Updated: May 27
How do you put into words 21 years of smiles and hugs, tears of laughter, heartbreak, and joy, - milestones and turning? I have watched Anna grow from a reticent & reserved little girl to a confident & focused young woman. She has filled my heart with love, my chest with pride, and my nerves with exacerbation. Anna is kind, compassionate, fun-loving, always willing to help, and a bit of a slob.
I remember when your mother told me that she was pregnant. I was overwhelmed with joy, wonder, and absolutely terrified…I barely had it together myself…how could I possibly be responsible for another human being.
Everything changed the first time I saw your beautiful, lopsided little face. As Ben Rector so perfectly captured in the song we danced to…
“It's the way you're smilin' at me,
it's in the way you hold my hand.
It’s the way I've watched you change me
from a boy into a man
It's a million things about you,
and I don't know what it is
But I have never known a love like this.”
Of all the titles I have been given in my life, one of the ones I hold most precious is being known as, “Anna’s Dad”. Peanut, I am so proud to be your ‘Daddy’.
Not because I am an ideal parent or because you have done everything right…but because you have a tender and humble heart that loves Jesus and loves your neighbor. You are quick to help those in need. Compassionate towards the broken-hearted. Gentle with the weak. In a world that exalts the brash and boastful - the arrogant and aggressive.
You have been a peacemaker. You are kind and gentle. You are Christlike.
Anna, when you were a little girl we would sit around the table in family worship and I would ask you catechism questions.
Q - Who made you? A - God made me!
Q - What else did God make? A - Everything!
Q - Why did God make everything?
A - For his glory!
Q - How do we glorify God?
By loving him and obeying his commandments!
I have watched with a glad and thankful heart as these truths have permeated every aspect of your life. I am so often in awe at how naturally you have glorified God in the classroom, at church, on the volleyball court, at the hospital, and in your relationships. You have glorified God by working - playing - studying - serving - and loving with passion, tenacity, and joy.
Now, as you begin your life with Stone - I pray that you would love him passionately. Love him tenaciously. Love him joyfully. Marriage is the most challenging yet most wonderful thing you will ever commit yourself to. Your selfish heart - this sinful world - our deceitful enemy - will attempt to twist, corrupt, and lead your heart away from Stone.
…glorify God by loving Stone
- when it is easy and when it is hard.
…love the Lord by loving Stone
- when you have much & when you have little.
…obey the Lord by loving Stone
- through sickness and through health.
This morning you left our home for the final time…tonight you will drive away as a married woman. Your mother and I grieve the loss of the life we have so cherished for 21 years…yet the tears we cry are not simply tears of grief at the closing of this precious chapter of our lives
…our tears of grief are mingled with tears of joy.
Joy at the woman you have become…joy for the woman you will be…joy over the wonderful man you have promised your life to…we rejoice with you both today…and we promise to love, support, and encourage your life with Stone
…all for the glory of the Lord who loves us
gives us good gifts.
Anna, I love you so very much. I am proud to be your Daddy. I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you will do…a day will someday come when I won’t be around…but remember two things…
Jesus loves you.
Your Daddy is so proud of you
I love you, Peanut!
Stone, what you cherish you protect. Anna’s heart is one of the most precious things I have. Therefore, I have built the walls high and thick and wide to protect her from anyone who would seek her harm. On December 4, 2019, you scheduled an appointment in my office to seek my blessing… an intimidating thing for a 17-year-old kid…but Anna is too precious to not ask.
I was looking for two things for my daughter…
First, a husband who loves Jesus - Is he seeking to honor and glorify Christ with his life. Does he have character? Can I trust him with my daughter when I am not there?
Stone, in these past four years you have transformed from a passive young boy to a self-confident and focused man. You have sought out and committed to a local church, pursued Christlikeness, and grown exponentially in your faith.
I am very proud of you and your love of Christ.
Second, a husband who loves Anna - Will he love Anna self-sacrificially like Christ has loved his church? Will he put off childish ways and embrace the responsibility of manhood? Will he provide, protect, and promote Anna?
Stone, I can honestly say, ‘You have loved my daughter so very well.’ You have proved yourself diligent, persevering, and patient as you have juggled school, work, family, and your relationship with Anna. I am confident you will do what it takes to provide for her emotionally, spiritually, and financially in the future.
Let me warn you - Anna is a strong and independent woman. She may be cute but she is no ‘froufrou’. She knows what she wants - she is tenacious in her pursuit of it. She needs a husband who is able to stand up to her and stand beside her. She is wise, confident, and focused…she needs a husband who will protect her weaknesses, promote her strengths, challenge her to be her best, and fiercely defend her from anyone who would seek to do her harm. (She also needs food and sleep - without either she’s a bear)
Listen to her wisdom. Struggle firmly yet gently against her stubbornness. Affirm her giftedness. Love her passionately and self-sacrificially. Be her biggest fan and loudest cheerleader. Cry with her. Laugh with her. Rejoice with her. Pray with her and for her. For aside from Christ…she is the greatest gift you’ll ever receive.
I have joked often about trying to get rid of you for the past four years (well…sort of joked). I take my duty as her father seriously…you have proven yourself worthy of her heart.
Like the man in black pursuing his precious Buttercup…you have scaled the cliffs of insanity, out-dueled the swordsman, conquered the giant, outwitted the genius…and won Anna’s heart. Well done!
My promise to you today is this…her mother and I will do whatever it takes to love, support, and encourage your marriage as long as we have breath in our lungs.
I will support you when you are right (even when it makes Anna mad)
I will encourage you when you struggle.
I will watch your babies on date nights and getaways. (with Mommy's help)
I will remain silent when you choose to do things differently than I have done.
I will give advice only when you ask.
I will say less and pray more.
I will praise you when you do right.
I will not criticize you when you stumble…for struggles will come.
You will sin against Anna…and she will sin against you…be quick to seek forgiveness and be quick to give forgiveness. For the promise you have both made today is not something you can do on your own…but God’s grace in Christ is deep and wide…seek his grace.
James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Love her well son. She is so very special.