New Beginnings

I am sitting in Atlanta International Airport right now, having just arrived from St. Louis. Those speaking Spanish are slowly starting to surround me. We board in about 45 minutes for a plane headed to Panama City, Panama. My nerves from this morning have subsided…slightly.

I woke up at my in-laws house tired this morning, but my husband was holding me, very much what I need right now. I got up and showered and returned to Thomas saying, “ while I get ready, you tell Jaime.” I wasn’t sure what to expect but our TV was on with breaking news. My mother-in-law told me that security had arrested many terrorists in London, England at Hartfield Airport. Many of them were headed to major cities in the U.S. like L.A., New York City, and Washington D.C. The plot was uncovered early that morning. Already family was calling us from other areas to make sure we knew what was going on. So what did that mean for us on the day we were flying out of the country to where we would be serving for a year?

They changed security to not allow any liquid, gels or pastes in carry-ons. Thankfully we were prepared enough before arriving through the lines. I missed one item but was able to give it to my in-laws and then go through security again. Arriving in Atlanta and settling at our new gate, the overhead speaker announced they were out of tourist cards and that we can purchase them when we get to Panama. I wonder how that will work? I look outside and see the dark skies and storms. I wonder how a lot of things will work. My best, though, is under God’s care. He’s already prepared the way, and that is my peace. 

We were delayed about 3.5 hours in Atlanta due mostly to the bad storms. When the airport re-opened for flights, we were 40th in line. We moved along quicker than I thought, however, and the flight was thankfully uneventful. We filled out our tourist cards, or visas, after we arrived (about 12:30am) and then went through customs. Thankfully our missionary host family, Henry and Ruthie were there waiting for us after we gathered our piles of luggage. I wasn’t sure what we’d do or how I’d hold up if they weren’t there. Arriving in a strange city, in a country where you don’t speak the language, in the middle of the night, is quite unnerving. 

This beginning is taken straight out of my journal when my husband and I were sent to Panama with LCMS World Mission in 2006. We took this call with excitement. We had both served in our post-college jobs for about 2 years and felt change coming. We either were looking at a transfer for Thomas’s job or this move to the mission field. The mission field was where our hearts felt led. We started the process 6 months before we left the country. 

New beginnings are filled with a sense of adventure and wonderment. In something completely new, you can’t visualize what it looks like on the other end. To some, this is scary, while to others it stirs up their inner explorer. I land on both sides of that coin. I love the new, but on those first days, I’m anxious and full of emotion. 

Why is new scary? Because it’s unpredictable. Because it might be a complete bust. Because what’s waiting on the other side might not actually fill my expectations. Because I don’t even know if I will know what to do.

Why is it exciting? Because it brings new life to areas of myself that needed fresh starts. Because adventuring shows me I’m stronger than I thought. Because with other things out of the way, I see God a little more clearly. 

Notice how our beginning to Panama was full of both the scary and the exciting? How in the world were we traveling on a breaking news day that involved air travel and terrorism? Really? On our first day headed to the mission field for a year?

Sometimes new beginnings are like that. You know it’s a good move. You have consulted with others, and with God in prayer. It’s right. But as you move forward, you run into obstacles. It gets scary. Not every beginning will be clear of all the hardships. Actually it might be the opposite. It might feel like you’ve made the complete wrong choice as you stumble and push through the discomfort surrounding you. 

I don’t know what your new beginning is like right now or if you have one coming up, but I would encourage you to push through and not be scared off by the initial storms. There will be time to reevaluate once you have given it a fair shot. But I think those challenges in the beginning can be addressed like the adventurer seeking new land. Something was left behind and you did that on purpose. Because there is something ahead that you need in your life.

For us, the first year and a half of marriage was hard. We needed a change and this was an opportunity to share our greatest purpose with others around the world. In hindsight, we learned so much about what mission work is and what it isn’t. We gained a greater worldview. We learned another language and the sweetness of our own heart language. But I think what we knew we needed most was growth. I can list hundreds of ways we grew that year. The bonus was we got to purposefully share Jesus along the way.

As I read back through my journal from that year, within those first 3 days we set up a bank account, visited 4 of the 7 Lutheran churches, grocery shopped, cleaned and prepped our new home, met everyone in the mission office, went to a woman’s house for Bible study that had 10 excitable, Spanish speaking kids, met church youth members that would eventually become some of our favorite characters, took the bus across town to teach English class with another missionary, and so many more things. It was so full we could hardly stop to take it all in. I’m thankful I have this journal to read it back. I’m amazed at how God worked in our lives when it was such a crazy beginning. 

If you are at this beginning, it means something is coming to an end. Bittersweet or not, I encourage you to turn and face the beginning with bravery. You may be shaking in your boots. You may feel the surge of excitement. You can be like me and wonder just how things are going to work. We can’t see the future. But our best is under God’s care. He’s already prepared the way, and that is our peace.

My hubby exploring the beach of Taboga Island, just a quick ferry ride from the canal opening by Panama City. He was the best partner for me and our new beginning.


In front of our Panama house in the old US Canal Zone
Climbing the greased pole at a church fest just a month after our arrival. Thomas is at the bottom!
Close up of the greased pole: Thomas holding the weight of the team.
Anselma teaching us how to make arroz con pollo at our house.
One of my big assignments: Training young youth leaders in a day long seminar- in SPANISH!
Those spunky kids we met upon our first days of arrival.



I burst into the room with a less than patient attitude. Calmly looking up from playing on the floor, my 4-year-old questions me, “What’s up, mommy?”

“I have asked you to clean up the toys and get dressed three times now. We are going to be late!” I reply, trying to be calm but probably betraying my irritation.

“Oh, I didn’t hear you,” he nonchalantly shrugs.

This conversation could be heard almost any day in my home over a number of different tasks: cleaning up, getting dressed, stopping hitting his brother, not touching breakable or dangerous items… for some reason, my requests often fall on deaf ears. I wonder often – does he really not hear me? Is he using “selective hearing” or choosing not to listen? Do I speak too quietly?

Listening, it seems, is a lesson on which I need to pause and reflect because the topic keeps reentering my thoughts and day-to-day conversations. And when I get stuck thinking about something, I love to write everything down, searching for what God is teaching me at this moment. Listening vs. hearing. Hmmm.

One of the most thought-provoking and shaping sermons to which I ever listened occurred during my college freshman “Freedom and Responsibility” class. As you can probably imagine, this class was required of all freshman students with the goal of helping us to discover ourselves and become better people. But, considering how many of the freshman population bragged of classes they’d skipped, I’m not sure if it actually ever accomplished its purpose. As a nerdy people-pleasing rule-follower, however, I only missed one class… more from a sense of duty than anything else. I loved the teachers, but not much else.

(Me and Pastor Jeff at Spring Formal my junior year)

Except for one Thursday afternoon when the campus pastor, Jeff Leininger, took the “stage.” I admired Pastor Jeff and appreciated his conversational, friendly style of preaching. His sermon/lesson that day discussed the importance of listening and being present. I took notes, and revisited them later, condensing them onto a piece of paper that I hung above the desk in my dorm room. Unfortunately, I have long since lost that paper, but two points of his lesson ring in my head: “We have two ears and one mouth” and “don’t reload while the other person is speaking.”

Stick a pin in that.

Another ringing in my ears occurred this past summer during the LCMS Youth Gathering. For anyone unfamiliar with the Gathering: for several decades, the LCMS church has brought together over 15,000 (in some years 25k) high school students from around the world for a long weekend of worship, prayer, Bible study, breakout sessions, and fun. Although my role at the Gathering this time was to serve the adult leaders, I still got to attend the Mass Events each evening at US Bank Stadium. If you’ve ever been to a Gathering, you know the Mass Events are an incredible and unique experience. No other time in my life have I worshipped God with as many other believers (about 20,000 youth, adults, and young adults at this Gathering). One night, we sang the paraphrased words of Psalm 46 (our theme) in the song, “Lord of Hosts” by Shane and Shane. The words stuck with me… particularly those about listening to God (emphasis added):

O come behold the works of God the nations at His feet.

He breaks the bow and bends the spear and tells the wars to cease.

O Mighty One of Israel you are on our side.

We walk by faith in God who burns the chariots with fire

Lord of Hosts, You’re with us, with us in the fire, with us as a shelter, with us in the storm.

You will lead us through the fiercest battle, oh where else would we go, but with the Lord of Hosts.

O God of Jacob, fierce and great, You lift Your voice to speak.

The earth it bows and all the mountains move into the sea.

O Lord You know the hearts of men and still, you let them live.

O God, who makes the mountains melt come wrestle us and win.

Singing these lyrics, various instruments echoing throughout an enormous stadium, 20,000 other voices joining in, the magnitude and power of God’s voice became difficult to ignore…I couldn’t hear a side comment from a seatmate, but I could hear the united voices of thousands praising God.

(2019 LCMS Youth Gathering Mass Event night #3)

Put a pin in that, too.

I’ve never audibly heard God’s voice, but I know he speaks. And, he has power.

However, do I listen when he speaks? Wikipedia defines Active Listening as, “a technique that…requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.”

Again, I ask myself the question: when God speaks, do I actively listen?

I know I should

Let’s return to Pastor Jeff’s listening tips.

#1 “We have two ears and one mouth”

When I have quiet time alone with the Lord, I am more apt to speak and ask than to be still and listen. I want to blame this on being the mother of two young boys, but the truth is I’ve always struggled with silence and “inaction”. Sure, I read my Bible, but I so quickly default to taking notes and trying to find application… telling God how he needs to work in my life. Other days, difficult days, when it feels as though the world is crashing down on me, I am so quick to tell him how he could better preserve my life… instead of listening to the comfort he wants to provide me.

God also speaks through us.

#2 “Don’t reload while the other person is speaking.”

God also chooses to speak through us, but sometimes when he calls me to listen to my fellow believers in compassion, I am so quick to want to solve the problem that I don’t fully listen to their heart. I am reloading… a “nice” Bible verse I read that morning, a piece of advice from a time I struggled in a similar way, the promise to pray (and…more often than I’d like to admit… forget to pray).

The God who makes mountains melt, ends wars, and throws the earth into the sea with merely his voice is sometimes ignored…by me? Ouch. That’s a lot of law to swallow. Don’t worry friends… if you’ve struggled with either of these, I get it. But there’s hope in my final story…

In the mass events, I couldn’t hear anything except the united voices praising our savior. The Lord of Hosts who has power in his voice is WITH us in the fire and in the storm. The savior is advocating for us every day, removing our blemishes and bringing us into his presence.

(Yosemite mountaintop experience with my hubby)

Have you ever experienced one of those moments when all you can hear is his glory and the side conversations, remembrances of failures, sin, and regret, all disappear? These times might be brief – like a moment of respite, a beautiful church service, or a “mountaintop” experience like the Gathering. These glimpses of glory point us toward the final day when all we will hear is his magnitude all around us, our joy complete. He is the Lord of Hosts… the Lord of the Multitudes, and my friends, it’s gonna be loud (but, don’t worry about bringing earplugs… you’ll have a brand new body with (probably) better ears).

So today, I’m intentionally going to try to listen. Would you like to join me? I know he has good promises and plans to give to us, and most of all, because of Jesus, our eternity is secure and I’m hoping we can catch a glimpse.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28

Host moves

I made elaborate cards and sidewalk chalk murals and detailed itineraries when a friend would come to spend the night, starting from the age of about six. I think I’ve loved hosting since always. On one occasion, I believe there was a “Welcome!” PowerPoint presentation made in honor of a visit from my grandparents. In the interest of cultivating that tendency, I feel lucky that I grew up with a mom who hosts people. I am thankful that she likes to host at all. She wouldn’t have been doing anything wrong if she didn’t, but I’m glad I got to learn from her. And I am thankful for the particular way that my mom hosts. My mom’s style is low-fuss and genuine. I can’t remember an instance of frantic scrambling to clear every last piece of debris and remove all smudges pre-guest arrival (although, I feel it should be noted, we did clean enough to be considerate of them.) There was never a feeling that we had to perform for the people coming over, that the event was in any way about how we looked. Dinners with guests over were just like family dinners, but with more plates. We ate normal, school-night recipes that might show up any other day of the week, and dessert wasn’t served because we had guests, but because dessert is always eaten at our house.

Dinner at my parents home in Concordia – usually involves friends from other countries.

As I’ve moved out of my parents’ house and into places that are increasingly more “mine”- where I have more power to choose what the space looks like, and what happens there and when – I’ve started dreaming about what it looks like for me to host. I’ve felt comfortable and at home in countless places that were not mine. There’s something uniquely rest-giving about the experience of having a home shared with you, regardless of the amount of time or the amenities that come with it. Because I have nothing else to draw on, I’m stealing hosting moves from the friends and family and strangers who have made room for me – so when you come to my house, you’ll get a little bit of my mom, some Annette and Sabrina and Sam and Kate and Allison, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and family friends from church.

So you sit

A couple summers ago, my mom started hosting an ongoing event – backyard campfires, every night, for anyone who wanted to come. I think the simplicity of those fires was a perfect prototype of my mom’s hosting style. Preparation consisted of dragging outdoor chairs to the fire (maybe, if we hadn’t left them there the night before), starting the fire, and making sure the s’more basket was restocked. Invitation was by a very public Facebook event, or word of mouth – however, really. Guests sifted in as the sky got darker, and once we were there, the main goal and activity for the evening was simple: we sat.  Including my mom, the hostess, because once everyone had a chair and bug spray, not much else needed to be done. And that’s my number one hosting guideline for myself, and the thing that I see over and over in my favorite memories of being hosted: I love when the host has enough time and intention to stop and sit with guests.

One of the first Backyard fires in our Michigan yard.

Let me tell you about times I’ve been sat with, so we see what that could look like. I do actually think the position of sitting is kind of important. It shows that you’re not about to bolt to do something else or talk to someone else. When you’re sitting, you’re somewhat committed. Bonus points if you find some kind of sophisticated adult high chair that you can actually strap yourself into. Sitting, Exhibit A: When I interviewed at graduate school programs, one of the schools made me spend the night with a student who had already been accepted and his girlfriend. (I don’t say “made me” because I hated it, but because I truly didn’t have a choice). I got up to make breakfast and coffee in the morning, and when he got up, he made his breakfast and coffee and sat with me in the kitchen, answering all my questions about the upcoming interview and the program and grad school in general. Exhibit B: I used to spend the night at my friend Kate’s when we were both in college and she lived just off campus and I lived way off campus and I had a late Monday night commitment and an early Tuesday morning class. When I got to Kate’s room, no matter how late, she unfailingly offered me a cup of tea and made time to stay up and talk to me before going to bed. Exhibit C: On longer visits, there are several people in my life who are great about making the effort to set up a time for the two of us to have coffee together while I’m staying with them. My mom is great about this, as are Allison and Annette. Exhibit D: A couple from the church my husband and I attend invited us over for dinner, sometime shortly after we were very new to the church. After dinner, they had dessert prepared and asked us to sit with them in the living room to eat it and talk. It meant a lot that they took extra time to get to know us, in a way that was clearly on purpose. Exhibit E: Any and every instance of lingering at the table after a meal. (Side note: I don’t know exactly how to force people to linger – I think keeping the food and drinks coming probably helps. If you have ideas, maybe you can share in the comment section.)

Our family will even set up dinner in a ‘hotel’ hallway to fit more friends. Biltz Hall SPLHS

Taking the time to sit with someone says a lot of things, and they’re all good. To name a few “I have time for you” or “You’re worth my time”, “Time with you is more important than ________”, “Our relationship is the priority of this event” and “This is about you, not me.” I think that’s why being hosted well feels so good. It’s a way that we have worth and value and belonging communicated to us without so much being said (and to me, it feels even more true when actions say it). It’s fulfilling for the host, too, because they get to feel that same truth about people as they preach it with their table and home.

Sitting – We’re off to a good start:)

My husband shares my love of hosting, and he and I started hosting people together at his home while we were engaged last year. Flopped on the couch eating leftovers after the last guest had left, we often found ourselves talking about how the sitting with people part of hosting can be difficult. He (more than I, and I’m so thankful for this) loves to help, and the more people there are in the immediate vicinity, the more possibilities to help, which leads to him pinballing around and doing everything as close to all at once as possible. We both see this as a gift of his. He’s able to serve people and take care of needs intuitively, and that makes people around him feel loved. I, on the other hand, can get caught up in details of food and drinks and decorations, which I genuinely like getting caught up in, and I can become preoccupied with how it all might look to someone else. We both have to make an effort to pause the flow of how we act when we’re not thinking about it and to sit down with people; we’re both really glad when we do. (And a little surprised, because we haven’t quite learned yet.) We’re excited to keep learning this and to watch how rest and life comes from it, as we tell other people and ourselves the truth about them through our food and time, and sitting.

It’s OK to be at Your Wit’s End

I sat and frowned at the computer screen and the latest email from my daughter.  For days—weeks—we had carried on a conversation that seemed to be going nowhere.  It was increasingly clear that, though we were separated by thousands of miles, my words were pushing her even farther from me.  I badly wanted to “fix” her situation, and she badly wanted to be done with my advice, instruction, and exhortations.

Feeling frustrated because I had so much more to say, I opened a new Word document, closed my eyes, and typed, “Dear God! I am at my wit’s end!”  I paused, thought about what I had just written, and continued, “….the end of my own wisdom…the end of my own understanding.  I have done all that I know how to do!” 

I smiled wryly as I had a sudden and vivid impression of God saying, “Finally!  I’ve been waiting for this moment!”  It occurred to me that there was a lot of “my” and “I” in those sentences, an accurate reflection of how I had been relying on all the human wisdom and practicality at my disposal to fix something that my daughter was not as eager to fix—or not in the way I thought she should. In any case, it wasn’t working. My wisdom fell far short of what was needed.

Eyes still closed, and now quite tearful, I continued to type, pouring my heart out to God in prayer.  I told him all my concerns and asked for a special measure of his Spirit to be at work in our daughter—HIS daughter. I asked him to give both of us his wisdom in dealing with a very difficult thing.  I asked him to help me to be quiet so that she would hear him….so that I, too, could hear HIM.

There followed a period of days and weeks and even months in which this prayer document became quite lengthy.  Whenever the “wit’s end” feeling resurfaced—sometimes a few times a day—I  would go to my computer, close my eyes, and pick up where I left off, telling God in prayer what I so wanted to tell her, but leaving it there with him.

From that very first day, this reliance on his wisdom allowed me to shut my mouth and listen when she persistently shared only a general overview of her life and activities—while I craved details and had a million questions about the things that really mattered to me.  As time passed, I felt more and more certain that, as he was guiding her, his guidance to me was simply to allow him to act.  In HIS wisdom.  Any further attempts by me would be feeble, indeed.

One Sunday during this time, a guest pastor at our church started his sermon with this question, “Who here would like to be part of a miracle?” A rhetorical question, we realized, but nearly every hand went up.  Of course!  Wouldn’t that be cool!  He discussed that for a moment—how amazing and life-changing that would be. 

Then he asked this question: “Who here wants to be part of an impossible situation?”  Smiles turned to frowns because…NO.  We don’t like impossible.  We don’t like problems that can’t be solved, that leave have no way out, no hope….

And this is when the speaker reminded us that there cannot be miracles without impossible situations, because that is what a miracle is…God takes a situation in which there is no human solution and makes the impossible possible.  He gives hope to the hopeless who are mired in situations where, humanly speaking, there is no solution…no way out…situations that leave us at our wit’s end.

Jesus’ death and resurrection are the ultimate miracle, for there is no human way out of the mire of sin. With Jesus victory over death and the Enemy of our soul, we have salvation—the ultimate solution to the impossible situation of being separated from God forever.  That eternal hope gives us confidence in God’s powerful love—and His love gives us hope for daily life, as well.

So with hope, even in what seemed an impossible situation, I looked forward to a time when our family would reunite for Christmas and I would see our daughter again. There’s a lot of guessing that goes on when you talk on the phone but don’t see one another face to face.  There’s a lot of reading between the lines in texts and emails, when you hunger for hints of change or progress toward a good outcome.  I continued to keep questions to a minimum as the months passed, and there was still so, so much that was just unknown as we went to pick her up from the airport.

From the moment we saw her come through the gate, our daughter was open, joyful, and obviously happy to see us. In the ensuing days, I would furtively watch and listen for signs that this might be just  a nice façade, but they never came. It became clear that a miraculous change had occurred. She offered no information or explanation but God had dealt with that impossible situation without my help, applying his wisdom in ways I may never know—and do not need to know.  I continue, after many years, to be simply and profoundly thankful that, while I was at my wit’s end, God’s wisdom is without bounds. He answered hours of heartfelt prayers in his way and in his time.

What I realize about myself and my human wisdom is that my goal is to “problem solve.” And isn’t this how human wisdom works?  When faced with impossible situations, our “wit” tells us to find a formula, follow a rule, apply a procedure or a process that is going to repair the damages—or in some cases maybe we simply seek to eliminate the source of our distress so we can go forward.  Outwardly, things are fixed.  But often the problem surfaces again or begets new problems…and we find ourselves at our wit’s end. 

God’s problem solving is so far beyond human rules and formulas and procedures.  To solve the problem our sin, He ruled that His own son would take our place—a perfect sacrifice. To make a right relationship with us, he applies the formula of forgiveness—adding up all the sins that separate us from him, and coming up with zero, as we place our trust in Jesus’ redeeming act of love.  HE eliminates the source of our distress in ways we could never imagine by the application of abundant grace.  

As of August 4, my daughter and her husband are the parents of a new baby boy—our first grandchild.  I am over the moon thrilled to be a grandma, but I am more excited for Katrina and Isaac to be parents and for her to fully understand the love I have for her. I am eager for her to know the incredible joy and sometimes despair that come with investing deeply in that mother love…love that often finds itself at it’s wit’s end.

A photo Katrina sent in the early morning shows the beauty and serenity of my grandson asleep in his mother’s arms, his tummy full after a nighttime feeding. I marvel at this perfect little one, and at the same time the end of her message tugs at my heartstrings…”It’s been a long night.” I recall the fatigue and seemingly endless giving of oneself that are part of the early days of parenthood…

If my daughter were to ask one bit of advice from the parenting lessons I learned along the way, I think I would simply say, “It’s OK to be at your wit’s end!” Whether she finds herself in the middle of a hard night, or in the middle of a hard season of life, I would encourage her to admit to the end of her wisdom and commit her impossible situations to God—to ask his guidance as she allows His wisdom to do its work for her and her son.

And while this is my best parenting advice for both Katrina and her husband, it is increasingly my response to all of life’s impossible situations, whether they are physical, emotional, intellectual, social, or even job related–and whether they are my own or those of people I love. At my wit’s end, I am bowed low—figuratively and often literally down on my knees before God. In this position I have my focus on Him and am out of the way as He applies His wisdom.  There are times, of course, when God’s wisdom doesn’t lead to my first desired outcome. Often it works, instead, on my heart, giving me a desire for the outcome that he provides.

Ultimately, being at my wit’s end is not an end, but the beginning of the real solution to life issues—a greater dependence on my Savior and a deeper relationship with Him. To ignore God and his wisdom in giving us a Savior does not work for my salvation.  To ignore him and his wisdom at work in daily situations does not work, either.  I know His wisdom doesn’t depend on my trusting it—but my daily and eternal peace does!

The Best Seat in the house….

“Everybody will follow your lead.”

What lead?


This was just another to-do on a long list of items I felt under qualified to perform. I’d never done this before and now I was expected to lead others while administering tasks with zero training?

Rehearsal Dinner

“What are you talking about?” – I replied in response to the information I had just been given. My daughter and her bridesmaids and the groom and his groomsman were standing at the front of the beautiful outdoor chapel. We had created it with classic white lawn chairs that overlooked a small pond lined with tall pine and walnut trees at a wedding venue tucked away in a small town in Michigan. My husband Tom was leading the wedding rehearsal and had been the one to share my most important job of the day. It was one of many jobs I would do on the wedding day as the mother of the bride… including delegating decorating tasks, picking up the brides flowers, applying makeup to both daughters ( one being the bride) , stopping at the printer for copies of the words to a last minute add on worship song, and going over details with the wedding planner.

delightful evening!

I discovered on the eve of the wedding that it was my job to lead the guests in “standing”during the following days ceremony. It is the moment after all the bridal party has processed to the front of the congregation, the music changes and the bride makes her entrance. It is at that moment that the mother of the bride stands and turns towards the bride and her father indicating the rest of the group should do so as well. I have no idea where or why this tradition started – but if there is anyone that should do the job -its the mother of the bride. She’s got the best seat in the house.

Rehearsal for Allie and Aarons Big day

The girls

The Mother of the Bride or MOB has reserved seating at the front left of the congregation when facing the bride and groom. In our case the seat was literally feet away from where the bride and groom would pledge their love and faithfulness till death do them part. I could have reached out and touched the gorgeous horse hair lined trim of her tule dress. Three little steps and I could have wrapped my beautiful daughter in my arms for one last hug before she went from Miss to Mrs., from Lange family of 5 to Smith family of 2. Never have I felt so close and yet so far from my sweet, amazing, kind, over the moon in love with her man- first born. Yes indeed – the best seat in the house.

It may be a little early to be writing a blog about the wedding of my daughter. To be completely honest I’m smack in the middle of “processing.” I am incredibly thankful for a tribe of moms that have walked this road before and assure me the tears I have shed post wedding in my shower, in the car while driving home from the wedding and while texting them late at night, are totally normal. I am chalking it up to lack of sleep, hormones and a crazy schedule but I’m thinking its more than that. Here is my attempt to make a bit of sense to all that is swirling around in my brain.

Jodi – One of my Tribe – Her daughter gets married TODAY!!

I am realizing that the wedding was not the first time I’ve had the “best seat” in the house when it comes to viewing the life of my child. From the moment the pee stick showed 2 lines on the view window of the pregnancy text – I slipped into said ” Best Seat.” I felt the first flutters that felt like butterfly wings and loving friends said – ‘Thats your baby.’ To the kicks, the squirms, the smashed bladder – I felt and saw it all. I saw her enter the world. I saw her at every night feeding. I worked hard to comfort each cry, understand each need. I heard her speak her first word, saw her take her first steps. I had the Best Seat when sleep was sparse and cries were long. When the seat was a place in the hallway outside her room on the nights she was learning to stay in her new found freedom called “twin bed.” When the seat was the place of discipline and tough love. When the seat provided arms for comfort in disappointment. When the seat was one of celebration and one of laughter . When the seats were park benches, gym bleachers, auditorium seats, dorm floors, apartment air mattresses, RV bunks, tent sleeping bags, Hospital waiting rooms and doctors offices. When seats were couches connected by face time, or hearts connected by text messages. It seems only natural that my seat on the day of her wedding would be… the best.

Over the 48 hours of the wedding weekend I continued to enjoy the view from my Best Seat. A shopping trip for reception supplies, manicures, shared cake eating in the parking lot of Meijer and a tear filled hug on the night of the rehearsal. I had a front row seat to her hair appointment and was honored when she asked me to apply her wedding make up. The Best Seat has provided clear vision to a life time of moments that I will never forget. How blessed I am.

Applying Allies Wedding Makeup

As I sat in that MOB seat last Saturday I worked hard to take it all in. I intentionally left my phone in the house forcing myself to take mental snap shots of every beautiful moment. I wanted to pay attention to the breeze that swept through the trees and the words sung by the bride and grooms dear friends, Andrew and Anna. I wanted to hear every word of the vows Allie and Aaron had written for each other. I wanted to soak in the message Tom had lovingly prepared for the couple and the rest of the guests. I wanted to be aware of my mother in law and my own parents sitting to my left. I wanted to feel their emotions and mix them with my own. I wanted to get every pennies worth of that very special place of honor, the Best Seat in the House. I wanted to because deep down I knew that after this day It was time to give it to another.

A view from the Best Seats.

Mother hood. An invitation to both enjoy the Best Seat in the house and to prepare it for someone else. During my life as a mom one of the most important roles I knew I had to play was one of a visionary for my children. I believe in the power of the spoken word and the beliefs they represent. From the time our children were young Tom and I spoke the vision and our prayer for our children’s future spouses. We told them that the 2 most important qualities of a future spouse is that they love God first and love and honor them second. We knew that the seats we held would need to be taken by someone that would love our children deeply with a sacrificial love that only comes first from a personal relationship with our Savior Jesus. We were serious about the role we played in the seats we had been given as parents and we expected nothing less from those that would come behind us. Saturday was so incredibly sweet and powerful because I knew that when I walked out of that outdoor chapel ,my seat- the Best Seat, was perfectly filled with the one we had prayed for before we even knew his name.

Mr and Mrs Aaron and Allie Smith 🙂

As Allie and Aaron begin their lives together -I will still be watching from my seat – albeit a new one. The seat that can enjoy the fruit of years of prayers and sacrifice. The seat that will still involve prayer and love. The seat that will continually point them to the God who wove our lives together in the first place. Thank you Jesus for the gift of the Best Seat. Thank you Jesus for the seats we ultimately have with you because of the price you paid on our behalf by your death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. They are so very good.