Love is in the air…
At least it was on Saturday—Valentine’s Day!
We were asked to officiate at a Wedding for My Forever Friend Sandy’s stepson Richard’s wedding!
Did I mention that I got this call a week before the wedding?
Richard had decided that he wanted to elope with his fiancée Kristin—he had NOT told her this yet!
He asked me first IF I was available.
I kinda wasn’t but for him—I would move mountains to do whatever I could to accommodate.
You see…Richard is just a great guy—
Picture this—6 ft. 5 in., 300 pounds of mostly muscle—ex military—with a teddy bear smile and heart!
He actually “Bounces” for a living—that kind of bounce—
When Richard suggests that you “move it along” or “take a walk”—I suggest you take his suggestion.
But…he has a tender heart and a heart of gold!
He is a kind soul who isn’t afraid to shed a tear, kiss his dad on the cheek, or tell you “I love you!”
He’s a man’s man—with a heart full of love!
So… whatever I could do—I was gonna do for our resident Teddy Bear!
And I knew—he loved this woman—he really loved this woman!
And his life in the past 2 years was just a miracle in the making!
Two years ago this past November—he had just been “found” through Facebook by Mama Sandy.
He hadn’t seen his Dad Derrick in years—seriously—years!
And with a plane ride from New Hampshire to Dunnellon, Florida—he met his new family.
And it was like no time had elapsed—he was home—and he moved to Florida in November 2012.
Never once knowing—that the love of his life was also in Dunnellon—raising 2 kids on her own.
They met online—that’s how all the kids do it these days—and started dating.
Some ups…some downs—as in any relationship—and yet—gravity or providence—kept bringing them back!
And now—Rich wanted to marry this girl.
The only catch?
I had to be in Winter Park on Valentine’s Day because of plans I had made for my Valentine!
So what’s a guy to do?
Richard just moved his elopement 100+ miles from home and— they were on the road to me!
About that elopement… was originally just Rich and Kristin and the 2 kids…
Come Saturday—as we started the ceremony under the tree right by the Rose Garden…picturesque day!
Well…that number had grown to 25!
Family came from Hudson, Land O’Lakes, Dunnellon, Ocala…and Maitland (that would be Bella and me!)
There was a great grandmother in a wheel chair, and aunts and a sister and a mom and brothers…and Dad.
It really WAS a wedding.
As we gathered under that tree—in a park full of families celebrating Valentine’s and the good weather…
I preached that wedding like it was THE WEDDING—because, as life often dictates—that Big Wedding?
Well, it usually never happens!
So…this was going to be the BEST I could do for our Teddy Bear and His girl!
I used Jeremiah 29:11 and reminded Rich of how God’s plan for him to prosper and have an expected end
Had brought him to a Tree in Winter Park with the girl of his dreams—
About to embark on the journey of a lifetime!
I reminded him that he had two heavenly guests who were looking down upon this ceremony—
His baby daughter Brynn and his Mama Sandy!
I exhorted both of them with these words:
I cannot tell you if it was God’s will for you two to get married…
But I CAN tell you…It is God’s will for you to STAY married!
I then brought the convocation…
“May His love always consume you;
May His peace always surround you;
May His Joy always comfort you.
And may your family always seek God’s help in every challenge you meet,
No matter how small or difficult.
May God always be your first resource and not just your last recourse.
And may you honor His gift of each other –
Each day you live and love one another.
May PEACE be a part of your daily co-existence
May FORGIVENESS be a part of your daily conversation
May LOVE be a part of your daily communion!”
And then—the pronouncement—“Richard, You may Kiss your Bride!”
And we all clapped—even the strangers who had gathered to watch the wedding—and who took pictures!
It was a beautiful day and a beautiful wedding…
And a beautiful memory made—for this family who needed to make new memories!