To Erin. On the occasion of your wedding.

Dear Erin,

It seems like yesterday. Petite frame with a big voice you entered our lives like the star you are making her Broadway debut. Fearless, you made your presence known from the moment of your birth and haven’t relented in the two decades of your existence. As a thoughtful entertainer you’ve owned the stage in our lives and I have no doubt you will continue to do so, as you now transition to a larger audience. Today I have the honor of escorting you to the curtain call as you conclude one production and simultaneously open another to the applause of your family and friends.

I have enjoyed sitting on the front row of your life, watching every small moment and every big transition. I listened as you stood in the yard mimicking my preaching and constructing Bible lessons of your own to an audience of rural dogs and cats and always within ear shot of your brother distracting himself with with miscellaneous activities. Footballs, hoops, toy trucks, and bicycles were no match for the powerful voice you have always possessed. Haden listened, even though he really didn’t have a choice. Today Haden will officiate your union with your love Isaac as you both embark on the rest of your lives together. My heart swells with pride.

My beautiful Girl

If a measure of parental success is the degree to which children reflect the values of their upbringing and exceed those expectations, then your mother and I are experiencing an embarrassment of riches today, as both our children are cooperating to create a memorable experience that will remain for a lifetime.

You have the beauty and voice of your mother. You exemplify her heart of service to others in ways that exceed anything either of us could have ever imagined. You continue to live up to the heritage of your middle name Grace, named after your paternal grandmother, who exemplified strong will and amazing faith.

We’re now far removed from that rural church in Trinity, Alabama, where you set quietly behind me as I introduced your mom to sing before I preached. As your mother shined in the talent of her voice, you remained the perfect little woman and was only slightly distracted by the small spider that made its way up the wooden pew where we were sitting. “Get it” you whispered in my ear. I complied. My joy was fulfilled in coming to your rescue. It was easy to rescue you then. It is bit harder now, as the challenges of navigating adult problems are slightly more frightening than “church spiders,” but I have no doubt that you have the ability to meet any challenge that will present itself. And they will come. But you are more than capable of rescuing yourself. And Isaac, should he need help from time to time.

Erin, I am honored to be your Father. It continues to be a joy of my life to take pride in all that you’ve become. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for you, thank you for including me in this part of the journey.

It seems like yesterday, sitting with you in your room as the biggest tears I’ve ever witnessed flowing out of a human, streamed from your eyes. Whether an adolescent heartbreak or other wounded feelings were the culprit, you’ve always had a penchant for dramatizing moments and leading us in cathartic expressions of emoting. This is a gift in a world where too many suppress how they feel and what they think. Thank you for always speaking your mind and sharing your heart. Please don’t ever outgrow that gift.

This morning I reflect on your life, all the moments we’ve shared and experienced together as a family. Ups and downs, perfect and imperfect times, moments of sadness and joy, but through them all you have been resilient with an indomitable spirit that soars today. Thank you for all you represent.

In the tradition of marriage, today I will “Give you away,” but in a real sense I can’t give away what I’ve never possessed. A free spirit cannot be mastered, nor should it. I have been privileged to serve as a guide, a role that I will happily continue to play alongside a host of others you have now invited into the cast. And like many times before, today I will take my cue at your direction as I give away what I’ve never owned.

But the returns are eternal and may this production never close.

I love you Erin.


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