Saturday, May 31, 2014

Introducing Mr and Mrs Caleb Patty!

Today in Fort Collins, Colorado, our dear Caleb married his beautiful bride, Haley!!!!!!!

It was truly one of the most precious, meaningful, lovely, God honoring, storybook weddings from start to finish.

With wedding attendants, siblings, parents and grandparents on stage with them (so thoughtful of them to have us there for that sacred moment), they pledged their vows and sealed them with a kiss. And then were pronounced Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Patty!

There were so many magical moments to the seeing Haley walk down the aisle on her dad's arm to a fully orchestrated processional written by her dad (I'm getting goosebumps even as I write that nearly twelve hours after the wedding!).

Later in the ceremony, Caleb sang an incredibly beautiful song that he'd written just for her. The tears flowed freely throughout the entire ceremony, as you can imagine.

There is much more to write about, but for now, since it's midnight, I'll finish with just a few precious photos that capture the joy and love of the day.

How we rejoice in all of God's goodness to our precious children! With much love and joy we sent them off to begin their life together.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Day Before

Tomorrow these two...

...will be doing this!

Today was all about getting ready for the big day tomorrow. And what a beautiful day even THAT was. So many friends and family pitched in today to beautifully prepare the sanctuary, the church reception and the rehearsal dinner that was tonight.

I seriously have the best family and friends in the world! They worked all afternoon creating such a beautiful atmosphere alongside Dave and I for this evening's dinner. It turned out absolutely LOVELY!

After everyone else had gathered in the cafe, Caleb and Haley entered to a favorite song of Haley's that she always envisioned walking down the aisle should have seen her smiles! (For real, she's coming down the aisle tomorrow to a processional that her dad WROTE for her!!)

After dinner, our dear family and friends shared "the rest of the story" stories with everyone, telling special memories and details about Caleb and Haley that gave us all a window into their relationship with each other, as well as fun snippets of their childhood. Then they gave words for the future, wishes and blessings for them.

But perhaps the sweetest moment of the evening was gathering together with Mark and Amy, Haley's parents, and praying over our kids together, while everyone else in the room stood and joined us in blessing these two into marriage.

Lots of happy least for this mama.

It's surreal, and amazing, to be standing side by side with our dear, long time (20 years!) friends, praying for our kids as they join their lives together.

Not only that, but I love that our kids come from a heritage of faith, from grandparents who also love the Lord. Seven of their grandparents will be with them tomorrow on their wedding day, while Grandpa Bob, Mark's dad, will be watching from heaven.

The blending of our families is the most natural thing to do, and yet we know it's a very precious gift from the Lord. Only HE could've orchestrated this.

We're headed to bed tonight, already so full and happy. It's hard to imagine how it could get any better than this.

But we've still got a really special wedding tomorrow! So excited...I hope I can sleep! :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Bursting with Joy

If there was such a thing as a "joy thermometer" mine would register way up at the top this week!

My mom, dad and brother, as well as Jim, Jan and Michelle Watson arrived from Oregon a few days ago for Caleb and Haley's wedding here in Fort Collins, Colorado. It's just so much fun to have time to soak in the joy of this occasion with them.

The mornings at our hotel have been sweet here, talking, laughing and enjoying time together over coffee and breakfast.

My joy thermometer went WAY up when I stopped by Noodles and Company (a place Caleb and Haley love to frequent in downtown Chicago, which is why we chose it) to pay for the catering that they'll do tomorrow night for the rehearsal dinner.

Not only are they providing everything we need (right down to the plates, napkins and utensils!), but this sweet manager, Alicia, bought us lunch today just because we're choosing them as our caterer!

I'm telling you, this place does customer service the right way! If you're ever in Fort Collins, head over to 3519 South College Ave for a great meal served by very kind people.

Later in the day, my parents and brother, Mike, went and picked up Tyler and Lara from the Denver airport and brought them here. Another reason for my joy thermometer to be up high: seeing their darling faces!

Not only did they pick them up, but also Pavel. He's a friend of Caleb's from Frydek Mistek in Czech, just fifteen minutes from where we live. But he's also just finished his freshman year at Moody and is able to be here as the wedding photographer!

Thankfully I hadn't heard, until he arrived, that Pavel went to the wrong airport in Chicago this morning for his flight! I've got to give props to American Airlines who bent over backwards to help him and didn't make him go to O'Hare, but found him a flight out of Midway. He arrived just 30 minutes after Tyler and Lara. The joy thermometer is way up there over that one!

This evening more friends arrived and added much to our joy: Laurie Doden from Indiana, and Mel, Amy, Hannah and Hayley Ellenwood from Czech, Chicago and LA!!

Along with some of us who are already here for the wedding, we had such a great dinner out at one of the best fast food places I've ever eaten at: Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill. Serious joy at that restaurant!

My heart is bursting with joy at the depth and goodness of such precious relationships. I am so very thankful to these, and many more, who will be here to share in such an important family event in just two days now!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Haley

What to do three days before a wedding?

Take an afternoon off from preparations, head to the park, and celebrate your (almost) daughter-in-law's birthday along with her family!

On this gorgeous, warm and sunny Colorado day, we enjoyed an afternoon under a pavilion at a park here in Ft. Collins, celebrating Haley.

Haley with her older sister, Allyson

"Thank you Claire for capturing these moments and memories in photos!"

Wouldn't have wanted to do anything but be all together for a birthday party today.

With just three days to go, the speed of life will pick up quite a bit from now on as we all press towards the finish line for Saturday's big event.

Which made it all the sweeter to press "pause" for a few hours today and enjoy each other before the wedding day arrives.

Haley's brothers and sister are next to her

If you've followed my blog for a while you know that the Chase family not only serve with us in Josiah Venture in Slovakia, but have been long time friends for over twenty years (see HERE for more of that story).

So the joining of of our kids' lives in marriage is an incredible blessing to us all. It gives us even more reason to call each other family now.

"Happy Birthday dear Haley! We love you and your whole family! So glad we have lots more of life to share all together in the years to come!"

Vail Valor Race

One day we're tourists in the mountain town of Vail, Colorado.

And the next morning we're runners in the Vail Valor Race on Memorial Day, 2014!

A few months ago, after the three of us ran in Moab, UT, we signed up for another run in Vail: the half marathon for Dave, the five mile race for Claire and I.

It was a nice incentive to keep exercising, and a fun way to make another memory with Claire this year while we're in the States.

What we didn't know when we signed up was that I would tear the MCL in my knee a month before this race, and that I'd still be in pain and hobbling around the day of the race.

It's actually been pretty excruciating.  Even though I've been doing rehab for the past few weeks, I've literally felt the tear every time I took a step. No fun.

As race day approached, I didn't think I'd be able to even walk, much less run.

I've watched Dave run these past weeks in preparation for his half marathon, and been so sad that I've been side-lined by this injury.

While I'm not anywhere near the runner that he is, I still like running and felt genuine loss at not being able to participate.

So proud of Dave for doing his third half marathon during our sabbatical year!

Not wanting to be unwise about my injury, I knew it couldn't be me making the decision about whether or not to even walk the five mile distance.

So I prayed and asked the Lord what to do.

His answer? "You need to do this."

I wasn't sure if it was something like getting back on a horse after a fall, or getting in a car after an accident. But it felt something like that...I needed to "get back in the race" from a mental and emotional standpoint. It's been hard to see myself as a healthy person these past five weeks since the injury.

What I didn't know was the Lord's other reason for sending me out onto the course.

While it was a slow walk, there definitely was a feeling of triumphant pain as I crossed the finished line.

I'm proud to say I walked the entire five miles without stopping, albeit very slowly: out of 75 participants in that race, I finished 71st in 1:29. But I DID finish!

The rest of the day I was in quite a bit of pain though, and really wondered if I'd heard the Lord because it sure didn't feel like I'd done what was right. Sitting down for coffee and food afterward was the greatest relief.

But this morning when I woke up, I knew something was different. When I put my foot down on the ground to take a step, I was able to bear weight on my left leg for the first time - something that hasn't been possible for the past five weeks.

As the day progressed, while doing wedding errands, I grew stronger and had more and more flexibility and endurance. It was almost as if I didn't have an injury at all. I felt a slight twinge, but not the pain I've endured the past weeks. I'm not even limping tonight, which is amazing!

Since I'm not a medical person, I don't know what happened in reality. But I can tell you what it felt like: the ligament was not healing properly, the scar tissue that had formed actually needed to be torn again, I needed the extended "stress" on it in order for that to happen, and now it's finally in the right position to heal and/or IS healed.

Or another explanation? A lot of prayer has covered this injury and it may have just been the Lord's timing to bring relief and healing. In any case, I am in a whole different place tonight than I've been in for a while!

As a side note: Vail Valor Race partners with Vail Veteran's Program that provides programs for American's wounded service men and women. Every runner yesterday was given the opportunity to race in honor or memory of an American veteran. Additionally, one of our US military men who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, ran on his blades and gave a short speech at the end of the race about what the VVP meant to him. It was very moving.

I raced in honor of my father-in-law who served in the US military, and Dave ran in memory of his uncle, Sid Hendry, who also served in the military.

It was truly a day and a race that I'll never forget.

Monday, May 26, 2014

He's Ready

We arrived at Dave's mom and dad's house in Englewood, CO at 12:45 AM last night after a smooth 18 hours of driving from Chicago.

So sweet to share one last long road trip with the four of us.

But after a good night's sleep, and breakfast and coffee with mom and dad/grandparents, it was time for some last photos before sending Caleb off to his wedding week.

Watching these two grow up together for the past 21 years has been a joy. Caleb always knew how to make his sister laugh, and still does! They have such a good brother/sister friendship.

Then there's Caleb and his dad: the older he gets, the more like his dad he becomes! While we drove yesterday it was so fun listening to them have similar thoughts, gestures, and ways of thinking.

Oh that dad is proud of his young man!

And then me, his momma, who hoped, dreamed and prayed for this time when I'd step aside to let a precious bride be the number one woman in his life. I told him this morning that it makes me so happy to be relinquishing that position to Haley!

Standing in front of Dave's childhood home, we took a last photo of the four of us before it was time for Caleb to go inside and gather his things.

Anxious to see his bride-to-be, he was leaving for Fort Collins today to be with her and her family. Haley's been there for a week with her mom and sister, but her dad and two brothers arrived just last night from Slovakia. I'm sure they were all anxious to be together as a family, which now includes our Caleb!

As he headed to the car, I remembered him leaving home for college two years ago and wondering what life would hold in the next few years.

How wonderful and good it is to know now that what life holds is a precious wife to come beside him and share life together with him. That makes it easy to see him leave and move on with his life.

Grandpa and Nana generously loaned him one of their cars for the next two weeks, so after everything was loaded in the Jetta, it was time to say goodbye.

Of course we'll see him again in just a few days as we head to Ft Collins to join in getting ready for the wedding.

But today, this was our send-off, our "letting go", and blessing him into his future.

We're confident that he's ready for this next step in life, so it was with lots of joy that we waved goodbye and released him to the one that God has prepared him for: his precious Haley.

There were no tears, as I thought there might be.

But I think that's because we see this as the sweet fulfillment of the task God gave us twenty one years ago: to raise up a young man who is now ready for the task of beginning his own family.

That made it easy to see him drive off towards his wedding just six days from now.

Because...he's ready.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Road Trip To a Wedding

Twelve hours down and only six more to go.

After lots of great conversation, a few fun stops, and hours of driving with more still ahead, everyone is settled in for this epic wedding roadtrip, on our way to Caleb and Haley's wedding which happens one week from today. Whoo hoo!!!

Claire and I are in the backseat together.

Dave's driving and reading his notes from Harvard!

The groom is taking a nap after some hours of driving for his dad.

And me? I just noticed I have Internet here in the car for the first time all day so am taking advantage of it by writing this post!

It's a memorable family day in the car, that's for sure, as we drive toward Colorado, across Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska!