Once Upon a Time

The bride wore an antique lace dress with a perfectly cut mid-calf hemline. Her long brown hair was pulled back with tiny jeweled pins creating a cascade of ringlets that bounced and flowed down her back. Her face was flush with the excitement of the moment and her eyes sparkled with joy as she started down the aisle to meet the love of her life waiting at the altar to make her his bride. She was beautiful.

The groom was equally impressive. Dressed in dark slacks and a white shirt and tie he stood six feet tall with long, straight dark hair that parted in the middle framing his rugged, handsome face. His blue eyes were fixed on the vision in lace walking toward him and a smile lit up his face.

It was at that moment that I sensed the pure magic of this moment.

The brother of the bride escorted his soon to be married sister down the aisle on his right arm. Cradled in his left arm was a sleeping infant. Huh? What! Hold on a minute! Did you say sleeping infant? Now that’s something different (and you thought this was going to be your typical fairy tale, happily ever after wedding).

Wrong! There is nothing even remotely typical about this couple and the story that led them up to this moment. You see, this is my nephew Joe, who, if you have been following my blog, you met in an earlier post, ( Dec. 30, 2009) and my niece by marriage, Amanda.

From a desperate life of drug addiction, hopelessness, homelessness, death, and despair, this couple by the grace of God, experienced an about face “turnaround” in their lives (and the lives of their two boys) that is nothing short of miraculous. In the process of this transformational life overhaul, they have touched the lives of many other people –many of whom filled the wedding chapel to capacity.

So clearly this was not your typical wedding. Rather, it was a milestone of celebration in a relationship that has seen lower lows and higher highs than most of us can even imagine. This special wedding day was 18 years in the making - with a lot of pain, loss, and heartache along the way.

The truth be told, these two didn’t stand a chance of making it and many times over the years, I was quite sure they wouldn’t. But God had other plans. He used their unique circumstances to radically alter the course of their lives and to significantly impact the lives of many other people from all walks of life (as was evidenced by the diverse backgrounds and lifestyles of the people who attended this wedding celebration.

It’s amazing what God can do with a life that is yielded up to Him – and congratulations to Joe, Amanda, and their boys (Chris and Zack). We’re proud of you! May God’s richest blessings bring you great joy, meaning, purpose, and fulfillment as you continue to live, love, laugh, learn, and leave a legacy for those whose lives you inspire.