Category Archives: marriage

“Mother of the Bride” Review and Give-Away…

*This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Cindy G. who will receive a copy of the book via Amazon. 

I love a good book, especially during these summer months when I have both the time and the energy to absorb a new story. And while I always have a compelling, fiction story sitting bedside, my favorite books fall into the category of non-fiction – truth-tellers, stories of “Been there, done that, and have the battle-scars to prove it”, a come-alongside-you-for-the-journey kind of book that feels more like a companioning presence than an uninvited stranger.

Cheryl Barker’s book Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride is one such book. To clarify (lest any of you think my thirteen-year-old daughter has recently become engaged), I am not currently an official MOB (mother of the bride). I hope to have that honor in a season to come. As the mother of three older sons, I’m mostly sitting on the sidelines in that department.

But it’s fun to dream, is it not? When I was in college, my girlfriends and I saved up our spare change in order to purchase the latest bride magazines at the grocery, check-out stands. We’d cut and paste our favorite images into a notebook of sorts, planning for a perfect wedding, all the while praying anxiously (and rather insistently) for the perfect groom to slide onto the scenes of our lives. For most of us, that moment came. When it did for me, the worn and torn bridal pages from those earlier years were nowhere to be found. Instead, my mother and I started the process from scratch. Bless her heart; she didn’t have a come-alongside-you-for-the-journey kind of book in her pocket. Instead, she had me. Again, bless her sweet, patient heart.

Had Cheryl’s book been around then, no doubt it would have been a huge blessing to my mom, a gentle hug to remind her of all that’s good and right and honorable about her role as the MOB. Mother of the Bride truly is a “gem” for the wedding journey. Included in this beautifully packaged book are twenty-three seasonal vignettes written to highlight the special moments of the bridal journey. Each entry concludes with practical planning tips, as well as personal pampering ideas. There’s even a space for journaling your thoughts as you reflect on Cheryl’s heart-felt renderings. Some of my favorite vignettes include:

To Have and to Hold … Until She Gets Married

This vignette is all about the “letting-go”; whether you’re a MOB or a MOGroom, this is a relatable tug of any mother’s heart. A favorite quote from this selection is: “Let go of your daughter with grace and you’ll find her calling on you with joy.” (pg. 43)

Bye-Bye, Comfort Zone: Diving into Unfamiliar Waters

No doubt, the MOB will wear many hats during the wedding-planning process, some more comfortable than others. Cheryl challenges MOBs (and women everywhere) that “… each time we square our shoulders and say good-bye to our comfort zones, it leads to growth and more self-confidence.” (pg. 74)

Be Very Careful: No Do-Overs for the MOB

This reflection is a gentle reminder for MOBs to consider how important her responses/reactions are during a season where first responses are measured (and well-remembered). Cheryl writes, “Some situations, like various tasks or games, lend themselves quite well to do-overs. However, when relationships and feelings are involved, that’s another matter. Even if we get a second chance, the memory of the original situation will never be entirely wiped out.” (pg. 97)

My MOB and me, 7-19-97

Also included with the twenty-three vignettes are wedding venue worksheets – a very practical, thought-out list of questions to keep in mind when planning for your daughter’s special day. Truly, Cheryl has given all MOBs an inspiring gift in writing Mother of the Bride: Refreshment and Wisdom for the Mother of the Bride. She’s thought of everything and has packaged it beautifully as her “gem” to you during your special season of love and grace.

As for me and my future as a MOB, well, I’ll tuck Cheryl’s treasure away for a season longer. But when that day arrives, when my little girl looks at me with dreams of satin and lace and budding bouquets, I’ll know where to start. I’ll start with a hug from a friend named Cheryl who “once upon a time” penned a few thoughts about the glorious steps that await me as a Mother of the Bride – a come-alongside-me-for-the-journey kind of book that feels more like a companioning presence than an uninvited stranger.

Thank you, Cheryl, for writing your story and for inviting me to the wedding. What a lovely celebration this has been!

PS: Hey readers – leave a comment today for a chance to win a copy of Cheryl’s Mother of the Bride. The deadline for entries is July 17th.

when Easter comes early …

“The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” -1 Cor. 12:23-25

 

With tears streaming down my face, I leaned into the bride and whispered,

“What a gift! On the eve of celebrating our Lord’s resurrection, you’ve given me Easter.”

It was their first meal as a married couple – the Lord’s Supper. In response, they fed those of us who gathered as witnesses to this sacred occasion.

Really, I’m undone. Even now, a few hours post-communion, I’m teary-eyed just thinking about it.

A wedding. A bride and groom. The bread and the cup. An altar. Empty hands. A hungry heart.

Tonight, Easter came home to roost in my soul, and God used a couple of unsuspecting servants to administer his amazing grace. I don’t know if they went into this day realizing just how their one servant-act would spill over and fill up my empty cup, but God knew.

How needy I am. How lengthy this Lenten season has been – a few days of longing and living without. A famine of sorts that makes the feasting richer.

This year I started the party a day early, and I don’t think God minds at all. In fact, I think he planned it this way … just so I don’t get all hung up on ritual.

Surprises are the best, and no one orchestrates them better than Jesus …

Two thousand years ago on that first Easter morning and tonight on the eve of world-wide remembrance therein.

Happy, blessed Easter, friends. May the grace of the cross and the reality of the empty tomb rest fully and sweetly in your hearts as you walk to, through, and beyond the tomb.

We are an Easter people living with an Easter Jesus. This is our history; this is our present; this is our tomorrow.

Live it like you mean it, proclaiming the Lord’s death and resurrection every step of the way.

A Wedding Dance with Redemption . . .

 

My eldest son got married two weeks ago. It was a grand affair. Quaint. Intimate. On a mountain and in the company of family and friends. I thought a lot about my son that day while sitting next to his father in our designated, front pew. We had the best seat in the house, but then again, in sharing life with this extraordinary twenty-five-year-old man we call “son”, we’ve always had the best seat in the house. What a privilege to watch him grow over the years and to witness him standing before his bride and speaking his oath to love her for the rest of his earthly days. It’s a day I won’t forget, one that sows deeply into the soil of my heart and that heralds a grand “hallelujah” for the grace that has passed ahead, within, and behind us, low these many years.

It takes a lot of grace to grow a boy into a man. Our story is no exception. In fact, our story begs for grace, has relied upon grace to get us to this season in our lives – a day when two parents, who once made those same sacred vows to one another only later to break them, were able to sit side-by-side and celebrate the child born out of their love. You can imagine the baggage that I carried into that chapel two weeks ago, the internal wrestlings that were begging to take the stage. But it wasn’t a day for baggage and wrestlings. It was a day for grace and for making peace with a past that I cannot change but, instead, can honor for the fruit that has blossomed despite my disobedience.  

This was and continues to be my wedding dance with redemption, when the past works for me instead of against me. When the glass is less dim and more transparent. When I can see clearly through the brokenness to gather up some wholeness. When the Groom extends his hand and his heart in my direction and repeats the oath he spoke to me in the past saying:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness.

I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.

Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful.

Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit.” (Jeremiah 31:3-5)

This is my “again” . . . again – one of the many agains I have known because of the mercy-filled, extended hand of my Groom, Jesus Christ. His love is timeless, knows no boundaries, and never tires of the grace-dance. Instead, his love is ready.

Ready to draw me in.

Ready to rebuild me.  

Ready to re-teach me the sacred melody.

Ready to sow within me the seeds of eternity.

Christ’s love is ready, and Christ’s love is enough to carry any broken and burdened soul through to present wholeness. He loves his bride, and his oath is his word. No sin and no shame are a match for his strong affection and sacred affirmation. Love wins the day, and the Groom takes his Bride.

A wedding dance with redemption. The grace-dance with the Redeemer. My dance. Your dance. God’s dance.

Won’t you take hold of his hands, friends, and take hold of your tambourines? The music’s been cued. The wine’s been poured. And the Groom has given you his word . . .  

This is for forever.

Hallelujah! Amen. So be it. As always . . .

 

Peace for the journey,

Summer Book Special – Combo Pack

Welcome to my wedding-centric, crazy world! We are eleven days away from celebrating the blessed union between my eldest son, Nick, and his bride-to-be, Chelsea. My heart is overwhelmed with emotion and anticipation for the impending nuptials and for the new chapter unfolding in the life of our family. I imagine I’ll have some further thoughts in coming days, but for now, I’m sitting back … taking it all in.

It’s a lot to manage, this turning of the page in my story. But God is enabling me to do just that and to find deep joy alongside. Oh the depth of my mothering years! Thanks be to God for the privilege of counting each one of them – all twenty-five of them – and all the milestones that accompany two and a half decades of growing a boy into a man. Sweet mercy – I barely made it through Nick’s high school graduation! How grateful I am for the family that surrounds me and that will, undoubtedly, shepherd me through the next two weeks.

Would you pray for me, that I would be attentive to the necessary to the exclusion of the unnecessary? I don’t want to be an ogre in this season of bliss. Instead, I want to be an agent of God’s love, a dispenser of the kingdom, not a hoarder therein. I want to live and give my mothering best. I’ve missed the mark on several occasions over the years, but by God’s empowering grace and with his perfect peace at my disposal, this won’t be one of those times. Thank you in advance for coming alongside me and supporting me with your prayers. It means the world to me.

Blessings, friends, and as always …

Peace for the journey,

PS: It’s unlikely you’ll see me here at my cyber address for the next couple of weeks. Still and yet, you can always reach me through my contact page. A few closing details:

  • I’m happy to report that the groom-to-be has chosen a winner for Leah’s study, HeBrews: a Better Blend. The winner is Sharalee. Sharalee, please message me your mailing address.
  • Secondly, I want to offer a Summer Book Special – Combo Pack on Beyond the Scars and Peace for the Journey. For a limited time, I am offering both books for $20 (shipping included – USA orders only). Please use the link below to place your order (this is the only link that provides this particular offer). If you’d rather mail me a check, send me a message by clicking on this link.

dancing in the car . . .

Tonight we danced in the car.

Never mind the two kids in the back of the van or the fact that we were driving in six lanes of traffic. When the song hit the airwaves, our hearts were immediately fastened on one another and on the reality that is ours to hold.

Deep love. A love that carries burdens and holds on for the rest of the story. I imagine it’s what we do best, how we’ve made this work. We carry and we hold despite the odds that are forever trying to isolate our hearts from one another.

Never more have we needed this holding love. The current of life is swiftly (and sometimes harshly) pulling us along, and there are days when the waters rush over us with the force of Niagara. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in this craziness called right now. It’s in those times . . . a right now kind of time, when we need a song like this one. A favorite country music melody that allows us to dance in the car – touching hands and crying tears and making a choice, once again, to hold on to the rest of our story.

I’ve long since given up trying to predict the lines of our upcoming chapters. But every now and again, I dream a little with my man. I remember our way back then and think forward regarding our up and coming, and find myself exceedingly tender about and grateful for the right now.

Right now?

Well, right now we take a pause, take a hand, and take a moment to dance in the car. Just like we did on that night so many nights ago when his long locks captured my fancy and his fancy footwork stepped on my toes a time or two. We’ve come a long way since our first barn dance, and I imagine we’ve a few more turns around the dance floor before the lights go down. At least this is where my dreaming takes me tonight.

I love the way he loves me, and I love the song that allows us a dance in the car from time to time.

Keep dancing with the ones you love, friends. Keep holding on to one another. Your rest of the story just may be the best of your story. I’ll meet you on the dance floor.

To learn more about our Summer Book Special, click here.

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