It’s been almost 1 1/2 months since my daughter Heidi was married. Looking back on that day, I am filled with joy for her and her husband as they start their new life together. I am also filled with thanks that she has this chance to be happy. In a way, that’s all any parent wants for their children, right?
At the wedding reception, I gave a speech. This is a special privilege afforded the parents of the couple. One last chance to impart our wisdom, one last chance to guide them. It’s a distillation of all our hopes and dreams for them, and our advice on how to achieve those dreams.
What follows is the speech I gave to Heidi and Anthony. I hope it helps them. I hope as well that you enjoy it.
Parents love to give things to their children. We start by giving birth to them. Many of you know that all four of our children were born in a very special place, the country of Papua New Guinea. Heidi and her twin brother were born on a special day in P.N.G.—the first anniversary of that country’s independence. One Papua New Guinean said to me, “You should name the girl Inde and the boy Pendence.” He was dead serious. I didn’t. The girl is Heidi, this beautiful bride before us, and the boy we named Kurt.
But giving birth was only the first of many gifts we gave you, Heidi. Yes, there were Christmas gifts, birthday gifts and graduation gifts. You seemed especially pleased with the special shaped cakes I made and you loved the treasure hunts. You were easy to please.
But there are two significant gifts that I wish to highlight today. The first is the gift of roots. Your Dad and I wanted you to feel like your roots go deeply into the Fabian family, that you are cherished by each of us. You have a special place in our hearts. When Daddy taught you how to ride the bicycle and you were so scared, that’s what it was about. He wanted you to know that he wouldn’t let go as long as you needed him. And when we prayed with you at bedtime, took you to church, read the Bible together, it was because we wanted your roots to sink into God’s unfailing love for you. So we sang hymns around the piano, held hands as we gave thanks before meals. We wanted you to be rooted in to the truth of God’s Word. Yes, the gifts of roots.
The other gift we gave you was wings. More than most children your age, you traveled 1,000s of miles by airplane. You traveled around the world many times and visited so many different countries I’ve lost count. When you were small we put bells on your shoes so we could hear where you were. At airports we put you on a leash. We didn’t have enough hands to hold you and carry all the luggage. But I’m not just talking about air miles. We gave you wings so that you wouldn’t be afraid to go any place, that you wouldn’t be content to just perch in one comfortable spot. We wanted you to be aware that there’s a whole world out there and that your gifts from the Holy Spirit could be used by God to bring hope and healing to people in need. So you went to Romania and India.
I will be the first to say that we fumbled and stumbled around in our giving of these gifts of roots and wings. But, Heidi, I will quickly add that you have taken these gifts and have far exceeded any expectations we had for you.
Your roots, I’m convinced will continue to keep you firmly planted. It brought me special joy these last few months as you lived at home, to see you out on the patio with your Bible open and your journal beside you. And, I hear that your wings will carry you to another part of God’s world, to the country of Turkey.
On this your wedding day I am delighted that your wings have brought you into Anthony’s loving arms. I use the word, “delight” because I see that Anthony also has roots and wings. I thank the Cassise family for bringing up such a fine young man that I have no hesitation to entrust with my daughter. And I say thank you to the Guest and Belsterling families for being surrogate parents for Heidi when we were on the other side of the world. Also a big thank you to the WEC family for giving Heidi such a rich experience as she has served with you.
So go in peace, Heidi. Now your roots and wings will be intertwined with Anthony’s roots and wings. Go with my love and the blessing of God and the whole Fabian clan. I love you both.