delight in his society

There it was.  Despite my best efforts to be sweet and reasonable, I was face to face with my own bridezilla moment!  We have a good laugh about it now, but on that day, for a few tense moments, it didn’t seem quite so amusing.

The day before our wedding was one of those happily busy days, attending to last minute details, adding special touches to my grandparents’ chapel building.  It was precious to begin our married life exactly where my grandparents invested most of theirs … in the Lord’s service… together.  In many ways, our carefully chosen venue reflected their hearts – practical and faithful, beautiful in its simplicity, drawing attention to the One who had won their hearts first and was worthy of their life of devotion.

In honor of their desires, our added touches would be simple too:  a wrought-iron candle holder across the table on the platform, with a small spray of flowers at its base and cream-colored candles that cast a soft glow across the front of the auditorium, two lush ferns on either side of the aisle to frame our ceremony location, and a few big white bows to reserve rows for family.  My mom did what she does best, crafting a few more bows out of white and plum-colored ribbon to accent hickory-branch hearts that hung on the double doors leading to the auditorium.

Our reception would be simple too – hors d’oeuvres and cake in the basement of the chapel.  Friends worked hard in that nondescript space to create the feeling of a beautiful courtyard:  small cocktail tables and chairs with white table cloths and candles, accents of plum & purple in the centerpieces, soft white fabric draped from ceiling to floor around each pillar, lit from underneath with strings of lights, and a collection of fica trees around the room, also lit with tiny white twinkle lights.

I couldn’t have been happier… until… out of the corner of my eye, I spotted fabric that looked horribly out of place.  It was lying in a heap on the floor at the far end of the basement near one of the buffet tables.  It seemed garish, with bold, wide stripes of color.  “What is that?”  I asked nervously.  A member of the catering staff turned to me and proudly stated, “oh, that’s the table skirt!”

My mind scrambled.  In my head I was thinking.  “Oh, no.  No, no, NO!  This is NOT a circus.  This is NOT a 5-year old’s birthday party.  THIS is our wedding!  And that just will not do!”  My soon-to-be-husband shot me a glance, fearing that I might just loose it.  (He already knew how particular I could be about these details.)

Somehow, I managed to gather myself and calmly but firmly ask if it could be replaced with something white?!  At that moment, another catering team member came to my rescue.  His name was Frank, but we affectionately dubbed him “Franc” from “Father of the Bride.”  With his unique flair, and overflowing, apologetic kindness, he assured me that he, personally, would see to it that all linens would be white and all added touches would be in line with our vision for that space.

Phiew!  “Catastrophe” averted.  Leaving it all in good hands, I bounced back to my own list and we stepped confidently forward into the happy blur that would be the next 24 hours.  Needless to say, in the haze of our joyous bubble on our wedding day, I never gave the table skirt another thought!  It is crazy to think that it seemed SO important in a brief, passing moment, when the true value of those days was in the vows we would pledge to one another before the Lord!

This past week we celebrated our 19th anniversary, and it has been sweet and special to revisit the treasured moments of our wedding day (bridezilla and all!).  I was reminded of a few phrases from our ceremony, charging us to “delight in the society of one another, choose to stand beside one another even when it doesn’t come naturally, place our confidence always in the Lord to hold us together when life has a way of tearing us apart…”

his society 2

We have been abundantly blessed with truly happy years together.  Because of David’s love and commitment to the Lord and to me, it is not hard to choose to stand beside him, to overflow with thanksgiving for the love that we share.  But these words still echo in our hearts and refocus us when we encounter days that are not so easy.

As we flipped through pages of our wedding album with our kids, and paused at the pictures of that beautiful basement reception area, my mind also drifted to a study I had recently done in the book of Esther.

Esther’s story begins with a detailed description of a festive time in the kingdom of Ahasuerus and his queen, Vashti.  Although vastly different from our homespun, simple elegance (and no sign of gaudy striped fabric, I’m sure!), there were enough similarities to grab my attention:

“a great feast lasting for seven days in the court of the garden of the king’s palace… white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones… drinks served in golden vessels, royal wine lavished according to the bounty of the king… Queen Vashti also gave a feast for the women in the palace…”

Wow.  The aesthetics alone captivate me.  I imagine myself even more wide-eyed with amazement than walking in to discover my attractively decorated reception area.  [And my mind can’t help a flash-forward as well… if this is the ultimate of man’s display of a lavish, royal, luxurious, extravagant, “event of the year”, WHAT must the marriage supper of the Lamb be like one day when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords welcomes us into His banqueting house?!!!  We. simply. cannot. imagine!!!]

But my mind lingers on Vashti – Ahasuerus’ queen who declined his request to join him at his banquet.  We certainly don’t know the details that might explain Vashti’s heart.  But I can’t help but think, why wouldn’t Vashti want to take her prominent place in this extravagant occasion?  Why would she not joy in being the delight of her king?  Why would she spurn the chance to delight in his society and be shown to everyone as his treasure?  There are likely many possible explanations, but one simple thought crossed my mind… maybe she was just too wrapped up in her own lavish occasion with the ladies, and he had been completely consumed with his own feasting for 180 days (that’s 6 months!!!!!), that they were disconnected…horribly disconnected.  They were not in tune with one another, certainly not “delighting in the society of each other, choosing to stand beside one another” and from what we are told, did not have the Lord in their marriage at all, let alone as their staying force.

Later in the same book, I can’t help but notice the comparison of Esther with Vashti.  Instead of being wrapped up in their own festivities, separate from one another, Esther prepares a banquet for her king and he happily accepts her invitation… two days in a row.  In that place of happy communion, she is able to bare her soul and plead for her life and for her people.  And he, already taken with her heart and responding to her gracious approach to him, heartily stands to defend her and grants her request… abundantly! I know there were greater things at stake in Esther’s day than a marriage relationship, but I find it all interesting and challenging to me as I seek God’s best for my own marriage.

And so, as we celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary, I thank the Lord for these accounts in His Word.  I thank Him for the simple encouragement to PRAY for God’s help… to choose to stand by my man, to not allow commitments to continually draw us away from one another, to consciously delight in each other, and to invest our lives in His service … together.

his society 1

Read more here! – the book of Esther – Romans 12 – Ephesians 5 – Colossians 3

 his society 7

 

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sweet sixteen

to our favorite girl on her sixteenth birthday ~

We painted your room the softest blush of lavender, one of my favorite shades of purple.  It was so fun to gather adorable little outfits and dresses and fill the cabinets in your room with every soft, lovely “necessity” we could find.  I’ll never forget the day your Daddy burst through the door with the biggest stuffed white bear I have ever seen!  It makes me smile wide to know that (still!) one of your safe, happy places is curled up in its arms!

As my belly grew (I was HUGE!), my favorite place to rest was in the glider rocker in your room, soaking in the still quiet and beauty of a place in waiting, listening to a lullaby prayers CD while I wrote thank you notes for shower gifts or filled in pages of your baby book.

I would often pause in the midst of those happy tasks, just to sit… and dream… and pray.  I couldn’t imagine what you would look like, what would make you smile, what kind of life you would live, but I couldn’t wait to meet you!  If there were specific things I dreamed for you in those hours, I don’t remember them.  Because, honestly, it was clear from the very beginning that your story was not ours to write!

Every detail of your story was woven into time before one day of it came to be – perfectly designed by our Heavenly Father.  It is an ever expanding and delightfully surprising story.  It is beauty and passion and creativity and loyalty and daring hope and bold endeavors.  We love watching your days unfold!

“You saw me before I was born.  Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single one of them came to be.  How precious are Your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered.”  – Psalm 139:16-17

Our greatest joy (that brings the deepest delight to the Father’s heart as well) is your love for Him.  You have always had a tender heart for the Lord Jesus.  One of your first words, as I pulled your Bible story & song books off the shelf at lunchtime one day was “Jesus!” with the brightest smile and gleeful little clap.  You would tell us about nights when you would kneel by your window and look up into the starry sky and talk to Him.

Your love for Him and trust in Him has grown.  We will always treasure the day you publicly expressed your faith in Christ as your Savior when you were baptized.  We sang “Love Lifted Me” and I stood in a Hallmark store with tears brimming a few months later when I found the perfect Christmas ornament for you – a beautifully hand-painted glass butterfly (another favorite of yours!) with these words on its wings “Light to lead me, Love to lift me.”

We still have no idea where your life will lead, where you might continue your education, what jobs you might hold, if you will marry or to whom.  But we know Who leads your life – the One who has a perfect plan orchestrated for each one of your days.  It is beautiful and passionate and loyal and daring and grounded in hope!  And we can’t wait to watch it continue to unfold!

Your story may never have been ours to write, but we are forever touched, amazed and grateful that the Lord chose us to hold you close, love you and raise you, and walk beside you as He reveals Himself and His plans to you.

We love you. We treasure the beautiful young lady you have become, the one whose eyes dance and whose heart overflows, the one who looks to the Father and follows where He leads you.

We offer our love and prayers – you can count on them always! ~ Mom and Dad xoxo

written in Your book

a photo of one of your favorite places, taken in October 2000, the very first time we vacationed at Massanutten, just months before we knew we were expecting our first baby, just one year before you were born

a few sweet sixteen “extras”…

* the verses I tucked inside your middle school locker with your favorite pretzel M&Ms and Hershey bars and Peppermint Patties to surprise you on the night of open house – Words I still pray for you (and for me!):

Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. – Psalm 25:4-5

* a verse and chorus from my new favorite song from Plum, “God Help Me”:

I don’t know the future

It’s one day at a time

But I know I’ll be okay with Your Hand holding mine

So take all my resistance

Oh God I need Your grace

One step and then the other

Show me the way

~

Help me to move

Help me to see

Help me to do whatever You ask of me

Help me to go

Or God help me to stay

I know that You’re faithful

O God, help me.

* the words to the hymn you just pointed out to me as one of your favorites, “Be Thou My Vision,” an Irish melody whose words are attributed to Dallan Forgaill:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best Thought, by day or by night;

Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.

 

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;

I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;

Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;

Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

 

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

Thou mine inheritance, now and always;

Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,

High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

 

High King of Heaven, my victory won,

May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.