Friday, May 10, 2013

Counting down

As I have said, blogging is at the very bottom of my to do list, and I've been fine with that. But I have a few minutes so I thought I would do a quick catch-up.

We are weeks away from the wedding. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's really happening, but most of the time I'm just ready for it to be here! Everything has come together really well. It's hard to do all of this long distance, but my mom has been great and having one contact for most things helps a lot.

I continue to be humbled as the replies come in for the guest list. I'm stunned by the people willing to travel for my wedding. It is truly going to be a party full of people from every stage of my life. What a bonus to getting to marry my best friend.

J has been working hard on the bedroom, and I think we will be able to paint this weekend. We aren't counting on everything being done when I move my stuff the weekend before the wedding. But it should be close when we get back from the honeymoon (in Maine!).

I'm wrapping up my second grad school class. I'm taking a break from class this summer and will go back full time in August. I will keep some responsibilities in the newsroom as part of my assistantship that will pay for school. I can't say that there will be balance when school is my full-time focus, but I'm hoping it's a little easier than teaching, working and being a student. And this summer will be a nice break from the teaching and being a student part.

Just counting the days now...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A gift from the past

I wrote this a while ago, but never got back to adding photos and publishing it, so here it is a month later:

About two months after J and I met, he moved into the house he built. As he was packing, he found an old Missourian newspaper from the moon landing in 1969, as well as a family history and journal written by his grandmother. (One of his family members had typed up the family history and journal entries and distributed them to the family.)

He brought both the newspaper and the history/journal over for me to see. I don't know if it was because he knew I would love reading his family's history or that he loved his grandmother so much he wanted to share this piece of her with me, but it was a privilege to get to read it.

J's mom is the youngest of eight by 10 years. Even though she is from such a big family, she was practically raised as an only child and stayed very close to her mother. By the time J and his brother were born, the other grandkids were practically grown, and his grandmother savored the time with J and his brother. And he enjoyed time with her as well.

In the journal, she wrote about the house her kids built for her. Her first night in the house was Thanksgiving night, and J didn't want her stay by herself for the first night so he spent the night with her. It became a tradition for him to spend Thanksgiving night with her, and he continued to do so into his teens.

J was also the designated mower for her yard, and she was always trying to get him to wear this yellow hat that belonged to his grandfather. J rarely wears it, but he keeps that hat around.

His grandmother died 10 years ago this month. Between the journal and the stories from J, I have gotten a small glimpse of the wonderful woman she was and the impact she had on J's life.

Fast forward to a weekend in April. We were blessed with two wedding showers here in Missouri. J's family had one for us, and then there was one at our church. My parents, sister, niece and nephew made the trek from Tennessee and South Carolina, and it was wonderful to have them there to celebrate with us as well.

These two matching kiddos were good party-goers,
and MM is an expert bow collector at showers.

At the family shower, we were given some really special gifts, including this gorgeous stained glass lamp made by J's uncle.

What caught us by surprise was the role J's grandmother played in one of the gifts. She had made embroidered quilt squares before she died and gave them to J's aunt and instructed her to turn them into a quilt to give to J when he got married. J's aunt followed through and gave us a beautiful quilt with those squares in it. There was a note with the quilt providing that background. I could barely hold it together when I read the letter out loud, and J was as emotional as I've ever seen him. He was choked up all the way home.

To top it off, J's dad, a carpenter, made a gorgeous quilt rack with a cross in the middle for us to display the quilt on.

Hanging up in J's (soon to be our) house. And look, the handrail is up!

Without J telling me stories and sharing her journal with me, I would not have grasped the importance of this gift. But I know J wishes I could have met her, so to have her as part of the celebration meant the world to him. And I am still blown away at the way the family carried through this wish from J's grandmother.

I believe his grandmother and mine will be celebrating together in heaven on June 1 when we say our vows.