30.9.14

Preparing for the Long Walk

Suddenly, it was one week before the wedding. Sleep was already becoming a rare commodity, and the to-do list was long--but not insurmountably long. A facial (given to me by my wonderful sisters and Sarah) was the perfect relaxer as we moved into the weekend, working on programs, finalizing schedules, and remembering everything we had to buy or delegate. Sunday evening Sarah came (which we celebrated by playing speed Scrabble), and then the final days were upon us. 

Program printing and assembly (it takes way longer than you'd think!)...napkin folding and assembly (apparently everything in increments of 400 takes way longer than you'd think)...the wedding hairstyle "trial run"...orchestrating a surprise for Joel during the reception...photography details....

And on Tuesday the to-do list came to an abrupt halt as my bridesmaids mysteriously informed me that I should dress in head-to-toe pink and be ready at a certain time. After being gone all morning, I obliged and met them outside where I was promptly decked out in a ridiculous (i.e. awesome) tiara, veil, sash, and pin and whisked away for coffee and a memorable night at a local hotel! My surprise was genuine, even though I innocently joked about swimming in the pool as we drove by the hotel. My bridesmaids informed me that this was my "Hen Party" (the Brit term for Bachelorette Party). Just what does a Hen Party entail? Well, for me it was the perfect mix of Anne of Green Gables (charades, raspberry cordial, and more), fondue (swiss, cheddar, and chocolate), crafts (we all made matching robes!), pictures, hot tub soaking, reminiscing, lots of laughter, and Ever After (until 3AM). That was certainly a special evening!



As my family and Sarah continued to work on everything on the list, I set to work on my veil (a combination of Butterick 4487 and Vogue 8569). At long last, I was counting down the hours instead of the months or weeks or days until I would see Joel! I wrote to him in one of my nightly emails, "It feels like all the Christmases and chocolate and birthdays and special surprises and gifts and outings and sunshiny days and good news and births of babies and fireworks and concerts and any other wonderful, happy thing of my life combined does not even compare to the anticipation and excitement I feel to finally be with you again and be married."

And on Thursday, after spending the morning getting my nails done with my bridesmaids and Mama and Grandma, the moment at long last came. After 5 months of separation, my man and I were reunited! The moment I had yearned for so long had arrived--the dream was suddenly a reality! We were getting married!

Friday was incredible. It was a day where our friends and family (immediate and extended) showed up and worked--hard--all day long. My dear wedding coordinator, still mourning the sudden loss of her grandmother, pulled everyone together and brought everything together. And before my eyes, the church in which I had taught music lessons for the past several years was transformed. The basement no longer looked like a useful old space for potlucks, but a wonderland of cheerful elegance. The sanctuary's grandeur was enhanced in every way possible. Everything far exceeded both my imaginings and my Pinterest board.







With the hours until The Moment decreasing steadily, every person involved in the wedding gathered together in the sanctuary. We laughed through rehearsal awkwardness and debated about where everyone should stand. Details decided upon, my bridesmaids began their practice walk down the aisle. Papa and I waited in the foyer, sneaking peeks at the proceedings, until--suddenly--Papa and I realized that as the time until the wedding decreased, our time together was also decreasing. The moment was fast approaching when we would have to say a good-bye we'd never said before, and we sobbed in each other's arms before we walked down the aisle together.

The rehearsal dinner...the gifts we presented to our parents...my last goodbye to Joel...the late hours at the church: these were what filled my final night of singleness. I finished my veil that night with my sisters and Sarah before bed, and we laughed randomly at nothing (apparently silence is hilarious) and then we cried stormily at the very real prospect of separation.

Through all the crazy emotions, a beautiful exhilaration and a joyful peace pervaded my soul--the complete confidence in walking in God's will as He met the desires of my heart and joined me with the love of my life. That night, before going to bed, I wrote one last email to Joel as a single woman: "The next time I see you will be at the beginning of a very long walk!"

23.9.14

A Story for You


Dear Mikaela,
Here is the story I shared with you almost one month ago--while we both sobbed.  I know that day felt like 20 years packed into one moment, so I'm sending this story off to you now as a moment to keep for 20 years and longer.  I hope that as you read it you are filled with all the joy and love with which I wrote it.

This is a story about two little girls who spent the first nine months of their lives with their sister’s elbows in each other’s faces.  Both they and their Mama were incredibly relieved when they finally got out into the great spacious world.  

The girls loved each other more than anything.  They always dressed to match and were never far apart.  When the younger girl learned to ride a bike, she proved to the older one that it was indeed humanly possible, and so the older one kept climbing on the bike and falling until she could ride next to her sister with glorious ease.  

The older sister may have been born first, but the younger sister was always the leader in fashion among the two girls.  When they were about seven, they were reading Little House on the Prairie, and the younger sister figured out how to do Laura’s two braids on herself.  The older sister was insanely jealous, not only of the younger one’s amazing braids, but also of her Afro that she achieved the day after she braided her hair.  The frizz was astounding.

But no matter how hard she practiced, the older sister always ended up with Pippi Longstocking braids instead of Laura Ingalls braids.  When she asked the younger sister for help, the younger sister would only give the sage comment: “Well, sister, you just need to practice more.  I braid my hair every night to practice, and if you tried that, you too could learn to braid.”  

Yes—the younger sister was always quick with a solution to any problem.  For instance, there was the time that she was sucking a lollipop.  For some unknown reason, she decided that she didn’t want to be bothered with the inconvenience of a stick poking out of her mouth.  Thankfully, she had an easy solution.  All that was required was a pair of scissors expertly employed…the stick was gone, but her nose almost went with it!  When one of her parents confronted her on the two curious scabs on either side of her nose, she queried innocently, “What scabs?”
“The ones on your nose—where did they come from?”
“Oh…those…um…well I just cut my nose…accidentally…I was cutting with scissors and it um...sort of got in the way.”

Every night from the time the girls were little, they lay awake for hours instead of sleeping.  They would talk and talk in the darkness, planning out tree forts and blackberry tunnels, naming baby dolls and book characters.  They would tickle each other’s toes and giggle into their sheets so that Mama and Papa wouldn’t interrupt their slumber party.  The older sister even sobbed heartbrokenly one night when Mama decided to switch up sleeping partners and moved the younger sister in with the baby sister.

As they got older, the midnight talks changed.  But both sisters were inseparable until they were 16 when their lives as they knew them completely changed, and their ways split: you see, they stopped sharing a room.  They now had to travel all the way across the hall to see each other.  But since it was either that or do Morse code on the wall, they decided their tongues could move faster than their fingers.

So they sat in the older sister’s room until midnight, their knees tucked under their chins, and made castles in the air instead of tree forts.  They tunneled through the toughest choices in their lives now instead of through blackberries.  They named life goals and theological truths instead of baby dolls and book characters.

They watched BBC period dramas together when no one else in the family would watch with them.
They drank lavender soda when others raised their eyebrows at drinking beautiful flowers.
They played violin together, making beautiful music because they knew just how to ebb and flow with each other’s rhythm even when everyone else wondered what on earth they were doing.
They never spent a night apart until they were eighteen, and they loved it that way.  Someday, they even promised one another, they were going to live in a duplex, so that they would never be more than a run across the hall or a tap of Morse code away.  

But then one day, Prince Charming came, and the younger sister was swept off her feet.  Prince Charming and the sister loved one another deeply, but even more importantly, they knew that in the story God was writing for each of their lives, He had written their love story.

The sister and Prince Charming were so joyful in their love, so brave in the face of impassable cliffs, and so strong in their faith in God that the older sister knew without a doubt that they were meant for each other.  Yet just as strongly she knew that she would forever miss their midnight talks and rock paper scissors games, and most of all, just having her sister next to her for every adventure.

Which brings us to today.  It’s not the end of the story, but the beginning.   

For today, as splendid and life-changing and sacred as it is, is not just for today.  Today, August 30th, 2014, is for 50 years down the road.  It is so that on August 30th 2064 you and Joel can gather with your children and your grandchildren, and look back on the fruit of this day.  

And I pray that when you do that you will see the blessing of God’s fingerprint on every moment.  I pray that God may bless you with a heritage of many sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters who are warriors for Jesus Christ.

May the storms that beat on you drive you to your knees, and may you find each other there. 
May God give you a marriage that, though human and imperfect, is so Christ-centered that all who meet you will see a picture of Jesus and His bride, the church.
May every day that passes multiply your love a hundred-fold.
I love you both.



P.S. All photography is by the amazing Christa Taylor!  We'll be posting more photos soon.

16.9.14

For Everything...Thank You

Dear Lauren,

How long ago my last post seems--as though a lifetime of living and a full capacity of changes have transpired in the intervening 7 weeks. In that time, we spent two family vacations together...








We turned 24 together...

We attended two bridal showers together...






We planned, we organized, we stressed, we talked, we laughed, we cried, we stayed awake, stayed awake, stayed awake (keep calm and don't sleep!). Not just you and I, of course--you and I and Mama and Melanie and Susanna and Sarah. Somehow in the past seven weeks, we lived life fully, crazily, intentionally, and beautifully.

I'm still smiling over the "Hen Party" (the Brit term for a bachelorette party) you all threw for me.


And I'm still crying over the speech you gave at my wedding.

Wedding? Did I forget to mention that somehow--by the grace of God and a whole lot of cheerful elbow grease from my dear family and friends--Joel and I were married on August 30? Yes, I know you were there--my rock as always--but you know I just can't help mentioning it in case anyone eavesdropping on this letter might not realize.

A more beautiful, precious day I couldn't possibly fantasize. Everything about that day was an emblem of love--the incredible love I felt from you and Papa and Mama and Melanie and Susanna and Micah and Jonah and Sarah and so many other dear family and friends. And of course and especially, the day served as a covenant between Joel and I and God of our love and commitment to one another.



Yes, I know you know all about that too. And the honeymoon in the San Juan Islands; I showed you pictures of that perfect week, didn't I? The week in which hardly anything went wrong and God blessed us above and beyond what we could imagine? While I was relaxing and enjoying marital bliss, there you and the rest of my family were back home, packing up wedding decorations, packing up wedding supplies, packing up wedding clothes, packing up wedding rentals, packing up wedding purchases, packing up borrowed wedding items. And then you packed me up, lock, stock, and barrel--packed my room, my clothes, my books, my junk, my dishes, my gifts, my everything, so that by the time Joel and I returned from our honeymoon, my room was cleaner than it had been in months and strangely empty. What a labor of love that was, and it continues to awe me.



And then, after a lifetime of happily dreaming over brides and flowers and dresses, and three months of bustling employment and overloaded schedules, the long-dreaded morning dawned, and suddenly I was saying goodbye to all of you. I cried intermittently throughout the cross-country trip. I am overjoyed to be Joel's wife and to be with him at long last, yet heartbroken to be 3000 miles away from my family. It is a wonderful, beautiful, happy time, and a sad, difficult, bittersweet time too. 



I have a Maryland driver's license (with my new last name!) and address now, a cute little yellow house to call home, a welcoming and kind church body, and the most wonderful, amazing husband with whom I am madly in love. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be delighted to share hundreds of pictures and scores of memories from the whirlwind wedding weekend until anyone still reading this corner of the internet cries "Please! No More!"(yes--"One Bright Corner" is officially resuming weekly Tuesday posts).

That can wait, however. I'm writing you this morning because I love and miss you and Papa and Mama and Melanie, Susanna, Micah, and Jonah. Thank you so much for all the love you poured into me and all the sacrifices you made for me. I love you all!

Love,

29.7.14

Wedding Plans!


The invitations have been sent, the bridesmaids' dresses have arrived, my dress is nearing completion, and praise the Lord--plans are coming together! It's now 31 days and a wake up until the wedding, and life is shifting into high gear between wedding plans, summer trips, and packing up my life for a cross-country move. Please forgive the lack of attention to this corner of the internet the last couple of weeks. In the next month, we'll be posting some of our favorite "oldies but goodies" from five years of blogging, and in September we'll be back in full force, wedding pictures in hand!

10.7.14

American Pie Love



Here is an enlightening insight into the way my brain reasons:
1. It is a fact that Pie is the best food known to man. 
2. The Fourth of July would not be the Fourth of July without Pie.
3. Logically, the only thing better than saluting a flag and singing about your flag and eating Pie is…eating Pie that is a flag! 

With this logic, and inspired by this idea, I rolled up my sleeves and dubbed myself Betsy Ross on the morning of the Fourth of July.  Since I am certain that all of you are as pie-crazed as myself, I'm taking you along for the ride! 

Start with your favorite pie crust recipe.  (Mikaela shared the best gluten free pie crust recipe in the world here!)  After chilling, roll it out and place in your pie pan.  Next, fold a strip of aluminum foil and place in the pie pan to section off about a quarter of the pan for the blue part. 

Now, measure out 5 cups of freshly-picked-from-your-garden raspberries and 2 cups of freshly-picked-from-your-friend's-garden (with permission of course) blueberries. 

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon juice (See full recipe at the end for amounts).  Add 2/3 of this mixture to the raspberries and 1/3 to the blueberries. 

Add another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar to the raspberries, to taste (and taste, and taste!). 
Now for the fun part!  Pour the raspberries into the large section of the crust, and don't worry like I did when some juice seeped through.  When it's all done, you won't even be able to tell--I promise! 

Now pour the blueberries into the smaller section, and then don't forget to remove the aluminum foil!

Next, roll out your chilled top crust.  Cut 3 or 4 strips of dough about 1/4 inch wide. 

Use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut several stars. 

Place the stars over the blueberry section first, then lay the strips down, pinching the edges into your pie crust edge.  When it looks all purty, crimp your pie crust edge to take it over the top!

Now pose it for the camera!



After chilling the pie while the oven preheats, bake it at 400 for 15 minutes, then 375 for 45 minutes, or until the crust browns.  (Helpful tip alert: I was grateful that for once I remembered to put a cookie sheet under the pie in the oven, so I didn't have a mess to clean up!)

I'm fairly certain that first face means: Hold the bus--that is the best pie I have ever tasted!  

After adding a little of this and a little of that to create the pie I wanted, I was pretty pleased with my concoction if I do say so myself!

 With our bellies full of pie, we headed off to our park to watch the 20 minute fireworks spectacular along with some friends plus everyone else in town!


I hope you had a wonderful Fourth of July!  Beneath the joy of celebration and delicious food, this holiday always brings me to tears when I contemplate it.  For the reason I am free to worship Jesus, free to eat a pie with my family, and free to celebrate without fear is because of God's providence and because of patriots no older than me who loved freedom more than comfort. 

The Recipe
1 pie crust (both top and bottom crusts)  Recipe here
5 cups raspberries
2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
5 Tbs cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup sugar, to taste

Spread one chilled pie crust in pie pan and keep the other one in the refrigerator.  Section off 1/4 of pie with aluminum foil for the blue section.  

Measure berries into two separate containers.
Combine sugar, cornstarch, spices, and lemon juice.  Add 2/3 of mixture to the raspberries; add the remaining 1/3 to the blueberries.  Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more sugar to the raspberries, to taste.  Mix well.

Pour raspberries into large section of pie.  Pour blueberries into the smaller section.  Remove aluminum foil.

Roll out remaining crust and cut about 4 strips about 1/4 inch wide.  Cut about 5 stars with a star shaped cookie cutter.  Place the stars over the blueberry section first, then lay the strips down, pinching the edges into your pie crust edge.  Crimp pie crust edge.  

Chill pie in refrigerator while oven preheats to 400.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then at 375 for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  

Let cool, then enjoy!

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