Chris & Susan Wachtel Wedding Video – 10/4/08 Becoming One

This video is comprised of pictures and audio from our wedding which took place on October 4th, 2008.

Most importantly we thank Jesus Christ, the Author and Finisher of our faith for bringing Chris and I together when it seemed all but impossible. For holding our marriage together as we learn to grow together.

There are so many people to thank who helped in all aspects of our wedding. We are so grateful for our family and friends love and support, both now and then. Without it, our marriage would not be nearly as rich.

Thank you Donna and Jay Hoyt for standing with me in place of my parents. Thank you to the Silvestri family Denise, Pete, Travis, Reed, Alyssa, Scott, Susan and Danica for being there. Thank you Susan for taking care of my make up!

Thank you to my new family for taking me in…Ron and Carol, Cindy, Molly and Nathan, Kylan and Madison, Andrew and Amber, Hannah and Zoe and Casey too. I look forward to a lifetime getting to know you.

Thank you to Pastor Dave Dunn…for performing our wedding ceremony…you did a marvelous job and made it so memorable and personal. Thank you to Chance Conner who performed the songs for our wedding…thank you for sharing your talents on our special day. Thank you to our wedding photographer Sherry Hebestreit and Mike Farrel who did the audio and video for our wedding.

Thank you to Chris, my beloved husband. Thank you for marrying me and loving me, working through the hard times and laughing with me during the good times. I love you so much. You are a good man and I am most blessed by God to call you my husband. Love you Dub! Happy 1st Anniversary!

“So, what are you doing on Saturday?”

“So, what are you doing on Saturday?”, Chris asked.

Trust me…if I had known what was following that question…I’d have wrapped up my answer right quick and said, “Not much, why…what did you want to do?”

But instead I was blissfully ignorant as to what Chris wanted to do. So I droned on and on that I needed to go to Washington Mutual to take proof that my mother had died…and get their help wrapping up her affairs. While it’s been one month since she died…there are still a lot of details to work out.

But Chris waited patiently until I stopped talking. I’m not even sure what happened next…if I asked him what he wanted to do…or if he just said it. I guess I should have suspected something because this was the second day in a row that Chris asked about Saturday.

Chris volunteered, “Well…I had something in mind that I’d like us to do.”

I’m thinking maybe it’s the hot air balloon ride that he talked about recently. Maybe he’s made arrangements for us to go out to celebrate our third month anniversary. Three months…but I keep looking at the calendar and I’m certain…it must be three years…or has it been ten or twenty years? Surely we can’t have only known each other for only three months now could we?

“I’d like for us to go shopping for an engagement ring.” When Chris saw the quizzical look on my face…he realized he needed to explain further. “Susan Harriett Bunts, will you be my bride?”

Holy smokes…this is something I’ve been waiting for, for my entire life. Something I’ve dreamed about…but never really let myself believe would happen…just in case God had a different plan. But those words had actually been spoken…and not on some movie screen…and it wasn’t someone recounting their wonderful engagement story. But instead Chris Wachtel was actually proposing to me! Holy Mackanole!!! Imagine that. Wow God…You truly are the best Matchmaker. Wow!

I’m sure my jaw dropped open and just plain stayed there. That is in between the “Wows” and the “Are you’re serious?” Finally when I realized…that Chris wasn’t just yanking my chain…I figured that I’d better seal the deal with an emphatic, “Yes”! “Yes Chris, I’d love to marry you. I love you so much!”

I’m not sure how many times I said “Wow” or how many times I asked if Chris if he was serious before I realized…this is the real deal. This man…whom I have come to love so deeply in so short a time…has actually asked me to marry him. And I said, “Yes!”

I cautioned Chris that this is going to be for life…till death do us part. He’s got two options to get out of our marriage…death or the rapture. I feel like I’ve won the lottery…got the grand prize. I reminded Chris that my flaws far out weigh any good attributes…but that didn’t seem to act as a deterrent. Instead he felt the same certitude that I do about him. This is the right thing and the right time.

We are so excited to see what God is going to do in and through us. We both want to have God at the center of our relationship and use it to bring Him praise, glory and honor.

Chris and I are very much aware of what a miracle God has already done in bringing us together. Two broken people…so unworthy. Unworthy of God, His salvation and unworthy of each other and the love we have for one another. But we serve a big God. One who is bigger still. Our problems, flaws, hurts, pain and the baggage that we will both bring to our marriage…are out shadowed by our God.

To the many people who I shamelessly and repeatedly asked to pray that God would bring me a husband…I thank you. You are many…because while I was ready to accept God’s will…I didn’t want to get to heaven only to find out that I didn’t have it because I didn’t ask for it.

To Michael Paddison…the man that God used to bring Chris and me together…we are eternally grateful. Thank goodness that you had eyes to see that which we could not see. You were right.

While we don’t have a date set yet…and the details we will need to work out are plentiful…I don’t want to miss the marriage because of the engagement period or wedding. I am so looking forward to our marriage Chris and the road we will take to get there…and the path God will lead us on.

Chris…you are the love of my life. I don’t want to miss one day without you.

Thank You Jesus!

Fiancée, engaged, married, wedding, wife…those are some words I never expected to hear associated with me. Thank you Chris for making my life long dream come true. I’m glad that dream is coming true with you.

Encore, Encore

I have an encore performance from the honorable Mike Paddison. Mike first made his debut acting as defense attorney for my kitty Rudy. Rudy had been caught in the act of absconding with Christmas tree ornaments. He was entirely unrepentant and continued in his wayward actions. Mike successfully cast aspersions on the camera operator…namely me…and all charges were dropped on little Rudy’s pending case. Since Christmas has concluded…you will be pleased to know that Rudy has not swiped any more ornaments.

Mike wears many hats…husband…father…friend…CBS Core Leader…audio ministry CD guy…chief trouble maker and more. Mike has skills I recently discovered out of the blue. Mr. Paddison…likes to stay up late working on the computer. That’s usually about the time I’m finishing up an article. No matter how many times I proof something…a boo, boo or two will slip through. But now I have the unofficial editor of Susan’s Blog. When I’m finishing up an article…I’ll check to see if the night owl is up. If he is…I shoot him over an article for proofing.

Last night I did that…and my editor had closed shop for the day. But this afternoon he got back to me with corrections and a recommendation. Mike was concerned that on most recent piece, “Costly Sin”, that I left the impression that I am currently engaged in a sinful lifestyle…as I outlined the perils and cost of sin in a Christian’s life.

I did make some changes per Mike’s recommendation…but find that when I write…it’s more effective when I personalize it. When I observe a friend, co-worker or family member’s life, behavior or words…that sparks an idea for an article…I try to personalize it. It’s all too easy for me to write articles that are “you” focused.

I can write: “Christian friend…when you are walking in sin you are saying Jesus Christ saves you…but can’t deliver you from your sins.”

Or I can say: “When I’m walking in sin…I’m saying Jesus Christ saves me…but can’t deliver me from my sins.”

It’s probably a matter of style…but I think…and it’s my prayer that people hear things more easily when I don’t point my finger I their face…and say “you”. It’s also important that I apply the lessons I see in other people’s lives. I don’t need to make the same mistakes to learn from them.

So while I’m not actively living in a sinful lifestyle…may I be ever mindful…there but for the grace of God, there go I.

Below are some comments from Mike Paddison that I found quite compelling. Thank you Mike…for taking on the unofficial role of editor. I am most grateful. Thank you for your words of wisdom.

“You don’t do any of those things as a pattern of your life style. You, or any of us, may not be the most perfect witnesses. We may not tell everyone we meet about Jesus. In fact, we may not even tell those who we see all the time about Jesus. But, like Philip De Courcy said today, we do have to live it in front of them. We are called to STUDY God’s Word, LIVE God’s Word, and then TEACH God’s Word. So, how do we, those of us who are not pastors, teach God’s Word. We do it by how we live our lives. There’s that old saying, “Be a witness for Christ, and if necessary, use words.” Live it in front of the world, and if God opens up the opportunity to talk to someone about Him.”

Dependable Faith…Tried, Tested & True

At times the topic of faith seems like the subject du jour. If I’m not in the middle of a crisis…I’m analyzing the last one I went through…examining my successes and failures. Sometimes it feels like for every time I get it right…trust God and believe Him in faith…I falter and fail twice as much.

At times I feel that my faith walk with God should in reality be called my faith wrestle with God. I feel like such a faith failure and wonder why God ever bothered to choose me. A Christian having failure of faith…probably isn’t the best witness to an unbelieving world. But I found reassurance when I heard Beth Moore say that when you wrestle with someone…it’s up close and personal. You are right there with them.

So while my wrestling may not be pretty….it’s real and honest. Maybe the best thing to take away from it…I’m still there wrestling…I’m hanging in and hanging on. Hanging on to Jesus.

In the past couple of days…I recorded some random thoughts about faith…and trusting God. Believing that He is who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do.

When I pray and God is not answering my prayers…I know God can act and in the past has acted. But for whatever reason…He chooses not to do so now. At those times…I just don’t understand. I don’t know why He chooses not to answer some prayers. Sometimes getting over that faith barrier seems insurmountable when I’m not able to do anything to move the hand of God.

I won’t know for sure this side of heaven why God permits some things. But if I might suggest this…God wants me to praise Him and trust Him even when the answer is no. Look at Job and how much affliction he suffered unabated for so long. I think part of it is surrendering to His will and continuing to know that He is good…even when it doesn’t feel like it. Will I continue to trust Him…will I continue to reach out and pray anyway? Will I praise Him when the answer is not forthcoming or the answer is no?

Sometimes it’s harder to trust God when my prayer is unanswered than when His answer is no.

With a human being…if they have the ability to do something good and help…but refuse to help it reflects poorly on their character and heart. But the same does not hold true with God. His purposes are not only our immediate present here and now. He is looking at a greater good…and heavenly eternal lasting rewards. I want relief right now. Sometimes that will not achieve His greater plan. Thus His ways are higher than our ways…His thoughts are not our thoughts.

I think perhaps it’s about surrendering at a heart level. Knowing and believing that God is good and that He does love me…even when He allows pain and hurt and loneliness to continue…even when I don’t understand it.

I remember one of Pastor Philip De Courcy’s messages at Kindred Community Church….it was called Back from the Dead? He said that Jesus said to Mary and Mary…”For your sake I’m glad he’s dead…” Philip paused there and expanded on why Jesus…and God the Father may be glad in our pain and sorrow. Because He is in the process of working out a greater good.

His eyes are focused…far beyond…He can see the good in our immediate pain and difficulty. He knows how He’s changing us and using our circumstances to grow us…or to reach others. So…yes…in some respects God does want us to experience pain. But not for ill or bad purposed…but for good…and greater glory.

Doesn’t feel too good now does it. To know that there is One who is able to help…but He doesn’t. It hurts. My friend Mike Paddison recently observed that unanswered pray feels like rejection. Never thought of it like that…but yes it’s an apt description.

As I’m going back through and listening to Pastor Chuck Obremski’s Luke study…I’m relearning a lot about faith. Pastor Chuck reminded us that faith isn’t real until it’s tested. It can’t be depended upon until it’s tested. There are days I don’t like buying that notion…but honestly Chuck’s faith was among the most real that I’ve seen.
Faith that is purified and refined…goes through the fire. Will mine come out as pure gold?

Rudy…Guilty as Charged?

AHA, the evidence is over whelming against this criminal your honor. It is obvious he is guilty, he has been caught red-pawed. I suggest you throw the catnip at him.

But your honor, the video has also proven that this guilty party had an accomplice. Your honor, if you’ll notice the camera followed the progression of this crime thereby suggesting that the camera operator was highly involved in aiding, abetting, and allowing this crime to take place. Rather than doing anything at all to stop this crime from taking place, the camera operator allowed it to progress. It is my contention that the camera operator was videoing this crime as a trophy, and to keep a record of this “Christmas decoration destroying gangs” exploits. Your honor, I suggest you also throw the catnip at the accomplice.

I rest my case.

The Honorable Michael Paddison presiding…making his first guest appearance on Susan’s Blog

Spirit of Christmas

Michael was right…well mostly.

I think yesterday was my first real Thanksgiving dinner since before my step-dad Joe died in 2001. In the year or two preceding his death…Thanksgiving and Christmas were much different than early years. The large family gathering had dwindled greatly. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas that found Joe, Gayle and me in the car looking for a restaurant to dine at. While it’s good to be with family and loved ones…there’s just something about a sandwich at a restaurant that doesn’t evoke the feelings as a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at home.

After Joe died…the next Thanksgiving was spent with my mom Gayle…who about seven months later would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. With the foresight of hindsight…I finally understood why she was acting so odd. What seemed unusual then…would soon become our reality over the next six years and continuing to this day.

So when the invitation came to join the Morgan family for Thanksgiving I was most grateful. I so looked forward to a regular Thanksgiving. My sister Denise and I stopped by to see Gayle in the morning before heading off our separate ways. In some respects I did feel bad that I didn’t spend the day with Gayle. In recent years…we have had a “new kind of Thanksgiving” which included me spending the afternoon with her…watching a Christmas movie and putting up her Christmas decorations. But this year…I was eager for a normal Thanksgiving Day.

This was my first time over at the Morgan’s. As I drove down the tree lined street…I knew I would fall in love with the house. A house with old wooden floors and antiques…and pictures of ancestors hanging on the walls. Let’s just say…I could spend the afternoon looking about at all the treasures. From hearing stories of the tree planted in the backyard almost 50 years when Daniel was 2 years old…to the story of great grandfather who lived during the Civil War…I was enchanted as I beheld his picture and heard the wind blowing the leaves of the tree planted so long ago.

A meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce was topped off by a slice of yummy pumpkin pie. An afternoon walk seemed just right as I looked up at the trees that lined the street and was regaled with stories of what it was like to grow up in the neighborhood.

It’s odd because just a couple of miles away…I spent my sixth grade year…sharing an apartment with my mom. She was in nursing schooling following the death of my dad. I was what would be termed a “latch key kid”. It made me wonder…did we ever pass one another at the store or meet each other all those years ago?

Just as I was thinking I was being obnoxious for staying so late…I planned to bow out at half time during the big USC vs. Arizona State ball game. But that plan was quickly laid to rest as we chatted about movies. Jerry and Louise told me about one of their favorite movies “Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines”. Half time came…and on went the movie. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The movie was made in 1965 long before ethnic humor was a no, no. I found myself quite smitten with Stuart Whitman…and looked forward to his movie scenes.

So after a wonderful day like that…how could I be downcast, tearful and feel devoid of the Christmas spirit? Let’s just say…I’m wrestling with God again. This time over His timing and trying to trust His good and perfect plan for me. I found myself…walking by sight…not faith as His word commands.

This morning I was greeted with an email from Mike Paddison as we exchanged post Thanksgiving greetings. Mike reported that he and his wife Jo had a nice Thanksgiving and were getting started on putting up Christmas decorations.

I filled him in on my Thanksgiving Day…and my struggle with God. I ended by telling him…I wasn’t even sure if I would decorate for Christmas. Mike encouraged me to put on some Christmas music…and the Christmas spirit would follow.

Well Michael wasn’t far off. Following a trip to the Main Place Mall I felt ready to get out the decorations. I ran into a snafu with my new Christmas tree…which necessitated a trip to the store to make an exchange. In the car…I put my new Josh Grogan Christmas CD in the player. As I was driving home on this clear windy night…Josh was singing The Little Drummer Boy.

That song has never impressed me to any degree…so I was surprised when I was quite moved by his rendition. My mind was flooded with thoughts…on being poor and having nothing to offer my Savior. I was reminded of one the beatitudes “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Suddenly my “sight walking faith” seemed to bear witness to my being so poor in spirit. But thank you Lord that I have the assurance of being with You in heaven in spite of my poor spirit.

Jesus…I’m sorry I keep looking with my physical eyes…and looking at my past. I haven’t been looking at my Savior who has power over sin and death. He who can bring victory over all my circumstances. Like Mary and Martha looking at dead Lazarus, I cry out “Where were you Lord? If only you had been here.”

But Jesus was about to work a miracle. Where their faith and sight walking ended…Jesus was going to perform a miracle. Oh Jesus I pray that You will work a miracle in me and my life too. I confess I am so poor in spirit. But nothing, no nothing is impossible with You!

Remember No More

To some it might sound like a pretentious protest…when I say “I like Paul can say I am chief among sinners”…and threaten to overtake him in holding that title.
But I know me…and my heart and I know where I came from. While I regret some choices…I can’t take them back or make them go away.

Oh I know that God has forgiven me. Receiving His forgiveness has never been an issue for me. I know I am so hopelessly lost without Him…I had no choice but look up and receive. That’s a good place to be.

But I guess I can’t quite comprehend that He has chosen to not only forgive, but remember my sins no more. Wow!

That truth was pointed out to me by Mike Paddison as we got side tracked on our ongoing debate of the Calvinist verses Armenian view of salvation. Mike threw a few scripture verse my way…and dared me to step over them. Of course I couldn’t. To do so would be to claim that the Bible was in error.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” – Jeremiah 31:34

For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more. – Hebrews 8:12

Then he adds:
“Their sins and lawless acts
I will remember no more.” – Hebrew 10:17

I tried to comprehend how an all knowing God can choose to “Remember no more”.

How can He who knows all things…not remember that which I am so keenly aware of? An awareness that not so much condemns me as it keeps me humble. If my remembering keeps me humble…that a good thing.

When someone sins against me…do I choose to forgive and remember their sin no more? While I have so very far to go…thankfully the Lord continues to grow me and shape me.

Just think…in heaven…there will be no need for us to be forgiving one another. People will no longer intentionally cause offense or hurt. We will no longer sin…against God or man. We have been cleansed and made whiter than snow. In heaven we will truly be able to walk in His forgiveness and purifying transforming power.

Do I grab hold of that today…so much so that I experience freedom in Christ? Am I an attractive witness to that freedom in Christ to an unbelieving world?

Think about it…He who knows all things…chooses to remember my sin no more. Chooses…ongoing…present…active.

He whom I offended…whom I sinned against…He remembers no more. By an act of His will. He who received punishment upon His body all because of my sin. He who let them drive nails through His hands and feet and stayed upon that cross…so that my sins would be forgiven. That same Jesus…is the one whose blood was shed, like the sacrificial lamb…and not only covered….but took my sins away.

How many times when I suffer because of another do I instead choose to complain?