Tuesday, 4 May 2010

A Special Wedding and A Special Week

I'm writing this post from back in my lovely England. In Gloucester, in fact, my English 'hometown'. I haven't really the words to explain how good it is to be 'home.' I feel like I'm more fully myself here amongst these friends who are like family from all over the world. My heart just comes alive with love and compassion as I soak His presence in through the presence of my friends.

And my friend Ali's wedding was such a blessing to be involved in. I arrived in Gloucester Thursday and hit the ground running as we prepared for the Hen Do (like a Bridal shower/bachelorette party) and the wedding, being one of the Bride's 2 right-hand-ladies. (My 'official' title, as she said in the reception speech, was "the Best Woman's Best Woman"-- my friend Abbie was her Best Woman/Matron of Honour). I was so blessed to be asked to be so closely involved-- doing everything from last minute shopping with the bride, to decorating our college for the reception, to singing on the wedding worship team, to doing the bridesmaids hair and getting them dressed on the big day!

This wedding was incredibly encouraging to me because my friendship with Ali was born out of a desperately difficult time when her husband, whom I went to college with, left her and their 3 girls nearly 3 years ago. I have stood beside this incredible woman through the deepest darkest pits of brokenness, and my heart has broken for her and her beautiful girls again and again as they have sought the Lord for how to climb out of that pit. Seeing Andy take vows to love and support all 4 of them (he literally said vows to the 3 girls after saying them to their mum... I definitely cried) was like witnessing a beautiful healing and restoration from our faithful God right before my eyes. They ended the service by showing a slideshow of photos of their new family frolicking about together and my heart could have soared with joy for them. These are precious precious people... And I am so blessed to know them and be a part of their lives!

And it was blissfully fun to let loose with friends at the reception at college after, dancing and laughing the night away. Oh God, You are TOO good to me!

(The whole wedding party and the vicar overlooking the signing of the register)

(Leading worship at the wedding with my lovely friends reunited to form a worship team! Love it!)

(Marge, Abbie, and Amanda-- precious college friends for life-- raising the roof to 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' at the 'disco' after the reception)

The next day, after bride and groom had long since disappeared, 4 of us cleaned up the college together, went out for lunch and reminisced, and then went back to college and curled up under a warm duvet all together on a cold, damp, English afternoon as we continued to catch up and enjoy one anothers' company. Goodness, I am blessed blessed blessed by the friendships the Lord has woven into my life, where I can just be myself... and randomly instigate big bed parties. (The Lord uses these people to show me what it's like to be comfortable in my own skin.)

And now I am continuing this journey of blessing in serving that the Lord has me on by keeping house and home for Ali while she's away on honeymoon! I'm playing mum to her 3 lovely girls, ages 15, 13, and 11. I feel so honoured to be given such responsibility and trust. I was quite nervous about it a few weeks ago as I may know the mum very well, but hardly knew the children. And I realize this is a rather emotional time for them, seeing their mom remarried. Would I have what it takes to be what they need in their lives for these 10 days?

I felt like I got my answer to that at the wedding reception only a few days into my time here when the middle daughter, Abi, came up to me out of the blue, wrapped her slender arms around my neck and said only, "Thank you, Leah." I hugged her back and asked, "You're so welcome, sweetie! But... what for??" She laughed a little and said, "I don't know. Just for being you."

My heart sighed a prayer of thanks to our beautiful God. This week is going to be MORE than okay.

And I'm breathing in and out His blessings in my England :)

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