Monday, November 24, 2008

Sydney Grace Byrd

...born into Jesus' arms Nov 30, 2007

We’re in Albuquerque, NM for Thanksgiving, enjoying the holiday with our son and his family. I’m having some wonderful grandson time with Liam to see how many ways I can spoil him :>) 
This is a happy family occasion, yet some sadness will seep in as well. Sunday, November 30 marks the first anniversary of the death of our granddaughter, Sydney Grace.

One of the cherished presents we brought back with us after her memorial service was a set of wind chimes given to us by our daughter-in-law as a memory of Sydney. We have these chimes hanging from a branch on a crepe myrtle tree in our back yard. Below the tree we have a garden bench where my wife and I often sit to talk and enjoy the neighborhood. It’s amazing how many times, even with no wind at all, those chimes qently sway, making us aware that Sydney is still with us, in our hearts.

To paraphrase II Samuel 12:23, I will go to her, but she will not return to me. 

If you'd like to see a short video that my son made about the anticipation of Sydney's birth and eventual agonizing reality, click
HERE . It has music, so turn your speakers on.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Every Wedding Is An Adventure never know what you might encounter.

Just got in some pictures from a wedding ceremony last month. I was invited to officiate at the wedding of Joe & Carrie at a lake house on the shores of Lake Worth in Fort Worth. The weather was beautiful so the ceremony took place on the back lawn, in front of a stone fire pit, just as the sun was setting. Bride and groom each wrote their own vows to each other, which were kept secret from the other until the ceremony. This picture was taken just after I introduced Joe, Carrie and his two daughters as a new family. The two little girls stood with us during the ceremony. I couldn't resist this picture, and my apologies to Joe that it's a shot in which he was looking away. The happiness was contagious. After the ceremony, we lit a fire in that stone pit and celebrated the new marriage and family. God is everywhere and He was there to celebrate the creation of this new family.

This is only part of the story. The host and owner of the home has a dog named Bender, who is a "Blue Heeler" breed. As I found out later, such dogs are Australian working dogs who herd livestock. They're known for hunting and their ability to leap and climb trees. Had I not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it--this dog would make a circle around the yard, leap at a large tree and grab on to a rope that was attached to the trunk. He would hang there a few seconds, drop to the ground and then repeat the loop. I actually measured the distance and the bottom of the rope was almost 10 feet above the ground. These pictures don't do the dog justice. Be sure you click on the pictures to see a larger version.

My sincere appreciation to Joe & Carrie Rose, their two daughters, and to Greg Pate who hosted the wedding and snapped these pictures.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Wedding Ceremony Lasts A Few Minutes

…but the memories last a lifetime

That’s why I encourage couples not to cut corners when choosing a photographer. Hiring a professional wedding photographer is going to give you far superior results than having your “Uncle Bob” do the work, especially if Uncle Bob’s main qualification is that he bought “a really nice camera”. There’s more to it than that.

I’m no expert on cameras and photography, but I do get to see lots and lots of wedding photo albums. Dealing with a pro, you get a much higher percentage of the shots that are excellent and you don’t risk missing those critical parts of the ceremony, such as lighting the unity candle or the first kiss. In our age of digital photography, you also have much more to choose from—sometimes close to a thousand shots.

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of joining Aaron and Danielle in marriage at the Lawton Estate in Garland. Beverly and her staff provide excellent service, impeccable decorations and upscale furnishings at this north central Garland venue.

The couple wanted to include both Christian and Jewish elements to the ceremony so we used the Christian tradition of lighting the unity candle and the Jewish tradition of the groom breaking the glass with his foot. Would you want to risk missing those two pictures? By the way, another Jewish element that Protestants are largely unaware of is that the groom’s parents traditionally escort him down the aisle, just as the bride has an escort down the aisle. Wouldn’t want to miss those shots either.

This particular ceremony was photographed by Laura Parker of Fairy Tale Photography--the three pictures are examples of her work. At Love Notes we keep a list of photographers (including Laura) that we’ve actually worked with, we've seen their work and we know their business reputation.

Bottom line advice for your wedding pictures: Do your homework. Hire a pro. Aaron and Danielle did, and I doubt they’ll ever regret the decision. I appreciate the newlyweds for including me in the celebration, and I appreciate Laura Parker for sending me the pix.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Old Red Courthouse

…joining Robin & Quentin in marriage

The Old Red Courthouse in downtown Dallas is a true historic treasure. You can see more about it by clicking here and by going to my entry for October 24,2008. This past weekend, I was there to officiate Robin and Quentin’s wedding ceremony in which his children, Cole and Jocelyn, also participated. This couple wisely chose to include the children in the ceremony as flower girl and ring bearer, plus we added the “Celebration of the New Family” element in which the couple presented gifts to the children. Not only was it a wise decision by the newlyweds, it’s the kind of touching addition that most of their guests had never seen. Hardly a dry eye in the house as Robin and Quentin presented the gifts to the children.

The wedding and reception went very smoothly (and that’s an understatement) which is what I have come to expect from Shari Johns, owner of As You Wish weddings and events. Shari (see picture at right) and her staff handle the details with ease, letting the bride relax and enjoy the ceremony. It has been my privilege to meet with brides at her office as well as see Shari in action on wedding day. She gets things done. No drama, no upsets, she just gets things done with style and attention to every last detail.

For Robin and Quentin’s ceremony, photography was handled by Joseph and Stephanie Ellis of Joseph Mark Photography and I appreciate them letting me use the two shots from the wedding. This husband wife team has an attribute I particularly appreciate in wedding photographers, namely that they got the great shots without ever intruding on the moment and or ever blocking anyone’s view of the ceremony.

If you get the chance to attend an event at Old Red, be sure you allow time to walk through the numerous exhibits and video displays. In one of the rooms, they’ve even got J. R. Ewing’s white Stetson hat in a display case.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Know You're Getting Older When...

Part Two, or three, or whatever.

Sometime in late 1996 or early 1997, I walked in the front door of a family owned printshop near White Rock Lake, to get a bid on some graphic work I needed to have done. The person behind the counter made quite an impression on me, partly with her knowledge of the print process, but mainly because of her completely open and friendly nature. I did not know then that the friendship would continue all these years, even to the point that she asked me to officiate her wedding held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The ceremony was a small private affair, and by small, I mean the bride, groom, my wife, and me. Afterwards we celebrated with brunch at a hotel downtown. This was all several years ago.

Fast forward to 2006 and this is how she looked. Okay, I know that all the women reading this will empathize
and think about the trials of being several months pregnant. I know that the men reading this will wonder if it was the cliché pickles & ice cream cravings or something equally strange. My personal take is that pregnant women are among the most beautiful things God created. How could you look at that picture and not think that she is beautiful?

Well, human biology being what it is, sometimes surprises occur and in this case the surprise was in the form of two, yes TWO, healthy little boys. Their names are
Gavin and Landry. I think this picture may be one of a very few that isn’t blurry—Julie tells me they never stop moving.

I write this to tell all of you how blessed my life is. Some of my couples I know better than others; some of them move in and out of my life. Some stay in touch and send me pictures, some don't. It's okay either way, as they all live in my memories. Whatever trials a couple may face, and no matter if there are zero children or a whole pack of 'em, they are forever locked in my memory as they were on wedding day, except maybe in this case. Part of me would still like to walk in the door of the Casa Linda area printshop and see her standing behind the counter. About the time of the wedding, the print shop changed hands and is under new ownership.

Anyway, I get regular emails from her, often with a link to the blog she set up to post pictures of the twins. I send her links to blogs for my grandchildren. Heck, even though she's no longer in the printing biz, she's still my go-to person when I need graphics advice.

Here's to staying in touch with good friends.



When A Couple Marries...

It’s the joining together of families as well

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I enjoy weddings that involve children, especially if it happens to be a blended family with children of the bride or groom involved in the ceremony. This was the case at a recent wedding at Thistlehill mansion just south of downtown Fort Worth. Thistlehill was completed in 1904, built at the crest of Summit Avenue in a district called “Quality Hill” and was known as the center of lavish entertainment for years to come. Unlike some of the other homes in the area, this one was rescued and restored by a group dedicated to preserving Fort Worth history.

Scott and Nancy chose this historic 11,000 square foot Fort Worth venue as the site for their wedding and they wanted to involve Nancy’s son, Alexander, better known as AJ. We put together a “Celebration of the New Family” element in the ceremony in which we honored AJ for his part in the ceremony (he was a groomsman) and then Scott & Nancy presented him a symbolic gift, in much the same way that wedding rings are a symbolic gift couples give each other—a token of their love and commitment. After the couple exchanged their own wedding vows, they voiced, in unison, their vows to AJ and the new family. Then the three of them lit the family unity candle.

The 120 guests were seated in the huge main entry way and we had the ceremony on the first landing of the grand staircase leading to the upstairs. Furniture, fixtures and wallhangings from the period surrounded us, so that instead of 2008, it felt more like 1908.

I give credit to Bella Pictures for allowing me to use the photos of the ceremony. Reata Restaurant in Fort Worth did the catering. The food was absolutely phenomenal. Because the house is a preserved museum, no cooking is done on site, but I had the opportunity to speak with the executive chef for the catering company. Fascinating preparations they go through for each event held there.

Finally, my thanks to Scott, Nancy and AJ for allowing me to be part of their memory making day. I don't think AJ realized he would be having his picture taken about 7,000 times that day! No matter how often I do this, looking into the face of a child during a wedding ceremony puts a lump in my throat.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Kristy & Judsen Tie the Knot

…at the Richardson Woman’s Club
This past weekend, Kristy and Judsen exchanged vows in the gazebo of the beautiful
Richardson Woman’s Club. Located on the edge of the Sherrill Park Golf Course, the woman’s club property contains several buildings, including the original house plus an event facility and a gazebo, all of which are on a hill overlooking the course.

The approximate 20 minute ceremony included a unique element called “handfasting”, a Celtic tradition that probably dates back 1200 years or more. During this part of the ceremony, the couple's hands (palms up, hers resting in his) are bound together by a cord or ribbon in a love knot. Popular belief says that this is where the get the term “tying the knot”.

At any wedding ceremony or reception, one thing that can make or break the atmosphere is the DJ. In this case, DJ Lori Jackson of
Melodies & Memories Entertainment handled both the ceremony music as well as music & Emcee duties for the reception. The ceremony music had some of us puzzled at first—have you ever heard a song you like but you can’t quite place what it is and where it came from? That was the case at this ceremony as the music was string quartet versions of popular songs (such as Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and others. Lori knew lots of detail about the music and advised me to check out the Vitamin String Quartet. A good DJ can absolutely add to your reception and help control the pace of the party. The fact that Lori gets it done with large doses of personality is icing on the cake.

I appreciate photographer Harry Harjabrata of Harry Photo for sending me the pictures taken during the ceremony & reception. One picture I didn't receive yet shows me beside the groom, who stands 6’ 7”. Fortunately, they let me stand on the steps of the gazebo so I could almost look him in the eye :)