Yesterday our only daughter became a bride and wife. Today is Mother’s Day.

Need I tell you that my heart was full this morning, even before Stuart placed a handwritten card and a cup of Starbucks coffee on the bedstand and even before the last event of the wedding–brunch with the two families and the wedding party?

I will tell the full story of the wedding in a later post, but for right now, I will share the two brief blessings Stuart and I gave to Kate and Nik. We felt honored to be asked, along with Nik’s parents, to offer our thoughts in the ceremony itself. Thanks to my niece Joy Derner for this picture of Stuart, Kate, and me as we prepare to walk down the aisle.

A Blessing from a Mother to Her Daughter Upon the Occasion of Her Wedding

May 8, 2010

Kate, I have been flooded with memories in the last months and weeks as we have journeyed together toward this day.

Before you were born, I felt God knitting you together inside me, like the Psalmist says.

And before you turned two, you were you. Here are a few descriptions from the journal I kept for you since the day you were born, describing you to your adult self I then imagined: “Your hands are so gentle and so expressive. When you want me to come, you hold your whole body forward, cupping your hands in the most plaintive gesture I have ever seen. Just perfect for El Greco or Picasso’s Blue Period.”

And here you are in the journal just before your second birthday: Dad was swinging you in the tire swing hanging from the chestnut tree in our Goshen back yard. “How high do you want to go?” he asked. “I want to go as high as the wind!” you replied.

The first book you read on your own was called What Color is Love? When I asked what you thought the color of love was, you did not skip a beat. You exclaimed, eyes shining, “Hot pink!” When asked where you want to live 20 years from now, you said, “In a pink tile house with white trim and with hot pink flowers in the garden.”

When you were seven years old, you came up to me and shyly asked, “What do you call your husband when you get married?  Is it a broom?” I swallowed my smile and told you the word you were looking for was “groom.”

And there he is. Your groom.  He started showing up in the journal in 2003, just before he graduated from Goshen College and just after your email courtship while you were in London taking your fine arts course. This is what I said after we met officially at El Camino Restaurant, “He seems interesting, curious, intelligent, mature, and sensitive.” We liked him at once, noticed the gentle way he treated you, and now we have come to love him as a second son.

As a final blessing from the two of us to the two of you, here is a wise and practical love poem by poet Jack Ridl, who grew up in Pittsburgh.

Take Love for Granted

Assume it’s in the kitchen,

under the couch, high

in the pine tree out back,

behind the paint cans

in the garage. Don’t try

proving your love

is bigger than the Grand

Canyon, the Milky Way,

the urban sprawl of L.A.

Take it for granted. Take it

out with the garbage. Bring

it in with the take out. Take

it for a walk with the dog.

Wake it every day, say,

“Good morning.” Then

make the coffee. Warm

the cups. Don’t expect much

of the day. Be glad when

you make it back to bed.

Be glad he threw out that

box of old hats. Be glad

she leaves her shoes

in the hall. Snow will

come. Spring will show up.

Summer will be humid.

The leaves will fall

in the fall. That’s more

than you need. We can

love anybody, even

everybody. But you

can love the silence,

sighing, and saying to

yourself, “That’s her.”

“That’s him.” Then to

each other, “I know!

Let’s go out for breakfast!”

God bless you, Kate, as you fly as high as the wind, plant hot pink flowers in your garden, sweep out troubles with a broom, and live in peace, lots of laughter, and deep satisfaction with your groom.

A Blessing from a Father to His Daughter Upon the Occasion of Her Wedding

Kate, I want to highlight a few of the quintessential qualities I associate with you. These qualities have been present from the beginning, but now they reflect more deeply the precious adult you have become.

At your core, Kate, you have always been attuned to your environment. You respond sensitively both to your physical setting and to the people who come into them:

  • Your fascination with color has been legendary in our family, beginning with your exclusively pink and purple clothing phase. Now you also help others appreciate color as you advise customers at Ambiance Boutique, decorate living and work spaces, or extol the beauty of Pittsburgh’s parks.
  • Your sensitivity to others is conveyed by the empathetic choices you make. You have always given high priority to your social relationships and to the feelings of others. You express your care for others through creative gift-giving and by volunteering your time for community causes. More recently, you have embraced the gift of hospitality. We will never forget how capably Nik and you orchestrated your first family Thanksgiving this past November.
  • Another key quality for you, Kate, is your tenacity. We recall your gritty determination in a high school tennis match that seemed to continue until well after sunset. You demonstrate your tenacity in your loyalty and devotion to your family and to your many friends, and they honor you with their presence here today.

You bring these qualities – and many others – to your marriage to Nik. You have chosen well. We welcome Nik as a second son and are delighted with the way his many strengths complement yours. Both of you have much to contribute to each other and to the world. We are confident that together you will confront together the challenges that will surely come your way. And we encourage you to celebrate together the life events that will bring you joy.

Oscar Romero, the archbishop who was martyred for his faith in 1980 in El Salvadore, left us these wise words:

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that. This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well. It may be incomplete,
but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

May you, Nik and Kate, experience God’s abundant love and boundless grace in your marriage – today and always.

Shirley Showalter


  1. ggonda on May 9, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    How well you know your daughter, how beautiful these words are. Talk about boundless grace – you epitomize those two words like no others… Congratulations again!!! xoxo

  2. Tom DeWolf on May 9, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    What a blessing to wake up this morning to this post, Shirley. I paused halfway through the second paragraph to warm a cup of coffee (with soy milk) and take it to my wife who is just waking up and to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.Our three daughters are mothers. Stories of weddings and births and weddings abound. May we all continue to write and share with the same grace you exhibit here. Thank you.

  3. marycoxpace on May 9, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    So thought-provoking. Treasured times. Treasured people. God-given relationships.Lord bless you,Mary

  4. shirleyhs on May 10, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Thank you, Mary. God bless you, too!!

  5. shirleyhs on May 10, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Tom, thank you for taking time to let me know this post touched you. Your own heart is full on mother's day. Being the father of mothers gives you a whole new layer of celebration. I'm sure these women in your life will be ready for you on Father's Day! I so enjoy learning about your family, friends and commitments to justice and peace in your blog. I hope anyone who sees this comment clicks on your name above and begins to follow you.

  6. shirleyhs on May 10, 2010 at 12:49 am

    Gillian, your words mean a lot to me. Thank you. You and Kate share a number of remarkable qualities–strong, immediate, empathy and the ability to share feelings. No wonder you have so many friends!

  7. hopewester on May 10, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I thought of all of you all day yesterday and now I almost feel as if I had been there too…thank you for that!

  8. shirleyhs on May 10, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks so much, Hope, for these good wishes and for your thoughts. We are bound to each other here on earth by such loving intentions freely shared.

  9. […] Two Wedding Blessings for Our Daughter and Her New Husband: A Mini-Memoir […]

  10. jennifer Louden on May 20, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Thank you for this glimpse in this glorious day!

  11. shirleyhs on May 20, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing it with us, Jen!

  12. […] that, in addition to the lists of top memoirs people have always loved in the past, my two-year-old post about our blessings at our daughter’s wedding was the most popular single post. Apparently lots of parents want to […]

  13. Carol Bodensteiner on June 24, 2014 at 9:11 am

    A beautiful post, Shirley. And beautiful blessings for your daughter and her new husband.

    • shirleyhs on June 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      Thanks, Carol. It’s a blessing Kate’s parents and all parents need also. 🙂

  14. Audrey Metz on June 24, 2014 at 9:20 am



    • shirleyhs on June 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you, Audrey. Wishing you more beauty today and always.

  15. Barbara McDowell Whitt on June 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Shirey, the wedding day photo of you and Stuart and your parents is a perfect beginning for your link to your May 9, 2010 account of your lovely daughter’s marriage to her perfect-for-her husband and perfect-for-you second son.

    Since my husband and I also have treasured the growing-up years of our two daughters, now in their 30s, and getting to know our first “son” and first granddaughter, I am going to share your commentary with him. The tributes you and Stuart wrote for Kate for her marriage to Nik are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with your readers.

    • shirleyhs on June 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks, Barbara. One more thing we have in common — we love our in-laws. See you in Harrisonburg!

  16. Karen Forry on June 24, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Shirley, thanks for the open window on your daughter’s wedding day I peeked and listened with pleasure remembering my own sweet daughter’s wedding. I will never forget that day how I felt so happy and seeing the joy in the bride and groom faces. That year after 11 rainy week-ends that day was 72 degrees and no humidity. We took outdoor pictures with my husband’s ( Ed) old convertible car. God Bless you and your family. Keep writing!!

  17. Laurie Buchanan on June 9, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Shirley — I hadn’t met you yet in 2010, so it was with tremendous pleasure that I read this post, this morning, in 2016.

    Happy tears? Oh my blessed word!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:01 pm

      Laurie, I like being able to share posts that many of my current readers didn’t read originally. I’m so glad we meet in 2014! Let me know if you are coming to Minneapolis on your book tour. I’ll drive to see you!

  18. Marian Beaman on June 9, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Like Laurie, this powerful piece was published before we’d met. The titles you and Stuart chose are reminiscent of Anne Bradstreet, I think – very direct.

    These words from Jack Ridl caught my eye: “Be glad he threw out that
    box of old hats.” Never happening here, and I think you know why 🙂


    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      Marian, glad you enjoyed an old post with connections to your current task (old hats!). Yes, the titles do have an Anne Bradstreet-like ring to them. She would like the elevation of everyday things in a formal blessing too, don’t you think?

      Hope when you have finally packed that last box, you and Cliff look at each other and say, “Let’s go out for breakfast!”

      • marian beaman on June 10, 2016 at 2:18 am

        Yes, to both your question and your sensible suggestion, Shirley.

  19. Kathleen Pooler on June 9, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful, Shirley. It brought tears to my eyes as I connected with my own mother-daughter story. Thank you for sharing.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      Ah, Kathy. Thank you. You are a loving daughter and mother. So glad you could identify.

  20. Luci Miller on June 9, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Wow. This is really beautiful. The poem is exquisite. I like the idea of love being as comfortable and familiar as taking out the garbage or the change of the seasons. I’m glad you re-shared such a beautiful memory.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      Luci, thanks for the visit. Glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you find some new friends here who will join me in paying a visit to your site also. I like your profile picture.

  21. Linda Gartz on June 9, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Meaningful and wise words. I, too, kept a journal of my sons as they developed and grew and the delightful words, the poignant observations– that came out of their innocent mouths. One morning when driving my oldest (turning 30 in two weeks) to preschool, he was eating bread with jelly and the sun was glinting off the shiny jelly. “It looks like they’re having a party,” he said.
    God bless you and your lovely children. If I ever have to give a speech at my sons’ weddings (no girls), I’ll remember yours.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:12 pm

      Linda, we seem to have had many of the same instincts in our careers as mothers and writers. I’m counting on the fact that those stories will become even more interesting as our children get older and find their younger selves in those journals.

      Just in case you need a son blessing. 🙂 Here’s the toast we made at that wedding a few months before this one:

  22. Marylin Warner on June 9, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    So touching, Shirley, and a lovely reminder of what is most important between mothers and daughters (and dads, too) every day, to be treasured and celebrated every day, and proclaimed on very special days.

    • Shirley Showalter on June 9, 2016 at 8:55 pm

      As usual, you express ideas beautifully and succinctly, Marylin. Let us continue to treasure and celebrate every day and proclaim on special ones! Cheers!

  23. April Yamasaki on June 13, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    So glad you highlighted this post, Shirley – what a blessing to read your blessings!

    • Shirley Showalter on June 15, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Thanks, April! As you can see, sometimes older posts can have new purpose and new life.

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