I am a planner. I begin preparing for any upcoming event with several days of thought, imaginings of the food, the environment, any special needs. Next comes the recipe search, digging through my big box well organized by course and all the books I have acquired. List making comes next, menu and then ingredients, all the items for decoration to create the mood. Music selections, a whole different list. Next comes the gathering and finally the by the time of the event, I have given so much attention to all of my prep, it goes pretty smoothly. That is my system. It works. Until I am given less than a week to throw a bridal reception for 20 people and I already have many of those planning days taken up with my Plum’s birthday events and a couple of days of wallowing in self-pity. Little time to do this event justice. I added a first step without realizing it, though, I asked for prayers about it all, sharing it as a joy Sunday at church.
I rushed about on the day of, yesterday, and made phone calls when I knew I was in over my head. My friend who’s home exudes beauty and warmth, I called her in to handle creating something out of the senior high classroom where we were celebrating in just a few hours. As we talked she said what I was doing was holy. Not only did she agree to come and help, she slowed my anxiety and gave me perspective. She transformed that funky room into a place worthy of any wedding venue. It was special, it was magical, it was not on my list and it was so incredibly meaningful to have her hand in this union.
I called in Janet, asking for a quick hour of help to do something artsy with the huge chalkboard in the room. She dropped whatever she was doing and created a gorgeous backdrop that will be forever remembered in pictures but more than that, included a reminder of the love God bestows on all unions created in His name. Her thoughtful spontaneous gift added to the magical room, transformed something not on my list to a prayer for this young couple. To have her hand in the preparations for this event added another piece of the foundation of prayer, prayer that will continue long beyond the party.
I ran by the flower shop of an amazing woman in our congregation, she had offered to create a bouquet for mama, her gift to the new beginning. She has shared her love with us many times in the past, clothes for Plum, flowers for events created with real love. She prays for our family and puts her prayers into action. I was beyond grateful for this gift, I don’t have an income, flowers were not in anyone’s budget. I cried when she offered her livelihood to us, not something to be taken lightly. When I arrived, I was overwhelmed with the beauty she had created, even more so with the little buds she included for the groom and my Plum. Not on my list, on hers though and she added to the beauty, created magic in this last minute rush to celebrate a union. My tears were joy drops, words unable to capture my thanksgiving at having her hand involved in this day.
I rushed about in the church kitchen, without a real list completely unsure where to start. Our Associate Pastor wandered in, listened to me babble and then reminded me that many were praying for all of us on this day. His steady assurance, so calm and sure, slowed my anxiety, washed my frenzy away and allowed me to focus. Later, my miscommunication led to my friend not being at the church to take over when I need to leave to rush home for a shower. The back up crew of my Pastor, the small groups leader and my decorator took over. They shooed me out, I trusted something good would happen while I was at the ceremony. When I returned two different friends were there, the food was all arranged, better than I could have hoped, dishes were done, it was magical. No cake server, my sweet pal ran home and got her mama’s. A legacy, a tradition she shared with us, a piece of history well loved to start the union of this couple. Gifts of time and talents and love given so freely, I didn’t even ask, people just showed up.
This couple may never realize all the hands that went into the evening, they don’t attend our church. They don’t know all of my friends, the people who attended the event don’t all come either. We showed them the love of Jesus, the amazing hospitality of folks who just love, love new beginnings and love to support each other when times are crazy and no one has a list. Sometimes I ask too much of my friends, often I forget to ask at all. I forget that I have friends who will support me, that I am worthy of their time and gifts. God takes over at those times, nudges people into action who live out His desire that we be the hands and feet of love. His grace lit up the church last night, brighter than the candles and little white lights strung about. His grace came in the form of friends who showed up and threw a last minute wedding reception for a couple they didn’t even know, a couple they will continue to pray for as the wedding ends and the marriage begins. I didn’t make a list that included God’s grace, that included prayerful loving hands touching every aspect of the evening. God fixed that for me, He had a plan all along. I couldn’t feel more blessed.