Saturday, June 27, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sixteen Years Ago Today....

Sixteen years ago today I woke up as Melissa Diane Golter. Sure, I had scribbled Melissa Diane Hutsell on folders and paper of all sorts but it wasn't official...yet. I awoke very early that day as our ceremony was to be an early afternoon ceremony. When I woke up the house was quiet. My dad unfortunately was not living at home...that's another story. My step mom had already left to get her hair done. And my sister lived on her own. So I sunk down into a hot bubble bath prepared to ready myself to be a bride. Much attention was given to details such as my delicately painted fingernails in a light pink frosty shade. I wanted my ring to be the star...not my fingers! Then my bag was packed...for the last time in that bedroom where I spent all of my high school years.

Then it was on to the church. We were going to do photographs separately as much as we could then do the photos of us together after the ceremony. So I arrived early to have my sister put my hair up in a french she had done for nearly every prom or homecoming dance all through high school. In fact, I remember well the first homecoming dance after she left for college and how awful my hair looked! Never again! I employed her services thereafter whenever I wanted to be glam-fabulous! My hair looked beautiful...though mostly hidden by the veil that my friend and bridesmaid Kristi made with me-well, mostly for me. I wanted it to look like a crown and to have a blusher. I dreamed of the moment that my dad would pull back the blusher and give me away. So, Kris and I bought a large headband at the craft store, turned it on its side and hot glued silky while fabric to it and sequins and beads and voila...a crown of silk! I remember a picture of me with my sheer white French garter hosiery, my garter in a pale blue so as to honor the "something blue" and my tiny white lingerie. would never fit me now...but that is also another fact, one involving six small boys that emerged from that once tiny body and forever made it not so tiny. But, I digress. Anyway...I was tiny in those pictures. Then, it was time to put on THE DRESS.

The dress was my dream dress. I had ventured to many a store in search of the perfect dress. I tried on so many pretty dresses. My step mom and I finally visited a warehouse of sorts filled with discount dresses. No special nice store. Just racks and racks of dresses in bags and ONE large dressing room with mirror covered walls. I dragged many dresses in but it wasn't until I began looking about the room at what others were trying on that I saw IT. Another girl was wearing this beautiful ivory dress with big puffy shoulders and see-through lace on the chest. I wanted it! In white of course...but all the was perfect. I am so happy to this day that I chose that dress. The lace on the chest was delicate but it came up high enough that I never had to worry about bending over. I felt gorgeous in it. When I put it on...all of my girlhood dreams were coming true!

We took all of the bride and bridesmaid pictures. There was a certain giddiness and silliness that I felt inside as I knew Keith was in the building somewhere and that we were hiding ourselves for that special reveal. Then it was time. My dad and I were suddenly alone in the foyer. Just my daddy and me. All of the bridesmaids were entered into the sanctuary. My dad pulled the blusher over my face. I instructed him carefully on how to pull it back. We practiced. I wanted NO chance that he would accidentally pull it back and leave me with a big jutting protrusion from the back of my head if the veil didn't lie flat! (something that would have happened to my dad who was NOT a man of detail!) Then the bridal march began. I felt nervous. Very nervous. My dad was cool as a cucumber. He whispered..."Slow down..." I slowed down. This was my moment. His too I his daughter away. Then suddenly there we were....face to groom and me. Keith was a young, fresh-faced man. We both were so young...nearly 22 in fact. He was beaming. Vows were said, candles were lit, a tender kiss was given and we were married!

Reflecting on it now I realize...that young girl spent that entire ceremony thinking about the ceremony...the flowers were HEAVY. My gorgeous live bouquet weighed a TON. It was so heavy in fact that the handle snapped and was being held in place by a Barbie band-aid! Literally, my forearm was aching for days afterward from holding it. It was worth it. I was thinking about the blunders that our pastor made...innocent blunders. I was thinking of the reception and the cake. Foolish, I know. But, I had done all of the planning by myself. I was exhausted. My 21 year old mind could NOT grasp the solemnity of the moment. How could I have? For better or for worse? Who can know what that better...or that worse will look like? Who can really promise at 21 to love, honor, cherish, and obey through sickness and health till death do we part? I couldn't. I just wanted to be married to Keith. I wanted the wedding to last forever. It didn't. And soon enough we were off to a honeymoon and a life filled with bests and worsts. Pretty quickly our naivete showed through and our innocence was blown clean out of the water. Satan came for our marriage pretty quickly. But , I will belief that my marriage would last held us through many a storm. Well, that and the Lord Jesus.

I wish that girl could have known how the vow to love through all that life brings would be tested to its full...and that she would come out victorious! I wish that she could have stopped and really looked into her groom's eyes and seen the future there. A future of commitment and love that he really did have for her. I wish that I could have laid aside the wedding and focused on the marriage that was being made there. It was a precious, solemn moment and I think I missed it. But perhaps a marriage is made along the way and not in one moment. Perhaps if we knew what we were promising we would have turned tail and RAN! I think I would have! I could have never known the depth of love that I would feel for that man in front of me. I would have never dreamed of how God would make us parents SIX times over. I would have never dreamed of sharing in ministry with him. I would have missed the grief...the tears and the pain dealt by our own hands and by devastating losses had that moment not come. But I also would have missed the joy. The complete, full, God-honoring joy.

I do remember God laying so heavily on my heart when he brought Keith into my life that he was to be my mate. I KNEW that Keith was God's man for me. I am so thankful for that solid promise that was put in my heart so clearly because when the storms came I felt a solid ROCK under my feet. God has been so faithful. When Keith and I have failed each other...and will fail each other again....God has been ever so faithful. How that makes my heart glad. I can face whatever comes. Bests and worsts, richer and poorer are still ahead. Death do us part is still etched in stone. I wouldn't trade a single day. The love the Father has lavished on me through my groom of 16 years is far more than I could have EVER asked or imagined. I love you Keith...more every day...more every year. To GOD be the glory!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Musings from the heart of a mother of many...

You know you are a mother of a large brood of children when you are dealing with sending a child off to middle school camp and also getting your infant to sleep through the night. Such a varying degree of emotions and struggles....and joys. I consider myself blessed to have been able to savor infancy for nearly 13 years now. Most women get to enjoy little babies for only a few short years. I remember when Keith and I got married that I felt a huge let down when the ceremony was over because (Lord-willing) there was never going to be another wedding in my life again...for me at least. I knew that special memory was behind me....forever. But, it has been a delight to go around the trying to get pregnant, finding out I was pregnant, carrying a baby, delivering a baby, nursing a baby cycle six times over. I know when it is officially over that I will mourn it also. Not in a way that says I want to go back but in a way that says...that was the sweetest time of my life. Older, wiser women OFTEN remind me that I WILL one day miss all of this beautiful my friend Star calls it. (And I plan to steal the phrase because it is PERFECT.) Beautiful mess. Life as it should be...full of chaos and beauty simultaneously. Some days the chaos overwhelms the beauty and thankfully some days the beauty the glory of God. I am trying to savor it all and focus my gaze to the horizon where I imagine how quiet and empty my arms and home will be one day when all the little boys fly the nest.
Which brings me full circle to the irony of my big family...that oldest boy trying out his wings and going to camp for the first time...and last, I am just kidding. In reality I know that this is the FIRST of MANY times he will try out his wings and take flight. Even if it is only a test is a glimpse of Keith's and my reality. Speaking of the daddy...I see him struggling to let that oldest bird out of the nest as well. We are in shock, I think, that he is even old enough to head out on his own like this. After is oh so easy to remember that first born son coming into this world. To remember him wrapping us around his agenda of walking the floor with him until our forearms ached for mercy. Remembering him climbing out of his crib for the first time, learning to ride a bike, learning to read, etc. Those memories are fresher in a lot of ways than even our youngest children because it was all new to us. And here we are again going through something new with Grant. And this time...on this half of the is painful and special. He is a great kid. All of them are. Not one of them will leave this nest that we won't sigh a long sigh of both sadness and joy. Lord, thanks isn't enough expression of the gratitude my heart feels for loving these boys so much. Thank You for creating within me a heart that feels such heights of love and such depth of sorrow. One cannot exist without the other I know that full well.

Most days though...I am somewhere in the middle of the heights and the depths. Actually...most days I am in the trenches! I am fighting the war for my kids' hearts. I am fighting the war to keep my heart turned over to the Lord instead of my flesh. I am pushing against the world, battling upstream to be obedient. So, I think that though some day I WILL indeed miss the beautiful mess....I fully intend to enjoy the quiet. I intend to enjoy life with that partner from my youth. I look forward to growing old with a man who shares ALL of my fondest memories. It is so delightful to start a memory and see him finish it. It is priceless to love our children with exactly the same amount and degree of passion. I pray we never regret any of our days here. I pray we never say, "I wish we had enjoyed it more. I wish we had lightened up. I wish we had trusted the Lord more. I wish we had seen it all clearly." I fear we will say that. It seems impossible not to. But, I pray that does not define our years of parenting small children and teens. It would be nice to heed the advice given us by so many and to actually slow down the time and not wish it away. Heavy sigh...easier said than done. I also know that parenting never ends. Adult children are sometimes more difficult to parent than a child! Oh, may it not be so! But, alas sometimes it is. And I pray that Keith and I always have passions and callings to pursue. I want to always be challenged...and in the trenches for something. Hmmmm...I fear I am getting too old. My mind should not be so full of such heavy musings. I think I have always been this way though...thus the reason to write...a heart full of thoughts.

And with is back to the trenches. I thought it might be nice to shower today! ~M.