When Andrea was younger, I used to call her my ‘littlest one’ and I would tell her, you will always be my ‘littlest one’ and her face would light up. Today my ‘littlest one’ is getting married and I have the privilege of being the father of the bride and the one officiating this ceremony.
As an officiant I have stood with numerous couples in moments just like this and have shared with them some words of encouragement. My thoughts have always centered around two basic truths: keep the joy factor high in your marriage and build it on a foundation of faith. As I said to Scott and Tiffany four years ago…you can make it a lot more complicated than that but do these two things well and you will have a strong marriage.
Jason and Andrea, each of you brings your own strengths, your unique abilities and talents to this marriage; you bring all of who you are to this marriage.
One of my favorite stories about Andrea goes back to the time we lived in Hamilton. Andrea has always been…how do I say this…determined – she has a mind of her own. On this day she was riding her bike and I had told her stay on our street, don’t go around the corner (where I could not see her). Off she went…around the corner. She came back, I told her again…don’t go around the corner or I’ll have to spank you. She looked at me with an expression that said, ‘spank me now, because I’m going around the corner’!
Andrea, that determined spirit has in many ways served you well--in part you are who you are today because of you have followed your dreams and stayed resolute; you have worked hard and we are so very proud of you. We have watched as you and Jason have begun to build a live together.
Jason, I have watched you care for and treat my daughter with love and respect – no dad could ask for anything more from a son-in-law. That you are hard-working, with a willing spirit to help others only magnifies the appreciation Janice and I have for you. We see how happy you are together and we celebrate that with you today.
We share, as family and friends in the joy of a wedding because there is something in all of us that wants for a bride and groom to simply be happy. So of course, as a dad, that would be my desire for you as you become husband and wife.
But, and I know it’s going to sound strange, especially in this context, but, I would wish for you as well some challenges along the way. Because, it is through such challenges, when the hard times come and the path is not clear, that our character is strengthened and our faith grows. Your marriage will be stronger when you walk that path together; and your mom and I want that for you—a strong, enduring marriage.
We want you to be blessed, to have all that you need to enjoy live to the fullest. But I also wish for you a measure of want; that you might know what it to go without. Because those times give to us a greater appreciation for what we do have; they remind us how very blessed we are – and we want that for you – that you would have a both measure of humility and gratitude and not a sense of entitlement – that you would be generous with what you’ve been given; that you would be a blessing to others.
I encourage you to build into each other and to bring out the best in each other – to live in and face whatever life brings you with a united strength. But I also wish for those times when your own strength is not enough. Because it’s then that we realize there is a God in heaven who wants to be part of our lives, our homes and marriages.
I believe to the core of my being that living of life of faith is the best way for any of us to journey through our days on earth. More than anything else we want for you to know the fullness of God’s blessing in your lives and in your marriage.
Andrea, I want you to know, I love you, I am so very happy for you, you are still and will always be my ‘littlest one’. Jason, we are so pleased that you have come into Andrea’s life and ours; we look forward to sharing the next chapter of your stories – two stories that today are being united into one.
Before you share your vows with one another and we make this official, I want to pray for you, not as a pastor but as a dad.
My friends at Valley, please join Janice and me in asking God to bless, to lead and direct Jason and Andrea.