Megumi’s Wedding Day!! Oh what pure Joy, Joy, Joy!!
I have several half-cooked blog entries. This one came so easily, I want to share it right away!
I used to throw this Bride up into the air 30 years ago! She was a toddler back then. Her face would light up with JOY, beaming from every corner! “Again! Again!” Her scratchy-voiced-laughter would fill the room from wall to wall of the Pioneer Room untill someone would come in to tell us to be quiet. I babied her and her little brother, Akira while we all grew up in the church. She had a zeal for life and the Lord that was contagious! I cheered them on as they went through all the stages of life, sometimes from close up and sometimes from far away. I hurt when I knew they were hurting. We prayed for patience and transformation during the wait for the right godly man. She’s so special, it couldn’t be just anyone. She’s so vivacious, not just anyone could handle all that overflowing love and beauty! We all grew up together at church decades ago and now she was a blushing bride, beaming an even greater JOY for hours on end for her wedding day with Scott!
There were so many kids, maybe 5, 10, 15 years younger than me. They were once kids to toss in the air, school aged kids to baby sit, little teenagers, and now they were all dressed up professionals, with significant others, babes in arms, and they were all old enough drink alcohol! What a JOY to see them all grown up!
My second bit of JOY was meeting the people at our table, all strangers to me with zero history! I went stag since Randy had to lead worship at Crossroads. When I came late to the table, Dave offered his seat so I could sit next to Leanne, but I thought it would be fun, and mildly interesting for him to stay in-between us. He’s so… not silly and Leanne and I, well, we are free to love and put ourselves out there!
So, Leanne and I were Dave’s wing-men. There was already a conversation starting with the two ladies on the other side of Leanne. Straining to hear the conversation, I had my head on Dave’s shoulder. The introductions began, “My name is Jane, what is yours? How many children do you have? Oh, you two are sisters? Like blood sisters? Like real sisters? You don’t even look-alike! How long have you been married?” Blah blah blah. Small Talk. There were lots of questions. When I told them my husband wasn’t able to be there, a worship pastor leading worship… their eyes lit up. “Ohhhh!…. She’s a pastor’s wife!” I didn’t realize it but they were trying to figure out which one of us was Dave’s wife!
So maybe that wasn’t a moment of deep healing JOY, but it was a moment of loud hilarity and relief to discover we weren’t Sister Wives! I love my affectionate and close family, however odd we may look to outsiders. Just at this wedding, I cuddled with my dad on the couch, got drinks and appetizers for my mom. Sat close to Auntie June with my head on her shoulder so we could whisper conversations about her health, Randy and Ian’s recovery, and get advice about ministry. I kissed Emily on her head when I walked by her table. It made me admire my brother-in-law Dave, who is not silly or affectionate, but has stoicly put up with the silly antics of Leanne and I for over 30 years. They started dating when Leanne was 13! That’s a long time ago. When I found them cuddling as high schoolers, I’d get right in the middle of them, just to keep things Kosher. I did them a favor. So, I feel quite comfortable leaning in! It’s my job as the little sister. I’m the affectionate one. I got it from Dad. He was always the one reaching out for us. He’s not your typical Japanese man and I have proof from Megumi’s special wedding day!
When Megumi was little she told Dad that she was going to have 9 bride’s maids. She outdid herself with 12! We were all honored to be there for her on her wedding day! Yes, she had three dreamy hair styles and three amazing gowns, all on one glorious day!
There’s something to be said about a 30, 40, 50 year investment somewhere. Our family has made that investment in our churches, Jems Mt. Hermon Family Camp, devoted to this Christian movement wherever we are. The financial costs of annual Mt. Hermon trips pales in comparison to the eternal investment! When Ian began heart failure in July right after family camp, this 50 year devotion came to life! We had tangible support from Northern Cal to Southern Cal, prayers from Coast to Coast, and across the continents! We had meals and visitors from every generation, biting 4 year olds to octogenarians following our “Blob”! All this support came from staying committed to the body of Christ, “not giving up the gathering together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
My third bucket of JOY, Megumi’s brother, Little Akira. He’s a doctor now. He blessed me with deep understanding for my soul. As a psychiatrist working for the VA, he deals with PTSD and spoke to me with such great understanding and helped me see what is going on in my body as I try so hard to recover from the medical trauma.
It looks like Ian’s transplant is successful, Randy’s brain tumor is out and they are back in full-time school, work, and ministry. So why don’t I FEEL all better? I don’t FEEL full of JOY and freedom to participate in life like I did before. I took the kids to LEGO Land and watched people walk by for three hours. I sat alone, unable to play. I have sat in conversations with wonderful women unable to engage. It’s time to serve again in the summer VBS programs and I’m so hesitant to jump in like before.
Dr. Akira helped me see how my body is continually in a flight or fight, erratic stress mode. Every time Ian gets a recurrent symptom, I go back into diagnostic mode. A common cold is not simple for Ian. I have my hospital bag still packed in the van. We are in uncharted medical territory with Randy’s surgeries, wound care, and persistent facial paralysis affecting not only his face, but our soul.
Dr. Akira said it is normal to get stuck in the “down mode”… but not to stay there. He gave me hope, that my body will work hard to find a healthy rhythm again, because that’s what God designed it to do. You know what he said? “As you take time to find your JOY, care for your body, your body will care for your mind, and your soul. It just takes time.” Such wise words from my young buddy all grown up. He blessed me.
I was at their parents’ wedding so many years ago. I even attended their dad’s funeral, much too soon. Keiko-san raised two amazing human beings on her “own” all these years. I qualify that because I know that as believers, we are never alone to do the hardest jobs in our lives. The Lord is right there by our side to help when we let Him. It’s part of the Gospel package. We get an ever-present helper in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). He always provides a way out of our temptation to despair and give up (1 Corinthians 10:13). Keiko-san gives me hope.
Akira-kun helped me see clearly. God is calling me into a season of resting my body and feeding my soul. He’s called me to get more sleep, to exercise, to eat well, and to find my JOY. Laughing with my kids brings me JOY. Leaning in on my family, even my brother-in-law, brings me JOY. Eliminating Hurry, Sabbathing, holding babies, writing, swimming, throwing pottery, old Jazz, real conversations, squeezing my kids, laughing with my crazy sisters, enjoying my niece-ewes, sitting in my quiet time chair, talking with the Lord… all these things bring me JOY.
Keiko-san, Megumi-chan, and Akira-kun, bring me JOY. In fact, that’s Megumi’s English name, JOY!! No wonder!
You know what doesn’t bring me joy? Facebook. I’m not ready for that yet.
Trying to be wise in finding JOY for the Journey,