PART 17 ~ February 20-21, 2016 – Wedding Rehearsal and Wedding Day
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“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm,
for love is strong as death.” (Song of Solomon 8:6)
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PEGGY CONTINUES HER TESTIMONY:
Saturday, February 20, 2016:
Jim and I kept praying for beautiful days for both the Wedding Rehearsal (Saturday) and the Wedding Day (Sunday). The weather had been very strange beginning in 2016. Well, the prayers must have been effective! Both days brought absolutely beautiful sunny weather with mild temperatures! They felt like Spring Days! Both days brought this verse from the Bible to mind, even though, technically, it was still the Winter season:
“For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone.The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!” ~ (Song of Solomon 2:11-13)
On the morning of the Wedding Rehearsal, we both felt so joyous that I pulled out the “My Fair Lady”Piano-Vocal Score, and started playing with gusto:
“I’m Getting Married in the Morning” (meaning for us, the next day). Jim was soon over by the piano and started singing with great fun and animation: “I’m getting married in the morning! . . . ”
My eyes started to tear up as I realized that the last time I played this before a wedding was a full 50 years ago. My Dad’s brother was about to get married in Pennsylvania. I had taken the “My Fair Lady” score with me on purpose to play that song the night before. I did so on my Grandmother’s piano with joy.
We did a few wedding errands in the morning, and then headed over to the church for the 2p.m. rehearsal. Everyone was there promptly. We saw Marilyn and John in the parking lot. Jim joined arms huddled the four of us together and sang “I’m Getting Married in the Morning” softly, but with lots of expression. We were having fun!
The rehearsal went beautifully, and everyone enjoyed meeting folks they hadn’t known before. There is one thing that we remember when leaving the church. There was a noticeable refreshing wind that commenced when we walked out of the church. Over the years, Jim and I had often observed wind kicking up at high points in our discussions about God. We always commented, “it’s the Holy Spirit.”
Well, this seemed like an obvious “Holy Spirit” moment! I was sure we’d see that rainbow “surprise” tomorrow one way or another. We cornered Linda H. before we left. We all joined arms, and Jim sang a few lines of “I’m Getting Married” once again with tremendous gusto. We had fun! It was much nicer than a traditional “Bachelor Party”!
THE WEDDING DAY on Sunday, February 21, 2016:
The Bridal Gown hung elegantly on the curtain rod in the living room against the background of a light gold curtain. Jim asked me to go to church with him. Afterwards, I was so surprised to see a very warm, kind, and glowing woman next to him that spoke very kindly. Truthfully, I was wondering if she was an angel. He proceeded to tell her that our marriage was planned for the evening. She told me how very beautiful I was and that she was so very happy for us. We really didn’t want to say “good-bye” to her, but we had to keep moving, so to speak. Before we moved, she hugged each of us very purposefully. Then, we looked back and saw her kneeling in a very prayerful position as if she had blocked out everything from the world totally.
When she arose, we went over to her to say a final “good-bye.” The glowing woman said very directly that she was kneeling to pray for the two of us and our marriage! She commented that she had just dropped by to the church…..that she was just visiting. We considered it a little miracle. She definitely seemed angelic to us! I thought to myself, “maybe this is the special surprise Debra was talking about.” It certainly was a blessed meeting. It would definitely qualify as a “surprise”!
Then, on the way home, I thought for a moment that it would be nice if Dad had lived to see this day. Not long after that, the phone rang. It was a lady from Jim’s church that called to wish us well on our Wedding Day. Jim handed the phone over to me. I had no idea who it was or the purpose of the call. Right away she started speaking of how wonderful my Father was! She went on and on with many compliments. This shocked me. I hadn’t realized it, but she had been on one of the Parent Committees some years ago that worked to assist Dad’s many Marching Band activities.
In fact, she said that she had held the office of “President” of that group for several years and really enjoyed working with him. I concluded by saying that “oh, yes, he was a very dear Father and is very dearly missed.” As I gratefully hung up, I thought perhaps this was part of the “surprise.” It felt almost as if Dad had shown up!
The Catholic woman that had expressed that she thought my “full immersion Baptism” back in August was a very beautiful thing was named my “Wedding Coordinator.” Father Bill had suggested her and also conferred the title on her. Her job was to assist me in donning my gown and to signal me when to begin the Processional. We both had fun speaking of her “lofty title” for the day! Her name is Joanne and she is married to the Best Man, Bill K. (I have to put his last initial after his name. We had 3 “Bills” there including Father Bill.) She came to the house and graciously helped me dress. She was a nice presence to have around.
Next, I made sure that the Bride’s Bible that I carried had the long golden ribbon in the place where our wedding theme Scripture was to be found: Hosea 2:19.
About that time, Jim announced to me that some very light rain was predicted for about 4p.m. We thought, “that’s it”! We will see a rainbow just before the 5p.m. wedding. We certainly hoped that we would experience that “surprise”!
Then my Mom arrived to take us to the church. She looked lovely and wore beautiful Irish Claddagh earrings in honor of Jim’s Irish heritage, and mine through Dad’s lineage. Jim and I sat in the back seat like two teenagers. It was fun and funny. Actually, by the time 4p.m. rolled around, we both forgot about the possibility of any light rain or the anticipated rainbow. It never rained a drop, but our minds were just not on the rainbow any more. There was too much joy within us and among the entire gathering!
Everything was progressing so wonderfully, that I was sure that I’d cry the whole time for joy, but with God’s grace, I was perfectly composed. Everyone had arrived before us. They were all smiling like crazy. They all told me how beautiful I was and how great Jim looked. I felt totally comfortable and at ease!
Bill B., the photographer was working very hard getting all kinds of strategic pictures of all of us, even well before the Ceremony began. I really admired his abilities!
At 5:00p.m. sharp, the Processional began to the recorded music of “Pachelbel’s Canon in D” played by a piano, with Linda H. going first.
Then when Linda reached the front, I began processing. No one walked with me.
I “gave myself away.”
I thought that is was rather fitting. It was totally my decision. The Ceremony began. There was a tangible presence of love in the room.
When First Corinthians 13 was read with such awesome feeling by Marilyn, I scanned the group quickly since Jim and I were seated facing them. What did I see? I saw most of the group including men with tears just swimming in their eyes.
I think it was a manifestation of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit.
There were prayers and readings. Next, the “one paragraph compositions” that Father Bill had asked us to write explaining why we loved each other were read.
Okay, we had both misunderstood the assignment. Instead of one paragraph each, we both wrote pages about each other! Father Bill explained that most couples had trouble coming up with three sentences each. He graciously consented to read the two compositions in their entirety because he thought they were beautiful.
Here they are, with Jim’s composition first:
“WHY I LOVE PEGGY” ~ written by Jim
When Father Bill gave me the homework assignment to write down my thoughts about why I love Peggy, I thought that this could get very involved because there are so many things that I love about Peggy. Well anyway, here goes:
1. I love Peggy because she has a good and generous heart. I told Father Bill that if Peg had been a Catholic, she probably would have been a nun, but in that case none of us would be here today. Indeed, God knew what He was doing. During the years that she taught school and conducted choirs in many churches, I watched Peg buy necessities for the children in her care. Peggy was selected “Teacher of the Year” and for my vote, she is “Christian of the Year” as well.
2. I love Peggy because she is loyal and tenacious. If Peg sees a need she immediately wants to help. Peggy is strongly a “Pro-Life” sponsor- she sometimes goes overboard with her help. Our friend Marilyn called us and asked if we would contact two Senators in Washington requesting them to vote on an important abortion bill. So I called both of our Senators but what did Peg do? She got busy and she contacted all of the 100 Senators. Peggy, indeed, “walks her talk” as a Christian. How can you help but love her?
3. I love Peggy because she is an “Encourager.” St. Paul reminds all of us to encourage each other. Bishop Sheen once said, “if you have someone in your life who is helping you to get closer to God, you have a treasure in that person. Well, I have such a treasure in Peggy. We do music and Pro-Life Programs together in various churches and civic clubs. Peg is always there telling me that the people will love us and that I will be “great.” In truth it is like having my own private “Cheerleader” and I thank God for her. I really could go on all day, but I’ll try to finish up now.
In our home, Peg has some interesting messages displayed. There is a special personal reminder of her feelings for me that I treasure in one of these messages and it reads like this…..”I thank God for every moment I have with you.”
These are just some of the reasons why I love Peggy and why, with the help of God, I want to share my life with her.
Next came my composition:
“WHY I LOVE JIM” ~ written by Peggy
The famous love poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning begins with the lines,
“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Therefore, in this composition, I will count these ways by listing 12 main ways that I love you, Jim.
As an introduction to #1), I will state that I love that you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, and that you treasure God’s Holy Word,The Bible. You consider The Bible’s living and active Words your only reliable compass for the navigation of this earthly life and guide to Eternal life in a Heaven, wonderful beyond our imagination. You openly acknowledge Jesus Christ as mankind’s ONLY Savior as well as the ONLY Way, Truth, and Life!
In pondering these ways that I love you, I have come to the conclusion that your most endearing qualities must be a direct result flowing from that most important decision that you (or any person) can ever make in their entire earthly lives. Back in 1951, you decided to totally surrender your life, will, and future plans to the will of God, His only Son, Jesus Christ, and The precious Holy Spirit.
I will now commence “counting the ways” by listing wonderful qualities about you, citing a Scripture reference for each one.
#1 )Exodus 20:12 states the 5th of the 10 Commandments: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” It has been abundantly apparent to me from the early days of getting to know you that you have loved, honored, and held your parents, Edward and Anna in the highest esteem. I have also understood that they both deeply loved you, too. I have always considered this wonderful relationship with them from your formative years— an important indicator of your capacity to love me and love others.
#2) Proverbs 12:26 says “The righteous choose their friends carefully.”
I have truly admired your ability to choose wonderful and Godly friends as well as your efforts to maintain those friendships.
#3) Galatians 5:22-23 states “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control; against such things there is no law.” That includes 9 different fruit. I have noticed that you demonstrate all of these on a consistent basis.
#4) Deuteronomy 32:2 states “Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” In your outstanding 26 year High School teaching career, you worked diligently for the education of students ranging from Kindergarten to Twelfth Grade. You were an exceptional teacher of English, Reading, and History. In addition, you became a wonderful “Learning Disabilities Specialist.”
You served as a Public Speaking instructor and coach for all Seniors selected to speak at their Graduation Ceremonies. You were also available as a caring counselor to countless students. You functioned as a teacher outside of your School Employment: You taught a number of Adult Bible Studies and Biblically inspirational talks to teen groups in various local churches. You also taught through many supply Sermons in a variety of regular church Services throughout the years.
#5) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states ” Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” As I break that Scripture down, I see “rejoice always,” which I have noticed that you embody with your ever-present positive attitude about your life, lived in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I see “pray without ceasing,” and I have noted that I have never witnessed you to have breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even a “Water Ice from Rita’s” without stopping to audibly thank The Father before partaking of one bite. Even if we are in a restaurant, it matters not.
You still continue to pray audibly. I have noted with admiration that you are quick to join hands and bow your head in prayer with individuals or with a group in a circle regardless of where we are; inside or outside. You are quick to pray spontaneous prayers as needs or occasions to give thanks arise. You’ve always aligned yourself with the Scripture: “If you confess Me (Jesus) before men, I will confess you before My Father in Heaven.”
Last, I notice “in everything give thanks.” I have indeed noticed your “attitude of gratitude” in all things. It is a wonderful testament to your faith that even in the midst of situations which many would label unpleasant, difficult, or challenging, you still always find a multitude of things to be thankful for.
#6) “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” are the inspired words from Psalm 19:14. I have been amazed at the way that you have consistently guarded the words of your mouth year upon year. I have heard positive words of your faith in Jesus and edifying words regarding your fellow man. It is also highly important to you to be an “encourager” to others. You have claimed as your guardian angel: Barnabus, the encourager, who was Paul’s assistant in the Book of Acts.
#7) “See, I have set before you today LIFE and prosperity, and DEATH and adversity” are the words of Deuteronomy 30:15. I tremendously admire your active involvement in choosing LIFE especially as it applies to the plight of unborn children as expressed through the Pro-Life movement. Upon your retirement, you gave educational talks to groups of Junior High age students in the very impressive number of at least 700 Schools! You also trained a large number of adult speakers through ongoing Public Speaking Classes which included training in The Word of God and in the necessary persuasiveness to deliver the speeches effectively. You took seriously the words of Psalm 139: 13-15 which reminds us:
“For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works.”
At times when you spoke to Adult Groups, individuals, and even in a Prison about your Pro-Life convictions totally based on The Holy Word, you encountered significant opposition and persecution. Thank-you for standing strong and refusing to compromise on what is clearly stated in The Bible.
You also stood strong for Biblical truth in many letters written to various newspapers and local churches, boldly challenging them to maintain Biblical standards in their actions and decisions. You encountered persecution for some of these.
In addition, I will note that when you felt that the Lord led you to hold a before-school combination Prayer Group and Bible Study for Junior High students at your place of employment, you received enough “See me” notifications from the school administration to wallpaper your kitchen! However, you continued to obey the Lord’s dictates despite that particular major annoyance and potential threat to your job security. That’s amazing, Jim!
You knew the truth of Matthew 5:11-12 which declares: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” I’m so proud of you for this, Jim!
8) Habakkuk 2:2 declares “Then the LORD answered me and said, “Record the vision And WRITE it on tablets.” I state with great joy that you have written many beautiful and inspired poems, compositions and essays that are indeed among my absolute favorite writings. They are TREASURES!
9) Psalm 19:1 triumphantly declares:
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Jim, you have been known to love to look into the heavens at night, joyfully discerning God’s Glory. During the daytime hours, we both have enjoyed many delightful walks through woods, in nature, and by rivers and oceans, again discerning the wonders of God as reflected in his creation. Isaiah 55:12 expresses this in part: “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”
10) Proverbs 17:22 says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”
Here I will mention that I really love your sense of humor. It is always totally clean, innocent, and never at the expense of any other person.
11) ” He defended the cause of the poor and needy. Everything went well for him.” are the words of Jeremiah 22:16. Jim, for many years you have decided of your own accord to make it a point to visit, assist, and encourage those that were less fortunate than yourself. You have proved the above Scripture to be true, because things have indeed gone “well” for you!
12) Last of all, I will cite Psalm 92:1-3 which declares “Sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving-kindness in the morning, And Your faithfulness every night, On an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, With harmonious sound.” I think this Scripture speaks of our “Two for HIM”:
Music, Drama, Poetry, and Home Visitation Ministry. What a JOY it has been to share that ministry with you. I feel as if we have fulfilled in part, at least in our own sphere of influence- The Great Commission in Mark 16:15 which commands “Go into all the world and preach (and I’ve inserted-even through music, drama, poetry, and home visits) the Good News to everyone.” How grateful I am for the privilege of serving Our Lord that way, and especially with you!
I have now counted 12 ways that “I love thee”– so now I feel inspired to quote from YOUR poem called “Love”- “These thoughts about love would flow on all day if I didn’t stop now and put them away.”
The conclusion of this composition will consist of the final lines of the poem by Elizabeth Browning with which I began. Thus, I lovingly announce:
“I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life!—
and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.”
“Cum meum maxima amore nunc et in aeternum,”
(Which is Latin for “With my maximum love now and in eternity.”)
The next thing that happened was sort of funny, but no one laughed. We just smiled. At the conclusion of my composition, Father Bill had done a lot of reading. He excused himself from the room for about 30 seconds. He needed a drink of water!
After the lighting of the Unity Candle by Jim and I, the Ceremony came to a conclusion Father Bill said a blessing and then pronounced us “Mr. and Mrs. James E. Dougherty.” HALLELUJAH! AMEN!
We recessed out to a majestic symphonic recording of “Trumpet Voluntary.’
We greeted our guests and many said that it was the absolute best wedding they ever attended! It was just small and simple, but there was no mistaking the tangible presence of God’s love with and among us! That’s what made everything great!
Now, regarding the choice of concluding Scriptures below, we realize that they really refer to God speaking. However, we thought we could use them as our words to each other, both on the Wedding Day and on all the other days ahead that God would choose to give us!
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.” (Hosea 2:19)
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