Today, my husband and I were fortunate enough to witness the wedding of our youngest niece. It was in a gorgeous setting outside. Wooden church pews marched down the slight slope to the altar. Shade was provided by ancient pecan trees that surrounded the outdoor church. The sky was the most amazing shade of blue! The grass provided a cushy green carpet for the bridesmaids and the bride to come down. It was a perfect setting. It was even more perfect because this couple has their focus on the Lord.
I am sure that something went awry at the wedding. Things always do. But generally, the guests have no idea of the oops. I think that sometimes even the bride or groom have no idea what didn’t go right. Weddings are happy times so those little oops just fade away.
Our son had a little oops at his wedding that everyone knew about. A day before the wedding, he was playing racquet ball with the pastor who was going to marry him. They were both pretty competitive players. During the heat of play, my son hit the ball too hard and it managed to hit the pastor in the face-in the eye! Yikes. He was fine except he had the most gorgeous black eye and face. His actual eye was blood red. Various shades of green and black were quite evident during the wedding and in all the pictures. Everyone laughed and wedding and life went on!
My sister had a wedding oops when she married, too. But I never told her about it. I was a bridesmaid in one of those dresses that the bride always says—“I picked out something you can wear later. ” Nope sis. NO bridesmaid dress can be worn out again in a social setting. No matter how may times you think it can, that dress looks like a bridesmaid dress. Sorry!
The color was so nice-kind of an apricot which really really looks nice on me. It was a dress that looked like it had a lace dress over a solid strapless dress. So you got the TWO dress look but only had to really wear one dress. I had to have it altered and I was so happy with the fit. Well, several weeks rocked along and then came the weekend for the wedding. It was at a large church and the church employed a wedding planner to make sure that the facilities were used correctly and to just keep the ceremony on time. The little lady probably was a drill sergeant in the Army in her previous life. I say that because everything had a time and we stuck to it. Period. End of dawdling and talking and just enjoying the moment. Well, my sister had all the dresses. I wanted to run into the ladies room and try mine on again just to make sure everything was fine. OH NO-the sergeant said. That would take too much time. SO I decided I would take it home. OH NO she said. The dresses had to STAY at the church. No discussion. Well, I knew better than say anything but “Yes ma’am.”
The next day dawned beautiful and sunny and wonderful. I arrived at the time the wedding planner said to arrive. I got dressed. I looked in the mirror and gasped. The dress was too big in the bust. I must have lost a little or tightened up what I had playing ball with the church team . Anyway, it was too big. In fact, the lace overlay was stitched to the satin underdress and it folded over in my bust area. What was I going to do? We had some duct tape in the car-my hubby brought that to see if we could fix anything with that. Nope that didn’t work. No one-including the wedding planner-had needle or thread. And she was so pushy trying to get me to figure out what to do. She was NO help but she should could tap her foot impatiently! I went into one of the bathroom stalls to wipe away some tears and thought about the toilet paper. Could I stuff the strapless bra enough that it would hold up the front of the dress? The answer is yes. Of course I used THREE whole rolls of toilet paper because it had to be stuffed really full. The dress fit but I sure looked like I had just had a breast implant. I didn’t do any deep breathing because I was afraid it would fall down. That would be AWKWARD.
Well, the music started. The planner shoved me through the door to the church and the wedding went on. It was awesome. So Sis, you had an oops but everything ended up just fine. And I had three extra rolls of toilet tissue wads in my car-use in case!
As I look back over my life, I have been a member of a number of churches. I would be remiss in not noting their importance in my life. As a child, I attended First Baptist Church in M. My parents were members. My father taught Sunday School in the Junior Department. I was in Girl’s Auxiliary. Sunday was an all church day. I had Sunday School in the morning followed by church. Sunday evenings were devoted to Training Union where we learned skills and Bible drills. I loved when they would line us up in two lines to do Bible drills. I was pretty fast then! Wednesday night was family night supper and Girl’s Auxiliary. I was really into GA’s. I loved my leaders. They were terrific and wonderful examples of women who loved the Lord.
After my husband finished college, he was offered a job in D and we moved there. We became members of First Baptist there. It was a great church. So friendly. So many young couples. The pastor was amazing and his wife taught the Sunday School class we attended. It was a great year. We would have stayed forever except we bought a house in a nearby town and moved to C.
C was a nice little town. Country folks. Good schools. A house we could afford. AND a First Baptist Church. It was friendly and had a wonderful pastor. We knew we were home—again. We had a wonderful Sunday School class. We had women’s Bible study. Our kids played together and went to school together. It was a great fit.
Then we moved to R. In Rome, we joined a church that was close to our home. Our neighbor invited us and we liked it. The pastor was young and this was his first church. I play the piano and organ and before you could count to ten, I was the organist and played for the choir. We loved that church, too. It was small-much smaller than any of our previous churches. Being small meant we missed out on some things-like a women’s Bible study or youth trips. Then the leadership changed and I felt I needed to go elsewhere. There was just too much discord there. So we left and I became a pianist elsewhere. Another small church. The people were great but it really did not meet our spiritual needs. I was then caring for my mother who had Alzheimer’s and I was frazzled.
Fast forward to 18 months ago. We were visiting churches and looking for “the one”. A friend invited us to First Baptist. We knew after the first service that it was the one for us. It’s a large church with the friendliest bunch of Lord lovers that I have ever experienced. The pastor is awesome. The music is extraordinary. Our Sunday School teacher is awesome. We have an incredible women’s Bible Study group. We have a terrific Senior Program. I have learned to play in the bell choir. I could go on and on. I COUNT on this group of believers to support me and for me to support them. First Baptist has filled every little part of me that had been stale or “closed for business”.
These “first” churches have made an impact on my entire life. I would not be the person I am today without their love and guidance and support. I thank the Lord every day for my church. I hope you will do the same.
This morning as I was walking to church from my car, I noticed a couple walking ahead of me. The gentleman was holding an umbrella over his wife and she was really dressed up. I was in flats and a raincoat. I felt rather dumpy behind her. She had on a black suit, black heels and the most gorgeous black hat. As I watched them go in the front door of the church, I had a flashback to a different time. I call it the Hat Era. And I have several of my Nannie’s hats to share with you today.
When I was a child, I always wore a hat to church in the spring and summer. Everybody did. I wore white short gloves, too. Everyone did. Most hats would go with a variety of dresses. Children’s hats were primarily of three styles. The first style was for babies and toddlers. They were the lacey cap that tied under the chin. The second hat was what we called the sailor hat with the wide brim and with a ribbon tie under the chin. Sometimes all you had was a stretchy strap that was itchy and pinched. When you reached 11 or 12, you could graduate to the hat that I call the I Love Lucy Hat.
The next hat is the grown-up version of “Lucy”. I love the fake stones on the side of the hat. It was more an everyday kind of hat. You might wear it grocery shopping!
Next you see a small pillbox with—-glory be—A veil! You have to love veils. This one only comes to the end of my nose. It also has a perky red bow in the back. Can you see this with a navy polka-dot dress and navy blue and white spectator pumps? Classy.
The next hat is spectacular! It has large fabric fins in two colors that shoot up from the hat. The veil is MUCH longer. It comes down to my chin. You have to use a hat pin to keep this one in place. For the uninformed, hat pins were just really long straight pins that went through the hat into your hair and back out in the hat. It kept hats in place.
This last hat is my FAVORITE. I love the rust colored velvet fabric. I adore the three feathers that extend from the front of the hat. You feel like a sophisticated grown-up person in this hat!
When we had Hat Days at my school, I always wore these hats. Sometimes I took two of them and would switch out at lunch. The children loved them and probably thought that I was crazy for wearing them in public. For me, they reminded me of my Nannie. When I wore them, I was always a little closer to her.
A few times in my adult life, I have worked as a “Greeter” . It has generally been in connection with churches and is a terrific way to start off your morning worship because you smile a lot and welcome people. I am thinking that my my second music teacher would be proud of me. She always taught me that being warm and friendly was a life skill. And she was right. I sometimes work as a greeter at other kind of functions. I usually know right away when I am going to be asked because every conversation starts-” We were trying to figure out who can talk to total strangers and your name came to mind.” Yep! That is me! I can talk to anyone. And face it, some folks cannot. Some always look like their shoes pinch or their panties are in a bunch!
Many years ago, I was serving on the greeter committee in a church. We were involved with a lot of thing there and in the community. One of our other fun things was working as chaperones with some high school scouts. A big day trip had been planned and I was SO excited! We were going canoeing in the mountains for the day. I had been canoeing a few times and loved it. When we arrived at the river, the water was down. It had been really dry and the water depth was not as much as we expected. But that was no BIG deal, I thought. Little did I know——water dept is very important!
My husband and I were partners. That was BIG mistake two. We had been married a long time. Who would realize that you should never partner with your spouse? We started out with adult couples spaced between scout canoes . I was in the front. My husband was in the back. Part of MY job was to notice the water depth so that we did not run aground on the rocks. If that happened, we would have to jump out and pull the canoe to deeper water. Well, rats! It was so hard to judge the depth from the front of the canoe. It would look just fine and then we would hit the rocks. My husband began to complain bitterly about my canoeing skills. And probably I was a little touchy from just not being able to quickly determine the depth. By mid-morning, I would have traded my husband for —well almost anything. So I decided to become the depth finder of the ages! I would NOT screw up again. I carefully leaned forward to see better and WHAM! We hit another rock. Unfortunately, my paddle was posed so that the sudden rock hit slammed the handle into my forehead. In mere moments, I had a huge lump in the center of my forehead and both eyes were beginning to discolor!
We stopped and put ice on my head and switched places. Quickly, my husband saw that indeed it was hard to determine the depth. Even with his expert canoeing skills we ran aground!
But this is not the end of this story. The next day I was one of the greeters at church. There I was with a discolored lump in the middle of my forehead. And two black eyes! After the initial shock, people would ask about what had happened to me. When I told them that my husband and I had a canoeing accident, they would smile and say “sure”. Then they would ask about what really happened.
Oh my! I should have had a better story!
When I was a child, children had fewer choices regarding afterschool activities. There were no organized sports for girls! Girls played with dolls or paperdolls, they read, they went to Girl Scouts, they played the piano or they took ballet or tap dancing. That is about it! Children attended Sunday School in the morning before church, they attended Training Union before Sunday Evening worship and they could be a part of Girls’ Auxiliary (better known as GA’s).
There was more rigor in Training Union in those days. That suited me fine because I could memorize about anything. We had Bible Drills and I could be pretty fast. I practiced at home!
GA’s was pretty academic, too. I could read fast and I could memorize so I did well. In GA’s, members could progress through different steps or levels. The first step was Maiden, then Lady-in-Waiting, Princess and Queen. You were expected to finish these steps by the end of 8th grade In high school, you moved through Queen with a Scepter and Queen Regent.
Once a year, we had a big coronation at the church. You had to have at least one queen or above for a coronation. And it was a BIG deal. Girls would recite scripture or tell about research on a missionary or tell about any of the requirements of a step. Then every Maiden would be presented to the church and they would receive their badge which would be placed on their white dresses. Next came Lady-in-Waiting presentations. Then Princess. Then Queen.
When you got to be a Queen, you wore a formal dress and your crown was carried down by an attendant-usually a younger sibling. Your presentation was longer-rather like those orals you had to do after your Master’s program. No one ever wanted to do the life of Christ. it would be too scary in front of the church. What if you forgot something!
I loved GA’s! It gave me an identity during those preteen/teen years It was ok to be in GA’s and be smart. I was fortunate enough to have some great leaders. Those women worked hard encouraging girls and supporting them as they worked to complete their steps. We also had a big retreat every year at Rock Eagle. It was called Houseparty and was awesome. We stayed in cottages at Rock Eagle and talked all night and met missionaries and sang a lot and had a great time! It also always rained. I can’t remember a single time that the sun shined! Looking back, I would have to say that GA’S was one of the best activities in my life. It provided support and encouragement and was lead by good and faithful women who knew what was really important. I thank God that I had the opportunity to learn from them.
The picture that is at the beginning of this post is of me the night I received my Queen Award. My younger sister is the cutie beside me. She got to carry my crown down for me. It was May 27, 1962. I was 13 years old.