Friday, June 6, 2014

Forever: Natalie and Jack

Our recent weeks have been filled with opportunities to celebrate. Last weekend our family was invited to attend the wedding of a young woman who grew up with our oldest kiddos. Natalie was about nine when our families met through church.

In keeping with tradition, Natalie's daddy, Tom, walked his precious treasure down the aisle toward that special man to whom he would entrust his daughter. For Tom this was undoubtedly an emotion-filled moment. Natalie is both his youngest child and his only daughter.

(Before I go on, did you note the color of the groom's shoes? Both the bride and her man wore matching bright lemon sneakers. I love their courage to stand out from the crowd!)

After passing Natalie's mom, who sat in the front row dabbing her eyes, Tom placed Natalie's hand in Jack's gentle grasp.

The entire wedding party was now assembled.

The first order of business?

Laying the foundation for the union in prayer... maid-of-honor Lindsey looked on. Lindsey and Natalie have been friends since they were toddlers.

After the introductory remarks, Natalie's oldest brother, Tyler, left his spot as a groomsman to sing. Another of Natalie's brother's, Jacob, added percussion on a beat box. He, too, was one of the groomsmen. Both men's wives, Natalie's sisters-in-law, were among the bridesmaids.

The pastor reminded the couple of the staggering importance of building their marriage on the only rock that will stand ~ Jesus.

The bride and groom then moved to the far side of the platform to physically wash one another's feet, just as Jesus did for His disciples shortly before His death. Through this act, Jack and Natalie publicly confirmed their commitment to serve each other throughout their marriage.

I found myself weeping quietly as Natalie washed Jack's feet. Jack serves our country in the Air Force. As Natalie caressed his feet with soap and water, what came to my mind was a picture of heavy boots caked with the dust of dangerous parts of our globe.

Jack will need a humble, gentle, yet strong help-meet at his side. As a military wife, Natalie will play a crucial role in keeping her man strong and sane as he is pushed to his limits carrying out tasks on which lives will depend.

Oh, may Natalie be blessed by the Lord with a selfless heart, always happy to serve her man, even in the most menial, thankless ways. What will be the outcome for Natalie of serving Jack for the duration of their decades together? Joy. Soul-deep satisfaction. The Lord's smile.

Natalie's grin just before the announcement that they were now husband and wife was irrepressible.

And was followed immediately by a happy kiss.

Natalie stepped from sanctuary into a heartfelt embrace from her new mother-in-law. Two families had become one.

Outside the church, a large group assembled to watch the wedding party depart in a massive limousine. Kirsten (left) and Christina were among those gathered.

As happens at all wedding receptions, the friends and family gathered eagerly awaited the whispered words, "They're here!"

Since I so enjoy taking photographs at weddings, I was probably even more in-tune to the clues that the wedding party had arrived than others might have been. When I sensed the rustle, I jumped up from my seat and made my way to the building's foyer. The newlyweds had indeed arrived, there was just one problem ~ getting Natalie's dress to bustle. The beautiful gown was resisting all efforts.

Even her dad stepped in to lend a hand!

Meanwhile, the rest of the wedding party was already lined up, eager to make their grand entrance. Here Natalie and her mom, Shelly, are watching the wedding party's antics.

As the mother and bride relied on others to figure out the dress, a sweet moment between Shelly and Natalie ensued. 

As the all-out effort continued, I decided to take advantage of the wait to satisfy my curiosity. I stepped over and asked Natalie about a couple of items I could see peaking out of her all-white bouquet.

Natalie shared with me that her bouquet, made by her mom, was loaded with love. Shelly had woven in an earring belonging to Natalie's grandmother and a piece of blue fabric from one of her grandfather's suits. After explaining this, Natalie proudly told me they had been happy soul-mates for 67 years before her grandfather passed away a couple of years ago. 

The bouquet also included a hankie which Shelly had made when Natalie was little by the woman who had sewed Natalie's grandmother's wedding dress. Finally, tucked in amongst the blooms was a charm from a necklace that belonged to Tom's grandma (Natalie's great grandmother).

Every wedding somehow makes a statement about the couple getting married. Jack and Natalie's bright lemon shoes represented the courage to go against common opinion. They'll need that courage as they face a culture that doesn't understand the value of marriage or family. As they stand on the Rock of their shared faith in Jesus, the two of them are blessed to be surrounded by family members eager to do all they can to help the young couple create their own multi-generational legacy as soul-mates.

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