Monday, August 22, 2011

Moms and Weddings, Part One

When I was planning my wedding I lived 4 hours away from my mom. This proved to be a good thing. I recall several conversations that went something like this:

Mom: Have you chosen your flowers and talked to a florist yet?

Me: Not yet, Mom.

Mom: Well, what about your colors, have you picked your colors?

Me: No, Mom, I've been a little busy here.

Mom: Have you even registered your china?

Me: No, Mom, I'm trying to pass my Soviet Foreign Policy class at the moment.

Mom: Well, people are going to start asking and you really have to –

Me: Mom, all I really have to do is show up with Dub and the preacher and the rest is gravy!

While I was busy trying to finish my last three semesters of college and graduate, my mom made my wedding dress. I remember showing her a picture in a Bride's magazine and saying “I want something like this.” She held up a couple of pattern pieces to me to check the size one weekend when I came home and the next time I came home it was finished. It fit perfectly and was exactly what I wanted. She made my going away outfit, too.

My mother and my sister also took care of all our flowers, buying silk flowers and supplies at Michael's and making all boutonnieres for the men and the bouquets for the bridesmaids, too. My bouquet was also made of silk flowers but we had a local florist put that one together.

I hear DIY weddings are all the rage these days. We just did it that way because it was cheaper.

Now my daughter and her fiance are working on their own DIY wedding. Hardly a day goes by without some discussion of wedding plans with someone in my family. And each new discussion reminds me of my mother and I miss her all over again, wishing she were here to help. She'd make sure no detail was forgotten, no checklist left unchecked and she would have had the time of her life doing it all.

My daughter lives about an hour away and I see and talk with her frequently. I often catch myself wishing I could do more to help with her wedding plans, although I know she wouldn't want me to feel that way. I'm usually the geek in the back of the room running the audio equipment at special events or the photographer documenting it all, not the one you'd want to consult about wedding planning details, anyway, so it's just as well.

I feel like all I can do for my daughter is to stand on the sidelines and cheer her on, which is probably the best thing I can do for her, all things considered. Well, that and try to find something to wear to this shindig that looks more like the mother of the bride than my jeans and Chucks. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mt. Lebanon: A Picture of Love

I took a picture 32 years ago of a little girl sitting on her daddy's lap. It wasn't posed, it was just something I noticed happening. They knew I was there with my camera but they were paying attention to each other, not to me. And in that moment, I tried to capture an image of their love for each other.

Last week I found out it worked.....

It's summertime so I've been thinking about Mt. Lebanon lately. That's a Baptist camp south of Dallas where I worked every summer during my college years. It's also where I took that picture 32 years ago. Most recreation staffers for the Dallas Baptist Association youth and preteen camps worked only one or two summers. I think I may have set a record with my five. Now I can't help but think of Mt Lebanon when schools let out for summer and the temperatures rise above 90 degrees.

I've posted a few Mt. Lebanon photos on Facebook and some of the kids I met there all those years ago have found me there. I am honored that they remember me and surprised at all the stories that come tumbling out of us as we talk about our time there.

This past week I took the time to tag some of my Mt. Lebanon photos with the names of some people I've found on Facebook and that started a conversation with Gary and Valleta Lanier and their daughter, Leah. Gary was my youth minister at the First Baptist Church of Oak Cliff in Dallas when I was a teenager. Valleta was my Sunday School teacher and friend and Leah was a cute little kid who loved running around with all of us teenagers, frequently getting passed from lap to lap at all of our parties and retreats. We were delighted to find each other and started sharing memories of Mt. Lebanon where Gary had frequently served as Music Director, bringing Valleta and Leah along with him.

While we were chatting I posted the photo of that little girl sitting on her daddy's lap. Here it is, along with some of the Lanier family's comments:

Leah: Awe....I'm crying! I'm such a daddys girl! Thank you Donna!... I remember this....I remember my little shirt and I remember the wonderful staff @ camp who made a name tag for me so I could be just like them! ;)

Gary: That sure is a cute little girl.

Leah: She's a Daddys Girl all the way! Was then and still is!....These are all such beautiful memories for me...absolutely beautiful!! And I am still pretty much that same little girl!!!! :) Thank you all for sharing all of this, so very much!!!!!!!!!!! Love and blessings to all of you!!!!

Gary: What fun days in Cedar Hill at Mt. Lebanon. My youth has been renewed.

Valleta: I am OVERWHELMED... so many emotions. She LOVES her daddy and has followed in his footsteps with her incredible voice and songwriting gift... this is an incredible picture. Thank you for posting it....You will NEVER know how precious they are to us.... They love each other so much. This picture is beyond words to all of us. Thank you.

For 32 years that photo stayed in a box, shuffled from closet to attic to basement. Why did it take me so long to share it?

Why did it take years to recognize that the ability to see and capture that moment is a gift, meant to be exercised and shared?

I have so many stories and photos of my experiences, places I've been, people I've learned from. I've been keeping them to myself. It's time to share them, so I've started writing a book. Hopefully, they will touch hearts, spread hope and open eyes to new possibilities.

What are you keeping hidden away that could be a blessing to someone?

Isn't it time you shared?

You never know what kind of blessing you may receive in return. To see what I mean, just listen to this song, by the little girl in that picture, Leah Lanier. Thank you, Leah!