What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

An Eve to Remember

 It is now January 16th- midway through the first month of the year 2024.  I still feel unequal to the task of representing the last few weeks well- and every time I try, I cry.  But if I don't at least attempt it, I'll just get more woefully behind on 2024... and so, here we go.

(Those young people who have been eagerly anticipating pictures, you have my permission to scroll past the words of lament to get to the good stuff!)

New Years Eve's Eve my whole world changed.  

When I was a young mother with young children hopping and huddling all around me, it never really occurred to me that "this too shall pass".  I was too busy taking picnics and singing alphabet songs and making dinner and cleaning up puke and dancing in the kitchen and reading stories and doing laundry and begging children to "Please SETTLE DOWN!"... to ever really contemplate the idea that this glorious CrazyTown is a fleeting reality.

Back then, I was too busy enjoying Corynn's jokes and her cute little-person enunciations and first-born antics to ever consider that there would come a day when she (or any of my children) would leave me.  

But on New Years Eve's Eve, Corynn did.  I watched her be carried off by her new Mister, to adventures all her own.  While many mother's mourn the inevitable separation from their children in the privacy of their empty cars when they drop their kids off to college...  I had to do it in the presence of nearly 300 family, friends and community members.  How could it be done without me becoming a blathering idiot?

Well, the Lord saw fit to make me incredibly sick just at the very worst time (or maybe just the right time?) three days before the wedding, during the wedding and a few days after the wedding.   It made doing all the things I needed to do (before, during and after) extremely difficult because, turns out, DIY weddings are NO JOKE!!!    God was so merciful to me on the actual wedding day though, as I was able to rebound enough to fake it (with meds) and then down, I went again, the next day.

And it wasn't just me who was sick.  But the Bride herself!  And Adele'.  And Andrew.  And Judah.  And some bridesmaids.

(Thankfully, Moses, Ineke and Matt were spared until after the wedding!)

I am not whether to blame my sickness or just putting on a wedding in general but I was so focused on survival that I had a hard time thinking of anything else.  I picked up my camera for all of about 5-10  minutes the whole weekend. I didn't even think (until days later when it was too late) to ask to get a picture with Corynn on her wedding day.  (I'm SO SAD about that!)

But even sickness can be a gift.  This illness was diverting enough on the wedding day, where my focus was on not passing out rather than grieving for a season of my life that is no more.  I was focused on trying not to seem sick rather than lamenting the fact that my future includes many more goodbyes.  I was trying not to get too close to people so I didn't make them sick rather than thinking about the fact that my children will, in fact, SETTLE DOWN!! (And in the blink of an eye too).

You may say I am depressing.  You may say I am a worrywart.  You may say I am too sentimental.  And sure, all of these things may be true.  But another thing I am is honest... and these are the things I have been struggling with...even in the midst of a joy and gladness that Corynn has met a fine man to share her life with- and the Lord has seen fit to give her the desires of her heart.   

I rejoice for Corynn and Kemuel while mourning a bit for myself.  But as a Christian, we are called to die to self for Him to do a good work.  As a parent, the Lord gives us special practice at it.  We die to ourselves when we wake up in the middle of the night to nurse.  We die to ourselves when we make and serve millions of meals when we really, really, really would love to go to a restaurant and be served.   And the Lord is calling me to die to self once again- in giving up and letting go of the gift that He gave to me for a time.  

I am not doing it particularly gracefully but I am doing it the best that I can.

The best thing to do, particularly in those low, hard times, is to choose not to dwell there.  So I claw myself out of the quicksand by forcing myself to flip my perspective to one of gratitude and thanksgiving.  Counting blessings.  Naming gifts.  Finding joy.  Pursuing gratitude.    The act of counting gifts has always helped to retrain my gaze to one that is perhaps a bit more glorifying to God and receptive to God's will.  It doesn't come naturally.  Sometimes I'd rather wallow.  It can be hard work.  But it is necessary work.

So- with just a few photos to show for it (many from Matt's cellphone!)- let me tell you THE GIFT that was Corynn's wedding... all things I am so grateful for.

~ for a wedding engagement of just a hair over three months and a guest list well over 300, I am amazed at how many personal, handmade and DIY things were able to be done to make the day special and one-of-a-kind.

~ No snow storms to make life miserable!  In fact, I was out doing flowers on Thursday night on the porch quite comfortably!

~ Friends rallied around me and helped me get all the things done that needed to be done when I got sick.  Millie went grocery shopping with Corynn when I was literally too weak to stand.  Joelynn sewed all those triangles I had cut into a proper bunting when I was just gonna just toss those hours of trimming triangles into the garbage because I had too much to do and felt lousy enough to just want to give up.  Delphine and Holly and Joelynn worked alongside me for two days- and shoved water down my gullet.  Abby and Millie made gorgeous berry cupcakes that rivalled the professionally made wedding cake in both beauty and taste.  Janette helped me make beautiful arbor arrangements.  The Jones family helped serve and replenish food and coffee.  

~ It was a large crowd at over 265 but I had planned on an extra 100 people who didn't show up and even that was a gift- because it wasn't too overcrowded (and it would have been).  This was such a mercy to me because I spent a good portion of November/December stressing about how to make this wedding enjoyable for guests who would likely be squished in like sardines.  Praise the Lord!  No people were harmed in the making of this marriage! ;-)

~ The wedding favors were purple poppy seeds that Corynn collected from her own flower garden last summer and then painted a purple poppy and created seeds packet labels.   The idea of purple poppies everywhere, Corynn's joy, spread all around this country, makes me so happy.  (They were about 10 cents a favor, too, which ALSO made me happy.)  

~ We alternated favors by supplementing every other place setting with a beautiful orange clementine, which was so stunning with the tiny glimpses of orange ranunculus poking out every now and again, and much more "favored" by children and menfolk.

~ Matt and Grandpa made a beautiful timber-framed arbor which seemed to me to symbolically cover Corynn and Kemuel with their blessings during the ceremony.  Uncle John helped by sawing the logs up for Matt, just in the nick of time.

~ We had nearly as many children as adults at the reception so we made a separate space for a lace teepee, an indoor snowball fight and a yard-sized connect four in another room from the reception.  There may or may not have also been raucous games of TAG.  ;-)   

~ My fabric scrap stash was cut down quite a bit to make a BoHo bunting to be hung overhead.  Originally, this was just meant to be stylish and provide a vintage pop of color... but afterward, it just reminds me of Joelynn and her kindness and love... which makes me love it even more.

~ The food I had made ahead of time was delicious (so I am told) and because we store up beans and rice and had butchered a cow last year... didn't cost anything out of pocket in November/December, when our pockets were pretty echo-ey as it was.  We essentially paid for sour cream, lettuce, cilantro, lime, salsa, cheese and tortilla chips.  That was AMAZING.

~ All the food calculators say to allow for 1/3 pound of meat per person- which I did.  About 130 pounds of meat I made!  But I brought home almost half of it!.  Apparently, food calculators don't count on lots of children who tank up of tortilla chips?!?  Or beautiful bread and cheese appetizers?  I was able to bless lots of people with extra food after the fact- but I try not to even THINK about all the work I could have saved myself.

~ Our church ladies (and Aunt Holly) put on a beautiful grazing table with gorgeous cheeses, breads and spreads. I was complimented on it throughout the night as being "one of the most beautiful grazing tables" ever.  I never saw it in person but I *really hope* someone took a picture!

~ Corynn's wedding dress had a huge slit in it and she asked if I could sew it shut for her and then said "Oh- wouldn't it be SO NEAT to have a flower insert put in, so when I dance it opens up to show flowers?!"  Ummm... YES!  For over a month and a half, every time I had a spare minute, I embroidered a flower on chiffon- it was a race against time.  All different flowers, and prayers attached to each one.  It was a blessing to me to be able to do that for her.  And I got it done with one day to spare!

~ Sam's club bulk flowers were GORGEOUS - we ordered white stock (one of my own wedding flowers), red alstroemeria, orange ranunculus and some greenery.  The rest we supplemented with foraged evergreens and dried flowers.   A friend loaned us some silk florals for the arbor.  Arbor arrangements, 10 bridesmaids bouquets, a bridal bouquet, six corsages, 20 boutonnieres and flowers for about 30 tables, a bouquet just for me to take home (because Natalie is just the sweetest) and leftovers to boot... all for under $500!  

~ Corynn had been sick for a week (and even had to cancel her bachelorette party!) but was somehow able to rally on her wedding day and looked positively radiant!

~ And she didn't pass out during the ceremony, which, I'm not gonna lie- I was worried about!

~ Andrew sat down a bit during the ceremony (though he was a Groomsman!) because he felt like HE was going to pass out though.

~  Moses took his ringbearer job seriously and was just so stinkin' cute.  He was such a little man.

~ Ineke was one of two flower girls but the only one who scattered petals and the only one who sobbed down the aisle.  It was precious and sweet and heartbreaking.

~ Judah was found sleeping on a couch halfway through the night, getting "bit by the bug" mid-wedding.  

~ ~ I caught Kemuel and his groomsmen taking time to pray together before the ceremony. 

~ Adele' felt dreadful the whole time but she showed just how much of a trooper she is by handling herself with grace, even then.

~ Moses showed off his break-dance moves.

~ Matt and Corynn totally nailed their dance though they had no preparation whatsoever.  Have FUN was their strategy and it worked.  They danced to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline, which is a song that I changed the words to "Sweet Babe of Mine" and sang to Corynn.  It was "her song" growing up.  I also stitched "sweet babe of mine" in with the flowers on her dress.  

~ One of my fondest memories of my own wedding reception was when all our guests joined in to sing Edelweiss during the reception.  And Corynn gets to have a similar memory- because at one point, I heard the whole reception start to sing Neil Diamond.  That made me so happy.

And one of the most WONDERFUL things of all~

~ there were dozens of dish-washers and table-packer-uppers and car-loaders who rolled up their sleeves and helped clean up so I didn't need to spend the night at the location in order to clean the place up the next day all by myself!  (Which had been the plan.)  I am still amazed at this!

All this to say- the whole wedding weekend was jam-packed with glory and goodness and beauty and and sentiment and rejoicing, even while in the midst of real struggle and trial and imperfection.  

And that seems like a perfect way to start a life together, doesn't it?