One week ago, I had the honor of speaking at my daughter’s wedding ceremony. Not many get that opportunity to speak and share from their heart at such a special occasion.
It was just about a year ago, I received a call from Cassidy and she told me he popped the question and she said yes. I already knew that this was going to happen because the young man who was asking for her hand in marriage, had already talked to me and asked permission.
None-the-less, it was a shock to my system that it really was going to happen. I wrote about it here: Then They Do (click on this link).
So flash forward 11 months and I finally give some advice to them about their new life together. A number of people have asked me if I could share what I said, so I am posting my speech in its entirety. It’s not word-for-word but it is close… here goes:
Good afternoon everyone. I’d like to welcome the friends and relatives of both families who are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Cassidy and Andre.
Thank you for taking time from your busy lives to join us on this afternoon.
Some of you have traveled quite a distance to be here. And we are thankful for that.
We hope you’ll enjoy the rest of the evening and we hope you will remember this day as fondly as we will.
I feel so proud today to be standing here given the opportunity to take part in this special day.
I am also extremely grateful for the chance to speak to you today.
That being said, there will be three ways I will remember this speech… the one I practiced, the one I am about to give and the one I wish I would have given.
Hopefully… You will hear the one that is closest to the one I wish I would have given. But I make no promises.
I’ve learned that life is circular, it’s full of beginnings and endings, there are times of extreme joy that can be followed by hard and difficult times.
New chapters of life begin while others will come to a close. I believe that life is meant to be lived looking forward. It is to be enjoyed. As James 4:14 says, Life is just a vapor… it appears for a short time and then vanishes away.
Life moves fast and before you know it your child is standing in front of their friends and family committing their life in marriage to another person.
As parents, on many levels our job is done. While we will never stop being a parent, a new chapter is starting for us.
One season is unfolding into another and we will close the chapter of raising our children. The responsibility of raising them has been lifted.
All you can do as a parent is thank God for the opportunity and hope that some of the wisdom of our life experience was passed down.
Just like many other parents, we spent the vast majority of our lives raising our children to become productive adults and become good people.
The journey of being a parent is not for the faint of heart.
There are twists and turns, surprises and disappointments. There are moments of extreme pride and moments of regret.
It’s a rollercoaster of emotions.
As a parent you sojourn through the good times and the hard times because that is your job. It is what you do.
You do all you can to protect them, you provide for them and try to take care of their every need. In most examples, there is not a need in your child’s life they have not been given.
Then in many situations … somewhere around the age of 16 they look at you and tell you they can’t wait to move out of your home. They inform you that they “WILL NEVER raise their children the way you did.
It leaves many parents wondering what they did wrong.
But let me make something perfectly clear today. That is not the story of Cassidy.
As a child, Cassidy was strong-willed but loving. This strong-willed aspect is something she and I had the opportunity to discuss many times in her younger years.
This loving, strong-willed little girl brought those traits into her adult life. In times when she could have made other decisions, she kept her “will” strong in serving the Lord when it would have been easy to go the other direction.
Along the way Cassidy has picked up many skills, some from her life experience and some as gifts from God.
Cassidy has always worked hard at becoming a better person. Always strived to become better at what she does, and becoming the caring person that she is today. She has made me unbelievably proud. I am thankful that I have been able to be part of her life.
If I am honest today, I cannot deny that I feel a loss. After all, for the first time in many years, when I go home tonight, I will turn the light out on the porch knowing that she will not be coming home.
Our little house is the one home on our street where the porch light burns.
As it burned for her sister before she got married, a light has always been left on until Cassidy came home at night.
When I turn that light out tonight, I will cry. But they won’t all be tears of sadness.
Rob and Leslie, Pam and I, have raised her to get to this point in time. We all spent time preparing her for this day and this new adventure.
For the past twenty-two years, this house where the porch light burns has been her home.
You know… we could have moved from that old house on Stilwell Ave. We even made plans to do so. We could have moved from the house where we raised four children with only one bathroom.
But there are reasons we didn’t.
One reason is because of a door jamb in our kitchen.
A door jamb where pencil marks measure the growth of a family. Each mark a memory and each mark with a date written beside it to note the growth.
This door jamb tells the story of children growing up and becoming adults.
Each dated mark one step closer to this very day.
These marks will remain on that door jamb until one day the new owners of our home decide to paint over them and make marks of their own.
Another reason why we have not moved is something that I want to share specifically with the two of you.
You know that I have profound hearing loss. As I grow older my hearing will get worse.
I hope not… but there may be a day when I lose the ability to hear all together.
But for now, I hear things that most people don’t.
You see… this little home where the porch light burns, speaks to me.
In the quiet, I can hear the echo’s of our children laughing. I hear the chatter of you having your friends over for movie nights. I hear the sounds of the TV marathons you had, watching the complete series of Friends, The Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, Full House, Boy Meets World just to mention a few.
To be honest… I sometimes wish I could un-hear the sounds of how many times you watched the Disney High School Musicals.
The walls of our home reverberate with the sounds of Birthday parties, of long talks at the dinner table, and the precious sounds of Christmas celebrations.
If I really concentrate, I can hear the click of the door closing behind you when you were out at night. That wonderful sound that you were home, safe and secure.
One of my favorite sounds that still ring through the walls of our home is listening to you sing as you got ready for school or work. Cassidy, you will always be my favorite singer.
The walls of our home emit sounds of a family that was trying to find their way in this life.
It surely wasn’t perfect but the wonderful sounds that come from the walls of our home, far out-weigh any noise of discord that there may have been.
In time… these wonderful sounds will fade… many are already being replaced by the laughter and the banter of our grandsons playing in the living room.
When it is time, you guys can help in filling our home with the sounds of future grandchildren that will be absorbed into the walls of our home.
My challenge to you and Andre is to fill your home with sounds of love, sounds of joy and sounds of happiness. If the walls of your home would speak, may they share sounds of forgiveness and acceptance. More importantly, may the walls speak of a young couple that loved the Lord and made Christ the center of their home.
Too many homes today are filled with discord… filled with hateful words and fighting. My prayer is that the walls of your home will never be saturated with these kind of sounds.
In closing, every parent wishes that one day their child will find the right person for them to spend the rest of their life with. The fear of any parent is their child making the wrong decision about that.
When I first met Andre, I learned quickly that he was a good man, and would not be the type to hurt Cassidy. Once I got to know Andre, I couldn’t have chosen anyone more suitable. He let her be herself and did not try to change her to make him happy. He’s very considerate and thoughtful. I appreciate the way he treats and makes Cassidy feel about herself, I cannot thank him enough. We are confident that he will take good care of her.
Traditionally, at this point, I guess I should offer some advice… so here goes.
Andre… Always leave the porch light on for your wife.
Cassidy… Anything Andre says in anger 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all negative comments made by Andre become null and void after 7 days.
Andre… Cassidy is not a morning person. Stay clear… enough said?
Cassidy… Andre is not a mind reader and he never will be. His lack of mind-reading ability is not proof of how much or how little he loves you.
Andre… Whenever you’re wrong, admit it. Whenever you’re right, Take pleasure in knowing that you are and then keep it to yourself. Just keep it to yourself!!!
Cassidy… leave the porch light on for your husband.
I cannot encourage the two of you more than to have your home filled with sounds of happiness, forgiveness and love.
May you continue to serve the Lord with your life and in your marriage.
You both have been raised in love. You have been raised by parents that love you more than life itself.
We are filled with joy that you are getting married today. It’s a new journey and a new beginning for you and for us. May your love always be an example to all of us that are here to witness your vows to each other.
One last thing… in the future… remember to leave the porch light on… so that your children can always find their way home.
So that’s it… we are one week in to being “empty nesters”.
We could not be happier for Cassidy and Andre!!!
We are excited to see what the future holds for them and for us. It will be new adventures for all of us!!!
And while our children are now all on their own, all becoming productive adults and good people.
I’ll still leave the porch light on… just in case they ever want to find their way home.