Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday -- On Being the Mother of the Bride (x 2)


So on May 25th, this beautiful young lady became Mrs. Bethany Bird, and I still haven't quite recovered!  

Being the mother of the bride was absolutely one of the most amazing, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, joy-filled, and exhausting experiences I have ever had!  The wedding day couldn't have been more perfect (except for forgetting everyone's boutonnieres and corsages until just before we all walked down the aisle, lol), and we couldn't be more thrilled with our new son-in-law.  

As the big day approached, however, I was struck with a number of similarities between Bethany's wedding and Hannah's Heaven-going.  Does that sound a little strange?  Maybe it is ... but stick with me here.

1.  From the time Bethany came home from college on May 9th, I knew her days at home were numbered.  I knew there were only a few more times we would eat dinner together as a family (just the three of us), stay up late and cheer for the Oklahoma City Thunder together, and give each other good-night hugs.  I found myself wanting to savor every moment.  I let everything else go, including blogging, to just devote myself to our time together.  The last couple months of Hannah's life, we knew the same thing.  We knew that unless God did a miracle, she would be leaving us soon.  And we dropped everything else (you know, all that stuff that seems so important but really isn't) just to be with her.  And I wouldn't take a thing for that time, with either one of my girls.

2.  Planning for Bethany's wedding at times seemed oddly like planning for Hannah's funeral.  As I went through old photographs choosing pictures for the rehearsal dinner slide show, I was reminded of how I did the same thing in preparation for Hannah's celebration service.  Bethany and I discussed all the different aspects of the ceremony sitting together in the living room.  Much of my planning for Hannah's service was done with her sleeping in the recliner in that same living room.  As I said earlier, we knew that unless there was a miracle, Hannah would be leaving us, and I wasn't sure I'd have the presence of mind to do these things after she was gone.  And, if God chose to heal her, we would have a wonderful slide show to use when we shared her miraculous story!  

3.  We knew that our lives would never be the same when Hannah went to Heaven; just as we knew our lives would once again change forever when Bethany got married.  Of course, there was a huge difference here ... We knew that we would no longer be able to see or talk to Hannah; there would be no more future (on this earth, anyway) with her.  With Bethany, we have much to look forward to ... having a "son", watching their relationship grow and mature, and someday having a grandchild or two (or several).  But in either situation, the anticipation of such a dramatic change can be a bit of a challenge.

4.  Hannah's homegoing and Bethany's wedding brought out all of our dearest friends and family members. It was so wonderful to have these folks share both of these special days with us.  We have absolutely the most amazing friends and family.  Ever.

5.  Maybe the coolest similarity between these two events came down to the bridegroom.  By far the most beautiful and touching part of Bethany's wedding day occurred as she came down the aisle to meet her groom.  The wedding was outdoors, and she and her dad had a long and winding walk down to the actual site of the ceremony.  From the moment she stepped out the door, her groom began to tear up, and by the time she stood before him at the altar, he was weeping openly.  His tears of joy were reflected in the eyes of nearly everyone in attendance, including this mother of the bride.  If there had been any doubt in my mind about his love for her (and there wasn't!), it would have been washed away by his tears.  And, as her dad turned her over to her groom, his joy was plain for all to see.  It permeated every part of the ceremony.  My Brad said later that he had no problem, as a dad, turning his girl over to a man who clearly was so humbled and overjoyed to be marrying her.

So what's the similarity there?  Hannah's dad never had the opportunity to walk her down the aisle to a waiting groom ... Or did he?  Didn't he and I, as her parents, have the privilege of walking her through 17 1/2 years of life, and and then holding her hands as she stepped into Heaven to be greeted by her Bridegroom?  I have to believe that her Bridegroom greeted her with just as much joy as Bethany's groom did.  And just like Bethany, she has started a new life with her Groom, separate from us as her parents, but full of exciting things to look forward to.  Knowing that her Heavenly Father was there to take her hand made it possible for us to let go.  

6.  And there's one more similarity ... We have the assurance of seeing both of our girls again.  We're looking forward to seeing Bethany and Brad on Saturday evening for her birthday.  And we anticipate seeing them fairly often in the years ahead.  We won't have that kind of relationship with Hannah here on earth, but we will see her again ... at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).  How cool is that?

And now, if you'll indulge me as I share a few pictures of the day.

Exchanging letters without seeing each other before the ceremony ...



The groom's tears ... (one of my absolute favorite pictures of the day!)


Tears from the bride and the father of the bride ...


Our dear friend, Larry Brown, brought the message during the ceremony ...


Brad and Bethany shared the Lord's Supper together as part of the ceremony ...


Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Brad Bird ...


Walking out.  In the background, you can see Bethany's Uncle Mark, who officiated the ceremony ...



A few pictures of the newlyweds and bridal party after the ceremony ...




A beautiful reception ...


 And finally, sky lanterns in memory of Hannah Joy ...


5 comments:

Jessica Alford said...

Absolutely beautiful Jill. Bethany was a stunning bride.

Debra Grady said...

So beautiful, the words and the pictures.

Kelle :) said...

♥~love

Gina Clegg said...

Praise The Lord!!

Joni said...

Beautiful comparison and beautiful pictures!! Brings back feelings I had when Kendra was married.