Gina and Keith got married last night. I know- I was there. In fact, I was closer to them than anybody else because I had the honor of being the minister or as the official term goes, the officiant. Gina was my student at Westbury Christian and the two of them were my twelfth wedding. (In three, I was the co-preacher so to speak!) The plan called for an outdoor ceremony at a romantic venue in Spring, Texas but Mother Nature sent numerous inches of rain in disagreement. So, it was moved inside to Plan B which was still terrific. Everybody in the wedding party was lovely or handsome and Gina was, and I don't use this term lightly, stunning. No wedding is ever flawless but it was close to perfect as possible.
I have a formula when I'm the minister. The first third of the ceremony is thoughts of love and marriage from the Bible mixed in with some Joni Mitchell and Roberta Flack. The middle third is a story of the couples' childhoods as seen through the eyes of the parents. The final part, the vows, came from my grandfather, Harold Hawley. Except for changing names and removing eth from the end of several words, it is exactly what my future mom and dad heard and recited when he performed their nuptials on Christmas Day of 1949. (The very elderly love my grandpa's eloquence!) The first words I speak in these most special occasions are these eight which are often responded to emotionally. Last night it was,
"Who gives Gina to be married to Keith?"
Her dad handled it flawlessly answering, "Her mother and I do," handing off his daughter to his about to be son-in-law. The last words I speak are always these:
"Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, Mr. and Mrs. ________."
Last week, I passed several messages back and forth with Gina. You see, Gina is of Asian descent and custom has it that the wife keeps her maiden name. Gina has lived in the US all of her life and she assured me that she would be taking Keith's family name. WHEW- one last thing for me to re-write!
During the ceremony, I added several things from my memories as Gina's teacher to the terrific stuff her mom and dad had sent me. One was that she NEVER in the two years I taught her directly answered a question of mine. Her answer was always 'Maybe' or 'Possibly' or 'It could be'- it was never yes or no. I made the point that Keith understandably might be nervous about that as I prepared to ask several questions to Gina about their future together and that 'Perhaps' was not a viable option! The other reference I made was that on the first day of eighth grade, Gina requested that I refer to her simply as Bob- and I did for the whole year. I have no idea why and neither do her mom and dad. In tenth grade, I modified it slightly to Gina Bob but in truth, she will always be Bob in my heart. You know, I'm not sure I've ever taught a boy with that name!
That brings me to this morning. When I got up bright and early, I turned on the only social media site I belong to. Do you know what I saw? Gina had already changed her name on Facebook! Her married name is in place and she is now in a sense, a new person, part of a new family, while still retaining her childhood family and history. I can tell she is so excited! I've had several messages from Gina today- I always ask permission when writing about someone- who, along with her husband of slightly more than twenty-four hours, is on a jumbo jet on the way to Tokyo for the honeymoon! You know what it's almost like? It's like when we give ourselves to the Lord. Often our relatives are there to celebrate our baptisms. We gain a new family and a new life. There is giddiness and joy... and we are called by a new name; Christian. Maybe that's why Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding! Would you like to give Keith and Gina a gift even though you weren't present at the wedding? Pray for the newlyweds tonight as they begin their adventure together. (I wish you could have seen Keith's face last night as they stood together in front of a crowd but oblivious to all but each other...and maybe to me. I have never seen such a look of devotion on a groom's face!) And while you ask the Lord to bless the two of them who are now one, pray that we as believers can retain that sense of wonderment that we belong to Him, that it will never grow old or stale, that we will celebrate until the end. And one more thing: Godspeed, Keith and Gina!
Applicable quote of the day:
I remember when I was in school, they would ask, 'What are you going to be when you grow up?' and then you'd have to draw a picture of it. I drew a picture of myself as a bride.
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