This afternoon Jessa went to a wedding shower -- her second -- and today, for the second time in several weeks, after she pulled up to the house I walked out unsuccessfully fighting back tears.
There in the driveway sat our car that her parents have selflessly allowed us to use as our primary vehicle, full from the rear bumper to the front dashboard of gifts to encourage and start us off in our lives together.
It started out with my grandparents and hers: each couple more than fifty years ago made vows to each other and have not broken them.
It was under that priceless heritage our parents were raised, and combined they have over fifty years of marriage as well bringing to our generation a combined total of over 250 years of covenant example.
In Christ alone is the hope found to stay true to such a mammoth commitment as marriage entails.
Today I stared at a 1990 Oldsmobile Delta '88 sedan that now held for the second time, the beginnings of a home inside. My beautiful bride-to-be came inside after the wedding shower with her eyes glowing in a blaze of joy: the women who had surrounded and affirmed her that afternoon had done far, far more than purchase dozens and dozens of our excited ideas we'd picked out carefully in an afternoon of quivering anticipation.
This was now the second event in which a group of women strong with the presence of the Kingdom and warriors of prayer, encouragement and service gathered around my Princess to tell her what only they could.
"We love you Jessa. We as a community of women want to hurl you heavenwards in every way possible and show you that what you're doing and where you're going with all it's challenges, frustrations, fears and unknowns, is both good and ordained by the Father."
There is no substitute for something like that.
Each and every woman, toddler, teen and college graduate that have attended her wedding showers have built into her something that can't be taken away. Those who couldn't come have sent letters or cards that serve the same purpose; they boost my Sweetheart and I into the upcoming season of changes with more confidence, more reliance, and more affirmation from the Most High.
"For James" read the hastily scrawled and unmistakably clear, direct message as only Bonnie Crafton could deliver so tastefully and classily on the mop.
I'd honestly rather have received a broom because I don't mind sweeping, but then again I'm sure there was a grandmotherly intuition present with her when she put it back on the shelf swapping it for the mop, one of my least favorite housework tools.
I'll vacuum, dust, wash dishes, fold laundry and actually enjoy cleaning the bathroom. But mopping? It makes the least sense out of everything. Seconds later feet re-appear returning the pathogens to their now shiny workplace and fresh breeding ground.
Maybe it's because I still haven't learned that mopping in socks is a bad idea. But mop I shall.
Unless we get an apartment with every square inch of floor covered in CARPET.
Caleb leaned over to me and said "Dude. You didn't open the trunk yet."
Therein laid a big, gorgeous box with bold, confident lettering on every one of the six sides.
The same size and model as my Dad has.
"Call me Peggy. Do you like to cook?"
Her shock of short, perfectly tamed and domesticated white hair swam slightly in the current of her forceful words, penetrating stare that peered through thin glasses and no-spin zone attitude that gave no ground.
"Yes. That's why I picked out the 7 quart crock pot! I mean, what can't you cook in that?"
She ignored the too apparent logic, she didn't play by the rules. She didn't have to.
You would've thought I told her I registered for a hive wasps from the way she advanced on the information with bayonet drawn.
I popped my head back in my shell and threw out a random spray of response fire that didn't come anywhere near her.
"A half a pig. Either half. You can take that crock pot and cook which ever half is the most tasty, that's why I got it."
It was over.
"No one would ever do that, or want to do that. But I'm glad you enjoy cooking! That's good."
She conceded me that small, consolatory victory and moved on to other larger, more important battles.
"James, Peggy has done more for this family than we could ever hope to realize" Grandma Pat said as Peggy strode towards the kitchen, not changing step one bit as she snorted the compliment off immediately, which proved only so effective as I noticed she had draped across her arms the wrapped bundle of my fiancee's wedding dress she was going home to take in.
"I'll see you later then sweetie" she said to Jessa "And I'll find a way to get this dress back to you when I'm done with it."
Jessa's sister-in-law was the first home. She shut the swinging glass door behind her slowly and looked a little pale as she smiled tiredly. "Whew. Those women have more energy than I could ever imagine. I couldn't keep up with them, not even close!"
Bob Parette, resident licensed Grandpa and Director of Transportation for All Family Members on All Continents chuckled. "Yep, those women are somethin'."
My Chinese Flower looked up at me with fiery eyes and quickly extinguished them almost completely as she put on a mock-serious face and said "why didn't you come with me?"
"Take all away. I am content to know
Such love is mine-for life is all too brief"
Such love is mine-for life is all too brief"
-Ruth Bell Graham
To every woman and family who has poured into Jessa's and my life, thank you.
Thank you for giving us more than you realize and more than we could possibly ever put into words.
The most important part of a home is it's foundation, so thank you for investing relentlessly in ours. The many creative ways you've blessed Jessa and I will continue for a long, long time and we look forward to sharing it with many others and investing in them.
In Jeremiah 1:11 the Lord asks Jeremiah what he sees. Jeremiah responds "the branch of an almond tree" and the Lord responds in verse 12: "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled."
As our friends and family, we are excited to offer you that place beside God, watching to see how his word is fulfilled in our lives in the upcoming weeks, months and years together.
“‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
Okay my people, who's hungry?