I have never really put a lot of thought into the statement “it takes a village to raise a child” and that may be because I heard Hillary Clinton say it once and I some how associate that phrase with her. But in the Christian community, in the church family, it does take the village to raise our children to be people who understand what God did for them, then to teach them what it means to have a relationship with Jesus and to live a life that honors God. That church family of precious believers are the family that pours truth into their lives. The family that cheers them on, encourages them and often comes to their rescue.
This weekend I saw this village of believers come to rescue the wedding day of my youngest daughter. My girl had been dreaming of this day at this perfect outdoor venue for well over a year. Our area of Alabama is known for unpredictable weather. It is said, if you don’t like the weather, hang around for about fifteen minutes and it will change. Saturday morning, just as forecasted, was rainy. Not torrential, downpour rain. But steady rain. I stood inside the house of the Historic Malbis Nursery watching the puddles form outside, trying to devise a Plan B. I could not fathom how we would get over 150 guests, the food and the ceremony inside the building. We decided to wait it out and be flexible with some of the decorations. Thankfully I had brought a stack of towels “just in case”. We delayed putting linens and centerpieces on tables. And we prayed. Yes. We asked God to make the rain stop for a wedding. It seemed shameless and selfish to ask such a thing when people in other parts of the world were praying for food! But we prayed. We asked our friends to pray. We asked social media to pray. My husband and I went back to the hotel to get ready while our baby girl was in the bridal suite getting hair and make-up done. We got a phone call right before we were leaving to return to the venue. We were needed for a “first look” picture asap. As we rode back to the venue we noticed that the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to shine. We just smiled. God in his sovereignty had chosen to answer our prayer. As soon as we arrived we were wisked away to see our baby girl for the first time. We were in awe at the young woman standing before us. No longer a little girl. No longer our baby. But a beautiful young woman ready to marry the love of her life.
When we stepped inside the venue there was a beehive of activity. Friends were everywhere blowing rain off the outside brick flooring, drying chairs, wiping down tables. Linens were being put on tables and centerpieces arranged. The caterer was busy organizing the banquet of food. The one desire of my girl was to have chiffon draped at the ceremony site with a beautiful wooden cross draped in eucalyptus. With the rain it didn’t seem an option because of the continued light dripping of rain off the greenery that covered the venue. One of our friends told me to send him the picture of what she wanted and he would make it happen. Within a short time I looked out and two wonderful men had intricately draped the chiffon exactly like the picture I had sent them. I grabbed my daughter as she was headed back to the bridal suite and showed her the ceremony area. Big tears welled up in her eyes as she smiled. She was so happy.
The events of the day progressed. People kept coming. Chairs were pulled from the reception area to accommodate the number of guests. First the pastor, groom and groomsmen. Then the bridesmaids along with my grandson wearing a sign “Uncle Zach, here comes your bride?”
Then the moment came, my sweet big guy escorting his last daughter down the aisle. My memory raced back to a year ago as he escorted our second daughter down the aisle for her November wedding. He had only been out of the hospital for a week from his last week long chemo treatment. He was weak, bloated and hairless from five months of treatment, but he was there, walking her proudly down the aisle. Here we were a year later and he looked amazing. New suit, bowtie, goatee and a huge smile. He proudly held her arm in his.
The ceremony began and then finished with our girl and her young man washing each other’s feet as their first act of love toward each other as they served each other just as our Savior did for His disciples in the last days before His return to heaven. It was sweet, it was moving, it was precious.
The reception followed with lots of dancing, hugs and laughter. They were surrounded by people who had poured into their lives. People who love them and have watched them in their walk with Jesus. People who willingly came and made this day perfect for them.
They departed in a flurry of confetti, bubbles and silly string. All appropriate for these to kids who fell in love in their church youth group, then dated for two more years before becoming engaged. Then they went to their hotel, quickly changed clothes and went off to bowl with a group of friends until almost midnight. I have to laugh at this last part. It just speaks volumes about the relationship and personalities of these two kids. Because in reality they are still kids at heart. Two twenty year olds stepping into adulthood, filled with love and excitement for what the future has for them. They have a wonderful support group around them. A village. A church family. They love Jesus and desire to live for Him. So here’s to a new life for Molly and Zach Johnson. I have a feeling God has big plans for these two!
As a postscript….I received a text from my baby girl later that night, while they were hanging with friends and bowling. It said “thank you for making my dream come true today, it was perfect.”