Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Real Fairy-Tale Wedding!

Dear Friends
we still love the Fairy Tale! 
That was the headline on the cover of a recent national magazine. The cover story gushed on and on about Britain’s fairy-tale weddings that have captured the hearts and imaginations of those of us living on “this side of the pond.” Prince Charles and Diana’s marriage was described as the “wedding of the millennium” and then just last Saturday, Americans were all a flutter as Charles and Diana’s son, Prince Harry, married one of our local girls, Meghan Markle, who grew up in my own hometown of Hollywood. “Royal” couples have their unique marital challenges and I wish them well.

Fairy-tales often feature princesses, princes and castles but not all fairy-tales have happy endings. Miracles are when God intervenes in the natural and God’s miracles always have happy endings. You could call the wedding of Denise Washington and Willie Eckles a genuine fairy-tale wedding and you can also call it a miracle because it was the hand of God who brought them together at Abbey Road Villa, the residential care facility where we hold our Wednesday services. It was a whirl-wind courtship. They both came to Abbey Road in February and met each other in the patio area where many of the residents go to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. A month ago, Willie came up to me after a church service to tell me they both wanted me to marry them and I was absolutely delighted to do so. A few sessions of pre-marital counseling were planned so that I could get to know them a little better.

Denise is 71 years old, had never been married before and had no children. She was born and raised in Los Angeles and went to Manual Arts High School. She chose a career in dentistry and became a dental assistant and then a dental technician. She told me that when she was younger she loved to play tennis and then laughed and said she was never any good at it. She is at Abbey Road because she has a pacemaker to regulate her heartbeat and needs assistance from caretakers. I teased Denise about her capturing a “younger man” to marry and she giggled. 

Willie is 58 years old and also had never been married before. He was born and raised in Louisiana where he went to school and then had a variety of odd jobs. When he was twenty five years old, he moved to Las Vegas where he worked for casinos until he had a recent stroke. Willie is in a wheelchair and the entire right side of his body is paralyzed. While both he and Denise have physical challenges, their minds are sharp and their love for each other is very much real. Denise has no need for a wheelchair but she often sits in one so that they can move through life together. She sits by Willie’s side so that they can hold hands and look in each others eyes. At a point in life when many people become discouraged over their circumstances and are ready to give up, these two wonderful people are living life to its fullest and have fallen in love like two giddy teenagers.

As soon as they’d arrived at Abbey Road, and before they met, they started attending our Wednesday services, she in the front row and he in the back, but about a month ago they started sitting in the front row together. Denise is Catholic, Willie is Baptist and they both love God and have a strong faith. They wanted to be married in a church ceremony and exchange their wedding vows with God as their witness. On the day of their wedding, Thursday, May 3rd, the multi-purpose room at Abbey Road had been beautifully decorated by the staff and caretakers who were overjoyed to plan a very special day for this couple. 

How many times have we given up on our own heart’s desires? It’s too late for us we think. Too old. Too tired. Too sick. Too poor. Too depressed. And then we stumble around life’s corner and come joyfully into the miracle that God had waiting for us all the time. If at the beginning of the year, I’d told Willie and told Denise that they would meet the person of their dreams and would be married in three months, each one of them would have laughed in my face at such a foolish and outlandish notion. It was obviously far too late in life for them to find such joy and happiness with another person. But God had a miracle planned for them and He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! Ephesians 3:20-21 I don’t know what you desire, pray for, long for, hope for, but don’t ever give up that hope. You have absolutely no idea of the miracles that God may have waiting for you around the next corner!

That afternoon with over eighty residents, staff, caretakers, social workers and friends in attendance, the handsome groom didn’t arrive in a horse-drawn carriage but in a wheelchair. The beautiful, beaming bride wore a pink satin dress with a white shawl and on her head, a tiara sparkled in her silver hair. It was the traditional Christian wedding ceremony and then I pronounced them husband and wife. Denise gave me a huge smile. Tears of joy streamed down Willie’s face. They were the prince and princess of Abbey Road Villa that day. God’s miracle for Willie and Denise was a life-time partner and a fairy-tale wedding. May God richly bless their days together.

Denise Washington & Willie Eckles
joined in Holy Matrimony on May 3, 2018 

To joyfully receive each other as God's perfect gift; To have and to hold from this day forward; For better and for worse; For richer and for poorer; in sickness and in health; To love honor and protect one another; Forsaking all others as long as we both shall live; So help us God.

"I now present to you 
Mr & Mrs Eckles!"

Signing the 
Marriage Certificate

At the party with their social worker
and with Pastor Manuel beaming in the background. They even had a Wedding Singer at the party!

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