I am very mindful today that it takes a village to raise a child. And while I had the honor of giving birth to John-Mark, many others have helped to make him the man that he is.
His aunts and uncles (including those on our missionary teams) have prayed for him and loved him as if he were their own.
His grandparents have loved him, accepted him, gave him his first employment and literally invested in him.
His brother, cousins and roommates made his family large and showed him how to get along with others.
His friends at church and work have taught him to love Texas and challenged him to go deeper with Jesus.
And especially our God pursued him and didn’t stop until John-Mark had fully surrendered his heart.
And now I can add to that list, Emery, who has become the primary influence in his life—I thank God for you.
Since he was a baby, I have prayed for the right wife for John-Mark if that was God’s plan. From the moment I met you Emery, I have loved you. I didn’t get daughters of my own, so I am excited to finally have one. You are all that I have desired for my son. Over the years my own mother-in-law has told me many times “Thank you for loving our son”. And now I know what she means.
John-Mark has always been attentive, expressing love easily. A cherished memory from when he was about four years old captures the essence of his heart: I was preparing a lesson in my room and John-Mark came in and plopped down on the bed, not saying anything. I looked up from my papers and asked, “Do you need something, honey?” He looked up at me with his big brown eyes and said, “I need you for hugging, mommy.”
My son, please show that same attentiveness to Emery. Keep growing. Keep giving your heart to Jesus and following his directions and truths. I am so pleased you are building your foundation on Jesus and that you want to serve Him. I am so happy you found each other.
And so we celebrate you today—John-Mark and Emery.
Though a counselor, you guys are not my counselees. Though at times a minister, you guys are not my parishioners. Though a life coach, you guys are not my clients. I come to you simply as a father, stating three truths to encourage you.
It can be done.
We all need encouragement to face the challenge before us. Believe it or not, even “adulting” can be maneuvered successfully and even with panache—in this case the challenges of being a good husband, a good wife! Having a healthy marriage can all be done well. A firm grounding in your faith and a personal knowledge of how Jesus lived will definitely aid you.
You can do it.
John-Mark and Emery—you guys can do this! You got this! Proceed confidently. JM, I have seen you grow in confidence and in responsibly the past few years. I have a hunch Emery has assisted this process—this past year especially. JM, you have what it takes to be the best husband you can be. Emery you have what you need to be an awesome wife for JM. Christ in you together empowers you to forge a strong unity.
You’re not alone.
Ground yourselves into a caring and safe community. No one successfully does life alone. Solitary living leads to dysfunction. A cord of more than two strands is that much more strengthened. I am for you. Your mother is for you. All these people are for you. You’re not alone. And based on all this mutual support, we salute you!!!