Father of the Bride Speech

Father of the Bride

Today I will have just given this speech at the reception of my eldest daughter Abbey’s marriage to David White. It’s been an incredible time as a Dad for evaluation of life, family and what is pure and important. Enjoy the speech and feel free to read the poem “White Wedding Faith” I wrote which is linked at the end. If you think about it you will realise it was a ‘White’ wedding in more ways than one.

Thanks

Family and Friends thank you for coming to celebrate this once in a lifetime occasion. You are here at a point in history where Abbey Pitchford and David White have become the soon to be famous Mr & Mrs White.

John & Jenny, Lesley and Tim thank you for the son you have raised who has captured my daughter’s heart. Cheryl and I have appreciated getting to know David and seeing how he values, cares for and loves Abbey.

Father Heart

A Father’s heart is a mystery to many. While we are there for a hug, a kiss or a snuggle during a scary movie, we can sometimes appear distant or disconnected. We may seem uncaring and yet we value our role as protectors over the family we love.

At times we would rather be quietly guarding the door rather than partying on the inside with everyone else. It’s this protective love for a family that takes on a new level when it comes to our precious daughters. We want the world to stand back and admire their beauty from a distance. In our perfect world they are to be appreciated but not touched, never borrowed and always loved and protected.

In Proverbs 18 we read; “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.”

In my daughter I see a beautiful young lady of incredible gifting and determination. She has experienced the perfume and the thorns of life’s rose and continues to grow as she learns to know herself and the world around her. Her grandmother’s smile will open doors and encourage many as she builds a home with David.

Like her mother I see in Abbey a soft heart for the hurting and a focussed heart on injustice. She has the same creative spirit her Mum brings to our family which will ensure she and David enjoy a warm home together. David will need to ensure he keeps a strict regime on exercise if I’m an example of what a lifetime of Pitchford healthy meals can do to a once taught buff body.

For a Dad this time of handing the mantle of responsibility to someone else who will be the one who loves, cares and protects your daughter is a serious decision. In both your mind and heart you pray the groom has a love based on the same values, that they don’t take marriage lightly and they view the role of protector with the same vigilance.

In David I have both peace and confidence he will love, value and esteem my daughter. When David first asked to take Abbey out on the date that would start their relationship I had a speech prepared that would talk about Love, Integrity, Honour and Protection. Somehow Abbey came into the room just as I was getting started and only one word had come out, ‘Protect’. That’s the hallmark I leave David with knowing that he has a love for Abbey, he is a man of his word and he honours Abbey with his actions.

Great communication is the super-glue legendary love is built on. Cheryl and I pray that as Abbey and David get to know each other they will share clear communication of their hopes, dreams and desires and that this will strengthen the love they planted here today.

In Philippians 3:13 there is this great verse which encourages us into the future.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do:
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Now I would like to read a poem that I hope captures some of Abbey’s thoughts as she went through today.

White Wedding Faith

White Wedding Faith

White Wedding Faith

White Wedding Faith

Dedicated to Abbey & David

Today I’m absorbed by White
Taken away to this Wedding Day
Built on Faith and clothed in Hope
Prepared by time and drawn by Love

Moving slowly,
With my nervous smile
Dad, my escort down the aisle

Keep calling, calling me,
Drawing me from shadows
Keep loving, loving me,
Holding me under cover
Be the one who calls my name,
Loves my name
Halt my breath with love
Start my heart with love
Be the one

Hear my heart
You’re timed to turn
Waiting breathless for your Bride,

His head turns to see my face
Days of patience transformed
From a glimpse into a glorious creation

Keep calling, calling me,
Drawing me from shadows
Keep loving, loving me,
Holding me under cover
Be the one who calls my name,
Loves my name
Halt my breath with love
Start my heart with love
Be the one

Live this life and serve the Lord
Enjoy His favour through pleasure and pain
Still serve each other, Love each other

With each year a milestone
The path is paved with celebrations
When we’re old or if love feels cold
We can enter back through the glow
Of our white frosted frames of
Life’s sweet memories

This union of our two
Is now complete as one
What began with a Wedding
Beats strong as a Marriage
You are the one
For me

Andrew Pitchford
November 2013

To read the Father of the Bride Speech that came before this poem click here.

Poem: God’s Own Country

God's Own Country

Thomas Bracken (1843-1898)
Thomas Bracken (1843-1898) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1869 a young 25 year-old Irish man from County Monaghan by the name of Thomas Bracken moved to New Zealand where he took up residence in Dunedin. Bracken had been sent to Australia at the age of 10 after his mother died and spent much of his time around the Geelong area. It was his time in New Zealand that inspired a skill in writing and he went from pharmacist apprentice and drover come shop keeper to a winner of literary awards and poet. He went on to acquire himself a position at the Otago Guardian and a career in journalism was born. Most famously it was Thomas Bracken who penned the New Zealand National Anthem called God Defend New Zealand.

If you enjoy the poem below then please accept this special invitation to visit God’s Own Country.

 

God’s Own Country

 

Give me, give me God’s own country! there to live and there to die,
God’s own country! fairest region resting ‘neath the southern sky,
God’s own country! framed by Nature in her grandest, noblest mould;
Land of peace and land of plenty, land of wool and corn and gold!
Where the forests are the greenest and the rugged mountains rear
Noble turrets, towers, and spires, piercing through the ambient air;
Rising to the gates supernal, pointing Godwards through the blue,
When the summer’s sunny splendours tip them with a nameless hue,
And the gusts of winter gather snow and sleet and mist and cloud,
Weaving many a curious mantle, many a quaint fantastic shroud.
Oh! the mountains of New Zealand! wild and rugged though they be,
They are types of highest manhood, landmarks of a nation free.
Pleasure-ground of the Pacific! brightest region on the main!
Land of many a rushing river, verdant valley, fertile plain!

I revisit thee in fancy, all thy wonders rise once more,
Once again, enthrall’d, I listen to old Tongariro’s roar;
Tarawera roused to fury, belches forth his molten wrath,
And a host of fiery demons dance along his flaming path,
Boiling cauldrons, foaming geysers, lakes whose bosoms leap with fear;
Well and truly it is written – “wonderland is really here!”
Shift the scene! Night grows to morning, morn soon ripens into day.
Lovely islands crowd and cluster in a bright and placid bay,
Silver ripples shimmer softly on the bosom of the deep;
And the mountains see their faces, for the wind is fast asleep.
Bay of Island! bay of beauty! who would dream that such a place
Should have been a scene of slaughter, man ‘gainst man, and race ‘gainst race;

Yonder, in the little churchyard, mouldering tombstones sadly tell
Tales of valour and of honour, records of how brave men fell
In the sacred cause of duty; thanks to God, those days are o’er,
And the old race and the new race now are enemies no more.
Sweep we round by Rangitoto, with his rough and rocky crest,
Grim old guardian of the gateway leading out to ocean’s breast;
Takapuna slumbers, deeply Waitemata opens its arms,
All its loveliness unfolding, circled by a hundred charms;
Fly we on to Taranaki, and ‘neath Taranaki’s shade we stand—
Taranaki, monarch of the mountains! bold, majestic, solemn, grand;
Rising from the pleasant pastures, climbing to the clouds alone
Peerless, and without a rival, proudly sits he on his throne.

It is morning in the summer, and the monarch is arrayed
In his pure white cap and mantle, which were never known to fade.
All the blue above is speckless, only one small cloud is seen
Sleeping on the mountain’s bosom, nestling ‘twixt the gold and green;
Now it seems as if awakening, slowly it begins to creep
Upwards in a spiral column, making for the summit steep,
But it fails to reach the apex, so it curls itself away
Round about the monarch’s shoulders, like a silken scarf of grey;
And the East flings out its glories on the monarch as he stands,
Crowning him with sparkling jewels, richly set in golden bands,

On we go by happy homesteads, on to Wanganui’s flood–
Oft where Wanganui’s waters, in the old time, stained with blood;
Now along the stately river flocks and herds o’er uplands graze,
Peace has swept away for ever traces of the warlike days.
Leap we o’er the hills and valleys to Poneke’s noble tide,
On whose swelling breast the navies of the Universe might ride,
Safely ride beneath the shadows of the mighty hills that keep
Watchful and ward against the tempests, born upon the outer deep.
Soar from island unto island, for were we to tarry here,
Tracing all the North-land’s beauties, we might linger for a year.
Fancy’s wings are swift and silent, o’er the sea and o’er the Strait–
Canterbury smiles before us, Ah! we have not time to wait;
Fly we o’er green pictures shining in their frames of spring’s new gold,
Fly we past the smiling homesteads, fly we over the field and fold–

Onward o’er the pass of Arthur! Magicland is drawing near–
Halt! the Gorge of wildest grandeur opens up its wonders here;
Look below; and gaze above us! was there ever grander sight?
Here is every shade of darkness; here is every tint of light;
Listen to the torrent roaring in the deep ravine below,
See the cataracts descending from their home among the snow,
See the pine and larch and rata climbing up the mountain walls,
Hearken to the tumbling torrents answering the distant falls.
Weird Otira! grand Otira; is there any other clime
That can show us such a picture, so entrancing so sublime?
Down the Gorge and through the valley, over floods that fret and foam,
As the rush among the boulders, hast’ning to their Ocean home;

Now the matchless forests open all their brightness on the scene,
And the gladdened eye is feasting on a hundred tints of green.
We must leave the lordly forest– “Stay, oh, stay,” the wood-nymphs sing;
“Stay, oh, stay,” the fairies whisper; “Stay, oh, stay,” the bell-birds ring.
Fancy will not fold her pinions; onward, onward we must go
Where Mount Cook in icy armour guards his pyramids of snow.
Fancy can outwing the lightning, fancy can outwing the wind–
Hill and plain and glen and valley soon are left far, far behind.
We are resting on the high land over New Edina’s town,
Wrapt in perfect admiration, looking up, and looking down—
Upwards at the wooded mountains, tinted now by opening day,

Downwards at the noble city, stretching round the lovely bay.
One short flight and we are sailing over Taieri’s plains of corn,
Now we cross the lonely ranges, painted by the brush of morn;
Wanaka and Manapouri pass before our wondering sight;
Hawea, in sylvan softness, fills us with a calm delight;
Wakatipu’s deep dark waters, walled by mighty mountains, raise
All our highest aspirations, till the soul is filled with praise.
Here the poet soon might gather subject for a thousand lays,
Here the artist might discover rich employment all his days.

God’s own country! God’s own country! we must hasten o’er the sea,
Filled with sweetest recollections of thy beauty; blessing thee,
Wishing thee all future greatness, bidding thee “Advance! advance!”
Fruitful land, and land of wonder, richest region of romance!
Mitre Peak, erect, majestic, slowly vanishes from view,
And the distant waves are moaning, as we cry “Adieu! adieu!”

 – by Thomas Bracken

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Do we have Empathy with Suicide?

A while back I mentioned “The Box”, a cardboard filing box full of old writings, poetry and creative work I had worked on particularly when I was involved in youth work at our local church. During that time I had a job working as car salesman at a local Toyota car yard and from a tragic situation I wrote the poem on this page called “My Friend of Eight Months”. Attached to the car sales was a mechanical workshop, a parts division and a Shell petrol station. While everyone worked different hours and the business embodied a wide range of personalities including mine, the focal point was a social room where people would gather for drinks and a game of pool after work.

It was here that I met a young man who started work at the petrol station. He was a great guy, always encouraging and seemed to constantly have a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Sadly it was this same young man who didn’t seem to have a care in the world who didn’t turn up for work one Saturday morning. He had committed suicide the night before after his shift. I don’t know what was the tipping point. I have no idea whether his burden was one he had carried for so long that he had found a way to make it look like he had it sorted out. Maybe something hit him that night or week that he felt unprepared to deal with.

Suicide is the hardest level of empathy. I know he deserves my understanding. He had my respect as a friend and a colleague. Sadly now there is no way to empart the empathy or listening ear that might have heard a clue or connected two dots to help him avoid this fate. We wish that there had been a way to connect him to counselling that may have seen him through the mire he was in. It may have come to pass, but for him counsel was either unavailable or in a place he could connect. I’ve tried now to listen better and be a better friend to others. I know I still get busy but I grew in a small way to think that a smile doesn’t always reveal a heart. As I dealt with his death I wrote this poem a little while after his funeral.

If you have known or have walked alongside someone who has committed suicide I’d love your thoughts in the comments below the post. Many thanks for being willing to share.

My Friend of Eight Months

Thinking back is to late and worthless
Except to remember the good
His pleasure of friendship
The wide smile of greeting
His zeal to assist me
The dry sense of humour

I wonder what life was like for him
All that can be done is learn
Urgency meant rush, rush, rush
His music turned to peak
Drive and get around alot
His style was loud to impress

Wish we could turn the clock back one week
But how would we know?
His manner was jovial then
Was he different to you and I?
His personal life quite unknown
Remorse and sorrow mix bitter sweet

Written: 16/3/1991
Author: Andrew Pitchford

Strong Enough

Time and Slumber

Forgive me if I’m wrong but this looks like more than I can do on my own.
Lyrics – Matthew West ‘Strong Enough’

There are times in our life when we meet faith head on. I’m walking that path now. My gut says “hang on” but the tear ducts yell “run away”. It’s where all the things you’ve learned about yourself and the God you love meet at a crossroads of decision.

I know that I want to come through this having learned new levels of faith and strengthened muscles I probably didn’t know I had. I want to be ‘Strong Enough’ and not weak. One thing about crossroads is that they sometimes seem to be like a cloverleaf freeway on-ramp of possibilities. More than one decision faces you and the traffic seems heavy and fast. Its at these times that you need focus and good visibility.

This last weekend I wanted to find a quiet place to ‘hear’ more clearly. It wasn’t about the sound proofing of the closet, it was about finding time for me and God to hangout and talk things through. Thanks to an understanding wife and children I was able to have Saturday to do just that. For me the best place to think is a ‘drive’. So come Saturday morning I woke with only the concept of heading out for the day with God, my steering wheel and a tar sealed centre line.

Just before leaving home I had the idea of going to a wonderful beach spot a couple of hours away where 22 years ago my then girlfriend and I went to seek God on the whole idea of marriage. We were deeply in love but we didn’t know if this should go to the biggest commitment of marriage. We drove to this beach and together as well as individually we sought God in prayer and through His Word for  an answer. I think the greatest result of that day was the peace we received walking into our life together.

One of the things that set the tone for this day just past was checking my phone and seeing I had the entire Keith Green collection on it I set the playlist to ‘shuffle’ and let God drive the conversation through the music. The lyrics of the music brought me back to some home truth’s on my own commitment. Keith Green would have been the Lecrae of his time and it was just great to be back in sync with youthful passions through the music in the car. I remember at one point just asking the Lord to be with me in the car. I looked at the passenger seat beside me and saw that I had my shoulder bag and water bottle there. I felt they needed to be moved if Jesus was going to have a seat next to me so I took them off the seat. It was my way of inviting the Lord into that space beside me. I know this may sound slightly irreverent but for me it then felt I was on a road trip with Jesus. We were talking when we talked and listening to the Keith Green tracks as we went. Jesus, Me and Keith; it was quite a trip.

After a drive around the beach, taking photos of an aero-club meet and spending time overlooking the cliffs at an old Children’s Bible Camp I went to as a child, I then drove another hour to see my parents. My Dad was out so it was just Mum and I. Sometimes you need one on one time with someone close. Mum later said she found it a blessing that we were able to be together to talk and pray as just the two of us. Often my family and Dad are around and it was so it was just unique to have time with Mum. Her caring heart, wise counsel and spirit-led prayer were anchors in the day.

Although it was now late afternoon I didn’t feel it was time to go home so I set the GPS for a new destination on the opposite coast of New Zealand to Bethlehem, a small coastal town north of Tauranga. I knew some old friends were there but they didn’t answer their phone. I started the drive anyway as it is an enjoyable scenic drive. On arrival I felt to contact these old Youth Group Leaders and after a couple of calls connected with them via mobile. While they were an hour away from the direction I’d just come, they encouraged me to go to their house which they told me how to enter, and make myself at home. This was a blessing as I had an hour of total quiet to sit, pray and read. Here I demolished Philippians and was saturated with encouragement from Paul’s letter.

When my friends arrived I was falling asleep. Thankfully their smiles and conversation reignited the coals of my energy level and we spoke for about three hours. God speaking through friends who let go of their agenda and display God’s is powerful. They didn’t tell me what to do, they shared with me God’s heart for me, my future and my family. One of the best pieces of advice that was dropped into that conversation was to think on the attributes of God and His character. It was a drop of refreshing salve on the parched skin.

My drive home was a great time to finish the day singing in the car just out of a heart of gratitude for every aspect of the day. It was just before 1am when I walked through the door to a much needed bed.

The crossroad is still before me but I’m not driving alone. The words of Matthew West’s song ‘Strong Enough’ emphasise that journey.

 

Up to Heaven

Up to Heaven

I wrote this when the father of a family I knew passed away. It was hard to see a soft quiet godly man die and yet you knew he was going to be with His Lord and Saviour. Sometimes words fail to express what is being felt inside.

Up to Heaven

I knew a man, so strong with silent features

Quite a man

He loved his own so dearly and even me

Quite a man

It’s hard to understand why God led him by the hand

Up to Heaven

But deep inside we know it was a better place to go

Up to Heaven

 

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Things that should be said

Things that should be said

Things that should be said

There are many things I'd like to say
and there are many things I could
But if all I do is say them
then I guess I never should

You see words without meaning are like
flowers without their petals
or morning without its dew
like a puppy without its soft wet tongue
or me without my you.

I know that I don't own you
You've given that honour to the Lord
All I want is to be your friend
then I can love you to the end

My heart has turned full circle
and twisted like a rung out cloth
Tears fall like rung out water
as I come to face my fear of loss

I've let you down and this you know
but now I lift you up to show
You are my love I'm not ashamed
I'm proud because you bear my name

Your smile has always brought me joy
It helps me remember life's to enjoy
To God I lift my song of praise
Your beauty is defined, there is no more

You've dedicated yourself to Abbey and me
Our little family at this time only three
But I feel it is my turn to make a stand
I love you, I need you, I care for you
Please hold my hand.

Love Andrew

Author: Andrew Pitchford
Written: 1992

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time and Slumber

Time is measured by the once
but pleasure by the pound
We forsake the hour's warning tide
Sit back with men feeling warm inside

Did Christ enjoy social expense
Or sit in critique at a neighbour's fence 
His time was ours he spent it well
Used healing hands to salvation tell

Why do you slumber instead of march
Is this gratitude, limbs stiff as starch
Accept what yours, forgiveness free of charge
Heaven's transport flown, not a deathly barge

Author: Andrew Pitchford

Spiral Jail

Spiral Jail

Spiral Jail

Cries of anguish spout forth in fear
Who can I believe?

The postman is my wife's best friend
My heartache a banker's leer
Our priest buys his VCR, our sacrifice 
My own resolutions end this January hour

So I delve into the closet for a skeleton feast
Place them in a heated age
Let loose the flow into a sculptured mould
Cool past the molten phase
F O R G I V E N
Because man is made man and not a priest 
We make mistakes from embarassed rage
So forgive us for our lives which now unfold
Trying, we're blocked by the wall amazed

SPIRAL JAIL II

My heart should be flushed, rid of doubt
Which way will I turn?

The corner store is poverty's struggle
Oceans separate blood by water
Sex becomes video's smorgasbord selection 
This home is shelter against my mortgaged soul

 

Author: Andrew Pitchford
Written: 22/11/1990