Monday, March 4, 2019

A Wedding In Pittsburgh - Part 3

The Main Event was here and we were ready.

Blurry, but ready and excited

St. Paul's Cathedral was breathtaking and brought a tear to my eye with it's beauty.

St. Paul's Cathedral, Pittsburgh, PA

The program asked us to keep phones and cameras away and that was the best advice.  We took it all in without worrying about taking pictures.  We were in the moment.

Everyone looked beautiful, of course.  But the ceremony was so much more than that.  One thing I like to do when the bride is about to come down the aisle is turn around and look at the groom and the mother of the bride.  I just love watching their reactions to the joy about to take place and imagine what might be going through their minds.  So much depth in the perception.

Mass was wonderful.  The priest, the music, the cantor, even the altar servers made it a reverent, beautiful sacrament.  The love in that church - both the human and Divine - was palpable.

After mass, I got a quick hello in with Billie Jo!!  And then we were off to the reception.  It all took place in the lobby of the hotel and the adjoining rooms.  It was transformed from what we had seen the night before at check-in.  There was a pianist and a violinist to welcome us there.

Before dinner, many in Madison's and Nicolas' immediate family gave little speeches.  This was one of my favorite parts of the evening.  Standing there listening to the two families and their heartfelt memories along with their wishes for the couple, you couldn't help but realize this marriage had a strong foundation that it was going to build upon. 

My first order of business, however, was to find and meet Danielle, another blog friend of Billie Jo's who I had heard was going to be there. (you can find her sweet blog here ) She and her husband and son were so nice to get to know in the short time we had together before dinner.  Such nice people!!  Next, I just had to meet BJ's mom and of course, Marian!!! She is so nice and easy to talk to; no wonder she's BJ's BFF. How wonderful it was to meet all of these people I had read about for years on BJ's blog.

My one and only pic of Billie Jo 🙄...2nd from right. She looked amazing!!

At dinner, we sat with Madison's Aunt and Uncle who, as luck God would have it, introduced us to their daughter and son in law, who are also foster parents. We met Nicole and Andrew soon after dinner and it is a gift to find new friends who understand our journey.  We have since gotten together and met each others was wonderful.  Lovely, lovely people.  Ironically, they were the family we had seen the night before when we checked in.

Here is the gorgeous happy couple.

And this is how nice Madison is....after we took her picture, she insisted on taking one of me and Bill on my camera just so we'd have one together.

Billie Jo and Steve made us feel so welcome. And all of their children-- The Newlyweds, Peyton, Rhett, and Flynn all greeted us with open arms and smiles galore. Considering we had only met once before, they made us feel like a part of their family.  It takes some really special people to make someone feel like that.

The circumstances that brought us there was nothing short of divine intervention, I believe.  A wish on my heart became a reality thanks to a feeling placed on BJ's heart.  And now, we have new friends because of this.  Friends who have already brought us inspiration and strength on this journey called foster care.  It is truly amazing.

Sunday we left bright and early to head back home.  One last picture.

I wish Madison and Nicolas much love and happiness and a very big thank you for allowing us to share your special day with you.

For more amazing pictures, check out Billie Jo's blog here and Madison's blog here.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Wedding In Pittsburgh - Part 2

Our house was clean, schedules were written, dinners were prepped, and our bags were packed.  My in-laws were arriving in the afternoon the day before the wedding.  We were staying in Pittsburgh for two whole nights.  Even though the anticipation was half the fun, I was still excited to get in the car and GO!

We arrived to our destination around 10:30 that night.

Oh, the hotel!

Mansions on Fifth/ Photo: Craig Photography

Because we were taking the place of a family member who at the last minute couldn't make it, we had a room right at the venue where the wedding reception was taking place. It is called Mansions on Fifth.  Fifth Avenue was home to the elite in the early 1900's.  The Mansion was commissioned by a prominent lawyer back then.  A 20,000 square foot home was to be built for his family.  Large for a family home, the hotel now has twenty cozy rooms available for guests. 

When we checked in we were greeted by a grand staircase, a fire in the fireplace, and a baby grand piano.  There was also a side room with a small bar area,  another fireplace and one family, sitting quietly and chatting.  The ambiance was to die for!!

As much as I wanted to get a glass of wine and strike up a conversation with them (all the guests of the hotel were guests for the wedding), we decided to get some shut-eye.  Mostly. 😉

Because Madison and Nicolas' wedding wasn't until 4pm the next day, we could sleep in and then do a little sight-seeing in the morning.  I gloried in a shower that I didn't need to rush through before a baby cried.  It's the little things.

We decided to have breakfast in the strip district at a little place called Cafe Raymond.  Delicious.  I gloried in the fact that I could eat slowly and not be distracted before a baby cried.  It's the little things.

I enjoyed just how nice it is to be with Bill, sometimes talking, sometimes in a comfortable silence.  We walked through a huge antique shop,  stopped in for a wine sampling, and walked the streets that were wall to wall with Steelers and Penguins gear. Being from Philly, I still didn't mind.  The people here were so nice and it was great to see the love they show for their city.  Until I saw this t-shirt!

You're killin' me, Pittsburgh.  But I forgive you.

We also got to do this cheesy tourist attraction called the Duquesne Incline.

At the bottom of the incline

Great views from the top.
We checked in with Mom and Dad to make sure all was well at home.  They were doing an amazing job taking care of everyone there.  They sent us these pics.

How grateful we are for them!!

Before long, we had to head back to the hotel.

It was now time to get ready for the Main Event!!

To Be Continued......

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Wedding In Pittsburgh - Part 1

"I love how God strategically places people in your lives at just the perfect timing."

That was a recent comment a new friend of mine wrote on her Instagram page.  I thought it was the perfect way to start off this post, because without a doubt, God was in all the details I'm about to write about.

Billie Jo has been follower of my blog since I started back in 2011.  In fact, if not for her and her faithful comments on each and every post of mine, I may not have stuck with These Joyful Mysteries for very long.  She was a positive influence and silently encouraged me to continue to write and journal about my family and faith.

Our families had the opportunity to meet a few years back.  They were lovely.  I felt so fortunate to be able to meet them in person and see just how awesome they all were. (You can read about that meet-up here.) Unfortunately, we live about 4 hours away from each other, so that was our only visit.

BJ and I continued to keep in touch via our blogs, text messages, and Christmas cards.  I had been following her updates about her oldest daughter Madison and her fiance' Nicolas in recent months.  They were going to be married in February.

I frequently joked with Bill that I was going to drive out to Pittsburgh (5 hours away!!) and crash the ceremony.  I had so badly wanted to see Madison get married.  I heard she was in love with a great man, has an eye for elegance, and that the entire wedding would be a class act.  I even thought about having my whole family do a weekend trip to Pitt just so I could catch a glimpse.  I probably would have done that if not for the little babies making travel a bit difficult.  Furthermore, I dreamed that it would be perfect if Bill and I could get away from all the crazy of our lives and go to Pitt by ourselves.
No joke.

About 3 weeks before the wedding, as I sat in my family room watching Avengers: Infinity War with Bill and the kids, I got this text from BJ.

I must have stared at the screen for 5 minutes straight.

I passed the phone over to Bill so he could read it.  I had tears in my eyes asking if we could make this happen.  He called his parents.  They said yes to watching ALL 7 kids.  God bless them and their generous, giving hearts.

This was actually going to happen!!