On my wedding day, I decided to wear jewelry from all the different women in my family. Some pieces were given to me and others I borrowed for the day. Wearing all these pieces on my wedding day symbolized to me the special presence of the women in my family and how they have formed me into the woman I am.
I love jewelry with meaning and with a story. Here are some of my favorite pieces, a few that were worn during my wedding, shared with their stories and meanings:
This turquoise ring was given to me by my maternal grandmother when I was in college and it is by far my favorite piece of jewelry. My sister and I found ourselves searching through my grandparents' home one day, marveling at all the old things stored away and the memories they held. I came across this beauty and exclaimed my love for it. My grandma gifted it to me right then and there. She said she bought it in New Mexico. It has a crack in the stone, but I kind of like it that way and think it gives it more character. Whenever I wear it, which is several times each week, I think of her.
When I was young my aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins lived in Indonesia. We always looked forward to the summers when they came home and we cousins would play together nearly non-stop. As a bonus, they always brought us great gifts and one time they brought me this necklace. I remember it nearly reaching my knees when I first got it, so I sat it on a shelf in my room as a decoration. It wasn't until last year that I looked at that shelf and thought of how great that necklace was. Now I wear it all the time and I think of those childhood summers with my cousins!
I bought both of these pairs of earrings last year when I visited Jordan for a month, staying with a great friend and her family there. It was a month of personal exploration for me and I built relationships with Jordanians and Palestinians that I hope will last a lifetime. My friend and I took a trip to Aqaba together, a town on the Red Sea, and I bought these earrings, made from mother of pearl, thinking I would give one pair away as a gift. But when I returned home, I couldn't decide between the two, so I kept them both! Sorry family and friends! Now I have two favorite pairs of earrings to remind me of the great people, culture, and lessons learned in Jordan.
I worked as a waitress for 5 years through part of high school and throughout college. You learn many things about humanity when you're a server and surviving on others' generosity. Many people treat you as if you're a machine rather than a human and it can really wear on you during 8-hour shifts on your feet with little in your stomach. But those are not the customers I remember. I remember the ones who treated me with an unexplainable amount of compassion and generosity. One such customer, after asking me about my goals and dreams, left me a great tip and this hand-crafted bracelet after I had commented on her own. This piece reminds me of the people who may come into our lives for only an hour, but who remind us of the goodness within others and ourselves.
Community is both the best and worst thing about living as an expatriate. While you meet some of the very best and most inspiring people, you also have to say a lot of hard goodbyes. My community is constantly changing and after one particular mass exodus, I found myself wallowing in self-pity about the friends I had lost. Then, I went to our weekly staff meeting and met Lauren, who had just moved to East Africa to work with one of our partners. I asked her to lunch that very day and she quickly became a dear friend. We are very often in different countries or on different continents, but we've still been able to journey together in such meaningful ways. I once commented on how much I loved the simple gold necklace she wore almost daily and a few months later, she sent me a small package with the very same one tucked inside. It reminds me that you never really know who will come into your life and to keep an open heart toward new friendships.
Eric bought this for me when we visited Petra, Jordan together, one of the ancient wonders of the world. We hadn't been dating for long and when he saw me eyeing it, he insisted on getting it for me. I resisted, not wanting to make him spend money, but he insisted stronger. It was one of his first gifts to me and each time I wear it, I'm thankful I gave in!
My Grandma Walker was one of the best gift-givers I've ever known and, as someone whose love language is gifts, that's saying a lot. She had 5 kids, all with spouses, and 13 grandchildren and she always managed to get us incredibly thoughtful and valuable gifts. She would do her Christmas shopping throughout the year whenever she saw something that reminded her of someone. She and my grandfather died in early August 2001, and the family found that she had already bought all of us grandchildren our Christmas presents. This simple, sterling silver bracelet was set aside for me, along with a devotional book. It was her last gift to me and it is one of my most treasured possessions.