Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bittersweet Bundt

Your heart-felt stories about the “WORST” things in missionary life leave me humbled. Each one is an illustration of our common bond in suffering for the sake of the gospel. Thank you for sharing your comments.

At times I hesitate to share from my heart, knowing how trite and silly it might sound to those who are in a truly dark valley battling for your very life and soul. However, in the spirit of “keeping it real,” I want to add a word about my current struggle.

This week finds me in Wisconsin celebrating the marriage of my firstborn, Chris (the cute one in the tub at Jungle Camp), and his bride. This is my second time as MOG* (Mother of the Groom), first in Canada, and now in the U.S. Since none of the same people will be attending, I have recycled (shortened) the same dress I wore the first time. Maybe my third son will choose a Mexican wedding, allowing me to wear the same dress yet again.

Weddings for me are bittersweet. I remember attending the wedding of a pastor’s daughter in Ohio, and being impressed that most everyone there knew the bride so well. Several stood at the podium and gave quick testimonies of how they had watched her grow into such a lovely young woman.

For Chris, it will be a different story. Only his immediate family and a very select few friends will be able to attend. It was the same when my son Tim got married. I find this to be a tragic side effect of living overseas. It’s not THE worst, but it’s on my list. There are no Sunday school teachers, Boy Scout leaders, or youth pastors who have known and loved my children. Those who share memories of Christopher’s childhood are nowhere close to Wisconsin.

In addition to this, I grieve over the fact that I haven’t been able to share special occasions with my nieces and nephews. I have missed every single graduation and wedding so far. They don’t know me very well, and I don’t know them as well as I’d like either.

My younger children cannot even name all their first cousins, some of whom they have never met. I find this to be tragic, too. After growing up with two parents who were only children (thus not a single cousin, aunt, or uncle), I always thought it would be cool to have a big extended family close by like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Instead I feel like the MOG in that movie, an obvious outsider, contributing a bundt cake, trying to fit in and enjoy my son’s new family.

Once again, in light of eternity, this is a small sacrifice. At least all seven of my children will be together this week, and one of my sisters will be there with her husband. For that, I am grateful. It will be good.

IRL* Viva La Familia~I'm celebrating my son's wedding!


  1. Oh Jamie - bittersweet indeed.

    I've been praying and will continue to pray that you are surrounded by love and encouragement, if not by family, boy scout leaders and Sunday school teachers - at least by the Holy Spirit who knows you and your children best and will one day testify to 'growing up' with you. :)

    Te quiero mucho -

  2. Bittersweet indeed. Ditto Hayes' note. Praying for you.

  3. I know what you're going through, and my heart hurts for you right now. Bless you for your honesty. The older I get, the more I see that Ecclesiastes is correct: we do have seasons in our lives. Perhaps God will bless you with a season of closeness to your family. In the meantime, may He hold you close.

  4. It's funny that as an MK, I kinda figured it would be like that at my wedding. Instead my dear gringo hubby only had about 6 people at the wedding (his dad didn't even come) and all the rest were people from all over the world who'd known me or supported my parents "ever since." We stood in the receiving line with people I didn't recognize telling me "I knew you when." While it was "nice" for me and awkward for my hubby, in retrospect, it didn't matter. The ones we really wanted there where there . . . my family, his Mom and a couple of siblings, our friends from college, and a couple of my missionary "Aunts and Uncles" who were closer to me than my "real" aunts and uncles.

    My family tried extra hard to make my MIL feel a part of the family and she talks about it today (19 years later) as being just a wonderful experience. May there be some in your future DIL's family who have that heart for you and who draw you in.

    Even so, try hard to concentrate on the beauty and specialness of the occasion. Rather than on what is missing. I'm praying for you all week.

  5. Surely it will be different for the girls when they are brides, just like your wedding,Beth. Maybe it's just a common "groom" thing, and has nothing to do with being missionaries.

    So far, all is going well. Tonight is the rehearsal dinner which I'm in charge of. Arrangements are all set. I had a lovely breakfast with my son this morning, which was a huge blessing.

    Didn't you love the clip of the movie? Thanks, Cindy, for posting that for any who haven't seen it. Hopefully no one will imagine the bride's family to be like that. They are nothing like that at all. You KNOW I'm not the quiet mousy type either. It's just the bundt cake that you needed to see. Hahaha.

  6. Our whole, very culturally mixed team has watched that movie together an get some of our favorite sayings from it! Anytime we get to a total place of bewilderment at what we think, someone will say, "and there you go!", and we lighten up a little.

    I am sorry. There is little to take away the pain of some of the consequences of our choices, of our parent's choices, of our grandparent's choices... I am now the fourth missionary generation in my family and there are some consequences to these decisions.

    I think there are as many blessings, too, but those blessings do not erase the pain of the difficult things.

    And somehow, I just can not image you as a milktoast family with a bundt cake! There is more life in you than that! But there is also the awareness of what you laid down. God counts that as precious to Him - even now, even years later... still a precious gift in His eyes.


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