Pages

3.12.2018

Throwing it out there...

Many many years...decades ago now, as a young, barely-married woman, I read the sweetest old novel about a couple who got married by the sea and during their wedding reception, the groom signed his name to a beautifully written letter, rolled it up and slid it into a wine bottle, sealed it with a cork, ran to the end of the nearby pier and threw it with all his might into the ocean. By way of explanation, he shared with his wedding guests that he wanted to start his new marriage having told the whole world what a wonderful woman he was now married to and put out into the cosmos what a wonderful life he dreamed of for them together. 


In the opening of the novel, the main character, once the young bride, now an old old woman facing the end of her life without his hand to hold, describes a visit with a stranger--the someone who had found this letter in a bottle, and had made an incredible journey to return the bottle and letter to her. 

I’ve lost track of the book (I was a librariy assistant at the time and read a lot of old books) but I have always remembered how moving it was. I’m a romantic and I love the ocean. In a world where technology has made everything complicated and basically removed much of the mystique from life, the idea that this message to the universe could mark a single moment appealed to me. Succinct and personal. Two people marking an important moment, essentially saying to the universe, "from right now, no matter what tosses us about, we will go forward together." Then, this message-containing wine bottle gets plunged rather unceremoniously into the vastness of the ocean where it gets tossed about by waves, smashed against reefs, maybe swallowed up by a whale, dinged up by boat anchors, or any of a thousand other things that happen in the ocean. 

This idea grabbed my attention long ago and from time to time over the years, I’ve considered how I might incorporate this into my life. We live no where near the ocean but at least a couple times a year we become seafarers for a short stint. I am enthralled by the blues of the ocean, the power it contains and generates and the life that it both gives and takes. The ocean is the ultimate combination of power, beauty, fury and grace. If ever there was a metaphor for marriage, surely it’s the ocean!

I’m the very lucky girl who married Joal Devendorf when we were both just 19. We met on the very first day of college and it was love for both of us. He was a rock-n-roll boy with a guitar and a song, and lots of dreams. I was the quiet artsy girl who fell hard and fast. Sixteen months later we said "I do" in a very traditional church ceremony as was our community tradition. There were no oceans involved basically because I had not yet discovered this love of the sea life.

 

Fast forward to October 2016. Joal and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in October, even though our actual anniversary wasn’t until December 21. We took a little trip over to Charleston, South Carolina and hung out at our favorite beach spot together for a week. We celebrated with an amazing dinner at a beautiful southern restaurant downtown where the florals are big and fresh and the linens are crisp and white. The wine flowed. The service defined by words like impeccable, refined and proper. During dinner we remembered the good things we’ve shared together and the things we have struggled through. The seafood was divine. We learned what a charcuterie is. It was an evening worthy of being twenty five years in the making with the only man I have ever loved.


Somewhere along the way, when we were planning our 25th trip, I began to think that this could be my "message in a bottle" moment. During that week at the beach on Isle if Palms, I picked up a pen and paper and wrote a letter to the universe about our life together and our love. I write about how grateful I am to have shared the path of my life walking beside him. I wrote about the gentle and powerful ways he has loved me and the things that being married has taught me. It took a few drafts because hey, I tend towards the wordy side, but in the end, the letter was a single sheet summary of the things I love about him and the adventures we have shared. Fortunately, I have rather small and legible penmanship. I signed it with a flourish and included every conceivable avenue of contact available at this time in history. I wish that I had saved the wine bottle from our meal at Magnolia but I didn’t think about it in time. 


Because I’m a photo girl, I wanted to include 2 photos--a wedding photo and a current photo of us together. Because those two pictures were at home, I knew we couldn’t drop it in the ocean until at least our next ocean voyage, which would be a cruise in March 2017. Right around the trip in March, I moved my office from one part of the house to another and things got chaotic. When it came time to pack, I couldn’t lay my hands on the envelope holding the letter and the pictures. 


Postponed. 


This past week we cruised again down to the Caribbean (it’s an annual thing) and just to be safe, I put the letter and photos in a spot where they wouldn’t be forgotten a whole month before we left. The trick of pulling this off is that it is really hard to pack an empty wine bottle and get it on board a cruise ship. (The cruise line has picky rules about these things.) On board, on the first evening we had a bottle of wine at dinner (shared with friends) but I got distracted from the mission and completely forgot to snag the empty bottle and cork before it was removed. 


Finally, on the last evening of our cruise, our friends--the Fords finished a bottle of Shiraz so I picked up the empty bottle and the cork. It’s adds to the sentiment that it was theirs, as they have been instrumental in Joal’s work success and present for many of our cruise adventures. 


After dinner, Joal and I rolled my letter and the photos tightly (a task that’s not as easy to accomplish as one might think) and slid it into the green wine bottle. I shoved the cork into the top. At a few minutes past ten, somewhere off the coast of the Bahamas, steaming towards Florida, in the most beautiful turquoise water, (probably in violation of some rules about littering), we stood on our ninth deck balcony together and he lobbed it off the ship and into the Caribbean Ocean. 


It was dark so there are no pictures but it’s not something I will soon forget. We heard it plunk into the sea. 


It was the highlight of my trip to finally toss that bottle into the sea. We marked our moment. Someday, maybe when I’m 99, I hope there will be an email or a phone call or whatever from a stranger who ran across a message in a bottle on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean. I can promise you I’ll still be loving this man and hopefully still having seafaring adventures with him. ❤️

11.11.2017

Surprised by the Story

Back in August,  my family gathered to celebrate my nephew's fourth birthday. Like most four year old birthday boys, he's a supremely cute, boundless ball of energy and to no surprise, he made this party a blast!

There were three and a half generations of my family in the room, so the conversations varied far and wide all evening. At one point, my father who is an excellent story writer and story teller, related a story from my childhood that I had completely forgotten. He seemed to recall it as if it happened yesterday and he told it with such great affection that it almost brought me to tears. 

In 1979, as a 30 year old, my father felt the calling of the Lord on his heart to become a minister. To fulfill this goal, he decided that he needed to enroll in a Bible college program for training. This process necessitated a move for our little family--from Texas to Mississippi. 

Shortly after we got settled in Mississippi, my dad set himself up a desk in their bedroom for conducting his studies. He purchased all manner of supplies for the desk--pens, papers, pencils, ruler, notebooks and dividers, paper clips and the most magical of desk tools--a putty-colored stapler and a whole box of additional staples. 

A day or two into his college experience, Dad came home from class and picked up his stapler, only to find that it was completely empty of staples. Thinking perhaps he'd forgotten to fill it with staples, he opened the box of refill staples. Funny, it was also clearly used and about half empty.

Upon further investigation, my dad soon found his only child's newest piece of artwork--her name written in staples placed side-by-side across her bulletin board! 

What makes this story endearing is that if you know me at all, you know that something life-altering happened when I discovered my dad's desk and his mother load of staples--I fell in love. From that day to this, I have loved all things related to school supplies and desk items. Fervently. 

In the years since, as a student, I looked forward to the start of each new school year with great anticipation because there were new school supplies to be purchased. I remember my first year of college, going alone to Walmart and taking way too long to pick out supplies for myself. As a young mother, I savored the arrival of the supply list  and the opportunity to carefully select crayons and scissors and glues and things for my boys. As a worker in a food pantry that served many young families and many grandmothers who were raising grandchildren, I have had the great honor of seeing that some other people's students were well-prepared for learning with appropriate supplies. 

It been an ongoing task that I have enjoyed in many ways. Funny that the love of school supplies became such a part of me and yet, I had completely forgotten about using the new stapler to decorate my bulletin board. 

I remember Dad's small desk and how cool I felt sitting in the giant chair with the wheels. I remember that many days, he would be sitting at his desk studying when I got home from school and that was a new twist in my life that I loved. 

Hearing him recount this story with such laughter and affection made me so very happy and it also made me wonder what else I have forgotten. And why haven't I written some of these stories down. 

Gotta fix that. 

Who keeps your stories? 
Who reminds you of what you have forgotten?
Who knows things that explain who you are from before you were really you?

I don't think there is a photo of my dad's first desk...certainly not one of me sitting at it. I'm thinking of matching a photo from that time period with this story or maybe I'll recreate the stapler artwork.

Or maybe if I ever have a clean desk, I'll take a picture of my own desk with my own stapler. 

These are the stories I want to Scrapbook--the stories that bear witness to all the facets of life. 

What about you? 

10.23.2017

(Backup) The Pink Exploded

A few photos of the decor prepared for the worship event presented by the women's ministry at Bethel last Tuesday. 

The theme "Radiant" was derived from the book by the same name, written by our special guest speaker, Marian Jordan Ellis. The color scheme was black and white with gold and fuschia. 






I found these gold hammered pencil cups at Target! 







Ugh oh. Man down. 😆



I had hoped to use only Gerbera daisies but the budget did not allow. 







Just inside the doors, we had two special areas. The first table was a place for our ladies to visit to write notes to the mothers of two young daughters of our church who are currently battling cancer. 




The second table was for our guest--Marian Jordan Ellis to visit with attendees and sign her books after the session.

The 12 tables were covered with black table cloths and fuchsia overlays with a centerpiece in the middle of each table. 



At each place at the tables, a take-home gift was laid. Inside the sack was a journal for note-taking and a pen, tied with a ribbon and a tag, as well as a print that featured the scripture verse for the evening. 






A handmade cookie was also laid at each place. (How did I not get a close-up picture of the cookies!?)







In the foryer we constructed an area for taking photos and I'm happy to say that quite a few of our ladies participated in this. The sparkly gold sequin backdrop set The tone for the evening and was an attention-grabber from the doorway. We used brightly lit Heidi Swapp Marquee Love letters to spell out the word Radiant in the photo area as well as a painted canvas and bold pink flowers for accents.









Back inside the sanctuary, the snacks were placed on a long line of tables that could be accessed from both sides. The tables were covered with a black table cloth and a black and white striped runner.








Oct 17, 2017

The Pink Exploded

A few photos of the decor prepared for the worship event presented by the women's ministry at Bethel last Tuesday. 

The theme "Radiant" was derived from the book by the same name, written by our special guest speaker, Marian Jordan Ellis. The color scheme was black and white with gold and fuschia. 






I found these gold hammered pencil cups at Target! 







Ugh oh. Man down. 😆



I had hoped to use only Gerbera daisies but the budget did not allow. 







Just inside the doors, we had two special areas. The first table was a place for our ladies to visit to write notes to the mothers of two young daughters of our church who are currently battling cancer. 




The second table was for our guest--Marian Jordan Ellis to visit with attendees and sign her books after the session.

The 12 tables were covered with black table cloths and fuchsia overlays with a centerpiece in the middle of each table. 



At each place at the tables, a take-home gift was laid. Inside the sack was a journal for note-taking and a pen, tied with a ribbon and a tag, as well as a print that featured the scripture verse for the evening. 






A handmade cookie was also laid at each place. (How did I not get a close-up picture of the cookies!?)







In the foryer we constructed an area for taking photos and I'm happy to say that quite a few of our ladies participated in this. The sparkly gold sequin backdrop set The tone for the evening and was an attention-grabber from the doorway. We used brightly lit Heidi Swapp Marquee Love letters to spell out the word Radiant in the photo area as well as a painted canvas and bold pink flowers for accents.









Back inside the sanctuary, the snacks were placed on a long line of tables that could be accessed from both sides. The tables were covered with a black table cloth and a black and white striped runner.








Oct 17, 2017

10.15.2017

Visiting the Dallas Arboretum

In the fall of the year, the Dallas Arboretum is transformed into an orange and yellow and grey and white wonderland of Pumpkins! Forty thousand pumpkins--every variety imaginable are stacked and assembled and arranged and propped and piled in the most delightful way to create a massive fall festival feast for the eyes. 

My sister and I both love all things fall, so we attended the Opening Day of The Pumpkin Festival this year. Here are some of the sights we enjoyed.