Tag Archives: family

For Bernice

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Bernice is third from the right in the black paints and blue print blouse

It’s funny the things you think of in grief.

Like how I wouldn’t wear yellow this day. She hated yellow and teased me about my affinity for it. Threatened to repaint my yellow mailbox red.

I think it strange I am hungry. That mundane things like needing to eat just continue, when everything should stop for a moment, at least, and just “be.”

Even last night at the hospital, when they came out, the doctors, the nurses, the chaplain. Even as I was both stunned and not. Right then, that early, the stories fell from my lips. Wanting these strangers who tried to save her life to glimpse her. Who she was that they labored over. Her spunk and varied life experiences. I needed those memories, those stories that made me both laugh and cry.

I need them now.

Did you know she asked me to take her to Avatar? “But we have to see it in 3-D if we go,” she said.

Afterwards I asked if she enjoyed the movie.

“It was too long,” Typical, her decided opinion. “They should have had an intermission. That’s what they did in Gone with the Wind when I saw it in New York.”

And I marveled at a life that had spanned Gone With the Wind–the first color movie to win Best Picture and a transitional film in many ways–to Avatar with its 3-D blue people and ground-breaking visual effects.

Bernice didn’t pull punches. When the weight piled on she told me, “You’re getting fat. Well, it happens to the best of us.”

And one day when she answered her door, and the sunshine bounced off my silver highlights it was, “It’s time to color your hair. You’re going gray.”

Funny how she could say those things, and it made me laugh. It never hurt like it would if someone else said it.

Last year when I started losing weight she praised me, but cautioned, “Don’t lose too much. You were too skinny when you married Jerry.”

“You let me know if you think I’m getting too thin.”

“Oh, I will.”

“I have no doubt,” I said. And she laughed. I did, too.

As I type her little dog, Dusty, comes by my feet for some love. My husband–a staunch believer that animals belong outside–said we’d better bring him home with us last night. And so I guess he’s here until arrangements are made for his new home. Dusty doesn’t stay alone at night, and we didn’t have the heart to sleep at her house as we’ve done in the past when Bernice was hospitalized.

It was the main thing she worried about, that her little dog wouldn’t be alone.

The boys often ran her to the store or drove her and Dusty to the groomer. This little trips meant they’d come home with a frozen lasagna for supper or stop by Dairy Queen after the grooming appointment. She didn’t mind asking us for help, but she always found a way to give us something, too. I think she especially enjoyed letting Sam drive her car on his first date.

Funny the process of grief. At the hospital I stood by the bed. The shell that was once her lying there. We prayed. Cried. I kissed her cold forehead.

Titanic_300PixWide_BlogAdThen I had to pull out my kindle, show a total stranger my book cover with Bernice’s hand on it. “She was a hand model in her teens in New York, you know.” It seemed important this woman glimpse her, see the span. “And then she modeled for me.”

Bernice had wanted to use the other hand, felt it was less drawn by age. I explained it was the very age of the hand that I wanted for the book cover, and she shrugged, set aside pride, and complied. And I loved the picture, the spotted, gnarled, arthritic hand. The hand I’ve held. The hand that only a few months ago made me cookies.

Before Sarah married, Bernice and I went shopping for a new outfit. She didn’t like using her walker, so she leaned on the carts at the store, incredible stamina for 84 years old. She bought a new ring with a red stone with a gift certificate from her grand kids, then scanned the jewelry department looking for something for me, insisting I choose a bracelet. (Always a gift for someone else.)

We picked out a new pant suit for her to wear to the wedding, and she bought herself some slacks and pair of jeans. She was excited at the skinny leg styles. She had thin legs, used to dance on those legs in New York, often dreamed of being a Rockette, but said she was not quite tall enough and the Rockettes liked their dancers thin those days.

We ate at Red Robin, her favorite place for a hamburger. It may have been that day we splurged on shakes, too.

Before the wedding she handed me a beautiful ring, with two little diamonds and two purple stones. “Try this on. I’ll bet it fits you now that you’re skinny.”

It fit. I smiled and handed it back to her.

“Why don’t you wear it for a while?”

So I wore it a week. Maybe more.

“You know I’m giving that ring to you, don’t you?” This one day, out of the blue as I sat across from her at the oak table we bought years ago at a garage sale. “You need a purple one for the wedding. That’s Sarah’s colors.”

She took a sip of her diet Dr. Pepper and then leaned forward. “When I bought it years ago I wanted red, but they didn’t have red. Now I know why. Because it was for you. For the wedding.”

It was one of those strange thing I thought about this morning when I awoke with tears–how I would put that ring on, as I’ve done most days for the last year, how I loved that ring.

How I loved her.

A Hobbit Forming Adventure

MV5BMzU0NDY0NDEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTIxNDU1MDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Last night was the chance of a life-time. You only get to see the opening/midnight showing of a movie once, right?

I’m not a huge midnight/opening night girl. But the Tolkien craze is one thing I share with my kids–and once kids are teens and young adults it’s especially fun to find common interests since Mom no longer dictates a schedule.

So at 11 p.m. last night I climbed into the mini-van with my sixteen-year-old (passenger side, of course, since he just got his driver’s license). We picked up a few friends and met my daughter and her friends at the theater for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. At 3:20 a.m. we climbed out said mini-van and stumbled into our house.

My head is swimming today, folks. But being invited along with my teen–priceless and worth it! (The movie was awesome, too!)

This was a bit of milestone for me in my weight loss/get healthy journey of the last year. You may remember this post where I chronicled Day 51 of my weight loss journey–and the fun of going to the midnight showing of the first Hobbit movie.

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Last year. About 25 pounds down and 30 to go.

I believe I was 20-25 pounds down at that point. I was serious about calorie reduction and packed a water battle, apple slices, and popcorn (with less butter than theater popcorn) into my purse. As I remember, I was also concerned about eating after 7 p.m., something I’d focused on NOT doing during those early days of weight loss. I was surrounded by junk that night and oh-so-tempted to buy a soda. But I resisted the Coke and only snitched a little of the cookies and candy the kids around me offered. It felt mostly like success.

Last night was similar except I lived in the position of one who’d reached her goals instead of one working toward them. I packed healthy treats and planned ahead for late night snacking by eating less at the evening meal and taking a walk.

This year I also planned ahead by indulging in the rarity of an energy drink. Thanks to Kaos Gold, the new energy drink by DtC, I ingested only 30 calories and 80% less sugar than if I’d chosen another brand. No doubt my energy drink kept me awake so I could act like a teenager in the wee hours of the morning.

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Kaos gold to help me stay awake! Roughly 30 lbs less than a year ago!

It’s fun to compare last year’s Hobbit night pictures with this year’s. Last year, the coat was getting too big, but I still had some pounds to lose. This year I’m in a brand new DtC t-shirt size medium! I don’t think I’ve purchased mediums since getting pregnant with my third child, 18 years ago!

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My friend and fellow Kaos Gold lover, Suzy.

Wahoooo!!!!!!!

The title for this post has a double meaning. While going to the midnight showing has become a hobbit-forming adventure, so has caring about my body and being intentional about maintaining a new life-style at the size I was created to be!

Folks, I fully intend to be at the midnight showing of the third Hobbit next year, even if I will be 49 years old! (Dying to see what happens next. They left us with a cliff hanger!) AND I fully intend to post a picture here celebrating continued health and life-style change!

Best wishes on your hobbit-forming health adventure!

San Diego III – Embracing a New Community

I can do the convention thing.

I love connecting with and old friends, learning, and growing. I love hearing what works for others and cheering them on. At the Life Force National Convention a special treat was meeting people who follow this blog and have shared it with friends and family. I can’t begin to explain how encouraging it is for a writer to know her words have made a difference.

I will admit to a few awkward moments, where people greeted me like an old friend. I’m sure they thought they knew me because they’d seen my weight loss pictures or blog, but I knew we’d never actually met. Still, it says something about the beauty of the community where a room is full of welcoming, smiling faces and hugs are offered freely.

san diego 63I awoke every morning to the sunrise through beautiful arched windows. Sharing a condo with others on my team was amazing. You get to know people when you see them with bed-hair first thing in the morning.

I loved doing real community where one person borrows my almond milk while another shares Vitali-C with me. Meanwhile I’m literally holding my knees together waiting for a turn at the bathroom at the same time I’m throwing clothes across the sofa for a friend to pick from because her suitcase was left behind.

I’m not my gifted daughter, who knows what to put with what and how to make everyone’s natural beauty shine, but I loved suggesting this necklace or that. Maybe the whole experience was a throw-back to my college days when people were everywhere and a fair amount of chaos abounded.

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Getting ready for the gala was a huge family kind of moment. You should have seen us–grown women styling each other’s hair, sharing clothes and jewelry.

There were a few guys in our condo. Thankfully that night they were wise enough to mostly stay quiet and out of the way!

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The one who put together this family lodge was the amazing Robin. She has a heart of gold and has been right there for me all the way, always working to ensure I have the best opportunities to learn and grow. Being with her in this very real environment only made me love her more.

She did the mom thing beautifully–encouraging everyone to go to bed so I could sleep (I’d opted for the couch–less $$ and the chance to be in the middle of the hub-bub of my new community), and getting  little sleep herself as she arose before dawn to do things like drive people to the airport. Robin did a lot of encouraging me on my freak-out day, which wasn’t this one and is for another story.

The gala that night was a ton of fun. I got to once-again wear my friend Megan DiMaria‘s beautiful dress.  I returned it last Saturday at a writer’s seminar. She introduced me to another friend of hers saying, “this is my friend Paula who’s taken my dress all over the country, and this is my friend who has taken my dresses all over the world.”

Thinking back to my first San Diego post all I can say to that is someday I plan to be the one taking dresses all over the world!

I could blab on forever about my experiences, but it seems like if you’re kind enough to read about my benew journey there ought to be a some kind-of take away value. As I think about it, the thought that rises to the surface is how important it is to surround yourself with good community. When considering a job, a volunteer organization, a business partner, a church, or anything else, let the kind of people that place attracts be a guide in your decision-making.

The reason we got involved with Life Force International initially was because we experienced such amazing results with the product. But the reason we chose to become involved in the business of LF was the community. Long before I saw this as anything but a new venture for my husband, he was all in. Why? He told me he’d rarely been in an organization who lived out servant leadership like LF does.

Now that I’m buying into this new business venture, I see what he means as I embrace this unique community, and it welcomes me.

When making choices about a job or other community, consider the people the place attracts.

Bazillion Duple

I’m not home yet. As this post releases I prepare to board a plane back to Denver after Sunday night’s excitement. But as I write the day is last Thursday. I prepare to leave home, to face the unknown of the Carol Awards.

I’m pre-scheduling my blog because I want to share my acceptance speech with you. I don’t know yet if I’ll actually get to say it, but win or lose it needs to be shared. Being chosen as a finalist for the Carol (no matter the outcome) is an honor that is not just mine alone.

Below are the words I’ve prepared. I’ve practiced them over and over, not because they are difficult to say, but because I can’t get through them without crying. Not those nice quiet tears, the loud, sobby ones. So deep is my gratitude. So deep is my passion.

Yes, it’s the acceptance speech I was asked to write, but really, it’s a thank you note, maybe even a love-letter, to all of you.

For this blog I must begin with the words . . .

Dear Friend,

The dedication for my novella includes these words, “to all my friends who ‘bazillion-dupled’ my joy of a first book contract.”

It seems a fitting way to open tonight.

Ours is not a solitary journey. For the Christian writer, we first hold onto our God for all we’re worth, empowered to persevere through success and disappointment, and then we hold hands with our friends. The true ones cheer us to victory and soothe the wounds of discouragement.

In 2004 when I joined ACFW I had no idea how valuable this group would become to me. I mostly wanted a discount to hear Francine Rivers speak! But almost ten years later I realize how invaluable this organization and each of you are to my journey.

Part of the road to becoming an author includes, at least for me, a lot of refinement, digging deep to find courage, and stretching. The ACFW prayer team prayed me through some of the most difficult years of my life, as did other dear friends and my sweet husband, Jerry. Brandilyn Collins committed to pray daily for a year for my children–and ended up praying for several.

wedding picture jerry and paula sarah's wedding

Editors, authors and critique partners offer wisdom and encouragement and teach me to write. Those who’ve gone before, like Kathy Kovach and Darlene Franklin, opened doors so I could follow, and Rebecca Germany, JoAnne Simmons, and Barbour Publishing took a chance on a newbie.

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Posing this summer with my dear friend and writing partner, Kathy Kovach

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Rebecca Germany of Barbour Publishing and I pose at the Barbour party in Sept. of 2011 when Rebecca awarded me my first book contract

Last year when a car accident shut me and my writing down, my agent, Rachelle Gardner, offered wise council, loving me through the difficult curve in my path, and the editor I felt I’d disappointed offered me hope and grace instead of censure.

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Taken September of 2011 when I got my first book contract, and Rachelle won agent of the year!

What a community we have!

At home, my dear family daily enriches my life and cheers me on despite burned or forgotten dinners when I get lost in fictional worlds.

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Photo by Kim Liddiard of the Creative Pixel

Yes, I’ve persevered. I study hard to perfect craft. I’m intentional about learning how to become a professional, but when the rubber hits the road, this victory is not mine alone. It is a collective one, an honor given first to my God, then to each and every person who taught me, mentored me, prayed for me, and believed in me.

As we endeavor to write for our Lord Jesus Christ, believing we help shape eternity as we do, we need each other.

Thank you for being there for me. Sharing this moment with you bazillion-duples my joy.

Blessings,

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We need each other

Reminder: I DO Have a Life

I’ve had a life for a long time. And it doesn’t only revolve around the kids or even Jerry. As all of them are less home-centered and stretching to new places, I am reminded of two things: 1) It’s okay to cry 2)I DO have a life outside of my family.

Part of a BENew journey is embracing changes. In the last year I’ve processed lifestyle changes, thinking differently about food and movement. I’ve enjoyed (and sometimes struggled with) the changes that comes with having a different body. As my homeschooling family is growing up by leaps and bounds, I process change again. I hope to transition well, to give my loved ones wings to soar solo and to stretch new wings myself.

Today’s pictures are a celebration of this other part of my life, the world of writers, where I find community and stretch for new heights. Colorado has a lot of wonderful opportunities for writers. As Colorado Coordinator, I’m most involved with ACFW Colorado, but there’s a wonderful spirit of cooperation in our area with other writers groups, including Words for the Journey. A few weeks ago a bunch of writers, both WFTJ and ACFW members, gathered at the invitation of WFTJ to a “write-out” at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

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My thoughtful friend and fellow author, Megan DiMaria, makes sure I know about this event each summer and invites me to share it with her and the others.

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Megan used to be teased at her work because she brought a beautiful tablecloth to enjoy her sack lunch upon. She’s one of those rare people who truly savors beauty, and the Broadmoor is is a Megan kind of place.

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My Broadmoor day was so filled with magic, that I just had to dance in the empty ballroom.

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I pray I can dance into and through this latest transition of celebrating kids who do crazy things like get married and go to college.

And, because this blog started to process weight loss, I’ll admit it. I also pray I can ignore comfort food and seek comfort that makes a difference. This latest test of my new lifestyle is fierce and with it comes cravings I really should ignore. They only mask the real need, for me to recognize the passing season and give permission for mourning.

When Stephen drove away for his first day of “real” school away from me, I curled up in my old blue recliner and had a little talk with the Lord. I cried some, not sobs, but big bubbles of tears that slid silent and wet down my cheeks. But they are not just sad tears, they are proud tears, too.

This is how it should be, this transition, this quiet house. And I must remember to let the tears fall, take a walk, listen to music, or read a little, instead of reaching for some big cheesy mess.

How about you? What tempts you to run to the arms of comfort food? What do you do instead?

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Comfort or crash?

Spirit Seeker Sunday meets God’s Real-life Fairy Tale

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 “Two people are better off then one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a tripe-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

When I saw this picture I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, but as I pondered the imagery of three people’s hands, I came to believe it symbolized the verse from Ecclesiastes that Sarah asked to be written on the wedding program. For her, the triple-braided cord reminds her that she and David never stand alone, but their lives are entwined with the Holy Spirit, who is always with them and for them.

When Sarah was very small there were a few prayers I prayed often: I prayed she would know and follow Jesus; be protected; and be given a good husband who loved her and who loved God.

Sarah decided she wanted to follow God when she was very young. I think she was only four when she took her little brother aside and explained to him that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the wrong stuff we’ve ever done and that Seth could chose to live in God’s forgiveness and God would come and live inside of him.

She may have been three.

As a teenager there were plenty of times of angst, lots of hurts and struggles. I watched as Scripture appeared on note cards all over the mirrors in her bedroom and bathroom, on sticky notes all over her room and books, was written on her door with sharpies, and (on particularly trying days) penned on her wrists and forearms.

Sarah pounded out her passions and questions on a blog, writing mostly poems about her perception of life and God. One day she told me, “If I ever meet a guy who cares enough about my heart to read my blog I’m going to marry him.”

Far away in Georgia, David fought his own battles while his parents prayed and fought for him.

And somehow they both grew up and loved Jesus.

They had romantic relationships, and some were particularly painful. Then one day they both decided no more dating until it was obviously something God was doing in and for them.

By this time David had graduated college in Illinois and moved to California. Sarah graduated cosmetology school and worked in Boulder, CO.

Sarah had a friend, Kirsten, who was visiting from Wyoming. During her visit Kirsten happened to get a Facebook message from an old friend she’d gone to youth group with in high school in Georgia. (Are you catching this 5 state connection–starting mostly east and traveling all the way west in the good ole USA?) David jokingly messagedKirsten, “have you found the perfect girl for me yet?”

Kirsten started to reply, “no,” then gasped. “Sarah! You’re perfect for David!” She introduced them on Facebook. They chatted most of the night. Sarah mentioned she had a blog. David stayed up all night, read every post, then put several of his poems on a blog for her to read.

They will both tell you they knew that night they’d met their future mate.

Fast forward roughly a year and a half to last June. David proposed, and they picked May 19th as their wedding date.

It was a practical choice. Sarah was determined to marry in May, the pastor was available only one weekend that month, and Wagon Wheels and Wildflowers had Sunday open.  It also pleased the couple that it is the birthday of David’s grandfather whom his mom Ronda says, “would have loved Sarah.”

After the date was chosen, I noticed that the calendar had “Pentecost Sunday” written on it, but I didn’t think much about that until a few days later. I sat in a Bible study listening to Beth Moore speak via DVD. She related several Christian holidays to their roots in Judaism and explained that Pentecost Sunday fell on the a Jewish celebration of harvest,

Stunned, I felt sure it was no accident that Sarah and David had chosen to get married on a day that celebrated harvest. Their marriage seemed a harvest of all the choices they’d made to seek God in the hard knocks of fighting to adulthood. It seemed a promise to Jerry and me and Steve and Ronda that our prayers had been answered.

I did a little more research:

May 19th, 2013 is Pentecost Sunday on the Christian liturgical calendar.

Pentecost Sunday is the Christian celebration of the day the Holy Spirit came to followers of Jesus. It manifested in a wind that blew through the room and in tongues of fire upon those gathered. That day 3,000 people believed for the first time Jesus was the Son of God, Savior of the world.

For Christians, Pentecost is a reminder of God’s plans, movement, and empowerment. It celebrates the birth of the Christian church. But there’s more! The Day of Pentecost is related to the Jewish celebration of Shavuot. Celebrated on the fiftieth day after Passover, Shavuot is traditionally a joyous time for expressing thankfulness to the Lord for the blessing of the first fruits of the summer harvest.

On May 19th, Sarah and David reaped an abundant harvest. They harvested the bounty grown from the seeds of parents who prayed their children would follow Jesus and find a spouse who did the same. They reaped a harvest from their own prayer seeds when they asked the Lord for a mate who understood their hearts, who looked to God for life direction, and who wanted to serve others with His love.

The marriage we celebrated on May 19th was God’s gift. It is the first fruits promise of all God will do in and through their relationship. It is a touchstone, a date of remembrance, an altar.

It is a harvest of love, a celebration of the movement of His Spirit, and a joyous day of gratitude to the One who brought them together.

A triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

God’s Real Life Fairy Tale (Part IV)

It started with a burst of laughter and ended with skipping.

And somehow in the midst of funny stories, non-traditional music, and forgotten bouquets, we knew IT was there.

You know, LOVE.

Theirs.

His.

Ours.

And with so much love flooding the airspace JOY had to follow.

It floated on the sound waves of their laughter. It bounced from the couple to the bridal party, onto the preacher, and then broke into a million tiny shimmering bubbles and covered us all.

The ceremony began as the family was seated,

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Continued with the arrival of the preacher and the groom

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Then bounced in on Converse clad groomsmen

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And bridesmaids who flitted down the sidewalk, pretty in purple and lavender.

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Handsome nephews entered in green vests and ties,

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followed by the angelic flower girl and the handsome ring bearer who carried a sign proclaiming, “Stay tuned for the kiss!”

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Finally everyone was in place.

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ceremony bridesmaids and flower girl

Suddenly the wedding coordinator nodded at me, and I remembered it was my job to stand, a silent announcement that the bride was soon to appear.

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I stood, family and friends stood. The big moment had come.

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When Sarah first stepped through the farmhouse door and onto the deck, David’s face grew tender. Then she stopped in her tracks and disappeared back into the house.

“You worried, David?” someone yelled.

He shook his head.

Sarah reappeared waving her forgotten bouquet. The audience roared.

got flowers!

David shrugged, joining in the laughter. “That’s just Sarah.”

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All around me people turned, facing backward, cell phones in the air, snapping pictures of the bride’s grand entrance.

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I glanced back at David. His laughter sobered as he watched her drawing near. I shouted. “Somebody get a picture of David!!”

And my brother did. In fact, he took what may be my very favorite wedding picture. It’s at least the one that will be forever etched in my heart and memory as it shows how much my new son-in-law loves my girl.

Entrance - David

When Jerry and Sarah reached the preacher, the pastor asked, “Who gives this woman to this man?”

My husband replied, “Her mother and I . . . have been giving this a lot of thought.”

not giving away

Sarah looked at her daddy like, “seriously???”

Jerry made more funny remarks, and soon everyone was laughing again.

laughter 2 sarah and dad

Then Jerry launched into this speech about how he could  never give his girl away, but that he could welcome David into the family and whole-heartedly support the marriage union the kids were entering in. He talked about how he knew the Grundy parents felt the same. When he hugged his new son, the expression on both of their faces was priceless. There was hardly a dry eye in the place.

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There was a lot of that teary thing in this wedding. My tall, strong boys stood sniffling and wiping swollen eyes. It showed most on Stephen due to his light coloring, poor kid.

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David and Jerry were falling apart.

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I, however, mostly beamed in joy. I mean with the guys all heaps of emotion, someone had to stay strong, right? And honestly, I got no help from David’s sisters or the other bridesmaids who pretty much started crying when the tune of  “Come What May” played upon the speakers, and Sarah began her walk. Or they may have started earlier as they entered themselves to the strains of, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”

All I want to know is with all this crying why my nephew handed me a package of tissue as the wedding began?

Caleb gives Paula tissue!

But back to the story.

After David and Jerry hugged, David’s dad, Steve, gave a beautiful invocation, (which didn’t exactly slow the flow of the tears.)

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Neither did the sweet hug Sarah and her father-in-law to be shared.

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Pastor Whaid said, “The crying has started way too early in this wedding. I think I need to skip down in my notes!”

He then took us to the antics of Sarah’s daddy back in the days before I tamed him, and the audience was set aright. Of course when he turned to Scripture and quoted that the man and wife were naked and unashamed the giggles started again because my daughter shamelessly waggled her eyebrows at her unsuspecting groom!

Whew! It was getting steamy, and the air wasn’t even that warm! (My girl later told me that the little look was only for David, and she didn’t expect everyone else to notice. Uh . . . sweetie . . . you WERE the bride. People WATCH the bride and groom at a wedding.)

As the service continued the flower girl placed blossoms on her pretty lavender dress.

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playing with petals

And the ring bearer stood firm, despite the burden of his heavy sign.

Luke and sign

Family watched as a new life began for two young people very much in love.

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Soon the couple stood drinking in a melody as Arvella sang, “Only Hope.”

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Her amazing voice enveloped the audience, the sun warmed us, and just then tiny sprinkles of rain dusted our cheeks.

“Uh, Lord,” I said. “We’ve been talking about this!” (Visions of my own flood of a wedding had kept me a little off balance about this whole outdoor celebration plan.)

I felt rather than heard His response, “Allow me this, okay? Just a tiny nod to YOUR special day. Trust me.”

I grinned and looked at my daughter. Her eyes were closed and her face aglow. One of her favorite things is feeling a little rain in sunshine. I knew then she was soaking in the blessings, not worried for an instant about the droplets, just receiving them as a gift.

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We cried and laughed again as Sarah and David exchanged both traditional vows and vows they had written themselves. (Okay, so David did start the whole tear thing as he got about two words into his vows and his voice cracked.)

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As they made promises we knew they intend to keep, we chuckled at the similarities of the vows, which they had not shown each other before the ceremony. Both promised to love the other even on the “days I don’t like you very much.” Both promised to age without growing old, always holding onto a childlike ability to play. David touched us all deep inside when he promised to ask forgiveness for the times he couldn’t live up to everything he had just promised, and there was a collective “ahhhh” when Sarah said, “I can’t wait to start saying goodnight instead of good-bye.”

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As they shared their hearts it was obvious they each entered into the experience, allowing the other person’s words and love penetrate past the day, the crowded lawn, the brief moment. They welcomed the declarations to settle deep inside, treasured, alive for eternity.

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They meant every word.

They received every word.

Then they exchanged their rings.

wedding, Darlene's disk (96)

Then they stepped back to grasp decanters of sand. As my brother, Curtis, and his wife, Anne, sang, “I Will be There,” David and Sarah blended their lives and talents into a work of art.

wedding, Darlene's disk (101)

Whaid offered the wedding prayer

wedding, Darlene's disk (106)

and pronounced them man and wife.

As David kissed his bride her nephews threw buckets of sprinkles into the sky and her brother set off fire crackers. (They were sure Sarah had always wanted to experience fireworks when she kissed her man!)

The kiss!

There was a brief nod to the whole Disney princess thing when Sarah and David gave the prince and princess wave.

wedding, Darlene's disk (114)

Then hearts full, we celebrated with the Mr. and Mrs. Grundy as they skipped down the sidewalk to “Come Dance With me.

exit

And THEN it was time for the party to begin! Tune in next time to dance under the stars!

(Special thanks to Kim at the Creative Pixel Photography for allowing me to use several professional shots in this blog post. A few of these shots are also from my sister-in-law, Darlene.)

God’s Real Life Fairy Tale (Part III)

The big day finally arrived! (If you want the beginning of the story read this and this.)

brides snacksSunday started early with a Safeway run. I wanted to entice Sarah and her bridesmaids to EAT as they prepared for the big day, so I put together a platter of fruit as well as some meats and cheeses to send to the venue with our fabulous wedding coordinator, Niki, who took time out from their family ministry to take care of us!

I wanted light, refreshing food that would feel healthy and not heavy. My new healthy eating habits made this even more important to me. At the store I even splurged on blueberries, which are Sarah’s favorite. I never did ask her if she ate any. Those girls were spoiled because Niki took treats to them as well. AND she dropped off two crockpots of food at my house so my boys could enjoy a big lunch since the guys were not to arrive at the venue until afternoon.

Then it was off to get my hair done. My cosmetologist daughter sent me with four photos of updos so the stylist could capture exactly the look we wanted, and the stylist did just that. There was another amazing God moment. The stylist charged only what the salon required, saying she wanted to give Sarah and me a gift. Every time I turned around through this wedding week God provided blessing and provision. The whole wedding experience was clearly an example of the love of a generous community.

mom updo

I am overwhelmed.

At the venue Sarah’s talented co-workers dressed up her bridesmaids with amazing hairstyles while friends and family prepared the venue.

preparing venue 1

At almost every wedding in our circle there has been a bit of a cake fiasco that had to be rescued, so our wedding planner, Maggie, begged us to order from her favorite bakery instead of having a friend do the cake. Would you believe that one of the cakes was delivered with a slight mishap? I’ve started calling our friend Monique the cake whisperer because she rescued yet another cake at Sarah and David’s wedding, despite the professional delivery.

cake fix

Monique also blessed Sarah and David creating all the floral arrangements for this event. Sarah and David and their friends made over 600 duct tape flowers, which Monique incorporated along with fresh flowers. Sarah’s bouquet actually included roses made for Sarah by David. Her first bouquet from him when they were dating included duck tape roses.

wedding, Darlene's disk (83)

Monique also used the duct tape flowers in the boutonnieres and corsages.

boutinerre

This is my corsage. A fun aside is that there is a pride and prejudice charm in it to symbolize Sarah find the man she says is, “even better than Mr. Darcy.” Ronda’s mother corsage had a special charm, too, which symbolized her open heart in welcoming Sarah to the family.

wedding, Darlene's disk (84)

Sarah’s something old was her veil. A friend and I worked for some time taking apart my wedding veil and recreating it for Sarah. I embroidered silver threads into the appliques we took from my wedding hat.

Veil - mom's embroidery

Embroidered appliques taken from my wedding hat (worn 1989)

My talented friend Kordee arranged them across the tail of the veil, scattered sequins and pearls across the veil, and reassembled the veil on a comb for Sarah.

veil - Copy

Sarah also wore a lovely heart charm for her something borrowed. It was loaned to her by her honorary grandmother, Bernice. Her something new was a beautiful necklace from David, and her something blue was a piece of her dad’s blue T-shirt, tucked in her gown next to her heart. When her daddy heard this idea, he immediately pulled out a blue T-shirt from his honeymoon.

bracelet

As Sarah dressed her matron of honor and maid of honor joined mom in helping her make final preparations. A fun aside is that two of mom’s bridesmaids from 1989 were also in the room, helping mom and Sarah dress.

getting ready

Ashley, Matron of Honor, Sarah, Jennie, Maid of Honor

caryl, Kristin, Paula

Caryl, 1989 matron of honor, Paula, Kristin, 1989 bridesmaid

Sarah and David chose to do a “reveal” so they saw each other before the wedding, all dressed up. They shared a private moment together, then took lots of pictures!

Sarah - shh!

 Yes those pictures may have included running through fields and climbing trees. (Some of the pictures in this post were from my phone, but the professional ones were taken by my very talented friend, Kim of the Creative Pixel. She and I have been loyal friends for years, as have her daughter and Sarah. In fact, Kim’s daughter, Ashley, was the matron of honor.)

Before - dancing in field

tree!

tennies

Sarah and David’s siblings got into the posing fun by supposedly pulling the couple apart in front of the big red barn.

barn

And the bridal party did all kinds of clever poses, too.

David and groomsmen

Sam (Brides’s Brother), Seth (Brides’s Brother), Bryan (best man), David (groom), Andrew, Jackie, Stephen (Brides’s Brother)

sarah and groomsmen - fun! 1

Sarah and bridesmaids

Bridesmaids clockwise around Sarah: Jessica (Groom’s Sister), Kristina (Groom’s Sister), Krysta, Lydia (Jr. Bridesmaid and bride’s niece), Ashley (Matron of Honor), Jennie (Maid of Honor), and Stephany (sister of groom)

And throughout all the picture taking, David and Sarah often found time to touch noses, give hugs, and kiss!

hugging

purple

Soon it was time for everyone to get into their places. Sarah waited on the interior balcony of the farmhouse and peeked out the window watching the guests arrive. The ceremony would soon begin!

almost time

Spirit Seeker Sunday 6

spirit 7 stephen

Let His Spirit move you like water in a stream. Fresh. Flowing. Bubbling. (Photo taken by Stephen Moldenhauer on a hike in the Colorado Rockies.)

“We are only one good choice away from being back on the path of perseverance.” ~ Lysa TerKeurst, the Made to Crave Devotional

This has to be one of my very favorite nuggets of truth on my get healthy journey.

Some days (months, years) are super stressful, and I find it hard to CARE about a thinner, healthier body, much less take action. But the good news is that my God dearly loves me whether I’m having a successful weight loss day or not. His love never changes. It is not based on my performance, but in my position as His beloved child.

Every single moment I am only one choice away from returning to my goal. It’s never to late to step back onto the path of perseverance and success. No matter how many days I ignored my goal, in a flash I can be back on track.

Whew! Talk about encouragement!

In her Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa TerKeurst talks about being raised in a culture where food equates love. I relate. My grandmother was a fabulous cook and her love language was feeding you. It wasn’t unusual for Grandma to make fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, AND stewed potatoes–in one meal. She wanted everyone to have their favorite. And she did the same things with the bread. It wasn’t enough to have homemade yeast rolls. She had to make biscuits, too, because I liked them best. And a meal isn’t a meal in the rolling hills of eastern Oklahoma without cornbread. At least at Grandma’s table.

I bought into the whole concept of loving through food. If my boys were to write a book on love languages,  instead of The Five Love Languages, there would be Six. The sixth would be cooking for those you love. Just the other night I made pan cookies at 9 p.m. just because my Seth’s big blue eyes begged. Of course since he works out a couple of hours most days and has the metabolism of a twenty-year-old, those pan cookies don’t affect him quite like they do me. Like it or not, a whole lot of the meaning of family at our house is a big meal or a home-baked treat.

While cooking is a way of loving–an act of service my sons and husband appreciate–food is not love. God is love. Being a part of His family is as simple as choosing to be His child by accepting His unconditional love and forgiveness offered through His Firstborn Son, Jesus. Because of Jesus’s act of Love on the cross, the rest of us have the opportunity to be adopted by the Father. We can be part of the family.

We can enjoy many expressions of love, including someone’s good cooking. But in our journey to know God and in our journey to healthier lifestyles, it’s important to break the idea that we can fill up our love holes with food. The only way to fill up a love hole is with God’s unconditional, always present, never wavering, fully perfect LOVE.

When He looks at us He loves us. It’s that simple.

When we throw our heart and arms open to God’s love, we are more able to go forward in all of life. In our identity as children of the King of the universe we can persevere in the hard stuff–like weight loss–and make that one good choice that puts us back on the path to perseverance. And then the NEXT good choice.

How about you?  Does it encourage you to remember that you are HIS precious daughter no matter your weight and no matter your performance? And how do you feel about being only one good choice away from perseverance?

How about sharing these thoughts with your friends?

When God looks at us He loves us. It’s that simple.

My identity is as God’s precious child; not based on my performance.

No matter what I’ve done, I’m only one choice away from persevering on the path to my goals.

Thank God They Didn’t Say It Then (Day 74)

Click here for more graphics and gifs!

Been laughing at the things my family says to me lately.  They mean these little jewels as compliments, but they are quite telling. Seriously, I laughed.

“Wow, Mom! Your double chin is gone!”

“Honey! There’s no more cellulite on your legs . . . ”

“You know, you were starting to be kind of round, but now you actually have a shape.”

Gotta love ‘em.

All I can say is I would have been devastated had they voiced those thoughts back when it was the other reality. I didn’t spend my days paying attention to the double chin, cellulite, or round body. I mean I noticed things were going downhill, but it would have hurt to have my loved ones pointing out the decline.

Thank God they didn’t.

Real Time Update:

About a month after I wrote the above one of my sons did something even better than make one of those comments. He didn’t recognize me! He’d gone to church with his aunt, and I was supposed to pick him up afterwards. I arrived early, so I decided to slip inside rather than wait outside. I sat next to my sister-in-law. Stephen was on the other side. After church his eye grew wide, “Wow, Mom. I didn’t know that was you. I just saw this thin blond lady and thought she was a friend of Auntie Anne’s!”

Talk about affirmation of change!

What About You?

What backwards encouragement do you get at your house for weight loss? Or affirmation of change?