Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Ties That Bind

At first glance, they seem like simple satin bows. To be sure, they were beautifully crafted - each meticulously sewn together and accented with a lacy applique and trailing ribbons of delicate pearls.

My mother-in-law Marie made them for my sister-in-law Kathy's wedding in 1992. She designed a hanger that fit perfectly over the end of the pews at the Stafford United Methodist Church.

Jill was a flower girl at that wedding. I can't remember for sure, but I think she probably helped attach those bows on every other pew down the center aisle before Kathy's wedding to Dave.

After Marie died in 1996, our house became the repository for the pew bows. As Kathy said, they had been designed especially for the Stafford UMC, so we should keep them safe. When Jill got married in August nine years ago, the pew bows again adorned the aisle.
Eric and Jill's first look moment - Jill's wedding photos by Gina Dreher, Wichita
When Randy gave Jill "away" during the service on August 8, 2009, neither of his parents were there physically. But those bows that Jill's Grandma Marie had made 17 years before were a silent testimony to their presence in spirit in a church that was the family's "home" for three generations.
Randy & Jill at her wedding, August 2009
Last Friday, a different bride's young nephews and her niece hung the bows before wedding rehearsal, while I followed behind and fluffed them, making sure they were flush against the dark wood and the ribbons and pearls were cascading just so.

If I counted correctly, Lauren was the eighth bride to use the pew bows.
The bows had also adorned the aisles for Lauren's two older sisters' weddings at Stafford UMC and for at least two other weddings besides our family's.
Jill & Eric - August 2009
The brides all had Marie's bows in common. Other central components were the two wedding banners Lauren's mom - my friend Kim - had commissioned before their oldest daughter, Kristen's, wedding. She shared them for Jill's wedding, too. And, by the way, Kristen accompanied me on the piano as I sang for Lauren's wedding. Life came full circle, since Kristen used to be one of the little singers in my Joyful Noise choir at Sunday School. She now teaches those same songs to a new generation.

The ties that bind a church family are much stronger than those delicate pearl ribbons hanging from satin bows.
Randy and I were two of the hosts at Lauren and Cory's wedding reception on Saturday. Lauren's parents - Boyd and Kim - were hosts at Jill's and Eric's wedding nine years ago along with Tami and Steve, who also were hosts for Lauren. ...

The ties that bind.

Once upon a time, these brides and grooms were skipping forward together for children's sermon at church. Now, some of them are the mommys and daddys who cringe when their offspring start to "over share" during children's time.

Time comes full circle. After helping to clean up following the reception, Kim came up, hugged us and said she couldn't imagine doing life without good friends - the ones who will get their clothes sticky with punch, trudge up and down stairs carrying gifts and pull down decorations after the bride and groom have departed into a stream of bubbles. We've all gladly been there and done it for each other.

I'm thankful for that, too. It reminded me of a favorite song by Christian recording artist Mark Schultz, who just happens to be a fellow Kansan. It's called "Cloud of Witnesses." Here are a few of the lyrics.

We watched them runnin' down the aisles,
Children's time, Sunday morning.
The preacher asked them who they loved,
They all smiled and started pointing to their mom,
Their dad,
The teacher from their kindergarten class;
And each and every one
Had just come from

A cloud of witnesses
That would see them through the years
Cheer them with a smile
And pray them through the tears
A cloud of witnesses that would see them to the end,
And shower them with love that never ends
A cloud of witnesses. ...

Whether it's sharing bows made a quarter century ago or refilling a canister with lemonade and heaps of ice at a hot August wedding reception or sharing a strawberry cake at a funeral dinner or becoming the Sunday School teacher in the very room where you used to be the student ...

and in a million more ways ....

... there's a cloud of witnesses who are there to cheer us on on this race we call life.

It sounds like a good way to be a church family.

It was a weekend of wedding memories. Just a few days after Jill and Eric celebrated their 9th wedding anniversary on August 8, my parents celebrated their 65th on August 12. My brother put together this collage using photos from a history book my mom compiled for each of the grandchildren.
What a wonderful legacy!


  1. What a wonderful, blessed tradition.

    1. It's been a blessings to share life - and the bows - with good friends.

  2. How wonderful and amazing - 65 years! I love how you have created this post.

    1. Thanks, Helen. It was a wedding week with our daughter's anniversary, my parents' milestone day and the brand new beginning for our friends' daughter and her new husband.