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I can’t believe it! My long-awaited dreams are finally coming true, I said to myself while brushing my waist-length hair in my cream-colored nightgown before bed. This was to be the last night I would do that alone in my parents’ home, the one my siblings and I grew up in. That thought stilled my brush and I gazed at myself in my little mirror with mixed feelings. For a moment I was slightly saddened, thinking how much I would miss my family and our normal every-day routine. I had been single and practically an alt maedel for so long that finally getting married seemed almost strange now. But in an instant, those feelings of uncertainty vanished and were replaced with excited ones regarding the next day’s events. I was to finally be Eben Troyer’s braut---bride, and ach, how happy I was!
I smiled to myself as I turned away from the mirror and sat down on the edge of the bed. I once again admired and gently fingered the beautiful double-ring quilt that I had so recently inherited. I stared at it awhile, absorbed in my own thoughts. As I look at it even now, so happily married, I am reminded of da Herr’s great love and faithfulness to His children---to me! Me, of all people! A person who falls so short of His glory all the time. I am blessed beyond measure. But back to the night before my wedding. I leaned back against the pillows, deep in thought. So much has happened since I decided to step out in faith and take this quilt out of my hope chest. I have learned some valuable lessons too. I sighed quietly. For one thing, I have learned to trust Gott no matter how difficult the circumstances, and that sometimes you have to just get up and act boldly. I smiled again, recalling the comical incident not too long before this when I impulsively went to Indiana to look for Eben. And irony of ironies, if he wasn’t in Hickory Hollow the exact same day looking for me! I laughed a little, remembering. Another smile played on my face as a conversation I had with my dear intended a few days previous came back into focus. It was close to sunset, and we were taking a stroll through the pasture together. We were walking along peacefully and quietly, just enjoying the beauty of the outdoors, when suddenly Eben stopped walking and pulled me closer to him. He looked into my eyes and said,
“Dearest Joanna. How I love you.”
A lump filled my throat and I managed to answer back,
“Oh, Eben. I love you too. I am so happy that Gott has worked everything out according to His perfect plan for us.” I smiled as he touched my face gently.
“So am I, love. I am amazed that through such impossible circumstances, He was answering our prayers all along.”
I squeezed his hand and looked at him tenderly, and we continued walking. Yes indeed, the Lord had answered my prayers. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to share my life with. In fact, I wouldn’t! As I lay against my bed reliving that sweet time together, I had a sudden inspiration. I jumped out of bed and kneeled down in front of my hope chest, pulling out a small notebook that I got specifically for writing my poetry. I brought it and a pencil back to bed and began to write. I thought I would like to give my husband-to-be a little gift from me, sharing my heart with him in a poem. I finished up the last line in about fifteen minutes, turned off the lamp, and crawled under the covers. That night I had a wonderful dream of cooking for Eben in our home for the first time, and how he grinned when he tasted my whoopie pie!
The next day when I awoke, I saw Cora Jane standing a little forlornly in the doorway, with quite the somber face. I quickly sat up, rubbing my eyes saying,
“Good morning, sister. You look so sad; are you all right?”
She made an effort to smile and answer back, but failed. She ran to my bedside and burst into tears. I gathered her up in my arms and tried to comfort her, rubbing her back until she calmed down. When she was able to speak I asked her what was wrong. She cried out,
“Oh, Joanna! I will just miss ya so! We will never live in the same house again, never be able to have our sisterly chats before bed like we used to, and we just started bein’ friends again just lately. It’s not fair.” She tried to stop crying and wipe her eyes while pushing away from me to look at my face. I said to her, my own eyes filling,
“We will still be able to talk and see each other as often as we like, dear sister. And I will live close by, ya know.” A mischievous grin grew on my face as I teasingly added,
“Besides. If I’m not mistaken, I thought someone else around here had her own bridesmaids to be looking for soon.”
At that, Cora Jane blushed prettily and murmured, “I don’t even deserve to be married, after the way I have been. Especially not to such a considerate and pleasant man like Jake, and after all the judgmental and unkind thoughts and remarks I have made against him and so many other people. He is much more than I deserve, but I do so love him.”
I smiled into her now-happy face, so pleased that we could share this sweet time together as friends once more.
I married Eben later that morning in a beautiful yet solemn ceremony, with Cora Jane and two other cousins standing up with me. Eben and I said our vows to each other and then partook of a wunnerbaar-gut feast afterwards. It feels like yesterday, but it has been over two years since that lovely day. How time flies!
Cora Jane married Jake Lantz in October, a year after my own wedding. They are happily living a few miles from Dat and Mamma, in a little farmhouse. My little sister is now expecting their first little one and I am so excited for her, as is my whole family. Eben and I have one on the way as well, and a beautiful little girl, almost a year old. We decided to name her Joanna, after me and my great aunt, and Grace because Gott’s grace is more than we deserve. We can’t wait until little Joanna Grace is old enough to understand about His wonderful grace, and her heritage that I discovered not too long before she came about. I hope she will appreciate it and have as much faith as her amazing great-great-great namesake aunt did. Da Herr has bountifully blessed us, even in the midst of trials and pain. I know He is always with me and is guiding my steps, even though I can’t see it at the time. I thank Him daily for my wonderful family, and for giving me the man of my dreams and beautiful children to raise up for Him. Thank You, Father.
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