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|
|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.
|Jill & Eric - August 2009|
The ties that bind a church family are much stronger than those delicate pearl ribbons hanging from satin bows.
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,
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.