Sunday, January 26, 2014

Just Married!

Proverbs 18:22 The Message (MSG)

Find a good spouse, you find a good life—
    and even more: the favor of God!

"Your dad would be so proud of you", I said softly, while tears stung my eyelids. My hand was tucked in his bent elbow as we waited  for the cue to walk into the chapel where he would be married the next day. His smile faltered briefly as the significance of the loss we shared in common bobbed to the surface of our emotions. It wobbled there quietly in the joy and excitement of this milestone event. In less than 24 hours this youngest son would be husband to the woman who had captured his heart.

We bustled through the next hours, he with dangling wedding details to plug into order, and I with hosting his siblings and grandmothering his nieces and nephews. The rehearsal dinner was merry as the different sides of families made their acquaintances. The weather was bitterly cold and the snow a fascination to the Florida grandsons who were meeting the fluffy whiteness for the first time. All the travelers from out of the area had arrived safely, but the local forecast included a winter advisory for the festivities the next day.

After leaving the late night party, following the dinner, Kevin and I headed to our hotel. Since we lived about 90 minutes away from the wedding site, we had reserved the room earlier with my daughter and family, the ones from Florida. The grandsons, 5 and 3 years, would be sharing a cot for the night at the foot of our bed. Hoping bedtime rituals would all be completed and the boys sleeping like angels, we slipped the room key into the door slot and entered quietly. A chorus of greeting came from the cot where the two occupants appeared to be far from entering dreamland. With any peaceful sleep already jeopardized by heightened emotions, I succumbed to the reality of what appeared to promise a sleep challenged night.

Turning the last light out, I sandwiched between the covers of the queen-sized bed next to Kevin. Mommy and daddy were just a nightstand's width away in the other queen bed. Cozy together, we closed our eyes, at least the adults did.

The bickering began.
"Mom, tell Dominic to stay on his side."
"Ian is laying on my blanket."
"I can't go to sleep."
"Why do we have to sleep together? I don't have enough room."

From the parent's bed, "Be quiet now! Stop bothering your brother. Does someone want a bopping?"

Seeing where this was headed,  I voiced a suggestion. "Why doesn't one of you come up here and sleep with Papa, and I'll sleep in your bed?" The swap was made and surprisingly, I wandered off to sleep. My bed mate awoke at some later hour with a nightmare and insisted on mommy's comfort.  When she invited him to her bed, I took advantage of the extra cot space to sleep with limbs arranged in my favorite positions.

We had to be dressed for the 1 pm wedding before room check out at 11:00. The adults called turns in the shower, while some lumbered down to the lobby in their PJs for the slim pickins' hotel breakfast. Saturday morning TV kids' shows kept the boys slightly occupied; driving toy cars over sheet mountain ridges and valleys, or over the slick surfaces of furniture was another way to pass time. We manged to all spiff up in our best duds and spill out of the room, luggage in tow with time to spare. My other son's family (he with the wedding party somewhere else) met us for lunch in a restaurant downtown as we counted down the time to the big event.

Guests were already arriving as we stepped into the chapel. The only family from my kid's dad's side, a sister, was there and wrapped me in an embrace. As I chatted with this sister-in-law and friend, a thought expressed between us stirred emotions, and I felt the loss again with her. The wobbling was a bittersweet blink of tears which quickly gave way to the joy of the present. The missed one would always remain in our hearts and to touch his memory together was a privilege reserved for those he had loved and who still carried his imprint.

I was sitting in the front row next to the man who had encircled my family when he married me. He had stepped into our lives, selflessly providing for our needs and allowing us to find his love solid and without pretense. He had added two children and now more grandchildren to my life. I was grateful for what had been and what was now. God had been very good to me, to us.

My son stood alone in the front waiting patiently for the party, the preacher and his bride to enter. Up close, I could see the anticipation in the faces of those who stepped carefully in to stand on either side of him. My oldest son, had a twinkle in his eye as he proudly took his place as best man. The two brothers look so much alike! The moment had arrived. As Ashley's mother stood to signal us to rise and usher in the bride, I watched her step gracefully to the top of the aisle. Then I turned to watch the groom  watch his bride approach. I could tell he was wearing his emotions close to the surface before, but now his eyes were brimming with tears. As he took her arm from her father's cuddle and turned them both towards the front, guests were reaching for kerchiefs and wiping eyes with their hands.

The ceremony was a beautiful expression of Austin and Ashley's love and desire to join together under God for all of the years of their lives together. The pastor spoke as a mentor who loved them and showed his tender heart for them with a few of his own tears. When he rebuked Austin for bending his head to kiss his bride before he had spoken the final word of the ring ceremony,  we giggled.  When he drew out his final words, and teasingly chided Austin with interjections of 'not quite yet' and 'almost', we laughed. The kiss was finally allowed,  the couple pronounced Mr. and Mrs. and they made a perky exit.

The party gathered in the basement while guests were escorted out to find the reception. There I hugged my new daughter-in-law welcoming her to the family and encircled my son in an emotional embrace. We are entering a new chapter of his life and I'm thankful he has found his Father's joy. Truly, his fathers are proud of who he has become and the desires of his heart to always seek God's will and pleasure.

Congratulations, Austin and Ashley!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Time to Laugh

After a long day of work, I headed to the grocery store, not the time I would have chosen, but the best time I could fit into my schedule. The store was crowded and I had more items than usual to find and toss into the cart. In spite of following the list closely I ended up missing the raisins and zigzagged, backtracked, asked directions from a stocker until I finally located the wrinkled goodies in Aisle 6.  I smiled to the checkout bagger and headed for the exit with the cart full of grocery bags stacked up off-kilter like a child's block tower, anxious to get on home.  As I stepped from the sliding doors to the outside of the store I discovered it was raining more than a drizzle's worth, and I hunkered down into my neck scarf and prepared for the sloshy -cart -pushing -dash to the car. Confident this time that I knew where I had parked, I beelined for the far side of the parking lot. Less than 20 steps later I realized I had first thought of parking where I was headed and then had changed my mind and gone to the other end of the car laden lot. By now I was in the last parking aisle on the edge of things, in more ways than one. This lane had a concrete barrier along one side so there were no diagonal moves to a shortcut to my car--only to continue a long way straight ahead to the end of the barrier where I could then turn and head across two other aisles to my golden 4-wheeled haven that awaited me. The rain was drenching my hair, the plastic bags were failing to protect the groceries, and the puddles from melting snow were getting deeper the farther I trudged. Laughing at myself, I imagined the watching people in the cars I encountered,  probably making sport of the older lady who had "lost" her car.  I would not get an exercise session in that day because of time commitments, so I thanked God for the unexpected round-about jaunt that added steps to my day.

Wouldn't there always be something to be thankful for in the mistakes, blunders and predicaments we get ourselves into if only we'd look for the positive and laugh at the absurd?

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thes, 5:16-18

Lord, help me be quick to acknowledge your goodness that is always with me. In all the moments of life your love is everlasting.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

ThereS now Better Way to Bring in the New Year!

 Tunneling into 2014- Snow is Beautiful and the Weather is Cold!
For the beauty of the earth,
for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise. 

After it's all said and done
In spite of the hype and celebration of turning the calendar over into a new year, many of us want to take one last glance into the rear view mirror and make a summary of the last 12 months we've journeyed through. Here's my backwards glance.

Category 1
What did I accomplish during those 525, 600 minutes?
Hopefully more than this list, but here are some highlights.

-My blog gained one entry per week; almost every week
-I can boast of meeting and talking to a successful author (Jeanette Oke)
-I  see growth emotionally and spiritually-follow those footsteps and you'll see some backtracking and sliding off the trail; but definitely movement forward
-Kevin and I took our first mission trip together, which we had talked about doing ever since we got married
-God answered prayers for our kids in various ways; two sons found a mate to love 
-Kevin and I actually know some ballroom dancing! Whether we can pass that knowledge to our limbs on demand is still unpredictable, but we keep trying and enjoying the process
-I've grown professionally as my job has taken on more responsibilities
-Kevin and I edited a photo book of Kevin’s parent’s life’s history

Category 2
What changed?

-we cut ties with a Honda and embraced a Prius
-I entered a new decade and my body reminds me often that it is now what it used to be
-each of the grandkids became a year older and continue to show more of the person God has created them to be
-our church body has gone through some significant changes-friends have left and our pastor is stepping down to make room for a younger leader
- a daughter moves her family to VA. where her husband found a job
-stores downtown do some juggling and a new pretzel vendor moves in :)

Category 3
What stayed the same?

-friends who we can share a meal with, plan a card night with and do breakfast with every Saturday morning
-neighbors who can come over in a blizzard to keep us company
-senior status stuff  like misplacing glasses, getting AARP mail , not wanting to do housework-it's nice to finally have something to blame it on :)
-a faithful husband who loves me
-the house we live in--although it did get a new furnace this fall
-a God who is always with me and keeps turning everything into good, and loves me unconditionally

Category 4

What do I hope for in 2014?

-to get further into loving others as God loves me
-write, write and write some more
-growing closer to my friends and family, enjoying the life we share
-being fully vested in my church and allowing God to use my gifts
-growing another year older, gracefully!
-to have fun; creative times, travel, good books to read, movies to watch...
-to get involved in places and people who need to know and feel God's love

Go before us and prepare our path. Redeem the past as only You can. Grow our hearts in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep drawing us close, even when we seem distracted, especially when we are distracted. Glorify your name through your people and may your kingdom come and your will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Amen.