he has a nice voice

Yesterday I had a rare treat. Gordon called me at work just to chat. Because I don't often get calls from him, I was mildly disoriented.

V: "Gordon?"

G: "Yeah, I thought I'd call and to say hi."

V: "Awhh. How sweet! You have such a nice voice. If you weren't my husband I'd try to seduce you."

G: "If you weren't my wife I'd fall in love with you."


my summer holiday


This little cabin was home for the week.

We've been away on holidays. For the first time ever, we went to Family Camp with almost everyone in Gordon's extended family. Gordon and the girls had a fabulous time; definitely a highlight of the year for them. I crashed and burned and am quite embarrassed by the whole week.

I pride myself on being laid-back, easy going, well-adjusted, fun-loving, and a myriad of other positive things. :-) These characteristics cease and desist when I get around my in-laws. All my benevolence and patience and open-mindedness and well-adjustedness seizes up and dies, usually in an emotionally laden, fetal-positioned wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth sort of way. Not a pretty picture. It's probably the single biggest flaw in my character and person-hood. I hate this about me.

Before the holiday I tried valiantly to prepare and equip myself to "be in the now". I had a plan and some ideas for how I was going to be grown-up and good. I self-imploded and never figured out how to "be in the now" in any way that was helpful. When I tried to focus and regain composure by "accepting this moment" all I could think was, but it hurts too badly. That to say, my experimentation with pop psychology was unsuccessful.

Gordon is a wonderful husband and our relationship is warm, stable and loving. These good feelings we share degenerate when we are with his family. However, only very recently did I realized that the problem is in my relationship with Gordon, not his entire family. I'm not suggesting my negative history with the family is imagined. It is not. However, it's my marriage that is the "issue", not my in-laws. Here's what I've only recently come to realize: Mine and Gordon's relationship shifts dramatically when we're with his family. He changes, gets free-er. I change, get more up-tight. I clam up; he airs. I erect walls; he relinquishes all barriers. I tense up, ridiculously so. He becomes an open book revealing anything that comes to mind. Basically, I don't like him when he's around his family. That's not very good, eh?

I don't really know what to tell you about our holiday. I usually show lots of pictures and tell some highlights. I don't have any to tell this year. It was all pretty traumatic. Again, my family had a GREAT time, but I couldn't even enjoy their having a good time because I was so wrapped up in my own bad experience. I reiterate that I truly hate this about myself.

Day 1 was good. Gordon and I went on a 40 kilometer (24 miles) bike ride and I enjoyed that very much. I took pictures and loved the country scenery.

Day 2 Gordon and I started going cross-eyed with miscommunication. By mid-afternoon I drove 30 minutes to the nearest city to "get away." I went to Chapters and bought a Christmas gift, visited my favorite thrift store, went out to eat, and then took in a movie (The Proposal). It would have been a lovely outing had my thoughts not been churning with negativity.

Day 3 I had to leave and come home before I completely lost my mind. I felt like an idiot for not being able to enter into the "good time" everyone else was having, but knew I had to get out of there just to regain some emotional stability. I was smiling again before I got off the camp property. I felt hope.

It was on the drive home as I prayed and tried to figure out what had gone so sideways that I was able to articulate that this pattern in my life is a blemish on my marriage, not so much a blemish on my in-laws. That was the epiphany of the experience. Any epiphany at that point was a relief, even if it was hard realizing how it's me that's the problem (with some help from my beloved) and not someone "out there". The problem is me (and Gordon). I admit it.

So that was my summer vacation. The absolute worst I've ever had and hope to ever have. I'm happy for Gordon and the girls to do it every year, but I probably will only drop in a few times  instead of committing to the whole week. That seems like a fair compromise to me.

I hope you're all having a wonderful summer. I truly (aside from last week) have loved it. Only four more weeks till the kids head back to school. That kind of makes me sad as there are still so many summer things we want to squeeze in.

happy anniversary to us

Heart Today is our anniversary. 16 years of bledded wiss and quite a few years of being happily incompatible (note, I don't claim 16 years of happiness). To celebrate the day I wore mascara and lip gloss to work. I'm living dangerously, pulling out the stops. Oh yeah, I also wore White Diamonds perfume. White Diamonds isn't "me" anymore but it's what I wore on our wedding day so I wear it every May 22.

Last night we listened to "Home" by Rich Mullins. Gordon and I both love this song and it was played at our wedding. Last night I was so struck by how prophetic it was to us. My goodness, it's like we played our own prophecy at our wedding. I smiled and smiled listening to it, totally aware of how unaware I was 16 years ago. Wow! was all I could think as I listened to it last night.


Home, by Rich Mullins

I see the morning moving over the hills
I can see the shadows on the western side
And all those illusions that I had
They just vanish in Your light
Though the chill in the night still hangs in the air
I can feel the warmth of morning on my face
Though the storm had tossed me
'Til I thought I'd nearly lost my way

And now the night is fading and the storm is past
And everything that could be shaken was shaken
And all that remains is all I ever really had

What I'd have settled for
You've blown so far away
What You brought me to
I thought I could not reach
And I came so close to giving up
But You never did give up on me

I see the morning moving over the hills
I feel the rush of life here where the darkness broke
And I am in You and You're in me
Here where the winds of Heaven blow

And now the night is fading
And the storm is through
And everything You sent to shake me
From my dreams they come to wake me
In the love I find in You
And now the morning comes
And everything that really matters
Become the wings You send to gather me
To my home
To my home
I'm going home

As I reread it I marvel at how it reflects our life. I'm very, very thankful. I'm thankful for what God has taught me since becoming a wife to Gordon; for God saving me from myself because I would have settled for so much less; we both had so many illusions about what our life together would be like and somehow God burned those away and gave us something better than our illusions. (I'm speaking for myself here. Gordon's post would look entirely different, I'm sure).

There is still a "chill of the night that hangs in our air". When we lost custody of Steph and Christopher it was the end of the world for me. I thought I'd never recover. That "chill of night" is still here but the "warmth of the morning on my face" is prevailing. That storm tossed me and I thought I'd never find my way again. But I did and it's a better life than I ever imagined. I feel the rush here where the darkness broke. And everything He sent to shake me came to wake me to His love.

I'm thankful for it all.

Happy Anniversary Gordon. I'm glad we're sharing this journey.

If you have any desire to read my profound thoughts and writings on marriage and Gordon and things like that, you'll find a host of them right here.


This is a Capernwray story. I wanted to canoe all week, to go to a small islands and look the seals in the eyes. I expected my canoeing expedition to be invigorating and deeply spiritual.

My husband however wanted to kayak. So kayak it was. To use the kayaks I had to sit through a brief safety lesson. I had heard it several times with the kids (who had gone tubing, canoeing, kayaking, and speed boating). I had on a life vest, so I knew I wouldn't drown, and really that settled the safety issues for me. Besides, they claimed the kayaks were practically un-flippable. (I wondered when I heard that if ever there was a person with more flippable prowess than myself.)

The only thing I was actually concerned with was fitting in the kayak. For three days I occasionally wandered up and down the boat dock where the kayaks were to "size up the situation." I needed more privacy than was afforded me, so I didn't get to see if I fit in the privacy of my own, uh, my own ocean.

So on the fateful day, I decided to just do it. I squeezed myself into the kayak and was very pleased to find I had a few centimeters to spare. I was set. I got out and proceeded to put on the splash skirt. This was a silly little rubber skirt that one wears to keep water out of the kayak. The safety lecture stated clearly that we had to wear the splash skirt.

My fear regarding fitting into the kayak wasn't grounded, but the skirt was a different story. I pulled, wriggled, and squirmed right there in plain sight. I decided, in the interest of pride, to forgo it. I was just too proud to continue shimmying on the dock. Gordon hesitantly went along with my plan but made it clear he had a problem with my rebellion.

We had a sweet trip to and from one of the islands. It was nice, really, really nice. But because I felt guilty for not having on the silly skirt, we didn't "land" we just turned around. I didn't frolic with the seals.

As we were nearing the dock, a lifeguard - the one who had conducted my safety lesson - started walking toward us on the dock. I panicked. I didn't want him to see I had disobeyed the rules regarding the splash skirt. I kept paddling like I was planning to drive right up on top of the dock. Thud! The kayak collided with the dock.

I desperately wanted to disembark the kayak before he noticed my missing skirt. I pulled myself up and began my cultured exit. Gordon started screaming, "VALERIE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" The lifeguard's eyes said the same. With extraordinary delicacy and grace I heaved and hauled myself out of the seat. The last thing I heard before going underwater was "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" The "practically un-flippable" vessel capsized with poor Gordon still sitting.

When I surfaced, my husband growled, "You crazy woman, what were you thinking?" Others gathered to help the lifeguard and Gordon right and empty the boat. I walked to land.

anniversary celebration

14 red roses for 14 years of marriage.

We had a wonderful anniversary celebration - the five of us. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

On special occasions we have cheap wine that's barely alcoholic. Last night was Deborah's first time to imbibe. She downed her small portion then did a quick perusal of the table. She said, "If anyone doesn't want their wine, I'll take it." It was quite cute.

Hannah made a brief power-point presentation. She captured some special events in our lives. She put a lot of work into it and it was so sweet. Kids these days, eh?

Remember the story I've told before about someone asking us to describe our early marriage. I hesitated wondering just how I could accurately describe the horror without sounding like we hated each other. While I was trying to articulate my answer, Gordon began to quote the Larry Norman song about the end times: "Life was filled with guns and wars and everyone got trampled on the floor..." It was hilarious. I thought it described our early marriage amazingly well.

happy anniversary to me

Today, May 22, in our 14th anniversary. It's been 14 years of work, compromise, shattered dreams, growing deeper, maturing, and living out convictions. It's been 14 years of repeatedly getting back on track with God and each other after doing it my way; laughing again after days of sadness and bitterness.

It seems we spend our lives dreaming of blissful marriages that work really well without requiring us to work. But reality is that a good marriage is work.

I recently watched a number of Friends episodes. One of the things I liked about it was the opening song.

"No one told you life was gonna be this way.
The job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D.O.A.
Seems you're always stuck in second gear,
When it hasn't been your day, your month, even your year.

"But I'll be there for you,
When the rain starts to pour.
I'll be there for you,
Just like I've been there before.
I'll be there for you,
Cause you're there for me too."

That song describes my marriage. When the job, the money, the kids, the body, the emotions - when they're in a sad state, the commitment continues because, well, there's commitment.

To be truthful, this hasn't been our year. It's been a tough year. I read some statistics that said that years 13-15 are high divorce rate years. Nothing particularly bad has happened to us rather a complacency and lethargy has descended and it seems especially hard to engage and correct the "stinkin' thinkin'". But the commitment part is there - commitment to each other, commitment to God, commitment to honoring the vows, commitment to the kids.

No matter how I'm feeling, I've always got plenty of things to be thankful for in my marriage and in my husband.

Gordon is a very committed husband. I do not worry about where he is and what he's doing. I trust him to be faithful.

Gordon is committed to his family. He loves us, wants to be with us, likes to hang out with us. He is super involved in the kids' lives. I have friends who make all the kid-related decisions. Gordon isn't like that at all. He is very involved. Gordon is more committed to Friday Family Night than I am. Plenty of times I want to postpone, but he's right there with the kids nagging me to get with the program. I never need to nag him that way.

More+donut.JPG Gordon is a hard worker. He makes many personal sacrifices for the good of our family. Recently I was reminded of a terribly difficult time for us financially. When car insurance renewal time came up, we didn't have the money. We parked the car and didn't use it. Gordon took the bus to work in the afternoon, but at 2:00 am when he got off work, the buses were no longer running. He walked the five miles home. He did this for several weeks and never complained.

Gordon is consistent. He is always the same person, private and public. First thing every morning he goes to his office for his quiet time with God. Always. With him focused on keeping that area of his life in good shape, we all benefit.

Gordon gives me lots of reasons to respect him. He loves his mother, honors her, respects her. I respect that about him. He is a wonderful friend. His friends count on him. He has a good reputation at his work. He's known for his integrity.

And finally, he's never left. I've given him plenty of reasons to, but he kept on keeping on.

Yes, marriage is hard work. But I'm so very thankful for my marriage and my husband.


secret to marriage

While coming out of the library today, I saw a man staring at me. It's been a long time since I've been "noticed" so I assumed he wanted my parking spot. Once I was in my van, he ran up to me. I forgot all rules of safety and opened my window. He rested both arms on my door like we were old pals and told me I looked familiar. I was pretty slow on the self-preservation draw and told him all about myself sparing my shoe size.

He looked at me thoughtfully and said, "I know you from somewhere. Did you date Vernon?" This seemed a great time to mention my husband. "No, I'm married. I've been married a long time." I threw in the "long time" bit so he'd know I wasn't connected to Vernon. Unfortunately that was the part he honed in on. Stretching the truth by a year, I told him I'd been married 15 years.

"Wow, you must be an incredible woman." I smiled and put the car in reverse. He took my subtle hint and backed away. But immediately re-started the conversation with, "So tell me your secret."

"Secret?," I asked, genuinely puzzled.

"Yeah, man. What's the secret to staying married for so long?"

I felt compelled to actually think before I answered with something corny like "He works nights, I work days." I chewed on my lower lip and briefly wondered what my "secret" was. Many things were running through my head, some none too virtuous. But I conquered the urge to say, "Secret? I've no secret. We stay together for the kids." (As you may be discerning, yes, it was a bad day to talk marital secrets.)

Somehow, I strayed from my usual pattern of saying something totally stupid and bizarre. Having thought a few seconds, I said, "Doing the right thing." Proud of my wisdom, I repeated myself, "Yes, doing the right thing is the secret to marriage."

He was impressed - as was I - with my wisdom and he quickly responded (and grew in my esteem) with, "You are an awesome woman. You are super."

I bid him farewell and away I drove. Sitting high and proud in my driver seat, feeling somehow awesome and super.


godly leadership

(Gordon and his brother Grant, about 1968)
Gordon and grant A few days ago Gordon and his friend talked about godly leadership as husbands. More specifically, how to lead without being overbearing. Gordon is good at both leading and being overbearing.

Gordon was sharing this conversational tidbit tonight and indeed I found it interesting.

Later as we sipped tea together, he asked if I'd noticed he mopped the hall and kitchen while I was at work. I looked at the floor and wondered how on earth I hadn't noticed. I was excited and quickly quipped, "Now that's the kind of leadership I can affirm."

another day of work

 (Gordon and me, camping in 2005)
Crocodile dundy and fuddy
I've decided to take another work day. I told my boss I'd do this each week, but was clear if it was not working for the family, I'd let her know within the month. We shall see. I don't foresee any problems.

Last night Gordon asked if there was anything particular I wanted to do with that extra money. (Grant it, it won't be much.) I paused for a few seconds before I answered, "I can't think of anything, so I guess not. But if I say I want some money, you'd better say, 'how much?'"


Years ago at a ladies' Bible study when we introduced ourselves I had the pleasure of following three gushy women who all tried to out-gush the others. (Remember the 80's expression, "Gag me with a spoon?" Well that was what I was thinking.)

Each lady said, "I'm married to the most wonderful man and best husband in the world." As if on cue, the woman beside her would say, "No, I'm married to the most wonderful man and best husband in the world."

After these ladies finished their good-natured arguing, it was my turn to introduce myself. I think they expected me to follow their lead and keep the lie going around the circle. It just happened to be a day when I was at odds with my husband, so that wasn't about to happen. I took a deep breath and said, "Well, I'm Valerie. I am NOT married to the most wonderful man or the best husband in the world." There were gales of laughter and the two women after me introduced themselves similarly.

That was back in the 80's. I'm a bit more mature now, but I can see me still doing the same thing today. Tsk. Tsk.

Today I'm very annoyed with my darling husband. We crossed wires last night and I'm still peeved. To work through this state of peeve-ment, I shall remind myself of my husband's wonderful characteristics. He has many.

My husband is indeed a wonderful man and a wonderful husband. It's been a satisfying process watching him become wiser and wiser as we've aged. He was wise for a 31 year old when we married, but he hadn't been through the fiery furnace of suffering up to that point. Marrying me, he soon found himself smack dab in the middle of a wisdom-producing hot bed of affliction. Through the many low points of our marriage and life together, Gordon has always turned to God when things were tough. It seems in every trial, he grew wiser.

Gordon is a great daddy. He loves his girls with everything in him. He prioritizes them, taking them on individual dates and walks. He prays for them and with them. He is an engaged father.

In parenting, I am again thankful for his wisdom. Many times he has brought balance to a situation I would have harmed had I been on my own.

Gordon is good with money. I am thankful for his conscientiousness, his frugality, his priority on giving, and his planning for the future.

Gordon can fix just about anything. I'm sure he has saved us thousands and thousands of dollars. When an appliance breaks down, Gordon rebuilds it. My Maytag washer and dryer are 35 years old. One year when we got our tax return, he asked if I wanted a new washer and dryer. "No way," I said. "I figure you'll keep the ones we've got running and we'll be able to leave them to the kids when we die."

Gordon is a hard worker. When the going gets tough, he always puts his nose to the grindstone and keeps going.

Gordon is kind and shows people respect.

He is a faithful friend. His funeral will be much better attended than mine.

This exercise has been effective. I think I've worked through my peeves. I'm very thankful for Gordon. In spite of our very distinct differences, he is a wonderful husband. Perhaps, the best in the world. Just perhaps.

my anniversary

(Newlyweds, 1993)Scan20136
Our anniversary came and went last week. 13 years of bledded wiss. "Wedded bliss" seems too strong, given we fought like tigers the first couple years and still do on occasion. That alone makes the bliss part untrue. But my greatest joys revolve around my delightful husband and our family, so there is an element of truth in the bliss thing. But not enough to claim 13 years of wedded bliss. Therefore, bledded wiss seems more fitting and truthful.

I love my man very much. He is everything I need in a husband and so much more. He is strong, intelligent (IQ near genius level), funny, patient with me, a wonderful father to the delightful daughters he sired, a hard worker, a consistent source of inspiration to many, and a devoted follower of Jesus. I am so blessed. It seems I should be single and a nobler woman than me have him for a husband, but God is gracious and I am a beneficiary of his wonderful grace. I am thankful.

When asked his secret of love, being married fifty-four years to the same person, Billy Graham said, "Ruth and I are happily incompatible."

Happily incompatible. I like that.

funny husband

This morning Gordon and I had our morning coffee together for the first time this week. He's been burning the proverbial candle at both ends and I've not seen much of him. It was great to catch up.

I told him about a haunting memory from our early days of marriage and concluded with, "I was crazy." He comforted me by saying, "Yeah, but I didn't know that back then."

We spoke briefly about the trauma of our early days together and about my depression and anger. He mockingly said he introduced me to others by saying: "This is my new wife Valerie. She sleeps 18-20 hours a day and we fight the other four."

i'm in love

(Gordon and me, 1993)
086_86Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. -- C. S. Lewis

Love doesn't just sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new. -- Ursula K. LeGuin

The love we have in our youth is superficial compared to the love that an old man has for his old wife. -- Will Durant

I woke this morning to my husband's valentines to all his ladies. Rachael, Deborah, Hannah, and I had our little gifts of chocolates and cards waiting for us on the kitchen counter. It's a delightful way to wake up. I'll take Hershey's Hugs and Kisses for breakfast any day. 

Gordon is a good husband, father and friend. I am very thankful for him. I appreciate his intelligence, his commitment to God and his family, his consistency, his perseverance, his integrity, and his wisdom.

Isn't there a song called, "I'd Choose You Again"? Well my timing would be different a second time around, but I'd definitely choose Gordon again.


I received a couple emails regarding my recent poem for Gordon and have since worried that I was misleading. That poem was written while I was in a delusional state of love. Everything I said in that poem was true. However, there are plenty of poems that could be written that aren't quite as flattering to my marriage, and they would be true too. I am thankful to God for the marriage I have. I wouldn't trade my mess for anyones mess. But that is what it is, it's a mess. I don't know of any marriage that isn't a mess.

My marriage has a number of strengths. Gordon and I love each other passionately, share the same values, and want nothing more than to honor God and know Him more. That in itself gives us a huge advantage over those who don't share that common ground. But that being said, there's lots and lots of room to grow.

Mike Mason in his book about marriage, said love is a trick to get us married so God can work on our character. Of course he said it in jest, but I think he got a bull's eye in that snippet.

I tell you that just to say that yes it's a heart-felt poem that reflects a side of my marriage. But there is another side of my marriage that that poem in no way reflects.

If you are married, I think you know exactly what I'm saying. If you aren't married, well, you'll understand someday when God decides it's time to work on your character.

april is poetry month

(1992, Gordon and me, Spokane Washington airport. My first trip to Canada to see my future husband.)
Gordon and val first trip northApril is Poetry Month. Last year I wrote a poem - a poem to my husband Gordon. I am not a poet. I've always struggled understanding poetry but this poem came easily for me. There is a verse in Song of Solomon the uses the expression My Lover, My Friend. Early in our marriage I adopted that expression for Gordon. He's my lover, my friend.
My Lover, My Friend

Can I trust you with my heart,
My feelings, dreams and fears?
Will you care for me gently?
Will your kindness dry my tears?

Will we grow old together,
Sharing life’s problems and play?
Will you love me when my skin is aged?
Will you love me when my locks turn gray?

My Lover, My Friend,
How you touch me through!
I did not know the grace in love.
I did not yet know you.

In your presence I am unafraid,
Trusting and secure.
Your tenderness tore down my walls.
With you, my life feels pure.

You have filled my life with laughter,
Embraced me with goodwill.
You saw beyond my hardened shell.
Forgave, and entered still.

My Lover, My Friend,
How you touch me through!
I did not know the grace in love.
I did not yet know you.

Will you be there when I am dying,
Our last and sacred date?
Will you weep when I am passing?
Will you walk me through the gate?

If you should leave before me,
I will whisper through my tears,
“My Lover, My Friend,
I am glad we had these years.”
Valerie Dykstra 2004

my wedding day

055_55 (I don't look too upset here. I was a married woman by the time this was taken. 1993)

When Gordon and I got engaged, I was struck once again with the thought, “Can’t we just elope?” I had felt the same way for my first wedding, but because my best friend kept saying, “You’ll regret it for the rest of your life,” Kent and I had a regular wedding, albeit small. I very seriously doubt if I would have regretted eloping. But that is another story.

When I begged Gordon to elope, he countered that to elope would be nearly immoral. I complied, but not without a great deal of stress. I chose a nice dress – champagne colored and tea length. I thought it was very suitable for a simple second wedding. Gordon, who has an opinion on everything, said, “I want my bride to wear a white wedding dress.” He won that round and every other round pertaining to our wedding.

It only compounded the problem that our wedding created the worst time of my life; a custody case over Stephanie and Christopher, immigration to Canada, expense, expense, expense.

There are many cultural differences between a Polk County Arkansas wedding and one in Canada. Unfortunately that detail was lost to me. I was expecting things to happen as any wedding may in my hometown.

Gordon, my pastor fiance', actually performed a wedding on our wedding day. He took my car to said wedding. This detail will be important later in this tale.

Scan20087 Our wedding was at 6:00. I dressed 4-year-old Christopher in his tuxedo. He looked like a perfect little gentleman. Stephanie put on her silky turquoise dress and I fixed her hair just so. She looked like an angel. I was fairly relaxed and quite impressed with myself for not being too worked up by the impending wedding.

As 6:00 neared I hung my wedding dress and all the accompanying paraphernalia beside the front door. I waited. I waited some more. No phone calls, nothing.

I got more stressed with every passing moment. I walked back and forth to the window looking down to the apartment parking lot, waiting for Gordon to come. I was new to Canada and hardly knew anyone. Gordon and I weren’t adhering to the “don’t see the bride on the wedding day” rule and I expected him to pick me up. 

When 5:55 rolled around I was REALLY stressed. I thought Gordon had forgotten me, that he wasn’t coming to pick me up. I stuffed my wedding dress and other things under my arm and Stephanie, Christopher and I walked down to apartment 7 where the apartment manager lived. I had met her twice, and since I was new to Canada, that made her my best friend in this new life.

With trepidation I knocked on her door, very near tears. “Hi Johanna,” I began. “This is really embarrassing for me, but I think Gordon forgot about us. Could you take us to First Baptist?” She screamed, “Oh my God, where are my keys?” Then she started yelling at her husband in Dutch. They both jumped up and started rummaging through the apartment looking for keys, yelling in Dutch the whole time. She phoned Audrey, her friend that I’d spoken to in the hall a couple of times.

As Johanna ran frantically through her house yelling in a language I couldn’t understand, my own insecurities about being a “bother” surfaced. “It’s really ok. Don’t worry about it. I can…” My voice trailed off. As much as I hated to impose, the only alternative to being a bother was walking to the church.

Audrey came running down the hall. “Oh my God, we’ve got to get you to your wedding.” The five of us lumbered into her economy car, everyone holding something white – white shoes, white bra, white wedding dress, white hoop.

It was now five or ten minutes after 6:00. I was as mad as I’d ever been. I could not believe I’d been treated like this on my wedding day. Audrey pulled into the crowded parking lot. I saw a basement door and asked her to get as close to it as possible. I jumped out of the car, tripped over the hoop I was carrying just as Christopher stepped on my wedding dress. I yelled.

The basement door was locked. What was I to do? I didn’t know, so I banged on it. My anger was almost rage now. A quiet, gentle woman opened the door and greeted me with, “Oh my, you’re not ready.” I resisted the urge to say, “No shit, Sherlock” and instead snapped, “I’m gonna kill Gordon Dykstra. Where do I go to change?”

She took my wedding dress and laid it on a table. We were in the fellowship hall. The gentle music was wafting downstairs. I started undressing right there and this kind, virtual stranger helped. I tried to be modest, but it was hopeless. As I was bent over struggling with the hoop, she was coercing my breasts into the strapless bra. Strangely, I was grateful for the help.

She zipped my wedding dress and told me I looked lovely. I slipped on a shoe and started kicking my clothes on the floor around. “Where is that other damn shoe?” (This seems like a good place to remind you that I was marrying this woman’s pastor.) She and I looked under everything searching for the other shoe. I ran to the door to peek out. Sure enough, there was my white shoe. I ran over the dirt and rocks, holding my dress up as best I could, clip clopping, one shoe on and one shoe off.

“You’d better get upstairs,” she said.

“Do I look ok? What’s my hair look like? Is my makeup streaked?” She smiled and told me I was beautiful.

I walked upstairs, livid at my future husband. Here I was about to walk down the aisle and hadn’t so much as seen myself in the mirror.

At the top of the stairs, I calmed as the pianist played, “There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit in this Place.” I walked to the entrance of the sanctuary and the Wedding March began. As I walked down the aisle, Gordon smiled at me and I knew he was proud. My anger dissipated.

At our reception I learned that in Canada a bride looks anxious to tie the knot if she’s early. (That's stupid.) It is not unusual for her to be 10-20 minutes late. (That's rude.) I learned that the bride dresses at home not at the church. (That's silly.)

My wedding day was a perilous day. I look back with embarrassment and amazement at my own stupidity and ignorance. I made more mistakes than I can shake a stick at. But those mistakes I still can’t talk about.

On our 10th Anniversary I told myself, “I love this man very much. I embrace this relationship and it’s time I embrace our wedding.” I took out the video and put it in the VCR for the first time. I couldn’t watch it. I faced the wall opposite the TV. I listened. It sounded like a sweet wedding. I decided that on our 15th anniversary I’d watch it, actually face the TV and watch my wedding on video.

In our 10th year of marriage I framed a wedding picture for our bedroom. It too was part of the act of embracing one of the most awful days of my life. An awful day it was, but it’s a day I’m thankful for.