Posted in weddings

Not just joining hands but hearts

My three children showing off their wedding rings

“Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.” ~ William Shakespeare

The joining of hands led to lots of heart joining this year.  Our family’s “Year of the Weddings” is coming to a close.  What a year it has been!

We began January 2012 in the middle of planning one wedding – our middle daughter’s – and realizing we must gear up for two more.

Son became engaged the day after Christmas last year and oldest daughter received her marriage proposal at New Year’s.

In the course of the year, I’ve answered a lot of questions from friends about all three of our adult children heading for matrimony.

Here are answers to those questions for my blog readers:

  • No, I did not in my wildest dreams ever imagine that all of our children would marry the same year!  When they were small, I often thought about their wedding days and prayed they would find godly mates, but never once envisioned this happening.
  • Yes, I spent a lot of time in prayer for my offspring to be blessed with marriages.  This just goes to show you that old saying, “be careful what you pray for” is true.   God answered my prayers…boom, boom, boom.
  • Yes, I not only like my new children-in-law, I love them.  Each one of them is a joy, an amazing addition to our family.  I just told someone the other day, better marriage partners for my offspring couldn’t be found if I had picked them myself.   They complement each other and fit together so well.
  • Yes, I purchased and wore three different dresses to the three different weddings.  And I found each one of those mother of the groom dresses on the sale rack!  Fortunate me!
  • Yes, each wedding was entirely different.  Each one of the three couples has their own style, so different from their siblings.   Middle daughter is the nostalgic one.  The lover of antiques and old things, simple and practical.  She loves to chronicle life with pictures, so her wedding had a simple vintage theme with photography whimsy thrown in.  Son and daughter-in-law’s wedding was grand and beautiful, a fairy tale come true with a real life Princess and Prince Charming.  Oldest daughter loves elegance and sophistication.  Her all-white wedding décor at the reception reflected that, along with bits and pieces of Honduran flair since she and her beloved met one another on a short-term mission trip in that country.
  • Yes, I realize that Papa and I may become grandparents in the same fashion.  Three in one year.  But that remains to be seen because for now, all three couples tell us that is a long way off in the future.  Time will tell, won’t it?
  • Yes, I cried.  A lot.

    Wedding #1

For the first wedding, I was a nervous wreck and stressed out.  Sleep deprivation and worry over wedding details caused me to be a bit numb for middle daughter’s wedding, so weeping was minimal.

Plus she exuded infectious happiness to be marrying her true love, so the tears that threatened to spill out were tears of happiness.  I almost succumbed to crying during the ceremony because the two of them just looked so sweet and so much in love, but I managed to squelch the tears.

Son’s wedding proved a little different.  My son was ecstatic and eager to take the responsibility of having a wife, so I was proud of him and happy for him.   But there’s something heart-wrenching about watching your son marry.  At the rehearsal, I found myself choked up and tears flowed.  At the wedding, watching my son become emotional caused me to force myself to keep my emotions in check.  Not an easy task.

The realization that

Wedding #2

I wouldn’t be the most important woman in my son’s life caused me to shed some tears.  But that’s exactly what must happen;  mom must step aside and allow her son’s wife to become the most important woman to him and rightly so.

For our last wedding, oldest daughter’s, I was much more relaxed and enjoyed myself immensely at the reception.  But still there were tears.  A few days before the wedding, I sobbed. Knowing my daughter, who had just returned from far away to live near home a year before, would be moving away again caused some of my tears.

Holding hands with her daddy before Wedding #3

As we waited for the ceremony to begin, I glanced at my oldest, my first-born, sitting with her daddy, holding his hand.  She expressed to him that she felt like crying and he spoke quietly to her and her alone.  She smiled up at him.

I felt emotions well up in me and the floodgate of tears threatened to break once more.   So I grabbed my camera and took pictures instead.

So yes, there were many tears.  And there was much laughter.  And there was so much joy!  Our year of the weddings has come to a close.

Now, it’s beginning to look like Christmas and our new family with three wonderful additions, will all be home for Christmas Eve.  Eight of us now, instead of five.  Our hands will be joined as we pray around the dinner table and our hearts will forever be linked as a family.


Posted in weddings, Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Sunrise, sunset

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older
When did they?
When did she get to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise, sunset.  Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

Now is the little boy a bride groom?
Now is the little girl a bride?
Under the canopy I see them
Side by side.
Bless the gold ring around her finger
Share the sweet wine and break the glass
Soon the whole circle will have come to pass.

Sunrise, sunset.  Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears…

What words of wisdom can I give them?
How can I help to ease their way?
Now they must learn from one another
Day by day.
They look so natural together
Just like two newlyweds should be
Is there a canopy in store for me?

Sunrise, sunset.  Sunrise, sunset.
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze.
Sunrise, sunset, Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

(“Sunrise, Sunset” lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof)

I broke the rules of Wordless Wednesday today by adding words to this photograph.  The words have special meaning for me.  Thirty-five years ago, this song was sung at Mama & Papa’s wedding.  This weekend, our oldest daughter will wed her true love – the last of the three weddings in our “Year of the Weddings.”

It’s been a wild week here as we begin the countdown to the nuptials.  Hurricane Sandy brought us a deluge of non-stop rain for several days and now we have snow flurries. But we’re grateful to be in a pocket of protection; we’ve had no high winds, no flooding, no power outage. 

Our newlywed son and daughter-in-law who live in the state most ravaged by the storm are safe and sound.  Our other newlyweds –  middle daughter and son-in-law – are also safe and sound in the state that had blizzard conditions.  Our bride is in the nest with us and the groom safely arrived here from his state last evening.

As we pray for all those affected by this ravaging storm, we also pause to give thanks to God above for that protection over our own family.   We’re hoping and praying all of the bridal party and our guests from places near and far will have safe travels to the wedding.

This morning as I prepare for the upcoming celebration and consider all the thoughts and emotions surging over me, this song came to mind.  It’s fitting for the way I feel…one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.


Posted in Faith, Love, weddings

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.


Posted in anniversary, weddings

The day it all began

It’s not Wordless Wednesday today but it is October 1.

And at Mama’s Empty Nest, October 1 is an important day.

A day important enough to post a picture.

In our “Year of the Weddings,”  it seems appropriate to publish a picture of how it all began.

Thirty-five years ago today – yes, 35! – a twenty-something young lady only had eyes for her twenty-something boyfriend.  And he asked her to marry him.

She accepted and on this day, October 1, they promised each other they would travel though life’s ups and downs together, here and there, through thick and thin, until death would they part.

Thirty-five years, three children, and many moves later with both wonderful experiences and difficult days too under their belt, this young couple is now middle aged and empty-nested, but having the time of their lives celebrating their children’s marriages in the “Year of the Weddings.”

Yes, that young couple in this wedding photo is this empty nest mama and her husband on October 1, 1977.

Happy Anniversary, my husband!  The best is yet to come!


Posted in weddings

One down, two to go!

Whew!!  Our middle daughter’s big day has come and gone.

Mama and Papa are back in the empty nest trying to rest and recoup as best they can and still go to work.

Mama’s taking some time to get things squared away (our phrase from Papa’s army days!) and get geared up for the next event,   but I promise I’ll be back to blogging soon and posting some photos from the wedding.

In the meantime, this song keeps playing in my mind:

 The Party’s Over

The party’s over

It’s time to call it a day

They’ve burst your pretty balloon

And taken the moon away

It’s time to wind up the masquerade

Just make your mind up the piper must be paid


The party’s over

The candles flicker and dim

You danced and dreamed through the night

It seemed to be right just being with him

Now you must wake up, all dreams must end

Take off your makeup, the party’s over

It’s all over, my friend

Copyright ©2012