Friday, February 05, 2016

So You Wanna Lead Worship?

There he is, on all fours, cloth in hand, spray cleaner by his side. His face is not visible. He’s unaware of the camera. His friend confides, “Part of his process every week—in preparing for leading us in worship—is hand-scrubbing the sanctuary floor underneath each seat.”
* * * *
Her talented young adult daughter is settling into a new church in her new university town, far from home. She calls to relay the latest: “The music leader listened to me audition, then said they need someone to vacuum the children’s classrooms every Sunday morning before church as part of the worship team training.” She accepts the role eagerly and is then placed on a worship team.
* * * *
Watch him shift back and forth from the leg with the titanium knee to the other one he’s having replaced next year before he retires from his blue-collar job. See how he stretches his twice-broken back every hour or so? Wipes the sweat off his face regularly during the 12 hours a day he leans over that hot camp stove, chopping board or steaming dishwater in the camp kitchen? Watch him give a full week of his “vacation” every year to do this so 130 campers can hear about Jesus.
* * * *
She’s often late to choir rehearsals, English isn’t her first language, she struggles to find and keep the proper pitch. But she prays with fire and enters in to the time of music with abandon, shouting at the end of the songs like she’s in the bleachers at a game and the home team just scored.
* * * *
He's a prolific songwriter, preparing to record an album of worship songs. He doesn't stand on a platform, in the spotlights, doesn't sell tickets to the theatre seating. He seats his band in the congregation. On the floor, everyone together, sings and worships the Audience of One. 
* * * *
They shuffle in for drama auditions, fill out a slip with name and contact info. Then there’s that question: “Would you accept a smaller role in order to allow more people to participate?”

She swallows hard. “If I say no”, she muses, “I might not get any role. But I really want that one role. It would be my heart’s desire to play that role.” She is offered a smaller role and she wrestles hard, then accepts it as a gift. “God works in all things for the good of those who love him.”
* * * *
They’re arguing like brothers, the whole lot of them. They jostle and joke, poke fun at each other’s foibles as they walk down the dusty path. How much further is it?!  As always, on a road trip, debates rise about who’s strongest, fastest, best at healing the sick, greatest in faith.

After they were settled at the end of the journey, Jesus turns and asks, “What were you arguing about?”

Awkward silence. Nothing but crickets.

Then he looks each one of his closest comrades in the eyes as he speaks. Not a one can hold his gaze before dropping their head as they hear: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:33-35)
* * * *
Earlier in the week before the disciples argued, Jesus taught the entire crowd, including these rowdy disciples, some of the principles of the kingdom:

“Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?”  (Mark 8:34-37)

In Matthew 20:20-28 we see the mother of James and John asking they be given a special place in the coming kingdom. They didn’t know the cost – his coming suffering and death. They were seeking a costless glory and causing dissension among the other disciples.

Jesus replies that only his Father would grant that request and outlines the cost of greatness: “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Still wanna lead worship?

It’s not about leading. 
It’s about following.
It’s not about personal advancement,
it’s about personal sacrifice.
It’s not about the crowds,
spotlights, footlights or limelight.
It’s about suffering and service.
It’s not about getting the role you want,
it’s about worshipping with your entire self
the only One who is worthy.

Still wanna lead worship?

Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
    be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
    Your face, Lord, I will seek. (Psalm 27:7-8)

There is a danger for those of us in the organized church to pursue "spiritual success", driven by the pride of life and a natural desire for the applause of people. I must lose myself in God for himself alone. Nothing else. No one else. Only then will his work be accomplished for his glory and not mine. I cannot judge my own humility. I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. When I am most humble, most sincerely worshiping, most unselfishly serving, I will not be aware of it, for my eyes will be focused on him. It is out of a love relationship that humility, worship and service spring. For God and God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria.

*image of "SDG" at the end of a G.F. Handel manuscript. Public domain. Source: Wikipedia. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


I don't watch much television, but when I do, I watch renovation shows on HGTV. I hate living through renos, but I adore watching mess to magnificent in less than thirty minutes (15 if I pvr the show and skip through the ads!). This morning I woke up to a wonderful video by Glennon Doyle Melton that uses some renovation terms like "sistering the joist". See if you don't appreciate this as much as I did - how important our sisters are in giving us strength:

The Best Part of Life by Glennon Doyle Melton from SALT Project on Vimeo.

Now, I also read an amazing post by John Lynch about depression and perseverance. If you struggled today to just get up and get going and need some strengthening in that area, take a read of this post right here.

Then I was off to Women2Women at my church where we're studying 40 Days in the Word. There's an app you can download if you just look on your app store for "FAC Experience". We're doing six different methods of bible study (one for each week of the 40 Day series), memorizing one scripture verse per week, engaging in daily readings and personal devotional time (you can download the workbook and join us), and discussing the study methods in weekly small groups. You can watch the weekend message on the app and view the teaching video for each weekly group study on the app as well. I get to double dip because we're doing it both in our women's group and in my evening mixed life group. Fascinating to see the different perspectives each person brings in helping one another see and understand fresh perspectives and deeper understanding of the scripture and of our precious Lord Jesus from what each one shares.

Finally, let's play for a moment.

Today as our group session finished, I was visiting with a friend when a couple other ladies walked past. A flutter caught the edge of my vision and I noticed something paper-ish floating down to the ground. It was cut out of card stock and it was the letter "O" (as in Oprah or orphanage or orange). I picked it up and chased the ladies who had walked by, thinking one of them dropped it from a craft they were doing or perhaps a bulletin board they were prepping. No one claimed it but we thought it could be a round halo slipped off someone's head or a missing letter from a children's classroom. How it got onto the floor in the lobby is a mystery.

So here's the game:

If you were given the letter "O", what would the letter "O" represent in your life today? Opportunity? Optimism? Organization? Offense? Occupation? Or is it "Ohhhhh!" as in a sense of wonder, surprise, expectancy? Something else entirely? A friend in college had "Oom" day, where their mother gave them presents for no reason at all.

Think about it. Comment if you like. Whatever you decide, have a happy "O" day.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Offended Much?

Anyone been offended lately?

"You need thicker skin," he said. "If you're going to put your stuff out there, you need to know people will blast you for it when they don't agree."

Thus, the writer's dilemma. While you want to tell the truth, the facts are certain and you choose your words as carefully and conscientiously as you can, someone, somewhere, will still be offended or misread or misconstrue what you have said. Or, God forbid, they take it personally and think you were writing just about them, criticizing them alone.

Carly Simon sang about it: "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you." Roberta Flack was mortified by the singer who was, "Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song."

If you are going to speak to someone or write about an issue that needs attention, don’t cloak it in flowery language and subtleties. If you have an issue with me or anyone else, speak to that person directly in clear language. Let your “yes” mean a wholehearted agreement and your “no” be a genuine heart-felt certainty. I don't take hints, suggestions, unsolicited advice or group emails personally. I hope you don't either. 

But when we differ, and that will happen, or when we are wounded or enraged by what we hear or read, what helps to move us on in maturity rather than dissolving into juvenile insecurity or resentment?

Start by not taking it personal. Not taking offense. Each of us was given a brain, perspective and discernment. As you read, hear or think about what is expressed, rather than responding in anger or recoiling in hurt, receive it with an open heart. Ask yourself why it hurt. Is there possibly a lie I might be telling myself? Measure it, sift it, name the pain at its deepest source, then self examine. Did this blog post or that Facebook status update or your friend’s offhand comment might just have a grain of truth in it that could help me grow, mature or be a better person? If so, take it to heart. If not, discard it. Forget about it. Not everything applies to you.

However, if we keep reacting to the same thing from different arenas, we would be wise to consider it carefully. If something touches a particularly insecure part of your psyche, try to avoid withdrawal. Don’t skulk away and complain to your confidants how rude the writer/speaker/blogger or your friend was. Hostility is a popular form of denial. Your friends and family, who want to avoid drama, know you just can’t poke the bear. So, for the sake of peace, they may pat you on the shoulder, murmur reassurances to feed your bruised ego and let you continue believing that you have arrived and there's absolutely nothing in your life, beliefs or behavior that needs to grow or change.

I think we all know that isn’t the case for any of us (unless you’re a sociopath). When we stop growing, we die.

So, no, you don’t need thicker skin. And neither do I. We need to have people around us who tell us the truth, in love, and we need to learn how to receive it well. We also need to be people who can tell others the truth, in love, even when it hurts. And the truth includes those things that are good about us, too, not just our faults.

Because the truth only hurts those who are living a lie. 
Tell yourself the truth, hear the truth, and let it set you free.

Photo credit: #28790135, standard license

Monday, December 14, 2015

Robbed at Gunpoint

A friend posted a meme about whether you've had a gun stuck in your face and it reminded me of the infamous night after high school graduation. I was asked to go out for the evening by the valedictorian. He is smart but not too geeky and we have a lot in common, so I say yes.

We visit a social event involving his church at a local camp. Kind of an odd first date with not a lot going on, but he does buy me a soft drink using a $20 bill and pockets the change. The night is still young when we return to my house, but my parents aren't home, so we don't go inside. It's a hot, humid night in June but instead of leaving the car idling with the A/C on, my date turns off the engine and rolls down the windows while we talk. Nothing more. Just talk. Honest.

The house sits on a busy corner near the edge of town, where the city bus makes its farthest stop on the southwest route before turning north to go back to city center. It's quite normal to have a number of blue collar workers disembark the bus at this final outbound stop, as city transit is their only means of transportation, then walk past our place to reach home among the tiny houses south of us where the paved street and indoor plumbing ends.

Around 10 pm, the bus makes a short stop. Being engaged in conversation, I don't pay much attention but after the bus leaves, I begin to see the shadowy figure of someone loitering. Before long, the hoodied figure walks slowly across the street and strolls past, giving the car a long stare. It's unnerving, so I ask my date to lock the doors and roll up the windows but he doesn't close his window completely.

We go back to visiting, then suddenly, we hear a gruff voice at the window. "Give me your wallet and the lady's purse!" he demands. I turn to see a shadow filling the driver's window: eyes behind a balaclava and gloved hands (in summer)! One hand points a gun at us and the other pushes down hard on the half-open window.

Strange how you don't know what you'll do in that situation. You can plan and theorize all you want, but facing the barrel of a handgun brings out odd reactions.

I hear myself say, "I don't have anything in my purse. Can I just give you my wallet?" There's nothing in my wallet, either, except my driver's license and other ID, which, based on later experience, is such a hassle to replace that I wish I'd given him my purse and kept my wallet!

My date's first response? "I don't have any money!" And even with a gun pointing at us, I'm thinking, "Yes, you do! Just because you're getting robbed is no excuse for lying!" (Yeah, a little judgmental under stress.) So he gave up his wallet. And then the thug reaches past him for mine.

In my rebellious-youngest-child-in-a-big-family way, I watch myself hold the wallet just beyond the reach of his greedy criminal clutches, hoping my date will do something heroic like grab the gun, but then I hear, "Gimme your wallet or your date gets hurt."

So, I surrender my precious, brand new red leather wallet.

The thief makes some threat about counting to 20 before we move and "Don't follow me!" After he takes off, we catch our breath and my date starts the car, spinning tires, spitting gravel, chases after the crook, but the guy has already jogged across neighboring yards, disappearing into darkness.

We return home and call the cops. Half an hour later, my parents arrive home to see three police cars with lights flashing parked around the perimeter. They enter the house ashen faced, see me clutching the arm of my date so hard he probably has scars to this date from the fingernail gouges.

Yeah, as you would expect, that is our last date.

But that's not the end of it. It's too petty a crime for the police to bother investigating, but the Saturday newspaper includes a brief write up in the daily "Crime Report" with wording something like "Joyce Nickel and (my date's name) were robbed at gunpoint as they sat parked in the young woman's driveway."

I walk into church on Sunday only to be greeted by the chairman of the deacon's board (where he serves alongside my father). With a smirk on his face, he shakes my hand and loudly fires off his one-liner, "Hiya, Hot Lips!"

Yeah. That's a gun barrel I'd rather not have to live down!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dealing with Verbal Abuse

When someone close to you wounds you with their words, it can be painful, especially when it’s clear they meant to hurt and the cuts go deep. Most of us have been there and some must deal with this on a continuing basis.

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “When someone asks, ‘Can I be brutally honest?’, say ‘No!’, because what they are really asking is if they can brutalize you.”

My friend, Jane (not her real name), has an extended family member (we’ll call her Cruella), who regularly attacks Jane, casts dispersions on her morals and values, her relationship with her spouse and even attacks the core of Jane’s identity with ugly, baseless verbal attacks.

“For a long while,” Jane says, “I just silently took it, trying desperately to win her over. I became a door mat.” She believed that being sweet and kind, in spite of what Cruella said, could win her over.

“That did not happen,” she says “and it continued to get worse. Cruella had no respect for me, and why should she? I was the door mat, where she’d wipe her dirty, muddy feet, walk away and continue with her life.” 

Sometimes, in these cases, the healthiest boundary we can set is to love someone from a distance. We can forgive but we do not have to continue putting ourselves in harm's way. Avoiding situations where we have to be around them helps protect us from unnecessary hurt. Even if we forgive them, forgiveness does not automatically require reconciliation.  Only a positive change in behavior (repentance) can pave the way for a restored relationship.

However, we can’t always avoid the bully. Due to other ongoing relationships within the family, Jane is obliged to stay in relationship with her abusive family member. She explains, “I know it would be unhealthy for my children if I told them anything (about the verbal abuse) - this is between me and her – it has nothing to do with them.” She knows just one conversation about it with her adult children could totally kill their relationship with Cruella, but she chooses not to tell them. “That would be pure hatred on my part and that is not what God would have me do.” 

Jane continues, “Because of my children and their relationship to Cruella, I have to constantly get back into the ‘ring’.” In order to do this without being crushed, she made three rules for herself regarding the ongoing attacks from Cruella, and when she shared them with me, I felt it was something that would helps us all.

So from the personal experience of Jane, here is her loving, wise advice on how you can navigate the territory if you must stay in relationship with an unkind person:

Set safe boundaries, never go into that ring alone and don't go into it very often.

1.  Set Safe Personal Boundaries

This may include speaking gently but firmly to the other party, like you would to any bully: “I am not willing to hear you speak in this way. If you cannot be kind, I will have to leave.”  However, boundaries don’t always have to be shared with the other person. Jane’s boundaries are set in her heart and head when it comes to Cruella – placed there by lots of talking with her supportive spouse.

Consider reading: Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

2.  Never Go Into That Ring Alone

Jane explains that Cruella’s “attacks” always came when they were alone, one-on-one.  There are no witnesses, and that seems to give the other person more liberty to make the attacks deeper and more personal because you have no one in your corner. Never meet your abuser one-on-one. Go with a trusted family member, a loving friend, or meet in a group. At family dinners or social functions, make sure you have a safe, loyal person looking out for you, standing with you always, so that your Cruella cannot corner you.

3.  Don’t Enter That Ring Often 

Make your meetings and get-togethers fewer and farther apart.  You don’t have to attend everything where she’ll be present. Say “No” to certain functions and invitations if you might be forced to be alone with your Cruella.  Delay answering texts, emails and voice messages. Don’t respond immediately. Jane says she’ll sometimes let a few days pass before she answers.  “Depending on the content,” she adds, “if no questions are asked, or if it is just information, I don’t respond to them at all.” Instead of returning a phone call, send an email.

If the abusive person demands immediate replies and you are not yet prepared to reply, defer with a response worded something like, “I can’t answer at this moment, I will take a day (or whatever period of time you need) and get back to you.” Or “I will run this by (my spouse, partner, family) and let you know later today/this week/by X date.”

Jane recommends that you always be kind and gracious but keep an “emotional and mental distance” with your own Cruella. 

“You owe her nothing, except to be polite and respectful,” Jane says, “the way we would be with any person who comes into our life.” You don’t need to apologize or feel obliged to give explanations, as these sometimes provide further fuel for your abuser to twist, take out of context or throw back at you. 

While these guidelines help Jane cope with the unavoidable situations where she must be around Cruella, she says it has not healed the relationship.

“It probably never will,” she says, recognizing that Cruella “has been wounded herself and hurt people hurt people.”

Both Jane and I hope and pray that you find these guidelines helpful. These can be a launching pad for your own healing and self-care when dealing with difficult people.

Wisdom from one wounded warrior to another.

Please note: This blog entry is intended to address your relationships with extended family members, work colleagues or social peer relationships. If your Cruella is a spouse, a boss, or your child, these guidelines may not be possible to enforce. Please seek professional help if you are in a situation where you feel powerless or unsafe.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

The Lie of Despair

Three years after. A wake up call for those who have lured by the fallacy that leaving this world would be better for everyone around them. Don't swallow that lie.

While I have intentionally moved on (to stay in the same place would be madness) and have found a (literal) new life, it does not devalue or minimize the horrific experience of losing someone you love due to suicide. Sometimes I can't breathe when I think about it and so I force myself not to dwell there except for the scheduled times when I'm writing. I made a conscious choice not to speak much of it on social media. Continued grief becomes more private as others have long since moved on. For me to continue drawing public attention to the pain seems gauche, although it is so oddly juxtaposed alongside a beautiful life that, at times, it also seems unthinkable that I should be so happy. I am learning to wrap it all - the grief, the joy, the lessons of each - in gratitude. But for those who think somehow that's a preferred outcome? I say this: It breaks survivors in ways we continue to discover with every new "first". It lives side by side with joy. It casts a very long, dark shadow. It blindsides and cripples for the rest of the life of everyone who loves you and it's all so completely unnecessary.

Here's a mild version of what we go through. I can't beat this drum loudly enough. Please. Don't take a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

Click to read:
Poem: The Lie of Despair

Alberta's Mental Health Help Line is available 24 hours a day. Call 1-877-303-2642

Photo credit: #23343800, standard license

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Wedding Day (Part 1)

I had promised I would write more "tomorrow" and that was weeks ago, but the remembrances I wish to record have their own mind it seems and sometimes elude me altogether. I had to go off my meds pre-surgery and things started falling out of my brain (names, dates and memories). Still, despite my brain farts, now that the Oct. 21 surgery is done, recovery is well on schedule and I'm back on most of my supplements, let's try to recapture this beautiful day: the wedding day of my one and only child.

(Disclaimer: this is from my perspective and may be distinctly different from your memories, if you were there. We all see with different eyes, and our unique personal filters assign meaning, based on our experiences. As always, if I have any glaring error in my facts, names or places, please let me know and I'll correct it).

Waking up is odd, thinking about Andrew becoming a husband. How do I feel about that? I remind myself every day as a mother that this is my job: to prepare him to leave, lead and live well. I still don't know anything except fierce pride for the courage and talent and loyalty I see in this handsome young man. So many others have also built into his life and he seems to have absorbed the best qualities from us all. In an earlier part of the week, Rebecca and I were alone in the car going from here to there. "He always has such a positive attitude," she says, and my mother's heart exhales a contented sigh, my mind circles three times like a beloved old dog, tail softly curls around and settles into a cushion of peace.

I spend too much time relishing memories of life with a younger Andrew before I get up, which delays getting to the bride's home on time to meet her mom for our hair appointment. She's just leaving when we arrive, so after a brief greeting, she decides we should drive so we hop into her car for the short jaunt down the street to Hagen's Hair Studio. We approach the double front-drive garage with the overhead door open and a separate facade which opens into the garage-turned-hair-salon. Nifty. When the overhead door is closed, it still looks like a normal garage and when it's open, it looks like a storefront. (A perfect solution for an in-home salon without violating neighborhood architectural controls or encroaching on one's private living space). 

A confident blonde - older than I, with a slight Eastern European accent - is busy working on someone else when we enter. That finished, I let the mother of the bride go first, because I want to catch my breath and check Facebook, then I shoo her off to the bridal preparations back at home, assuring her I can walk back on my own. She is a baker and had made three types of cake for the wedding, one of which needs final touches far more than I need to be kept company.

My hair had been recently done, so this was just a shampoo and style. (My hair is always a little nervous with new hairdressers, seems to have a mind of its own. Am I alone in this?) The stylist discusses what she'd like to do and I say, "Go ahead," but when she starts back-combing the top, eeek! I get visions of sixties paisley miniskirts, spirals and psychedelic lights.

"Oh, no, hon," she asserts, "this is the only way your hair will keep its height and hold all day! Otherwise it will part and fall." Well, no one wants anything to separate or fall apart on your son's wedding day, so I acquiesce. (She was right. My hair holds it together all day long and combs out quite easily at the end of the day. And the cost of the visit is cheap like borscht. Two thumbs up.)

Feeling quite glamorous in my new 'do, I walk back to the bride's house in the already warm sunshine, slow enough so my freshly showered body doesn't begin perspiring. It's already near 25 degrees Celsius, so I walk slow.

Stepping into the main hallway, I see Rebecca by the front window smoothing her hanging wedding dress with a steamer. Henry is just beyond, trying to stay discreetly out of the way of the bridesmaids in lovely oriental dressing gowns getting makeup and hair done in the family room. He's already helped Bill with final preparations and is tucked away in a cosy corner of the living room, quietly reading.

Rebecca moves on to smooth wrinkles out of all four bridesmaid dresses, then offers to do my dress as well. I jump at the offer, since it's been in the dress bag in back of the vehicle for a week and I have no idea how to use a steamer. (I also have disconcerting flashbacks of my candlelighter melting a hole in her dress 30 minutes before my first wedding ceremony, so feel it best to leave this to the experts).  I admire her deft handling of the steamer and quietly marvel at the quality of character in this lovely young bride serving everyone else on her big day. Selah.

Rebecca also arranged an onsite hairdresser for the bridal party and two makeup artists from MAC Cosmetics for herself, the four bridesmaids, her mother and I. This is quite the pampering, and the artist that works on me is very attentive to my preferences, giving me a natural look with just a touch of glamour. I've never worn false eyelashes before but I guess they're all the rage, so I agree to try them. (They look nice and I love the idea, but there seems to be an adhesive malfunction so I promptly remove them after the ceremony and family photos. They sit on the bathroom counter looking for all the world like a one-sided black spider).

I look around at the girls, completely awestruck to be able to be part of their prep time. I've been a bridesmaid a few times, but as the mother of the groom, it is truly an honor and I'm so grateful to experience the giggles and jokes and excitement buzzing between us all. It is especially nice to hear the stories of how certain items came to be, such as the white lace gloves brought from Denmark by Aunt Kirsten which she found in a little traditional shop, with walls of gloves stocked neatly in individual glove-sized drawers.

Now it's time for Henry and I to join Andrew and his groomsmen at the home of Adam's mother. Adam was Andrew's dorm mate and since Rebecca was his best friend for six years, he'd brought her to meet his dorm buddies introduced the two of them. He's become one of Andrew's best friends and is serving as a groomsman.

Andrew presents the guys with personalized gifts: a bottle of house wine from Porter's with a personalized photo label of Andrew with each guy, along with the socks and tie they were to wear for the wedding and another personal memento.

(L to R): Skiing with Robert, posing with Tim,
playing music with Fraser, camping with Adam
Then it's my turn. He presents me with an Alex and Ani (+Energy) bangle bracelet with a "Mom" charm (representing Generosity, Heroism and Love). I'm smitten.

The description on the website says:
A mother's love and support is extraordinarily strong without limitation. The peony, the queen of the garden, symbolically encompasses the maternal traits of healing, love's blessing, and bravery. Embrace the heartfelt connection, strength, and respect associated with the Mom Charm as a token of admiration.
It's such a thoughtful, personal gift and since I know they are available in Calgary, I can add charms and bangles in the future to commemorate other events. Then Andrew gives Henry a special utility knife and Henry gives Andrew an engraved key chain. I give Brent's cuff links to Andrew. I know Andrew loves to dress up when occasion requires and so there will be many times he can use this personal remembrance of his dad.

Andrew then opens the special gift package Rebecca has given him, filled with some very thoughtful and fun items. Then the photographs ensue. You know guys when they have to pose. There is much posturing, nervous laughs, some awkwardness and a lot of bantering, insults and repartee. They all look so handsome.

Could a mother be more proud? I think not. But I do need a glass of water. The house isn't air conditioned and the glow you see on my face is more than just a mother's love.

We all walk out into what is now becoming stifling heat (I still much prefer this to rain!) and we pile into the vehicles aimed toward the wedding venue at Golden Eagle Golf Club in Pitt Meadows.

We drive across the beautiful Golden Ears Bridge. Then meander past raspberry and blueberry fields with their migrant workers harvesting, drive over the irrigation canal and down the tree shaded lane to the lovely venue.

And now, I will pause, and carry on with the rest at a later time. Thank you for reading this far. You must love me or my family to have stuck with it this long.

Isn't love grand?

To be continued...

Photo credits: personal collection except for
bangle bracelet by Alex and Ani
and bridesmaid's dresses by Danielle McHugh