My brother Ben married a wonderful person a couple weeks ago (see wedding site) providing me with a new sister as a great belated birthday present. Because clearly this is all about me. 😉
My other sister (oh, that’s fun to say) and I have been working on a wedding gift for them for some time. With all the other travels and busyness in our lives lately it ended up being a bit belated too. But they just had their local church reception here after the out-of-state wedding and their honeymoon so at least it fit into the last possible moment of wedding celebrations.
Here are a few photos of the process and the speech I gave at Ben’s church – I don’t normally get super emotional and weepy, but I’ll admit this had that effect on me. Something about loving my family lends itself to long blog posts full of “feels”?
I wanted to have something significant from our father to be a part of your wedding. Something tangible that you could see and remember as you start a new “wing” of our family. Chrissy and I have been working hard on this for a while, but we didn’t finish it until last night. I think it is good timing, though, because I also wanted to use this occasion to talk about what family means and people here are family too.
If you look closely, this may look familiar, may feel familiar. It is made with our father’s shirts. These are his work shirts, the ones he wore while working many jobs to take care of us, at his main job or in the evenings, weekends, around our house and in other people’s homes. There is evidence of his hard work in the bits of paint still in the fabric. I did pick off the bits of plaster and sawdust, though, as I washed it.
There are so many ways that you are very similar to Dad. Not just in your smile, though many people point that out when they see pictures. Not just in your interest in ancient languages. And yes, I know you can correct Dad’s Hebrew homework. But you’re going to Wheaton. Speaking of which, Cate, when he goes back to Wheaton you may want to talk to Mom to get tips on how to deal with a half-asleep husband who doesn’t remember half your conversations.
Ben, you know we love you and your hard work. That work ethic and dedication to your church are very much aspects of Dad that you have inherited. Your love of conversation too. I think everyone here knows those things about you and if they ever meet our father someday beyond this world, they will recognize him from knowing you.
Happy days are often also the hardest days when you wish more than anything you could share them with someone you love who cannot be there with you. But family is not just the people who share your exact same heritage. Family are the people who become a part of you, who will always be with you.
Dad’s passion for youth ministry, his sense of humor and his open, caring heart live on in you. But all around you are other people who are also a part of who you are. It took a lot of time and a lot of different pieces all coming together to make this into a complete quilt. That is what family is too. Don’t ever be afraid to add new pieces to who you are or who you love. We all grow slowly and we help make each other’s lives more beautiful.
This quilt grew slowly too– I started off as a beginner working on it in high school and set it aside not sure what I wanted to do with it. When I realized it would make a good wedding gift, Chrissy was excited to learn how to help with it. I couldn’t have done this without her help, she couldn’t have learned without mine. With patience and sharing, we did it together. Be patient with each other too, when you find that one of you knows better (or thinks you do), You’ll work better as a team.
This is not a perfect quilt. Some of the pieces are a little crooked, some aren’t the exact right size. The stitching isn’t perfectly lined up. The longer you look at it, the more you may notice some of those details. But those faults won’t keep it from keeping you warm when you need an extra barrier against a harsh day. Remember that for us too: we all have our faults. But when it comes down to it, we will always be here for you, to protect and provide help in whatever way we can.