We had the honor and privilege of attending our second wedding in two weekends. The venue was perfect for an outdoor ceremony followed by an indoor reception.
Driving on the beautiful back roads of Vacaville, California, we turned into a gravel road and were instructed to park in the open fields of this spacious ranch. Neither of us have been here before though we have driven by this location several times in the past years.
As we walked towards the crowd, we found our seats under some shade as the sun was beginning its descent. The gazebo was the focal point of the proceedings. The ceremony was concise and I am sure the family members in the first couple of rows were very thankful for that as they sat in the hot sun.
As we turned our attention to the reception, I saw an old friend standing in the shadows. She was a volunteer and I knew that I would catch up with her soon. During a break before the bride and groom reappeared, I stepped outside and bumped into my friend.
Then she told me some amazing facts about the Joyful Ranch.
Recently, the weather in our local region had been unpredictable. Temperatures into the high-90’s were sometimes replaced with blustery afternoons. Planning an outdoor wedding would stress any couple during this time of year.
It was my honor to witness a very special wedding this past weekend. Who says that a large wedding is reserved only for the younger people. Why not a loving couple who cultivated a long-standing friendship for twenty-plus years and surrounded by friends and family who have been a part of their lives and long-term relationship?
Well, that is exactly what happened this past Saturday afternoon.
Have you ever read the full story of Joseph in the Bible?
A descendant of Jacob, Joseph was sold into slavery at the age of 17. His step-brothers hated him as he revealed his dream that one day, they would all bow down to this younger brother. He was Jacob’s favorite son and was given a coat of many colors. Some of you may remember the stage play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
As a side note for many of my old SF church friends – I have many fond memories of performing Dreamer – What Really Happened to Joseph every weekend for months! In spite of the loss of one of our brothers, we chose to live on.
Joseph’s life endured many twists and turns until he finally became second in command in Egypt – only the Pharaoh had more authority. This was unheard of for a foreigner to rule Egypt. However, God used Joseph to interpret dreams that would one day save Egypt and Israel by storing up a percentage of harvest in the good years and rationing the food in the lean years.
A wonderful thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago.
Thanks to social media, I was able to reconnect with an old friend from 25+ years ago – gosh, am I really getting that old???
We agreed to meet at a coffee shop (name begins with an “S”) at the old town where our families first met years ago. I had moved away in 20001 so for me, it appeared that there was a lot of changes including this coffee shop we had our get-together.
The conversation flowed easily as we reminisced about old friends and marveled at how our sons had each grown up into young adults. He learned about the loss of my first wife as he remembered her kindness and personality. Though we both looked a bit more “filled-out”, the familiarity was so comforting.
Soon it was time to depart as my friend had a patient to see. We exchanged goodbyes and as I walked to my car, a thought came to mind. Why not drive down Refugio Valley Road to the old house and see what has changed.
As high school kids are graduating into the next phase of their lives, many will carry life experiences that have transformed them so far in their young lives. Some are just happy to walk the stage or receive their diploma.
Yet there are others who have tried new things in their younger years and may not realize the impact it will have in their future careers, relationships, and thought processes. I feel excited for many of them as their journey is much different these days.
I share similar emotions as teachers of many of the graduating students. While I may not have been a full-time instructor (I commend those who have the tenacity to teach our next generation), I do reflect upon many of the special children that were in my care from a different type of background.
Another in a series of stories from my recent travels on my first cruise ship adventure (see the previous post to understand this link).
I had no expectations as I boarded the Grand Princess which was docked at Pier 27 in the San Francisco Bay. After the rough start before checking in, all I was looking forward to was a week of fun and relaxation. As a recovering technologist, I was glad to know that once we embarked on the open ocean, we would not have any cellular coverage!
In fact, I vowed that even though we would dock at a few ports where I could obtain cellular coverage, I was determined to simply delete junk email messages and read the rest of the messages when I returned home. For those of you who truly know me, this was a hard thing to commit to but I knew that this had to be the right decision if I was going to sincerely enjoy this family cruise!
Before the cruise, I exercised regularly to achieve my desired weight because I was warned about the voluminous amounts of food that would tempt even the most disciplined of souls.
On the morning of the departure, I weighed myself to establish the baseline weight.
The answer should be obvious – I wanted to see how much weight I would gain even though I was determined to eat well.
As the maître de stated, “We leave as a cruise ship – we return as a ”
(this is the first of a series of stories from our recent cruise adventure)
Packing our suitcases, checking our list of necessary items for the trip, trying to stay healthy, and arranging for drop-off and pick-up transportation. All this for the start of our first cruise down the Pacific Coastline on the Grand Princess!
Excitement grew as each day drew closer to our embarkation date of April 1. Nothing was going to deter us from our wonderfully planned voyage. I was exceptionally excited as this would be my family’s first cruise ever! Finally, we could see what this cruising-lifestyle is all about.
Saturday morning arrived. We had to wait for my older son and his wife to arrive so that we can carpool together into San Francisco. Last-minute preparations and the loading of suitcases into the car with some extra room for their luggage.
My phone buzzed – it was my son calling probably to let me know they were almost here. Upon answering my phone, I heard the words that would deflate my enthusiasm.
Cathy and her twelve year-old daughter, Melissa, arrived at the local mall for an afternoon of memories and fun. Little did she know, this day would leave an impression for the rest of her life.
Melissa marveled at the retail stores enticing would-be customers to spend their money on discounted merchandise. The sunlit atrium was accompanied with the chatter of many conversations. Fast-paced shoppers with colorful logo bags weaved throughout the crowds in search of their next sales conquest.
Cathy stopped in the middle of this busy mall, turned to her daughter and said, “Today, I have a special assignment for you.”
Would it be a shopping-spree type of day? It was not her birthday or any other special occasion that she could think of. What could this “special assignment” be? Her big smile and wide eyes eagerly awaited her mother’s next words.
With love, Cathy shared what the special assignment would be.
The August weather challenged my mind as I assembled my team for the Christmas production while coordinating thirty-six children ranging from ages 6-12. It was a small group of volunteers including a piano player to tap the notes for the children.
It would be my first experience organizing and conducting a children’s choir at church. I was up for the challenge in spite of the inattentiveness of the children. The plan was to create a musical production in less than four months. Many did not have stage experience or even participated in a full musical production. Many could not read musical notes or dance. Yes, it would be a first for everyone so let the fun begin!
Excitement filled the air and many older girls were practicing for the coveted part – Mary’s solo. There were other solo parts to be had but this one was the best in the production (according to the children). It was no wonder many girls lined up for their chance to win the lead solo (or at the very least, to be the understudy).
When the line of hopeful singers was exhausted, I asked if there were any more singers ready to try out for this special solo. Everyone looked around but no one raised their hand. Then my attention turned to someone sitting in the back of the room. Continue reading “Little Mary (part 1)”