Harry Potter Halloween

I am harboring an illegal item or three in my home. Hint: they are a Class A Non-Tradable Material.

Everyone who knows me well knows I have a rebellious streak. I don’t bend my knee to authority without careful thought. I shy away from the mainstream in some ways, often choosing to pioneer my own path. I am skeptical of “empire,” and am willing to speak the unpopular opinion. So, it’s no surprise to find dragon eggs in my house, really. They will be an excellent new addition to Hagrid’s Hut this Halloween, along with Fawkes the Phoenix and—I am really excited about this one—a niffler!!

Some of you are wondering what you missed. And some of you found your pulse quickening when you read “dragon eggs!” Both of your responses are ok. You see, I love Harry Potter. I really love Harry Potter.

Everyone in our family is sorted into their appropriate houses. We all have robes and wands. I own a cookbook, floo powder, coffee mugs, artwork, the books, the audiobooks, various other articles of clothing, and an amazing quidditch toss set. I had three pieces of Harry Potter music played at my ordination. I love biblical texts, but Harry Potter is often my scripture of choice. And every Halloween, my house is transformed into a portion of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. As we enter year four of Hogwarts Halloween’ing at my house, preparations have begun for new installations. Thus, the dragon eggs. And niffler. And Fawkes. And wands.

These craft projects are both a creative outlet for some of my energy, as well as an opportunity to ponder again and again, the art of a beautiful story, and the magic of an inspired narrative.

Not everyone loves Harry Potter as much as I do (I know some of you love it more than I do, and I hope to meet you someday!) But most of us have favorite books, characters, or movies. I often wonder over my obsession with Harry Potter. Why not some other book or series? I don’t really know. But I do know that like the narratives I write for my couples, Harry Potter helps me make meaning out of life. Hermione reminds me I am not always the smartest in the room. Harry reminds me that anyone can do great things. Ron reminds me to ask questions.

Hogwarts reminds me of the incredibly good fortune I’ve had in my academic life, particularly at St. Agnes and Austin Seminary. I have a particular fondness for foster father Hagrid. The magic woven through the entire series encourages me to look beyond the platform, or past the veil—into the wonder-filled universe all around me. My dragon eggs remind me that rules should sometimes be bent or even broken.

If Harry Potter is your thing, be sure to keep tuning your rogue radios, DA fans. I’ll surely be posting updates on Hogwarts Halloween! And even if Harry Potter isn’t your thing, well . . . even Muggles love candy, right?


I am a Potterhead (#TeamRavenclaw). For those outside the Wizarding World, that is to say I am obsessed with Harry Potter. I love Harry’s story for its epic adventure, its themes of good and evil, life, love, and death. I love the friendships, the flawed humans, the school work, and the myriad of creatures. Hey, I even love the quirky, inexplicable rules, loop holes, and plot gaps. Harry Potter occupies a large part of my headspace, and our family’s life . . . especially in October. That’s when we transform our yard (and ok, we may have leaked a wee bit onto the esplanade in the middle of our street) into Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. And it’s magic.

Our driveway becomes a Quidditch pitch. Our large front porch houses a Potions classroom, an Herbology classroom, and of course ends at Honeydukes. The Sorting Hat sits ready at Platform 9 ¾.  S.P.E.W. graciously provides socks. Hagrid’s Hut houses some magical creatures. You can even throw your name in the Goblet of Fire. A patronus sits at the far end of the street to guide you to us. It’s been fun to share my obsession with my children, as well as watch it grow in size and reputation around our neighborhood. It’s magical. It really is.

Now you are waiting for a punchline. Because magic isn’t real. But I vehemently disagree. You see, magic isn’t about casting spells. It isn’t seeing unicorns, phoenix, or thestrals.  It isn’t even about knowing what these things are or what they mean.

Magic is time. Magic is the time I’ve spent with each child dreaming up our next projects. It’s the shared creative hours we take drawing up the plans, gathering our resources, and plotting how to cut this, or paint that just so.

Magic is space. It’s the space we occupy sewing, sawing, grinding, painting, and glueing. Our projects take over our driveway, our garage, our neighbor’s woodworking room, our craft room. For the rest of the year, those stains, wood chips, and scraps left behind remind me of magical spaces just beyond a door, a veil, or platform . . . dormant until discovered (again).

Magic is wonder. It’s what happens when the neighborhood kids show up on Halloween. Some burst through Platform 9 ¾ at full speed. Others carefully pull back the brick curtain a little unsure of what they might find. Oh the magic in seeing those wide eyes, and huge smiles. It’s hearing the chatter that erupts; the oohs and ahhs, and even the OHs that lets me know we’ve created something special.

Magic is mischief barely managed: candy wrappers everywhere, sticky butterbeer sloshed on robes, and floors. Socks pulled down, examined, and swapped. The brooms scattered across the lawn, and bean bags willy nilly in the driveway. It’s the wands left behind, and the few potion bottles left uncorked, turned over, or even broken.

Magic is gratitude. It’s the many unsolicited verbal and written thank yous that have shown up over the years from adults and children. Those are true treasures, to be sure. We’ve kept every one of them.

Oh yes, there is magic. So much magic. Always magic. Always.

Marriage is a Dragon

“We aren’t having a ring bearer. We are having a wedding dragon,” declared one of my favorite couples at our initial meeting. I remember meeting this couple for the first time. They squeezed me in over a one hour lunch during their busiest season of the year: Halloween. Before meeting them, I was not even sure who I was meeting. Their names were gender neutral, and the work site was in the hippest part of town. My first thought as I saw them walking towards me: they are way too cool for me. No way I’m getting this job.

But, our meeting went really well: they were delightful, creative, kind. And that wedding dragon? Well, the son of a friend who’d been asked to bear the rings declared he’d do it – but only as a dragon.

Now, dragons are quite the creatures. They’re wrapped in mystery, myth, fire, magic, power. Dragons defy all labels, shapes, colors, and sizes. They cross cultures, weaving their way into every society’s mythology. Dragons exist as something separate and set apart. Chasing dragons is desirable and admirable. We celebrate those who’ve tamed dragons. We sing of dragons, write poems of dragons, paint dragons, dress as dragons, dream about dragons. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a dragon in life, much less a wedding?

And marriage? Well it’s a dragon, is it not? We come to marriage full of fire! As Bishop Curry declared at this summer’s royal wedding, that fire of love is powerful stuff. But no matter what we read, what we hear, what we witness, marriage is a mystery. For each couple, it’s the undertaking of an epic journey. And each journey is unique, weaving together cultures, stories, families, histories, as well as individual people each with their own likes and dislikes.

I am often asked if I can tell whether a couple will “make it” or not. First of all, I am not even sure what “making it” means. But to answer the question: no, I cannot. How can anyone predict such a thing when we’ve no idea what adventures await a couple?   We’ve no idea when we head out into marriage what life will throw at us. The journey of marriage is its own beautiful task and undertaking. Some, it seems, have smooth seas and easy trails. They get Puff the Magic Dragon. But I’ve watched other couples encounter storm after storm on rough seas, and uphill marriage all the way. They clearly drew the Hungarian Horntail Dragon. There is not one way to chase it, tame it, slay it. That ring bearer was smarter than he realized! Marriage is, indeed, a dragon.


Telling the Story of Marriage

Tellin’ tales

My husband Joe and I are parents to two delightful children, each with their own particular gifts. The second child, our son, is a keen observer, with a wry sense of humor. When he speaks, it is often to pepper us with witty puns and anecdotes, as well as insightful observations. Somewhere in his third year of life, after returning from his half-day of preschool, he amused us with a little story about his day. Whatever the story was, I knew it to be a stretch of the imagination. As the story wrapped up, I commented, “Oh, T, you’re just tellin’ tales!” Without missing a beat, he replied, “Yup. That’s what I do.”

Tellin’ tales. That’s what we do, isn’t it? Humans, in the end, are storytellers. And we all have a story to tell. Think of stories you tell about yourself and your life: rituals you had in your home, unbelievable events that happened to you, happenings that made your heart soar, or your head hurt. These stories help make sense of our world, and create meaning. A good story stays with us, and we can revisit it, reread it, rehear it and something new emerges each time.

I am a minister. Most people think that means I live within the walls of a church, and work on Sundays. But the truth is – my story is — a little different. My ministry is marriage. That’s correct . . . I marry people! You know that person that stands up at the front, says things, calls for a kiss, and voila – a couple is married? Hey – that’s me! So, I mostly work on Saturdays. But in reality, my work is all week long.

Marrying people has been my job for years. And marriage has been my work since saying “I do” to Joe in 1994. Between the two – marrying people, and being married, I feel I’ve been immersed in intimate relationships for several lifetimes.  And during those lifetimes, I’ve learned a few things, heard some great tales, and spun a few myself. Now I’ve decided to share these stories with you.

I’m gonna tell ya some tales . . . cuz that’s what I do!


Welcome to the Austin Weddings Unlimited Blog!

Welcome to our blog:  Telling the Story of Marriage

How do you tell the story of marriage? As professional wedding officiants, we have been helping couples answer that question for almost twenty years.  We (that’s Sarah, Sam, Cam, and Carolina) wanted to find a way to reach more friends, couples, and the curious with stories about love and marriage — its joys, challenges, and its daily learnings.  From this desire, our blog was born.  Welcome!

We hope our weekly musings, compiled in this blog “Telling the Story of Marriage,” will inspire couples in all stages of their marriage journey.  Here we provide a space for talking about larger philosophical questions posed by modern marriage.  We welcome your stories and commentary in the comments section and look forward to learning from you all, as well.

Because every marriage has a story to tell.