Wednesday, September 21, 2005

What is a bridesmaid, exactly? Used to be, they were the gals who stood up with the bride, dressed exactly alike to confuse the evil spirits who were after her. Interesting, huh? Nowadays, I think they're often looked on as "girls in pretty dresses," or "ladies in waiting" to stand up and complement the "princess."

Growing up, I always wanted to be a bridesmaid. I wanted to wear a beautiful dress and be a bride's best friend. I totally understood Pete's little sister Mary Jo when she found out we were getting married: "And I'm going to be your Maid of Honor!" You have no idea how I squirmed telling her that I had too many other people to be in the wedding for her to be a bridesmaid. Mum made her a new dress, though, so she'll look like the princess she is, and she is absolutely thrilled to be greeting everyone with "Hello, will you please sign the guestbook for the bride and groom?" She doesn't know it (or being Mary Jo, maybe she does), but she's our Best Guest, Best Sister, and Guest of Honor!

I used to think that bridesmaids were always chosen by who was the bride's best friend--I knew at any given point in my life who my bridesmaids would be... up until I met Pete. Then I had a dilemma. There were so many girls who I considered to be my best friends, I was going to have to come up with a new criteria. Each of the girls I chose to be a bridesmaid is someone who taught me more of God's love with each encounter, whether it was by their love for me or by their love for the Lord. God knows I need pictures and a point of reference for what following Him looks like: He gave me these people to show me.

Maid of Honor: My sis, the Dweeb, Atilla the Piglet, Kate Langner!

Now Kate, she knows the meaning of love. All of my life I have watched her lay her own desires and will aside for others--including (and most obviously) me. We were just discussing on the phone how we used to play wedding when we were little kids: she would always be the preacher, because I was determined to be the bride. She's not the preacher for this wedding, and as the wedding nears, I'm watching her lay her own fears of standing in front of people, dressing up, and giving a toast at the feet of Jesus, just for me. I know I wouldn't love her like that. I make up my mind about things and ain't nobody gonna change it. Kate (er, Keke :-D) knows me like nobody else. We're as different as night and day, and probably would never have been friends if we hadn't been sisters, but she is (and probably always will be) my best friend ever (and Pete, you can chill--I have a completely different criteria for you!). Kate has been there for me when the whole world was against me, and Pete has it on good authority that if he ever hurts me, she'll kill him. (The only dilemma at this point, is that she likes him so much!) She's TheKate. There's nobody in the whole world as special as her, and I am NOT biased. I pretty much can't get too mushy on her, but there you have that in a nutshell.

My very special friend Joli used-to-be-Howard-now-Mama-Chism is another of my bridesmaids.

I met Joli during the first week of my Freshman year. I had missed dinner on a Sunday night, so I wandered into a Psalm sing in search of someone who had a car who would take me out to eat. I sat next to a girl with the voice of an angel--who turned out to be Joli. I didn't expect that she would like me. I wanted her to, but to this day I am still so surprised that she would choose me to be her friend! Joli knows my love for music and beauty, and she helped me learn to be silly. She taught me what it means to walk in the freedom of God's grace, and she loved me through some really hard times in my life. One of my favorite memories of Joli is the weekend she spirited me away home with her to get a Christmas tree with her family. I was so lonely, and she reached out and took me in. Her love has always been so unconditional, and I know that I can say anything to her, and she'll share her heart in return. Joli has been so faithful to me--even when I'm not reachable and so busy I don't have time for her. She's been praying me through this wedding process from her spot on the other side of the country!

Christy (Tee) Ross--er, du MeƩ (MAN! I keep forgetting that! It's only been a couple of months, though--give me some slack!) is another bridesmaid.

Tee and I also met my freshman year at PHC. She was extremely conservative, and I challenged her thinking. And then she stepped into my world and challenged mine. I often remember the frigid January night when I was shattering inside because I didn't think anybody--not even God--could love me, and she told me that she would love me no matter what. Tee and I have been through a lot together--things with my health, things with both of our families, living together, and now, things with our respective guys! She has loved me in spite of it all, and selflessly continues to reach out to me, even though I don't always know how to be her friend. She was the first friend I've had since third grade who dared to call me a best friend, and I wonder if she has any idea how much that meant to me! She has been such an encouragement to me in the Lord over the years, and I always know that I can talk about Him with her, even if I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say or think. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we can keep this up, even across the miles, now that she's in Arizona!

Then there's Leeann "Treasure" Walker--my favorite bridesmaid! *kidding*

Leeann is a treasure. She shares my love for deep things and has the wildest sense of humor! She gives Pete as good as she gets on that front! My friendship with Leeann is very special to me because it has survived so much. There were several situations that could have split us apart, but Leeann chose to forgive me and to love me with the love of Christ, even though she didn't understand. Even in being a bridesmaid, she has been willing to set her own desires aside to make things easier for me! Leeann loves the Lord of the Rings, and she *gets* how cool it is! She also knows grace more than almost anyone I've met, and her heart for the Lord and humility in seeking Him has been such a challenge to me. Last year, we took some time to read through the book of John together, a trip that drew us closer and taught us more about God as we shared the insights God was giving us. We still need to finish that, Leeann! Leeann also reminds me nearly every day that it's still okay to dream, which is something I wouldn't remember to do in the "have-to's" of life.

My "little sis" April Quarto will be another bridesmaid. (Real Picture coming soon, I hope!)

April's not my sister really, and she's not really that much younger than I am--but she's a LOT littler! We have to take FOUR INCHES off her dress so she can wear it with high heels! God dropped April into my life a couple of summers ago with not so much as a by-your-leave. But man, I didn't mind! April sparkles. She brings excitement and passion into my office every time she stops up, and her giggle is one of the most encouraging sounds I've ever heard. She even forgave me for being the catalyst to get her and her guy Brian together last fall! April has encouraged me so much in my love for others, and she has reminded me on several occasions how much my love for her means to her. She gave me a song once to show me what she thought of me called "Not Too Far From Here." She believes in me and (astonishingly and humblingly enough), looks up to me. We've gotten to share some of our struggles with each other, as we've both ended up in some of the same places with our health and our desires and our boyfriends. I'm looking forward to growing our friendship even more in the next couple years while she finishes school and I'm still at HSLDA.

Miss Ashley Trim is the last bridesmaid on this list, but she is certainly not the least!

Ash and I have had a fun friendship. She's got a grin that splits the world wide open, and a heart of pure gold. She likes everybody, and she actually likes me! Our conversations about God challenge me and grow me, and there are times that nobody else could have encouraged me just the way that she did. Her writing touches my very soul and she needs to post again on her blog so I can read it again! *grin* Ash is loyal and open and honest and real, and for some strange reason she decided to be my friend. Ash has taught me about loving God in a time when I've been afraid to trust Him, she has consistently lived with His heart in view, and shared His heart with me. Ash has been another example to me of God's love as she reaches out to people in her life who have repeatedly hurt her, and shares His forgiveness with them.

There is one other name I want to list here
Jacqueline Victoria Barton.

Jacquie. She's my best friend from high school, and she would have been a bridesmaid if I could have gotten in touch with her soon enough! But she's coming to my wedding now, and I'm so excited!!! Jacquie and I have a lot of memories together, from ice skating in Washington, D.C. one cold January evening (she taught me how!) to getting rushed by a sting ray at the aquarium in Virginia Beach! Jacquie always brings a smile. She knows beauty like few people I have ever known, and she's a dreamer who believes that dreams can come true! She is beautiful herself, inside and out. I think sometimes that she really *is* an angel, because she seems as though she is from another world. She's known so much pain, and has still come from it with a love that could only be from the Love that resides inside her heart. There is nobody I look up to more or want to be like more than Jacquie.

After Pete and I kiss and we are pronounced husband and wife, I want to turn to look at each of these girls who have taught me so much and smile through my tears at them. See, there is no way I could be standing with him as his bride, no way that I could have opened my heart to love him or accept his love, if it had not been for their love and encouragement through the years. I might not always have recognized it, but looking back, I see the safe place God gave me in each of their hearts, and I am awed and grateful.

They are each a part of who I am, and I want them standing beside me in this triumph to share the joy of what God is still doing in my life through the indelible footprints they have left on my heart.

To each of you, "I love you" doesn't seem like enough. Thank you for taking me as I am and living God's love to me and before me. Thank you for being willing to support me even now, as I'm stepping out to spend my life with Pete. I know we don't get forever here--things change and people move to different places and grow in different ways--but each of you will be forever in my heart.


Anonymous said...

:-p yeah, well, did anyone mention my bestest pal is coming to help me crash this thing and loosen some people up, too? we are gonna be in sooo much trouble (we hope)...anyways, look out world for the two of us. :-D
-the brides not so little little sis

Kelly Sauer said...

slight clarification: This anonymous is NOT April. :-)

Christy said...

Awh...*sniff* You're making me cry in my office. :-P

Kelly Sauer said...

Awh, Tee... Just wait 'til the wedding... *mischievous grin*

Leeann said...

I'm with Tee on this one - you're far to generous - and in light of your last comment, I'm downright scared... eep...
See you tomorrow!!

Anonymous said...

cough. mushy stuff.

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