On November 12, 2021, my son Matthew was married to Abbey Motley. This was the third wedding of the year for our family.
My son Eric married Jessica Ragas on March 19.
My son Mitchell married Lucy Clark on May 15.
I love each and every one of my new daughters. They bring their own unique traits to my sons. And I am incredibly happy for them all.
Interestingly, my husband and I felt almost giddy about Matt and Abbey’s engagement and marriage. Why? Well, because they remind us of ourselves. Russ and I fell in love in college and decided to get married while still in college.
Matt and Abbey are 21 years old. Still in college. And now married.
What are my thoughts about this? Oh my. I am so very happy. Matthew and Abbey met at Wichita State University through a friend. Abbey will graduate soon with her nursing degree. Matthew is studying to be a mechanical engineer. He will graduate one of these days. (He took some time to do Air Force Reserves.) They grew their relationship slowly, but once they knew, they knew.
And they are so darn cute together.
So when they approached us a year ago and said that they were going to be getting engaged and such, we were simply happy for them. We knew that being young and in love AND MARRIED was quite fabulous.
What do we love about Abbey? Well, first and foremost, she has great taste. Ha.
Abbey is a woman who knows where she is going. She is not afraid to have difficult conversations, which is something I highly admire. Her passions and emotions run deep; she is not flighty or frivolous, yet she is very feminine. Her heart is good. Her faith is strong. And when she looks at my son, her whole being lights up.
Russ and I have enjoyed watching Matt and Abbey prepare for their wedding and again, it has taken us down Memory Lane, which is just good for the heart and soul of an old married couple.
So, what did I love most about their wedding? Well, it is interesting because the HIGH MOMENT actually started out as a LOW MOMENT. Let me explain.
See, Abbey’s family situation is such that she has a kind mother, Lisa, as well as two beautiful sisters. But her dad is not in the picture. There is no older brother. And so she decided to have her grandmother walk her down the aisle. Then her grandmother could not attend the wedding.
We weren’t sure what to do about this situation, but Abbey took care of it by asking Father Joel Haug, a long-time family friend, to walk her down the aisle.
I had never heard of a priest walking the bride down the aisle. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think of it, because, well, it was outside of my normal way of thinking. So I just thought, “That’s nice” intertwined with some quiet sadness for sweet Abbey.
So not having a dad walk Abbey down the aisle was actually my low moment of the wedding.
Then Father Joel gave us his perspective of the moment.
His whole homily was on how we live our lives...and how, as we follow God’s will, we will naturally lead others to Christ. That’s how it works.
We all have to give things up in the process, of course. He spoke about the things he had to give up in his own vocation. He wouldn’t be able to have his own kids. He gave that up for Christ.
He spoke directly to Matt and Abbey about the things they will give up for one another. And that is how it should be.
But then he brought it around to the Goodness of God. And he shared how he felt when Abbey called him and asked him if he would walk her down the aisle.
Oh my. This priest shared his heart with us, giving us a different take on the situation. See, as a priest, he knew he would never ever walk his own daughter down the aisle. But God, in His Goodness, let Father Joel experience that through his spiritual daughter, Abbey.
And Fr. Joel said it was one of the most precious gifts to his priestly heart.
As he shared that perspective with us, the moment was elevated to Oh My Stars status. What joy. What beauty. What grace.
God is so very good.
Father’s willingness to share his heart was a good reminder for me. We can stay in our little emotional box, closed in and safe. That might have seemed like the best option for this priest. But HE CHOSE to share with us in a very personal way.
He kept smiling and saying how GOOD our GOD is. He was truly grateful. And that made all of us see the absolute beauty in the situation.
Wow. I love when a seemingly low moment gets elevated to a High Moment. Because that was truly a moment of divine grace.
Another really special part of the wedding ceremony happened before the homily; Rachel Doerneman had been asked to read the First Reading. But here’s the deal. She not only read it, she delivered it to Matt and Abbey. Her whole face was LIT with joy and excitement as she spoke this to her brother and Abbey, who were seated and facing Rachel:
"Blessed the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days; A worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life. A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the LORD; Be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face.
"A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones; A gift from the LORD is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth. Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste soul. A holy and decent woman adds grace upon grace; indeed, no price is worthy of her temperate soul. Like the sun rising in the LORD’s heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home."
Now, the sort of funny part: Rachel’s newish boyfriend was sitting in a pew just beyond Matt and Abbey. So as Rachel gazed up at Matt and Abbey and spoke these words, “Blessed the husband of a good wife,” at first it looked like Rachel was making a proclamation to this new guy in her life. And we were like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa…” but then we quickly realized she was actually speaking to MATT and ABBEY and we just sort of chuckled.
What else? Well, the music was beautiful. I loved that Abbey and Matthew had invited a couple of Wichita priests (Fr. Sam Brand and Fr. Zach Pinnare) to co-celebrate and THEY ACTUALLY MADE THE TREK TO Kansas City.
The other really powerful moment for me was when Matthew and Abbey exchanged vows. They had them memorized and they spoke them to each other without prompts. WOW. I also loved how Abbey gazed with absolute love into the eyes of my son. She gave her whole heart to him, as he did to her.
All at the age of 21.
The rest of the night was great, as we ate, drank and danced. Abbey and Matthew also entrusted me to make their wedding reception food. Now, the reason I was able to do that was because I am one of 11 children. As such, I was raised in a family that knows how to make Lots of Food at All Times. (My mom, Bonnie Kreshel, used to make homemade French bread. But she never made one loaf. She always made around six.)
The first time I made chicken for my new husband, I roasted two whole chickens. Isn’t that funny? Russ wanted to know who we were inviting over.
So when we started thinking about making the wedding food, two of my sisters (who could also be caterers) told me that I could do it. And they assured me that they would help as much as they could.
What did we serve? Pulled Pork. Now. The wedding was in Kansas City, the Home of Barbeque. So I was a little nervous about that, but I have a killer pulled pork recipe and it has never failed me.
So I made it and froze it. (The process is long, but worth it. You brine a pork butt for about 18 hours. Then you slather it with a ton of amazing spices and slow slow slow roast it for hours upon hours.)
I am delighted to tell you that it came out perfectly (plus it defrosted perfectly) so I will concur with their name: Kevin and Amanda’s Perfect Pulled Pork. (I also bought Oklahoma Joe’s barbeque sauce, which is like drizzling a bit of heaven onto the perfect pulled pork...)
We also served The Best Baked Beans Ever by The Pioneer Woman.
We wanted to have a fun side like Cheesy Corn, but we decided to go with a cold side: potato salad. And a friend, Michelle Suddeth, who used to own a barbeque restaurant, gave us the best tip on potato salad: buy the Southern Potato Salad from Sam’s Club. Add sour cream, hard boiled eggs and dill. That elevated the potato salad from really good to “I think my stomach wants to marry you” status.
(Ratio: 20# potato salad. 15 hard boiled eggs. 2 ½ pounds sour cream. ½ cup dill weed.)
I had a couple of good friends (Lisa and Jeanette) come over several nights before the wedding and help me with some of the prep. What good women. (It takes a village!)
Huge Huge Tip: use the instant pot for boiling the eggs. Oh. My. Stars. My life was changed.
I was able to borrow roasters from my good friend, Julie and my sister, Katie. Friends and family more or less took over after the wedding, getting the food out and keeping the drinks flowing. Again, we had the village thing working for us.
Luke Peter (long time friend of our son, Eric) made the cakes. If you have never tasted Luke’s cakes, you.are.missing.out. His cakes are ridiculously beautiful and flavorful: Stand Tall Bake Shop.
In the middle of the evening my daughter Rachel told me that she had requested “Bohemian Rhapsody” for Matthew and me. I just smiled. That song and I have history. I love love love that song. It’s a classic in my life. And so you can imagine my dismay when I realized that my oldest children (who were in high school at the time) did not know the song.
I felt like I had failed Motherhood 101. I mean, come on. So from then on out, I made sure each of my children could sing every word to that song.
“MAMA!!! I killed a man...put a gun up to his head, pulled the trigger, now he’s dead…”
Okay. Maybe not exactly a good and holy song. But it is a song that I love love love.
So Matt and I sort of serenaded/proclaimed that song to each other during the dance. And my mama heart was happy.
I truly love this life.
Thank you, Matthew and Abbey, for giving me the permission to write about your wedding. Reflecting on Marriage helps us old people keep everything in perspective. It helps us engage in a deeper way, keeping the love alive. Because truly, love is the very best gift.
We are delighted that you found each other and we are here for you as you embark on your new journey. Together.
Welcome to the family, Abbey. It’s a joy to have you as a new daughter.
P.S. If you are a mom and you live in or around Wichita, consider spending a morning for yourself as we begin the Advent Season! I am hosting a MOTHER RETREAT the beginning of December!
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