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img_2978Our youngest son got married on Saturday. It was beautiful. Of course, when the bride is absolutely gorgeous and the husband is GQ-worthy (someone else said this first, not me…his mother)…it’s tough to have a bad wedding. But we learned a lot from the planning process and throughout the day into the evening. I’m passing along a little wisdom.

Five Things to Make Your Wedding Unforgettable.

img_2943(1)  Have an outdoor wedding. No matter what you do to out-think the weather forecast, the weather always wins. Always. Maybe it’ll be sweltering hot. Maybe the gnats & mosquitoes will dive bomb each guest. Maybe the storm clouds will gather behind the wedding party as they try to look cool and calm. Maybe the storm sirens won’t go off during the ceremony. Maybe the wind will blow the decorations into the next county. Maybe some of this happened to us.

(2)  Ensure you lose electricity during the reception because of weather. Everyone eats by the flickering candlelight. Toilets won’t flush. Band can’t play. The mother-of-the-bride’s best friends hold their camera flashlights over the food line so people know what meat they are putting into their tacos.

img_2944(3) Make sure the mother of the groom hurts her back the night before. With so many friends and family members in town, there’s a plethora of advice (and painkiller options) made available. In order to remember the day, keep the drug options to Tylenol and ibuprofen. And peppermint oil.

(4) Torrential downpours. Nothing like a little (not little) thunderstorm to keep everyone inside the building instead of enjoying the beautiful grounds of our venue. But we also didn’t lose anyone. Keeping our loved ones close makes for a very memorable day.

(5) Live band. Let’s be real – a live cover band with no electricity doesn’t sound good. Pun intended. But our venue staff (Koru Aronia Berry Farm) worked tirelessly to pull off miracles and the band (Strays) went live only 20 minutes behind schedule. We danced (not me) and sang and swayed and tapped our toes (me) for almost three hours. I loved watching my adult nieces and nephews enjoying themselves right alongside my little great-nephews dancing away the night.

I could add so much more because it truly was a wonderful day. No matter the glitches that could have ruined everything, Sean and Ellie planned and pulled off a magical wedding.

Huge thank you to all that came together to work, play, dance, serve, and celebrate this special couple. Sean and Ellie made it to Italy (eventually – but that’s another story) and you can see some of their travels on their Instagram pages. And I’m down to only two ibuprofen a day.

 

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Don & Kris – night before wedding, 9/25/1987

 

 

Cheesy, sappy blog post warning. If you can’t handle mushy stuff, just pass on reading any further. My 30-day gratitude chart asks me to write about the family member I’m most grateful for. Easy peasy. I love all my family, but when it comes to choosing one I’m most thankful to have in my life, I must write about my husband, my best friend.

We met a little over 30 years ago, when he began as a new staff pastor at my home church. We had mutual friends who wanted to welcome Don into the community, so my roommate invited him and this other pastoral couple over for spaghetti. He made me nervous. He had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit. He was so smart and I was attracted to him immediately. But I was kind of shy (I know, I know – most of you don’t believe me) and he was sooo much older and wiser than any other guy I had dated. Embarrassing detail: I spilled red wax on his yellow sweater when I blew out the candles. Mortifying. As he left the building, following dinner, he threw a snowball back into the doorway…got me right in the face. Yup – it was love.

Don_Kris_goofing_offWe dated three months, got engaged in May, and married in September. Sounds like a perfect romance, right? Not so much. Though we loved each other very much, we came up against a few people who objected to our relationship. The tough time we endured caused us to draw closer to God and to one another. We had a few very wise and trusted people who offered us safe friendships and our wedding on September 26, 1987, was a beautiful autumn afternoon, filled with friends and family.

Since that time, our life together has been filled with amazing adventures, trials and happiness beyond description. As happens in all relationships, we’ve gone through ups and downs, but we’ve always determined to communicate and love each other, no matter what. We’ve taught together, laughed together and cried together. Family_picnic_McCulloughWe have parented two wonderful boys who’ve made us so proud. Don is a dad who loves fiercely; his boys and I are everything to him – and we never doubted it.

Throughout the years, Don has been faithful in his pursuit of God; faithful in relationships with his accountability partners, his friends and with me. For the last year, we’ve been “empty-nesting” and I think doing a very fine job. We enjoy each other so much and there isn’t anyone I would rather spend my time with. He encourages me and my crazy plans. He allows me to be myself…and prods me to be all he knows I can be. He prays for me and with me. He spoils me.

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Don & Kris–straddling the Nebraska/Iowa state line over the Missouri River

Every weeknight he has dinner ready for me when I get home from work. Yes, he is a great cook too. He is a man of God who desperately desires for the Holy Spirit to use him to grow the Kingdom of God. He is his own worst critic, so I take my job of encourager very seriously. 

I asked him this morning, if he knew then what he knows now, would he still marry me? Of course, he said yes. But honestly, neither one of us had any idea that we could love each other more now than we did then. Trials and struggles can tear couples apart or push them together – we’ve always chosen to push through together. Don, I thank God every day for putting you into my life! Here’s to 30 more years.

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David & Tristen’s wedding – May 14, 2016

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See the little serious flower girl? Somehow the last 28 years have passed in a blink on an eye because she’s getting married tomorrow. 

  
My niece Kim – a flower girl at my wedding and sweetest cousin to my boys – heads down the aisle to marry her Prince Charming Travis. She is lovely and smart, cute and sparkly, brave and loyal.

Five years ago she was in Japan during the horrible earthquake & tsunami, only a few short miles from the horrific devastation. For many hours we didn’t know if she was safe or even where she was. Completing her year as a kindergarten teacher in a Japanese school, she stayed after the earthquake to help restore some normalcy in the lives of her kids. She even went back a year later to once again aid in rebuilding a country she had fallen in love with. She’s one of my heroes. 

  
The middle child sometimes becomes overlooked by the antics of older & younger siblings, but Kim was always the picture of grace. I’m sure she had her moments but I lived 250 miles away so I never saw it.  She spent a week each summer with her childless Aunt Kris & Uncle Don, but I’m sure she enjoyed it more when I had babies to play with. 

  
Don is so honored to be included in her ceremony. He used to take her to the donut shop when he lived close and before he married me. In fact, she wasn’t so sure about her “Unca Don” picking a different “best girl” when I showed up. Took me the better part of my first weekend to win her over…pretty pathetic to see a grown woman jealous of a 3-year-old.  
Tonight I’m writing this blog as they rehearse tomorrow’s ceremony. The maneuvering of the bridal party, the squirming little ring & sign-bearers, the music, and giggles, and nervousness…all in preparation for the beginning of her new life as Mrs. Travis Barnhart. I love her and I’m so excited to see my flower girl become the bride – a little girl all grown up. 

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