To My Dear Friend on her Wedding Day

I woke up one minute before my alarm clock this morning. Bleary-eyed, feeling a sore throat coming, I stumbled out into the kitchen to turn the coffee pot on, careful not to wake my husband or my sister, who was sleeping on our living room couch. My thoughts were only of the day ahead, with my family visiting, and all the activities the day would hold. Moments later, though, as I sat down to feed Daisy, my thoughts suddenly turned to a dear college friend. Today is her wedding day. Instantly, a flood of memories came to my mind.

I remembered the exquisite feeling of waking up on my wedding day. That morning was a beautiful whirl of joy, peace, excitement, and fulfillment. After years and years of waiting, it was finally time to be united to my beloved. There was such peace amidst the busyness of preparations. When it finally came time to go meet my bridegroom, I laughed with tears of joy.

I remembered those sweet moments with my bridesmaids–sisters and dear friends–as we prepared for the ceremony. Donning lace shawls, fighting hose, and twirling with glee in the impromptu dance party. I remember circling together to pray, moments before they left me to line up for their entrance. Joining hands with dear saints as we looked beyond that day to glory.

I remembered the moment of breaking down as I walked those last few steps toward my bridegroom, hardly able to stand the pure bliss of that moment. Then there was the  giddy look of unbelieving joy when our pastor pronounced us man and wife. We stood at the front of the chapel singing “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,” hearts aglow in the finality of covenant marriage. The beautiful organ strains of Handel’s “Worthy is the Lamb” rose to the high ceiling as we humbly and joyfully walked out as man and wife.

I remembered leaving the wedding, alone together in the car, beginning a new life. In the midst of the giddy joy, there was a deep peace in belonging to one another, uniting to form a new family. There was fulfillment, excitement, and even a sense of relief. No more waiting. The time was now here.

And then, in my rocking chair this morning, amid the flood of memories of that past day, my thoughts turned to the marriage we have now.

I thought of the peace of waking up next to my husband to face another day together. What a joy it is to fight the good fight shoulder to shoulder, working alongside one another to build a home, raise a family, and seek Christ. We share a beautiful companionship in the daily struggle of living by grace. We walk, hand in hand, to glory.

I thought of the dear moments of sitting across from my husband, talking deeply about life and love and all that lies before us. Challenging one another to holiness. Plumbing the depths of providence and grace. We see in each other’s eyes the commitment to integrity and to faithfulness. The need for mercy. The truth of Christ in us, our hope of glory.

I thought of the heartfelt sorrow of wounding my husband with my sin. Every offense is one more act of holding up a mirror to see the odious iniquity I don, reflected in the pain of the dearest friend I have. Another repentant word, another sad sigh over the struggle, another moment of undeserved grace.

I thought of the peace of going forward together. Of our upcoming move and all the uncertainty and challenge borne in it. Of the peace of going by his side, and sharing the load together. Of the deep joy of following him as he pursues his calling, and of watching on my knees as God works.

Marriage is beautiful work. Joyful struggle. A holy calling.

And so, to my dear friend, on this day, JOY. I offer you my heartfelt joy as you wed your beloved. I know he waits for you eagerly, strong hands and tender heart, overflowing with love. He is a good man, full of integrity and godliness. I wish you every delight as you celebrate together your covenant marriage. And then, as you begin a new life together, may the sweetness of daily and intimate fellowship reveal to you all the fullness of God as you journey, shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand, to glory.

Life Reflections at Panera

It seemed providential that the day set for my solo trip to town should fall on the same day that Daisy reached four months. A time to reflect, I thought, with four months of motherhood behind me. I had planned this trip for at least a month, thinking with longing of a morning to myself to think, plan, read, and otherwise refresh my tired soul. My dear husband was willing to watch Daisy, so that I could enjoy the time free from the (pleasant!) distractions of a baby girl.

Then, last night, I plunged into a swamp of doubt. Should I really be taking a whole morning to do this? Surely there is enough to do at home that would make this a selfish venture. Perhaps I don’t even want to go to town. But wouldn’t it be good?  Thankfully, my husband’s good sense prevailed. Yes, you should do this. Yes, this will be good for you. Just don’t expect it to solve everything or be perfect. Enjoy it with reasonable expectations. (He knows me very well.)

So I ventured out early this morning in the radiance of a new day. Under a clear blue sky, I drove into town to the local Panera, where I bought a medium coffee and a bagel with cream cheese, settling in a seat by the window with an armload of books, a notebook, and a pen.

Sifting through life at a table by the window

Sifting through life at a table by the window

Two tables away, a trio of gray-haired men enjoyed good conversation punctuated by laughter. One of the voices reminded me of a dear man from my college days, a retired pastor who loves to garden. The comfortable tone of their voices provided a peaceful background to my reading.

Read I did. I had pulled several old favorites off our bookshelf at home last night, longing to refresh my soul with their dear encouragement. Daily Light, with Anne Graham Lotz’s selections of Scripture, had been a gift from my mother thirteen years ago. Amy Carmichael’s Edges of His Ways came from the wife of my dear pastor friend who gardens. I had purchased Beautiful Girlhood–Karen Andreola’s revision of the Mabel Hale classic–back in my teenage days, and Susannah Spurgeon’s devotional thoughts, Free Grace and Dying Love, had been a recent gift from our pastor’s wife here in Virginia. Armed with these dear friends, I sat down by the window to read, reflect, and refresh my heart.

One of the first things I came across was the psalmist’s words from Psalm 131:

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Nor do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother… (vv. 1-2)

Yes, I thought. This is what I need. Simplicity and peace. I longed to clarify the roles I had as wife and mother–positions which, though fixed, often grow muddled in the waves of laundry, dishes, and diapers.

Also with me was a pile of notecards saved from the bridal shower given by my sister-in-law and a friend with the women of the church in which I had grown up. Each notecard had a room of the house designated, and the women had shared insights, encouragement, and tidbits of practical wisdom. After months of lying in a desk drawer, I had unearthed them the other day in a fit of organization. Now, I was encouraged by them this morning.

Being a homemaker means being a keeper of the home, wrote a mother of eight. Keep your home, but don’t forget to actually enjoy it with your family. Always keep your heart open, wrote another. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Whew! That’s what I needed to hear.

And so, with notecards, books, and an ever-scratching pen in my dear old notebook, my soul was refreshed. The sun shone through my window, and when those dear old men left, in went my headphones and I enjoyed the intricate beauties of Vivaldi violin concertos. Such peace.

Four months into motherhood–a lifetime to go.  My heart is refreshed from a morning by the window at Panera.

Every hour should bear on its fast-flying wings the witness of something said, or done, or thought, for You, my Master, or Your service. (Susannah Spurgeon, Free Grace and Dying Love)