Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wise Investments

(A.K.A. "How to Reduce Wedding Stress")

My topic today may seem strange, but you'll be glad you read this entry!

I want to share with each of you an incredible investment opportunity that has come to our attention.

If you follow the advice that came to us, if you begin to invest heavily right away, you'll soon be wealthy beyond your wildest imaginings!

Ready? Here it is. The secret tip of the century:


Yes, really!

I want to urge you to begin to invest in relationships of every type. Begin today! Don't waste another minute! Call that family member, invite that friend for coffee, send a note to that former employer, shoot a text to that young person..........

"Oh, I forgot their birthday. I'm sure they don't want to hear from me." I can assure you they DO!
(I sent my sister's birthday gift just last month. Her birthday was in FEBRUARY. You can't be worse than me. Smile.)

"Well, the last time we talked it was awkward." So break the ice! They may be thinking you don't want to talk with them.

Why am I writing about investing in relationships when there are wedding stories to share?

Because for me, the relationships were the REAL story of this fabulous day.

Family and friends planned their entire summer schedule around making it to FL for the wedding. Multiple cars made the journey from different regions of NC, AL and FL. Some flew in from TN, NC and even WI.

And none of these people who went to all that expense and effort came expecting to sit, observe or even to be entertained.

No way!

Everyone put their shoulders to the wheel just as soon as they arrived. If we didn't have a job ready for them, they found one!

It was absolutely amazing. (Of course, Becky and I volunteered our sisters and their families pretty quickly - but they were willing participants. Smile.)

The Smiths and Mantiks found a quiet spot and assembled 150 fans for our guests. (Amanda created these along with the save the date cards and invitations.) After rehearsal, Debbie overheard me talking with Frank about picking up the ingredients for the punch. She immediately insisted on taking that task as well.

The Aulds, Burkes and Hawleys led the way with the cake reception. By the time Ashely S. (Meagan's dear friend who baked the wedding cake) arrived, the tent, tables, chairs and table cloths were all in place. (Generously provided by Church of the Redeemer.)

Liz and Jeremy arrived at 8:00 AM to make sure everyone's make-up looked perfect and that loose ends were braided together. Chris and Kristen were there photographing every move. Dennis volunteered his video services.

Vonnie and Lorrie prepared the punch; which was delicious. Judy and Fay offered decoration help, special decanters and needed utensils. Shirley graced us with homemade banana pudding for the luncheon.

The Asheville Gang (Brenda, Marilyn, Teresa, Amy and Lesa) manned the drink tables and kept dehydration at bay in the 95 degree heat. Members of that team also jumped in to help with prelude music, worship harmony, and all things related to clean up!

When it was time to change venues, everything magically disappeared. Thanks to family and friends.

Ashely B. and the Earps were at the luncheon site around 7:30 AM to make sure tables were ready and centerpieces were in place. And when it became apparent that the waitstaff at our luncheon was sorely lacking, they jumped in and made it appear flawless!

We needed sound and an impromptu DJ at the luncheon. Before I knew to ask, there was John setting up everything and preparing to introduce the wedding party.

Typically, I'm the one bustling around the edges of any given event. Making sure people are in place, things are ready, no one is having a melt-down.

But not on wedding day.

It is important to each of our girls that on their wedding day, Mom and Dad are just that - MOM and DAD. Not pastor, not director, not coordinator, not even entertainer - just Mom and Dad.

What a blessing to stay beside Meagan until time for my own walk down that long aisle.

Drinking in every moment in the bridal room. Catching every stray tear of joy. Observing quietly from the sideline. Relishing each smile, every whisper and the giggles that followed. Focusing on the dress as we carefully slipped it over her head. Tucking the hankie in her bouquet. Grabbing that quick hug, kiss and meaningful glance.

All the while knowing that family and friends had everything else under control. No need for Mom to worry at all. For those few hours, I needed only to be Mom for one of the most important days in my daughter's life.

I reaped richly from the investments we've made over the years on Meagan's wedding day. (Joy's too!) Those dear to us made it possible for me to really "BE THERE" during the festivities. And because of that, I count myself a wealthy woman indeed!

So I'll say to you again - invest in relationships. The dividends pay out through your lifetime and are truly limitless!

PS - So glad to have new friends signing on from Becky's blog site. Welcome! Becky got me started on this great internet adventure, so some of what you read here will sound just like her. It's because I believe in stealing from the BEST! Smile. Thank you for stopping by and for all the encouraging comments.

Friday, July 29, 2011


No. My computer did not die.

Yes. I’ve had internet service.

No. I haven’t been sick.

Yes. I’ve intended to write waaayy before now.

Truth is – I’ve been pondering. You know how scripture says that Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart? Well, I came to understand that passage in a whole new light this past week.

The wedding of Meagan and Nathan was so full……so rich… perfect. I’ve just had to sit back this week and drink it all in. I couldn’t write even one sentence describing the experience from my side of the aisle until some serious processing took place.

(I’ve been especially thankful that M.O.G., Becky Smith, started writing as soon as she got home. And the pictures have been a marvelous delight! If you haven’t seen them yet you must check out her site.)

Perhaps another reason I’ve been slow is because this wedding was put together in FIVE very SHORT months! Moving at warp speed can give the “mover” the effect of a great face-lift, but it also leaves one rather limp when all the activity ceases.

Can I get an “AMEN!” from any other M.O.B.’s out there?! Smile.

There are multiple blessings and out right miracles to share with you over the coming days. If wedding stories bore you, please just check back around October. I should be finished with them by that time.

One story I’ll treasure for years to come involves Meagan’s special relationship with Jesus. Our family has laughed through the years saying that if anyone has a direct line to the heavenly Father, it’s Meagan Elizabeth.

She has a quiet but strong faith that has built over the years as whispered prayers have become reality time and again. She believes strongly in two passages, “You have not because you ask not.” And “He delights to give us the desires of our hearts.”

Case in point:

The day before the wedding was packed even though we’d tried to avoid leaving anything to the last minute. You know how that goes.

We all finally fell into bed around 11:30 hoping to get some serious sleep before the alarms began ringing at 5:00 AM.

In the middle of the night, Meagan woke with a start to the sound of heavy, pelting rain; complete with thunder and lightening.

Her first thought was, “Oh Jesus, please don’t let it rain out my wedding!”

(While the ceremony was indoors, the cake reception was scheduled for the lovely patio in front of the church and overlooking a lake. Rain would end those plans without question!)

A whispered response came to her heart almost immediately, “Am I not the God of all things? I’ve got this.”

Meagan recognized the Voice. She knew that even if it did rain, God had promised He had it all under control. He would work it out.

So, she turned over in bed. Adjusted her pillow. And promptly fell back asleep. He had it! That was enough for her.

As it turned out, we did have rain. But not until the late afternoon. And by then, a certain young couple – now husband and wife – were already in their little silver Nissan headed out of the parking lot.

They waved good-bye until out of sight. And Mom stood on the stairway pondering the intimacy of a genuine relationship with this God who:

  • Hears every prayer.
  • Knows every desire of His precious children.
  • And delights in sharing with us “kisses from Heaven”.
Story 2

Soon after becoming engaged, Meagan and Nathan were trying to determine an actual date for their big celebration. Multiple possibilities were tossed around. Family schedules were considered. Along with church plans, work, missions trips, etc.

So much hinged on that critical decision and the pair had gotten a bit frustrated with the whole process.

Then Meagan found this: “On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people home. Joyful and glad in heart for the good things the Lord had done….” 2 Chronicles 7:10

On our 2011 calendar, that translated to July 23. A date they were already considering.

Pretty amazing, don’t you think? Yeah, we did too.

Because she’s just as practical as she is adorable, Meagan used tongue depressors to make the wedding program into a fan for each guest. (Special thanks to Amanda, the Smiths and Mantiks for turning that idea into a reality!)

On the opposite side of the program? Big letters and romantic scroll work served as the backdrop for the private message from heaven to the couple - 2 Chronicles 7:10. I don’t think it was originally recorded as a prophetic message. But for the Hawleys and Smiths, it became just that.

So we all went home last Saturday joyful and glad in heart for ALL the Lord had done. Big, Contented Sigh!

(Too many words today – but I’ve been storing up. Funny and poignant stories to follow. Smile.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ya'll Come!

The planning is over.

The rehearsal completed.

The clothes all laid out.

The flowers waiting in silence.


We're going to the chapel and they're gonna get married.

It's not a movie; this is the REAL thing, Baby.

(My exhausted state has reduced me to a series of trite quotes, I fear. Better stop while I'm ahead.)

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, dear readers. The ceremony begins at 10:30 EST. Join us in heart, won't you? Smile.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's Time!

As soon as the sun comes up today, it will be "Game On" here at wedding central!

At 4:00 AM, my eyes shot open and my heart started pounding.


No. I forgot to lay out the pork chops for tonight's dinner. Smile.

Most of the extended families will have arrived by this evening and we plan to grill out at John and Joy's. Kristin will help us organize everyone. (Can I get a big "Amen!" for the blessing of adult children who are comfortable hosting large parties?!)

My job, making sure the pork chops defrost, pales in comparison to the rest of today's activities. But it's necessary all the same.

Unfortunately, I can't dig around in the freezer because a certain groom-to-be is sleeping on my couch. (Pretty regular occurrence over the last two years. Ah, the sacrifices of young love.)

Only a couple more days, Nathan. Then that season of your life will be past.

Yes, only two more days and many things will change!

Becky (Nathan's mom) and I tend to stand close together every chance we get since her arrival on Monday. We sense the flood of emotions rolling around in one another.
  • Extreme Joy. Look at how happy our children are. Both serving God. Both excited about the future with someone they love.
  • Extreme Sadness. Where are the two little blond-haired, blue-eyed babies that were sitting beside us just yesterday?!
So when tears spring to the surface unbidden, unannounced, we immediately smile broadly. This causes innocent bystanders to interpret them all as tears of joy. (Brilliant camouflage technique utilized by most pastor's wives.)

"Aww, you must be so happy!" they say naively.

No, not happy. Joyful.

Happiness is fleeting. Happiness changes like the clouds on a summer day; it fluctuates depending on moods and circumstances.

But Joy? That's abiding. Joy sticks with you in celebration and in sorrow.

A dear friend also has a daughter getting married this weekend in Virginia. She wrote to me the other day expressing thoughts that sounded so much like my own.

"Did I teach her to stand when the waters are high and to trust God through the dry times of marriage? Have I lived a good example before her of honoring her husband? How can I be so excited and happy for my angel and at the same time feel like my heart will surely explode?"

I think most M.O.G.'s and M.O.B.'s can relate.

Thankfully, Becky and I have located small tissue containers which we hold more closely than our cell phones right now. We cast furtive glances at one another regularly and offer comforting pats. What a blessing.

I typed out the official "Meganate Wedding Schedule" yesterday. Six pages long and that did NOT include the ceremony itself. Thursday AM to Saturday PM. Names. Times. Assignments. Locations. Right there for everyone to see.

So this evening (at approximately 6:15), we will pass out schedules to all family members present. They'll need to flip past the three pages that were Thursday.

I'm following the example of my mentor Sandra Bass-Palmer. She always arrived at events with a complete play booklet ready for every participant. I thought she was joking when I received my first booklet.

"Sheri, you can flip on over to Friday. You'll see that at 2:45 you'll need to set up registration tables in the Magnolia Room. Cindy will help you."

I came to refer to those booklets as the lifeline!

Even though we worked hard, those booklets allowed us to relax a bit and enjoy the conferences. We were confident that Sandra had already thought through everything. And if we had any questions at all, the answer was probably in the book.

That's why the schedule is important. We will work hard over the next couple of days, wrapping up loose ends, finalizing details. But we can relax knowing that almost everything has been thought out and planned for.

Hmmmm. Come to think of it, that's how it works for my M.O.B. friend and myself too. We've worked hard to live before our daughters the best life we could. Now we need to relax and enjoy these weddings.

If our children have any questions (and they will), the Heavenly Father has already thought it through. The answers they'll need are in HIS BOOK!

That brings a sigh of confident joy!

PS - This will likely be my final entry until after the festivities. But let me thank you all for each comment and expression of love. You have made me smile and given me thoughts to cherish.

Thanks too for all the prayers. We're living like ducks right now. Sailing calmly on the surface and paddling like crazy underneath! Smile. Blessings!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Kitchen Rugs

The guest rugs are in place!

We tend to have a little more than the average amount of "guest traffic". So, I have an extra set of kitchen throw rugs reserved for "guest appearances" only.

I fished them out of storage yesterday for our little lingerie shower and plan to leave them in place until the last wedding guest has departed.

THIS WEEK! The wedding takes place just five short days from this one. FIVE DAYS! (If I were intrigued with math, I'd take time to compute the hours for you. But no time. Smile.)

Along with the regular morning routine, I've already:
  • Checked the weather forecast for Saturday - promising.
  • Scanned the response list.
  • Adjusted scheduling.
  • Confirmed travel arrangements.
  • Rehearsed the calendar with Frank.
Okay. Nap Time! I wish.

Steve, Becky and Sarah arrive this evening. I take comfort in knowing that the one other woman in this world who also wants to see Saturday come off without a hitch as much as I do, will be joining me shortly. We may only be able to stand in some corner comforting each other but at least we'll have each other! Smile.

Rest assured that her blog site: smithellanaeous will have copious quantities of colorful pictures. (Needed a "Q" word there but couldn't think of one quickly enough.)

Lots to be done.

But the bottom line is this:
  • In five short days, our baby girl will marry the man she has prayed for over five years.
  • We will celebrate and express gratitude to God for His perfect timing and His wonderful plans.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith will drive away from the reception on Saturday knowing that people are praying for them.
  • We'll trust for a life of fulfillment as they continue to allow the Heavenly Father to order their footsteps.
  • Family and friends will drive away with a renewed appreciation for God's work in all our lives and the beauty of marriage as He designed it.
I'd say all that merits the guest rugs being out, wouldn't you? Smile.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


When we served as evangelists, Joy and Meagan sang a duet entitled, "Call On Jesus".

The chorus opened with an incredibly powerful statement, "When I call on Jesus, all things are possible!"

I can close my eyes and still see those two on stage. Side by Side. Colorful blouses with their Sunday suits and high-heeled shoes. Long blonde (or brunette or highlighted or red) hair. Smile.

They sang with such conviction; such passion. The song often brought people in the congregation to tears as they internalized the wonderful truth.

I lived that song yesterday.

Sleep decided to flee around 4:00 yesterday morning. So I got up to read, spend some quiet time, do a little writing. My family frowns on tasks involving vacuum cleaners and dishwashers prior to dawn. Imagine!

As I finished praying, I breathed out a little whisper. "Lord, please put us on someone's heart today. I could really use the extra prayer covering." It was part exasperation; part petition.

We have so many things swirling in our heads these days. Just because there's a wedding in nine days doesn't mean everything else comes grinding to a halt. You know how it is.

The sun came up, everyone kicked into high gear and my request was forgotten.

Forgotten by me, that is. Not by my Heavenly Father.

Before noon I had received emails from friends in two different parts of the country:
  • "Just wanted you to know I'm thinking of you today. Sending prayers and extra hugs your way."
  • "We know things are hectic right now. Wanted you to know we're praying for you."
When the second one arrived, I bowed my head in gratitude there at my desk. Tears rolled silently down my cheeks. How amazing to be reminded that He hears us when we call on Him! Even if it's only in a half-hearted fashion.

David said it well in Psalm 145, "The Lord is near to all who call on him......"

So if someone comes to mind that you haven't thought of in a long while, perhaps you should send them an email. Your act of thoughtfulness may be an answer to their prayer.

And how awesome to be in league with the Almighty Himself!

Note: I've only lost one other post in all the time I've been blogging. When I lost this one and had to totally reproduce it, I knew someone out there needs it! Send that email. Smile.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lint Bags and Tea Bags

(Disclaimer. Our baby girl will be getting married in less than two weeks. Every thing I write during this time will probably be packed with an inordinate amount of emotion. Guerrina, get the tissues please. Smile.)

John's family drove in Friday night for a week of vacation. Most people from NY would love a week spent in the sunshine of FL. But his parents didn't come for the beaches or the weather.

Truth is, they would have driven in for a week's vacation at the North Pole - if that were Spencer Matthew's location! Smile.

Linda is beaming like she's gone to Heaven.

My odd title comes from two separate events that occurred within a 24 hour period: Two moments of little consequence to the casual observer. Two moments that would only matter to an M.O.B. But two moments I'll treasure for years to come.

(And certainly two moments that would cause the orchestral score to swell dramatically had they been part of a Hallmark commercial. Smile.)

I had dashed over to Joy's to lend a hand while she applied the finishing touches to her "clean sweep" project. You know, the cleaning we all do just before our mother-in-law is due to arrive.

My first project involved laundry that needed switching from the washer to the dryer. The stacks of clothes folded on the dining room table evidenced how hard Joy had been working.

I quickly checked the lint filter and found more evidence of her busy day. But then I was in a quandary about what to do with the rather large ball of lint I held.

A scan around her laundry room revealed no trash can. I could stop and run to the kitchen but that would be time lost. Should I toss it on the floor and pick it up when I finished? What to do?

The laundry area at my house is rather compact. So when we first moved in, I started the habit of keeping a plastic grocery bag tied to the shelving right above my dryer. Convenient, cost-effective, clean.

As an after thought, I glanced up at the shelving just above Joy's dryer. Tears sprang to my eyes. Right there, in the same spot I would have chosen, was a plastic grocery bag holding a few tiny lint balls.

(I hear my brave, male readers, "She's crying over a lint bag? Really?!")

But the tears weren't really due to the lint bag. They were more a matter of suddenly realizing how much more is caught than taught. If she repeated mom's habit with a silly lint bag, wouldn't other more important issues be mirrored as well?

Oh, I hope so. I truly hope so!

The same scene played out a little differently the next morning as we prepared for the MEGANATE bridal shower.

Just before leaving, I poured a cup of tea each for Meagan and Kristin. "Your cups are on the bar, girls. Be sure to pick them up before you leave."

Meagan came bursting around the corner and gave me a big hug. "Oh, Mom. I just told Kristin yesterday that I'm really gonna miss my hot tea once we're married."

Again with the springing tears!

(Hot tea is our comfort food of choice. It's wonderful for jaw surgeries; cold mornings; meal endings; celebrations; sad conversations; peaceful evenings. Actually, I can't think of an in-appropriate time to serve hot tea.)

What Meagan didn't know was that Dad and I already had planned to present the newlyweds-to-be with their very own tea kettles and stock of favorite tea bags. (Yes, two kettles. One to boil the water; the other for steeping. I told you hot tea is a big deal for us. Smile.)

The shower was absolutely lovely. Meagan and Nathan were lavished upon by their church family. And each gift elicited a smile or squeal of excitement. (When you grow up as a preacher's kid, you learn to be genuinely appreciative!)

But Mom got to close the week-end with a heart warmed by the simple joy found in a silly lint bag and some tea bags.

Nope, it doesn't take much for me these days!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Turn Around

My flower beds are a MESS!

Both front yard and back loudly announce to even the casual observer, "I have been sorely neglected! Please come offer your assistance; no help will be refused!"

Usually by this point in the summer, I've settled into a routine of maintenance with all our flowering plants and shrubs. Most backyard mornings in July yield not only a fabulous sunrise, but also an abundance of colors and textures and scents at our house.

Not this year!

A wedding takes place in 16 short days. And I can't find one single "Parents of the Bride" book or article describing how to squeeze flower bed maintenance into the schedule. Not one!

At this point, we're doing well to keep the dogs and goldfish fed! Smile.

But as I sipped coffee on the patio and breathed in the beauty of the sunrise, the Lord gave me a different perspective. Not much color within the confines of the normal flower beds. But my kitchen table displays a veritable rainbow of citrus-colored silks.

Roses! Gerbers! Hydrangeas!

(Meagan asked Frank to create her wedding flowers. And the kitchen table serves as the holding spot for all completed pieces. You should see her bouquet - simply stunning!)

Beauty and color can be found at our house. I just had to turn around a bit to see it.

It started me thinking about other ways to turn my perspective:
  • The rain continues almost daily now. I HATE getting my feet wet!
  • But FL needs rain desperately. And it's keeping the temperatures moderate.
  • When I walk in the mornings, the humidity covers me like a blanket!
  • This causes me to burn more calories which improves the likelihood that the blue dress will continue to zip effortlessly.
  • Frank currently serves as the exercise/clean foods policeman for us both!
  • If we keep at this, we'll likely be around to enjoy Meagan and Nathan's children.
  • Sleep evades me pretty often these days!
  • Time lying in bed before dawn offers sweet prayer opportunities.
  • Several "final payments" remain before the big day!
  • These pretty well assure us that the "MEGANATE Wedding" will have multiple testimonies of God's faithfulness. (Did we tell you that a friend is baking their wedding cake and another will be doing the video?! Testimony!)
I have a favorite passage in Habakkuk. (Try saying that O.T. book three times fast! Smile.)

It talks about a decision. "Though the fig tree and the olive tree fail to blossom. And though there are no cattle in the stalls. Still I will praise You, O God."

(Definitely the "Sheri" paraphrase! Smile.)

For me this morning, that's more like - "Though my flower beds are a mess and time is flying and we're watching for a couple of big miracles before the 23rd, still I will praise you, Oh God!"

So I turn my perspective and praise. Mostly because the blessings totally outweigh the struggles. And because the God of Angel Armies merits my praise!