"One of the greatest things in human life is the ability to make plans. Even if they never come true - the joy of anticipation is irrevocably yours. That way one can live many more than just one life."

Maria Trapp-The Story of the Trapp Family Singers - Ch. 12 p. 4

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

- St. Augustine

Love


The breathtaking gift that makes our Ireland trip possible was given to us in honor of our 10th wedding anniversary. A few intimate friends shared the mysterious, heartbreaking and beautiful journey that brought Doug and I together. This gift was given because our benefactor rejoiced nearly as much as we did in the day of our wedding and understood more than most how much meaning that day held for us.  Since this gift was given as a way to communicate a friend’s pleasure in seeing God work to bring joy out of darkness and love out of despair in the happiness of our wedding day, I thought it would be appropriate to tell a little bit of the story of our wedding day. If you are reading this blog, you know us well enough to be interested in our particular trip to Ireland. However, you may not have known us, or known us well, during the days leading to our courtship and culminating in our wedding. After all, someone could have looked at us then and thought to themselves, “The Pastor married the nanny because, wuhoo!, a young, impressionable bride PLUS live-in childcare, and the girl married the pastor because she felt sorry for his sick baby.”

Ewwww. I’d object to that wedding.

Happily, such a telling of our story resembles more the fun-house-mirror effect version than the truth. Those words don’t at all portray the miraculous hand of Providence at work in the journey of love and delight that brought Doug and I together on August 14, 1999. Let me tell you a little of that journey in our words….




























Once upon a time...

Long, long ago...

In a small parish of the tiny land known as Auburn...

there lived a family by the name of Hayes. This family's life had been turned upside down and inside out by loss and grave illness. Tragedy was followed by trial until their local parish community despaired for their survival. However, the loving and determined father of the five Hayes children, although sorely discouraged, refused to despair. "We are not just going to get through this," he would declare, "but, in faith, we will get through this well!"


In the same parish lived a young lady by the rather plain name of Amy. This young lady was busily working and learning the art of nursing. When confronted with the Hayes family's dire situation, she said to herself, "Why nurse the wounds of strangers when the greatest need is right here at home in my own church community?" This noble thought (along with a large and motivating lack of funds with which to pay her instructors in nursing) sent her off to the hospital with the sick Hayes baby and back home again to feed and entertain the other four Hayes children until their father returned from work each day. 


Little did the busy young lady or forlorn father know that this tragic illness was to be a turning point in both their lives...




It is written…

How is it that this Forlorn Father and Busy Young Lady began striking up conversations here and there? Where did the opportunities come to start running into one another outside church and childcare? Was it coincidence that the church single people began weekly social functions just as the Forlorn Father found himself newly single? Was it happenstance that the Busy Young Lady found all her girlfriends out of town just as she found herself becoming a friend to the Forlorn Father? Did chance provide the Busy Young Lady with the only free schedule for childcare just as the Forlorn Father found himself in need of daily hospital trips for his youngest son? How was it the Busy Young Lady lived in just the right town, attended just the right church, at just the right time her life to notice the needs of the afflicted Hayes family? Was it circumstances alone that continually threw the Forlorn Father into the path of the Busy Young Lady when he didn’t have any intention of coming into the path of any woman, ever again?

Or,
could it be,
a Master Storyteller knew the plot
and the plot was thickening?

To steal the final line from a favorite movie….

c) It is written.




 Unexpected developments

...sometime later…

Forlorn Father wakes up one morning with the realization that he is, oddly enough, not so forlorn. In fact, he finds he must admit to himself he is, in fact, in love with the Busy Young Lady. How did that happen? When did that happen? Whatever is to be DONE now that it has happened?!

What was to be done was…
work a 50+ hour a week job
care for and comfort desperately ill child and remove his spew from every corner of the land of Auburn and most the bordering lands beyond
feed five hungry children
keep house, do laundry and purchase food
comfort parishioners who have lost their pastor
find ways to continue education of 3 growing boys
give thanks
never give up hope
never despair
never give in to bitterness
give joy to children
survive

No time to fall in love with fair maidens
Or even ordinary ones

No one need know right now of this Faithful Father’s state of heart……right?

 




















Battling Dragons

Enter the Fearsome Father

Or, at least, the father who likes to appear fearsome.

“People have noticed
My daughter seems to enjoy your friendship
You seem to be becoming exceedingly good friends
I see you’re not denying this
GO AWAY!
We love you
We think you actually suit each other well
But you bring too many complicating factors along with you
So
GO AWAY!”

Apparently the unexpected development will have to be dealt with…




Complications….

Complicating factors? What complications? Well, let’s see….

5 children – halfway grown children
1 ex-wife – only recently x’d, local & increasingly involved
17, nearly 18, years of life between man and maid

Not to mention such things as switching from beloved Pastor to Beloved. Or, maintaining friendships with those who had loved and lost as well when the 1st wife had x’d. Or, or, or….

Too many complications for a father to comprehend when anticipating the future of a first daughter.

GO AWAY!





Outer Darkness

Unfortunately for the Fearsome Father, no matter how little they saw of each other, our unlikely couple didn’t seem to become less interested and attached to one another. Whatever was a father to do? No one would understand. Everyone would disapprove. Complications are not the future you plan for your eldest child. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE!!

Enter, Outer Darkness Where There is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

The Faithful Father and his five offspring were cast outside the realm of Miss Amy. A thorny hedge was planted round about her dwelling. No contact was to be made. No words to be spoken. Since Fearsome Father is less fearsome than friend, childcare would continue, but would be conducted on the Fearsome Father’s grounds with the supervision of Miss Amy’s mother. Surely, away in her tower, with no way for our persistent hero to enter in, the girl would forget her passing fancy, lose interest in the sympathetic case, and continue into a bright future with no Complications.

Surely?

Perhaps the Fearsome Father had not read enough fairytales to know what becomes of maidens locked away in towers?

Miss Amy cried herself to sleep at the Fearsome Father’s Final Word and turned her heart over to her heavenly Father to hold safely. What she most desired may not be in His Will for her and outside His Will is never a happy place to be. She would let the good and loving Lord choose her happiness.

The Faithful Father was sure of their future and the goodwill of the Lord. He had a peace that passed understanding. He would bide his time. The Lord would reveal how to tear down the hedge,
Where to scale the wall,
How to conquer the dragon, and
When to win a fair maiden
Or even an ordinary one.



The final test

Has it felt like a long time since my last installment?

Good.

That’s how it felt being in Outer Darkness.
Long
Dark
            Hard
                        Silent

Well, okay, I’m sure not getting an installment didn’t feel like any of those things, but Outer Darkness surely did! I would like to say Miss Amy and Faithful Father were perfect paragons of patience, fidelity and obedience. However, while the patience and fidelity part certainly held true, the obedience was flawed…
            Just everyone once in awhile an eye was caught
                        A quick word was spoken
                                    And hearts did not grow distant or cold
                                                And neither gave up

These momentary lapses came and passed. Miss Amy loses 30 pounds trying to be a faithful daughter of both the Fearsome Father and her Heavenly Father. She can trust and obey. She just doesn’t always remember to eat and be joyful.

Faithful Father carries on surviving as a single parent. When asked occasionally by Fearsome Father if things have changed, he sympathetically but assuredly affirms that they have not. He is still biding.

Until…

one day the hedge surrounding Miss Ordinary Maiden withers a little

The dragon proves out of steam.

Fearsome Father reveals his fearsomeness is all a front.

A task is given:

Reveal to me the wisdom of the end you seek. Prove to me a change of mind will bring blessing. Write down a list. Give both pro’s and con’s of my relenting. Deliver your list to me and I will consider.

The task is given. Both Faithful Father and Miss Amy set to work.

Faithful father delivers a reasoned, ordered list the very next day. Miss Amy writes and writes. She pours over words, she organizes her thoughts. She takes her draft to be weighed and considered by trusted counselors. She produces an eighteen page dissertation on why marrying the faithful father is her god appointed story. Days later, she finally completes her task and delivers her writings.

To her this seems like just another mile in a long journey with no end in sight.

Faithful father knows…he has prevailed…the wall is down…it’s only a matter of time…


An Anniversary
March 8th – a day to be remembered – a day of celebration declared throughout the kingdom – the day the world turned on it’s head, suffering became joy, waiting became realization, Outer Darkness became the Kingdom of Light.

The day Fearsome Father said, “yes.”

It was an ordinary day. Miss Amy went to her work for the moneylenders. Somewhere else Faithful Father labored at his many tasks. Dinner was laid and eaten. Fearsome Father turned to Miss Amy at the close of the meal and simply said, “We’ve decided to allow Doug to court you,” and the world changed.
Excitement
Joy
Disbelief
Relief
News must be spread! Friends must be called! Happiness must be shared! Rejoicing must begin!

But no.

In wisdom Miss Amy’s father says that no one must know until the children know. Faithful Father will be told in a few days time, and after the children have been told, only then will tidings go forth.

A FEW DAYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Miss Amy had only two young girlfriends in her life. One was many kingdoms away in the terrible land called California and one was in the neighboring hamlet of Renton. A few hours time had the Father convinced that a call to California could not hurt because it was too far for word to reach back to Auburn prematurely.

However, having been consumed by the beasts of California – Miss Amy’s fair friend was nowhere to be heard from that night.

A few more discussions, with the intercessory skills of the Understanding Mother, Miss Amy was given leave to tell her closest and dearest friend of her good news.
                                  
This friend was a most faithful and true woman. Her support and care had borne Miss Amy through many of the perils of Outer Darkness. Her skill at rendering just the right aid, in just the needed amount, at just the most necessary moment without demand of recompense or even full disclosure of the cause of the distress had made possible Miss Amy’s survival until this day of relief and rejoicing. As with so many times before, upon hearing a call of, “I need you to come over – I cannot tell you why,” this staunch and true friend did not question, did not probe, did not ask for reason and rhyme. She stopped everything, collected her belongings and flew out the door to Miss Amy’s aid. Only this time, upon arriving instead of carrying a new burden, sharing new tears or finding words of wisdom to encourage failing courage she was greeted with surprising news of a reversal of fortunes and tidings of joy.

Again coming to Miss Amy’s aid, she helped convince Father that no hour was too late to deliver the good news to the Faithful Father and soon to be Suitor. He had only that evening been at the home of the Steadfast Friend, speaking to her parents of his coming departure from their parish for another house of worship. She could tell where he would next carry his message and how he could be reach.

The message was sent.
The Suitor arrived.
Joy was shared, love made known.

The local sheriff was forced to detain the Suitor for exceeding haste as he made his way home from his triumphal evening. Upon hearing of the great feat of the Faithful Father-Suitor he rejoiced much and sent him on his way to continue celebrating his victory through the night. Much fine drink was shared with a fine friend who knew of the many battles of the Faithful Father-Suitor.

This night is the true Anniversary Faithful Father and Miss Amy celebrate. An engagement soon followed and their family was formed in the true bonds of loving matrimony on August 14, 1999. That was a day to be remembered, but the day which truly marks the beginning of their united story is the glorious night of March 8th
 
Happily Ever After

So, in a silly little nutshell, that’s our story. Isn’t God odd? I suppose we did fall in love over sick baby and heartbreak. God uses all kinds of means to bring together those He has in store for one another. I know God made me to love Doug. All my life He was preparing me to be a good step-mother, an early Grammy, a wife of an older man, all the strange things about us suited my habits, interests and experiences. Doug likes to say that all of our lives leading up to Us was just preparation. He even had his first wedding ring melted down and made into a claddaugh necklace, designed by David, for an engagement gift for me. Some people would’ve found that odd, but for us it was a sign between us that everything that came before, joy and sorrow, hard times and good, were preparing us for one another. People find us goofy, but we believe in soul mates and one person being meant for another and all that other cliché, romantic nonsense because we have each other, we fought for each other, we were meant for each other and we saw the hand of God at work to bring us each other. For Doug’s birthday celebrated during our engagement I gave him a plaque with Psalm 27 on it. Our love story was more about endurance, patience and waiting for God to change people’s hearts than movie dates, chocolates and roses. It was this passage we both clung to in Outer Darkness and most fully expresses what we believe about our love story:

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
       
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

Our happy ending is God’s goodness to us in the land of living. 


8 comments:

  1. Oh, man - you are gonna make me wait for the end of the story?!

    ;)

    Fun blog, Amygirl! Looking forward to EVERY post!

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  2. I decided I didn't have the creativity or emotional energy to write the WHOLE THING at once! :)

    Call me sometime friend - missing you lately!

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  3. Ooo this blog is such a fun idea! Can't wait for part 2...I wonder what will happen... :)

    P.S. I actaully always liked the name Amy and never thought it was plain.

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  4. Fun times are sure to be had in the future!wonderful memories from the past 10 years will be so exciting to read about!! I am SO thankful God works in our lives in ways that we cannot plan but we trust in Him in all things. I am SO thankful that you are my sister!!!

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  5. Kathy,

    Thanks! I guess I always liked having a name that not very many people shared, but most people think of it as a pretty plain, boring kind of name. :)

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  6. Amy, I truly delighted in your story! We moved that that dread land California many years before this story, so it was wonderful to read the details. I rejoice with you!

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  7. You are an excellent writer, Amy! This story makes me cry! Tears of sorrow and of joy! Both the darkness and the dawn were so acute! I love you, friend:-)

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