John & Johanna's Wedding
I’m not sure how it all came about, but we always knew we were going to homeschool our children. We also knew that we would want our children to marry without becoming entangled in the "normal" dating practices of our culture. Our desire has been to protect them from the series of emotional attachments and breakups that are typical of the dating scene. Surely this pattern of broken relationships contributes to the rising divorce rate that is present even among believers! Our desire for our children is to guide each of them to the marriage altar with unscarred hearts and pure bodies.
From their earliest days we have prepared our children, both boys and girls, for courtships that would involve our family and church community. Our sons would look to us for counsel and to the young lady’s father for permission before communicating any interest to her. Each of our daughters would rest in God’s provision and her father’s protection, guarding her heart for the one man who would become her covenant husband.
Last February a young man came along who gave us the opportunity to put theory into practice, and our world turned upside down as we dove into the first courtship in the Forster household. Johanna, our fourth child, but the oldest of our three girls, became the happy wife of John on June 23rd. That joyous day was the culmination of over a year of courtship and engagement, and we can resoundingly say that God, our daughter, and her new husband have blessed our entire family in a way that we will never be able to fully explain.
John (the suitor) asked John (Forster) out for lunch one day in late February 2006 after our family had spent the weekend with his family. What could he want? I was astounded and skeptical when my John suggested that there was probably only one subject that he would want to discuss with him in such a setting. He had never shown any signs of interest in Johanna (and my mommy-radar is pretty sensitive!) But in the two days that passed between John’s question and their lunch meeting, it did seem that a question about courtship was the most likely explanation for such a meeting. We prepared our hearts. We had been praying that God would provide a helper for John, but we hadn’t thought the answer might come from our own household!
Courtship was indeed John’s intention, and suddenly our perception of our little girl changed. How could she have grown up so soon? Isn’t this what we had been preparing her for since her birth? Here was a godly young man who was approaching us before he ever even gave a hint of interest to our daughter! He had prepared himself for marriage by establishing his vocation. He was still living with and serving his family. This was exactly what we had prayed for! We just had no idea that it would happen so soon!
We asked John to wait until Johanna’s birthday, and invited him to write a letter that we would present to her at that time. In the meantime, we told our boys about his request. We wanted them, as Johanna’s brothers, to be a part of this process, and we also wanted them to learn as they watched. For the next three months, John’s parents, John (Forster) and I, and Johanna’s brothers tiptoed around with our secret, and we were able to get to know John better through emails and our contacts at church and family gatherings. His patience was commendable!
At the end of May 2006, John (Forster) and I took Johanna out for dinner and gave her the promise ring that Johanna and I had picked out months before (before we knew anything about John), and that we had kept until her birthday. With that ring, she was committing herself to trust and submit to us as she waited on God for her future husband. Little did she know that when dinner was over, we would hand her a letter that would usher her into that season of life!
The journal I kept for Johanna recounts that evening:
"Then came the moments we had been waiting for, the point in time that we had all been praying for. You opened the envelope, unfolded the pages inside, and started to tremble as you read. You kept looking up at me with a look of disbelief and almost-panic as you gasped for breath and tried to take in the meaning of the words. The pages were jumbled as you sought out the name of the writer and I helped you get them back in order. You kept trying to read and still breathe at the same time. You’d read, then look back at me, bewildered, then gasp and try to read again. Eventually you made it all the way through. I don’t remember all that you said – it’s all kind of a blur, but eventually you threw yourself across me and sobbed, ‘I’m not worthy of him.’ What joy that response gave me! And what a picture of Christ’s bride responding to His call! Suddenly I knew I was holding a woman in my arms. My little girl was gone, and into her place had slipped a dear, dear friend, one of the best I will have for the rest of my life."
The next months were filled with many letters and conversations, family outings, chicken-butcherings, barn-cleanings, the deaths of Johanna’s last surviving grandma and grandpa, holidays, and church gatherings – John was there proving himself to be the fine young man that we believed him to be. Johanna’s heart was won, and we gave him permission to ask her hand in marriage.
Being flexible with his plans for a romantic and picturesque proposal, John took the opportunity as it came, and proposed in the dusty barn of some friends while our families were there for a barn dance. What joy to share this wonderful event with so many friends!
Giving up one’s daughter, no matter how wonderful her suitor is, is a bittersweet experience! In the midst of the joy there have also been tears. Those first magic moments of meeting her while the robins sang outside the window after she made her entrance into the world, the many sessions with God’s Word in one hand and the spanking stick in the other, the precious years of homeschooling together, the birthday parties and gardens and piano lessons and messy kitchens – they all blurred together as we sat on that front church pew and, with family and friends, applauded and praised God as John and Johanna sealed their marriage covenant with their very first kiss.
They are now husband and wife. How blessed we have been to be entrusted with the raising of this young lady! How blessed we are to have this dear young man, raised by godly parents to save himself for his future wife. We thank God for His great grace and faithfulness. As in all other blessings that God bestows, we could never do anything to deserve this blessing. All the glory goes to Him!
"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!"
Johanna and her daddy on their way up the aisle.
John and his papa as Johanna enters the sanctuary.
View from the balcony.
Man and wife!
The wedding party.
Big brother comforts his nervous flower girl sister.
Left to right: Joseph, Susannah, Benjamin, Bethany, Daniel, John & Pam, Johanna & John, and John's family - Nora, Beka, Doug, Paul, and Adam.
Almost everyone joined in on the Grand March!
Stepping into a new life as a brand new family.
John & Johanna became parents to little Kathryn Elizabeth on March 29, 2009. Click here to see pictures!