This past Saturday night, we were privileged to co-host a party thrown in honor of us and our wedding. It was actually a party that Kenny, the guy who rents our studio apartment to us, wanted to throw for us back in June, but because we were still adjusting to married life for a couple weeks and then Kirk got sick for another few weeks, it didn't happen until just now.
It was an amazing night. First, Kenny hired a gourmet personal chef service to provide the food. Not only did they provided scrumptious fare, but they also set up beautiful flowers and serving stations in all the main rooms of the house, plus wandered around with platters of harvest-themed food throughout the night. In further keeping with the fall theme for the evening, Kenny rented two tree-like planters for the backyard that were roped in small orange lights. (But a nearby tornado warning brought unexpected rain pummeling down on the house shortly after the party started, so not as many people got to enjoy the backyard as we'd hoped.) Since our house is attached to Kenny's and we knew people would want to see it, too, we also bought a big cinnamon-scented decorative broom for our kitchen, which filled the house with a wonderful aroma (and still is!). Oh, and besides offering a great assortment of red and white wines, the caterers brought some October Beer that extended the harvest theme that much further. It was a great touch!
To give you an idea of how big a shebang this was, 40 people came (50 were invited), and Kenny took off work on Friday in order to prepare for it! The three of us ran an unending array of errands on Saturday, and finally pow-wowed about an hour beforehand to put on the finishing touches: candles, flowers, the cinammon stick broom, and a presentation on the main table of our wedding photos, a guest book to sign, and the National Geographic magazine that was the inspiration for our Celtic-Irish wedding. In our house, Kirk and I kept the lights dim with Irish music playing, as well as a special "Over Ireland" PBS movie we own so that people could feel free to wander around if they wanted. I even found a great new outfit from The Loft to wear that consisted of dark-brown pants, a long-sleeved white blouse, and a soft dark-brown sweater, in order to match the festive fall theme. All these touhes created quite the atmosphere for this October party!
Let me just say that Kirk has an amazing, eclectic, beautiful group of people in his life. Most of the people at the party (all but one, maybe?) were from Full Sail, and so many of them have been there for 10-plus years. Kirk has been there for 14 years now, so they've known one another for ages. I was just struck by how different and kind and funny and real and caring everyone was. And even though the introvert in me was nervous to meet a group of 40 people coming to the house to "find out what this new Christianne girl is all about," the nerves vanished the moment I opened the door to greet our very first guest.
One of the things that moved me the most was the regard all of them have in their hearts for Kirk. They couldn't speak highly enough about him to me, and many of them said that he was a person who helped "form them" -- that he was a principal contributing force to who they are today, simply through the way he invested in them while they worked together. They all have such great esteem for the person that he is and the choices that he's made, especially the choice to leave Full Sail professionally last year in order to pursue God's call for the next phase of his life. I think that has made a real impression on so many of them.
And finally, I was filled with an ever-increasing joy at the realization of who Kirk and I are together when we're with other people. We've had a few experiences of this in the past, but not many because we're from different sides of the country and haven't had too many "social outings"since we've been married yet. This kinda felt like the kick-off to a new phase in our life, a phase of increased interaction with others, and we agreed beforehand that we were going into this gathering with the intent of ministering to those who came. Even though the party was officially for us, we wanted people to feel cared for and nurtured and drawn out so that they felt the sheer value of their own lives while they were with us. Simply put, we wanted them to feel Jesus. I'm proud -- and simultaneously humbled -- to say I believe that they did.