Did you see the Super Bowl? More specifically, were you exposed to the rivalry? Even before the game, bold expectations, trash talk, and hardcore team spirit clashed on social platforms, billboards, and TVs around the USA and beyond.
And the next day was Valentine’s Day. Did you feel the awkward shift of emotion? People went from the height of explosive competition to the peak of gentleness, affection, and love – literally overnight! It was a near perfect display of two ways to overcome outstanding opponents.
Overcome Outstanding Opponents by Force
The LA Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals showed up with competing objectives. Both felt they deserved the title of Super Bowl Champions, and were ready to claim it by might, muscle, and manpower. After a grueling battle, the Rams won over their outstanding opponents. They applied pressure until the closing seconds of the game and overcame by force.
When you find your opponent’s weak spot, hammer it.
Overcome Outstanding Opponents with Gentleness
And then the sun rose on Valentine’s Day. The sentiments got mushy. There were frilly gifts, sweet acts of service, time and expense willingly paid, and pride laid aside. Gentleness was a widely employed strategy for winning favor and affection.
Do you want to WIN over an outstanding opponent or win THEM over?
See the difference? Force and Gentleness can each decide an outcome. Both can bring victories, but one is about taking and the other about giving. The end of force is to take the win. Gentleness wins by giving and gains the person.
The Super Bowl was about one team besting the other. The Rams forced the Bengals out and got the win. Of course, this is the nature of sports.
Valentine’s Day was different. I’d be willing to bet some of those same athletes, who exercised force on the football field, switched gears the next day and used gentleness to win the hearts of their loved ones. Different strategies work for different situations.
And there is a spiritual significance. As believers in Jesus Christ, it is imperative that we use the best strategy to win the lost.
When we preach, debate, or evangelize, we sometimes forget our mission. We storm the gates, so to speak, with our theological understanding. We attempt to force an opponent into submission with our moral superiority. But this is not the gospel.
Jesus didn’t put us here to simply win. This is not a competition. We don’t need to be defensive, offensive, or forceful.
He asked us to gain people – to win them over for His divine purpose. He set the strategic example by giving His own life. We are to deploy gentleness, servanthood, and sacrifice.
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth”.
2 Timothy 2:25
Of the two ways to overcome outstanding opponents, one is not only more effective in ministry, but also right. In this instance, we need to think more Valentine’s Day and less Super Bowl – gentleness, not force. We’re not here to take a victory, but to win the precious souls of people deeply loved by God.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.”
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
Yes, today is my 30th Wedding Anniversary! When I first considered the idea of listing 30 details surrounding my wedding day, I wasn’t sure I could remember that many things. I got out a pad of paper and started to write.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t hard at all! As I look over my list of 30 wondrous wedding memories, 30 wonderful years later, I notice that what has stuck with me are special moments which include emotion – love, appreciation, connection, gratitude, humor. That is worth mentioning in a day when young couples feel their weddings must be expensive and well photographed for social media. I hope my list suggests otherwise. The most important thing is to feel and experience the moments as they happen.
30 Wondrous Wedding Memories for 30 Wonderful Years
I moved the last of my things into our new apartment on Friday morning, Feb. 7, 1992. My fiancé, Michael, was already living there. The schedule was tight to get to the rehearsal because it, and the wedding, were a couple hours away, in the town where my parents lived.
We stopped for gas on the way to the rehearsal. It was wondrous to think that the next time we filled the tank, we’d be husband and wife.
My rehearsal bouquet was a compilation of the bows that had been on my bridal shower gifts. They’d been inserted into slits in a paper plate, and I held the ribbons underneath.
Some dear friends agreed to host our rehearsal dinner in their home. I chose a menu of lasagna, caesar salad and bread but I wore white jeans. Everybody knows marinara sauce is drawn to white clothing. I was more nervous eating that meal than at my wedding.
Michael and I had decided to forego our bachelor and bachelorette parties. Instead, we had a worship night after the rehearsal dinner. Michael has amazing vocals! I felt a deep kindred-spirit closeness with the dear brothers and sisters in Christ who made up our wedding party. Together we praised Jesus for bringing us to the eve of our wedding and our friends prayed over us, asking God’s blessing and favor on us as a couple.
Our Wedding Day
I awoke on February 8, 1992, in my childhood room in my parents’ home. I got ready in the familiar bathroom. I felt like the same little kid, but I was getting married! It all seemed so surreal.
I had a bargain brand lipstick that I was ecstatic about because it was the perfect shade for the day!
We were married by a pastor who was a family friend. His church was in an office park and had a black and white industrial vibe. We built that into our theme, adding touches of red and sprinkles of fire and ice roses. It was simple and unique.
I adored my wedding dress. I bought the first one I tried on. It was priced right and fit perfectly; no alterations needed.
As hard as I tried, none of my bridesmaids liked their dresses. Has any bridesmaid ever liked their dress? If you’ve been a bridesmaid, please comment and tell me about the dress you were asked to wear!
From the church’s back room, where I hid until it was time to enter, I could see the guests arriving. The building was made of reflective glass, so they could not see in, but I could see out. It was amazing to see all my most favorite people making their way to the same door.
My best friend worked so hard for me. I brainstormed and she handmade everything in my imagination that didn’t exist in stores. The selflessness and talent she had were incredible!
She made my veil, which was more of a white halo made of tulle and flowers. It was perfect, I loved it. And her. She was the sister I never had. I tried hard not to cry when she put it on my head a few minutes before the ceremony, because – you know – makeup.
I have vivid memories of my grandparents from my wedding. I remember what they were wearing. I remember their smiles and genuine joy. My nana had her jaw wired shut after breaking it in a fall. But she looked radiant. None of them are alive today (grandparents or best friend from point above) so the memories are priceless!
My sister-in-law cried all the way down the aisle. I was glad I couldn’t see her face, because I’m an empathetic crier and – yes – makeup.
My dad walked me down the aisle, gave me away, then went directly to the microphone and sang “Sunrise, Sunset”, the song from Fiddler on the Roof. Click here to read the beautiful, heartfelt lyrics. From just this excerpt, you will understand why I, and my makeup, were doomed to part ways!
We wrote our own vows. Michael wrote, and read, an amazingly touching poem for me. Why did I try to wear makeup?.
I found out later that most of the women in the audience were in the same makeup predicament. The tissues that came out while my dad sang were used again as my groom poured wondrous words of devotion from of his huge heart.
After the ceremony, I used the term “Handsome Husband” a million times. It sounded so strange and yet so wonderful.
The entire day was a collaboration of service by loved ones. Friends worked on everything from food to furniture to make our ceremony special.
Cake pops were not yet a thing, that I recall, but my mom handmade hundreds of heart-shaped chocolate lollipops to offer our guests.
I remember our cake tasting appointment better than the actual wedding cake. Sampling the flavor choices was my favorite element of wedding planning.
Newly engaged friends were at our wedding. They wanted to get married quickly and were able to arrange, then and there, for the same pastor, church, and order of ceremony. It was a crazy de ja vu for Michael and me to come back, just 3 weeks later, as guests for their wedding.
I changed out of my wedding dress and into a cute white suit to leave the church. It was still the days of pantyhose, and I had the daintiest white ones with a hint of shimmer. I was so proud to get them on without running them. (I’m aging myself. Do young brides today even know what it means to run a pair of hose?)
The Honeymoon (and following days)
We spent our wedding night in a beautiful Bed and Breakfast only a few miles from the church. Our room had a view of the ocean, a huge fireplace, and thick bathrobes for our use. There, in the lap of highest luxury I’d ever experienced, we ate a box of pizza because, back then, pizza places were the only restaurants which delivered.
My grandparents gifted us our honeymoon. They planned, and paid for, a trip along the coast with overnight stays in unique spots on the way. The most memorable was an inn where each suite had its own motif. Our room was forest themed, and it truly felt like we were sleeping under the trees.
One honeymoon afternoon, while exploring a quaint coastal town, we found a jewelry shop which soldered my engagement and wedding rings together while we waited.
On the way back from our week-long honeymoon, we stopped at my parent’s house to open our wedding gifts. I was overcome by the generosity of our friends. I’m still using a few of those gifts today!
Our photographer (in the days before digital and editable photography) used the incorrect camera settings for indoor photos. We got a pile of very-washed-out wedding pictures. He was our neighbor, had donated his time as our gift, and he felt terrible. But they are one of a kind. To this day, I haven’t seen any other wedding photos like mine! (The ones in this post have been scanned and color corrected. Technology has improved!)
Two weeks after our wedding, we went to Tahoe, to be treated by Michael’s family to our formal reception. They threw a luau (Hawaiian party) we will never forget! It was fun to get to wear my wedding dress twice. Only God knew, as we sat watching the Polynesian dancers, that we would have 5 kids of our own, who would grow up dancing and entertaining at many similar future luaus.
Before I sign off, I want to wish my handsome husband a very Happy Anniversary! He deserves a standing ovation for putting up with me every single day for 30 years. Counting leap years, that is roughly 10, 957 days. We joke that the pastor who married us must have tied the knot tight!
If you’re still reading, thank you for indulging me. I appreciate your company down memory lane as I’ve recalled 30 Wondrous Wedding Memories for 30 Wonderful Years. I’d love to hear something you remember from your wedding or a marriage ceremony you’ve attended. Do we have any experiences in common? Any complete opposites? Did your bridesmaids like their dresses? What are your thoughts?
Friends, do you know what next week brings? February! I love February. It is the month which contains both my wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day. And I propose a photo challenge!
Whether you prefer Valentines (celebration of love), Palentines (in appreciation of pals and friends), or Nilentines (anti-Valentines but still a reason to get together), I know one thing to be true. God loves us all! He loves us with a stunning, unconditional, and everlasting love.
“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
The other day I read a post by Windsofchange18 called Signs, Moments, Smiling. She posted a photo and described how she noticed hearts formed by the knots on the tree in her yard. I commented that it was like a Valentine from God.
Shortly after, I went for a walk and found this.
God sent me my own Valentine! I felt so personally romanced. And I’ll bet, if you look around, you’ll find one He has set out for you too! My mind immediately said, “Photo challenge!”
Will you be on the watch for hearts from God? When you see one in the clouds, in the shadows, in the trees or anywhere, snap a quick photo and share it! Be sure to link back to this post so we can all soak in the love!
God makes the most stunning Valentines! I can’t wait to see what He shows to you. Thank you for participating in this photo challenge.
“The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.”
Hello to you who make the Back Porch a place I love to be! If you read Three Birthday Cakes, a Turkey, and a Veil, you know my week has been jam packed! It culminated with my daughter’s wedding. Boy was that an event! I felt like I should update you and thank you for the role you all played.
I know God put it on my heart beforehand to ask you to pray, because He knew what was coming and how much my family would need your petition before the throne room of grace. My week was full of miracles, but, related to my daughter’s wedding, there were 3 specific moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life.
Whether or not you enjoy Hallmark-style movies (I do, read 5 Habits to Hone for Relaxing Rest and Satisfying Sleep) you probably know that there is always a crisis just before the last commercial. And then something miraculous (albeit predictable) happens and everything wrong is put to right.
If those are the makings of a good love story, well, my daughter is in the sweet spot. Her wedding story can be made into a movie someday. It had the required elements – last minute disaster, conundrum, and miracle. It started 24 hours before her walk down the aisle.
Last Minute Disaster
The day before the wedding, she woke up with a voice that sounded like an engine trying to rev after sitting idle for much too long. She also had a headache and piercing ear pain. All of that would have been enough, but there was something else. She clearly had pink eye.
It wasn’t just that her eye was pink and goopy and crusty and swollen and looked anything but bridal. It was that she was contagious. We knew because this condition, which thankfully is not Covid, has been making its way through our ranks. She hurried off to the ER to see if there was anything that could be done. She got medications to help with the appearance of sickness, but they could not take it away and she would remain contagious.
She got on the phone and started calling everyone who was expected at the wedding. She told them of her illness and expressed her understanding if they did not want to come. When her voice gave out completely, her fiancé took over the calls. Most people responded somewhere between “I don’t care, I’m still going to dance with you at your wedding” and “I will keep some distance, but I will definitely be there”.
Some people, understandably, decided not to come. One of those was the Maid of Honor. The girls had all planned to get ready at her house. This presented a series of problems to solve, and the time was less than 24 hours from “I do”.
My oldest daughter has been with the bride (my youngest daughter) every step of the way, so, it was not difficult to choose the replacement Maid of Honor. But moving her into that position left an empty bridesmaid spot. My son’s girlfriend, who was to arrive just hours before the wedding, agreed to stand in.
1 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life
The original maid of honor offered her dress and – this is amazing – it fit the new bridesmaid like it had been created for her. It was such a relief because we had no time or talent for alterations. We all shed tears of joy and I thanked God for the prayer warriors who were hard at work! It was one of those real God moments when we realized that this was His plan all along.
While the girls were hurriedly recalculating wardrobe details and a place for the bride to prepare with her maids, my husband and the boys were putting the finishing touches on huge, curtained backdrops they had built to help beautify the outdoor space where the ceremony was to be held. It was a side yard of the venue, surrounded by fences in need of repair. Covering them was possible, but tricky.
The support posts required were long and heavy. Nobody was sure exactly how to transport them over the 20 (or so) miles between our garage and the wedding spot. My husband rented a pickup truck, hoping to make it work.
2 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life
It did work! The beams slid in perfectly. The tailgate just closed. It was evident that God knew the exact size of the truck bed my husband would rent and put that measurement into his head when he cut the wood. Some would call that a coincidence; I call it a God moment! He heard your prayers and showed us that He was in the details. We recognized His fingerprints.
Because the wedding was held at a busy venue, we were only able to reserve it a few hours before the wedding. We had many hands helping us transform it into the wonderland my daughter envisioned.
While all of this was in motion, I ran home to pick up the food. Some of it was catered, but the rest was in crockpots and refrigerators at my house. There were canned mandarin oranges for topping the salad, and I thought about opening them at home. But in a rush, I put the cans and the can opener into the box I was carrying and returned to the venue. (I know that seems like random information – but stick with me here.)
Anyone who knows my daughter and her new husband knows they love Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. It was an especially personal touch to have several bottles on each table for toasting the bride and groom. As we put them out in preparation, I realized we had not brought a bottle opener. I dreaded going from guest to guest, asking if anyone had one on their keychain.
3 of 3 Moments When I Felt Your Prayers and Thanked God for You in My Life
I searched the venue’s kitchen, hoping to find a bottle opener which we could use. I stopped mid step, remembering that my can opener is a multi-functional tool. I pulled it from the box, and sure-enough, the top is a bottle opener! I thanked God for His foresight as He directed me to place that can opener into the box just a few hours earlier. I had not even thought about a bottle opener, but you all were praying. God thought of it and made sure I had what was needed.
The ceremony was delightful. It was performed by the bride and groom’s former youth pastor who had helped them navigate the beginning of their relationship. Yes, they’ve been together since high school! He added just the right amount of humor, personal touches, and Biblical truth. The winter sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and the blue sky complimented the dusty blue hues of the chosen wedding color.
Indoors, the Hawaiian food buffet smelled delicious, but I didn’t eat any. In lieu of a cake, my daughter and her groom opted for a donut wall and cake pops. If you read my introduction post, Donuts for Dinner and 5 More Helpful Little Confessions about my Life, it will not surprise you at all that I skipped the buffet line and happily waited for dessert!
Someone said that nobody can quite get a crowd up and dancing like my daughter and her husband and I saw that firsthand. Siblings, cousins, extended family, toddlers, and friends, all celebrating together and having a great time – it was definitely a blessing for this mama!
There were so many willing and serving hands that we finished both set up and clean up with time to spare. Many hands really do make light work! I finished the evening exhausted, so thankful, and in awe.
Thanks to you all for praying. Thank you to everyone who sent a thought, verse, or sentiment to my daughter and her new husband. I printed them in a card, and they were perfect.
This post has highlighted 3 moments when I felt your prayers and thanked God for you in my life, but honestly, there were many more. It was a day full of miraculous touches and divine interventions. The best part is that, when it was all said and done, it was evident that it went off just as God had planned it. I could feel Him wink as I looked back in humble admiration.
And you were a part of it- my Back Porch support team. I appreciate you all so much! And please, if you need prayer covering, let me know. Not only do I owe you, but it would be my absolute pleasure to serve you in this way.
Does that sound like the beginning of a bad joke? Three birthday cakes, a turkey and a veil walk into a bar. Or stand at the pearly gates. Nope, it isn’t bad, and it isn’t even a joke. Although, I must admit that seeing humor in it helps diffuse the stress!
Three birthday cakes, a turkey, and a veil is the description of my upcoming week. My husband’s birthday is on Thanksgiving, my daughter’s is a few days after, followed by my son’s girlfriend’s birthday the next day. And then, two days later, the big event takes place – my daughter is getting married!
Oh, I just caught my breath saying all of that! These five celebrations happen within the span of one week. It is going to be crazy! And so fun!
The title for this post probably could have been “Three cakes, Sushi, and a Veil” because sushi is my husband’s favorite, and he gets to choose on his birthday. I love that his special day falls on Thanksgiving from time to time, because honestly, aside from Jesus, my hubby is my biggest blessing. He just camps out, right there, at the tippety-top of my thankful list!
This post is a bit unusual. I have a slightly ulterior motive beyond the peek into my charming chaos. Friends, can I ask your help with two things?
Please pray for me – I don’t want to get so caught up in the craziness of ALL that is happening that I don’t see EACH thing for the blessing it is and the celebration it deserves. I want to cherish each person and the gift they are from God; and there will be so many people. For an introvert like me, it is overwhelming to think about.
Pen a few words to my daughter – I would be so honored if you would take a minute to write encouragement, inspiration, or practical advice from God’s Word. Just a sentence or two, for my daughter and her husband-to-be to read. If you are willing, type it in the comments section below, ‘to Kevin and Mikayla’. I would like to copy and paste your sentiments into a hand-made card or booklet to add to their wedding gifts. I think it would be such a blessing for them!
I know I have access to an incredible wealth of experience, knowledge, and Godly wisdom on this platform. You who visit the Back Porch are top notch! Thank you for coming alongside my family and me in these ways. I am sincerely, from the depths of my heart, awestruck and grateful for each of you.
I have pre-scheduled some posts about different things, so there shouldn’t be too much interruption to the blog in the coming weeks. I look forward to getting back to a regular routine on the flipside of three birthday cakes, a turkey (sushi?) and a veil. God bless you all!
Happy Friday! I’m thrilled that you are here! Have you read parts 1 and 2 in this series about everyday facades? We defined the term, talked about what those false fronts might look like and considered some reasons why we use them. Feel free to click below if you need a refresher.
Today is the glorious and victorious conclusion of this series. Part 3 is about the Wonder of everyday facades. This is where we find freedom for ourselves and others.
The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 3 – The Wonder
Everyday facades are not material. When I use this term, I am not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are.
Façade (noun): a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation
The Wonder of everyday facades
This Wonder, with a capital W, is God, Himself. He reaches right through our facades to connect with us. Have you experienced that? If not, let your guard down and be real with Him. He can handle it. He sees you and knows you and you can’t fool Him, no matter how cleverly you try.
“I am looking for the one I can’t fool.”
― Kamand Kojouri
Four wonderful examples in the Bible where God saw through the everyday facades of people
God told His prophet, Jonah, to go to Nineveh and give the people of that city a message. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he got on board a ship heading in the opposite direction. He put on a plain façade and tried to blend in. God knew exactly where he was and brought him to repentance, obedience, and restoration. If you’d like to read the story, you can find it here.
Hagar was a mom who was treated poorly by her boss and fired. You can read all the sordid details here. Her reality was cringeworthy and she was trying to run away from it. God saw through her façade and met her right where she was.
“She (Hagar) gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”
Genesis 16:13 (parenthesis mine)
The Samaritan Woman
Jesus struck up a conversation with the Samaritan woman. He asked her to go get her husband. She casually said she didn’t have one. She hid behind a façade of half-truth. Jesus saw straight through it and told her what He knew to be true about her – past, present and future. The story can be found here.
The disciples had seen Jesus crucified. They’d experienced His empty grave and His resurrected form. They’d been given the Holy Spirit and they’d witnessed many other miracles. But they went fishing, which was how they’d spent their time before they met Jesus. They went back to the comfortable façade of their old habits. Jesus knew where they were and He met them there. You can read about it here.
God loves us too much to leave us hiding behind our everyday facades. We might fool each other, but God sees us. He meets us where we are just like He did in the four examples above.
Each of those people were changed by the wonder of their encounters with God. He saw their need, removed their reason for hiding, and gave them purpose. They emerged from behind their facades to see and be seen.
Precious friend, God sees you behind whatever façade you raise. He wants to draw you out, restore and renew you. He will change you from hider to seeker, so you can help others too. God is the Wonder of our everyday facades.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”