This weekend I had the opportunity to travel to Alabama with Lee, my mom and the kids. We took advantage of the long, Memorial Day weekend in order to do something special; make promises.
Lee and I are getting married next month, and it will be just the two of us at our destination wedding in Mexico. Since we will not have any family or friends at the actual wedding ceremony, we're having a big, blow-out party in July so we can celebrate with said family and friends. Since the party is of the adult beverage variety, it wouldn't be prudent to have the kids – any kids for that matter – attend. So this left Lee and me with the question of how do we incorporate Natalie and Daniel into our nuptials. After all, it's not like they're an afterthought to the whole event. On the contrary, my kids are my life and we needed to do something special to make them feel included in the creation of our new, blended family.
Lee and I thought it would be a good idea to have a small promise ceremony for the kids and include both our moms. I am thrilled to say that with the exception of the sprinkle of rain to start the event, the ceremony went off without a hitch. It was very quaint and very brief, each of us reading about a series of words, the first letter of each spelling out the word 'family'.
Then, it was Lee's turn to read specifically to the kids. Only she couldn't. What started out as a ceremony for the benefit of the kids presented to Lee a weight of emotion and feeling that made the whole thing that much more meaningful. As Lee took a minute to compose herself, I proceeded to read my words to our moms. Finally, after taking a deep breath and wiping away the tears, Lee proceeded with her promises to the kids. We closed the event with a blessing from Lee's uncle Terry, a Deacon at Hebron Baptist Church. As always, his words were thoughtful, inspirational and humbling.
I don't mind saying so myself; the ceremony was beautiful. It was everything we wanted it to be for us and for our moms and for the kids. It's the first formal step in the journey Lee and I will share for the rest of our lives, and I am giddy with excitement and anticipation as we prepare to be husband and wife. I promise!
Here are the words from the ceremony.
FAITH: No matter the direction life takes us, it all begins and ends with God. In everything we do and with everyone we love, God makes it all possible.
APPRECIATION: Between "Thank You" and "You're Welcome" exists a circle that binds us all. We must remember to give of ourselves for the benefit of others, and tell others how much their gifts and actions mean to us.
MAGIC: It's the incredible and unexplainable. It is learning to believe the results of things that first seem unbelievable and leave us spellbound.
INSPRITATION: We look up to those we admire and respect, and we serve as a beacon to those seeking direction in their journey. Through it all, we learn to lead and are not afraid to follow each other.
LOVE: Family cannot exist without love. It is the common thread in the fabric of all our individual lives that weaves us together into the communal tapestry that is a family.
YOUTH: We progress in life from babies to grandparents, yet through it all we maintain the joy of childhood in our hearts, and we celebrate the love and innocence of youth with those we love.
Natalie and Daniel,
Three weeks from today, your father and I will be exchanging vows as we come together as husband and wife. Just like the promises we make that day will officially join us as a couple, I want to take this moment with you both today to make promises to you as we become a family.
I promise to be supportive, to be loyal and to love you throughout all the changes of our life. I promise to always support your dreams, to walk beside you on your journeys, and to offer encouragement and strength in all you do.
You have a wonderful and loving mother and I want you both to know that I will never try to replace her role in your lives. Instead, I promise to be a nurturing co-parent, always here for you providing for both your physical and emotional needs, and always serving as a good listener, a loving counselor and a close friend.
As a sign of my loving promises made today, I want to give each of you these gifts. You are both a vital part of my marriage to your father, and I promise to give you my unconditional love and to honor your role in our lives.
Patsy and Cari,
Our family extends beyond the vows Lee and I will share in three weeks and includes the promises, both spoken and implied, we share with you today and every day.
I promise to honor Lee as the beautiful and wonderful woman she is. I also promise to listen to your guidance and to follow your wisdom as I continue to grow as a parent and once again embark on a journey as a husband and friend. I promise to make you proud, as a son and son-in-law, in all that I do to maintain the honor of my wife and the integrity of our family.
As a sign of our loving promises made today, we want to give each of you these gifts.
I also want to thank you both for your continuous support and unconditional love that you've both given me, Lee and the kids.