Thursday, January 21, 2021

No Small Feat

Saturday evening (1/16), Reverend Bonnie Bridger and I co-officiated Kate and James’ wedding ceremony at the Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront in Rockwall, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Strike up a conversation with Kate and James, and you will sense a maturity that belies their young age. You might say that though they may be young, they are old souls. They can be as fun as the next person in their mid-20s, but they seem to really appreciate the gravitas of the moment, literally, this moment here today, as well as the time we live in.

It is hard to judge why one person might be more mature than the next one, and this is a wedding not a psychiatrist’s office. That said, from talking to Kate and James and reading what they wrote about themselves and each other, I have discovered an answer. They have each experienced some hardship in their lives as individuals and as a couple. And while none of us wishes for hardship, there are few better teachers.

That said, hardship would be marked deficient as a teacher by the average school administrator, because though it is good at raising questions and provoking deeper thought, it is not great at answering these questions. It forces us to answer those questions. Here is the tricky part, we can hardly ever answer the question of why this is happening, though we can and indeed must answer the question of what now.

Kate and James answered this question in strengthening their connections with their religious traditions. Kate went on Birthright and became more connected to her Judaism and
Israel. James reconnected to Jesus, and in his words this helped him, “put one foot in front of the other.” Kate and James, together, chose this very type of ceremony to profess their love for each other.

More importantly, though, I believe, Kate and James answered this question, through building the relationship they formalize today. They laid the foundation for it in the world we once knew as normal and solidified and deepened it in our new normal, which is no small feat.

This is why Kate says, “I just want to keep smiling, going on adventures, and having fun with James.” This is why James says, “We love and cherish each other, and we are so excited to journey through the rest of our lives together!”

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Such a Good Heart

On New Year’s Eve, I officiated Amanda and Brent’s wedding ceremony at the Westin Galleria in Dallas, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

Every now and then historians find a document and they are challenged to figure out when and where it was written. Whatever future historian digs up what Brent wrote about his budding romance with Amanda will be able to knock off work early that day.

Just listen, “We were pen pals for quite a while because I was busy coaching football. We finally met after the season…” Future historian will mark down, place – Texas. “Over the next couple of months, we got to know each other better and better and when the quarantine happened it really sped things up for us.” Future historian will mark down, time – late 2019-early 2020.

Now, in all seriousness, speed is not something Amanda’s family would have expected from her. In fact, she says, “My family and friends have always given me a hard time for being so picky, but I am so glad I was…” What was it, though, that caused Amanda, who had been - her word - “picky”, to fall for this guy so quickly?

Brent really does feel that it is the intense togetherness that the pandemic forced upon all of us, “I feel like it made us connect on a deeper level and spending so much time together was a blessing. I knew she was the one that I wanted to grow old with.”

Amanda agrees, when she says, “Brent is the guy I have been waiting for. That is why I am ready to get married… He loves me so well. He is sweet, smart, patient, encouraging, funny, sarcastic, supportive.”

Then she adds one really important detail, saying that Brent is, “the best dad to Landry, [and] close with family.” Why do I say that is such an important detail? Well, because you can fake a lot of things when you are courting someone, but you can’t fake the quality of your relationships with your loved ones. “This is why I am ready now!” she emphatically pronounces. 

Not coincidentally, this is what sealed the deal for Brent too, “She is the kindest and most caring person I know. She is a great friend and an even better fiancĂ©. Amanda makes everyone around her feel special and welcomes everyone. She is a passionate teacher, aunt, friend, daughter, and sibling. I think one of the things that makes her so special is that she truly cares about people and has such a good heart…”