Letter to a Disappointed Bride

Dear Disappointed Bride,

I know you wanted the sun to shine on your special day. Every bride does. We equate sunshine with joy and happiness. We feel like God is smiling down on us when the sun shines.

Of course you prayed for sun.

But instead you got rain. Or snow. (Or a tornado. Or two, like one recent Wyoming spring bride. Her pictures were epic, btw.)

So you had to go with Plan B. If you even had a Plan B.

I understand.

Friday was our eldest daughter’s wedding day. It started out sunny and bright, but by mid-afternoon the rain had arrived, uninvited. During a brief respite, we optimistically seated our guests for the outdoor ceremony, hoping to sneak it in before the next storm front rolled through.

The clouds darkened. Lightening threatened. We prayed.

And the heavens opened.

Literally.

We baptized our guests that evening. They fled for refuge into the barn where the reception–and now the ceremony–was to be held. (Some of them are even still speaking to us.)

Hello, Plan B.

Perhaps, like me, you sometimes find yourself secretly envious of those other “lucky” brides, whose plans to get hitched went off without a hitch. You might wonder why God didn’t answer your prayers in the same way. And maybe deep down you feel that He wasn’t blessing your union quite as much as He blessed theirs.

I’ve got some good news for you.

The superstitious believe that rain on a wedding day brings good luck. Some cultures view rain as a sign of fertility and cleansing. The Bible also has much to say about rain. I found this on a website explaining the symbolic meaning of biblical words:*

Rain:  Something refreshing, delightful.”

I know it didn’t feel delightful at the time. But biblically, rain, not sun, is the imagery most often used to indicate God’s blessing, favor and presence.

So let these truths from His Word disperse any clouds of disappointment still lingering after your storm…

1)  You were blessed.

I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing. (Ezekiel 34:26, NIV)

2)  God was smiling on you.

When the king smiles, there is life; his favor refreshes like a spring rain. (Proverbs 16:16, NLT)

3)  He was there, right in your midst.

So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. (Hosea 6:3, NAS)

And one final thought…

4)  Our Plan B is always God’s Plan A.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21, NIV)

He planned that our daughter’s wedding ceremony would be held in a barn.

He planned that His Son would be born in a stable.

His plans are always best.

Beloved bride, you will encounter storms and disappointments in your married life as well. Your wedding day was good practice in how to handle them with faith and grace. You’re off to a great start.

I hope this helps you feel better about that darn weather.

I know it helped me.

Love,

A Mother-of-the-Bride

P.S. It rained on my wedding day, too.

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(Here is our elegant Emily posing for a bridal portrait in the barn. The light streaming in from the window above was like a spotlight on them during the ceremony. And the glory of the Lord shone all around.)

*www.biblestudy.org

**Huge thank you to Liz Osban Photography for this photo and for so masterfully capturing the warmth and beauty of their special day.

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Hope Deferred

Sad-Little-Girl-Broncos-300x220Yesterday should have been a banner day.  A promotion ceremony was scheduled for my husband at 2pm. We hoped to follow that up with an exciting Broncos Super Bowl victory.

We got neither.  The ceremony was delayed due to a paperwork glitch.  And, well, you know what happened to the Broncos.

Our banner day became a bummer day.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick… (Proverbs 13:12a, NLT)

True, that.

It’s been 15 years since the Broncos’ last trip to the Super Bowl.  Chris has been working towards this promotion for the better part of two years.  The stars had finally aligned.  We were thrilled.  It was “our” turn.

Whoosh.  (That was the sound of the rug being pulled out from under foot.)

…but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.  (Proverbs 13:12b, NLT)

Sure, a Super Bowl win would have been nice.  (There’s always next year, right?  Hope springs eternal.)  The promotion will still happen, Lord willing.  And we’ll celebrate.

But I’m realizing that even when dreams do come true and we’re off to Disneyworld, as exciting as that may be, the happiness will eventually fade.  Before we know it, another season will begin, with new challenges, obstacles and unfulfilled longings.  The cycle repeats.

To have true and lasting joy in life, my hope must be tied to something sturdier than just securing a desired victory or receiving a long-awaited answer to prayer.  God has graciously given us wonderful promises to hold onto in His Word.  But our ultimate hope comes not from clinging to a prayer, or even to a promise, but to a person.  HIM!

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. (Romans 5:5, NLT)

At the end of the day, regardless of what has or has not happened, I can be confident that He still loves me.  Putting my hope and trust in His unfailing love will not leave me disappointed.  He is solid.  I am secure.

I love the Broncos and will remain a loyal fan.  And of course I love my husband and am proud of him, regardless of his title or salary.  But I also love the Lord and will choose to place my HOPE in HIM.  HE is the real Champion, the One who always loves and never disappoints.

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Reality Check

“Just pull down his lower eyelid and squeeze a strip of the antibiotic cream onto it, three times a day,” the vet explained.

Riiiight.

She made it sound so easy.  Don’t be fooled.  Innocent looking, 3.2 lb puppies are deceptively strong.  And if applying eye cream three times a day wasn’t overwhelming enough, we had the added challenge of squirting ear drops twice a day to treat an ear infection.  Uh huh.

Just livin’ the doggie dream.

Having a puppy is so much more demanding than we anticipated.  I had pictured all cuteness and cuddles.  And while there is certainly that, a puppy also comes with inconvenience and puddles.  And vet bills.  And other stuff I’d rather not discuss.  (Refer to my previous post.)

I guess I hadn’t fully counted the cost.

It’s easy to glamorize something we desire without adequately preparing for its difficulties.  For example, we focus on planning an elegant wedding instead of establishing an enduring marriage.  We dream of an adorable baby, when what we’re really getting is a child, along with a two-decade long assignment to shape them into a responsible adult.  We tend to be short-sighted, surprised when things turn out to be more than we signed up for.

So what do we do when reality disrupts the dream?  The way I see it, we have two options:

1–Hang onto the dream and develop resentment.
2–Let go of the dream and develop contentment.

I went into marriage expecting something along the lines of Disneyland.  When my reality didn’t match up with my fantasy, I had a choice to make.  I could continue to chase the dream, or accept and love the man God gave me.  (Most of the time I’ve chosen the latter.  Except on Valentine’s Day.)

Parenting has proven to be one of the hardest (and most rewarding) things I’ve ever done.  I love my daughters.  They truly are the delight of my life.  But (surprise!) they don’t always measure up to the ideals I have for them.  Can I let go of control and allow them to grow into the people GOD envisioned, loving them unconditionally along the way?  I’m learning.

Puppies ARE cute.  AND expensive.  AND high maintenance.  It’s like having a baby in the house.  Wrapped in a toddler.  I’m adjusting my expectations accordingly.

And just about the time I’m exhausted and think I’ve had enough, he’ll lick my chin affectionately and plop his fluffy little head down on my shoulder with a contented sigh.

A reminder that I, too, can be content.

Cuddles, puddles and all.

This face. If only it were this easy to keep him clean!

 

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The Answer

“You are the answer to my prayers!’

This was the sentiment on the front of a greeting card I once came across.  I still remember it years later, because upon opening the card the recipient was hit with this zinger:

“You’re not what I prayed for exactly, but apparently you’re the answer.”

Um…thank you?

Perhaps I can also still recall this particular card because it exposes a deeper reality, one that is often unsettling and confusing:

Sometimes God’s answers don’t exactly match our requests.

Can I get an Amen?

My latest experience with this has come through our recent quest for a puppy.  In July I made an appointment with a local Shih Tzu breeder, hoping to find a female puppy in time for Laurel’s upcoming birthday.  On the way there I prayed and asked God for wisdom and direction.  Instead of choosing one of two available female puppies on site, I felt inexplicably drawn to a sweet expectant mama, “Katie,” who was due in mid-August.  Believing this to be God’s leading, I nervously put down a deposit to secure the pick of the litter, and began praying that she would have at least one female pup.

We surprised Laurel on her birthday a couple of weeks later with a tiny pink polka-dot dog collar.  She was thrilled and quite content to wait for her special puppy’s arrival.  In the meantime she picked out a cute little girl’s name and prayed for her daily.  (Can you see where this is going?)

Last week, the long-awaited call from the breeder finally came.

Only there was no ‘Her.’

Just a ‘Him.’

Huh?

There were some tears.  Disappointment.  Confusion.  A mini crisis of faith.

We went and met the little guy anyway.  Took some pictures.  Tried to adjust to the idea of having a boy instead of a girl.  A restless night followed.

The next morning I noticed a change in Laurel’s countenance.  She was now confident that this dog was God’s answer to her prayers.  When I asked her to elaborate, she said, “Mom, I know God led you to choose Katie and that He wouldn’t mislead you.  He knew all along that she wasn’t going to have a girl.  So God gave me a boy instead.”

And that settled it.

I admire her faith.  It’s the kind that says, “God, I trust Your heart and Your character, even when the outcome isn’t what I had hoped for.  You are Good.  You give good gifts.  Therefore, I receive what You give as good.”

When I grow up, I want to be more like my daughter.

So, meet “Beau.”  (Chris is just fine with that name, as long as Laurel agrees to have only one “beau” at a time.  He is praying the dog will lead a long and healthy life.)

He’s not what we prayed for exactly.

But apparently ‘he’ is the answer!

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Little Beau at one week old

“Indeed, the Lord will give what is good…” (Psalm 85:12a, NAS)

P.S.  The pink collar has been exchanged for a sparkly silver one.  He may be a boy, but this boy will have his bling!

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Santa Baby

As a child, I loved Santa.  No, I adored Santa.  Since I was a “good” girl, he and I were very tight.  In anticipation of his arrival on Christmas morning, my teeth would chatter so much I could hardly speak.  And I was his biggest defender on the school playground whenever anyone dared to question  his existence.

Of course Santa existed!  We were best buds! BFFs!  (No offense to those of you on the Naughty List.)

My loyalty to Santa persisted until the fifth grade, when I could no longer suppress the nagging feeling that I just might be the last remaining Santa follower in my class.  Fearfully, I approached my mom one fateful December day with THE QUESTION.

Does Santa really exist?

She gently told me the truth.  I still didn’t want to believe it.  Being the tender-hearted type, I was traumatized by this “death” of someone I had dearly loved.  The sight of jolly old St. Nick can still evoke the painful memory of that betrayal to this day.

Embedded in the heart of every child, every person, is a deep desire to be known and loved.  As a college student, years later, I would learn that my devotion to Santa was really a misdirected yearning for God.  Perhaps Blaise Pascal, 17th century French philosopher, physicist, and mathematician, said it best:

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

This world serves up many God-substitutes, things that promise to deliver like the delight of a Christmas morning.  Only in the end they leave us dejected and disillusioned, clutching an empty stocking full of holes.

In God, however, we encounter One whose love for us is real and constant.  In Jesus we find a friend who “sticks closer than a brother.”  In His Spirit we discover true fulfillment and satisfaction.  And unlike Santa, you do not have to “be good” to earn His approval.

God really does exist.

BELIEVE.

Let Him win and fill your heart.  Become His friend and defender.  Long for His arrival, like a little child with chattering teeth.

Take it from a former Santa Baby, now a Friend of God.

He will not disappoint you.

*For the Scriptural basis for these statements see:  Romans 8:38-39, Proverbs 18:24, John 7:38, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 5:5.

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Sometimes Spring Comes Early

Spring has come early to Wyoming this year.  And I honestly haven’t known what on earth to do with it.

I can still vividly recall our first Wyoming spring 16 years ago.  The one I longed for and thought would never arrive.  It was May, and the trees were still leafless silhouettes, the kids’ small frames still padded with winter coats.

I inoculated myself against Spring Fever that year.

When newcomers to this part of the country express their desire for spring in February, I just shake my head knowingly.  Winters are long in Wyoming.  April IS the snowiest month here, after all.  Give them a year or two of disappointment and they’ll learn.

Too many early winters and late springs can make one a bit jaded.

Spring can be quite the tease.  When she sauntered into town the first week of March, I stoically ignored her flirtations, keeping my snow boots and sweaters close at hand.  But for once she actually stuck around.  After nearly a month of disbelief, I’ve finally been coaxed out of hibernation, reluctantly persuaded by her persistent peace offerings of greening grass, budding trees, and glorious sunshine.

I’m wearing sandals today.

Life can be disappointing.  We try to shield ourselves from hurt, wrapping our hearts in bulky layers to protect them from the bitter chill of unfulfilled desires.  “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” becomes our unspoken mantra of distrust.  But what we sacrifice in the process is a sense of expectancy and hope.  The heart that suppresses its longings, to guard itself from disappointment, becomes deadened, cold.  Like the winter snow pack, it, too, needs to thaw.

Let’s not become so jaded by past disappointments that we are numb to life’s surprises.  Let’s not become so distrustful that we are unable to embrace God’s unexpected gifts.  Let’s fling the door open, venture outside and experience the new things that He has for us.

Because sometimes…spring comes early.  Even in Wyoming.

The trees by our porch!

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