If you asked me what I wanted to be when I was a kid, I would have answered "a hermit."

Visions of living like Grizzly Adams alone on a mountain with my pet bear held huge appeal to me. I've always enjoyed solitude and the woods.

I also had dreams of being Amish. Something about the simplicity seemed so appealing. Ironically, I was drawn to the amazing sense of community I read about - the barn raisings, weddings, and simple interdependence . . odd for a girl who wanted to be a hermit.

Dreams do come true, although not always as we imagined them.

I live on a mountain in the woods, but I'm anything but alone. Our rapidly growing and transient family keeps me counting every evening to see how many places to set at the table. 

I like them better than bears.

We aren't Amish, and most days "simple" is not a description I would use for our life. But we have found amazing community in our relatively small town and church.

Last Saturday was a beautiful example of that.

In a whirl of flowers, pastels, twinkling lights, and exuberant music we celebrated the wedding of our daughter Emily to Ethan Dean. 

It was an exercise in community. 

The week prior was full of friends bringing Mason jars, meals, and offers of help. 

We collected flowers from a local farm and four friends' gardens. 

Our basement was a buzz with glue guns, ribbon, craft sticks, and programs. 

The boys were displaced, as "volunteers" borrowed their beds and spent the night, so they could work late and rise early to start again.

On Friday we converged on the venue, and even more helping hands arrived. We worked right up until the afternoon rehearsal and then broke for a few hours for a seafood boil at the Dean's house.

Saturday began as early as Friday went late, as we caravanned in succession to the destination of the day's main event. 

And again we were greeted by friends . . they had already set up the chairs, erected the tent, were running errands for ice and other last minute necessities, stringing lights, arranging flowers, bringing pies, and on and on.

I finally slipped away around 3:45 to wash up in the bathroom sink (since I'd lost my keys, locked my dress in the car, hence losing the hour I'd planned to go shower). As I left, people were still buzzing about sweaty, smiling, and assuring me everything would be in place and to just go get ready.

An hour later, I emerged in awe of the beauty surrounding me.

I was given so many gifts that day . . 

- the overwhelming sense of love for our families, daughter, and son-in-law

- the strong assurance that everything would turn out right and if it didn't someone would make it so

- precious moments to spend with Em fastening her wedding dress and sharing love

- the ability to ENJOY the reception, greet old friends and family, laugh, dance and get caught up in the unfettered joy of the bride and groom

"Thank you" hardly seems adequate, so I'll add "I love you." 
Each one of you that was a part of this day . . from the guests, to those who prayed and held my hand and gave me wise advice throughout the roller coaster of emotions, to all who helped make it happen. 

I'll remember your love for the rest of my life. I'm so grateful to God that He saw fit for our paths to cross on this journey.

At the risk of leaving someone out, I want to list all those who blessed me so:

Jeff - THE most amazing man. We started preparing for Emy's wedding day years ago. Good job, Babe!

Josh, Daniel, Hilary, Ben, Joe & Sam - thanks for keeping me sane with your hugs and help.

Mom & Dad - you cooked, cleaned, ran errands, AND did the flowers!

Pratt Family - Michael thanks for loaning me my sister for a few days. Missy . . amazing! XO

Cyndi Hyland - You were right . . the gazebo was perfect!

Dodson Family - meals, car loan, rides, moral support, pies . . speechless!

White Family - Rene, military precision. I knew you were the woman for the job! Thanks Chris, for all your legwork. Kara, a bride couldn't have a better maid of honor. Thank you for loving my girl!

Kimble Family - the food makes the party . . incredible!

Bracken Family - we have this community because of your hospitality. Thank you for your flowers, help, and friendship!

Dean Family - Jeanne, thank you for all your work on the dress. It was gorgeous! Mike, the ceremony was beautiful. Good job on that boy too! 

Kelly Family - Tee, the wine, porch talk and friend time was PERFECT timing. Hannah, thank you for hosting a memorable bachelorette party. Hymns!

Gum Family - jars, tents, pies, greeters . . what didn't you help with?! Thank you!

Sharon Smith - our morning with you was as delightful as the beautiful cake.

Becca & Jim Wallace - smiles, pies, & muscle. Thanks!

Chris Eyre - Thanks for your help!

Sarah Armstrong - we would have been lost without you! Thank you for your amazing chalk art, beautiful violin playing, and the 100 other things you stepped in for!

Sharon Harrison - moral support and PIES!

Bridesmaids - you are the best friends a mom could ever want for her girl!

Groomsmen - great support. Hope you enjoyed the Cracker Jacks ;)

Sarah Garman & The Purple Fern - your props made it so beautiful. And "Addie breaks" just made my days!

Caleb Nei Jazz - "Music calms the savage beast." Well maybe they weren't savage, but they were hungry! You made the wait worth it and really "classed up" our whole shindig!

Avellino Studios - so proud of you guys and grateful that you immortalized the day!

Jewel Peach Photography - just overwhelmed by you. Thank you!

Stephanie Avellino - ever grateful for your "perspective." I love you, friend!

Nasreen Fynewever - your friendship helps me be strong. XO

Holley Gerth - so blessed by your friendship, support and this amazing community . . 

God-Sized Dream Team - your prayers and wise words were SO timely. Thankful for you!

Winsome Reads - so glad to be living life with you ladies! Thank you for your love, prayers and support.

ALL our honored guests - you made the day (and you made the cut! Emy & Ethan's original guest list was over 600)!

Finally, Emy & Ethan, thank you for inspiring me with your love for one another and God. I'm so proud of you both!

A wondrous day because of an AMAZING community. 

Thank you.

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