The following was read at Dan and Elizabeth’s reception:
Elizabeth Joy Shofstahl, you were born when I was 12 years old, long after I had given up hope of ever having a sister. I’m so glad that God brought you into our family and that you are my sister.
It was apparent early on that the arts and crafts “gene” that I was lacking got added onto you. When I was away at college, you drew me a picture of a giraffe because that’s my favorite animal. And inside the belly of the giraffe was a baby giraffe. I still have that picture. (Isn’t it cute?)
A few years ago, I found a fabulous little art book for making animals and other designs out of leaves. I thought I could do projects with Alex and Caleb.
Then I thought, who am I kidding? I decided to give the book to you, Liz, and you could make things with the boys. But then you showed me a framed picture of a rooster you had made by gluing leaves onto paper and had given to dad. It looked like a piece of folk art that you’d find in a little out-of-the-way gift store. I was surprised that you already had the book. Then I was astounded that no, you didn’t have the book. You just saw the leaves and thought “rooster” and were able to put it on paper beautifully.
Speaking of roosters, if you’re rooster, you’d better behave when Liz is around. When my parents lived on a farm for a couple years, Liz raised chickens and if one of the young roosters pushed or shoved or didn’t go back into its pen when it was supposed to, Liz would slate it for the butcher. Yup, she ran a tight chicken coop.
Your artistic ability extends into the kitchen as well. Dad especially enjoys what he has nicknamed “Elizabethan pizza.” Each dessert is a work of art. Chocolate covered strawberries drizzled with white chocolate. Paper thin butterflies painted in intricate detail sticking out of pudding.
How many in this room have received a handmade card from Elizabeth? Or a bookmark made from pressed flowers?
I’ve watched you grow in to a godly, mature young woman with a sweet and gently spirit worthy of imitation. I am so excited for you as you enter marriage with Dan. Just a year ago, the desire of your heart was to someday be married and have a family and you wondered if and when the Lord would ever bring someone into your life.
In the wee hours of this morning when we probably should have been sleeping, Liz told me that four years ago she had started a journal to her future husband. The entries are quite sporadic–months, even a year apart. She read me a couple paragraphs from the final entry before that first contact from Dan. I have her permission to share it with you…
Just a little background first. She began by apologizing that she had not written in so long but it was hard to write to someone she didn’t know. This is what Liz wrote in her journal
…and what if I do know you? But please, if I do know you, and you are interested in me, please tell me. I’m dying to know. Somehow I’m supposed to trust God in his timing and rest in Him…
Then about nine months ago, the Lord did just that–brought someone into your life. You called to let me know about Dan. You were about to meet him in person for the first time after having exchanged several e-mails and instant messages. I could see God at work in the beginning of your relationship. There is no other way that you and Dan, perhaps the shyest people who I know (at least around the opposite sex) would have gotten together any other way.
A chance meeting five years ago at a church in Pennsylvania was no chance. It was positively Providential. A catalyst. Dan was there for a conversation you were having with his sister and thought even then,
This is a girl I might like to know.
Then he recognized your profile 4 years later and contacted him. You remembered him also and the rest is history.
There was a photo of Dan standing in the woods holding his semi-automatic. Todd said, “That’s a cool gun. Ask Liz when we can meet this guy so I can shoot his gun.”
Meanwhile, my brother Sam in Texas was looking at the same photo, wondering when the guys could get together and go shooting. I thought, “Welcome to the family!” And we hadn’t even met you yet, Dan.
As the weeks went by, your contact with Dan increased. When I talked with you on the phone, you were quiet and giggly and amazed at this wondrous thing called love. You were twitter-pated.
This week has been a whirlwind of activity. You’ve been making preparations for months. Preparing for a wedding reminds me of the preparations made during pregnancy. (for those of you who don’t know me, birth is my hobby. I attend births and teach childbirth classes and I’m always coming up with birth analogies.)
Anticipation, reading books, going to childbirth class, painting the nursery, etc. And for marriage, the same thing: anticipation, reading books, going to marriage counseling, working on your new house. First time parents prepare for labor and birth, but don’t necessarily prepare for actually adding a baby to the family.
It turns out, labor and birth are the easy part. The bringing up children is the hard part. In a similar way, the easy part is over for you. You’re married. Now comes the challenge –for better or for worse– of living life together “til death do you part.” I do think that you and Dan are well prepared!
Sixteen years ago, Bethie Joy, when our roles were reversed and I was the bride and you were the (junior) bridesmaid , the ladies at my bridal shower gave me their favorite recipes, including ones for happy marriage. There is one piece of advice that has stuck with me all these years. I think this keeps coming back to me because this is my struggle (or at least one of them.) I want to leave you with this secret for happy marriage that came from our cousin Lori after she had only been married two months.
Always, be content with the circumstances and husband God has given you, but never be content with the wife you are today. Keep growing and becoming a better and better wife to Dan. He will appreciate it and do the same for you.
I love you, Lizzie.
There’s a tradition after weddings to throw rice at the bride and groom as a sign of fertility. So, Lizzie, I’m throwing rice at you. May you and Dan be as fertile as Todd and I have been.