A post by Mimi

…Written as we sit around at home waiting for news of our family in Ethiopia. Some of this post is taken from my toast to the bride and groom, but edited to make sense to this audience. Note: All photography copyright Rusty Eyre unless otherwise noted.

My best friend Jessa got married on Saturday. I was her maid of honor, and it was a beautiful wedding. Jessa and I have known each other since the seventh grade, when we took a biology class for homeschooled students together (my dad actually taught the class). During one of the dissection labs early in the semester, all of the students were cutting up worms and my specimen was thin and shriveled and essentially impossible to dissect, so I looked around the room, and saw one girl with poufy hair who had a plump, formaldehyde-y worm. I decided to ask her if she wanted to be lab partners, and we’ve been best friends ever since.

(I snapped this photo a few minutes before we started formal photos with our absolutely brilliant photographer Rusty Eyre.)

Before Jessica emerged from the dressing room, we sent her fiance Joe to wait for her in the church so that they could have a moment alone before we started with pictures. Here she is, about to enter the church (this picture is one that I took):

Her fiance, on the other hand, I met quite a few years later, during the first semester of our freshman year at the U of I…(story continued below photo. Joe is the second from the left)

Jessa and I had a class together at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and one Tuesday in late autumn, it was bitterly cold. Jessa came to school wearing this cute little, white, quilted jacket that wasn’t very warm, and I remember her making some comment about how she was probably going to get hypothermia.

Around lunch time I ran into her again, but this time she was wearing a big parka. I asked her where she had gotten it, and she replied that this guy Joe (who I hadn’t met, but was a music student like herself) had been kind enough to let her borrow it for the day, and he was keeping an eye on her jacket in exchange.
(this picture is one that I took. The church didn’t have any areas we could use for dressing, so Jessa’s parents brought a trailer out for us to use)

Later that afternoon, I was sitting in the School of Music lobby, and out of the corner of my eye I saw this guy walk past, wearing a cute, little, white, quilted jacket. Bingo. I yelled after him, “Hey Joe!”
He turned and looked at me, clearly searching for name to match my face. No such luck.
I said, “You’re Joe, right?”
He said, “Yeahhhh…?”
I introduced myself, explaining that I was a friend of Jessa’s, whose cute little jacket he was currently barely squeezing into. I knew right then that he was a pretty special guy, but I had no idea just how special he was going to become.

Jessa is the first of her family to leave the nest, and I know it was bittersweet for her parents to say goodbye.

The groom and his groomsmen all went to the same highschool, and this pose is apparently the Cashmere Highschool Official Pose. Or something like that, and the guys decided to immortalize it in one of the pictures:

The wedding was in a tiny white church on top of a hill surrounded by wheat fields. In this picture, you can see my sister Sweet Pea on the far right side, in the pink dress:

The reception was fantastic. Joe’s mother custom-made a gigantic red tent with scalloped edges trimmed with white piping. We had fruit, bread and cheese, teriyaki meatballs with pineapple, vegetables, punch, wine and champagne, and, of course, cake. We danced, and we ate, and we toasted, and partied the night away…

Through the years, Jessa has been so much more than just my “best friend.” In her I have found a therapist, comedienne, teacher, comforter, confidante, and partner in crime. We have done everything together, from road tripping to Portland with the Honors program, to being in a production of the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” We both suffered through braces for far longer than any human being should have to endure. We have had Bible studies, stayed up all night together writing papers for school, and consumed gallons of coffee in each other’s presence. We have cried in each other’s arms, and laughed until we couldn’t breathe.
Jessa’s presence in my life has impacted me deeply, and I love her like a sister. Joe is so incredibly blessed to take her as his wife, and I can’t wait until we all come together again to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Mark and Sarah
    July 29, 2008

    What a sweet tribute to your friend. Just wanted to let you know that a lot of your pictures didn’t show up. I use blogspot too, and sometimes that happens…you just have to upload them again, it’s a real bummer. The pictures you posted are beautiful though!

  2. Thankfulmom
    July 30, 2008

    Thanks for the heads up! The pictures should all be working now…

  3. Brianna Heldt
    July 30, 2008

    what a great post! it reminded me of when my husband and i got married, we met in college and got married young also.

    loved the story about the jacket, too funny!

  4. Nikki
    August 1, 2008

    Hi there! I just came across your blog on RLC and think your family is amazing!! I am in search of someone who can help me!! I really want to go to Ethiopia during my spring break- february 13-22 to work in orphanages (particularly AHOPE!), visit my sponsor child, etc. But I am having the hardest time finding a group to go with, as I would have no idea what to do travelling on my own! Any ideas?! Thanks in advance!



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