Being six years older than Taylor, the role of “big sister” came in many forms growing up. Some of my earliest memories involve sticking my nose up to the window of the ICU, getting my first glimpse of this adorably plump, very hairy baby and calling him my little brother. I remember how proud I felt announcing his arrival to my kindergarten class and running home from the bus every afternoon to hold him and eventually, see what he had tore into in my room! As he grew, my role of big sister changed a little. It meant having to come in from playing outside in the summertime so Taylor would go down for a nap, not in his crib, but on a Mickey Mouse blanket in the middle of the living room floor. I swear we didn't see the carpet for the first three years of his life! It also meant sometimes having to hold his hand and take him up the street to my friend, Brooke's house so he wouldn’t be left out! For every aggravating experience that came along with this big sister role, I loved that Taylor was my constant – always there to read to, play with, and take part in my wonderful (always carefully planned) adventures. I remember every Christmas season, I would collect all our Christmas books and put a stack under his bed. Then every night, I’d climb into his bed with him, read him a book and instruct him to remove a red or green chain from the paper countdown I hung in his room. Whether he liked it or not, he went along with it, and I loved him for it.
As our carefree childhood faded away and life got a little more complicated, being Taylor’s big sister involved cheering him on at basketball and baseball games, offering advice, whether he wanted it or not, feeling happy when he was happy, and feeling my heart break when I saw him sad. As a mom of my own now, I realize that looking back, my feelings toward Taylor can only be described as maternal. I longed for him to be happy and taken care of, and also wanted to protect him from this sometimes hard and broken world. And just like the hopes and dreams I have for Cruz and Mila's futures, I had the same dreams for Taylor's - that he would be happy, content, and full of God's love.
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
God answered so many of my prayers for Taylor's life when He put Katie into it. She is one of the sweetest people I have ever met and the two of them light each other up in the best way. The pastor said it best at their ceremony Friday when he said that after he met them he was surprised they had been together for over five years because they still acted as if they were newly in love. What a beautiful testament! Five years in, and they still laugh together, memorize lines from The Office together, and love just who God created each of them to be. Their love is rare and such a beautiful testament of God's love for all of us. And it was only fitting that we all got a chance to celebrate that love on a picture perfect day last Friday when they became husband and wife!
It was a special day for so many reasons. The weather was near perfect. Our entire family was honored to be a part of Taylor and Kate's wedding party. The wedding was in Adel, so we all had an excuse to get away for a few days, let the kids take over a hotel with their cousins, and enjoy all the thrills of an indoor pool, continental breakfast, and adjoining rooms with Grandma and Papa. The wedding ceremony and reception were held at Barne's Place in Adel, a gorgeous property just outside of Des Moines, with old church pews and a barnwood altar that overlooks a lake, a rustic barn for the reception and dance, and gorgeous details everywhere you look. And while keeping five kids under the age of seven clean and happy during the long day leading up to the ceremony proved to be a little hairy at times, the day was filled with joy, laughter, and sweet stories to celebrate one very sweet couple.
The start of a million pictures, with a few more memories to come.