Guest Blogger Elece Hollis: Mother of the Bride Blues

When my daughter Rachel announced she was planning her wedding for August, I knew immediately that I was in big trouble, where in the world would I find a mother-of-the-bride maternity dress? One glance at the garments displayed in the woman-with-child department of the nearest clothing store was all I needed to convince me of the futility of my search. They just don’t make ‘em, you know?

Still, I had to find something suitable. I was forty-three and would turn forty-four before the baby arrived in November. I’d be six months along by the wedding day—no way could I hide the embarrassing, yet wonderful, fact that the beautiful dark-haired bride was expecting a new baby sister.

Pregnancies are supposed to happen to younger women. By my age I was supposed to know better. No maternity wear is designed for “mature” women. I had to try—so off I went shopping.

I started at a formal and tux shop. The saleslady showed me a short black dress with a fitted bodice tied with a leopard print sash—no—just not me. She showed me a pale yellow t-strap satin with sequins ornamenting the waist and neckline. I tried it on. The full skirt swirled around my legs. Looking back at me from the mirror was a startled moose with jaundice.

How about a fire engine red, knee length gown with huge white zigzags running this way and that? Nah—I’d look like a distraught candy cane on steroids. I also passed up a pea green dress with a fitted camouflage-print jacket, rhinestones, and matching clutch purse.

Pink chiffon with loads of ruffled lace and a huge satin bow that hung down over the belly? Ugh! No way! Talk about a fashion victim.

Plans for the wedding proceeded nicely. Invitations were mailed. Cakes were ordered from a local bakery for the reception. Rachel was so excited—so happy.

We had a rice bag party and tied red velveteen ribbons on two hundred rice bags. We ordered flowers for the church, boutonnières for ushers, candle lighters, and groomsmen, and corsages for the pianist and servers. And one for Mama—Big Mama, who still had no dress to pin it to.

I checked out my closet to see what might do if worse came to worse. Way in the back was a deep rose-colored maternity dress with a white collar I had bought to wear during my last pregnancy—a mother-of-the-graduate maternity dress. (Yeah, you read that right.) It was only three years old. Maybe it could be resurrected. But, when I laid it out, I saw the large round oily stain on the backside.

One tired mom, six-months along, at the graduation celebration, I had plopped my caboose down in the nearest chair and felt the splat as I landed on a plate of cake with yummy white frosting with dark blue lettering.

“Oh, no, Mama,” squealed my ten-year-old son, “You sat on my cake!”

“I realize that,” I answered, (rather calmly considering), “and I am not getting up until all these people leave!”  The stain had never come out. Why had I saved the dress anyway? Good grief!

On a trip to the mall to find some of that white frou-frou sheer net material to swag the tables in the reception hall, I noticed across from the fabric store, a small maternity shop—named Motherhood. Motherhood—that was me—double dosing it! I went across to look around inside. You never know, and things were getting desperate.

There I found it at last—a robin egg blue ankle length maternity dress, with short sleeves and a scooped lace-trimmed bodice. It was not one of the wedding theme colors, but wouldn’t clash. It wasn’t fancy, but it fit. It would do. I bought it.

I felt conspicuous being escorted down the aisle that August to my seat of honor at the front of the sanctuary. I’m certain some of the guests were duly horrified, but what did I care? Don’t all moms feel awkward and strange at their daughter’s weddings, like they’d stepped out of a time machine into another world? Don’t they all feel self-conscious and fat and a little old? Well, this day certainly wasn’t about me anyway.

As I watched my girl come in on her Daddy’s arm, and listened as she and her groom exchanged their marriage vows, I think I felt little Sis’s firm kick of approval. I smoothed my mother-of-the-bride blue skirt and patted my blessing.

*You might also like to read Parting Thoughts of the Mother of the Bride.

Elece Hollis is a grandma to twenty-five children. She and Ron live in Oklahoma where they tend an orchard of pecans and a small herd of Angus. Elece is an artist and a photographer and loves flowers, baking, and painting. Read her blog about country living at elecehollis.com.

 

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out yesterday. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by alicia.piper, Creative Commons License

Growing in a Hard Place

Last summer while on vacation with my husband, I witnessed one little flower after another growing in hard places—in the nooks and crannies of rocky formations above tree line in Colorado.

I spotted the flowers pictured above in the Mount Evans Wilderness area. The flowers found there (and in other alpine regions throughout the world) display a delicate but hearty beauty that seems to cry out, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place. I’ve survived harsh conditions and my beauty is declaring God’s glory!”

And today we each have an opportunity to be like the alpine flowers—we can grow in the hard places we find ourselves in.

Due to the current worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we have literally been thrust into harsh conditions—threat of illness and possible death of ourselves and our loved ones, social isolation as we join together separately to rob the virus of opportunity to spread, financial losses and loss of jobs for many, and an inadequate supply of medical supplies, food, and other product shortages as people panic and start hoarding. Most of us have also had to place certain plans or events on hold—some of them very important like graduations and weddings.

Some of us are dealing with living in other hard places at the same time. Some may be grieving the loss of a mate, family member, or friend. Others may be struggling to keep a marriage afloat. Some are living with chronic pain or long-term health problems and some are even battling cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

As we each struggle with our own set of harsh conditions, let’s remember that if we hang on, the beauty will come. Persevering and overcoming struggles always serve to make us better, to help us grow. We will have the chance to declare to the world, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place and I’m declaring God’s glory!”

Hang on, friends. God will see us through—and oh, what beauty will come!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 1 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

*Are you seeing any beauty in your circumstances yet?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Marching Orders to Strengthen You

“March on, my soul; be strong!” Judges 5:21 NIV

I saw this verse years ago in one of Beth Moore’s blog posts. She was sharing scriptures about marching since it was the month of March, and I instantly fell in love with these simple yet powerful words: “March on, my soul; be strong!” And today in the midst of the national emergency we find ourselves in regarding COVID-19, these words take on new meaning.

Just reading or saying these precious words from the Word of God seems to infuse my soul with his encouragement and strength. I think most of us probably feel the need for such encouragement on a daily basis as we face the challenges of life, but there are times when the need for fresh strength eclipses everything else.

Are we faced with a difficult road to travel this month? Yes. Do fear and uncertainty loom ahead? Yes. Are we worried about the pandemic? Yes. And maybe some of us are facing other difficult roads as well. Maybe a continuation of an already difficult journey where no end is in sight.

Whatever the case, let’s allow the breath of heaven—the Word of God—to give us our marching orders and the strength to carry them out. Let’s march on!

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5 NIV

*What has God done recently to strengthen you for a difficult road?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by NINXIVICreative Commons License

Where Is God When Times Are Bad?

“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 NIV

Nothing like a little gem from God’s Word to put things in perspective, huh?

Why is it, I wonder, we are so quick to thank God and acknowledge his presence and hand in the awesome blessings that come our way, but when something bad happens, we say, “Where were you, God? Why did you let that happen?”

When tough times come, has God really stepped away from us? When painful events descend, has he removed his hand from our lives?

If we believe the Word of God—and in particular the above verse from Ecclesiastes—no, God is not an aloof observer when our world is falling apart. He allows grief, hardship, and pain to touch our lives and will use those experiences for good in some way.

Romans 8:28 (KJV) says, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” The question is will we believe that truth and trust God when we are hurting?

Let’s remember that we are dearly loved children of God (1 John 3:1), and he stands ready, just as we do with our children, to help and comfort us through our bad times. Let’s not let our trials distance us from our Father. Let’s draw close to him and let him carry us, trusting all the while that he will not waste our pain.

“Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. ” Lamentations 3:32-33 NIV

*How has God used your pain to bring about something good?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For the Hurting

Does your heart yearn to help people who are hurting? Mine does and I’m sure yours does too. One way we can help hurting people is through our prayers. And we can do this for anyone. We often feel so helpless, especially when distance is involved, but prayer can cover that distance in the span of a whispered plea. 

So in today’s installment of my blog series featuring sentence prayers that invite God’s power, let’s focus on the hurting.

Is someone we know grieving the loss of a loved one? Do we know anyone going through divorce or some other soul-wrenching broken relationship?

Let’s not forget those who are physically hurting because of illness or chronic physical, mental, or emotional conditions. Maybe we know someone struggling with infertility or someone dealing with other heartbreaking or heavy situations.

Through the following sentence prayers, may we help hold up those we know and love who are hurting today. And may our hearts be eased as well in knowing that we are helping them through our prayers!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For the Hurting

  1. Father, show hurting souls your love today in some special way, reassuring them that you see them and that you’re with them. (Genesis 16:13; Psalm 3:18; Lamentations 3:32; Luke 7:13)
  2. Lord, remind the hurting to turn to you—to run to you, not away from you—and allow you to be their refuge in the storm. (2 Chronicles 20:12b; Psalm 9:9, 18:2, 36:7, 62:8, 71:3; 141:8)
  3. Father, comfort and carry the hurting today. (Psalm 23;4; 28:9; Isaiah 46:4; 49:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
  4. Lord, bring people to minister to those who are hurting and then help the hurting accept their comfort and help. (Job 16:5; Isaiah 41:6; Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2; 2 Corinthians 7:6-7)
  5. Father, guide those who are hurting to fully feel their grief or pain and to give themselves grace as they make their way through it. (1 Samuel 30:4; Psalm 34:18; Isaiah 22:4)
  6. Lord, help the hurting forgive and give grace to those who thoughtlessly compound their pain by insensitive remarks or actions. (Luke 23:34; Matthew 7:12; Colossians 3:13)
  7. Lord, bind up and heal the hearts of the hurting and be their balm of Gilead. (Psalm 147:3; Jeremiah 8:22)

Let’s bless the hurting today with our prayers. Let’s help them make it through!

 “On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” 2 Corinthians 1:10-11 NIV

*What are some other ways we can pray for the hurting today?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early August. Sign-up is FREE and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by ePi.Longo, Creative Commons License