Yesterday the girls and I got back from visiting our friends in Missouri. Their oldest daughter, Rachel, who is just a little older than Candace, was having a bridal shower. Her maid-of-honor was giving the bridal shower and called us with the great idea of having us come as a surprise. It was not easy. I'm terrible at keeping secrets. I had to avoid calling my friend for weeks in fear of messing everything up. This was especially hard because she had recently had her second back surgery and I was being a lousy friend by not calling to check up on her. Worse, I didn't even mention the upcoming shower in a reply to an email but instead just alluded to the fact that we couldn't come by mentioning Kezzi and Priscilla's new jobs and how excited we were to see them at the wedding.
We arrived Friday evening and stayed with the family of the maid-of-honor. It was difficult to arrive in town and not go directly to our friends' house. We knew we were giving up a precious evening in order to fulfill the surprise. It ended up all being good. We had a wonderful time at our hosts' home. We sat around the big kitchen table, played games her mom and I did a little crocheting. We even had fun all cramming in the bathroom getting ready for the shower. It was really nice having one-on-one time with another family when we usually just see them at group events. Their 17yo son even got up early and made homemade pancakes for us all!
Next we slunk around town trying to avoid running into our friends. We arrived at the home where the shower was being given just in time to get our vehicle hid in the garage. They arrived minutes after we did. We all ran to the couch and just sat there trying to look casual. One of their daughters came in and stood there in utter shock. We hushed her while we all gave her hugs and kept her captive in the room until the rest of them came in. It was worth it all to see the looks on their faces when they came in the room. There were tears and hugs and some of us were shaking with excitement.
It was a beautiful shower with lots of good food and great gifts. It was wonderful to see old friends and catch up with them.
We went home with our friends and had a nice, relaxing evening just hanging out. It was such a blessing to get to see Rachel and Collin together now that they were free to express their feelings for each other. Rachel had waited patiently for several years, trusting in the Lord and her parents' guidance. Collin had spent years visiting with her family and participating in activities together. They spent years practicing self-control and being extremetly careful in their behavoir towards each other. I have never seen any two people behave so honorably. He had also spent a long time in correspondence with Rachel's father about her before Rachel even knew about it. In fact she didn't know about it until after Collin had arrived at their house one evening to propose and then her parents presented her with a stack of printed emails that documented it all. That was the way Rachel had wanted things to go. Her parents knew how she felt about Collin so there was never any question about Rachel's wishes. She really didn't want to go through giving her heart too early or to the wrong person. They have truly honored God through this process and it will be exciting to see the blessings unfold in their marriage.
Driving home made me a little sad that we had moved away, even though I love it here in Tennessee. I always come home appreciating the group of kids there and feeling a little sad that we don't have a large group like that here. It's always so encouraging for my kids to get to spend some time there and know that they are not alone in the world. There they are not weird. It's perfectly normal in this group for young people to be pursuing a walk with the Lord and submitting to Him in all areas of life. There it is not anything extraordinary for a young man to approach a girl's father in order to pursue her for the purpose of marriage. It's not unusual for those kids to honor their parents and trust that their parents have their best interest at heart. And they find blessings abounding as a reward. I really want to thank them all for the wonderful light they are.