25 DAYS and Counting Down Fast

While today marks 25 years of marriage for Tammy and I, today also marks 25 days until I have the distinct privilege of walking Erika down the aisle and hand her heart and life over to another man to cherish, protect, love, and serve. It isn’t an event I take lightly. She will be a stunning bride, but to me, she will always be the little girl in the pictures.

From that first day I prayed for a daughter, to the times I prayed for her husband to be protected and chosen by God, and all the times in between I’ve both dreaded this day and looked to it with such intense joy and expectation. The day is almost upon us.

Everyone who knows me knows I am a big softy, an emotional wreck really. I cry over movies, music, small gestures of love, and the occasional sappy story. None of those things can compare to the levels of emotion I feel welling up for this glorious day; when she will leave us and cleave to Isaac, her newly appointed protector.

One of the great privileges of a minister’s career is to perform his children’s weddings, baptisms, and the like. So far I’ve been able to do all the baptisms and one wedding. Each with its own unique bits of wonder and special moments. I am honored to be able to stand in that honorable place and pronounce them man and wife.

As I prepare my message, people ask, “are you going to make it?” or “Do you think you will cry the whole time?” Probably, but there is a plan. My best friend Josh will have a copy of the notes in case I pass out or something, but I think I can make it.

Why so difficult, you ask? Why all the emotion? If you are a father of daughters you will understand. With the boys it is different for us. We relish the day they will branch out, become men, and make their way. We’ve spent their lives shadow boxing, wrestling, challenging, roughing up, and making them men so they can survive. We’ve made them leaders, men of character and honor.

For the girls, we’ve protected, coddled, cherished, pampered, and shielded. It’s just the way it is. The truth is, though, we are scared. At least I am. Scared she will forget. Scared I will no longer be needed. Scared of losing that special bond.

I know in my head this isn’t the case, but my head hasn’t told my heart. I think the phone lines are down between them. They must have Sprint.

What I know is the relationship a daddy has with his little girl is special. It is forever. It is strong. If she weren’t so much like her mother, I’d be worried. But as it stands, she has taken the best of us both and God used those materials to make such a lovely gift my words fail me.

Her husband-to-be will have his hands full. He will one day find her angry and distant, only seconds later to demand he hold her while she cries. And do so he must … as long as it takes for her fire to return. She is sassy, smart, lovely as the morning sky, determined, a little uppity, and occasionally just plain weird.

Her mother was the first lady to completely hold my heart. She was the second and the only one I will get to give away. That reality isn’t lost on me, not at all.

We are 25 days away, and counting down fast. Honestly, I am as excited as they are. What a beautiful bride she will make. What a blubbering mess I will be.

Then, one day in the not so distant future, her husband will sit with me and look out to the pasture behind our home and relay story after story of her oddities, shortcomings, and incredible gifts; he will tell of strange things she does that were kept secret, odd things he loves about her and wonder how in the world he is going to deal with her for the rest of her life!

I’ll sit there and knowingly nod in affirmation because she is just like her mother. One day, if not now, he will understand what a glorious gift the Lord has given him. Something tells me he already knows. He’s bright, that one.

He’s a good, God-fearing man. A man to whom I can trust her heart because he loves her almost as much as I do.

25 days doesn’t seem like very long because it isn’t. I can’t wait. It’s gonna be a grand time. I love you my dear.