a bridal shower, of sorts

Oh covid. Changes everything, doesn’t it?

I mentioned a few posts back that my daughter Grace is engaged to be married this coming June 12. We have been busy making plans and on Friday we were intending to drive five hours to her (she’s in Pennsylvania, a senior in college) so that we could do the following:

  1. and by we, I mean myself, my husband Rich, my sister Amanda, her daughter Naomi, my son’s fiancé Brittnee, and my daughter Sarah.
  2. check into the hotel, where we had reserved two entire suites so we had plenty of room.
  3. get Grace from college so she could be with us for the weekend.
  4. go to my brother David and his wife Ann’s house to visit
  5. go out to eat with them, adults only, while the girls watched a movie at their house
  6. go back to hotel to sleep
  7. go back to David and Ann’s for more visiting, and breakfast
  8. leave from there to drive 2 hours to a bridal salon that Grace’s fiancé’s grandmother used to own, which still contains some of the dresses she had stocked there herself.
  9. spend time supporting Grace as she tried on dresses and hopefully find one
  10. then go back to the hotel
  11. church with Grace and Brogan, and my best friend Joanna, on Sunday morning
  12. bridal shower for her on Sunday afternoon

I was a little anxious about these plans because of the sheer magnitude of them. These were plans upon plans and more plans. However, I went through the week trying not to think much about all that we wanted to do, and instead, just took things one day at a time, one event at a time, one chore, one afternoon, and sometimes one hour, at a time. Also, maintaining a sense of flexibility and humor is a great help.

Well, then we got word that the bridal shower was now going to be a “drive through” shower because of Covid.

Then, we got word that the Bridal shower was being cancelled entirely because of Covid and the desire to keep people safe.

And THEN, on Thursday, the day before we were supposed to leave for this adventure, Grace called to tell us that there was Covid in her dorm, Covid elsewhere on campus, and she herself had a “sore throat but it wasn’t that bad and it already went away.” Her Dad and I talked about what to do. She wasn’t able to get a rapid covid test until the next day and if we waited until then we would lose our deposit on the hotel rooms. We DID want very badly to be there for our daughter, as it was an important weekend for her. We DID NOT want to drive all that way and then end up not being able to do anything. We also felt there was a slight but very real chance we ourselves could get the virus and then what would we do (manage, but still). We talked to mom and dad and they helped us with the hard but sensible decision to stay home.

Grace was on her own. But wait, noooooooooo………that’s not true, because she never was and never will be on her own. God in His love and kindness arranged the weekend for her ahead of time, and He knew that she would be just fine. She had her rapid-Covid test done (which was negative!!) and with relief, she was able to continue with her dress shopping. She’s tired today, yes, but on Saturday, with her mom and dad and (some) siblings watching and involved through a zoom meeting (!!!!!) she found the most beautiful wedding dress of her dreams. Brogan’s loving and capable Grandmother helped her each moment. And then today she was taken out to lunch at a pretty club by Brogan’s family and given some lovely gifts.

It was a great lesson for us, because yes as parents we have great responsibility for each of our children and no one can take our place in their lives, but at the same time, we are not so important that we can’t step back and let go when absolutely necessary, and watch them handle life on their own, with God’s help and with the help of friends and sometimes even strangers. Truly there is no need to be anxious, only expectant.

Grace is being showered with encouragement and love (a bridal shower, of sorts) in a variety of ways. As her mama I see it clearly, and I’m sure there are a lot more stories she could tell me. How could we keep from smiling?

We wish we could have been there in person, but really, it did work out beautifully.

We all have stories like this we could tell. Isn’t it encouraging?

This is the moment that Sarah was waiting for. The moment she found out that she was going to be asked by her big sister to be in her wedding as her “Junior Maid of Honor”.

“I will cause showers to come down
in their season;
they will be showers of blessing.”

a beautiful day, part 2

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Such is Isaac’s lot in life, to be the “baby” of our family….I am sure that for him it is sometimes the cause of frustration, to more than likely be treated always as “the younger one”.  But, for the rest of the family, having a baby such as Isaac to enjoy and be proud of has been a source of joy and gladness.  I was almost 12 when he was born, and oh how big sister doted on her baby brother.  I had begged mom to “have another baby!” and the Lord had answered the desire of my young heart.  I have three other younger siblings, but they arrived during my even-younger years, so that there is a hazy mist covering over much of those memories.  But with Isaac, I can remember clearly many parts of his babyhood, and childhood.

All this to say, as his big sister, I delighted in his wedding.  I felt proud and cheerful, as I witnessed his joy in his beloved bride, Cassandra.  The two of them are a lovely couple.  She looks at him, and he looks at her, with love, friendship, and peace.  As they are both Christians, their relationship is full of the Holy Spirit, and His fruit.  I was talking to a friend at church the day after the wedding and he spoke from his heart when he said he looks forward to seeing great things from Isaac and Cassandra’s marriage.  Not that they are any more special than any other Christian couple, but it is what Christ himself does for all relationships in this world that makes life, and living in Him, and because of Him, beautiful.  To follow His ways, the Scriptures, and to let those truths grow in us, is the way to LIFE abundant.

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My dear friend Joanna was the master of this woodland photo shoot, her pictures will be the perfect ones, I almost feel guilty in sharing my own because they are a poor reflection of the magic she can do with her camera.  If and when she posts her final product online, I will be sure to share the link, or to share them here, with her permission, on my blog.  I think she was up on a ladder during this portion of the shoot.  I was holding it with one hand, and my camera in the other.  We opened the shoot with a prayer of God’s blessing on these images, that Isaac and Cassandra would look back on this day and see in the pictures exactly what they were feeling in their hearts.

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Even though Joanna and I kept our camera’s eye on them the entire time, and we four all had fun together, the two of them truly had eyes only for each other, which I noticed and found so dear.  They talked to each other, but it was mostly Isaac keeping up the banter, helping his Cassandra to feel relaxed, with an honest smile on her face (it can be awkward to keep smiling for pictures!)

Which is why I especially love this next picture, because they are in their own little world…….talking a little bit, leaning in close, and she looks a little puzzled, all in good fun.

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Then, to face the camera with their smiles::

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us:  He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  We know that we live in him and he in us, because of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.  And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.  There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because he first loved us.”  1 John 11-19

Looking at these photos, and meditating on love this morning, has refreshed my heart to do good for my own family.  I hope and pray that my friends who visit this blog here today will also feel those same emotions, and make this day a beautiful one for the ones you love.  Light the candles, cook the food, share a hug, snuggle up to a child, read good books, enjoy God’s creation…..a phone call, an email, ANYTHING to show that particular loved one that YOU CARE, can be done at anytime, and the amazing part is, it does good for your own soul, as well.  “It is more blessed TO GIVE…….”

This world can truly be a lonely land, and one good word, or even a smile, is sometimes all it takes to put an extra bounce in someone’s step.   To be an encourager is to spread God’s love in this dark place……….

YOU ARE LOVED.

TOMORROW I WILL SHARE THE REST OF THE PICTURES FROM ISAAC and CASSANDRA’S beautiful day.

 

a beautiful day, part 1

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The bride and groom—
May their joys be as bright as the morning,
and their sorrows but shadows that fade in the sunlight of love.
A Book of Toasts, 1902

 

It’s almost 7:30 in the morning.  I am sitting cross legged on my bed in my pajamas, hoping to get this blog done before the majority of my children are awake.  A cartoon is playing on the TV for the first one up (Caleb), and the dog is lying on the floor by my bed, happy that his family is back home from a weekend away in NY.  A mug of hot coffee is on the bedside table, sun is streaming through the windows.  It will be a beautiful day.

Rich and I packed the children into the vehicle Friday afternoon and headed back home for the happiest of occasions.  My youngest brother Isaac was getting married to a lovely woman, someone that he grew up with in the church, and fell in love with over these last few golden years.  The two of them are the pride and joy of their parents, family, and friends and are richly blessed with many prayers and good wishes at this beginning of a new life as man and wife.

The wedding was at 1 pm on Saturday.  Rich and I slept until about 8:30 and then woke the children up for breakfast at the hotel.   Thus began several hours of ironing, fixing hair, getting small children properly dressed, hearing complaints about new shoes hurting, fingers getting pinched, getting ourselves put together, and so on.  It was a pretty amazing morning of chaos for my family of nine, in two rooms at the hotel, with a connecting door.  At one point I saw Grace in front of the mirror with David holding up her braids so she could put in the bobby pins.

However, after a stop to buy socks for Ethan and a new memory card for the camera, we made it to the church an entire HOUR early.  The first person we saw was Pastor Chris, Cassandra’s Dad.  He was buzzing about, getting ready to put the tux on……we chatted, and I asked him where Isaac was…..and this is where the day began for me as “sister of the groom photographer”…

Dear Isaac was sitting at a table with his groomsmen and my Dad, already dressed and waiting for the ceremony.  I hugged them all, and we visited for a little while, happy to help them get through some of the anxious time of waiting.   Rich eventually left with the children and I stayed behind for a few minutes to pin the boutonnieres on my Dad and brothers…….I took a few pictures and then left to go upstairs and watch people arrive.

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My sister Amanda arrived with Abbie, Naomi, and Weston.  Her husband Jason was in the wedding.

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My handsome brother Nathan was also in the wedding.   He and his wife Melissa have two children; Gregory and Makayla.

After saying hello, I went inside the sanctuary to sit with my family.  Rich and the children were in the row behind me.

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Growing up in church means forming close relationships with people; everywhere I turned I saw people we love……

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My handsome boys.

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Aunt Mary, Elisha, Megan.

It’s funny how little things can make you cry on wedding days….one of these moments for me came when Mom was walked down the aisle by my brother Nathan.  As soon as she was seated, she asked Amanda and I where her sisters were.  Grandma and Grandpa are gone now, and her sisters are her closest and dearest family from childhood…..she needed to know they were there and I thought it was so sweet.

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We noticed Dave peeking through the side door, getting an idea of how full the church was….

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My mother, looking on at her beloved husband, sons, and son in law….as we wait for the bride to appear!

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Mother of the bride…..and one of the bridesmaids….looking back at Cassandra.

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Cassandra’s two sisters are on the right.

Here comes the bride!

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As Pastor Chris was giving his daughter to be married, Dad opened up the ceremony with words, Scripture, and prayer.

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In the very small town in which this wedding took place, just at this moment, a string of loud motorcycles zoomed by.

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And then, Pastor Chris opened the wedding with the words of the Princess Bride “marriage” scene, complete with “the funny voice”.

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Every wedding ceremony should contain laughter……..

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and a sentimental tear or two.

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It was fun to sit behind my parents and imagine their thoughts and feelings as they watched their youngest get married.  How they prayed for this happy day!

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The ring ceremony.

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The kiss, THE KISS of kisses~  to seal the vows as husband and wife~

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Prayer with the parents~

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JOY

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And then, we moved outside for the receiving line.

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Isaac and Jacob

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MORE JOY

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Gracie and her new Aunt Cassandra (notice Isaac touching his ring=so precious)

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With the receiving line behind them, (cool) Nate and Jason posed for my camera.

I love how in the background Dawn is taking a picture of the sisters.

And Dave is peeking at me, too.  🙂

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My husband Rich, talking to old beloved friends.  Rich and I were married in this same church, 19 years ago…and these friends were at our wedding, too.

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This is the last picture I took at the church before heading up to the hill with Joanna to take pictures of Isaac and Cassandra in the woods.

Perhaps one day these two little girls will be beautiful brides.  Stay tuned!

TOMORROW I will post the Wedding Forest Pictures.

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“Who, being loved, is poor?”  Oscar Wilde

“Grow old with me! The best is yet to be.”  Robert Browning

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Have a delightful day, my friends!  Remember that God loves you so very much and has poured out His abundant blessings.  If we but open our eyes to them we will be overwhelmed by his goodness.  My heart gives thankful praise.

((You are loved.))