What a young man said the night before his wedding – life, death, marriage and God

4 Comments

photoMy experience with rehearsal dinners is limited and I’m only three weeks into having a daughter-in-law and a married son. That’s a lot to process, lemme tell ya!  So today with permission from Aaron, it’s my privilege to share the beautiful words my ministry-minded middle olive shoot shared less than 24 hours before he got married.

For a young man, Aaron’s words and reflections are beyond his chronological age. I never expected him to speak so beautifully and yet, I am not surprised at his eloquence and maturity either. Nonetheless it still took my breath away, the loveliness and depth of his words. I am a proud mama to be sure.

Aaron spoke after my husband and I both shared. Soon, I will post the words we spoke that night. But as I sat at the table that evening, I wiped away tears full of emotion and amazement.

Here is Aaron’s tribute to his bride-to-be…

My life has been pretty exciting so far. I’ve been able to travel around the world and the country. I go to college in a big city. I work at Starbucks! I mean, what could be more exciting than that?photo

And now, at 19, I’m getting married.

I’d say the Lord has richly blessed me.

More than I know, more than I could ever express. I could not be happier or more excited to join Kelsie’s family; I consider it such a joy. And I have no words to thank my parents and my brothers for the love they gave me and continue to give me as I get older.

Thank you to my friends, especially Caleb and John who have helped me grow over the past two years more than I could have imagined. Y’all have been with me through incredible struggle and encouraged me and advised me so much. To all of you I want to say thank you. Thank you for blessing me. I am a blessed man. I realize that continually and I realize that far too little.

The world thinks of marriage as death, as boring, as stifling. It sees the union that God creates in husband and wife and calls it the “old ball and chain.” And as a very young man getting married I may have to agree with them. Marriage will kill you and it will hurt.

But the Lord has shown me this in a different light.

The song in our first dance tomorrow attends to this. It says,“‘I do” are the two most famous last words, The beginning of the end, But to lose your life for another I’ve heard, Is a good place to begin. ‘Cause the only way to find your life Is to lay your own life down, And I believe it’s an easy price For the life that we have found.”

I was so nervous the day I proposed. I went to the bathroom at the P.F. Changs before we walked to the Chicago River where I was going to propose, the ring in my pocket. My heart was beating so fast; I actually couldn’t believe it. I had no doubt that she would say yes and I was still so nervous. I was pondering the weight of what I was about to do. I was gonna ask this girl to marry me. I really couldn’t believe it. It was such a momentous step, a leap into the unknown, this unbelievable thing that was marriage. And honestly, I feel the same way now. I have very little doubt that Kelsie will also say “I do” on Saturday. But I’m nervous stepping into this uncharted, terrifying territory that is Holy Matrimony.1426411_10200940981183826_384050544_n

But maybe that’s the beauty in it.

The world looks at the requirement of marriage that is dying to yourself with spite and malice – 

I look at it and am dumbfounded that I would be so blessed to have the offer of the love and security within our marriage and to be told that what I have to do in return is to lose my life.

To gain the life that we will have together it means I must lay my own life down. The song goes on, “‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man So there’s nothing left to fear, So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands Till the shadows disappear. ‘Cause he promised not to leave us And his promises are true, So in the face of all this chaos, baby, I can dance with you.”

So, in one sense I understand the world’s qualms and cavils against marriage. It will kill you, but it is the most beautiful thing. Thomas Torrance, a Scottish Theologian wrote of marriage, “When a man and a woman come together in this way, they are made to participate in the active will of their Creator, and in their union and society they reflect the image of the Holy God. In them God brings his act of creation to its fulfillment. Therefore when a man and a woman marry, God is at work doing a new thing in which they both share in their innermost being. Ever after each is unthinkable apart from the other.” Life in another, mutual self-giving, for the Moody Bible students with us, here’s a word for you, perichoresis. As Christ lays down His life for His Church, as He gives Himself to us, so it is with marriage. And that scares me, that makes me nervous. I bend beneath the weight of that calling. But it is a beautiful thing.

10313774_766597896705179_8885708818697631266_nKelsie is an incredible woman. I had no clue that I would ever marry a girl like Kelsie, I had no idea that I would ever see such beauty. She’s asked me before why I love her and I quickly responded, “You’re little and cute.” And that’s true, she’s very pretty.

But that falls so short of all who Kelsie is.

She is tender and feels strongly. Not high-maintenance or overly emotional but tender.

She is caring and compassionate, I am often anxious and I’ll tell her. She’ll ask me what I need and I tell her I need to be anxious with her near. I need her compassionate tenderness close to me. She is, as Caleb will quickly say, industrious. I have never seen such diligence and desire to learn about the Lord.

She is constantly reading and teaching me and challenging me. I always feel out-learned because I really am.

She is skillful and talented, at her job as a nanny, she is incredible. With three little boys 5 and under she works incredibly hard and does wonders for children who are not even her own.

10300986_10203755464748160_1785004085953563782_nShe is fun. Kelsie and I are both homebodies. Most of the time we just want to sit and hang out drink some coffee, read, watch a movie. But there’s no one else I want to sit around with.

She loves Jesus, is captivated by His grace. It is a beautiful thing to see the girl you love continually encounter Christ. And she is little and cute.

That is the beauty in Kelsie, the truest beauty that comes from Christ in her. I am a blessed man, more than I will ever know, or ever feel, or ever express.photo

And I’m nervous about this Saturday, and for that matter, the next 20 or 30 or 100 years that we have with one another. I am blessed man but I am also an unable man.

So I pray that God will love Kelsie through me. I read that we love because Christ first loved us. So I ask the Lord that we will, in the love of Jesus only, love one another.  Thanks y’all.

Here is the link to Aaron and Kelsie’s first dance as a married couple. You have to listen to it!

I was honored to share this with you, thanks so much for reading!

 

Advertisements

Five minute Friday – hands

4 Comments

photoI usually quantify how interesting my life is based on where my feet take me

But too seldom do I consider my hands

What they do, where they go, how they have traveled in some ways differently although my hands and feet are connected to, um, photo me – DUH!

Have you ever thought about your hands?

Their magnificent versatility and productivity? Their ability to create, love, maneuver?

Clap your hands about your hands! Raise the roof about your hands! Lift those bad boys up to the Lord in praise!

In the last several weeks, my hands have grasped balls of Kleenex as I spoke a tribute to my middle son the night before he got married.

They tearfully carried a bouquet of flowers as I walked down the aisle and found my seat as the mother-of-the-groom.

My hands cupped around my son’s handsome face as we had our mother/son dance. Gracious!10172643_10203755528669758_7964348490121130609_n

And since

My hands have prepared a meal for a cancer patient whose family is burdened and needed a respite.

They have turned pages in a book and my Bible.

They have pointed to paint colors as we redecorate a room to welcome our married kids into our home one day for visits.

My hands also have gone to the women’s prison and helped inmates.

Their shaking hands

The ladies often move the fabric harshly as if those hands haven’t seen much love.

sewing simple quilts and pillows – many can’t even thread a needle or make a knot at the end

And that’s when my hands sweep into assist

So today, on this Five minute Friday, I will appreciate the gift of hands, what they are able to give and 5-minute-friday-1receive. Give thanks to the Lord for the splendid design of hands!

I’m not the only one writing about this word. Check out the other folks writing about hands by clicking here!

 

A son sees his bride for the very first time –

Leave a comment

photo 1To see a groom behold his bride for the very first time

That moment when they first lay eyes on each other

It’s hard not to cry, isn’t it? Heck, I’m verklempt even watching Say Yes to the Dress and I’ve only personally known one bride that’s ever been on that show! Click here to watch the episode!

Yet to my surprise, when my middle olive shoot saw his beloved last Saturday morning in a church tucked away in verdant Pennsylvania

Tears escaped me as it happened in front of my eyes

Not that I didn’t find it precious and a bit surreal

But when I stood watching my son prepare to turn and step into the day and the role of husband

Times we had prayed for all these years – both just with him and as a family

It would have been wrong to cry because I just felt joyphoto 2

Uncle Alan directed the photo shoot which kept the mood light which helped, thank you, kind sir!

Now, however…

Even after making this simple video,

photo 3It’s like after Thanksgiving dinner

When everyone is gone and I put on my pj’s. I pile my plate high with food – turkey and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie, apple pie, whipped cream. That’s my moment when I truly savor the meal minus any other responsibilities.

Now I’m able to soak up all the deliciousness

The quietude allows me to absorb it all.

Less than 60 seconds

I watch over and over again, my heart full of gratitude…

How about you? A special wedding moment you observed or experienced? I’d love to hear your stories and share the bliss!

 

 

 

 

Five minute Friday – nothing

9 Comments

photoNothing –

that endless pit of despair

consuming, feasting on my sadness like a tick on my soul

This was the place I dwelt for months

Nearly unable to do anything but weep

A friend encouraged me to attend a weekly prayer time for moms

I agreed since nothing else was working and crying was becoming a full-time job with no chance of promotion

Nothing –

That’s how I entered the room at the church

devoid of all hope, ashamed of my grief and dashed dreams

Nothing but Kleenex hid my tears

Unable to even wear mascara because all it did was smudge

And during that sacred time of lifting up other moms’ burdens to the Lord

Only for an hour, nothing fancy or fake

Simply a bunch of real moms who believed

They joined me praying and understanding

No judgement or condemnation

Just love and compassion

I learned I wasn’t alone

My situation and sorrow were different but gosh, we had a lot in common

Suddenly I was able to wear makeup, laugh, see hope and promise

Nothing but the prayers of others

And the inclining ear of God

Gave me the courage to praise the Lord on a beautiful Saturday when my son and his wife were married

I wore a smile as I walked down the aisle

My orange hair, freckle face olive shoot escorted me

And I wore mascara2014-05-24 09.31.47

A silk dress given to me by one of those praying ladies

Nothing stole my joy that morning. Everything about this journey is testimony to my Savior God who rescues and redeems.

photoFor you – We probably haven’t met but I pray that you are encouraged today hearing some of my story. Your cir-  5-minute-friday-1cumstances are different than mine but the Lord cares about you as much as He does me!

Romans 8:37-39 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Five minute Friday – a group of people who are given a word and then write about it for five (or so) minutes. Check out the other thought-provoking posts here.

 

 

 

I slow-danced with another man and I liked it

8 Comments

photoMy first experience slow-dancing was traumatic.

Picture a teenage girl going to a Mormon youth dance. She misses her mom who’s in the hospital. It’s a weekend night. Her friend’s name is Michelle.

Platform shoes, lip gloss, a tender heart, polyester

Abba music playing in the background

This Catholic girl alight with anticipation

Who will pick me? Am I pretty? Has that pimple disappeared? More importantly, will there be enough disco music???

Then the creepiest, dweebiest guy asks me to dance. How can I say no? He isn’t cute but he’s the only one to approach.

Pressing me close to him, he slowly removes his glasses and whispers…

“I don’t need these to see you, now do I?”

Every shameful feeling a teenage girl can experience joined me on the dance floor that night

Clumsy feet step all over his until I can’t take it anymore.

I run into the girl’s bathroom, lock the door.

And upon my return home, immediately shower to remove that guy from my person.

Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as a traumatic slow-dancing event, wouldn’t you?

Since then, my slow-dancing skills haven’t improved.

Foot surgeries, knee problems, my list of excuses will impress.

It’s a standing joke with the Hubs.  I can’t slow-dance, I can’t follow his lead. It’s so silly when I even try.

But more than three decades later, there’s another guy who wants to dance with me.

My middle olive shoot – Aaron

On his wedding day no less…

Did he not remember the legendary tale? I mean, I only talk about it a couple of times a year. I plead with Aaron to not humiliate me by forcing me to slow-dance in front of people. Can’t we just leave it alone?

I send him videos of moms choreographing wedding dances with their sons. Don’t they look amazing? Doesn’t that look like fun? I think we should do that, don’t you? Heck, I even work with an up and coming dj on a dance mix.

But no.

The kid won’t budge.

He wants to dance with his mama.

Tears flow after the father/daughter dance. I know I’m next.

Aaron, I can’t do this.”

“I’m crying. I’ll look stupid. People will laugh. I will uglyphoto cry.”

“No, Mama, you can do this.”

He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor.photo

Suddenly I don’t care. I almost feel pretty. I know I feel proud.

I’m in my son’s arms.

My charming, safe and oh so handsome child. He’s a married man. Sweet melodies serenade my heart-strings.

We step all over each other’s feet.

I twirl him to lighten the mood.

He spins me around. We look ridiculous. At one point, we miss intersecting after a twirl.

It’s a hot mess.

But I cry and look deep into his eyes. I caress his soft cheeks just like I did when he was a baby.

10172643_10203755528669758_7964348490121130609_n“Oh Aaron, I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mama.”

And then it’s over.

The music stops.

I leave the dance floor glad. Really super duper glad.

10345846_10152968220578018_3115487111255556271_nI nearly passed up this imperfect moment.

I look at the pictures afterward and reflect.

I almost got in the way. Pride and self-consciousness, as clumsy as my feet trying to move at a gentle speed, nearly ruined the moment.

But the sun had streamed on the spot where we danced. We were unaware at the time. I had no idea. Beholding the images now, God’s hand held us together. 

Quite simply, despite our lack of skill, we were GRACE-ful. Not our feet but our hearts.

I feel resplendent. I feel healed. I’ve been dancing on air ever since.

Here’s my message to you moms – don’t pass up moments due to insecurity. Those times don’t come around every day.

And to you sons – encourage your sweet mothers. Take us by the hand. We get scared too. Tell us you love us and guide us to the adventure. You will never regret it.

Honoring in spite of Alzheimer’s

2 Comments

photo 6It’s been nearly a year since my father-in-law abruptly left.

He did not die but disease and deception pulled him away.

Poof, he was gone.

No goodbye, no thank you, no I love you.

Ouch.

The wounds are healing. We have moved forward. We welcomed a Brazilian exchange student into our home for the school year. We now have a delightful dog. Two of our olive shoots proposed. The Hubs will enjoy a new knee in less than a month! We know how to keep things lively!

2014-05-23 17.01.07But as our ministry-minded middle announced his plans to marry, I envisioned the rehearsal dinner. I considered the food, the venue, flowers, decorations, it is one of my favorite things to do. Yet my spirit was unsettled about one major issue. How do we reconcile the fact that Aaron will probably never hear from his grandpa again? Although I will never understand the circumstances surrounding his strange departure or the vast amounts of pain this created, the Lord is sovereign. That’s the only part that gives me peace.

I do know that my FIL loved Aaron. He cared deeply about his grandkids, he was understandably proud of the men and women they had become.

2014-05-23 16.51.03That is why I included pictures of my husband’s parents’ wedding in the decorations. Unless you have been in a similar situation, you may not appreciate the significance. I also had a photo of my parent’s wedding even though my mom has remarried and my dad’s been gone for over 25 years. But positioning that little framed picture of my in-law’s on the table was like moving a boulder. I didn’t want to cause my husband any more anguish. In addition to not having my FIL with us, our Soldier would be missing the festivities due to his deployment to Qatar. The Hubs was ok with seeing the photo again, bless his incredible heart.

2014-05-23 16.55.26The placement of that wedding picture announced that the poison cocktail of Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and deception would NEVER erase the good memories we cling to each day.

Joy and celebration conquered sadness and grief. We chose to honor and cherish.

On the other side of this life because of our faith in Jesus, we will see him again.

 

 

 

Remembering Memorial Day – what a Soldier did for his younger brother on his wedding day

6 Comments

photo 1With all the festivities surrounding my middle olive shoot’s wedding on Saturday #hartleywedding

The emotions, planning, celebrating and expectation

I forgot about Memorial Day

Until yesterday driving home from Delaware!

Though we never forgot about our oldest son who is deployed in Qatar

And longed for him to be with us physically

Our hearts broke with the reality that wasn’t going to be possible

But we found a way to bridge the distance

Nate was a part of the ceremony

I’m still trying to take it all in – the beauty of the day, the sweetness of the Lord

photo 5Where do I begin?

On this Memorial Day, I honor my Soldier

I was escorted down the aisle by my orange hair, freckle face OS – so proud was I for this honor

But my husband didn’t walk alone behind me –

Parting from tradition, the Hubs was also escorted –

Our Soldier “walked” with his dad, carried on my husband’s iPhone

Then our Army Ranger “sat” on his dad’s lap and saw the wedding from the same perspective as the rest of us

It was about 6:15PM, Qatari time

Nate wore his Army fatigues

Observing the event in the middle of a desert

The pastor welcomed family and friends

He paused and told the crowd of about 140 people

Someone very significant was missing from the wedding

Aaron’s older brother, Nate

At that moment, this YouTube video was played

Our Army Ranger welcomed his new sister into the family and he read 1  Corinthians 13 from the Bible

photo 4

Nate reverently saw the bride and groom exchange vows thanks to Facetime

Oh friends, if you knew what comfort it was to have Nate with us

It’s a good thing I was sitting because I would have needed a chair

Such was the extent of pride and love I carried within me

In a way, we have already celebrated Memorial Day

We represent countless military families that get creative

Surmount the obstacles and offer support

What a day, what a life, what a fount of blessings

I scarce can take it in…