This gorgeous young lady has a very special place in my heart. She is my niece and goddaughter. When she asked me to take pictures of her to commemorate her 15th birthday, I was beside myself. I knew it would be an easy session because her gorgeous smile looking through my lens is a recipe for amazing moments.
As you can see, she made my job easy.
Her party was an unforgettable event. Shimmering jewels and black feathers were the rage; we celebrated in “Great Gatsby” style. Everyone was to wear black or white and the “Old Sports” were to flaunt bow ties.
A few weeks before the party, Genesis asked me to give a speech at her party. Yikes! What would I say? How would I present it?
I actually wrote the speech just a few days before. Although I had read it over more than twenty times, I was extremely nervous when the moment arrived. I took one look at the audience (more than 100 people, I almost died) and then turned to look at her.
Genesis looking absolutely beautiful inside and out.
I actually wanted to write something down so I wouldn’t forget anything but Im just going to speak from the heart. (inside joke from my wedding)
Chichi – my love for you is like the Oak Tree … (Inside joke from my wedding)
Ok. J/k – I did write something down.
First and foremost, I am honored to be speaking today on such a momentous occasion. (Does that sound too English teacher-y?) No seriously, I am honored to have this opportunity share my thoughts and love for you with your full attention. Can you imagine that? I finally have her full attention. I’m not competing with Instagram or snapchat. Insert SELFIE here!
Genesis, I am so proud of the young woman you have become. I don’t think I ever tell you enough, but it is true and I hope you know that.
When you were little, it was hard to imagine you all grown up. I can still remember the days when you would tell me you wanted to watch “Jacquimo”. She would tell me over and over … “Jacquimo”. Little did I know it was from “Thumbelina”. Well…Thumbellina became a favorite in our home. Next year you will be driving and soon off to college. I feel like I blinked a few times, and now you’re a young woman.
Your sweet and funny personality touches everybody near and far. I know I speak for everyone who knows you, you are one in a million. The light you shine is so strong, that even after you are gone, the light remains. Never lose that touch.
I know you are more than ready to take on this new phase in your life. Whether it’s finding your future career or choosing your alma mater, for the rest of your life you are going to be challenged more than you ever thought imaginable. I promise that if you tackle these challenges with all the bravery you can collect, you will make it look easy. Remember that it’s not about being fearless. Being brave is about facing your fears and still having the courage to do what needs to be done. And don’t be afraid to fail either. Failing at something doesn’t matter. It’s how you perceive your failure, and how you act on the wisdom gained from that perception, that ultimately define and redefine you and make you who you are. It takes a lot of courage to grow up and become who you are meant to be. May you find your heart’s desire without difficulty, and I hope you always remember the strength inside you. Know that God is always one step ahead of you guiding you on your path.
Boys? Well…Make one earn your companionship. Find one that will not only fill your heart, but also guard it from harm. No one is perfect, but there is one who will be perfect for you.
Remember to always laugh. Take chances, take risks, and sing, sing, sing…
Although I don’t see Chichi as much as I did when she was little, memories of her childhood live within my heart. I would like to share a glimpse of these memories with you today. And Chichi – whenever you feel like I’m getting on your nerves or feel like I don’t care, watch this video.
I wish you nothing but the best that life has to offer. I hope you never forget how much you are loved by me and everyone in this room tonight.
I love you, Happy Birthday!!