50th Anniversary Celebration

A few weeks ago, on July 21, my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. On the next day (July 22), my siblings, spouses and other family hosted an open house in Fort Wayne. It was fun to stand back and watch as numerous friends came by and offered their congratulations to our parents…and there were a number of people who stopped by.

We moved to Fort Wayne when I began elementary school and lived in the same house until I graduated high school. We were members of the same church throughout that time and our family was pretty involved: youth group, Sunday School, children’s musicals, adult choir, Christmas and Easter pageants, various roles in church leadership and probably a few others not listed. Many of the relationships we had were through our church family. So, when the 50th celebration came around, many who attended were from the church.

I saw former Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, friends of my parents and past choir members. I wish I could say I remembered everyone’s name (I didn’t) or even recognized everyone who came through. It was apparent that many of those friendships ran deep as many conversations were going and many lasted for a while.

Several family members were there which also made the day special.

A 50th Anniversary is definitely worth celebrating and it was cool to see the ripple effect of my parents’ marriage. Not only were children, grandchildren, a great-grandson, a brother, a niece and cousin present, there were countless relationships and friendships represented. It’s hard to quantify the influence they have had on people in Indiana, Oklahoma, all the places they have traveled plus the places their family members have lived.

It was a good day and a couple worth celebrating.

Here are a few pics from the day.

Mom & Dad, Uncle John & Aunt Ginny, Niece Emilee and Cousin Janet

My siblings

Just a few of the people that came

A not-so-great family selfie at dinner following Open House

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#BrackemyreBonanza

Sat Jul 16 2016 20-58-25 GMT-0400This was a pretty significant weekend in our family as our oldest child got married! It was a great weekend of family and friends coming together to celebrate the happy couple. They chose the hashtag #BrackemyreBonanza. I looked up the definition of “bonanza” and one definition is “a large amount of something desirable.” We did have a large amount of fun and celebration so the hashtag fit.

The groom is from Ohio and the bride is from New York, so the wedding drew people from several states including Oregon, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, Florida, New York, Illinois, Virginia and others. We were grateful for all those that came in and the relationships that were started due to this bonanza.

It’s always good to get families together, especially when it means we get to eat, laugh and even dance together. It was definitely a family affair as one dad gave the bride away, the other dad performed the wedding, the youngest sibling served as ring bearer, sisters were part of the bridal party and both sides of the family showed up in force.

We have many good memories of the weekend and can’t wait to see the moments the photographer captured. Here’s some pretty good candid shots from the day.

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Groom Dancing with his Grandmother

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Groom and His Sister

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Bride and Groom

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Little Brother & Ring Bearer

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Bride & Father before walking her down the aisle

Go listen to Jasmine Tate

Jasmine TateThis past weekend my wife and her boys and I traveled up to Cleveland for the wedding of a young lady who grew up at WCC. I was asked to take part in the ceremony. Since we aren’t often in Cleveland we toured the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and stopped by Browns Stadium and Progressive Field where the Indians play.

One of the unexpected bonuses of the weekend was meeting a young lady names Jasmine Tate. She sang during the Unity Candle portion of the ceremony and did a fabulous job. It was just her and her guitar. She has a great voice and unique style.

During the reception my wife and I had a chance to talk to her and hear a little bit of her story. She was kind enough to give us a copy of her CD which we listened to a couple of times on the way home.

You should go listen to her! I found her today on Spotify – she has her EP and has also recorded with Sons and Daughters. You can also find her EP on iTunes. Search for her on Facebook, too.

We really enjoyed hearing her music and meeting her. You should go give her a listen.

A Necessary Extra

Wedding-Ring-FingerI have posted in the past about the growing number of weddings that I’ve done over the last couple of years. Just a few weeks ago I had the privilege of presiding over my niece’s wedding ceremony. I have performed the weddings of former students and also for couples I didn’t know very well at the start of the wedding planning process.

As I’ve been involved in more weddings, I am beginning to experience what I’ve heard other pastors and ministers talk about in regard to the actual ceremony. This is not a complaint; just an observation that I’ve heard others echo.

As the minister who is presiding over the ceremony, you are a pretty important element. It’s not an ego thing or a power trip for that person (or at least it shouldn’t be). In the state of Ohio, you have to be registered with the state to perform a wedding. The minister also signs the marriage license which makes everything legal. So, if the minister doesn’t show up, it can really be a downer to the whole wedding day. It is necessary to have that person present to pronounce them husband and wife.

There is also an element where the minister is one of many, many details to the wedding ceremony. There are the tuxes and dresses, the flowers, the decorations, the music, the food, the cake, the toasts, the programs, the gifts, the reception, the DJ, the wedding party and so many other elements. As a minister performing a wedding, you know all the attention is on the bride and groom (as it should be). Once the wedding day kicks in, you can sometimes feel like an extra. Did the flowers get delivered? Check. Is the DJ here? Check. Does the caterer know what time to serve the meal? Check. Does the best man have the rings? Check. Is the minister here? Check.

Once they say “I do” and you pronounce them “man and wife,” you kind of fade into the background. The reception begins, the food is served and the celebration is underway.

I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in weddings. It is such an important time in the life of each couple and you hope you are adding some value to their lives as they begin married life together. I think many ministers wrestle with that necessary extra element to the wedding day. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to learn that we each have our part to play and we should do our best to play that part well.

Musings on Marriage

I can’t really think about a wedding without picturing the scene from The Princess Bride – can you?

I’ve been in ministry long enough to occasionally perform weddings for former students who are now entering into that stage of life.  Last weekend I performed the wedding of a young lady who was in junior high when I moved here.  This week I have two appointments with two different couples to plan their weddings.

There is something unique about performing a wedding.  You meet with the couple, talk about plans and ideas, what they both want to be a part of the ceremony.  The rehearsal happens and you smooth out whatever wrinkles might exist in the proceedings.  When you arrive on the wedding day, everyone is transformed by tuxes and dresses and flowers and candles and decorations.  You can feel the nervousness in the air as the hour approaches.  The prelude music begins and people settle in.

Then it happens.  The bride appears in the back of the church.  She sees the groom.  He sees her.  She is beaming.  You can tell he is a little emotional.  In that moment, you get a picture of the magnitude of what is about to take place.  It is more than just pretty dresses and lovely flowers and rented tuxedos on the groomsmen.  It is not just a magical moment, it is a weighty moment where this man and women are going to pledge themselves to this relationship…for life.

It is a good reminder to all – both married and unmarried alike – of what God’s design for marriage is.  More than just a romantic moment of two people in love, it is the entering into a covenant relationship that will require much of both man and wife.  It is a battle.  It will be hard.  But it is good.  God designed it that way.

What A Difference A Week Makes

On occasion I have the opportunity to perform a wedding or am asked to participate in a funeral service. The first weekend of October I performed the wedding of a young lady from our church. At the rehearsal dinner it was obvious that both sides of the family were excited about the upcoming marriage. Many friends were there to help celebrate and it was a great time for the family.

Then, four days later we received word that a young man who had grown up in our church passed away unexpectedly. He was just 19. It was an incredible shock to the family and to his friends. This young man graduated high school the same year my son did.

On Sunday, we had the visitation and service at our church. The visitation was scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm, but many people were here at 12:30 pm and the line continued non-stop until 4:00 pm. It was a sad day for the family as they had to say goodbye to this young man while at the same time preparing for his older brother’s wedding that will take place 6 days after the funeral.

What a difference a week makes.

In four days I went from celebrating a wedding to trying to sort through the emotions of a 19 year old’s sudden passing.

What a difference a week makes.

On Sunday, a family says goodbye to their son/brother/nephew/cousin. Six days later, they will celebrate the wedding of his brother.

What a difference a week makes.

What a comfort to know that God is present for both. He smiles at the wedding…after all, marriage was His idea. He is saddened at the funeral….after all, His Son came to finally defeat death. He rejoices with those who rejoice and He mourns with those who mourn.

Whatever your week looks like, or whatever your week becomes, it makes all the difference to know that God is there, whatever the week may bring.