Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Thankful I Didn't Know I Wanted

One small yes early this year has shaped my entire year and dare I say, the rest of my life. 

It's a yes that, as I found out, some aren't willing to agree to but I did and I'm so thankful.

I am thankful for a young girl who found herself pregnant while being at the mercy of others and chose to give her baby life and to keep her. She wants for her daughter what she didn't have and whether that can actually happen, well I'm praying it does.
The odds are stacked against her from what I can tell except for the very fact that she didn't quit school and finished with a full high school degree. As I handed her the commencement program with her name in it, I told her teen moms don't do that. I told her it is a momentous thing not just for herself but also for her baby's future. I am thankful that God has created her to do such a thing.

I am thankful for a school that does not give up on kids like her. There are teachers, administration, nurses and others that handle it all. Plain and simple, I am thankful for our school. 

I am thankful for the conversations I've had with my dad. Just like me, he's working through his prejudices. It's not easy work. To step away from the safety of a well-worn thought, dare to believe that this one might be different than the stereotype and stuff the whole thing up with grace, well that's not like us. But here's the deal- we, him, her, me- we are all the same. Broken. And I cannot not offer her what was offered me. And I can't wait for her to jump through some hoop because I couldn't lift my baby toe if I tried. "While we were still sinners..."

I am thankful for the body of believers. A simple email, a couple of phone calls and every need was met. Some were so eager, they gave up their afternoon to provide immediately. Others asked for more and I handed them some dirty laundry. Washing the feet mostly requires a person willing to get down low. 

I am thankful to be able to connect with a neighbor. It was just a short conversation but meant so much. When you're in the thick of things, you need to talk your crazy out and you need to listen to other's stories and she did that for me.

As crazy as this sounds, I am thankful for the system. Don't take me wrong, I very much want her out of the system. But from where I look for her, Thank God! She received care and services that she would have otherwise not had. I don't need to highlight the drawbacks because they are self-evident but the fact is it does help.

I am thankful to have this whole thing turn me inside out. I have questions and I want answers. And just when I've pounded my fist and demanded answers from Him and an immediate showing of all this, He asks me how long I've been journeying and healing and, good grief, if I have taken this long, shouldn't I give her some time as well? This stuff- it's for the ego-bursting.

This isn't all. There's more thankful then I can spell out. There's more in almost every conversation with her. There's more when I wrestle with the whole thing. There isn't a simple answer. And just when I've come to an answer, it shifts slightly when settling and I'm back to adjusting my questions. There's thankful when I gather up all the hope I can hold and stick the whole thing back in His face. I'm left with a pile of hope, a mound of grace, a messed up life and overflowing gratitude I didn't know I wanted.     

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Aunt Denise Gets Married, Part 2

With the big day is finally here, we set ourselves to preparing for the bridegroom. "She clothes herself with strength and dignity" is well the best thing to be adorned with but sometimes a little blush and mascara is called for. 

Thus the takeover of two entire bathrooms. For just the women. We were all fine with that. 

Denise's friend, Bobbi, who is wearing the blue shirt, did up Denise. Her daughter, Amber, is doing Tia's hair. Bobbi ought to be sainted for somehow getting curls, hairspray, foundation, blush, eye makeup and lipstick on Denise. It's no secret that dear Aunt Denise likes to keep her skin free and clear but she knew this was an extra special occasion for her beloved and decided to she could doll up for him.  

I'd say she dolls up very nicely. 

Tayla took time too.

Now this is the little flower girl. She is a very sweet thing and pulled the flower girl part off with perfect poise. I asked her if she was excited to get to wear make-up and she said "Very."

Same song, second bathroom. 

I had Audrey do my hair at our hotel and then I finished up once we got to the church. Then I walked into the first bathroom, Bobbi took a look at my make-up and gave me some pointers and then touched me up a bit. She later apologized profusely that she was so forward and frank with me. Hah! If you know me for five minutes, forward and frank is my middle name. I felt as if we were kindred spirits with make-up being our eternal bond. (Anne Shirley, anyone?) 

And here's what she told me: Anchor the eye. Well, that's how I interpreted it. I needed more mascara, a firmer line across my eye, a smidge more eye shadow and I needed to fill in my brows. Now this was something I had been recently thinking about and she just confirmed it. I would say the amount of makeup I wore was more than normal but just like we reassured Denise (and also what my mother had told me on my wedding day) a little more was better. You don't want to look undone. (My mom has probably fallen off her seat by now after reading what I just said.)

Same song, no bathroom.
Just kidding.

Bill's dad asked us if we would be able to do Mom's makeup. Sure. Then we discovered he didn't bring any of her makeup. (But really, in the long list of things he had to arrange for himself and for her, forgetting makeup is the very least of them. Besides, between Bobbi and I, we had plenty.) Tia did up Mom's hair and I took on the makeup.

Here's a fact: While I apparently have spent enough time perusing beauty blogs to know about filling in eyebrows, I know NOTHING about properly applying lipstick. I didn't get that far in my research. It's even harder to apply it to someone else. 

You can tell by now that we have moved outside for pictures. It was an overcast day but not chilly. Roy has friends who own this carriage and two beautiful horses. The horses were perfectly calm while we climbed in and out. 

Family and friends came from far and wide to celebrate.

The story behind the story. A wedding photographer is no walk in the park. This lady worked up a sweat (but we couldn't tell).

Roy's sister also stood up with Denise. 

Luke's suit? It's too much. He is too much. And his dad is too much! Bill took good care of getting Luke in his suit and to where he needed to be. It's a good thing too because once I got to the church, I left him to fend for himself and the boys.

Babe, you don't need a daisy to decide for you. I already love you!

Tia was Denise's matron of honor.

We moved to a different location because wedding guests were arriving.

Flower girl can pull a mean cross-eye!

Pictures were over for the time being and we had a bit of down time to catch our breath, grab a bite to eat, and whatever else. 

Denise and Tia covered themselves up with a bed sheet for a few bites of sub sandwiches. Tayla photobombed without knowing it. 

 It was the big day and now it was the big moment.

Part 1 here Part 3 here

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Aunt Denise Gets Married, Part 1

This is not going to be a comprehensive telling of Aunt Denise's wedding weekend. We don't have time for that. Surely you have been a part of a wedding or two yourself and know the little ins and outs that make a wedding and so I can count on you to round out the edges with your imagination.

Denise is Bill's sister. In July she became engaged to a fella named Roy. Four-ish months later they got married. The end.

See how your imagination filled the rest in?

Okay, okay.

The wedding was November 16. Our family flew out to North Carolina to celebrate with them. 

We started out the Thursday night before at Roy's house (soon to be Roy and Denise's) with pizza. Friday morning us ladies met for a pedicure and then lunch.

 Not pictured is Tia's mom, who is the furthest chair over.
"More pedi's, please."

My thoughts on pedicures. I like them but I'm not very good with them. The massage chair that you sit in is weird to me. Then, while it's their job and my feet did look better afterwards, they scrubbed away a bit of my hard work from this summer, i.e. my callouses. Then there's the polish. I always smudge it. I think it won't be a big deal to touch up but they get down and pull out all sorts of things to make my polish right again. Sigh. But I had very good company to chat away the time so the fact that I'm not good with pedicures is all my own. 

There was little to be done to prep because the church ladies did such a wonderful job.

The rehearsal is typical of most rehearsals. A bunch of people stand around until someone takes charge and says perhaps we should figure out who, what, when, where and why.

"And we will be closing the curtain to cover the river painting over the baptistry."
Tip of the hat to all wedding coordinators. Us wedding participants can be a wily bunch, asking questions out of order and doing all manner of things.

"They can only kiss at the end? Okay, got it."
Need a little spice to your Scripture recitations? Adding a flamboyant hat does the trick.
What are these seats called again? Pews?
"You can hold hands as long as you like but you can only kiss after I say so." 
Without their disguises.
Luke was the ring bearer, which he really didn't understand and first but his sister and brother made him say yes when his aunt asked him. Should he stand, sit, have the rings, not have the rings, hold her hand, take her arm? It's a lot for a guy. 

We finished rehearsal and went to dinner. It was BBQ chicken, beans, mac and cheese and potatoes cooked in a type of red hot sauce. I have never heard nor tasted of such thing but I should have asked for the recipe because it was mighty tasty.

I should let you know that between two days with North Carolinans and listening to a favorite podcast of two women, also from the South, I cannot help but slip into a southern accent. I'm typing this right now a-hearin' it in an accent. I accidentally slipped a Y'all in when talking with a couple people at the rehearsal dinner. Audrey is dreadfully mortified of any kind of accent I attempt: Southern, British, Australian. I can't do a Boston or New York accent. My apologies if this comes across with a twang. (P.S. I wish there was accent font.)

After some toasting and roasting, it was time for bed. The big day was just about here. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hopped Up On Halloween

A brief recap of our Halloween festivities...

We took those apples and dunked them in caramel and covered them with all sorts of goodies. It was the kids' mission to stick as much stuff as they could onto one caramel apple.

A and L spent the night and the next morning their mom painted their faces for the party at daycare. I could not get a good picture of them. Once these two are awake, they are awake and going. This morning they were awake and excited. They bounced around like they were hopped up on candy already (which wasn't possible because it was 6:30 in the morning.)

The rest of our day was no less exciting. I took Audrey to see Wicked at the Civic Center. Let this be stated for the record that this is my favorite musical. Nothing will replace The Sound of Music, the movie, for its role in my life but Wicked… Wicked is like nothing else. I was so happy to be able to take Audrey. Musicals speak to our souls.

Our ninja boy dashed from house to house. 

Homeboy, Ben, wanted to skip out on the treating this year and do the tricking. He and his masked buddy, Brady, passed out the candy in all sorts of manners. Lil' sis, Mya, joined in later on. 

Now my counter is covered in candy and carmel apples. Help!