While visiting the Louvre in April of 2009, I saw this painting, “Adoration of the Shepherds” by Georges de la Tour, and thought that it would make a beautiful Christmas card.
I send it, along with this beautiful blessing, as my Christmas wish to you and yours.
We do not wish thee
Riches nor the glow of greatness,
But that wherever thou go some weary
Heart shall gladden at thy smile,
And thy path shall be a track
Of light like angels’ footsteps
Passing through the night.
(Words on a church wall in Upwaltham, England)
Today, I conducted the Celebration of Life service for a 48-year old woman. The chapel was filled with Michelle’s friends and family, all of whom acknowledged that she had lived her life with gusto. And died far too soon.
This evening I was listening to my iPod and a song came on: “Time Passes By” by Kathy Mattea. And I was reminded of a speech I presented many years ago. (This memory was evoked because I actually sang a few lines of that song during my presentation!)
Fortunately, I still have a copy of the speech, and while it was presented 21 years ago — oh, my! — it is still timely. I am sharing it here with the hope that it will be that gentle nudge (or swift kick in the pants) that some reader may need to LIVE LIFE, because it truly is short.
Life is Short
Do you know when you are going to die?
Suppose you knew that you were only going to live until the end of 1991. What would you want to do before then?
Have you ever said, “Before I die, I want to …..”?
I know what I would do. I’d get cash out of my credit card, maybe borrow some money, and I’d fly to France and go to the Louvre. I’d spend days studying the great masterpieces there. I’d absorb the French atmosphere and culture.
Of course, my French is pretty rusty, so I’d have to spend some time learning the language. I don’t know which pieces are housed in the Louvre – and I don’t know much about the artists, so I would need to take an Art Appreciation course. And that would take time. And I would wish that I had done this preparatory work sooner, so I could live the dream now.
Do you have passion about your life? Are you enthusiastic about your dreams? Are your relationships fulfilling? Do you live life NOW?
Think about your dreams. If I ask you right now to name a dream of yours, what would it be? Do you want to take a cruise to the Mexican Riviera? Do you want to learn to dance? Or start your own business? Have you done anything to achieve your dream? If not, why not? Would you have to take a risk in order to realize your dream?
Let me tell you about one of my dreams. I have always wanted to take a ride in a hot air balloon. I wanted to feel the exhilaration of rising to 3,000 feet above the ground, floating silently over the Napa Valley, with only the low murmur of other passengers and the hiss of the helium keeping the balloon afloat to break the still. I’ve had this dream for years.
And this year, I realized that dream!
A friend and I took that first balloon ride over the vineyards, and it was WONDERFUL!!!
And you know what I found out? It’s addictive. Not just the balloon ride, but the fact that I did something I’ve always wanted to do!
I challenge you to focus on one of your dearest dreams, and do whatever you need to do to make it happen. If you want to learn to dance, sign up for lessons. If you want to take a cruise, talk to a travel agent and find out how much you need to save, and then go open a savings account! Start writing that novel you have in your head. Do it now! You’ve heard the phrase: Life is short; eat dessert first! Live your dream. Be excited!
What about your relationships? If you knew you only had a few months to live, wouldn’t you do something to weed out those relationships that are unfulfilling and unnecessary? What about that co-worker (or friend, or lover) who brings you down rather than causing you joy. Wouldn’t you say, “I love myself too much to continue in this negative relationship”?
I have a rather selfish attitude about this. I only have so much of “ME” to share with others, so I want to invest my energy wisely, so that it will multiply.
I would certainly make it a point to get in touch with the people I really love, and tell them so! I’d call my grandfather and tell him what a lasting impact he’s made on my life. I’d play board games with my children, and take the time to read to them more often. I’d tell my friends how much I appreciate their friendship.
There’s a song out now on the country station which beautiful summarizes my thoughts. It says:
“Time passes by
People pass on
At the drop of a tear they’re gone.
Let’s do what we dare; do what we like
And love while we’re here, before time passes on.”
Life is short. Although we all hope to be here many more years, there are no guarantees. Let me encourage you to LIVE your life now. Fulfill your dreams. Improve your relationships. Live each day to the fullest.
What am I doing, to practice what I preach?
Well, I hope that I will be alive well beyond the end of 1991. But I’m spending better time with my children. If I appreciate someone, I make it a point to tell them. I’m weeding out unhealthy relationships.
I have not cashed out my credit card for my airfare to Paris. But I have been reading books on great art. I’m practicing my French. “Je parle une petit plus Francais. Tres bien, n’est pas?”
I’m going to live my life to the fullest. I hope you will too.
Because life is short!
PS: This is a photo of me in 2009, during my THIRD trip to Paris!
When Theresa and Phia planned their wedding ceremony, they wanted to honor Theresa’s Filipino heritage by including the traditional ceremonies of “veil, cord and coin.”
These ceremonies are actually derived from the rites introduced in the early 18th century by the Spanish missionaries. And as you might guess, they are often included in Hispanic wedding ceremonies as well.
Before I give a brief explanation of these traditions, let me refresh your memory about the purpose of “sponsors” in the wedding. (I’ve spoken of sponsors in the past; you can read about Kyle and Ethyl’s wedding sponsors here.)
Just as in baptism, when god-parents are chosen to act as role models for the newly baptized individual, Filipino tradition calls for principle sponsors to serve in this manner when a couple is to be married. As wedding sponsors, they commit themselves to be a source of encouragement and guidance throughout the lives of the married couple.
Secondary sponsors are often called upon to participate in the ceremony during the veil, cord and candle lighting rituals.
(The veil and cord were handmade by Theresa’s mother.)
The veil sponsors drape a ceremonial veil on the top of the bride’s head and onto the shoulder of the groom, which is a symbol of two people being clothed as one. This represents a wish for good health and protection during their married life. It also symbolizes the uniting of two families into one.
The cord sponsors loosely drape the yugal, a silken cord sewn or fastened in the middle to create a “figure eight,” around the necks of the couple. The cord symbolizes the lifelong bond or ties between the bride and groom, and represents an everlasting promise of fidelity.
Another strongly held Filipino tradition is the exchange of coins. The groom is handed coins (usually 13), which he trickles into the cupped hands of his bride as a symbol of his promise for a life of faithfulness and prosperity.
He might then say, “Please accept these coins as a symbol of my dedication to your well-being and the welfare of our future family.”
And the bride responds, “I accept these coins as a sign of your dedication to my well-being and the welfare of our future family.”
Some couples call on another pair of secondary sponsors by including them in the candle lighting ceremony. These sponsors come forward and light the individual tapers of the Bride and Groom, after which the Bride and Groom light the Unity – or Marriage – Candle together.
(There was a breeze during today’s candle lighting ceremony, and Mother Nature did not allow the candles to remain lit. Fortunately, this portion of the ceremony includes these words: “May your light as a couple continue to shine brightly for one another, not only in times of stillness and calm, but also during times of wind or challenge. Let the inner light of your love be as an eternal flame.”)
Congratulations to the newlyweds, Theresa and Phia! Together may you enjoy many years of good health, fidelity, prosperity and, especially, great love!
Ceremony venue: Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Sacramento, CA
Karyn Stevens and Dennis Morelli got married in Las Vegas on September 1, 1962. There are no photos to commemorate that day; they didn’t have the money. In fact, Karyn says they were so poor they couldn’t even afford a handful of rice. (And since they had no family or friends in attendance, there was no one to toss rice at them anyhow.)
For the past 50 years they have raised a family, built careers – Karyn as a middle school teacher, Dennis as a salesman and as a contractor – overcome challenges and experienced many joys, retired, traveled the world, made many memories and developed life-long friendships.
On September 1, 2012, Karyn and Dennis celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary at Cameron Park Country Club, with nearly 90 family members and dear friends in attendance.
Unlike their quiet wedding in 1962, this was a grand celebration:
Dinner and wine, favors,
cake and flowers,
toasts and well-wishes.
Family came from as far away as Washington State, Carson City, Nevada, and Southern California.
High school friends, golf and traveling buddies, coworkers and dear neighbors were also there to celebrate love and longevity!
Because quite a few of Karyn and Dennis’ friends have also been married for many years, I asked a few couples to share their “secrets.”
Here’s what they had to say …
Their friends, Myrna and Jack, have been married for 38 years. Myrna told me that patience, trust and commitment are all important. She and Jack were each raised by parents who believed that you “don’t give up” in marriage, and they follow their parents’ example. (She also said that traveling separately is sometimes a good idea!)
Pam and Pete will celebrate 30 years in mid-September. They are “really good friends, and love to do things together.” And they also value having “separate time;” it keeps their marriage dynamic.
Ed and Sandy have a “milestone anniversary” coming up. Here’s what Ed had to say:
“Sandy and I will have been married for 25 years on October 11th. Doesn’t seem possible that 25 years can go by so quickly. We’ve done a lot of crying over the years, especially the last few with the progression of the MS. But we’ve also done a lot of laughing. I think that laughter has been an important part of our relationship. I’ve always tried to make Sandy laugh as much as possible. Thank God she thinks I’m actually funny!
“Another important part of our relationship is respect for each other. We both consider each others feelings first and go from there. Loyalty to each other has helped us stay together when the times got tough. I’ve always said Sandy is my bulldog. She is fiercely loyal and supportive. God help anyone who might do me wrong! Knowing that she always has my back has been immeasurably reassuring whenever I’ve had some professional as well as personal difficult times and events.
“It took me a little while to realize that if Sandy is happy, I’m happy. Once I had that figured out, it’s been a piece of cake.”
Excellent advice, Ed!
Marlow and Deanna have been married since July of 1990. When I asked Marlow to share some of their secrets, his first comment was “I believe you have to have God in the center of your marriage.” He went on to say that regular church attendance, reading the Bible and praying together are essential elements in their marriage.
As a CPA, Marlow also shared some financial insight: Live below your means, keep open communications about finances, and set short- and long-term financial goals (and review them together at least annually).
And I love his last piece of advice: “Men are like microwaves and women are like crock pots. My suggestion to the men is to add ingredients to your recipe throughout the day.”
Dennis’s sister and brother-in-law, Colleen and Mike, have been married for 46 years. Colleen says that it’s important to be friends, enjoy each other, and have a sense of humor. She says they make it a point to overlook the “little things” and keep the big picture in mind. They also strive to stay interesting and keep growing as individuals.
(Colleen had more to say, but the music started and Mike came to claim her for a dance!)
John and Mary Ann will celebrate 53 years of marriage in December. They married young — in their early 20’s – and knew they were making a lifelong commitment; “failure was never an option.” They understood the importance of their marriage vows, and promised before God that they would keep them. They said their shared faith has been a cornerstone of their marriage, along with having a sense of humor. And, as John said, “She’s a good cook!”
And from the guests of honor:
Karyn said “Don’t have any sharp, blunt objects within reach! And have children who are more mature than you, and they will raise you right!”
Dennis said that early in their marriage they agreed that he would make all the “big” decisions, and she would make all the small ones. (“And so far, nothing big has come up!”)
Other secrets include travel (“and sometimes take your spouse”) and (obviously) have a sense of humor!
Dennis then got serious for a moment, saying that Karyn is his inspiration and his companion, even when he’s hard to live with. (Awwww!)
He concluded by sharing this piece of advice: Lie, Steal, Cheat and Drink.
- Lie to help a friend;
- Steal someone’s heart;
- Cheat death for as long as you can; and
- Drink with family and friends.
Congratulations, Dennis and Karyn! Thanks for being an inspiration, and may you celebrate many more years together!
Jeff appreciated Danielle’s kind heart and her very supportive nature. She was attracted to his positive attitude, his great patience, and his willingness to always help those in need.
They were friends for over a year before they started dating. Jeff told me, “… the natural chemistry drew us together. I feel like I met my soul mate.”
So on September 25, 2010, at the beautiful Wine and Roses Hotel and Spa in Lodi, and before their dearest family and friends, Jeff and Danielle were married. I was honored to perform their wedding ceremony.
Because of their great love for each other, Jeff and Danielle dreamed of creating a loving, supportive family … a family that celebrates everyone’s uniqueness … a family that truly enjoys spending quality time together.
Again quoting Jeff, “We have so much love for each other, and can’t wait to share that with our children.”
And on November 25, 2011, their darling son, Matteo — which means “Gift from God” — was born!
Danielle says, “Matteo has become the center of our family dynamics. He makes us laugh, cry, worry and stress all at the same time! :0: He is such a delight and blessing to be around. His warm smile, the sparkle in his eyes when he sees us melts our hearts and souls. He is so full of life and energy. We wish nothing but love and for him to follow his passion in life whatever that may be.”
Danielle and Jeff again included me in their circle of love by asking me to perform Matteo’s baby blessing.
So on an unseasonably cool August morning a few close family members and dear friends gathered at Jeff and Danielle’s home to celebrate the blessing of their son and formally welcome him into the community of family, friends and loved ones.
There is a saying that there are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.
During the ceremony Matteo’s grandparents were asked to come forward and hold Matteo, while bringing to mind their own ancestry and those who loved them and helped shape their lives. In this way, we acknowledged Matteo’s roots.
Matteo’s godparents were also asked to step forward and promise to guide, encourage and inspire Matteo as he grows, and to support Jeff and Danielle as parents.
And then, of course, Jeff and Danielle made their own promises to Matteo, acknowledging their commitment to inspire him to grow to be a man who truly loves his life, and encourage him as he finds his “wings.”
- To love, nurture and teach him;
- To encourage him to have a sense of wonder, a love of God and the universe, and a sense of responsibility for and desire to give back to the Earth.
- To be patient and flexible with Matteo, and with each other;
- To do their best to be healthy and strong, in body, mind and spirit, and to continue to work together as a team to be the best parents they can be.
- To give Matteo the greatest gift of all, the example of a strong and happy marriage through their love and commitment to each other.
Jeff and Danielle, may you be blessed as parents. May you treasure each other and enjoy life together as a family.
May Matteo be a blessing to all he meets. And may he count us among his blessings as well!
I read this great advice, written by Zita Rudiger of the Heartfelt Ministries team, on the “Not Your Mom’s Wedding” blog.
You are B.U.S.Y! That’s right, not one moment to spare. You’re checking flowers, arguing with the caterer, cutting that guest list down to where it should be, keeping your aunt from imposing her views on everything and trying hard not to let your mother make you cry when she insists that things be done ‘her’ way. The maid of honor is in some kind of turf war with the junior bridesmaid and the groomsmen are looking totally bewildered. The wonderful fiancé you picked is trying to help, but… he just doesn’t get it and it isn’t helping. One more thing on your list and somebody is gonna get hurt.
Organizing the happiest day of your life is turning into pure hell and you need to relax, sugar.
Here’s how to keep yourself from drowning in the chaos around you:
- Delegate. That’s right, pass off some of those chores off to the people around you. That’s what they are there for, after all. Mom can handle the caterer and the florist, Dad can deal with the limo service and the photographer, the Maid of Honor can handle organizing fittings and take phone calls. She can track orders and deliveries as well, leaving you to deal with the Big Picture and just make executive decisions.
- Grab the future hubby and get away for a while, even just for a couple of hours. Take in a movie, go for a walk, or go shopping for something unrelated to anything wedding. Reconnect with the guy you are doing this for and remember why he’s important enough to go through all this.
- Get a massage. Spend a little of that wedding budget on yourself instead of gerbera daisies. Let someone mash, squish, pulp and knead your tension right back where it came from. Once you have been reduced to a boneless, purring mess you won’t care if you’re serving foie gras or chicken nuggets. Once you’ve been revitalized, you can jump back in and deal with anything they throw at you!
- Hit something. Don’t get violent, but go play baseball for an afternoon or tennis, racquet ball, squash or any sport that involves a good bit of exertion and physical effort. Heavy exercise produces lots of endorphins that help deal with stress and that’s what you need right now.
- Have a good cry. Yup, just let it all out. Sob, weep, wail and drown those worries where they stand. It’s been proven that tears will literally wash stress chemicals out of your system so you can deal with things on a more even emotional footing. Once you’re done or out of tissues (whichever comes first) have a quick twenty minute nap and you’ll feel loads better.
No matter what you do, always remember that this is just one day out of the rest of your lives. Yes, it’s an important day, but in twenty years you’ll be saying remember when… and not cringing in terror at the thought of tasting yet another wedding cake sample. Now, wipe your eyes, grab that tennis racquet and take care of yourself. You’re the Bride, you deserve it!
The love story of Renee and Ramon began when these two high school sweethearts met as sophomores in PE class. She liked his easy-going personality, and he says she was always staring at him!
They quickly became a couple, and their bond has grown and deepened over the years. They are best friends and life partners, and today they stand before us, ready to continue their journey together as husband and wife.
Do you solemnly promise to love, honor and cherish each other, … forsaking all others … for as long as you both shall live? ‘I do.’
Renee and Ramon, not only do we honor your union today, but we also acknowledge the importance of the family that you have created together.
You have chosen to include Anthony in your wedding ceremony with the blending of sand, to symbolize your family unity.
I invite you all to pour your sand together into the larger container, which represents your family, and all the love and hopes and dreams you share.
Renee, Ramon and Anthony, just as these grains of sand can never be separated and poured again into the individual containers, so may your family be a blend of your love and your joy and your commitment to each other.
Renee and Ramon,
The Lord bless you and keep you both. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious upon you. The Lord lift His countenance upon you and give you peace, happiness, and joy, at this moment, throughout your married life, and forevermore. Amen.
Many thanks to:
- Ceremony and reception: Arden Hills Resort and Spa
- (Shannon Hall, event coordinator)
- Flowers: Bella Bloom Flowers
- Videography: Reel to Real Productions
- Photography: Bucheli Photography
(Photo by Teresa K Photography, Sacramento Wedding Photographer)
John and Chelsea’s wedding celebration, at the Sacramento Grand Ballroom, was unique and very much tailored to reflect their personalities! (He’s working toward his Ph.D. in Neuroscience; she’s a zookeeper at the Oakland Zoo.)
Many of the decorations were hand-made by Chelsea and family, and most of the flowers were grown by her and her grandfather.
The “photo booth / guest book” included a Polaroid camera, an “Oh Hurray!” backdrop, and face masks depicting zoo animals!
Their beloved dog, Rivers, was the ring bearer. (Well, he didn’t *actually* have the rings, but he sat very quietly next to the best man during the ceremony. What a good doggie!)
(Photo by Teresa K Photography, Sacramento Wedding Photographer)
The ceremony included a delightful reading of “A Lovely Love Story” by Edward Monkton (see below), which was presented by their friend Kendall – who delivered the reading in a “sweet girly voice” (as the Lovely Other Dinosaur) and a “deep, masculine voice” (as the “Dinosaur.”) Appropriately, Kendall was applauded for her performance!
(Photo by Teresa K Photography, Sacramento Wedding Photographer)
Congratulations, John and Chelsea Silbereis! May your marriage be filled with laughter, fun and creativity, and many delightful surprises!
A Lovely Love Story (written by Edward Monkton)
The fierce Dinosaur was trapped inside his cage of ice. Although it was cold he was happy in there. It was, after all, his cage. Then along came the Lovely Other Dinosaur.
The Lovely Other Dinosaur melted the Dinosaur’s cage with kind words and loving thoughts.
I like this Dinosaur thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. Although he is fierce he is also tender and he is funny. He is also quite clever though I will not tell him this for now.
I like this Lovely Other Dinosaur, thought the Dinosaur. She is beautiful and she is different and she smells so nice. She is also a free spirit which is a quality I much admire in a dinosaur.
But he can be so distant and so peculiar at times, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. He is also overly fond of things. Are all Dinosaurs so overly fond of things?
But her mind skips from here to there so quickly thought the Dinosaur. She is also uncommonly keen on shopping. Are all Lovely Other Dinosaurs so uncommonly keen on shopping?
I will forgive his peculiarity and his concern for things, thought the Lovely Other Dinosaur. For they are part of what makes him a richly charactered individual.
I will forgive her skipping mind and her fondness for shopping, thought the Dinosaur. For she fills our life with beautiful thoughts and wonderful surprises. Besides, I am not unkeen on shopping either.
Now the Dinosaur and the Lovely Other Dinosaur are old. Look at them. Together they stand on the hill telling each other stories and feeling the warmth of the sun on their backs.
And that, my friends, is how it is with love.
Let us all be Dinosaurs and Lovely Other Dinosaurs together. For the sun is warm. And the world is a beautiful place.
Let’s give a little love to:
- Venue: Sacramento Grand Ballroom, Event Architects
- Day-of Coordinator: Shelley Larkin, Pizzazz Event Planning
- Music provided by Jammin Jo Productions
- Fabulous Photography by Teresa K Photography