altWe drove out to a farm in Elkins, Ark., for a wedding last weekend. As we were driving I had to ask my husband to remind me how we’d first met the groom.

We both laughed as we recalled he was only about 12 years old at the time. We were out at our farm shooting some skeet with friends and this kid rolled up on a 4-wheeler. He’d heard the gunshots and was curious as to what was going on over at our house. We think I was pregnant with our first daughter as best as we could both recollect. He politely introduced himself to my husband and said he loved shooting. Nathan told him he was welcome to shoot skeet with us. He told Nathan that sounded like fun, but he had to go home and get his shotgun and tell his dad.

I remember him coming back toting a shotgun and hanging out. I was concerned – who was this kid? Where were his parents? I don’t know if we met them right away or if it was later – but they must’ve just assumed we were decent folks to let him come back. Every year this young man would show up for our family’s annual skeet shoot. He would give everyone a run for their money because he was a very good shot.

One year the group who deer hunt out at our farm had started tracking a huge buck deer on a game camera. He was beautiful and we caught several good photos of him on the camera in the months leading up to modern gun season. Of course, we never got a chance at him because this neighbor kid got him before we ever had a shot. It was fitting when we arrived at the ceremony – he was donning a boutonniere complete with a shotgun shell accent.

We laughed about our memories of him hanging out at the farm up on Round Mountain. The wedding ceremony was a beautiful celebration. The minister reminded the young couple of how important it is to praise one another along the journey of marriage. He asked their guests to promise to lift them up with encouragement when things got tough in their married life. My goodness, that is so important. We have only been married 15 years, but I don’t know what we would do without the encouragement of older, wiser married couples along the way. It is hard work and anyone who tells you any different might be a liar.

We enjoyed a great meal of pork and chicken with several country favorites – mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and corn. It was topped off by wedding cupcakes. Visiting with the groom’s dad about his poultry operation was one of the highlights of being hosted by this sweet family.

No country wedding is complete without a little two-stepping and line-dancing. We decided we were not too old to participate in that either. My husband is a great dancer and it was fun to reminisce about our wedding day too. There were a lot of cowboy boots shuffling the floor to celebrate the union of these two kids.

Never underestimate the powerful friendship formed from the curiosity of a young kid in the country, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

Jody HarrisEditorial / OpinionsArkansas,Elkins,Jody Harris,the power of friendship,weddingWe drove out to a farm in Elkins, Ark., for a wedding last weekend. As we were driving I had to ask my husband to remind me how we’d first met the groom. We both laughed as we recalled he was only about 12 years old at the time....The Ozarks' most read farm newspaper, reaching more than 58,000 readers in Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma