September ended with a celebration—much like it began. It began with a birthday and ended with a wedding. Not any of my children, but close.
Two of our dearest friends’ son married a beautiful girl on the last Saturday in September.
The whole week was a whirlwind of engineering ingenuity, hard labor and frugal creativity. Family and friends transformed a barn, albeit a nice barn, but a barn, into a grand place for a wedding reception. Midweek everyone involved was not sure it would get finished.
But it did.
And what a finish!
|Photo courtesy of Sherry Mohr.|
The wedding ceremony was touching. Personal. Intimate. Funny. Sweet.
The reception was wonderful. Casual. Welcoming. Personal. Intimate. Revelatory.
The transformed barn was gorgeous. The entrance of the farm property wound through two stone pillars and the long driveway was lined with aged and weathered trees. The driveway opened up into a court in front of the barn. The night was dark. The deer that had crossed in front of our car earlier in the week most likely watched from the line of trees. Lanterns hung from shepherd’s hooks, cascades of greenery and baby’s breath hung like willow tree branches over the sides. Each lantern produced only a small circle of light, but together they lit the path into the barn. Inside everything gleamed white and airy. And light—diffused and softened everything it touched.
|Photo courtesy of Sherry Mohr.|
The whole affair, including the bride and groom, looked like a double page spread in Southern Living. Simple. Elegant. But with no pretension. None. And the atmosphere was calm and easy.
The night had been covered in prayer. Covered.
The groom’s mother looked far too young to be his mama. And the groom’s daddy knew it. And he was proud. Very proud to hold his hand to the small of her back. This deep contented pride showed; it gleamed out from his face as he watched her and the children their covenant had birthed.
And the bride’s mama carried hopes, wishes and prayers deep in her heart for this daughter of hers—they were all written on her face and in her eyes. And if you watched her close enough you could almost read them. Line by line.
The groom’s precious paternal grandmother sat with her Dinner Club—a group of women who had been doing dinner together for years. Women who came to the aid of the other, who helped one another, prayed for one another and encouraged one another. I watched them at the table and longed for a dinner club of my own—of women who knew my history and loved and ate with me any way. I knew several of them. And just to show you the extraordinary orchestration of God—one of these women brought me dinner years ago when I was in a wheelchair with a broken wrist and ankle. Her pineapple casserole still makes my mouth water. I hadn’t seen her since that season, and she didn’t recognize me at first. But then she did, and I was caught up in a hug that went on forever. She had gifted the bride and groom with her culinary abilities: chicken salad croissants piled high on great oval silver serving platters.
Platters and bowls of food filled the buffet table. This was our job for the night. Steve, Abby and I (after my older daughter’s prep work) made sure the food stayed piled high. People wound through and around the tables filling their plates. Chatter and conversation carried through the food area. Steve and I attempted to anticipate what would be needed. I walked the line and assessed, and then would tell Steve or Abby what we needed and then they went to retrieve it. We had a couple of near debacles, but we managed. At last every guest had been through the line. Then we fixed our own plates and stood at the door eating and watching the dance floor.
This night was not about us.
We understood this. It was about our friends. And their children. And this new covenant that had been made. But God has a way of using all things, all things to the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Months ago, at the end of one of our Idol Lies gatherings the bride asked me if I would be willing to speak at their wedding. I was stunned. Would I? I would honored.
Even then I began praying for words. And for the last week before the wedding I prayed. And prayed. Several friends were praying for me because this was an important and priceless time, and I wanted words to reflect this.
Steve and I worked the weekend of the wedding. Friday night after work and after the rehearsal dinner, my kitchen table light burned late. I stayed up crafting the words. What could I say to these two young people that might possibly make a difference? I went to bed with the words finished, but I still prayed.
The next day during an afternoon break I checked my phone for messages. I read through them. The last one came from my third daughter. I stood in the workroom and read and reread the message. I showed it to my husband, and we both fought back tears.
Today is about Regan and Isaac.
No one else…
But later on, be sure you and Steve
celebrate each other.
It’s because of your alls’ example
that you’re speaking tonight.
I tucked this away. He and I both did. This little three sentence text stopped my nagging worry about what I would share at the wedding. When God calls, he equips.
Steve and I stood in the doorway of the buffet room watching. So many people we knew and loved were gathered at this reception. My eyes moved from table to table, from family to family and I just marveled at the connections between them.
Even the DJ had a connection.
He knew what weddings were to be about. He started a song and called for all the married couples to come to the floor. Steve and I looked at each other. We were still eating and catching our breaths, our first few bites just chewed and swallowed. We decided to wait.
But we couldn’t.
We joined the other couples on the floor. I tilted my head up to look at my husband. We pivoted and turned. We aren’t good dancers, but it doesn’t matter. He held me close, tight against his side. And I fit there. In the muted light of the tent, under the canopy of swaying white, we sang to each other.
Can I have this dance for the rest of my life? Will you be my partner…
I looked up at him and he leaned down to hear me.
We make a good team, don’t we?
He nodded. Yes, we do.
This man, this big beautiful man, squeezed me close, my head against his arm, my hand tucked and swallowed into his. I could feel his heartbeat.
I told him I was glad he married me. And I asked if he would do it again?
My knees hurt from standing on the concrete. My feet ached from the fashionable shoes I thought I needed to wear, but my heart was so full.
I prayed there on that dance floor. I thanked God for what he had done, for what he had given. For the miracle.
I leaned into this big man of mine and he leaned into me. Words were whispered. He leaned back and looked down at me. And I swear I could see his love for me. Years ago I would have watched us and envied what we have. Years ago I would have done my duty, and quietly left the barn, leaving the happy reverie to others.
But not on this September night.
The celebration my daughter asked us to have happened. With no planning. No coercion. No gimmickry. Naturally. It flowed out of who we had become because of the grace of God.
After we danced we sat at a table outside the barn. It was ten degrees cooler. The night sky was inky black and the stars dotted across it. The lanterns shone as pinpricks of light in the dark velvet. I sat on Steve’s lap, and I laid my head against his. No words were said. No words were needed.
And we watched.
Watched the new couple weave in and out of the crowd. Watched them look at each other. Find each other. Laugh with each other. Hold each other. We watched them and prayed.
|Isaac and Regan (Photo courtesy of Steve Bates, Turn on Media Group)|
Later we sent this wonderful new couple off through a shower of sparklers and cheers. The bride and groom left the reception and walked down the driveway.
We could see them holding hands. We watched them until just the glimmering white triangle of her dress remained visible. We could hear their laughter and their whispered words…and then they faded.
Oh, what a night!