Details, details

I took the full view of her in, barely seeing the wedding dress as her radiant smile stole the show.

Yes, it was lovely, white, some kind of satiny material, but it was my niece I was seeing, not the details.

That’s me. For an artist, I miss a lot of the fine points. Instead, I take in the nuance of the moment, the atmosphere of the room.

Paul Kathryn_batchWatermark

blurred flowers

Kathryn bouquet soft Edit_batchWatermark

candid bridesmaids framed cropped

Don’t ask me the color of someone’s eyes, even a good friend, because unless they’re brilliant blue or magical brown I won’t have any idea. But ask me if they have a smile that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room or if they find laughter as easily as some see a speck of lint on a sweater and I’ll know that.

When I hold the camera to my eye, that’s what I’m hoping to find, to capture, are those details.

The niece sad, somewhat casually in that expected tone, “aunt Debby, you always have your camera so you’ll be taking pictures too.” She had a photographer for her wedding, a family friend who wouldn’t feel the least bit threatened or put upon with me off to the side snapping away. And I wouldn’t feel pressure being the primary photographer which gave me greater access.

I stood at the side and didn’t have to give directions. As family, I walked in the room where the bride and her attendants were getting ready with barely a notice of my presence. That’s the best.

Hannah photobomb sq framed

parents of the bride

parents of the bride

funny expression

Madisons Kathryn_batchWatermark

reception kiss

Daniel dancing

This is what I would photograph always: smiles and laughter, expressions of newlyweds and little boys invited to dance with the grownups.

There is One who knows the details. How could he not, he created our very being. Like I know our daughters crooked pinky fingers and our sons toes are long like mine, God know the external and internal of our lives. The miracle is, He loves us anyway.

“Not one sparrow (What do they cost? Two for a penny?) can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 Living Bible

 

Linking up in a discussion group ‘On Being a Writer’ over at Kate Motaung’s place. Stop by.

A Time to Marry {for my niece}

wedding rehearsal

wedding rehearsal

Teacher: For everything that happens in life—there is a season, a right time for everything under heaven:

2 A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, a time to collect the harvest;
3 A time to kill, a time to heal;
a time to tear down, a time to build up;
4 A time to cry, a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, a time to dance;
5 A time to scatter stones, a time to pile them up;
a time for a warm embrace, a time for keeping your distance;
6 A time to search, a time to give up as lost;
a time to keep, a time to throw out;
7 A time to tear apart, a time to bind together;
a time to be quiet, a time to speak up;
8 A time to love, a time to hate;
a time to go to war, a time to make peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 the Voice

And so it is, this is the day our second-born niece and her fiancé have chosen to marry. Family has come from nearly all corners of this country to witness and love, to pray and dance and mostly to fill the space with joy we have for the one we know and the one we will now call family.

It is no easy thing bringing families together. It is no easy thing reaching across the unknown and saying, “Welcome”. We do it for her and we do it for my brother, his first daughter to wed. The first to leave home and chart this new way that won’t always look like the path we’ve walked.

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We celebrate for my sister-in-law, for all the mother-of-the-bride has borne literally and figuratively. I marvel at her strength and resolve as this child who, though second born, was in charge from the earliest of days, chooses a mate and chooses life and gives the name she’s worn to another.

These are hard days for parents and they are days filled with hope and push us in our faith as prayers grow stronger.

They have been and will be surrounded by a love that always looks to Hope. This is the Love that will support them and has supported us.

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Father and daughter

Father and daughter

In Searching for Sunday, Rachel Held Evans shares a chapter with thoughts on marriage. Several passages I’ve highlighted as she looks beyond the current debate on marriage we’ve seen played out in recent days.

My sweet, stubborn, niece, most that any of us can tell you about marriage is it has to be lived to know. But here are some words from RHE that, after 37 years of life with this guy also known as your favorite uncle, I know to be true.

“Marriage isn’t about sticking to a script; it’s about making a life together. It’s not a choreographed cha-cha, it’s an intimate slow dance. It isn’t a formula, it’s a mystery.”

The best one to mark your way is God. That will always be. Enter this mystery, slow dancing your way to His rhythm knowing you are loved. Always.

Five-Minute Friday {see}

“Look, look, watch this play…..you missed it.” he says from the sofa as I peck on the computer keys editing photo’s or Facebooking a friend, missing what he wanted me to see. Again.

“I spy with my little eye”, says our granddaughter and her perspective is a couple of feet lower than mine so she sees things I easily miss.

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Christmas morning  family

It sounds as if I miss too much, not seeing what others want me to see but often what is seen isn’t done with my eyes but from a part I can’t begin to explain. It’s more like seeing with my soul when look at the ocean spread in front of me and feel the grandness of God’s creation and love. I not only see but I feel it too.

Christmas day

 

Christmas day

There are things we see and there are things seen so deeply they must also be felt as if there is no separation between the seeing and feeling. That couple exchanging their vows. The parents looking on, seeing a new life beginning. That granddaughter riding her first motorized “car” and the delight on her face. The husband looking deeply into his wife’s face as she opens her gift from him.

I don’t miss things. Not the real things. The things seen with eyes and heart.

Linking up with Lisa-J0 Baker for Five Minute Friday. To read other posts or join in the community click here.

Finishing Strong

I played in the school band. It wasn’t so much by my choice as it was my father’s choice. He was very musical, able to pick out most hymn songs on the piano, not with great skill, but to get by if needed. His real instrument was the trombone. He played in school and later in select bands in The Salvation Army. He loved the brass music and played it on the stereo in our home so me playing an instrument was more of a given than a choice.

I liked music and enjoyed knowing how to read the notes and musical terms. Because our church was a brass band kind of church I learned to play an instrument, a cornet, few recognized for what it was (it’s NOT a trumpet ;))  and even fewer girls played it in school bands. Girls played woodwinds and the boys played percussion and brass but there I was, stuck in the middle of rude, adolescent boys unsure of what to make of this girl playing a shorter version of their instrument.

Other than remembering all that part of my school musical experience, I remember preparing for competition and our bandmaster telling us start strong and finish strong, the judges won’t remember the middle.

That statement transcends music. Finish strong. That’s what people remember. That will be our legacy.

I don’t remember how 2013 began other than it was quiet as it was just the two of us home. But we finished strong. We finished with a wedding on New Year’s Eve with the Hudson clan, small as we are in number, gathered to celebrate and we finished strong.

kk with couple

family christmas

Hudson cousins with spouses and children

parents of those cousins (we are now the senior generation!)

parents of those cousins (we are now the senior generation!)

Henry performed the ceremony for our nephew with our granddaughter as the flower girl. All five cousins finally together and we celebrated the new life of a husband and wife and it was good.

We have celebrated too many passings over the past few years but the last day of 2013 celebrated the birth of a beginning.

We are a family that loves strong, loving in spite of because that’s what love does.

These words from the “love chapter” were shared at the wedding reminding us what real love does:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.” 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5

And we have messed up every one of those. There have been more times where we haven’t been patient or kind and we have demanded our own way and definitely been irritable and kept records of wrongs. Yes, yes, we have, and will again. But we have also done what verse 7 says: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

That is our family, trying our best to finish strong, not giving up, not losing faith, holding on to hope and helping each other get through the hard times and we have them.

Am I being biased? Am I looking at this motley group with rose-colored glasses? If you think that, you don’t know me. Me the mom who manages to make stupid jokes that end up being hurtful to a family member. We’re a mess, this family of mine. I protect the privacy of others not from denial but from respect. We have this faith built on something, on Someone, stronger than all of us combined. God is our hope. Jesus our salvation and redeemer. His Spirit our help and endurance. We finish strong because God is our author and finisher.

Kiss her!

Don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t a story about me or anyone I know. At least not that kind of story.

The day before Henry’s birthday we went boating with the extended family. Nine of us on the Proline out to sea and cruising the Intracoastal back to the boat ramp.

The Major is a Captain

The Major is a Captain

Niece 1

Niece #1

bridge

pelican

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Coming back in, one of the nieces called out “Wedding!”. Actually, it was a bride and groom having their photos taken with the water as the back drop.

wedding

Until our boat motored by and my brother yells out “Kiss her!” Then we all start yelling….”KISS HER….KISS HER….KISS HER…”

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And he did. I just love happy endings. Or happy beginnings.

The Wedding

When it comes to our children, grown and all, I’m slow at revealing much of their lives. Even joyous ones like a wedding. However, I have no issues with showing pictures of the grand-daughter any time! 😀

I share so much of my heartaches and fears with you how can I not share the joys?

First, a humble thank you to those who prayed for our travels and prayed for my strength and my heart as we saw a son married and a mother with no recognition of her children or grandchildren. You are awesome!

The venue for the wedding was the Venetian Resort and it was absolutely beautiful. From the door man and accordion player at the entrance to the grand halls with murals on the ceilings and marble under foot. It was near sensory overload to take it in.

The wedding itself was small. The bridal party consisted of the bride, groom and minister (aka groom’s father). A gathering of 30 to 40 family and friends (mostly friends) were there to share in the joy and the joy was so evident on the faces of the sweet couple.

My two best men

brother and sister

with my boy

The backdrop was an interior courtyard and was just perfect.

The perfect music accompaniment

My pictures aren’t the best as it’s not easy being mom-of-the-groom trying to be stealth about taking pictures. The professional has some fantastic shots and even asked the bride and groom if he could use them on his website for advertising purposes.

Photo apps on iPhones are great for some fun edits.

A dress change at the reception and the bride was radiant, her smile glowing as always.

May God’s love bind them, His spirit live in them and His Son be reflected in them.

Show me a sign

Things were feeling calm. And then I got out of bed.

I can’t walk in my closet without thinking about packing for a trip that will include a wedding and outdoor exploration. Different weather and all the airline regulations, limitations and extra fees.

The weekend with the 5-year old was a good get-away. An escape to watch a little girl play with her Baba and race the waves of a raging surf (thanks to the far off shore Hurricane Sandy). He wrote her name in the sand and she announced “now everyone will know my middle name”. She was surrounded by both sets of grandparents and her aunt from Dallas flew in for the festivities. She asked for 100 presents and we figure counting all the tiny pieces of Minnie’s boutique and the princesses there were at least 100 parts. She had a camera (or 4) in her face so many times she grew tired of it and even that was okay.

 

 

Now to face the rest of the week and it stops me dead in my tracks today. And I know it is silly and little when there are millions of people bracing for a storm taking aim at the east coast of our country. And I’m standing at my kitchen sink feeling like I just might cry.

One week from today we’ll be having a short visit with mom. I’ve had feelings this won’t go well. Feelings. They are battling with my mind. The director tells me she may not remember our faces and I know that’s the case. She didn’t earlier this year. Henry hasn’t seen her like this and for some reason I’m more fearful for him to see her this way.

Then there’s our son’s wedding and that makes me shake. She is a wonderful person. He’s a good man. But I’m the mama that feels she hasn’t had the time with both of them to talk about marriage and the ups and the downs and that 50-50 is a lie and what will you do in hard times. So I stand at the kitchen sink hoping I can get in for a haircut in the next two days between this fall festival we’re doing and packing everything I might need and my eyes fall land on this declaration across the room: Celebrate.

It doesn’t fit there. It was at the office and when the decor changed I brought it home and it doesn’t fit. It’s too big for all my spaces to I “stuck” it there. And that’s what I see. It stops me right still. It doesn’t take the shaking away and it won’t stop my tears but I get it. I get the message. Celebrate. All of it. Celebrate all God has given and thank him. Thank him for the son, the mama who doesn’t know her children, the people who take care of her. Thank God for the opportunity to be in her life still and for a daughter and son who want us in their lives. Celebrate this life. The fun parts and the scary parts. Celebrate God is with me through all of it.

 

It’s big I tell you

As I write this the count down is on. As you read it we should be in Jacksonville, FL enjoying life with the granddaughter on the eve of her 5th birthday. (Insert “where does the time go” comment here) She has a day off from school and my plan calls for some outdoor exploration. A pumpkin patch perhaps, or walking along the very different shore of North Florida. We’ll see what plans the weather has, and, of course, said granddaughter. She is most content to gather her tiny Princess dolls and have either of us right along pretending again and again the same lines. I have no doubt there will be plenty of that too.

This is just the start to a very busy and full time for us.

Fast forward a week to November 3 and we’ll be at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas with the husband/dad, aka Henry, performing the wedding ceremony for our son. His lovely bride-to-be chose the place and has arranged every detail. She’s good like that 😉

Between one celebration and the other we’ll be with our ARC crew practicing a little give back. That is a major theme of recovery and hopefully, of life. Once again we are hosting a fall festival for about 50 children from the Salvation Army church. Our folks have prepared, saved costumes and props, decorated and will be filling bags with candy and going all out for a fun night on Tuesday. They already have a Scooby Doo costume and Mad Hatter hat. I’ve been told one room will be decorated for Alice’s tea party complete with mini-cupcakes for the wee guests.

And then…..breathe! For a few days as Henry and stay in the Nevada area to explore and have a late 35th anniversary celebration. Boy, do I need some time away! I’m so excited to see the different terrain and explore more of Gods creation.

Those are the highlights. There is more travel (business related) shortly after our return but I don’t think it will rank with the time spent with family and time with our men.

So posting may be random and scarce. But you’ll know it do to immersing in joy we’re blessed with. It’s hard to resist sharing photos and I surely will when I can.

Here’s one to get us started. We’re calling it her rock star picture. I have a feeling she was just tired of the camera trying to get her beautiful face one more time.

 

His young wife (part 2)

When the story is still being written there is no ending just more pages waiting to hold memories. Thinking back over these 35 years there are more memories than photo’s and the pictures we have are marked by time just as we are. The color has faded and mimics much of life that way.

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Mama came with her mom and one of her sisters. The week before the wedding they sewed lace table cloths we used in the reception. They came from one end of the country to the other to help this too young and simple girl do a few things right.

with mama and aunt Neety

with my uncle, who performed the ceremony, and aunt (Majors John and Juanita Tharp)

We’re still in touch with most of those in our wedding party. Only lost track of two.

mama with her mom (mama made her own dress for the wedding)

Henry’s first meeting of my mom and he was descended upon by all females, two of the three very outspoken. He showed no fear. No wonder it’s worked.

I don’t know who took the three of them to the airport the next day. All of our family had come from out-of-town, mine from out-of-state. Friends and family come together and do what’s needed.

Daddy looks a bit wistful walking his only daughter down the aisle

My uncle performed the ceremony and made me cry with a silly crack he made during the rehearsal. He made daddy laugh during the ceremony when he got a few words wrong. Those things we remember. A friend who sang a song I don’t remember just that her voice was beautiful as was her friendship. The many that came alongside to make it a ceremony. I needed that. I was so awkward and probably half held my breath through the whole thing.

But here we are and getting here has been a process of learning. Learning you will love children like you never thought possible and learning to let them go. Learning that going without cable, eating out and the newspaper (and a few other things) to get you through a tough time helps you know your priorities. Learning that you can get so mad at the other person for the very things they do that you liked and admitting it’s not them, it’s you.

Learning to not hold things with a closed fist but an open hand. Love is like that. Learning that love isn’t a movie. It’s better.

All together last Christmas (back where we started in Fort Lauderdale)

His young wife (part 1)

Somewhere over these past 35 years, Henry started referring to me as his “young wife”. It’s never gotten an argument from me.

Thirty-give is a big one. It’s the kind of number that has me wondering where the time has gone and how can I possibly be old enough to be married for 35 years?

Our celebrations are simple and quiet and I wonder if that’s been a good thing to model for our children. Marriage should be celebrated more than so many other things. And celebrated with gusto. We have made exceptions. For our 25th we went to England. That was big.

Big weddings weren’t in vogue in the late 70’s or maybe they were but we weren’t part of that group. I seriously considered an outdoor wedding but I was to afraid to chance the weather. We married at the church where we’d officially met when he was dating someone else. I wanted him in white and everything else simple. My bouquet was three roses. One I gave to my mom on the up the aisle, the second given to my new mother-in-law on our way down the aisle and the third remained amid the greenery.

my new mother-in-law

Even our rehearsal dinner was simple with Henry choosing to have a steak cookout. He did the cooking. Mama couldn’t believe it. I think that’s the moment she decided she had a great son-in-law. We set up card tables in the church parking lot and gathered outside in some unseasonably cool South Florida weather. He sat at a table with his friends and I saw with my family and friends. So funny when I look back.

rehearsal dinner

That’s my head peeking out 

There isn’t the need to do big things for either of us. And that is one of the pleasures of a long marriage. To be comfortable with each other in quiet times. Still, I was thinking of a weekend trip. The thought of New England fluttered through my mind as the scenery this time of year would be beautiful. Then our son announced he’d be getting married in November and our plans changed. He’s giving us the opportunity to visit an area we’ve not spent much time in together: Nevada. Yes, his fiancé chose Las Vegas as their destination wedding and we’ve chosen to spend a few more days in that area celebrating our union in the southwest. Red Rock Canyon, Zion National Park, the pawn shop featured on Pawn Stars 🙂 We’ll even take a short trip up to see my mom.

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Two life long friendships

As I look back, the time seems short and yet it’s as  though we’ve always been part of each other. When I go through the pictures from that weekend I see faces of enduring friendships. A group of people who are now scattered around the country and some gone to heaven but that core group was a foundation built on a faith shared. It binds us still.