Thursday, April 12, 2018

On The Wedding Day of My Little Sister

This past weekend, Wendi married the love of her life, Luke.

To anyone who knows us in real life, you now that the planning of this wedding was less than smooth.  But what is ridiculously amazing is how seamlessly the wedding weekend went.  What an incredible blessing that weekend was.

The bridal party and families of the couple, nearly two dozen people who were previously strangers, bonded in a way that can only come when you deeply love the same people and absolutely want the best for them.

I am going to share my toast below, because I want to always remember the feeling of joy I had that day - in fact, that joy was nearly as strong as June 24, 2006, my own wedding day.

The day after the wedding I asked Luke what snapshots he will carry with him of that day (I wrote about my own once) - he mentioned finishing touches on his vows in a coffee shop that morning, spending forever trapped in the bathroom at the venue because that was the safest place to not see his bride, being very present during the ceremony, and dancing with all his friends.

I'm going to share my own snap shots.  

The first one happened when I walked down the aisle, just before the ring bearer (Levi) and flower girl (Joelle).  Having shed many tears the night before at rehearsal, I felt confident in my ability to keep it together at the wedding.  Until I saw Herb.   He led the first half of the ceremony, delivering a homily about the first couple on earth and how they relate to the covenant that Wendi and Luke would be making.  Herb, standing at the end of an aisle, looking very dapper.  I couldn't look away, and I couldn't stop the tears.  I love him so.

I haven't seen a picture of this second moment yet, but I'm really hoping that the photographer, crouched down behind my back during the ceremony caught the view that I saw.  It is as clear to me as a beautiful picture, #nofilter.

The indoor wedding took place under a string of edison bulbs, graciously donated by Stray Production Services and painstakingly strung by Herb, Joey, and Morgan.  As you will read below, the wedding was never supposed to be inside, but the weather deemed it necessary.  I joked to Wendi that the awkward pillars in the room would become the thing that made the best decoration.  And, it acutally happened.  

Anyway - as Wendi stood in the middle of that room, facing her groom who had a constant supply of tears, the lights illuminated her in an angelic way.  I don't know if it was really there, or just the way I saw it, but she glowed.  Literally, an orange light shone all around her. Bouncing from her soft curls to her shoulders to her face.

In that momemt, my snap shot, if you will, for the first time I saw my little annoying steals my stuff copies of me sister as a woman.  Sure, it's been a lot of years since I saw her as a baby, or felt annoyed at the make up she stole, but in this moment I truly saw her as an adult, making a huge committment, being fully present.  I felt so full of love and pride for her that I could have burst - and I guess I did kind least out of my eyes. Constantly.

What a blessing the wedding weekend was to all who were there.  Thank you, Wendi and Luke, for letting me be a part of it, and for the light and life you bring to our family.

Maid of Honor Toast

When you called to tell me you were engaged, the first thing you said was, "I hope you're ready to help me with a DIY wedding."  And now, here we are, your DIY wedding has come together!  

From midnight phone calls while you were in Hong Kong to daily goodwill trips to countless hours on Pinterest and amazon.  The intentionality and purpose to which you applied to this celebration are evident in every detail. 

And why should we be surprised that you wanted a DIY wedding - you have lived her whole life with a “do it myself” attitude.  

You walked at nine months old.  You stole the lead in the high school musical as an 8th grader (Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie).  You started college before finishing high school.  You followed your love of theater to New York, Florida, Oklahoma, Hong King, Maine, and the Atlantic Ocean.

We have had the privilege to be spectators and cheerleaders and maybe sometimes even naysayers to your independent and spontaneous vagabond life, filled with crazy adventures and challenges to be overcome. 

I was thinking about the time you asked Josh and I  (and some friends) to tie you up to the mail box.  We place a “for sale,” sign on you.  Spoiler alert - there were no takers.  We tease you about asking to be tied up, but even in that we see your ability to take control of a situation -  even be bullied by your terrible older siblings on your own terms.  

We have witnessed you face problems with ease and confidence - you can handle it all.  you can do it herself.  And as Grandma like to say, you always land on your feet.  

And now, you never have a reason to do it by yourself anymore.  God has brought you a partner who compliments you in every way.  Your relationship is like a beautiful duet - sometimes you each have you moment of spotlight, but the best parts are when you are singing in harmony, ebbing and flowing together.  Sometimes there is dissonance, but it’s always followed by resolution.

 Even when you and Luke are separated by distance or when you, Lord willing, have babies who exhaust you and you feel like ships passing in the night, you will always have a partner, a supporter, a helper.

The moments in life that seem like the biggest obstacles are often the things that lead to the greatest beauty.  

For example, planning a quick thrifty wedding from the other side of the world gave you and I a chance to work together and bond and love each other in a deeper way. 

Everyone here may not know this - but today’s ceremony had been slated to be outdoors, but last week Wendi and Luke, seeing the forecast, chose to move the wedding indoors.  In the basement, the pillars caused quite a headache.  

And what did we all witness an hour ago? That sometimes the greatest obstacles lead to the greatest beauty.  The most clashing dissonance leads to the sweetest resolution.

You and Luke have faced and will face many obstacles and challenges and moments of dissonance.  I encourage you to face them together, seek God’s guidance, and work with expectancy that trials will lead to growth and beauty.

Luke - I am So happy that Wendi has found someone to handle her drama and craziness.  I can say that because she’s my little sister - but none of you better say it!  You are supportive and steady and balance her.  I see the way you treat her with utter respect and I thank you for that.   You are the perfect addition to our family and bring such vibrancy and humor.  Additionally, Levi pointed out that today you gain a new title - Uncle.  Congratulations, today you have become an uncle!

I love you both so much.  We all do. Seeing you surrounded this weekend by the people you hold so dear has made me appreciate you more deeply.  

We all have been spectators to a beautiful love story, and we are all committed to rally around you and support your happily ever after.  

Saturday, February 17, 2018

To the Previous Owners of Our House

One year ago today, Herb and I purchased a new home.  I gave this letter to the previous owners the day they signed their home of 30 years over to us and moved to a retirement community.  As I reread this words today, I was reminded how blessed we are to be here.  Everything we set out to do with this house (in the letter) has already come to fruition, and then some.  

Dear Joan and Melvin,

Recently, we helped my grandparents sell their home of forty years and move to Fairmount Homes, and while a bittersweet transition, it was really nice for them to know who had bought their house. They found peace in thinking about the joy their house would bring to another family.  I have been thinking that I would love the chance to tell you how excited we are to live here.

The first time I saw the listing, I immediately noticed the bold front door and wondered why such a nice house showed up in our price range.   The turquoise door was the color of my bridesmaid’s dresses ten years ago, and the color of my beloved fiestaware.  The love between aqua/teal/turquoise and I runs deep enough that nearly every one of my friends and family would be quick to tell you it’s my favorite.  Imagine my surprise when we visited the house for the first time and saw the color carried in to so many corners of the house.  I especially like the door in the den and cabinets in the garage.

My husband, Herb, is a shop supervisor at Clair Brothers in Manheim and a seminary student, I am a self-employed music teacher, and we are both worship leaders at our church.  We met the first day of marching band at Millersville University in 2002, where we both majored in music.  So of course, we had another good laugh when we realized this property was located on Harmony Hill Drive.  While I currently teach at a music studio, someday soon I am hoping to turn the den behind the garage into a home studio where I teach piano and guitar lessons.  

Our son, Levi, is six years old and attends kindergarten at Veritas Academy.  This was one of the main reasons we ended up in this end of the county. We are excited to be so central to so many of the attractions that makes Lancaster special.  We love  spending time in the city and I am hoping, now that we are closer to it, to make more of a routine of getting produce from central Market.

In addition to Levi, we have been attempting to add to our family through adoption for the last three years.  It’s been a loooooooong and hard journey, filled with bumps, losses, and grief.  This house represents a fresh start for our family.  Not only is it the nicest house we’ve ever lived in, but it’s going to allow our family to grow as we move in to the area of foster care.  

I can’t wait to have room to entertain overnight guests and a place to send the kid(s) to 
rough house in the basement.  I imagine Levi sitting at the counter doing his homework while I make dinner.  I am already planning picnics and large family dinners.  Levi is excited to explore the “forest” behind the shed.  Herb is excited to finally have a little office nook (the nook in the master bedroom) - a bright and quite place to do his reading and writing for seminary.  My grandma, who I mentioned now lives in a retirement home, has a passion for flowers, and is greatly looking forward to seeing what pops up out of the flower beds, which we can tell you have lovingly cared for.

As you can see, this house is more than just a 1400 square foot, energy efficient, well maintained beautiful property to us - it is our hope fulfilled.   I am praying that wherever you have transitioned to brings you as much happiness as I know this property will bring us.  Thank you for loving it well; I promise we will carry that on.