Things are quiet out on Bittersweet Farm tonight. A week ago our little “Hopey” was married to Tim Kolb right here on Bittersweet Farm out in the place I like to call The North Meadow at the foot of a cross. It was a beautiful evening.
The wedding was a small family-only wedding. The wedding party gathered at the foot of a cross raised at the back of the north meadow with Hope’s brother Pastor Kyle Pierpont as the co-officiant. The theme to Cider House Rules began and the bride appeared walking over the hill toward the cross and her husband-to-be, Tim. It was my privilege to escort her and to give her away and preach the wedding.
Each of Hope’s brothers and sisters contributed to make the evening one we will cherish as long as we live. Hannah was the maid of honor and gave her a beautiful sister-shower on Friday. Heidi and Holly were bride’s maids. Kyle helped and prepared her little Jeep for the get-away. Holly’s Jesse and Tim (the groom) and I constructed lights for the big family dance. (And we sold them thank you Lord, on Sunday morning). I refinished the porches, groomed the grounds, and preached the wedding with the help of Hope’s oldest brother and pastor, Kyle. Hannah’s husband Dale built the cross. Chuk and Holly sang. Dan and Wes helped with sound and set up and general service while they chased their little tots around the place. Lois was the mother-of-the-bride and photographer. Aunt Linda went to Kentucky for the Ale-8 and cousin Donnie delivered it in has fancy pick-up and entertained us all with amazing, amazing dance moves. Keira and Koen and Aiden Redemption and Laela and little Aspen all helped get the bride properly to the foot of the cross for her vows. Dale ran the sound.
Every one of our children and every one of our grandchildren and all the “in-laws” were here for one brief, wonderful moment. Immediately after the ceremony and before the reception began our daughter-in-law Kate (Dan’s wife) had to go to the emergency room. She was admitted and spent five days in the local hospital. Kate is well and she and Dan and their little boys Waylon and Leon are all back in New Mexico now. Holly and Jesse and their family are home in Oregon. Kyle, Chuk, and Hannah are in their homes in west Michigan. Heidi and hers are home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Wesley and his little family are home in Dallas. Hope and Tim, the newly-weds are finishing up their honeymoon in Ft. Meyers, Florida. Lois and I are here on Bittersweet Farm.
When Dan and Kate left with the boys we stood and waved until there were out of sight and walked back to the house in tears. For the first time since Friday night October 30, 1987 it was just the two of us. We prayed and thanked God for the wonderful blessing it has been to raise four sons and four daughters to adulthood and marriage. Each of them know the Lord. Each of us deeply need the Lord. We have been enjoying our time together reflecting back on the great goodness and kindness and mercy of God toward us and looking forward to a season of praying and being an example and loving our grandchildren.
A storm passed through in the night and behind it cool temperatures. Tomorrow I will preach outdoors again as I have been doing every Sunday since March. Next week we will have our last outdoor service and a picnic and then return to services inside. God has blessed us with Bethel Church and God has blessed Bethel Church.
This morning old friends came through town, Steve and Janet Thompson. Steve was the chairman of the pulpit committee that invited me away from Jackson in 1987. We pastored the Thompson family for the next ten years in Ohio. Steve volunteered to pray for our meal. He was silent, fighting back tears as he tried to pray. We spent two hours weeping and laughing and praying and thanking God for his goodness and mercy in our lives.
We are eager to turn the page on the next chapter of what God has for us. Lois and I met at Bible College. We are different people but we agreed to the point of unwavering conviction that God led us to raise a family for Him. He has helped us, blessed us, protected us, provided for us, used us, chastised us, taught us and captured our hearts. It has been an adventure in faith and God has deeply strengthened our faith and trust in him. It has been humbling–deeply humbling.