My Dear Chelsea,
We bonded during 5 months of bed rest while you were growing and preparing to enter this world. I used to beg the doctors just to let you come instead of using all kinds of nasty medications to keep you safe and sound in my womb. You see, from the very beginning I felt inadequate. That someone else could do it better. That they could keep you healthy and strong better than I could. But over and over again the nurses and doctors told me that your place was with me. That it was infinitely better to have you grow in my protective body as long as possible. That stuck with me over the years. They wouldn't let me yield to my fear of inadequacy. The end result? A beautiful, healthy baby girl who has brought us infinite love and joy over these past twenty years. They were right. I was enough for you.
And so over the years we have enjoyed getting to know you. Being your parents. You were the quiet girl with steely strength. Everyone thought you were shy....but that wasn't really it. You have shy moments but really you just don't need to be loud and obnoxious like the rest of us to be happy. You are content to walk quietly in this world and make big changes as you go. You are the one with a heart for others that puts me to shame. You are that teenager who sent money to missions because you could and it would help someone but you wanted no one to know. You are that girl who wanted to go to YWAM, flying 14 hours straight alone, even though it socially went against everything else you had ever done. You spent hours in intercessory prayer as others went to the bars to minister to those caught in slavery in Thailand and did this even as the oppression of darkness hurt you so deeply. Chelsea, you have reached out to your co-workers new and old to let them know that you care for them when you hosted them in our home or joined them at other events. Your quiet strength and caring spirit have helped many new co-workers feel welcome. And then there was this one co-worker. Grandma Ruth trained him. You weren't all that into him at first. But many ten hour shifts together created a friendship first. After a while you were spotted at work in his company more and more. But you weren't an official couple yet. You see, when you have as many relatives working with you as you do things are noticed. Ha! It wasn't long after that before we knew there was something special about this friendship and you were headed out to dinner. A dinner that would set your current path in place.
We got to know Chadd. We grew to love Chadd. And it was through your eyes that we took this journey. When we would all go to dinner together and you would be sitting in the car behind us with this guy we would be surprised to hear endless chatter coming from you. Who was this talkative young lady? Where did that quiet and reserved girl of ours go? Laughter came easy and our times all together were just so much fun. We quickly grew to understand that Chadd held the key to your trust and love. He gained our love and respect as well by being so gentle with you. His sense of humor and diligent spirit won us over. We saw Jesus in Chadd. He can be as quiet as you and yet there is no doubt about his priorities. When we asked how the start of this relationship looked from his perspective he told us about a hike....the day before he decided to ask you to dinner for the first time. He said that the purpose of the hike was to pray and seek the Lord's will in beginning this relationship. That was meaningful. This is who we wanted for you. A young man who didn't just follow his eyes to a beautiful young lady, but the very heart of God for his future.
The evening Chadd asked Daddy for your hand and our blessing you and I waited anxiously outside. I'll never forget the intense joy and relief on Chadd's face as he ran across the yard to tell you that the answer was YES! From then on you couldn't wait for the time he would surprise you with a ring. I guess we do things a bit strange around here. There weren't many secrets but that's just how we roll. Chadd worked so hard to set up your birthday engagement day. You wore the special white dress that you really hoped to get engaged in. And our hearts were joyful as we sent you off together that day. We were not surprised or disappointed when we got the first pictures of the ring. Your heart had found a home. And you were ready.
Just over two weeks later the unthinkable happened. Chadd was in that horrible accident. Our joy turned to grief and agony at the result of that singular event. There was a loss of life that has scarred all of us. We can no longer be as care free as we were before that day. He is changed, You are changed. We are all changed. The grief has felt too much to bear at times. However, even through those horrible times we have seen the grace of God dealing in Chadd. Stretching him, growing him and making him a deeper and more mature man. We have seen you wrestle with these events and watched you become even stronger and more determined than before. Daddy and I knew that this tragedy would either end your relationship or forge a bond that couldn't be broken. That bond is incredibly strong. We are so proud of both of you. And that is why the tears are flowing as I write. To be brutally honest the life you have walked since July 16th and you will walk over the next years are not what we would have chosen for you. We would have chosen joy and sunshine, happiness and ladybugs. But our Heavenly Father knows best. We would have wanted an engagement where your biggest stress was where to hold the wedding....instead of asking authorities where you were allowed to go on your honeymoon. But real life is full of reality. You have already come to terms with things that it often takes young people many years to realize. And you have done so with amazing grace.
And so, we, without reservation rejoice with both You and Chadd today as you take the vows that have already been spoken in your hearts and acted out through your actions. We celebrate Chadd's life, which was miraculously spared and we honor you for your dedication and commitment to this man. We are going to celebrate the depth and mysteries of our Heavenly Father's plan for your lives. We will do this with your closest friends and family.... just as you wanted.
My dearest daughter, I will miss having you in my home. I loved starting our days chatting about this and that. But I am over the moon excited for you. That you will have a nest of your own to love and care for. That you will not have to suffer the frustrations of living with this creative and not so domestic mama. But do feel free to visit and put things back to rights any time you wish. :-)
Lets do this thing!! It is going to be a very special and meaningful day.