To Love You NOW …and Forever

The sun glimmers over the sea and casts a glare on her phone screen. She puts one hand over her eyes and brings the screen closer so she can see. As Sophia thumbs through photos of wedding venues she feels the phone vibrate and sees a message from her Maid of Honor, Alexa.
“Don’t you just love this style!” and an attached picture of a long sleeved lace gown pops up when she taps the message.

It is a lovely dress but not exactly what she what she wanted. She has to talk to Alexa about that later. Her thirty-minute lunch break is over.

As she walks back to the office her phone begins buzzing again. It’s Matt. Why does he have to call her now?
“What do you want?” she quips.

“Nothing sweetheart, I just wanted to see how your day was and if you want to get dinner together tonight?”

“Yeah, sure. What time? 7 o’clock. Okay. Bye. I love you.” She rushes as she hangs up and walks into her office.

Wait, she did not have time to meet with him tonight. She already made plans with their wedding planner to select invitations.

“I can’t see you tonight. Meeting with the wedding planner.” She texts him quickly before her work phone starts ringing.

shoes

That was the 4th time this week that she had cancelled plans with her fiancé. She knew he was getting upset, but she didn’t have any choice. Their wedding was coming up in less than 7 months.

You, dear bride, have surely been in Sophia’s shoes before. You are overwhelmed with wedding decisions and are overcommitting your time. Have you realized that it is often at the expense of your relationship?

The day will be a whirlwind of people, dresses, cameras and a very important kiss with your new husband. You are promising the most important person in the world that you will love and support him for the rest of your life. It is such a deep and powerful commitment. Arguably the most important decision you will ever make.

This is your wedding and you are the princess. You deserve the best and you should make sure that you’re creating a day that will be one of the most beautiful days of your life.
That does not mean that you have to become a mean, unpleasant person for your groom to be around. Of course, problems will arise and you should make sure that you get them resolved. Be strong and assertive to get what you want. You are not going to make everyone happy but you and your groom should be happy. You have the power to make this process an enjoyable experience!

couple

1. When you act out or lose your temper, apologize. Sometimes admitting that you are wrong can be calming and bring peace back into your life. Saying sorry gives you the ability to step back and analyze the situation more objectively.

2. Take time every day to nurture your relationship. Send an encouraging text on Monday morning and make a home cooked dinner on Thursday night. Do something to make sure he knows that he is the most special person to you.

3. Take some time talking not talking about the wedding. When you first started dating you used to talk about the books you were reading, or the music you love. You would talk about a work project, a place you wanted to visit, or a new restaurant you wanted to try. Take a day trip somewhere, or if you don’t have that much time, make a dinner reservation and talk about why you love each other.

4. Ask yourself one question: When this wedding is all over, how do you want to remember it?

I want you to remember the excitement of planning a glorious party. Remember the joy of spending time with your friends and family planning this huge celebration. Most importantly, remember the love that kindled this fire. You have forever to spend with your favorite person. Make sure that forever starts now.

DNC Report Days 1 and 2

There really aren’t words to describe the first day of this convention. Between the suffocating heat and then the torrential rain that soaked my dress and ruined my shoes, my appearance by the end of the day on Monday left much to be desired. It didn’t matter though, because as I sit here on Tuesday night, my heart is full.

Coming into this Convention I was prepared to witness an evening of ranting about party lines. I was ready to hear endless jokes and tirades about Trump. Both of which abounded.

Standing, for the first time, on the floor of a major political convention, my senses were overwhelmed. Behind me, Chris Matthews giving his live reports on MSNBC, in front of me, a sea of avid democrats cheering at every witty one-liner, and all around me, a sea of reporters scrambling to deliver their story on time. Headset wearing producers and gear-laden cameramen follow around their made up on-air talent. Before every big name speaker, volunteers in blue t-shirts descend into the crowd to pass out signs with catchy campaign slogans on them. The arena becomes a sea of poster board bouncing and waiving in the air.

As the night grows longer and the crowd swells, the anticipation becomes palpable. When the First Lady takes the stage, she commands it with grace and mastery. I’m not sure I thought about what she might say in this address to her party. If I had to guess, I would have said that she’d talk about how great these last 8 years have been, what an exemplary mother Hilary is, and probably tell us why we should vote for her to be the next President. If I had said those things in anticipation, I would have been right.

What I did not foresee in the coming speech, was the way she made me look at my country.

“I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.”

-First Lady Obama

That simple sentence completely awed me. It wasn’t surprising and it is completely true. The way that she set it up made me look at my country differently. All the external mayhem surrounding me faded, and in my mind I could only see two black girls eating dinner with their family and going to bed in a big beautiful house…a house that was built by men who had no power over their very own lives. It was a moment of realization. We have come so far as a nation. In that moment, I was so proud to be there, to be American.

Albeit, this is an America with problems and pains. We are hurting each other. People are dying in shootings. This is barbaric at the very least.
I hope that you take a moment and ponder the tragedies that are occurring around us. Read the stories about the victims. Learn about the lives, families and interests of the people who have been senselessly killed in shootings. You will cry. You must do this so that your heart will break and maybe then, when we all have broken hearts, we will find a way to stop this evil.  If you take just a few minutes, you will realize the humanity. You will see in a new light the real lives of the people who no longer get to wake up in the morning and go to work.

But I did not dwell on these things.

These things do not define us. We will overcome this. I don’t know who is going to be elected, but I do know Americans. I know that we are full of love and ambition and hard work. We stand here today in a country that we are proud of. To be born an American is a gift from God himself. How lucky are you to be placed in the most free and empowering culture in the history of the world? Do you ever stop to consider that?

My bias is not and has never been for Hilary or Bernie, Trump or Cruz. I walk around the City of Brotherly Love this week and remember the history lessons of men fighting to do something insane, start a country. They had crazy ideas and not all of them were good.

The streets of this city are filled with protestors. Some of them are protesting Bernie, or Hillary, and some of them are just yelling to be heard. Some of them march about in the sweltering Philadelphia heat screaming for change. Others stand in the pouring rain, outside the convention center, chanting in unison for change. These are Americans. They will tell you how they feel and they will do something about the things that are important to them.

I don’t know who I’m going to vote for in the fall. My bias is for America, the country who learns from her mistakes and works her heart out to be better in the future. My allegiance is to a country whose black President lives in a house that was built by black slaves. The Obamas are leading America, the ruler of the FREE WORLD, from a house that was built by slaves. I have confidence in you sweet Land of Liberty, and the beautiful people who call you home.

inspire

If I learned anything in 2015 it was to learn.

Find someone who inspires you. As I embark on a new adventure in the coming days I feel myself coming alive. Sleepless with excitement.

Watching this video brought me to tears.
The realization of a dream is the most powerful feeling in the world.
Its anticipation is the most profound.

Mimi inspires me.
Venture. Exert. Love.

My heart throbs with thankfulness to God. What have I done to deserve this feeling of wonder? It is truly in myself that I find the greatest proof of His existence. He has crafted in me a spirit of wonder. I marvel at the excellence of His creation of ME. To be given the ability to feel is surely the greatest treasure to be blessed with.

melody of a life

Some play music, some sing along to it, dance to it, or simply listen to it.
But for Grandma, music was an integral part of her soul. Everything she did, skate, dance, nurse and love her family was done with the beauty of a symphony.

My first memories of her are picking her up at the airport. Her curly hair was always so neatly done. Before we could even get to the car I would be begging, “Grandma what did you bring for me this time?” and once she would begin unpacking her suitcase the most beautiful dolls would appear for my sister and I.

I remember going to visit grandma and grandpa in Fair Oaks as a child. Hanging on the wall in my grandparent’s bedroom was a huge painting, ‘The Dancer.’ The slender figure of a sassy lady with a beautiful red leotard posed. She seems to eagerly await the cue of the music. Dark hair neatly styled at her shoulders, red high heels fastened and shoulders back ready to charge onto the stage. Grandpa’s portrayal of her gregarious personality in this painting is impeccable.

The perfect harmony of strength and grace can be found on the ice. Feeling the power of a skate blade against the ice filled grandma’s spirit with joy. No one was more fitted to all of the twirling and dancing to the music than my grandmother. Her love of music and performance made her a natural figure skater.

All the way to the very end, music had a hold on grandma’s soul. We would sit in her bedroom and turn the CD player on. Once the notes reached her ears she would stop whatever she was doing and her eyes would be filled with love almost to the point of tears. She’d jump up, grab your hands and start dancing around the room smiling and laughing.

In her last days a reverend would come and play hymns for her on his guitar. One night as we sang along to The Old Rugged Cross I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the life she had led.

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Her life was a song of devotion to her husband Dave and their three children.
It was a melody to each hurting patient she cared for in her days as a nurse.
It was a chorus of encouragement to every soul that crossed her path.
Never has someone lived a more beautiful song than my Grandmother Jean.

bella vita // Cory & Treslyn

2014-08-30 09.33.48The most wonderful thing about Treslyn and Cory’s wedding was the picturesque Beaver Creek locale. No, it was the Eden-like floral arrangements. Wait, it was the glow on the faces of their guests as they danced the night away…
Thats just the thing. There were so many incredible moments its hard to pick just one! The fairytale like ceremony, glamorous reception and even the months of preparation leading up to the big day all made up the beautiful mosaic of the Jost-Roberts wedding.

Father’s Blessing – Never have I heard a more caring and wise speech. Paul Jost shared some of his precious insight with his daughter and new son-in-law that night. As he talked about raising Treslyn, his sweet love for her was enough to warm every heart in the room. He wrapped everything up by giving the newlyweds three bits of marriage advise, no doubt from his own experience with his sweet bride Jill.
Say ‘I love you’ to each other every morning and every night.
Edify each other.
Finally, keep God as the center of your lives.
And really, what more could possibly be said about marriage?2014-08-30 12.02.00

Sister’s Toast – Treslyn’s little sister brought a tear to all of our eyes with her toast…including her own. You could hear the love in Alisha’s words and see the excitement on her face. As an older sister I know that nothing is as sweet as knowing that your little sister looks up to you and is proud of you. Alisha shared moments from their childhood that reminded of my own relationship with my dear sister. Its a beautiful thing to be able to look back with laughter and to look forward with anticipation with someone who means so much to you.

Renewed friendship – Reconnecting with Treslyn was quite possibly the best part about this wedding for me. She and I skated together throughout high school and then didn’t see or speak to each other for about six years! Seeing her again throughout this spring and summer to talk about the wedding was so much fun. We got to catch up and talk about ‘real life’ after college and laugh about the old ice skating days. Its so special to be able kindle a new friendship with an old friend.

2014-08-30 15.40.10-1The Mother’s Smile – Of course absolutely none of this would have been possible were it not for the hard work of Treslyn’s lovely mother Jill. She poured so much of her time, talents and energy into making this one of the most perfect and beautiful days of her daughter’s life. Seeing Jill glow with pride and love that evening was an unforgettable moment. Her attention to detail in every facet of the wedding was perfect! From organizing all the vendors to making sure the gold monogram “R” (for her daughter’s new last name) was in the perfect position at the reception, Jill did everything to ensure that their family and friends would remember the magic of that day.

 

So here’s to Cory and Treslyn
and the power of their strong love,
devotion to each other and passion for life.
Dance every night away and don’t ever stop smiling.
Ciao!

2014-08-30 20.11.09

 

glow

mt

Recently I got to celebrate at not only one but two showers with Maria. At both parties all of the essentials were present: tasty snacks, a pile of gifts and doting friends and family.

There was much talk over cakes and coffee about what Maria and Andrew mean to us, and many pieces of
invaluable advice were imparted to the couple.
Between the two celebrations there was one common denominator – one thing stood out and made an impression in my heart.

It was their love.

Her eyes sparkle when she hears his name; she can’t keep a smile back when she gets a text from him, and she talks about his super-human greatness to every person she meets.
When two people truly love each other, you can see it in their eyes even when they’re not together. It is one of the most beautiful things on earth.

At the second shower, I was minding my own business and piling my plate high with candy and cupcakes when something shocking happened! I never imagined this happening but lo and behold, Andrew walked into the room!
Andrew! Everybody knows that the groom isn’t supposed to be at the bridal shower!
I’m not sure why he was there, but as I topped off my lemonade on my way back down to the party, that picture of his nervous smile and her giddy glow stayed with me.

644394_499766940089743_385337641_nI remember sitting on a ski lift over a year ago with Maria talking about her special man and thinking to myself, I really hope that they work out. It would be such a fairytale come true.
I see now, a year later, that true love isn’t really a fairy tale. It’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears. They both work all the time, Andrew is still in school and they don’t get to see each other much, but all their trials have only made them stronger. THEY are each others priority in life, bound together by their love of Christ.

This verse reminds me so much of Maria and Andrew because of their Godly focus, their passionate pursuit of each other and their fearless love.
“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’ Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” -Hebrews 13:5-7

This is the couple that proves that true love always finds a way.

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Nothing is as strong as that bond,
nothing is as hard to find,
and nothing is as beautiful.

So here’s to the radiant and powerful love that Maria and Andrew have found and the lifetime that they get to spend enjoying the blessing of their Godly relationship.

here’s to traditio…

Before we delve into every nook and cranny of wedding plans I want to set the stage by going over all the rules.
Rule number one: you need a groom.

Thats pretty much it!
Granted, there are pages and pages of traditions in the books of weddings past, but following those traditions are absolutely not essential. Maybe wearing the dress your mother wore is something that you’ve always dreamed of or walking down the aisle of the church you grew up in might be the only location you can even imagine getting married at. Just know that if you don’t particularly want to serve a cake or if you can’t stand the thought of having a veil covering your face, don’t do it!

cakeThe most important question to ask yourself is, when you look back on your wedding, and all of the planning, what do you want to laugh about? Nothing is ever a sure thing, but set a benchmark for yourself. Search your heart for what really matters.

Remember that some of the things that seem so important to you now may not be the memories you end up cherishing.
So get out there and throw a party for all of your friends and family (or don’t!) just keep everything in perspective. You have found the person that you can’t live without. In 50 years you’ll be sitting on the couch together reminiscing about that time your car broke down in a blizzard, your first dog together, your ten grown children (or whatever floats your boat) and the support you’ve given each other for the last half century. The color of the bridesmaid’s dresses in the wedding pictures will likely be faded to gray anyways.

oldiesAnd in the spirit of weddings (and tradition) I’ll end each blog with a toast. Here’s to love, commitment and not getting caught in the weeds! Salud!