Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Lead Us, O Father (With Wedding Photos!)

I'd apologize for taking such a long blogging break, but I know you all have plenty to do and read without my words. 

I haven't known how to distill the events of this summer into words. These weeks have contained enough heights and lows to give emotional whiplash. I can honestly say that it has been good, which I hope means that I've been carried by grace, not that I'm in denial or too busy to process. 

Here is an overview of June and July.

The summer began with attending a writers' conference in Virginia the first week of June. It had been canceled for two years and when I walked in the building, I could feel the excitement in the room. I love connecting with old friends and new who love words, and I wanted to bask in the conversations and energy of the conference.

But it also ranks up as one of the most terrifying public speaking experiences of my life. The fact that I had been pumped up and prepared two years ago, in March 2020, then the event was canceled thanks to a virus, and then canceled again in 2021, probably meant that I had far too much anticipation built up. But I survived without fainting.

In the month of June, we hosted another TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) class. I love hanging out with passionate youth and I enjoy cooking food for groups, so this was simply fun. So many people offered to help with food and lodging, and it is great to see a community work together to host this event. 

If you or someone you know has an interest in teaching English, contact me for more information for next June's class. The teacher is excellent (and so is the food), and maybe some year I'll pretend to be a nineteen and participate in the class.

In June, Ed's neice ended her years of suffering poor health. Her sister had died soon after Ed three years ago; both had a rare auto-immune disorder. I left my children behind and traveled to North Carolina for the funeral with another van load so had time to think and process grief. To see her three-year-old watch the filling of her mother's grave and walk down the row of young gravestones was heart breaking. So much grief. 

The week after the funeral, Ed's mom's house was sold. It has been hard to watch her mental decline the past few years and last winter the decision was made that she could no longer live alone. She seems happy in her new quarters and I know she would never move back home, but still the sale of her house and the dispersal of her belongings feels so permanent. 

I took my girls over to her house to play with her toys and feed the fish one last time. I was surprised that it felt so hard to me to see my mother-in-law move. Maybe because that house held the memories of Ed and I dating, and with Ed gone, I want to hold on to every shred of memory. But time moves on and there is no holding on to the past, and everyone in the family is relieved that the big job of emptying her house is now over.

But on top and over all the other events of June was preparing for my youngest sister Charity's wedding. Family weddings are such fun and Charity's was extra special. Charity had only been three when I married, but the past couple years we have built a friendship that we never really had before. When my other sisters married, I was deep into babies, but this time I hoped to actually be present and helpful. 

Weddings are a lot of work, especially if the family is making the food, and especially when an outdoor wedding is planned. But we had so many offers to help, and it was such fun to see the details come together. 

All week the forecast said it would rain on Saturday. They had a tent for the reception, but the ceremony was planned to be held up on the hill in the hayfield. By Friday, the threat of rain was lessening, and the decision was made to try to hold the wedding on the hill. 

The wedding day dawned bright and hot. Not a cloud was in sight which meant we cooked in the sun, but at least it didn't rain. The setting was beautiful. 

But weddings are not really about the beauty or the setting or the decorations or the food. That may be the things we talk about after a wedding, but the real joy is seeing two people who love the Lord and are serious about serving Him, join their lives. 

The nine of us siblings

As the oldest in my family, I have worried about my younger siblings. What if they make poor choices? What if they bring someone awful into the family?

But I'm delighted to have Carson as a brother-in-law. I knew his parents when they were dating and have always thought highly of them. I've seen Carson grow into a man of high conviction. I'm so glad that Charity has a husband like him. 

Another blessing was that my dad, who continues treatment for his colon cancer, was feeling well at the wedding. He was able to postpone his next surgery until the week after the wedding. 

After June, July couldn't possibly feel as busy. There is work in my neglected garden and afternoons spent at the pool with friends. It has contained scary discussions on purchasing cars for my teenage drivers and the sober celebration of what would have been our twentieth wedding anniversary. Life is rich and full and terrifying and rewarding and wistful and delightful.

The hymn I have propped on my dresser this month is "Lead Us, O Father." Peace. Truth. Righteousnss. Rest. This is my prayer - and maybe yours too.

Lead Us, O Father, In the Paths of Peace
by William H. Burleigh

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace;
Without Thy guiding hand we go astray,
And doubts appall, and sorrows still increase:
Lead us thru Christ the true and living way.

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of truth;
Unhelped by Thee, in error's maze we grope,
While passion stains, and folly dims our youth,
And age comes on, uncheered by faith and hope.

Lead us, O Father, in the paths of right;
Blindly we stumble when we walk alone,
Involved in shadows of a darksome night,
Only with Thee we journey safely on.

Lead us, O Father, to Thy heavenly rest,
However rough and steep the path may be,
Thru joy or sorrow, as Thou deemest best,
Until our lives are perfected in Thee.


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