Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Royal Wedding

It was a summer day in July 1981 when I was a 15-year old wide-eyed girl mesmorized by the young Diana Spencer and her wedding that day to the Prince of Wales. I awoke in the wee hours of the morning to watch every moment of that day. As a teenage girl, I dreamed of the fairytale, like many do, and marrying my "prince" one day. I had read every magazine article, my Mom had bought me books and I soaked in every step of their engagement to the altar..and thereafter. I remember when William was born and the hoop-la that followed his birth as an heir to the throne was born. Then when red-headed, Harry, was born and a "spare" came to be, I was still following Diana's footsteps.

Diana was a normal girl, living a normal life dreaming of what I dreamed of and had achieved it. She was the future Queen and even more important, loved being a Mommy to those two boys. It was soon after the second birth that the fairytale began to fade. And, I followed that road with her too. I hurt for her as her marriage crumbled and as she tried to be the best Mom ever and move on with her life after her dream prince had always loved another. A sad ending became sadder in 1997 when a fatal accident took Diana's life. I, again, followed every step of the mourning and funeral and couldn't believe that 16 years after that wedding day it was over. I remember watching William and Harry walking behind her casket as it rolled towards Westminster Abbey to her funeral and grieved more for the loss of a mother to those boys. Somehow I hoped that her influence in their lives would redeem what was lost. Yesterday, I believe it did.

Once again, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning to travel to a friend's house to watch the royal wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Although I hadn't soaked up every detail of Kate's life as I did Diana, the fairytale excitement was still there. I watched with anticipation of seeing her dress, seeing William look at her for the first time at the altar and that kiss on the balcony. Her dress was exquisite, William told her she was beautiful when he laid eyes on her and we got two kisses on the balcony, not just one. Kate handled the whole affair with grace and when you looked at these two young people who had been friends for years before dating, you could see those glances of inside jokes and understandings that come from two best friends getting married.

The ceremony and the whole wedding event was just as I'd hoped. The sermon by the Bishop of London was suprisingly refreshing. Those Anglicans got it going on. My favorite part was this...

"In a sense every wedding is a royal wedding with the bride and groom as king and queen of creation, making a new life together so that life could flow through them into the future. William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in the sight of a generous God who so loved the world that He gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. And in the spirit of this generous God, husband and wife are to give themselves to each other."

You can read the full sermon here, but it was articulately given and a reminder to the two billion people watching of the simple gospel - "a generous God who so loved the world that He gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ." Amen.

As I reflected on the day and watched Will and Kate wave to the crowds, leave the Palace, I had that reassurance that Diana's life wasn't for naught. For here is a man marrying the love of his life and looking ahead to a future monarchy being built. A young man whose life was formed and shaped by a Mother who told him "marry for true love" and taught him how to live as normal of a life living in the spotlight of the British media. May those offspring of Will and Kate truly reflect their influence as they "flow into the future."

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum - The Sequel

I just returned from our bi-annual event where my company hosts IT executives and technology vendors to provide a first-class atmosphere and a place where technology solutions can be evaluated for future purchase. I can give you the longer pitch, but I'd lose you. It's quite a stellar event, but when it's over, we all take a breath, and definitely feel our age (at least those of us over the age of 35) and gear up for the next one in seven months. I wrote a post after our very first event and thought I'd recap the week in a similar fashion.

1. The flight to and from our Miami destination took us through Charlotte airport. Whoever designed that airport didn't factor in growth, or the lack of time between connections. Unlike Atlanta, or other larger airports that have different layouts, if you land at Concourse B and your connecting flight is in E, you have to hike through every letter in between. As I boarded the plane in Charlotte for Miami, I headed to my seat - 14F - and found it occupied by a man with his wife next to him. Before I could say anything, they said "Oh we sat in the wrong row." As their lunch was sprawled out before them (and I didn't have time to grab food during the connection and wouldn't even get a peanut on this flight), I didn't have much mercy. The man in Row 13 immediately offered to let me sit up there, but the principle of the matter was, I wanted the window. I thanked him, but said I really would prefer the window. The couple let out a few harrumphs and said "I guess we could move" and the very sweet man in Row 13 said, "Oh, you can have the window." Now I'm in lucky Row 13, in the wrong seat. If the plane crashes, they think I'm married to that man who sat in the wrong row. Thankfully none of that happened.

2. Our five-star resort didn't live up to our expectations. I won't mention names, lest I get picked up in a Google search and their lawyers come after me. But, let's just say it's a resort in Miami that hosts many a PGA tournament. A little Internet research and you'll probably figure it out. The biggest issue at this hotel was their lack of available water. The hotel has a main building where you check in, then all the rooms are located in lodges around the peripheral of that main building. In the 90+ Miami heat, you head toward your room up and down hilly pathways and when you arrive, parched and in need of water, you find two bottles in your room of Evian and Fiji water!...with a price tag of $5 per bottle. Drats! Then, you see an ice bucket - success! - and drag your dehydrated body to find the ice machine. But, it's nowhere to be found. And this lack of water and beverage throughout the event continues. This, my friends, is just a little glimpse of what hell will be like, but, oh, so much worse...not only will there not be water, you won't have a dime to pay for it even if Satan had a lemonade stand. This analogy didn't hit me until right before I left, but I have thanked God more than once for my salvation from a place like hell. You want to hold revival in the land? Take them to this resort and withhold water. If the gospel doesn't reach them there, there hearts are way too hardened.

3. When we arrived at said resort, we were famished. It was 3pm and we hadn't eaten. We headed toward the restaurant in the main building after checking in and had an appetizer and meal. Getting a server to bring us beverages was a challenge (see previous hell reference). After we finally got our food, the server asked how our bills would be split. We asked they be separated and she inquired about the appetizer. We requested that it be split equally among us. Although the language was a bit of a barrier, she did speak English and we figured she understood. Au contraire, my friends. We got our bill and all meals were split equally. Sigh. Hard to explain that on an expense report.

4. I arrived on Saturday and when I got to my room, I turned down the air so the sweltering humidity would dispense in my room before mold began to develop. I slept well that night and woke up the next morning, took a shower and thought "Man it's hot in here." I just thought it was "Welcome to Miami" until I decided to check the thermostat...which was now a blank screen. Lovely. No air conditioning in Miami (see earlier hell reference). The very nice engineer came and said a fuse had blown or a breaker had tripped. Tripping, blowing, whatever, he took care of it, so when I returned to my room 14 hours later, I could breathe. Thank you Mr. Repairman. Evangelical note: There is no air conditioning in hell, much less nice repairmen.

5. The travel home started at 7:15pm from Miami and our plane safely hit the hollowed ground of Kentucky at 12:15am. We were one of the last, if not THE last, flight of the day and by the time we got to baggage claim, our bags were rolling on the belt. Much improved over our 30 minute wait for bags in Miami. As I rolled my luggage to my car, Bluebelle, and happy to see her, I headed out to pay my parking and get home to my own bed. The parking attendant said "Thunder is going to be a cold, rainy time this year." I explained that I'd been in Miami for five days, disconnected from reality so she briefed me on the weather happenings and forecast for this Saturday's kickoff for the Kentucky Derby Festival. As I drove off, I smiled to myself as I felt comforted that after a week in a town where very few spoke my language, I had a sweet lady that said "Thunder" and I knew she wasn't talking about a rainstorm. Dorothy sure was right...there is no place like home.