Thursday, July 19, 2012

Going to the Chapel!

We're getting married! ... NEXT MONTH! August 25th to be exact!

I know that this is a big change from our June 15th, 2013 date, but we could not be more excited!

God has really been working on our hearts, and after prayer and heavy thinking about why we were waiting, we decided to change the date!

It was a decision that left me struggling at first. What about the wedding we had been planning? The church? The caterer? The reception hall? The DJ? Do we disregard those plans entirely? Originally, we thought, "Why don't we have a small ceremony now, with a big reception as our one year anniversary party?" The places were opened then, and we felt so blessed! If we were feeling called to get married now, we were following it. Even if that meant having a less-than-traditional big day, I mean big-days.

But then the girl in me kicked in. And the thinking about other people. I hated the idea of asking all of our loved ones to travel twice. Ray has 4 brothers and a sister. My mom is one of five. Ray's mom is one of eight. Then you throw in their spouses and our first cousins. Even if we tried to have a "small" wedding, it would still be a boo-coo of people. There was no way we could ask all of them to travel here for a wedding this year and then a reception on our one year anniversary. It would be waaaay to much of a hassle. So we decided that we might have to sacrifice our reception. Call our down payments on everything a loss, and just have a simple cake and punch reception.

But you know how God is the author and perfecter of all things awesome? Yeah. He did just that in our  lives this week. The DJ was able to shuffle his schedule, the caterer was open, and the reception hall just had a cancellation on that date this week. I literally cried in excitement. I cannot believe God is blessing us this much. We get to have the wedding we had been planning!

The funny thing about all of this is that when Ray and I were first picking out our date, I asked him if we could have a small wedding this year, and had actually mentioned August 25th. Him, knowing how crazy I am about planning, convinced me to go for something farther off. More time to plan, less of a rush, several sound reasons. But God has a way of changing your heart and making you see what's truly important.

Our wedding day is about us and starting our life together. It is about committing ourselves to each other in front of Jesus and those we love the most. It is about celebrating that we found "the one whom our soul loves" (Song of Solomon 3:4). It is about marrying the most incredible man on the entire planet who puts up with all of my "devilbook" using, my recent obsession with Twitter, my need to be organized in all areas of my life, and my everyday emotional roller coaster I drag him on. It is about becoming one family who is dedicated to serving Jesus and loving others. It is about rejoicing over our future.

It is about all of those things and so much more. About realizing that it's not about the day. Or the invitations. Or the groomswear. Or people approving of our menu choices. Because by-gum, I just don't care. I don't care what people think. Because if they don't like it, that's just too bad. This day isn't about them. It's about us and starting our life together.

That said, I'll be keeping you posted on how things progress this next month! It is going to be crazy, CRAZY busy, but we are absolutely thrilled.

Thank you to everyone who has gone above and beyond to help this come together. Without you helping us on our invitations, making our flowers, altering my dress, allowing your children to be our ring bearer and flower girl, frantically looking for dresses, and calling all over everywhere to help the details come together, this would not be possible. God has truly blessed us by placing you all in our lives. We love you from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to the day when we can serve you. 

Smile often,
-Soon(er)-to-be Mrs. Stephanie Lynn Lewis

Saturday, July 7, 2012

It will never happen to me...

So we all hear about Internet safety. We get warned in school, by our parents, through the media. And we all think it will never happen to us. Or that those who become victims by the creepers on the web are somehow at fault for being so stupid as to publicly display their personal information. That's way we all think right? I mean, I'm guilty of it. "Well it's no wonder that girl got murdered, she met up with some guy on the internet. Doesn't she realize how many people get killed that way!"

I always thought like that. 

Until I suddenly became a victim. 

You know how you have those nightmares where someone is following you or trying to get to you? I had one the other night. It was so real that my thrashing to get away from the guy actually woke me up. There is nothing worse than a realistic dream like that. 

Until that realistic dream suddenly hits a chord of reality. 

Friday morning at 4:30 my phone rang with a number I didn't recognize. Having no idea who would be calling me in the middle of the night I answered my phone in a half asleep stupor. 
"Yeah. Who is this?"
"This is Mike."
"Mike who?"
"You don't know me?"
"No. Mike who?"
(laughs) "We talked..."
"No. We didn't. Who are you? How did you get my number?"
(laughs) "I found you on Facebook." 

In an instant I was wide awake, my heart was racing, and chills were flying through my body. Fear greater beyond comprehension gripped every fiber of my body. ...No. This only happens in movies.

Or so I liked to believe. 

The conversation progressed about how he found me, wanted to come meet me, and how he wanted sex from me. I mentioned having a fiancĂ© hoping in my naivety that he would suddenly change his mind. That, however, seemed to only make him more aggressive. 

I felt like I couldn't talk. I felt paralyzed. Thank God, Ray happened to be staying at my house that evening. I handed the phone to him as the reality of what was happening took my breath away. 

The next few minutes seemed like hours as Ray tried to convince the guy to leave me alone, combating his threats with consequences of if he came near me. Ray snapped into action as he quickly hung up and dialed the Carbondale police station. Meanwhile, the creeper calls back without leaving a voicemail.

The next few hours flashed by like minutes. The officer arriving, asking us questions, and realizing that no, this is not phone harassment by some ex, or some guy, or someone I know like the police originally thought. Then the phone rings again. Placing the phone on speaker, I answer. 
"What do you want from me?"

At this point, the officer took the phone and informed him that this is no longer a game. Mike, on the other hand, didn't seem to care what the policeman has to say. He refused to give any information. The officer hung up. He then proceeded to tell me to have his number blocked, not to worry, etc. Then Mike called back.

The officer answered. 
Mike's response? "Excuse me. I didn't call to talk to you. Put Stephanie back on the phone." 

Me. Why me? What did I do? I made no effort to ever contact someone I didn't know online. I set my entire page to friends only. I have a picture of me and my fiancĂ© as my display picture. I don't have revealing pictures. I don't have drunken pictures. I have nothing, nothing on my page eluding to the idea that I am someone who is ok with this. Why out of every person on the internet did this guy find and pick me? 

More discussion with the officer happened, and at 6:30 he left. It was over. It was done. I'd have his number blocked. It was over. The police were going to take care of it. 

Ray, furious and protective, took the day off and went to work with me at camp. We pulled in about 9:30 and boom. My phone rings again. This time, I am more determined than ever to figure out why me. I am sure he has no reason, but I just hoped that I could say something that would lead him to give me an answer. Instead, Mike became extremely aggressive and explicit. Which led me to hang up. 

Minutes later he called again. 

"Hanging up on me wasn't nice..."
"Stephanie. Don't you understand. I wandered the internet. I found you. This is how it happens. ....I'm just obsessed with you." 

Those words. "Obsessed with you." I still hear them. It's only been a day, but I still hear them. They still ring through my ears. They still twist their way down my spine. They still grip ever fiber of me with fear. What if he's serious? What if he isn't just a creeper who is far away, who found my number, and will stop calling me? What if he's more? What if he knows me? What if he found his way onto my page? What if he knows where I live? What if he knows where I work? Who knows what he could know about me? 

Obsessed with me. 

I instantly called the police station back, and got a terrific dispatcher who didn't seem to care about anything I was going through. Awesome. So thankful for the help. 

Mike called back 4 more times without leaving voicemail. 

Then, nothing. No more calls. Just to be safe, I had his number blocked that afternoon, but he didn't try for those few hours in between.

I went to the police station when I got back in town, and found out his phone was still turned on and was located near Chicago. Not the greatest news, because the police didn't know anything more than the town in which it was located, but at least he isn't in Carbondale. 

I know it's not over. I know I have a lot more to handle with the police. And I know he could still easily contact me again. (Which if he does, will hopefully give the police enough reason to actually do something about it...) But they seem to believe he's just a creeper. A prowler. Looking for a quick fix on some female prey, and once he has to put forth any more effort will move on. 

But what if he's not. 

I'm not telling this story to be dramatic about what happened to me this week. I'm telling it, because I never thought this would happen to me. Because I thought I was safe, and that this only happened to people who purposefully put themselves out there for this to happen. This guy could very well be what the police described. He could just move on, calling female after female. But he could not be just that. He could be more. He could be following me. He could be stalking me. He could be that guy you see on TV who becomes obsessed and does come after me. 

It is that possibility, and that conclusion which brings me to my point. I thought I was safe. I had my page set to friends only. My page. My pictures, my school, my work, my details, all private. ...Except my phone number. 

I have my number on there so people from camp and school can get a hold of me. I often end up calling someone from class over some project, and I got their number on Facebook. Having my number on there wasn't my problem. Instead, it was my ignorance of Facebook's privacy policy that was the issue. 

On your page, you have several privacy settings. Just because your default setting is friends only, doesn't mean your contact information is. Instead, you have to manually set your phone number and email to friends only instead of public. This is a change from what it used to be, and it was a change of which I had no idea. 

So please, for your sake, just take two minutes and check your settings. Make sure you don't make the same mistake I did. Because, believe me, things like this don't just happen on TV. 

-Stephanie Lynn