me, we bonded over music, and he gave me a high five. He was wearing light green shorts and high socks with his ID tucked into one (a signature Ben Carpenter outfit). He had poofy, curly hair and I thought he was super cute. (I would later attend a birthday party for him where I would get to wear another signature Ben outfit.)

 

We didn’t start spending time together until that Spring. The first thing we did together was play frisbee, thanks to my roommate and dear friend (thanks, Mary). Our first real date was to the Olive Garden and to see The Lorax. About a week later he asked me to be his girlfriend. One of my favorite things about our story is that I was Ben’s first girlfriend, and neither of us has kissed anyone else. We were each other’s first kiss and I love that so much. 

Ben knew that he wanted to marry me pretty shortly after we started dating. For me, it took a little while longer. A few months into our relationship, I went to Romania. While I was there, a woman prayed over my, speaking about my future husband. I was totally freaked out, but also excited because I had been thinking about it (even though we had only been together for three months at that point.) After that, I started praying about it and asked God to open my heart up to that idea. About a year later, we went through a really hard season of our relationship, and after walking through that, I was absolutely certain that he was the one that I wanted to share all of the hard seasons with. 

After two years of dating, Ben proposed! We spent the day at a state park. First we went to a cute little winery, and then spent the rest of the day outside - walking on trails, skipping rocks, picking daisies, etc. Eventually we left to get Dairy Queen because ice cream is absolutely one of my love languages. When we went back to the park, Ben said that his parents were meeting us to bring a boat for us to take a ride in (sailboats were “our thing” so I thought it was super sweet.) We started paddling, and eventually my arms got tired so I stopped. He started telling me to look at the trees (which were cool, but not cool enough that I thought we needed to talk about them forever). Eventually he told me to turn around, and he was on his knee, holding a beautiful ring and asking me to be his wife. In the moment I had no idea what he was saying - I was so overwhelmed and happy! He slipped the ring on my finger and told me to look at the shore, where our closest friends and family were standing there, lighting paper lanterns (Tangled was one of the first movies we watched together, and I LOVED the lantern part on the boat). If I hadn’t been paddling before, there was no way I was paddling back to shore. The rest of the night was filled with dinner with our people, phone calls, and celebration. 

At first, our engagement was filled with a lot of anxiety for me. I have struggled with anxiety for years, so a huge life change like this was hard for me at first. But one of the sweetest parts of our engagement for me was spending so much time at the feet of The Lord - asking for His heart for our marriage and for our wedding. I started learning even more about joy and celebration, and I wanted that to be the heart of our wedding. Planning our wedding was nothing but sweet for me. There weren’t really moments of stress, just moments of God’s faithfulness and provision, and joy. If I have any advice for brides, it’s to enjoy every moment and posture your heart in joy and thanksgiving instead of stress and concern. Ben was also incredibly supportive and helpful in planning our wedding. He learned that planning a wedding is challenging in some ways, but also really fun. Through all of that, he knew for certain that he wanted to marry me. When I asked him about his experience of planning our wedding, he said, “It was a joy getting the plan not only our wedding day, but the beginning of the rest of our lives too.” 

Getting to design all of our paper goods helped me realize my love of wedding stationery.

Getting to design all of our paper goods helped me realize my love of wedding stationery.

 

When thinking about the greatest joys of planning our wedding, four came to mind:

 

  1. Working with our amazing vendors - it seemed like God hand-picked our vendors for us.
  2. Getting to celebrate with so many of my favorite people. From my bridal shower to bachelorette party to our actual wedding, it really showed me how many people truly cherish us. 
  3. Being able to celebrate our people as they were celebrating us at our wedding. Planning little details to make sure our guests were loved and taken care of was so much fun! 
  4. As much as I loved preparing for our wedding, I loved preparing for our marriage even more. I learned so much about Ben, about myself, and about God’s heart in ways that I never had and those things are so sweet to me.

I asked Ben to come up with a list of his 10 favorite moments from our wedding, and I did the same. Here’s what we came up with:

Victoria's Top Ten: 

-Speaking our vows - I wasn’t prepared for the joy and intimacy that our vows would bring.
-The water not being in the pitchers that we were using to wash each other's feet
-Seeing Ben for the first time as he got pictures with his groomsmen + groomsladies
-The curtain opening after I put on my wedding dress
-The little details that made our wedding “us” - walking down the aisle to the theme song from We Bought a Zoo, wildflower bouquets and centerpieces, going barefoot, his pocket square + my flower wrap being made out of the cardigan from our first date, the mashed potato bar, gluten-free confetti cake.
-Walking/jumping down the aisle as husband and wife
-Dancing with my dad to What a Wonderful World
-Jill + Rose’s speeches
-Seeing a room full of people that love us and wanted to celebrate us
-The sunset - it rained for two weeks before and two weeks after our wedding. We had been praying for so long for no rain. Not only did it stay dry all day, but we had the most incredible sunset!

Ben's Top Ten: 

-Seeing the doors open to reveal my soon to be wife before she walked down the grassy outdoor aisle
-Having an absolute blast with our friends and family during the reception
-My new father in law grabbing me and yelling "hey everybody, this is my son in law!"
-Hanging out with Andrew Rose nonstop for two days
-The fact that so many guests said that they had an amazing time
-Not having water in the basins for the feet washing ceremony
-Everyone having a blast at the rehearsal dinner
-Rose's best man speech
-Rose and Jill's entrance into the reception
-Having some time with my parents and brother before the ceremony started

Ben and I both agree that when it comes to marriage, we love finding joy in the ordinary. I love the busyness and big things about being married and sharing life with another human, but I think I love the slow Sundays with naps and cuddling and home-cooked meals and laughter and movie marathons more than anything. 

We’ve been married for almost a year and a half now, and I can say that I have learned that Ben has more of a servant’s heart than I knew. I knew that he was quick to serve, but oh my word. He always makes sure the people around him are taken care of - whether it’s me, or guests in our home. His first response to things is to serve. And it’s so sweet. When I asked him what he has learned about me, he responded with “DO NOT TOUCH YOUR LUCKY CHARMS. But also that she is an even better wife than I possibly could have imagined.” 

My favorite things about Ben are his love for the outdoors and how he challenges me to do things I’m uncomfortable with, the way he challenges me to think about the things I believe about God, and the way he is a perfect combination of Jim Halpert and Ben Wyatt.

We are so thankful for the gift of marriage, and how God seems to constantly be taking us into greater joy, just like He did during our engagement and our wedding. One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, says, “as long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.” Here’s to always being thankful - for the exciting and the ordinary - and always finding joy. 

Fall Party Sweetness.

October, November and December are my absolute favorite months of the year, and it's not hard to tell why. I love every little thing about these three month, but especially the weather. If I'm being honest, a lot of it has to do with the weather because the summer heat makes me grumpy and I also like to wrap up in blankets with a cup of coffee or tea. I am also that person that loves the boots and sweaters, but I am not the person that loves pumpkin spice lattes, or any of the pumpkin flavored things.

Last year I decided that I wanted to have a Fall Party at my parents' house. My dad is incredibly talented and built a beautiful deck on their house, so I had this vision of some of my closest family and friends gathering on the deck to be cozy and eat all the good food and enjoy the beautiful weather. But living in western PA means that there are more gloomy days than sunny ones, so it rained all day and all evening. That meant celebrating Fall in my grandparents' garage instead of outside in the sun and cool breeze. 

This year was no different. Although I had a vision of exactly how I would decorate the deck and pergola at my parents' house, I was very glad we made the choice to move the party to my grandparents' garage once again, because it absolutely poured in the middle of the party. But even so, we got to eat all the soup and fall desserts and celebrate my favorite season together! 

 

I think I was in Target and Hobby Lobby every single day the week before the party. The dollar section at Target gets me in trouble every single time! And I've never been more excited about paper plates than I was when I saw those shiny copper ones at Hobby Lobby. 

Not even a gluten intolerance could keep me from trying one of the five kinds of brad that my grandma spent all week baking!

Not even a gluten intolerance could keep me from trying one of the five kinds of brad that my grandma spent all week baking!

We had seven different kinds of soup - lentil, stuffed pepper, chicken noodle, clam chowder, cheeseburger, vegetable and broccoli cheddar. I am convinced that one of my love languages is soup, so this filled my heart (and tummy) right up!

Over the summer I got to make two linen banners for a styled wedding shoot. I loved them so much that I decided to make one for the party, complete with a quote from one of my favorites - Anne of Green Gables. It was supposed to hang on a lattice at my parents' house, so it was a little bit too long for behind the food table, but it was still one of my favorite parts of the party!

Over the summer I got to make two linen banners for a styled wedding shoot. I loved them so much that I decided to make one for the party, complete with a quote from one of my favorites - Anne of Green Gables. It was supposed to hang on a lattice at my parents' house, so it was a little bit too long for behind the food table, but it was still one of my favorite parts of the party!

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Like I mentioned previously, one of my favorite things about this time of year is getting cozy with warm drinks like coffee and tea, but also with mulled wine! I wish I could drink it all day long.

My mom makes THE BEST caramel popcorn. She also makes the best frosted sugar cookies!

My mom makes THE BEST caramel popcorn. She also makes the best frosted sugar cookies!

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Handlettering on this pumpkin was easy. Carving that handlettering was not so easy, but it was a fun challenge! Next year maybe I'll stick to a traditional jackolantern. 

Handlettering on this pumpkin was easy. Carving that handlettering was not so easy, but it was a fun challenge! Next year maybe I'll stick to a traditional jackolantern. 

These are my cute grandparents that allowed me to throw a party in their garage. And their dog, Sadie, is my favorite dog on this earth!

These are my cute grandparents that allowed me to throw a party in their garage. And their dog, Sadie, is my favorite dog on this earth!

I'm already starting to pray that next year's weather is sunny and cool! I'm very thankful for friends and family that came to celebrate my favorite season with me, and for a God that created seasons in the first place. 

Such Joy.

“You were full of joy.”

“You could feel the joy in the barn.”

“Your wedding was so joyful and happy.”

 

These phrases were spoken over me often after I got married on that overcast day in June. It seemed so simple and obvious to me at first - of course I was full of joy as I walked down the aisle to marry the man that I had prayed about for so long. But what most people didn’t know, and what I had failed to remember, is that it took a heavy season to get to that point. 

 

I entered into my senior year at Waynesburg University excited about what the school year would hold for me, and the wedding that would happen soon after. I had just gotten engaged that summer, I was loving my major and was excited about my plans for the future, and I had an amazing community of people surrounding me. But that winter brought a season of anxiety that I did not expect and that took me through feelings that I did not want to feel - questioning every little thing about my relationship with my soon to be husband. 

 

One particular day in December, I was at home for Christmas break and I was enjoying my bedroom [side note: my dad is amazing at what he does and turned my bedroom into an introvert’s dream]. My anxiety was running wild that day, so after getting frustrated that I was struggling with so many things, I just asked God “what do I do?” The words that followed that were “joy” and “celebration.” That night I dug out an old notebook from a high school English that sat on my bookcases because I cannot throw anything slightly sentimental away, and I started writing a letter to Ben listing some of the things I adored about him. 

 

I kept writing those letters throughout the rest of our engagement. This is not to be boastful about how cute I am or how sweet our relationship is. This is to say that even in the darkness and in the mess, joy can be found. And celebrating that joy can absolutely change your heart. The days that followed the decision to write those letters were much brighter, and God showed me His heart in ways that I never expected. 

 

That is also the heart behind Oh Joyful Day. Seasons of joy and celebration - engagements, weddings, pregnancies, graduations - can also bring heaviness along with them. Oh Joyful Day was created out of a desire to celebrate, knowing that hearts can be changed when focusing on joy. Whether it’s through calligraphy or coordination or business logos or even email conversations, there is always, always, always joy to be found. My heart is to offer joy to you - in a piece of art for your home, in wedding invitations, in conversation - and extend the freedom that comes with it. May your days be joyful.