Tuesday, August 11, 2009


That has come to mean a fun vacation in an unique environment ... that pretty well describes my trip to Alabama. This was the first time I'd visited the Brown family since they moved away from WV (mid 90's - Wesley preached in Chas for 9 years before moving back to his home state). We've had several occasions to reunite as their work brings them to OH & WV, but no opportunity for extended visits. We were so excited when Donna and two daughters planned to join us at the Teel Reunion ... but those plans didn't work out as she was diagnosed and had major cancer surgery just a few weeks before that was to happen. Since she couldn't come to the mountain....we went to her. She wept when I told her I was coming and said, "thank you, Papa for sharing her." That's Donna, always grateful.

The bridal tea -- wedding shower to us Yankees -- was set and the whole family was headed south. We came early and stayed late with a purpose. Since Donna is no longer up to the wedding sewing she planned (bridal and 4 bridesmaids' gowns), the loving work passed from Laurie's mama to her future mama and grandmama in law. (Nina and Donna are great friends, so their all mine...you get the picture.) Also, I was already on board for doing wedding flowers, but hadn't been able to find suitable silk blooms in Charleston. Arriving several days ahead of Nines, we found our blooms and I went to work.

Joe and Wes tagged along with us flower shopping. So funny. We called them the flowermen. A couple days later when the corsages and boutonnieres were done and I was starting on the bouquets I gave Joe the job of cutting those stout stems into similar lengths -- like how could the groom resist a chance to show off muscle? The next day, the Koen family and GA Teels (minus David) arrived. Jonathan was my engineer for the next phase of the project. O.K., Jon, here's your challenge - Laurie wants clutch bouquets, which means we have to find a way to secure a likely bunch of stems to the bottom of this Styrofoam disc that will hold the blooms. He sorted and counted the stems (I had saved/added the ones from Isobel's grandson's wedding flowers), divided by five and devised a 3-point triangle of floral picks to anchor the stems. And it worked. Joe helped. There they were groom and groomsman (cousins) poking, wiring, glue gunning like mad-scientist florists. A priceless memory and invaluable assistance.

I got up the morning of the tea and did the last item, the bride's bouquet. Saved it 'til last and it turned out best...that was the plan. The folding table was then cleared for sewing projects. Next day, Nines' pinned/cut the wedding gown and we were on a roll. She'd join pieces with pins, I'd sew; then she'd baste the next seam while I serged the former. Went very smoothly. The serger, borrowed from Nines' friend was much like the one Isobel gave me and it was the life-saver. We'd never have managed to hand turn all that satin and organza. Well, we probably could have, but I'm surely grateful we didn't have to. The finished dress took only three days, and the bride was delighted. Mission accomplished!

There's a point to all my rambling...believe it or not. Today I am reflecting on the great time we had working together for a great family occasion. I think about how pleasant it was to work together with Nina - doing something we both love for someone we both adore. We were working in the living room between a folding table and the dining room table which were moved together to accommodate the process. A lot of furniture was misplaced to create a convenient work space. And a lot of family was misplaced to accommodate our coming. Daughters slept on couches and floor in the living room, sons slept on couches and floor in the family room; families combined funds to rent the van Lisa (and boys) drove from IN to AL with Nina and seven kids on board; aunts/uncles and church friends provided bed/board for some of the crew; Laurie gave me her bedroom, Pami / Dianna gave Nina and little ones their bedroom; Wes worked overtime toting and fetching, doing dishes, wash, cooking (for 16-20 folks), with Donna directing and helping as she was able. A chaotic time became a sweet symphony ... somewhat syncopated rhythms, yes, but just great. And in all of this there was TIME for SHARING - worship services, Bible studies, family memories, extraordinary affection, stories of life-struggles and humor ... lots of humor and laughter.

In another era, this family would have lived on a homestead, or at least in the same community. They would have joined in work and celebration with similar milestones. We traveled across seven states by air and highway to join hands in the cause. The time-share of family traditions ... God is so good.

And Lord willing, we'll do the same in October, for the wedding.