I keep having ideas of blog posts I want to write, but these days it seems like the time I have in which to write usually falls somewhere around midnight and I'm not sure it's the wisest use of my time. For all I know, however, this may be normal for many years to come and I should probably just take advantage of the fact that I actually have time.
I think it might be finally sinking in to Ben and I that we have our own family and we only get one shot at forming a good marriage that produces good children. Sometimes I'm not sure my mind can even properly grasp what a huge undertaking this is and as solemnly as we took it on, it doesn't seem like we could've possibly been solemn enough for how gigantic a thing it is. I can say it's a matter of life and death without being melodramatic at all. Both physically and spiritually, we are in the process of making decisions that will either bring us life or kill us. And it only takes very small errors of thought to end up with a complete family catastrophe.
As someone I know once said, this is not the time for sloppy Godliness.
And it has been sloppy of us to think that we could pick and choose which of God's commands we should keep.
As Abigail has begun testing us to find out if she should really listen when we tell her not to touch something or come when we call, a passage I've heard in Deuteronomy since I was only a little older than she is keeps coming to mind: Moses, addressing his people on the day of his death, said, "I set before you today blessings and curses. Choose life, so you may live!"
When I see Abigail making a beeline to stick her little fingers in an electrical socket, I find myself saying to her, "Choose life so you may live, Abby!"
And then I find myself wondering if that's exactly what God thinks. When he set out all his "commands, judgements and precepts" before his beloved children, he wasn't doing it to cause them grief or harm. He was laying out for them how he intended for them to live, warning them of dangers and placing his understanding and view of the universe before them so they could keep their fingers out of electrical sockets and live. That's why failure to obey brought curses, just as Abigail runs a serious risk of bringing serious consequences on her head if she doesn't listen even if those consequences are not things I'm actively bringing upon her.
It's such a simple, enigmatic statement. At first glance, it's like a facepalm-simple phrase. Who doesn't want to choose life? Well, aside from the troubled individual here or there...but for the most part it seems like we all fight pretty hard to live. Babies are blessed right from the beginning with loud obnoxious voices and the tenacity to make sure their parents can't sleep or ignore their cries to be fed so they can get the food they need to live.
But I don't think God was just talking about the physical. He included it, of course - God's very practical commandments are not set on some weird mystic spiritual plane in which our bodies are something to be ignored as worthless - but when he was saying to "choose life", he was talking about REAL life, something Jesus called "life abundant", life that was more than just eating and breathing. In God's eyes, I think most of us are overall like people in a vegetative state: alive, but not vitally. Existing in a coma while machines breathe for you is not really much like the life we're used to living. Life outside of God's ways is pretty much the same.
God's version of "Life" does not include sickness, hunger, miscarriage, defeat, famine or anxiety.
For some reason, I had always thought that a lack of those things could only exist in Heaven. I was overlooking the fact that God's promised blessings on his people included freedom from these curses. Those people were all still living! God's version of Real Life - the life he said his people could choose - takes us out of a vegetative state and gives us an existence in Paradise right now. This is not for after we die because after we die we're dead, not alive. God's commands - the ones he gave to people who were still living and promised the above blessings if his people strove to follow them with all their hearts and minds and souls and strengths (Jesus quoted Moses in that famous verse).
God's version of Life, the life he wanted his people to choose, was to love him so much that they would keep his commandments. When Jesus described to his disciples what it meant to love him, he said, "If you love me, keep my commandments."
Life is in God's commandments because his commandments are so much of him that we draw closer to him by obeying him. If we want to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength and if God is unchanging and if Jesus is God's Word and was with God in the beginning...then choosing life means choosing to live the way God laid out for us to live.
I want Abigail to choose life by obeying our commandments. God wants the same for us. I don't tell Abigail anything that's too hard for her. It isn't hard for her not to stick her fingers in the electrical socket or to come to me when I call her. It isn't hard for us either.
What's strange is that even after keeping the Sabbath and coming to the conclusion to not eat things God said not to eat, I still somehow in the back of my mind held to the understanding that God's commands were not really for me and I was somehow being particularly careful by picking of few of them to pay attention to. I had forgotten so many things that I've heard all my life, things that were completely clear. When Jesus said he didn't come to abolish the Law, he said he didn't come to abolish the Law. When he chastised the Pharisees, he told them that if they had only listened to what Moses had written they would've known him because Moses was writing about him. That means God's true commands - not ones with extra additions, but God's actual commands - give us the gift of recognizing God himself. God said the reward for calling his Sabbath a delight was to find our joy in him. When John called Jesus a light shining in the darkness, he was calling God's Word a light in the darkness.
Lately we have become aware of darkness around us to a degree we never even imagined possible. It's as if the more we look, the darker the darkness becomes. So if anyone really wants to know why we'll be sleeping out in a shelter next week instead of our house...it's because we want to love God with all our hearts and minds and souls and strength and he said if we love him, we'll listen to what he told us to do. And next week, he said he wanted us staying in shelters instead of our houses so that's what we're going to do.
Because we want to choose life so we and our children may live.
It has been a very long and eventful couple of weeks.
To start with, in a weird deja vu development, Grandma Lila again has a fractured hip. Last year at this time we were just bringing her home from assisted living to deal with recovery from another fracture to a different part of the same exact joint. That was a very rough couple of weeks for a variety of reasons and the actual physical caring for Grandma is much easier this time around. For one thing, it appears the pain medicine she already takes for her neuropathy is covering whatever pain there might be from the fracture - one of our hardest tasks has actually been convincing her that she can't stand or walk on the leg because to her mind, it's fine.
The very sobering part of this news, however, is that Grandma apparently fractured her hip by doing...nothing at all that should've broken anything. Apparently the bone around the old spacer in her right hip is growing so fragile that it broke just from the strain of walking on it. This could very well mean that Grandma will no longer be walking any distance at all, walker or no walker. We knew when we brought Grandma home that this was an almost inevitable development, but it's a little shocking to have it happen so soon. We are still hopeful that this isn't the case, of course, but it's hard not to draw that conclusion given the circumstances surrounding this latest fracture. We have an appointment with the orthopedic doctor who gave us such good advice last year and we'll know more after that. In the meantime, we're being well-prepared for our imminently arriving newborn by getting up several times a night for a half-hour to help Grandma to the bathroom and back. I told Ben last night that I'm very hopeful the bell Grandma rings to tell us she needs help will wake the baby up too so we can get them on the same schedule - otherwise we are going to be even more sleep-deprived than the average new parent!
I'm also down to five weeks left before the estimated due date and the midwife tells us that the baby is already engaged and it's her opinion he/she "is either going to come early or you're going to need a bigger body" as the baby is pretty well taking up all available room. I'm beginning to be pretty uncomfortable most of the time and am starting to look forward to having the baby outside rather than inside, lack of sleep or no. I'm disgusted to note I didn't inherit my mom's genes as much as I'd hoped and my feet and ankles are definitely swelling if I spend longer than a half-hour standing on them.
All of that being a prelude to what I feel is a very important and difficult-to-phrase blog post.
Last year, with all the hustle and bustle of our wedding closely followed by moving Grandma, it somehow was not apparent that Ben and I had decided to not celebrate Christmas in the traditional sense. This year things have been much more settled (fracture notwithstanding) and it came to Mom Turner's attention we were not decorating for Christmas. When she began asking why and discovered we were actually avoiding Christmas, it caused a lot of hurt feelings (including from Grandma Lila, who gave me a pretty sharp scolding about it the other day). Because it was hard on Mom, she began discussing the situation with others close and the result is a lot of people don't quite know how to approach Christmas with us this year. A dear neighbor brought us the beautiful wreath she'd purchased as a Christmas gift for us and asked humbly if we would be offended by it, for instance, and another close relative was very concerned about bothering us by sending us a Christmas card.
We are very touched by and appreciative of the concern, but we're a little distressed that we've caused so much upset, so here is our best explanation of what we think of Christmas and how we're approaching it for the time being.
We've been spending a lot of time considering what it means to have good things get mixed with bad and what that ultimately does to the good thing. In the case of Christmas, Christians a long time ago essentially took a very pagan holiday and rather than cancelling it altogether, decided to attempt redeeming it by turning the focus from having a big wild party to celebrating the birth of Jesus our Savior.
Good thing: celebrating Jesus' birth instead of having wild drunken revelries in honor of Saturn.
Bad thing: bringing methods of worshiping other gods into the worship of the One True God.
Now, as Grandma Lila has repeatedly pointed out to us, "we don't worship those things!" She's correct. We no longer bring pine trees in from the woods as symbols of fertility and put sacrifices under them to the wood-gods. We just don't. A Christmas tree in today's family living room is not being worshiped as a god.
The problem is, the whole reason for bringing it in comes from the worship of a pagan god.
One of the biggest questions Ben and I have asked ourselves when it comes to deciding how our family is going to work is pretty simple: "Do we know if this makes God happy or not?"
Sometimes we have to guess based on things God has said and done even if he never specifically addressed the situation we're looking at (homeschooling is an example of this). Other times, God is pretty clear about what he thinks (as in the case of the Sabbath). When it comes to Christmas, the thing God said that sticks in our mind is pretty straightforward: he said to his special people, "Don't you worship me in the same way the heathens worship their gods - that's completely disgusting to me!"
Deuteronomy 12:29-31 (ESV)
29“When the LORD your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land,30take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. [emphasis mine]
There are more and harsher verses, but this all by itself is pretty strong evidence of what God thinks: don't add the worship of a not-god to the worship of the real God. And bringing in a Christmas tree as part of the celebration or worship of God - commemorating his Son's birth - sounds like something God would not be too thrilled about. So after considering this, our conscience begins deeply troubling us when we look at combining the pagan traditions with the celebration of Jesus' birth. Which we came to find out didn't even occur in December, let alone on the 25th, so in a weird sort of way it would almost be easier for us to consider Christmas if Jesus were left out of it altogether since he doesn't seem to belong there in the first place. This, however, is a whole sticky matter in and of itself. There are many, many opinions on this subject and all sides get pretty touchy.
Now, the tricky thing about Christmas is that there are two parts to it. There is the religious/philosophical aspect (which is the basis for why we're not decorating); and there is the simple family get-together aspect. The time we spend with our family is very precious to us and we believe it is precious to God as well. The Christmas cards that come in the mail with letters and photos of our friends and family are special and we look forward to them. It is true, as one friend we know puts it, that if we really love our family we should show it other times than just at Christmas; but it's also true that it's very hurtful to our family to absent ourselves at a time they are used to the family being together.
We also have Grandma Lila living with us in our home and she is both very offended and hurt by the suggestion we are not doing Christmas. She has absolutely made it clear that we can do whatever weird thing we're doing but she is NOT going to give up her Christmas tree or the other elements of the Christmas celebration that we were troubled about. Because she is our grandmother and is our authority, it isn't our place to determine this for her and we have done our best to honor her wishes in this respect, including putting her small tree up in her room and putting her Christmas CDs on while she's sitting in the living room and other such things.
The truth is, we don't think anyone celebrating Christmas is evil for doing so, just as we don't believe those who do not rest on the Sabbath are evil. The only reason doing or not doing those things means anything at all has to do with how we want to relate to God. A person has to be convicted of what God wants them to do or they will be acting out of empty tradition, from a sense of obligation to rules rather than out of a love for God. Doing anything without a conviction of the truth can be much more harmful than not.
We believe that there are things we can do to please or displease God and we are doing our best to understand those things for ourselves and for our children out of gratefulness for the life God has given us and the chance we have to be in the relationship with him that kids have with their daddy. Most of us actually will take some pretty extraordinary steps to get a pleased smile of approval and the comfort of knowing our parents here on Earth are happy with us. We want to have that same closeness with the Father who made us, so if there is a suggestion that something makes him happy or sad we want to be alert for it just like we would be for our dads here on Earth. This is why it wasn't difficult for us to give up a Christmas tree once we reached the conclusion that it was something God didn't want us to do.
So to please the Father who made us, we are attempting to remove the mixed-in pagan elements from worship of him; and to please our parents on Earth, we want to be available to spend the special time with them and enjoy their company and take pleasure in being together. There will be many more Christmas days for Mom to take photos of the babies growing up and us standing around the table before dinner and all the small things families do when they have deliberately set aside the time to spend together. We are not going to be sitting around the whole day thinking about how bad it is we have to be there. We do not have to have a Christmas tree or have the kids sit on Santa's lap or have exactly the same beliefs and traditions to share that specific time. And we are not going to be offended by those we love who do.
A Little Of Everything
Ben and I have had an interesting week. So far, it's included two plane trips, walking about 25 miles, watching sunrise over the Atlantic at a beach, tasting seven or eight different olive oils (hey, for those of us who don't do wine tastings...), having another double birthday celebration (Kim and I have birthdays only four days apart), and having our baby finally tip out in front. I went from looking a little pregnant at the beginning of the week to looking VERY pregnant by the end of it. My ribs are eternally grateful - on Tuesday they were so sore they were driving me crazy, which tells me the baby had grown up just about as far as he possibly could and since he had to go somewhere, now he's growing out instead.
On the downside, now when I look in the mirror I wonder where that fat girl came from and why she's wearing my clothes. Ben said, "Maybe a little too much pasta."
We've enjoyed pretty much every minute of our trip to Florida, even when we opted out of going through the body scanner at the airport and submitted ourselves to the full pat-down instead. Turns out it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected; but whatever it was, we weren't interested in taking the baby through the scanner. We haven't even made free use of a Doppler heart monitor because we were reading about what the sound waves can do to a developing baby's cells...why bombard him with whatever super-rays are used in those big body scanners? Pat downs are much safer.
Our plane trips were a lot of fun for us - we enjoy doing everything together and plane rides were no exception. We had one little hop from Detroit to Atlanta and then another little hop from Atlanta to Jacksonville, where we walked off the plane to a beautiful Florida autumn day complete with a breeze that smelled like salt water. It hasn't been particularly hot here, but we certainly aren't going to complain at 70 - 75 degree temps and sunshine after 40 and rainy had become the norm back home. It feels pretty good.
We got some good advice on the plane ride from Atlanta to Jacksonville, too. In a bland professional voice, the flight attendant advised that "in the event that our flight should become a cruise", we should stop screaming and clutching our neighbor's leg and don the life jacket located under the seat in front of us. "If you're traveling with a child or someone acting like a child, be sure you prepare yourself before helping them," she continued. "And if you're traveling with multiple children, this would be the time to pick your favorite."
I'm guessing she's had to make that safety announcement one too many times. But at least she made it interesting.
Stephen and Kim have a beautiful home in the suburbs of Jacksonville and we've agreed they have a very nice guest room bed. We have been very relaxed about the schedule of things and have basically eaten our meals peacefully, taken a lot of very long walks, done what we could to keep Emma's naptimes and bedtimes as secure and uninterrupted as possible, and enjoyed Kim and Stephen's company a lot. Stephen was unexpectedly able to be home for the week since Hurricane Sandy closed the airport he would normally fly into during business hours to do his business - which turns out to be setting up IT for very large companies. I didn't realize I was marrying into a family of computer guys, but the definite upside to this is they are very keen on new gadgets and it's a lot of fun to see all kinds of new stuff in action. Ben has gotten hooked on another new iPad game and says there is absolutely no way we can ever get an iPad. He would be much too addicted to playing on it. And the truth is, now I've been playing the games with him so we'd both be hooked. Our bed would never get made and we'd be eating TV dinners.
As for Hurricane Sandy, as Mrs. G. always said..."It's an ill wind that blows no good." Out of all the mess and mayhem, the good in this instance was extra time with the Man of the Izzo Household. Who ran twenty miles this morning instead of the fourteen he was planning on. I just can't imagine being able to run that far - it was a major accomplishment to me when I reached ONE mile!
On Thursday, Ben and I went out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday, which was a present from Kim and Stephen. We sat outside since 75 felt plenty warm enough to us for eating outside and the rest of the clientele seemed to think it was too cold, so it was quiet in the outdoor dining room. Ben proposed again, which he pretty much does every time we go out to eat. As I get more pregnant, this either gets funnier or more embarrassing depending on how you look at it.
We've noticed that we make decisions very decisively as a team, too - there were about two dozen different cheesecakes on the menu for dessert and it took us about five minutes to pick one. Typically, I find three or four that I like the sounds of and Ben casts the deciding vote. In this instance, I said, "I think the Banana Cream, the Wild Blueberry, or the Coconut cheesecakes sound really good." Ben said, "Blueberry it is, then." He very rarely says, "Hm....none of them," though that does happen on occasion.
Friday we went out to dinner at Maggiano's with Kim and Stephen, which Kim was excited about because she said it was like a double date. That was fun; and we came home with so many leftovers we had enough for dinner last night too. (This is where Ben's comment about my suddenly much-expanded belly being due to too much pasta came from.)
Yesterday morning, we got up relatively early and drove out to Jax Beach to watch the sunrise, since it's not often we have the opportunity to see sunrise over the Atlantic and it's not even like we had to get up all that early to do so. The sun came over the horizon at 7:42 and it was only about a 10 - 15 minute ride to the beach. We left at 7:15 and got there in plenty of time. We'd already been out to the beach on Thursday afternoon and discovered it's pretty quiet out there this time of the year. Not to mention no one seems interested in wearing bikinis, which is a plus. The interesting thing I've noticed about Florida beaches before is that there's a huge percentage of the female population present in bikinis; and the percentage of women who could even think of looking reasonably un-ridiculous in a bikini is a lot lower than that. Modesty issues aside, sometimes I wonder if maybe people don't look closely in the mirror before heading out the door.
But coming to Jacksonville in November mitigates this particular issue. In fact, most people who were out even in the warm afternoon were wearing sweaters (not necessary to our Michigan way of thinking) and at sunrise, folks were out in their pants and jackets. We drank coffee and hot chocolate respectively and walked a ways down the beach keeping an eye out for some of the nice big waves that came in now and then. I haven't been up that early on a Saturday morning in years and it was absolutely worth it.
In the afternoon we went to visit Stephen's mom (his dad is out of town - and planning to visit the Jordan River today, to give you an indication of how far out of town he actually is) and had lunch with her. They've just finished some fairly major renovation on their house and it was fun to see all the results. I got some very good ideas for our kitchen in the process - I've been trying to figure out if we should try to get cupboards that go up to the ceiling to make the ceiling appear taller or if that would just be kind of pointless, but after looking at the Izzo's new kitchen it looks to me like having the cupboards go up like that really does give the sense of the ceiling being higher than it is. I also liked that Mrs. Izzo picked out an island that was stained/painted a color (a beautiful blue, in this instance) rather than using the same cabinets. I'm not positive we can do this easily in our kitchen, but I have considered what would happen if I over-finished the cabinets at the island to get this effect and I really like it, so even if we don't do it now it might be a project for the future some day.
Mrs. Izzo also told us some really good stories about things like the politics of becoming a general's wife (in the military, the capability of a wife to support her husband and take good care of other military wives and keep order in their home is actually one of the things that weighs into her husband's eventual promotion, something I found really intriguing because it reminds me of Paul talking to Timothy about choosing deacons to lead a church) and living in Germany at the time Stephen was born. She said she had to quit before we got bored. We were a long way from being bored.
Speaking of our addition, Mom told me today that she'd called MISDIG and our yard is now full of little colored flags. Ben and I picked up the building permit the day before we left for Florida, so it sounds like when we get home we're going to be heading straight into addition-building. I'm relieved and excited that things are underway, but I expect these next few months are going to be some very super-busy ones. Sometimes it's hard to believe that by this time next year we'll have a totally different house and a baby who's starting to talk!
I should probably wrap this up and go find out if we've figured out what to do today. We've been playing our days very much by ear, which means we probably aren't seeing all kinds of things there are to see...but that's okay with us. Getting to spend every day together is quite a special thing for us all by itself, and getting to spend the time with Kim and Stephen and Emma is icing on the cake. The warm weather just puts everything over the top! We're pretty glad we're the ones that came out in November and Grandma went out in September, though. While we think the weather's lovely, it's a little cool for swimming and I think Grandma would still think it was cold. Ben talked to her on the phone yesterday and she doesn't really believe him that it's only in the early 70s, but I can see her out here sitting on the patio in a jacket and blanket while I'm barefoot and in summer clothes.
So long for now...and in my next post, perhaps there'll be something new and exciting about house preparations to talk about. You know we're going to really get to it eventually!
25 Years Ago
Twenty-five years ago tonight - at ten minutes before midnight the day before my fifth birthday - my sister Elaina died.
I know. It probably seems a morbid way to begin a blog post; and this is not going to be about still grieving the loss of a baby sister who's been gone almost as long as I've been alive.
It's more about a pivotal point in my family's history and in my own philosophy.
It's amazing how much a five year old can absorb and how much some big event that happens when a person is five can really change their thinking. I was actually four when Elaina was born and in my world, babies were just a matter-of-fact event. Mom would be pregnant and eventually a new baby would come home to live with us. That's what had happened with Elizabeth and I could still remember that pretty clearly. I was much more excited for this new baby than I was for Elizabeth, though, and I was shocked and unable to grasp why my parents would've come home from the hospital without Elaina. It took a little while for it to dawn on me what was meant when they told me the new baby was very sick. Again, in my world babies didn't get sick, much less die. I still had no comprehension that Elaina might die, though I did pray very earnestly all summer for her to be healed so she could come home and live with us. I had every confidence that she would and I looked forward to it, partly because life was so topsy-turvy that summer that I couldn't wait for us all to be home and be a proper quiet family again instead of having me and Elizabeth staying with family and friends while our parents were at the hospital with Elaina.
It was during this time that I first became very suspicious of hospitals and doctors. Unfairly, to a great extent, though I did learn that when a person is in the hospital it's almost impossible to defy the rules, no matter what those rules are. In our case, children were never allowed in the NICU to visit babies. So at first, Elizabeth and I weren't even allowed in the family waiting room connected to the NICU, which meant we didn't get to see the new baby at all.
Eventually, when it became obvious Elaina's genetic condition was so severe that she was probably never going to make it out of the hospital, the administration bent the rules to allow me and Elizabeth to visit. It was a rare and massive concession and it must've made everyone nervous because little kids bring illnesses with them and there were a lot of other babies in that NICU not separated from Elaina by much. I didn't understand that at four years old, though, and as far as I was concerned, hospital rules and doctors inexplicably forbid us from seeing our baby sister and then made some weird rule that we could only see her for half an hour on Sunday afternoon after we'd asked permission.
Everyone's heard the phrase "falling in love" and I'm usually hesitant to use it. But when I finally saw Elaina, I did fall in love as much as a young child can. I wanted so fiercely for her to get better. I wanted to touch and hold her and kiss her fuzzy funny-shaped little head. Considering how fragile she was, I marvel that I was allowed to touch her and kiss her head; but I did and there are pictures to prove it. To this day, when some family members don't like to look at pictures of Elaina because it's clear how deformed she was, I still feel a surge of defensive protectiveness. I didn't care then and I don't care now that she was funny looking. I remember what she looked like and how she smelled and how I considered her my baby too. She was just Elaina, and funny-looking went with the territory. Same went for Jonathan about eighteen years later.
The strange thing is that as much as I loved her, when she died I was sad but not in any way inconsolable. It must've had something to do with how my parents responded. A good friend remembers my dad calling up the morning of my birthday - the day after Elaina died - to tell him what had happened. As they were talking, Dad heard the garbage truck turn onto the street and ended the conversation by saying, "Oh, I'd better go. Time to get the garbage out."
I learned from that. I learned that the baby can die and the garbage still has to go out. And that's a good thing. Life doesn't stop because someone dies. Life didn't stop here when Joshua died. I knew it wouldn't when we lost him. I knew because I remembered. That's quite a gift of preparation, when you think about it. It's one thing to have the philosophy that God is good and grief isn't something that should ever take away from the peace and joy that comes from his Spirit, and if I hadn't had that preparation the philosophy would've comforted me. But I also had memories. I had memories of how exactly a year later, Mom had a beautiful, healthy baby boy who's grown into my wonderful brother Aaron and where we had been sad one year on my birthday, the next year we were waiting for there to be a new baby born at any minute. Babies die; and new babies are born; and God is good.
I also learned to treasure life in a way I'm not sure I would've otherwise. Many people do treasure life deeply without losing someone - this is just how I learned. I never, ever took the birth of a healthy sibling (or even an unhealthy one, in Jonathan's case!) for granted. Looking back, the love I felt for each of them was the same love I first experienced when I saw Elaina that first time in the hospital. I don't think I experienced the same thing when Elizabeth was born, probably because I was quite a bit younger and because I didn't have the same understanding that not every baby comes home, and when they do it's something to be deeply glad of.
This year, carrying my own child and having lost one, remembering Elaina's death is a little different than it usually is. If anything, I have greater respect for my parents and how they handled the whole thing. There's a statistic with some fantastically high number indicating how many parents divorce after the death of a child, and my parents' marriage not only survived, but they had many more children afterward and continued to love each other deeply. They were not paralyzed by grief but went about having a funeral and actually comforting many people who attended with a calmness that I've taken for granted before when I think back on it. I remember they read the passage of the Bible that speaks of David when his son with Bathsheba was taken sick and died as a consequence of his terrible sin - David laid before the Lord for three days and nights and wouldn't eat or drink as he pleaded for God to heal the baby. But when he learned the baby had died, he got up and washed his face and put on clean clothes and ate a meal. His aides didn't understand him at all, but he explained to them that while the baby lived, he thought perhaps God might have mercy and heal him. When the baby died, David said, "I will go to him, but he can never return to me." And then he went to the tabernacle and worshiped the Lord.
Only someone who believes God is good can behave that way. And my parents did. To the point that I still remember how they behaved twenty-five years later and I remember that while today was a sad day, it was also a good day. It's a good day today, not one to look back on with any kind of unhappiness. If it's any indication of how our family regarded Elaina's death, we finally got a headstone for her this year just because it seemed like after twenty-five years we should probably stop remarking every year that we should mark her grave. It's odd because if you look at the baby section of the cemetery people really go all-out in decorating baby graves, even putting little Halloween decorations out and constantly putting flowers on the headstones and so on. We never did that. We just said, "What's there in the cemetery isn't really Elaina and we'll see her again someday." I look forward to seeing Elaina again someday.
In the meantime, I think I'm going to call Mom.
Mom Turner even bought the cookie cutter sometime last October and I remember Jenny describing to me then how she really wanted different colors so the cookies would look like real Autumn leaves on the tables. One of the things about projects like this is I always wonder ahead of time if I'll really be able to pull off such specific requests. Technically, I know it's doable because you see artsy people doing things like that all the time; but I don't feel particularly artistic and often have to think really hard about how to get something to work. Thankfully, I had a few basic elements in place: I knew what recipes to use to get the job done. Soft Sugar Cookies, Royal Icing, Almond Chocolate Chiffon Cake, Wedding Buttercream and some very tasty purchased raspberry filling from Miles Cake and Candy Store. After that, I just needed to work out how many batches we'd need and how long it was going to take me to complete.
I've made cookies for two other weddings now and I've made one other wedding cake. Not a ton of experience, but enough to know that I needed to block off way more time than you might think for each task. If you've ever baked and decorated sugar cookies, you know they're always way more time-consuming than you might think at the outset. The average batch of sugar cookies yields about two dozen and takes all afternoon to finish; multiply that by six and you've got the requirements for this particular baking project. I figured for the cookies it would take one afternoon to mix the dough, one to roll and bake the cookies, one to do all the glazing, one to do the decorating, and one to wrap and finish. For the cake, it was going to take a day to mix and bake, one to fill and first-coat frost, and a third to finish-frost and assemble. That all turned out to be pretty much accurate, except that so many other things came up this last week that it took me all my "project time" (time in the afternoon after usual morning chores) from Monday to Friday to finish the cake.
Looking at the calender, I decided the cookies needed to be completely finished by October 6 (one week before the wedding). When I was thinking this over in August I didn't know I was making a cake, but I did remember from other weddings that some big project usually crops up during that last week and I didn't want to be tied up making cookies at that point. Knowing this was the case, I field tested some cookies in September by leaving them out on the counter for three weeks, tasting them about once a week. By the third week, they were getting a little stale but were still fairly good, so I knew it was safe to have them finished a week ahead of time and still have them taste good for wedding guests.
What I hadn't counted on was that pregnancy really has slowed me down...and how many people on both sides of my family were ready to lend a hand and fill in that energy gap for me! My sisters and mom helped me bake all those cookies - and Leah and Benjamin lent us the kitchen and the freezer for that stage, which I realized about halfway through the baking process would've presented a huge challenge to me in our current kitchen. And Ben single-handedly rolled and cut at least half of the cookie dough. He got so covered in flour and he just kept going like a champ for four or five hours that Sunday afternoon. Kim and Jenny and Grandma and Mom and Jenny's mother-in-law Chris wrapped up and tied them all.
Then there was the cake. Some fun moments: when Jenny showed up unexpectedly as I was putting the cakes in the oven so she got to taste the batter; Katherine coming over for the day and helping me put all the layers together; cutting the center dowel through the layers with a big pair of branch clippers; and getting the cake finally all set up and with it's decorative flowers on it just as Jenny came into the reception room to see it for the first time.
When we got to the reception room yesterday and I saw it all decorated and got the cake assembled, I was very content with how everything came out, especially when I saw Jenny's reaction. I think she and Ken very much enjoyed their wedding yesterday and we got to be a part of making the details work.
Grandma brought her cookie carefully home from the reception and told me today she's not sure she wants to eat it. "Because they're so beautiful and especially I know how much work they were," she said. "Lots of people worked on them. It seems a shame to eat them so soon."
That's a very pleasant compliment.
I'm glad the projects are successfully over, but I've definitely enjoyed all the company it's brought me and being part of getting this big event all ready. It's going to seem pretty quiet around here the next few weeks!
Because last night was the beginning of the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles), we slept in a tent in the back yard.
I've never slept in a tent before. And it rained. But it was fun anyway. Though I'll be the first to say it turns out that sleeping on the ground while pregnant is quite a bit different then while not pregnant. I'm not sure if the baby protested by moving all night or if he's been moving all night anyway and I'm just usually much too soundly asleep to feel him rolling around in there.
Ben has wanted to go camping since I first met him. His family used to go quite a bit when he was younger and he greatly enjoyed it. He's not your average "outdoor guy" in that he's not into hunting and likes going fishing only if someone he knows and loves wants to take him along (*cough*...Dad...*cough*) and his preferred clothing doesn't happen to be jeans and flannel shirts (khakis and polos, more like it). But his family used to go camping together and spend that time without the distractions of other friends or outside influences and that's what he loved. I think my experiences growing up were a lot different because of not going to school, but I do understand why it's so special to him. What's funny is that I only went camping once or twice with my grandparents because neither of my parents liked camping at all. My dad thinks camping is staying in hotel room with a broken TV and Mom doesn't want anything to do with a tent in the rain. Probably why I found it amusing that we slept in a tent on a night when it rained pretty much all night.
At any rate, Ben's been looking forward to this for weeks. Last night he was so excited setting everything up I don't think he stopped grinning the whole evening. Grandma was pretty skeptical. I explained but I don't think she quite realizes that this is something Ben really, really enjoys and it's something he's more or less given up for a time because taking care of Grandma and going camping are not compatible.
At any rate, we built a campfire in the metal firepit and roasted some marshmallows and carried out all our fleecy blankets and it wasn't nearly as cold out as I was expecting, in spite of the rain. We spent a lot of evenings sitting outside on the glider last summer and it was a little nostalgic to do so last night also. And a couple nice features about camping in the back yard are still having access to the bathroom and to Netflix on the Internet.
Though I did learn a few things: keeping a towel for wiping wet feet is important, and you might be dry IN the tent, but that doesn't mean you should let anything touch the SIDES of the tent while it's raining. Great dampness will definitely ensue.
Courtesy of Passover Week, Ben and I have been spending quite a while discussing what is leaven and what exactly God had in mind by telling his people in strict no-nonsense terms not to have leaven in their homes during this week. It has been Ben's belief for several years that leaven - and leavened bread - is something God uses to indicate sin in peoples' lives, a sort of visual aid for people to understand what sin in our lives is actually like. Ben has included any kind of food that's puffed up in his definition of "leavened", which has led us to a spirited discussion over whether or not yeast, baking soda, and baking powder are all the same things and what God was trying to get his people to do in the first place.
Ultimately, this has lead to some very interesting discoveries - about God's thought process and the history of yeast, among other things.
Yeast is actually a bacteria, something that floats around in the air and - oddly enough - is naturally found lodged in the Human digestive tract. It's a living organism and the only way to capture and coerce it into making your lump of dough rise is feed it properly so it will stay alive, eat and grow. Anyone who bakes bread will tell you a small amount of yeast is all it takes to make even five or six loaves of bread rise if the yeast is strong and well-treated.
So it's everywhere, it's easy to attract and grow, and a little of it can leaven a lot of dough. A little sin mixed into a life can make the whole life imperfect, and sin might as well be floating in the air because it's pretty easy to come by. A little nourishing is all it takes to grow a nice big batch. And when it's done it's work, the person is all puffed up with themselves just like bread dough full of well-fed yeast.
God wanted his people to focus on getting every little bit of yeast out of their homes and diets for a whole week, and the only real way to do this is give everything a good scouring and then eat flat pancakes. It's a perfect physical prop for teaching us about getting the sin out of our lives and how impossible it is to actually do completely. Though to God, calling it just a "physical prop" might be undercutting the seriousness of it because he said, "Any of you eating yeast during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is going to be cut off from my people."
Yikes. He was not fooling around. While the consequences of eating yeast were slightly less severe than someone making the Sabbath a common day (the penalty for that was death), it was still pretty rough. God did NOT want his people missing the opportunity to learn something about him and about themselves.
Which brings us to the history of yeast and how it's used. In the process of the discussion about God's thought process, we discovered a fascinating piece of history. While the ancient Egyptians didn't invent the idea of leavening bread, they were the first to actually isolate yeast and introduce it into their dough as a separate agent (rather than relying on the old method of saving a bit of dough from the last batch to add to the newest one). The Greeks learned about yeast from the Egyptians and from Greece the process of isolating and using yeast in bread spread throughout Europe, where it was used as the only leavening agent available until the 1700s when sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) was discovered - a 3,000-year uncontested monopoly! The Egyptians more or less came up with a process that is still used today to make one of the world's most common foods: a loaf of bread.
The use of yeast and making of yeast bread pretty much as we know it today was probably something the Egyptians of Moses' time were rather proud of. It was a great societal invention probably symbolic in those days of scientific advancement, luxury, and the Egyptian way of life. When God told his people to clean the leaven from their homes, he said, "Get rid of the Egyptian pride and joy."
So why didn't God just tell his people to quit eating yeast altogether? Because he didn't. In fact, on the Feast of Pentacost - the day that commemorates the giving of the Covenant at Sinai and for Christians, the giving of the New Covenant after Jesus' Resurrection - he specifically commanded his people to bake leavened bread in their homes and bring it to offer to the Lord with a sacrifice (Lev 23:17). Ultimately, the bread was eaten by the priests...after it had been lifted up as an offering before the Lord. So on the day the Holy Spirit came down on the believers in Jerusalem, a whole lot of leavened bread was being lifted up before God in celebration of the enacting of the old Covenant at Sinai.
This actually has a perfectly logical reasoning to it. God commanded that all thanksgiving peace offerings be accompanied by unleavened bread. A peace offering that was being made to restore a friendly relationship between God and the sacrificer, however was made with leavened bread (Lev 7:13). So if you were making an offering to God saying, "I want to be in friendship with you again", you lifted up leavened bread before God. As if you were lifting up your sins to him and giving them up. So God was consistent in maintaining the pattern of his old Covenant while establishing the New Covenant.
The point still is that God did not command his people to stop eating yeast altogether. He deliberately made it a point to have them reintroduce yeast into their homes at least by fifty days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
I think this is because God is always concerned with setting things apart, making them holy - which simply means making them uncommon. I just realized that I wrote a few paragraphs earlier that yeast bread has become one of the world's most common food products. That doesn't make it bad; but it's certainly common.
If the Israelite people had simply stopped using yeast, unleavened bread would never be set apart or different for them and they wouldn't have given it much thought or considered what it meant to have leaven and then remove it.
I also think God doesn't consider yeast an abomination the same way he does other things, so while he found it a useful visual aid to teach a much deeper truth (how sin infects our hearts), he didn't say, "Don't touch that abominable stuff!" like he did with other foods. Jesus even compared the Kingdom of Heaven to yeast that a woman works into flour so that it all rises (Matt 13:21).
Leavened bread is common. Unleavened bread is uncommon. Having yeast everywhere around your home is common - it's almost impossible to get rid of, considering it exists even on the skin of grapes. Cleaning it out is uncommon. Isolating yeast might be the biggest Egyptian contribution to modern society; considering God has used the idea of "coming out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery" as a reminder for what it means to come out of the world and into his Kingdom, having him command his people to clean the yeast out of their houses makes perfect sense. He didn't want his people to be without yeast completely, but he certainly wanted them to pay attention to what it means to be common and have sin inside you; and then to become uncommon and have the sin removed.
And that's why it's still worthwhile to celebrate the enacting of the New Covenant by remembering God's use of leavened and unleavened bread to show us how he thinks.
The Tale of the Early Bathrobe
Since certain beloved sisters are stuck at home for various reasons, I figure it behooves me to update this blog more than normal. As I have just hit my late-afternoon crash-in-a-chair point, I think this is probably a good time to tell the Tale of the Early Bathrobe.
It begins not so very long ago (or very far away), when my wonderful husband determined that he was going to take over the late night/early morning visits to the bedroom next door to assist our grandmother when she rang her bell. Actually, at first he was assisting when she would call, but we learned something about having her call us. Because she is a little hard of hearing, when she calls she knows she has to wake us up, so she calls very loudly to make sure we can hear her. When you wake up in the middle of the night because someone is shouting your name, it tends to make for an adrenaline rush akin to stomping on the brakes because that big semi is drifting over into your lane.
No, I don't think I'm exaggerating. Much.
At any rate, Ben decided to give Grandma a little silver bell and encouraged her to ring it because he said he'd have no problem hearing it and it wouldn't be the same as a shout in the middle of the night. The very first night she rang, he leaped straight out of bed because he wanted to get over there very quickly to reassure her that ringing the bell was a very good idea and he would hear immediately when she rang.
The problem was, he was in his underclothes.
Now, ordinarily it wasn't that big of a deal to him. He'd gotten in the habit of leaving a pair of jeans at the end of the bed and throwing those on before going next door to help Grandma. That night, however, he'd forgotten and put his pants in the wash (which we've been keeping in a nice laundry basket under the bathroom sink since there's no good place for it in our room). So a 3:00, after leaping out of bed with his eyes still closed, he flipped on the light and then went racing around the bedroom searching desperately for a pair of pants while shouting, "Coming! I'm coming, Grandma!"
Grandma can't hear us even when we shout from the other room, but I think Ben was hoping she'd at least hear his voice and know he was awake.
After finally locating a pair of pants (and hopping out the door putting them on), he helped Grandma and then came back to flop on the bed and say, "I really don't feel so good."
He'd gotten up so fast and run around so much that his heart was racing and he was all sort of clammy and feeling sick to his stomach, the usual reaction when your blood has been rudely re-routed and given a hefty dose of adrenaline. He was finally able to catch his breath and relax enough to go back to sleep, but it was about 4:30 before I think we were both sleeping soundly again.
The next day, my sister Elizabeth came over and she took me out for a quick shopping trip to the local Meijer while Ben was at work. I'd been planning to go out birthday shopping, but it seemed to me a crucial necessity in Ben's life had become a bathrobe. We found one fairly quickly, but then I had to make a decision...
To give early, or not to give early.
I sort of debated with myself about this the rest of the day. Because I knew if I gave it to him right away, I wouldn't have anything for him to open on his birthday and I really love giving people gifts on their birthday. On the other hand, if I didn't give it to him, he had the potential to spend another two weeks or so leaping out of bed and trying to get dressed before helping Grandma. So I hid it in the closet and kept debating.
That night we were getting ready for bed and just as Ben was getting undressed, Grandma called him to help her with some problem she was having with her TV remote. Ben put his clothes back on and went to help and I thought, "This is just ridiculous. I'm going to feel guilty hiding that bathrobe every single time he has to get up for two weeks. It's not worth it just to have a package for him to open on his birthday!"
So I dug the brand new robe out of the closet and spread it out over the end of the bed. And it was worth it to see his face light up when he came back in and said, "What's this? How'd you manage to go get this?!"
He's been using it every single night. At first for some reason it attracted a lot of static electricity and he would snap, crackle, and pop with little sparks when he would come walking in while it was dark; but that seems to have worn off, sadly. It was kind of fun calling him Static Man.
I'm very glad he's had it the past few weeks. Maybe I can just think up something else for him to open Saturday...
Christmas? What Christmas?
The winter holidays have been a little strange for us so far this year.
Maybe it's the fact we were getting married at Thanksgiving ("Three days until the wedding! Oh...it's Thanksgiving, isn't it?"). Or maybe it's the effects of moving and not having things settled in enough to think about putting up any winter decorations. Or maybe it's because for the first time Ben and I are a family unit and that means we're combining traditions and arriving at new ones. And I'm sure the uncertainty about when Grandma's going to be home is playing into the issue. But whatever the case...we suddenly realized this week that we have one week left before Christmas and we still don't know what we're doing for it.
Now, I'm sure the celebration will involve some form of visiting our family and eating way too much food (as at the Turner Family Christmas a few days ago). Beyond that, we're a blank slate. Probably doesn't help that our families are kind of feeling the same way. I talked with Mom Tuckfield this morning and she said, "Do you think Christmas could just go away for a few months?" Mom Turner said, "I have no idea what we're doing yet. Something. Making fudge."
That's not so new from my mom, but from Ben's mom that's a very new phenomenon. She likes Doing Christmas Properly. Hopefully next year will be a little calmer and more settled!
I sat down and brainstormed a little with my mom on the phone this morning about what presents to give and I suppose that made it feel a little more real, but overall the idea that it's about to be Christmas seems a little surreal to me at the moment. Granted, I've never been a big celebrator - but I usually make cookies, at least. I seem to identify times and places by what food I'm cooking and Christmas is no exception.
Maybe if I just make some cookies, it will seem more like the end of December and I'll be less disoriented. And maybe that will just make Ben gain ten pounds. Hm. Maybe just a nice spicy candle instead...
Best Wedding Ever
People have asked us for a long time what we were going to do for a honeymoon. In July, we agreed a good honeymoon would be going home and turning off the phone and not leaving for a month. By August we knew we’d never get away with a month, so we switched to two weeks. By September it was one. After Grandma Lila fell and we realized she was going to be coming home even sooner than previously anticipating, we started saying, “We’re hoping to get Tuesday off.”
Today is Tuesday, which means today is officially our honeymoon. I can’t possibly imagine having gone anywhere interesting to spend the day. It’s been pretty much a day of naps between sleep. Somewhere around 3:00 we figured we’d better eat something, so we poked around in all the bags of groceries (one of our wedding presents!) and made some Malt-o-Meal (Ben’s new favorite food discovery) before going back to sleep. I knew we were tired, but I didn’t realize how much the past few weeks had taken out of us. I kind of hope we can still rest the next few days because I think it’s going to take that long before we stop doing artistic impressions of bumps on a log.
Yesterday was the best wedding day ever. I’m going to preface my description by saying that whoever came up with the tradition of not having the bride and groom see each other until the bride walks down the aisle was nuts. Out of all the traditions we ended up ignoring yesterday, losing this one gave us the most joy.
It started with decorating the hall in the morning. Ben and I had carefully planned some details of the day, but there were others we’d been a little foggy about when it had come to specifics. On Sunday, as our rehearsal celebration was winding down (that was quite an evening too, involving Ben’s friends Paul and Jason and about every musical instrument in our house), we had a family discussion about how the next day should go. I was planning to get up early and head over to St. Clair Shores to pick up my bouquet (the only flowers at the event), then come back this way to help Elizabeth, Mom, Aunt Peggy, and my other siblings put out favors, ice cream handbills, and candle centerpieces at the hall at 9:00. As Ben was leaving, he said, “You know, we’re going to be seeing each other before the wedding anyway. I’d rather be here with you than get ready at home, so I’ll bring all my stuff and meet you at the hall at 9:00 and we can get ready together.”
Leah and Benjamin ended up deciding to get the bouquet, so my day started with bringing down the laundry, taking a shower, and going over to the hall. Ben came in just as we were finishing up (he ended up going out to breakfast with his mom and sisters). He looked at me with that big smile of his and said, “Lauren, how about getting married today?”
“Sure,” I said. “What time?”
“Seven sound good?” he said.
After finishing at the hall, we ran little errands together. We took pew bows over to the church and gave them final payment, we stopped at the bank, we took the rest of my clothes over to the new house, ate a nice big breakfast with my family, and leisurely got ready more or less together. We didn’t get dressed together, but I kept him company while he was brushing his teeth and combing his hair and he kept me company while I was doing my hair. There’s a photo Benjamin took that I’ve never seen in anyone else’s photo album: I’m doing my hair in our little green bathroom by the kitchen and Ben’s sitting on the counter watching me and talking with Elizabeth, who’s doing her hair too.
Apparently, it’s common for brides and grooms who see each other before the wedding to take something called “reveal” pictures, where the bride is revealed all dressed up to the groom for the first time. We didn’t want that moment to be a big photo op, though, so after I got dressed I sent everyone else out and called down to ask Ben if he wanted to come up. He said he did, so he came up the stairs to the sewing room. To those who know Ben and how he plays chess, he gave me his very best “I just lost my queen” look. It was the only time he teared up all day. I cried like a baby after the ceremony, but Ben just got a little teary right then.
And then we had to hustle because we were running late for pictures.
The interesting thing about taking pictures outside yesterday was that it was FREEZING. Thankfully, the rain held off and it wasn’t windy, but there was a bone-chilling moment when Sunshine our photographer (4-11 Productions, if anyone’s interested!) said, “Okay, everyone, time to take the coats off.”
Ben and I were standing there as our family was shuffled around us to get different series of pictures and Ben said out of the corner of his mouth, “Lauren…I hate to tell you this, but I think I’m getting cold feet.” Then he looked at me and said. “Nice necklace. Looks like an ice cube.”
If you see me laughing in any of the park photos, it’s probably because of a remark like that. My mouth got really cold while I was smiling until I couldn’t feel it anymore and my toes were literally blue by the time we got in the car. But we got some really pretty photos, I think, and Sunshine was great about rotating everyone in and out of pictures and getting everyone promptly bundled back into warm cars. We’d expected it would take about half an hour for family photos and another half hour for single portrait pictures of Ben and I and we got done twelve minutes ahead of schedule.
After that we went out to visit Grandma Lila so we could have photos taken with her before we went to the church. It was kind of a strange experience walking through an assisted living home dressed as we were. A lot of people just stared at us in a sort of stupefied way. They were probably thinking, “What on earth did they put in my coffee this morning?”
By the time we left for the church, it became clear we were going to have plenty of time to arrive an hour before the ceremony started. We had left plenty of cushion time in our budget just in case (hey, the first rule of planning an event is never plan anything for the last minute…and leave lots of last minutes) and we weren’t using any of it. Ben said, “Does this mean we’re going to have to sit around in a back room for a whole hour?”
“You could greet people at the door,” I suggested. “I mean, it’s not normal for me to be out there but you could.”
“I’m not spending all day with you and then leaving you in a back room while I greet people,” Ben said firmly. “It’s not good for a man to be alone, remember?”
“True,” I said.
“I know,” he said. “Let’s greet people together.”
My first instinct was to say, “that’s just not done” but then I stopped and thought about it. The reason it’s not done is because it’s considered bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding. Out of all the traditions we were ignoring…what allegiance exactly did I hold to this one? And we’d always been a little concerned with how we were going to make sure to say hello to as many of our guests as possible considering we were going to take photos with our grandparents instead of doing a receiving line. Furthermore, the problem with receiving lines is that they involve everyone trying to exit the church at once, saying hello to the whole bridal party along the way. If we greeted everyone coming in, we realized, we would say hello as people came in at staggered intervals and we would avoid the bottleneck on the way out, allowing everyone to go over to the reception and enjoy dessert…and get home early if they wanted to.
So we stopped off in the back room for a few moments to make a quick repair to my sleeve, feed Ben a sandwich (I wasn’t hungry), and say hello to our family as they were arriving. Then we went out and stood by the doors to sanctuary and said hello to nearly every one of our guests. It was a spontaneous decision I would’ve never thought to make, but I think in some ways it was one of the best parts of the wedding. We didn’t have time to sit around getting the about-to-play-in-a-recital stomachache or wonder how things were going out there, and we didn’t miss Leah and Mrs. Gurin playing Bach’s Double Concerto. It was great.
The funny thing about the day was that it went by so leisurely that it was almost a shock when all of a sudden it was time to start the ceremony. All the girls were standing in the little hall off to the side of the sanctuary and Rebekah – who was the official Bridesmaid Support Staff – went down the whole line of them and lit their lanterns. It was a really beautiful sight, all those beautiful girls in their dresses and white shawls with their lanterns being lit. When I first came up with the idea of having them carry lanterns instead of flowers I thought it’d be pretty, but I wasn’t prepared for how lovely all my sisters actually looked.
Ben and I both shared the processional – he and his parents went down first, and then my parents brought me. The most fun part of doing this method was that people didn’t really recognize I was coming down the aisle until I was about halfway there, so there was this very dramatic moment when I was almost to Ben and everyone stood up all of a sudden. It felt like an acknowledgement that something big was happening for both of us rather than everyone paying homage to a queen. And Ben came down the aisle first, so it wasn’t like I got all the attention and Ben just crept in by the side door.
The ceremony went picture-perfectly. Ben was a little disgusted because he got right into the middle of his vows and his mind went blank until he was reminded of the next word. I didn’t have any trouble like that, but I thought we were on microphone a little louder than we were, because I spoke in a normal-to-loud speaking voice and a lot of people sitting in the back of the church told me later they couldn’t hear a word I said. I feel a little bad about that, but at least it was out of ignorance and not because I was too nervous to say anything.
And then the ceremony was all over; and even though Ben and I had discussed for weeks what we were going to do about the traditional kiss at the end of the ceremony, in the end we did nothing at all but smile and walk off down the aisle. Oops.
If anyone’s interested, we got through the reception without any kisses too. As for when Ben actually kissed me the first time, I’m not telling. Some things can just stay personal.
The reception was fun too. I guess there was a mixup with the seating chart and people had too many names on the same tables and things were all turned around, but Anna straightened things out to the best of her ability and I suppose on the scale of things to go wrong, that was a fairly simple one. We didn’t have a big bridal party introduction and didn’t make announcement when Ben and I got there either – we had a few short speeches by Dad Turner and our sisters and Aaron and Ben thanked everyone for coming, and we went around and visited nearly all the tables.
Actually, the only time we sat down for a bit was when Jenny brought us some ice cream and we stopped at the table we were visiting and ate. Then later in the evening I finally got to sit on Ben’s lap. We’ve been waiting a long time for that. Benjamin took a beautiful photo of that moment which is so pretty it looks completely posed even though it was spontaneous.
And we finally, finally got to go home together without saying goodbye. That’s probably what made it the best wedding ever.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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