The second we walked in, our sleepy eyes were met with Joseph's whole family, all dressed and ready and wide awake. Joseph's dad hummed "Here Comes the Bride" as I tried not to think about the fact that I was still in my sleeping shorts and tank top. We swiped a few donuts and got the hell out of there.
Grey and Star helped me get ready while my sweet friend Meriah took pictures.
Meriah is a fantastic photographer. You can check out her work here.
I got so engrossed in this process and in conversation that I certainly would have forgotten to eat lunch had Dayanara not stopped by with a sandwich and some sweet tea and required that I partake.
When it was getting close to time to go, I gave up on anything resembling shoes, and hopped into Meriah's car barefoot.
Genevieve met me in the driveway, took my face in her hands and gasped, "The Spirit of God on you!". I smiled thankfully to her. There was no other statement that could have melted my stage fright jitters faster.
As if that wasn't enough to kill my nerves, Adelaide ran over and leapt into my arms for a hug.
Everyone was mulling about excitedly around the yard while we waited.
Just before the ceremony, we were all rounded onto the porch to huddle up for a prayer.
Meanwhile, as Joseph and Jim made their way to the alter,
the Hanwell's cat (not to be caught at a wedding empty pawed) dragged a dead rat up the aisle and dropped it at Joseph's feet.
Our wedding party was fabulous. Everyone was so lovely.
As a matter of fact, Rosie and Jett looked like so much fun together, that a few of my unaware guests asked them if they were married! Jett, confused, said, "No...", and Rosie (not missing a beat) looked aghast and replied, "And to think that I gave you the best years of my life!"
My Dad had started bawling halfway through the rehearsal and was not about to stop as he walked me down the aisle.
Almost there, I tried to focus on Joseph's eyes. Dad tripped and I heard a rip. It was because his foot had gotten tangled in my train.
My pops has never been one to do much of anything delicately, so his attempts to untangle himself consisted of shaking his leg violently until there was another tearing sound and he was free to walk again.
Jim accidentally forgot to do the ceremony and skipped straight to our vows. We were secretly a bit grateful that it worked out that way because it meant that we could just stand and listen to it all without worrying about our part.
My cousins read Scripture over us, and my beautiful friend Chloe sang "Meet Me by the River" (by Enter the Worship Circle) from the Hanwell's balcony.
We had planned to exit at the very end to The Darkness's song "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" - which we did. The only thing was that there was a slight delay. Star's husband spaced out for a few awkward moments before he hit play.
We just kind of stood there looking around, hoping he would notice.
He did finally figure it out, though, and we dashed out into the parking lot to make a receiving line to hug everyone. It was overwhelming and sweet to have one dear friend after another in my arms - many of whom I hadn't seen in ages.
Everyone went down to the reception, and Meriah made quick work of the wedding party pictures so that we could swiftly be on our way as well.
Joseph and I stopped by the hotel before we joined everyone at the reception so that I could switch my dress out. I thought I'd wear it all night, but the part Dad ripped accidentally was hanging all bejiggidy, so I was relieved to find that I randomly had something else that I figured was appropriate to wear instead.
At the reception, Eddie Kindle (who had come early to help set up tables) engaged me in conversation about his latest romantic conundrum. He sounded as though he would reach a resolution soon, and Maggie would have her boyfriend back.
Adelaide played in the grass with my childhood friend Deja's daughter.
The doves miraculously got along beautifully with each other for the whole reception. They had everyone well fooled by their peaceful cooing and occasional rustling of feathers as they dozed.
Star's husband called a line dance that even my mom and dad (who until that point, I had never seen dance in public... or... at all, for that matter) participated in.
And at the very end of the reception after almost everyone else had gone home, just before Joseph and I headed off ourselves, Joseph's three best friends called me over.
James and Starbuck stood sheepishly behind Jett, staring at their shoes and occasionally looking up to nod in agreement with him as he confided quietly to me, "We love Joseph. We have known him forever and he is our bro. We all three have his artwork all over our dorms and apartments. He has had a few girlfriends in the past that we just knew weren't right for him. But that day we all hung out at the waterfall, and he carried that little rock with mica on it down to you, and you saw the same beauty in it that he did, we knew."
He went on to tell me with his precious eyes gleaming that they knew I cared for him and that he cared for me in the way that they had only hoped they could see happen for their friend.
Shortly after that, I hugged the remainder of my friends and family goodbye and climbed into our car (that Banjo and BestfriendDavid had snuck away to "decorate") to embark on some new adventures.
Star later told me that the very second that she had placed the last of the decorations into her car and shut the trunk, the sky opened up and the rain that had stayed at bay all day long came pouring down.
So there you have it. That was how I became acquainted with a new world in the heart of my God. How I saw that He is a God of restoration. That He is for the healing of all relationships broken, and the finding of all cherished things lost.
I did nothing to bring about the mending that took place in my friendship with Eddie, or in my husband's relationship with Jesus. In fact, my attempts only caused more strife in most cases.
Even my best efforts in finding the lost turtle only resulted in a significantly messier room.
It is just that I belong to one seriously faithful God.
And if you are wondering about anything in this story that still seems unresolved, do not worry. There are always more things aching to be restored.
But that is why He has promised to finish the work that He started in us. Because, in the end, for those who love Him, all things will be made whole.