Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Birthday Fun and Yum

Last night we enjoyed a joint birthday celebration. Kirsten's birthday is just 3 days before her daddy's so we celebrated both at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor.

After I took the group photo, Faith asked for a picture with just her dad. I got busy adjusting my camera settings. Meanwhile, I  heard the two of them giggling. Sure enough, I looked up and they were happily dancing together.

Once inside, we ordered our ice cream.
Kolya sure loves a good root beer float.

Actually, the second one was Hope's. I just could resist taking the picture of Kolya and the two gigantic mugs as he prepared to pass Hope hers.

Kolya and Hope got their orders several minutes before the rest of us. While we waited, all eyes were on the two of them to see of they could really down so much soda and ice cream.

We also gave Dad his gifts. (Kirsten had already received hers on her actual birthday.) Sarah needed the largest bag for her gift...

...a complete set of screwdrivers! What man doesn't enjoy new tools?

As the saying goes, a good time was had by all!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

James & Sarah 03.12.16

We've lived in the same city and attended the same church long enough that we have had the opportunity to watch boys and girls just entering their teens grow into men and women. James, the groom in the wedding we recently attended, has matured before our very eyes over the past decade so witnessing his marriage to Sarah brought special joy.

I was trying to be unobtrusive as I took pictures from the second row right over the shoulders of James' parents and grandparents. All I could think about was how large and loud my DSL camera seemed. However, after I took the first couple of shots, James' mother leaned back and whispered, "Oh, do take a bunch!" I was happy to comply. I love weddings!

The large words behind Sarah weren't part of the decorations for the wedding. Instead, they were part of the church's decor. However, having been a wife for 32 years, I sat through the ceremony thinking how perfect the words "follow" and "love" were to describe Sarah's best hope for being a wife who truly blesses James. If Sarah will follow James' lead and love him through both joy and sorrow, the Bible promises an life-long union. This friendship is so intimate that God's word says the two become one.

Sarah and James sealed their vows with shared prayer. The backdrop which the two chose for their ceremony was a cross. The pastor's message and their covenant promises made it clear that this union is anchored in a keen awareness that Christ's willingness to die on the cross to take on the sins of humanity is the kind of selflessness they will need to emulate in their marriage. Pastor Dave reminded them that they will need God's enabling grace to live for the other rather than self if they are to go the distance.

After such solemn words...came the kiss!

Followed by Pastor's announcement that the pair was from this point forward a
"Mr. and Mrs."

If I were to title this photo, I'd call it, "Stepping into Life as One."

I followed the couple up the aisle and got this photo just as James and Sarah exited the sanctuary. 

Before we left the church, Tina (left) and Kirsten asked to me to take a photo of them together. I thank God for the friendships that exist between our children!

I was also asked by our daughter Zhenya (right) to capture a photo of her with friend Kaylee. Zhenya played her cello and Kaylee her violin for the ceremony. Again, these two have grown up like cousins as part of the same church family for as long as either of them can remember.

Before we loaded up in the cars to make our way to the reception, Zhenya asked John to watch her cello. Zhenya, home for her first time since she married last September, seemed to forget that her brother was stranded until she returned to fetch her large instrument. John eventually did locate his very social sister but had to get creative with his cellphone to do so. As mom to both of them I enjoyed the way this mini comedy play itself out. And the photo opp was a great one due to the heavy skies that day.

Sarah's bouquet was lovely with its multiple shades of purple roses...

...but even more beautiful was the bride and groom's joy in one another!

During the toasts made by the maid-of-honor and best man, the two often exchanged knowing looks over shared history.

James' mom and dad also enjoyed the humor shared during the toasts.

As dinner finished, James and Sarah made their way from table to table to thank their guests. Those greeted often asked that a picture be taken of them with the newlyweds. Cellphones have revolutionized every aspect of our culture!

Meanwhile, as is so common at receptions that include a dance, the little girls in attendance made good use of the background music as they awaited the bride and groom's first dance.

I love how the whole crowd seems to just disappear as the bride and groom take to the floor for their first dance as husband and wife.

The story was no different for Sarah and James.

The 300 of us watching simply became invisible to them
as they stared lovingly into one another's eyes.

I do so love attending weddings! Each one is token of the rare, multifaceted jewel that married love is. Each wedding seems to remind me of the importance of investing in my marriage to keep our friendship strong enough to prevent being pulled apart by the crazy busy that each week inevitably brings. I'm glad Sarah and James plan to continue living in our community, at least for now. It will be a delight to watch their bond grow even more beautiful. To God be the glory!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy 5th Anniversary, Aaron and Anna!

Five years ago today, Aaron and Anna wed.

Their relationship had started as a friendship in an online group setting through college. The next step was a courtship where both sets of parents played a role in encouraging and advising them.

By the time of their marriage, Aaron and Anna's friendship was already rich and deep.

That friendship was marked by the ability they share to this day to laugh easily together.

After the initial photos, it was time. Anna and her bridesmaids were ready.

And Anna's daddy was ready to walk his little girl down the aisle.

So much joy marked the ceremony...

...and yet the young couple understood the solemnity of the vows they were making before God, family and friends.

This was Aaron and Anna's first kiss. They had waited until the alter for this relationship milestone.

By the end of the ceremony, the two had become one. On the way out of the church, they stopped to hug the parents who'd raised them for this very day.

Aaron's parents have played such a key role in the couple's five years together. Ric and Tina live about 10 minutes from the younger Nix family, and they have sacrificially served Anna and Aaron and their three little girls (with a fourth child on the way!). We thank God for Aaron's loving parents who are now our dear friends!

We exited the sanctuary as two parents overwhelmed with God's goodness!

So many friends and family came to join in our family's grand celebration.

Before heading to the reception, the wedding party had a blast taking this photo in front of the gorgeous theater in which Anna had been blessed to play violin for the local symphony orchestra.

Five years ago. Anna and Aaron were new to dancing with one another. Now dancing is in an important part of keeping their marriage fresh and fun thanks to dance lessons. They also love to play long, involved strategy games together. Anna even wins...sometimes. They've developed and invested in a number of shared interests. At five years their unity in Christ and devotion to each other is beautiful to behold! As I mentioned, they also love the shared adventure of parenting. Their little girls are 3-1/2, 2-1/2 and 9 months old. Aaron and Anna are eagerly welcoming children as the Lord blesses them with each gift.

This is one of my favorite photos from Anna's big day. Anna grew up in a close, tender relationship with her daddy. Letting her go was hard for him!

The day Anna met her birthmother
(Anna was 18)

I'm going to bring this post to an end in a way you might not expect. Our need to "let go" of Anna as she married wasn't the first or most crucial "letting go" in our oldest daughter's life. You see, we adopted Anna Mackenzie at birth. We praise God that her 20-year-old birthmother chose life instead of abortion for Anna. She sacrificially made an adoption plan for the little one growing inside her. We were the incredibly blessed parents she chose to raise her precious daughter. So Anna's very life began with a loving "letting go" by a brave woman we love dearly. On the 5th anniversary of our shared daughter, we give tribute to the woman who gave life to Aaron's wife. She's our hero!