Valentine wish for you

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Stitched together in love


Beautiful quilts on display at my church

When the air turns frosty and the night is long, I reach for it. 

It not only warms my chilled body, but heart and soul as well.  And I sleep peacefully beneath it enveloped by comfort.

It boasts bright, colorful squares hand-stitched together and arrayed in a specific pattern.  When turned over, it displays yet another intricate design of the tiniest, near perfectly formed stitches.

It is a quilt, hand-made by my mother and woven together by thread, material, and love, that rests on my bed. When I pull that cover over me, I think of Mom and the endless hours she spent pursuing one of her favorite pastimes – quilting – and I’m reminded not just of her but of life. 

Quilts are composed of bits and pieces which by themselves look just like what they are – bits and pieces.  But when arranged, they portray a picture and often tell a story reminding us of joys or sorrows, good times and difficult times.  Somehow, when those bits and pieces are stitched together with loving hands, they become a beautiful work of art, just like life.

Sometimes, when I pull my quilts out of my Mom’s old cedar chest,  the lyrics of a song come to mind –  “Silver threads and golden needles can’t patch up this heart of mine.”  But unlike the song, remembering the thread and needles that so lovingly formed these quilts actually does patch up my heart when I’m feeling a bit melancholy.

I once read a quote that I stashed away in my tattered quotes notebook that said, “Love is the thread that binds us together.”   My treasured quilts truly do form a patchwork of love that binds me to my family history.

I cherish one quilt my maternal grandmother fashioned. Grandma married my grandfather in 1900 and times certainly were different back then.  Quilts were made not for displaying on a wall, but for daily household use.

Grandma didn’t purchase special fabrics in matching colors to make this quilt.  Instead it’s a jumble of many colors and shapes because the patches were cut from leftover material she saved from old clothing or even flour and feed sacks which consisted of brightly colored cloth.

Patches, irregular in size and color, form a unique design called a crazy quilt.  It’s safe to proclaim that my Grandma’s crazy quilt isn’t a beauty.  Odd, yes.  Beauty, probably not. But it speaks love to me. 

Each time I handle it, I reminisce about the grandmother who taught me old hymns and silly songs, rocked me in her rocking chair, and loved me for only nine years before she died.   When I lift that old quilt up to my face and inhale the scent of it,  I’m transported back in time to my childhood because this cover, well used and hodge-podge in appearance, smells like my grandma.  Often that makes me smile and weep at the same time.

I keep two other quilts fashioned by family members I never got to meet or learn to  love.  One quilt is worn, a bit stained, and slightly tattered, but it’s special to me.  The pattern is called fox and geese and it belonged to my paternal grandmother.   I assume she made it, but I’m not sure of that.

I try to imagine what she must have been like – that grandmother I only know from a few photographs because she died when I was an infant.  Widowed in 1920 with a houseful of children, one of whom was my father then just a baby,  I suppose she made this quilt to keep her family warm.  I imagine the stories Grandma’s quilt could tell me – stories of family and love and even heartbreak.

The other treasured quilt in my collection belonged to my husband’s paternal grandmother who he doesn’t remember well.  Her life is a bit of a mystery to us.  We know her name,  the names of her husband (my husband’s grandfather) and all her children, the oldest being my father-in-law who was born in 1898.  But we know little of this grandmother’s life, her history, her parents, her stories.

It’s been said that a quilt tells a story and that story is our past.  If this red and cream-colored intricately patterned quilt could talk, it would tell us about this grandmother and her daily life.  It would tell us family stories long forgotten and left untold to the next generation.

Last month, I attended a Mother-Daughter dinner at my church.  The theme revolved around quilts and many ladies loaned their quilted treasures for display there.  Wooden racks constructed to exhibit them lined the entire length of one wall of the fellowship hall. 

I don’t know how many quilts adorned those racks, but I do know that each one of those beautifully handcrafted works of art represented a family story, a fond remembrance, a life well-lived.

Together all of those quilts spoke of love.   One stitch at a time.



Dance with me

At a college dance in 1975

At a college dance in 1975

Just a few notes of a song from my youth ring through the air and I can name that tune.  Music always sticks in my mind.

And it does something else – it transports me back in time.  When I hear a familiar tune and commence singing along with the words, a kind of magic descends.  My surroundings fade away and it’s almost like I’m immersed in a time machine. 

Years, even decades, melt away and there I am.  Transported to the past, reliving a memory.  And all because of a song.

I experienced a little time travel while driving to work the other day.  Often I drive in silence with the car radio switched off.  I don’t listen to talk shows.  I don’t even listen to music stations very often although I do love music. 

I imagine after all of those years of being the ‘mom taxi’ and driving three kids and friends around while listening to chatter and loud disagreements from the back seat, I relish the quietness of just me and my auto.

But the other day, I switched on the car radio and a classic rock station sprang to life.  I moseyed down the highway singing, “big girls don’t cry” anticipating the next fun song from the past. 

The first couple of notes sounded and instantly my time machine, doubling as a car radio, transported me back in time to my college days.

The song was Dance With Me by the group Orleans.  I used to own that record album and I loved that song. 

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can’t you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Middle daughter & son-in-law

Middle daughter & son-in-law

As I sang along with the lyrics, I recalled dancing to that song with my college sweetheart, who is now my husband of 35 years.  We were young, we were in love, but we weren’t the greatest dancers. 

Dance inspires and moves me when I watch others interpret music with their bodies.  I can remember wanting to be a dancer as a kid.  Gliding on tip toe through the house, I pretended I was a ballerina. Or I danced and pranced like a go-go girl with dances called the Monkey, the Jerk, the Swim, or the Pony.

But I never was a very good dancer.  Enter boyfriend/husband, who was even more of a non-dancer than I was. 

Son & daughter-in-law

Son & daughter-in-law

My husband listens to music every day, but his sense of rhythm when it comes to dancing leaves something to be desired.  He knows it, he jokes about it, and he’s never been a confident dancer by any stretch of the imagination.

But that song…dance with me. 

Fantasy could never be so giving
I feel free, I hope that you are willing
Pick the beat up, and kick your feet up
Dance with me

Oh, how we danced to that song.  I recall the way his arms held me tightly and even though we just swayed, moving in a tight little circle to the music, it was heavenly. 

Listening to that song in my car reminded me of the first taste of real, true love.  My mind jumped to thoughts of my grown-up children dancing with their own true loves at their weddings last year.


Oldest daughter & son-in-law

Let it lift you off the ground
Starry eyes, and love is all around
I can take you where you want to go

But then, the words of that old song from my youth suddenly transformed into new meaning for me.  I thought about true love and my first real true love – my relationship with Jesus.

As much as I love my husband, my children, my family and friends, my first love is for my Savior.  My dance partner for life. 

Thinking that over, I suddenly pictured myself in the arms of Jesus, my Lord. I could hear Him whisper the words of the song, even though they aren’t scripture.  I could imagine Him singing these lyrics to me.

And today, on this best day of the year, I wonder.  Can you hear Him sing these words to you?  Have you chosen Him as your life’s dance partner?

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can’t you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Let it lift you off the ground
Starry eyes, and love is all around
I can take you where you want to go

Dance with me, I want to be your partner
Can’t you see the music is just starting?
Night is falling, and I am calling
Dance with me

Dance with me

Dance with me.


Word of the day: Love

blogDSCN8698It’s Valentine’s Day.  The day we celebrate love.

Love, love, love.  It’s everywhere today.  Hearts and flowers.  Big red heart-shaped candy boxes. 

Yes, there will be gifts galore.   Jewelry, chocolates, red roses, stuffed animals, heart-laden cards, and fancy dinners.

 Who doesn’t love love and all it brings?  Who doesn’t love Valentine’s Day?

I’ll tell you who.  Those who feel unloved, that’s who.  Those who are lonely on this day and every day.  Those who have lost their loved ones.  Those who are burdened.

Valentine’s Day always brings romantic love to mind, but really it should be a day that we demonstrate love.  Period.  Love to everyone.  Kind of like that old 60’s song, “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.”

“Think of your fellow man; lend him a helping hand,

Put a little love in your heart.

You see it’s getting late;  oh, please don’t hesitate

Put a little love in your heart.

And the world will be a better place; and the world will be a better place

For you and me.  You just wait and see.”

I recall how my daughters disliked Valentine’s Day before they met their beloved ones.  Their friends with boyfriends reveled in valentine wishes, balloons, and gifts and my girls couldn’t wait for the day to end.  They certainly weren’t unloved because we loved them dearly, but romantic love seemed to rule the day, and it still does.

My beloved, my husband of 35 years, and I ceased bestowing valentines on each other years ago.  Neither one of us requires a gift to prove love for each other.  To us, the gift of spending time together means much more.

So there won’t be hearts and flowers or even chocolate candy dispensed at our house…well, there might be some chocolates pulled out of the kitchen pantry to share.  But love means much more than candy.

I read a newspaper article (yes, I’m a dinosaur who still reads my news in print form) this week about reaching out, especially on this day, to the unloved, the lonely, and those who’ve lost their beloved ones.  It made me think.  What if we did put a little love in our hearts by serving others?  You know, take that love and spread it around to our fellow humans….put a little love in someone else’s heart?

There’s an old saying that love isn’t love until you give it away.

So what if instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on Valentine’s Day cards and gifts, we shared our love by donating money to a worthy cause in our loved one’s name? What if we called that friend who’s feeling lost, lonely, or unloved today and told her/him how much we care?

We can hand over gifts or donate to charity, but if we do so without love, it means nothing. We really have to have love in our hearts!

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says,  “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

Verses 4-8 tells us, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.”

When I teach young people about relationships, I tell them that love is an action word.  And the best way to test whether you practice love for another is to insert your name in place of the word ‘love’ in that passage of scripture.

So if I truly have love in my heart, I should be able to say, “Cindy [my name, but you can insert yours] is patient, Cindy [your name] is kind.  Cindy does not envy, Cindy does not boast, Cindy is not proud.  Cindy does not dishonor others, Cindy is not self-seeking, Cindy is not easily angered, Cindy keeps no record of wrongs.  Cindy does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  Cindy always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

And when I do all of that, put love in my heart and spur it into action,  I can truly say “Love never fails.”

It’s Valentine’s Day.  The day of love.  I’m writing it on my heart that today is the best day of the year because I love and am loved, but even more than that, I can put a little love in the heart of someone else.

May you love and be loved this day and be encouraged to put love into action.


Love times three


That’s the Word Press photo challenge theme this week.

Ordinarily, our thoughts latch onto romance when we think of love.

But the pictures I choose to depict love this week are love of a different kind.

My photos show my three adult children spreading God’s love

to three little children in three third-world countries

during three separate short-term mission trips.

Love times three.




Love times three.



Fairy tales do come true when God writes the love story


“Once in a while,

Right in the middle of an ordinary life,

Love gives us a fairy tale.” ~ Anonymous

It really did seem like a fairy tale.

Amid fragrant, gorgeous flowers and glowing candlelight, there stood the handsome prince, tall and oh, so charming.

When the beautiful princess arrived attired in a stunning gown befitting the ball, she created a vision of loveliness as all eyes turned to her.

At the first glimpse of his princess slowly making her way to join him, the prince’s eyes filled with tears at the sight of his true love.

A bevy of lovely lasses arrayed in flowing gowns of purple, the color of royalty, served as ladies in waiting.  A gaggle of good-looking gentlemen, spruced up and dashing, escorted the fair maidens.

There was even a chariot to whisk them away to the grand ball that followed where there would be feasting, toasting, and merry dancing.

It was my son’s wedding just a few weeks ago – a fairy tale wedding with a happily ever after ending beginning.

It’s taken me some time to be able to write about this celebration.  I needed to process, weigh, and consider the feelings that washed over me throughout the wedding weekend and since.

Not because it wasn’t a joyous occasion, it truly was!  We were exuberant with happiness, welcoming a new member to our family, so very pleased and delighted for the newly married couple.

The wedding ceremony proved beautiful and meaningful as the two of them pledged their love to one another until death do they part.

Later, we feasted on sumptuous food, toasted the happy couple, and danced the night away at the reception with family and friends.

Yes, it did seem like a fairy tale, but the love that permeated their wedding day was much more real than fairy tale love.  It was love with purpose.

Even though rain descended on the wedding day, sunshine reigned in our hearts and love was the conduit. Like sunbeams reflecting onto a piece of glass and spreading out in multiple rays, love cast its light in several directions.

My son’s best guy friends all gathered to cheer on and support their friend as he took the biggest step in his life into matrimony.  Every one of those young men has been a blessing to my son and to our family as well.

Love infused my already emotion-laden heart when my son showed me the cuff links adorning his shirt.  Not just any fancy cuff links.  Especially treasured ones.

Cuff links that once adorned my father’s dress shirts.  The ones that my beloved dad, before he passed away, gifted to my son, the grandson he named.

The fact that my son chose to wear those special items of jewelry linked more than just his shirt cuffs, they linked present to the past.  Love remembered and honored from grandfather to grandson.

And love – that once in lifetime kind of love that waits for the right one –bestowed itself when my son’s bride quietly and privately presented the purity ring, which graced her finger until her wedding day, to her groom.

God bestowed His blessings of love in sunshiny increments that day in so many ways, but I first caught a glimpse of it the morning of the wedding.

Our family traveled to the state next door for the nuptials.  The evening prior to the ceremony, we all enjoyed the rehearsal and a scrumptious rehearsal dinner.

Afterwards, everyone helped themselves to an ice cream sundae bar graciously hosted by the bride’s parents at their home.

The next morning – the wedding day –  we texted our son, who was staying in the same hotel as us, to join us.  Nine of us piled into cars in pursuit of breakfast together.

Much discussion ensued as to where we would eat and after several changes of mind, we wound up at a family style restaurant nearby.  Totally random and totally unplanned, we thought.

As our waitress Shirley good-naturedly took our orders, my sister casually mentioned that we were celebrating her nephew’s wedding that day.  Shirley congratulated my son warmly.

We stuffed ourselves with breakfast food, shared stories and teasing, and enjoyed each other around the tables pushed together to accommodate us.  As we prepared to leave, our waitress reappeared at our table and asked, “Would you do something for me?”

Sure, we answered, not knowing that she would actually do something for us instead.  She asked if she could give us a blessing on our son’s wedding day.  We assented, and right there in the middle of a Bob Evans Family Restaurant, that waitress asked us to stand in a circle, holding hands.

She joined hands with us and prayed the sweetest words over our day.  She asked the Lord on behalf of our family for a beautiful wedding day for our son/brother/nephew/brother-in-law/friend and his bride.

She prayed for blessings for their new life together, for their children, and their grandchildren.  Her prayer for a total stranger and his bride, my son and soon to be daughter-in-law,  moved me to tears and prompted me to give Shirley a huge hug as we departed.

We hurried away to prepare for our son’s big day, but I couldn’t stop marveling at that waitress and how obedient she was to the Lord’s prompting.  I believe He tapped her gently on the shoulder and whispered in her ear, “Pray for them.”

And she, in faith and obedience, did so.  In front of other patrons, her fellow workers, and us.  What a walking testimony she provided to each one of us that day.

That testimony was just another example of love – yet another ray of light piercing the rainy day.   Even rain and a chill in the air could not dampen the joy and love we all experienced that amazing day.  A love that is real.  A love with purpose.  A love story written by the Almighty God.

Yes, it seemed like a fairy tale, but it was real.  Really wonderful.  Really blessed.  Really love.


Showers of Blessing, Part 2

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)

blogIMG_8396That Bible teaching from my childhood has echoed through my thoughts for my entire life.

I’ve discovered over the years that wise admonition is so very true.  Life seems just so much more abundant when I bless others by giving, not just the gift of money, but through gifts of service – time, energy, friendship, love, and devotion – as well.

This past month, I’ve encountered that feeling of being incredibly blessed.   It’s as if these words written by American essayist Hamilton Wright Mabie have sprung to life – “Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.”

There is much talk of love – true love – and marriage at our house as hubby and I witnessed our middle daughter’s marriage to her only one in June and will watch our son marry his betrothed next month, while our oldest daughter will wed her beloved before the end of this year.

For our family, it does feel like the whole world is engulfed in a conspiracy of love, a season of love…and bridal showers…and weddings.   And many, many blessings.  Showers of them.

Our showers of blessing continued when I hosted a small bridal shower in my home a couple of weeks ago for my son’s fiancée.

Since she is not from our area, she doesn’t personally know many of the people we included on the wedding invitation list.

So I wanted to give her an opportunity to meet and be blessed by some of my closest friends and family here and for them to see for themselves what a wonderful addition she makes to our family circle.

This sounds hard to believe but when my future daughter-in-law came to our home to meet us for the first time over a year ago, I knew she was different from the other girls my son had dated.  She immediately fit into our family in that easy way that seems like she has always been a part of us.

This bridal shower prepared with much thought was one of the ways I wanted  to show her how much she is accepted and loved. I’m pretty certain I succeeded.

Son and fiancée traveled abroad last year, and I think that during an excursion to Italy, their love for one another really bloomed.

So I incorporated an Italian theme with her wedding colors of purple and black and white damask into the bridal shower.  Grapes and grapevines with lanterns and candles completed the decorations.

Small corked bottles, which I filled with olive oil and tied purple ribbon tags on with the printed message,  “What did [son’s name] say to [fiancée’s name] on their Italy trip? O-live you!” served as guest favors.

The menu was simple. Linguini salad, warm from the oven garlic bread sticks, fresh fruit salad, pods of grapes, Italian crackers with three kinds of cheeses  – one with basil, a herb my son relishes and one which symbolizes love in Italy.   The story is that when an Italian suitor wants to demonstrate his love, he places a sprig of basil in his hair to win his heart’s desire.

Desserts included Italian style cookies:  cream wafers, clothes pin cookies, and almond and lemon pizzelles. White and purple grape juice mixed with ginger ale proved to be a tasty and easy to make punch.

As a special dessert, I baked brownie cups in damask cupcake wrappers and served a purple scoop of black raspberry ice cream topped with a piece of Godiva dark chocolate.  Check back tomorrow for my Wordless Wednesday post and you’ll see a picture of them.   They were a big hit!

But even more important was the love shared that day, shown in so many ways:

When fiancée’s mother and sister joined us in the celebration.  When two of my friends who’ve held 50-year-old friendships with me attended.  When guests shared their thoughts about my son to his beloved.

When my daughters warmly welcomed their new sister and catered to her every need.  When my sister and my cherished friends bestowed beautiful gifts upon the bride-to-be.

When one of my mother’s best friends, a sweet 95-year-old lady, shared her lemon pie recipe (which our son loves) with the soon-to-be wife.  When my treasured friend gave the loveliest and heart-felt prayer of blessing over the upcoming marriage.

Love permeated the air in my house on that day.  I could see it.  I could taste it. I could feel it.  And as I gave thanks for it, showers of blessings poured over me like refreshing rain over a dry, parched land.

“The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing.”  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Copyright ©2012

Love mail in the post

blogDSCN0556You know what would make me happy on Valentine’s Day?  Not a big old pink satin heart-shaped box of chocolates, not a gigantic bouquet of red roses, not even a diamond necklace. (But don’t tell my husband in case he’s going to surprise me!)

Nope.  A mailbox full of good mail.  Mail delights me.  And a mailbox full of valentines would make me squeal with joy on this day of love in my book called Opportunity.

I’m not talking email, but good old fashioned letters sealed in envelopes, letter or business size; addressed to me; adorned with one of a myriad of stamp designs; and delivered to my country mail box by my faithful mailperson.

I’m not a particularly ardent fan of Dilbert, created by cartoonist Scott Adams.  But his cartoon in which Dilbert announces, “I get mail; therefore I am,” resonates with me.  Yes sir, Dilbert, I so get the memo on that one and totally identify with your philosophy, even if you are being sarcastic.

As long as I can remember, getting mail has been a significant aspect of my day.  I have always been enchanted by receiving mail and Christmas time, when my mailbox gets stuffed with cards from friends near and far, sends me into sheer bliss.  I’ve actually tussled with family members over who gets to open the Christmas cards each day, and I’m a little ashamed to admit I want to be first!

Getting mail is a daily ritual I don’t like to miss, whether it’s stopping by my mailbox on my way home from the office or walking up my long, gravel driveway to retrieve the mail on my day off.   Want to make me giddy with glee?  Put something in the post for me!

What caused this quirky facet of my personality? How did receiving mail become such a priority in my life?   I’m not certain, but I can remember as a very young child asking my parents every day if there was any mail for me.  Sadly, the answer was always no until one miraculous day.

I can honestly recall the very first time I ever received mail addressed only to my 4-year-old self. That day was a day like no other.  It was a day – actually Valentine’s Day – when the universe seemed to acknowledge that I existed.   It was such a monumental occasion that I still remember – even now –  the feeling I encountered when my mom uttered the magical words, “You’ve got mail!”

A captivating communiqué just for me! Charming correspondence addressed to me!  Exciting epistle delivered to me!  It was a phenomenal moment.

The envelope was large and my name and address were written on it in strong, sure handwriting that looked familiar – distinguished handwriting that I would discern and recognize as I got older.  On the right hand corner of the envelope was a 4-cent stamp.   (Yep, it only cost four cents to send a letter back then.)  Inside that envelope was a comical greeting card with a crazy cartoon cat.   The card was a Valentine and it was signed, “Love, Your Daddy.”

Yes, I had an amazing father, whom I loved and cherished, and he made me feel very special.  And that very first piece of mail he sent to me was, and still is, a treasure.  Over 50 years later, I still possess that piece of mail, envelope and all, preserved in my memento box.

What makes me disheartened today is that people don’t send mail like they did in the past.  Letters and cards don’t magically arrive in my mailbox on a daily basis.   Instead there are unwanted advertisements, unsolicited requests for monetary contributions for causes or political campaigns, bills (there’s always lots of those), or an occasional catalog.

The crusade to perform all your communication electronically seems to have won the day for most people.  So tell me, what will a little girl save in her memory box? Will she really remember that one time her daddy sent her an email or a text message?

As often happens, my mind turns to spiritual thoughts as I write this.  Wouldn’t it be amazing, I think, to get mail from God?

You open your mail box to discover a brilliantly luminous envelope addressed in your name and written in exquisite gold filigree lettering.  Turning the envelope over, you get a whiff of the most fragrant sealing wax on the back, embossed with “I  AM.”

You carefully slit open the envelope to find the most beautifully textured, translucent piece of vellum your hands have ever touched.   Unfolding it, your eyes fall upon these words, “My Dearest Daughter (or Son) …”

You can’t wait to behold what this magnificent missive, this lustrous letter has to impart to you.

Eagerly you continue reading, “I have known you and loved you even before I created you.  Why do you think I have never ‘sent’ you anything before this letter?   I sent you my love and faithfulness (Psalm 57:3).  I sent you my one and only Son,  Jesus Christ, so you may have eternal life. (John 3:16)  I sent you the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to teach you all things and remind you of everything Jesus said. (John 14:26)  And I have sent you my living and holy Word to read for understanding and guidance.  Dear beloved one, I send you ‘mail’ every day.   All you have to do is have faith, believe in me, communicate with me in prayer and read my daily mail.   Love beyond measure, Your Eternal Father God.”

You’ve got mail.  All you have to do is open up your mailbox (your Bible) to find it.  On this day and everyday,  God sends His love in the post.  And that’s the best Valentine we could receive.

Copyright ©2012

(Written with excerpts from a 2010 post)

Brides R Us

blogDSCN7843My regular followers may have noticed Mama’s Empty Nest has been a bit absent on the blogging scene the last few days.

Matter of fact, for two consecutive days, Mama didn’t even turn on her laptop.  That has to be some kind of record!

Never fear though, Mama’s not MIA (missing in action).  I am, however, definitely in action – wedding planning action, that is.

In between chiropractor, dental, and car maintenance appointments, and – oh yeah – that crazy little thing called work, the last week or so has been chock full o’ nuts activity.

Mama’s feathers are ruffled, not in an agitated way but in a feverish mode, from a flurry of flying here and there.

With one family wedding scheduled for late spring (middle daughter) and two – yes, two! – planned for fall (son and oldest daughter), the nest is ensconced in a full tilt tizzy.  It’s a joyful tizzy, but still a tizzy nevertheless.

Can I declare right here and now that I’m ever so relieved to have only two daughters, not three?  Way back when son was born, we felt fairly certain we would be dealt “three of a kind” and our third child would be another girl.  Pleasantly surprised with a son instead, we were given a “pair and a spare.”

I didn’t think much then, when our children were 5, 2 ½, and a newborn, about their future weddings.    But wow!  I’m sure thinking about that now! Being the mother of a groom is a piece of cake (pun intended) compared to the responsibilities of the bride’s parents.

So as son and fiancée start planning their nuptials, I’m happy to just come along for the ride. But my ode to joy isn’t just because I only have two daughters’ weddings to plan; joy’s derived from the pleasure of watching all three of my children find their true loves.

So on to the flurry!  Both of my girls ventured out of the city back to our country empty nest for a wedding planning marathon last weekend.   Starting out Saturday, we launched a gift registry mission for middle daughter with a trip to the suburbs.  Her groom, swamped in time consuming grad school classes in the state next door, is pretty much unavailable for preparation activities such as this until just shortly before the wedding.

First let me mention that this is the daughter who truly dislikes shopping.  She’s one of those “get in, get what you want, get out” type of shoppers.  Definitely not a shop til you drop kind of girl.

With that knowledge fully recognized, this mom expected to have to convince, cajole, and coerce to keep my darling daughter focused on the task at hand – completing a gift registry.  Imagine my shock and awe when I realized we were in one store completing her bridal gift registry for a grand total of five hours!  You read that correctly – five hours!

We had an amazingly helpful store associate assisting us in our quest (until her shift was over!).   And we truly had fun!  It overjoyed this mama to see middle daughter so excited over choosing prospective wedding gifts from china patterns to pig-shaped bag clips and oldest daughter helping.  We laughed, we oohed, we joked, we aahed, we marveled, we zapped her finds on the hand-held register.

It was akin to an episode of the three musketeers.  Armed with the store device instead of swords, we came, we divided, and we conquered!  And then the weary wedding planners headed home to recoup because the next day guaranteed to be another day of going bridal.

Sunday we ventured back to the ‘burbs for a large bridal show.  Vendor after vendor paraded their wedding fare to both of my girls.   As we approached each booth, the vendor would ask, “Who’s the bride?”

My girls would smile demurely and I’d reply, “Both of them!”

Vendor would ask my daughters, “Are you friends?  Sisters?”

“Sisters!” came the happy answer.  “Getting married in the same year.”

Vendor’s attention refocused on good ol’ Mama, eyeing me up carefully saying, “Ooooooooh!”

I then laughingly retorted, “And that’s not all!  My son is getting married this year too!”

Their eyes widened, mouths forming that proverbial O, and probably money signs appeared in their brains with that cah-ching sound.  I firmly believe that when you admit the items you seek are for a wedding, the price suddenly sky-rockets, and then take that times three!  Cash cow!

But what a day we had!  We sampled wedding cakes, cupcakes, chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate covered pretzels, and candy favors until we were dizzy on a sugar high and oldest daughter developed real food hunger crankiness.

We saw everything you can imagine you might want to rent/purchase for a wedding and then some.  Flowers, gowns, venues, photographers, DJs, limos, decorations, services ranging from dance lessons to make-up to chiropractic to wild bachelorette party ideas.  You name it, it was there.

After registering for every door prize being offered in addition to a slew of other give-aways, we tasted macaroni and cheese cupcakes and tiny toasted cheese sandwiches with a tomatoey dipping sauce from one caterer.  Both were scrumptious, by the way.

And just as the weight of our shopping bags full of brochures, catalogs, and coupons became a heavy load to carry and our legs and feet tired from all the standing and walking (especially Mama) we welcomed the chance to sit and enjoy an hour long fashion show featuring wedding gowns, veils, bridesmaid dresses, and tuxes for the men.

Alas, my girls didn’t win one give-away item (I really hoped one of them might win the all-expense paid honeymoon cruise) so we loaded our tired selves into middle daughter’s car and headed home to the nest.  And there, we hauled out all our gleanings, searched for more ideas on the internet, and the girls pinned their finds on Pinterest.

It’s official.   Wedding planning has taken over our thoughts, our discussions, our very lives, at least for the women in the family.   But don’t worry, Papa had his moment in this marriage madness.  While Mama helped middle daughter register for wedding gifts, Papa was getting measured for the tuxedo for her nuptials.  He also was pleased to hear we found a reasonably affordable DJ for the first wedding in the line-up.

I think he enjoyed hearing his daughters gush about our two days of going bridal but realistically plan their lovely yet affordable weddings.  He loves his girls and wants them both to have a memorable wedding day.

And that’s what it’s all really about – love – because I know that every day in my book of Opportunity, love gives us such joy.  And love is a beautiful thing.

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