Of Baby’s Breath, Wedding Lilies, Burial Urns, and Daily Glimpses of God

It rains now. Silver staccato on burnished green leaves; the roads a wet black.

And it reminds me of those teens several weeks ago, screeching and huddling under a single umbrella. Their four adult-sized figures spilled out from under the protective rain cover, while Blake yelled good-naturedly,

“You’re stealing my umbrella!” My daughter and three friends cuddled, huddled, and dashed across the food co-op’s parking lot to my grey Hyundai, laughing and jumping over puddles. And you have to lean close to share one umbrella in the rain.

These last two months have been a happy maelstrom of planning, shopping, preparing for, and savored-moment-by-moment milestones. My son, my oldest, strode into a university hall in swirling black robe and flat square hat, in line with others to receive four year’s worth of hard work in rolled parchment diploma. My view of him swam in teary ripples and I squeezed Mark’s hand, my heart beating in joy and pride.

“We made him!” I exclaimed. “That’s our son,” and my husband’s jaw muscles flinched in strong emotion too.

Three weeks later, my daughter strode in swirling crimson robe and flat square hat towards the stage to graduate from high school. I blinked back happy tears, squeezed Mark’s hand again, and smiled giddy through proud joyful shimmers that blocked my view.

“I’m so proud of you,” I whispered in her ear as we hugged on-stage, handed her diploma to her, and then walked to opposite ends of the stage.

In between, the days filled fast with …

  • …Morgan’s graduation party errands. “Three hundred cups? What do you think? How many cups do people go through on hot days?” and I estimated how many gallons of lemonade to make.
  • …John’s wedding errands and decisions. My husband cleared his throat, “So, after the ring bearer and the flower girl enter the room, we’ll have the ushers close the doors. When the kids get to the stage and are seated, Melanie will change the music to Canon in D. Danielle will rise, and, Kate, you can enter with your Dad whenever you are ready.”
  • …And slipped in between white wedding lilies, and dotted baby’s breath in stone jar centerpieces for Morgan’s graduation party, my Dad and I planned his funerals and telephoned crematoriums. We talked of death certificates, estimating how many copies we would need, and asked about medical examiners. 
Then, hanging up the phones, my dad and I rejoined Mom on their back patio and listened to the birds, the tinkling water fountain, and the wind in the trees overhead. My Mom, sister, Dad and I carved out frequent times together, not wanting to miss a moment. We fished by the Mississippi River, took prodigious video recordings of Mom and Dad together, attended outside concerts at parks, and sat long in contented silences too. 
On June 10th, my firstborn dimpled and bit lips in emotional joy, clenching his jaw just like his dad in overwhelming delight at watching his bride enter the church sanctuary. All eyes on the bride, my eyes were on him. The groom’s breath-taking anticipation flushed him tall on toes, shoulders back, jaw flexing, eyes red, and mouth ever-biting and swallowing in disbelief and proud joy. 
I turned at last to beam at my beautiful new daughter-in-law and to watch my son and my new daughter step onto the carpeted stage. Beside my pastor-husband, they spoke tremulous words of promise, and joy cracked their voices. We wiped happy tears, my parents and parents-in-law beside me in the front right pew, and I savored every single second, thanking God for these moments together, and for every single day. 
And you and me today? We can see glimpses of this gorgeous Creator God everywhere we look… 
  • Him holding the umbrella in life’s storms saying, “Scooch in to stay dry” and laughing as we run together in the rain. 
  • We see this God in proud parent moments of squeezed hands and leaning in to say, “We are so proud of you!” 
  • I see him in savored family moments and in the gift of each time together. 
  • And we can see our Groom God as he watches in delight and jaw-clenching joy. 

 I’ve missed you. Thanks for peeking in. How are you? Catch me up in the comments below? 

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  1. Cheryl Barker on June 22, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Jennifer, such milestones celebrated! Such joy — amid the fleeting moments with your dad and the deep sorrow you must feel at the prospect of losing him. I'm glad God has blessed you with joy amid the sorrow. Continuing to lift you all in prayer!

    p.s. Things are pretty much the same with me — working as well as running the countryside keeping up with our two sets of twins! 🙂

  2. TC Avey on June 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    So many ways we celebrate and mark the passing of time. Life is so busy. It doesn't slow down or pause for us to catch our breath.
    My year has seen many of the same celebrations. Life goes so fast, our children grow so quickly, and sometimes people go to heaven before we are ready to say goodbye. I'm so thankful for photos to help capture these memories. Thank you for sharing about the joys in the midst of all the changes in your life. I'll be praying for you and your family as you remember your dad.

  3. Linda M. on June 23, 2017 at 4:45 pm

    You are a beautiful lady, inside and out! Thank you for sharing the recent joy and sorrow in your life. God bless you.

  4. Michelle Barringer on June 24, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Jennifer, your recent days have certainly been filled with life's milestones and precious moments. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you.

  5. Houseofmills on June 24, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing all this. Fun to see all these HUGE events take place. What an emotional summer this is for you…wow!!

  6. Unknown on June 25, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Wow. So much change in a short amount of time… Love your perspective on life and the joy you find in the simple moments that make this life the gift from God that it is.

    Congratulations on your graduations, and wedding! "Thank God the moments". AMEN.

    And welcome back! Pretty easy to see what took you away! And thanks for sharing your heart and family through your beautiful words.

  7. Leanne Mills on June 25, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    What a beautiful blog entry! So much happening in your life, and I know you will be leaning hard into your Savior! =) Happy you can savor this time with your earthly father, too. I pray you feel God's arms surrounding you and giving you all strength!

  8. Lisa notes... on June 25, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Wow–you have had SO much going on, Jennifer! Beginnings and endings can both be stressful in their own ways; praying for peace and grace to surround you.

  9. Bill (cycleguy) on June 26, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    I'd have to say you have been one busy lady! Congrats on the milestones of the kids. Man…what great memories. Maybe somewhere along the line you can slow down. Aaaaah yeah. You asked about my wreck. I had an MRI two Thursday's ago and go to a spine specialist Friday. prayers appreciated.

  10. Wise Hearted on July 9, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I remember those years when one emotional event tumbled one after another or maybe two in the same day. Now we are watching some of these events with our Grandchildren. These kind of events remind me someday I will graduate to heaven and someday I will eat at the marriage supper of the Lamb and we won't have to pay one penny to attend them, Christ paid it all. Lovely pictures of your lovely post Jennifer.

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