Good Evening members of California ESA, guests, and my family.

I’m going to try to get through this with no tears, but some of you know me well, so if I can’t, and I probably won’t, just love me anyway.

This moment is one that was supposed to have happened several years ago; but, if it had,
I wouldn’t be the person who stands before you tonight, older but a bit wiser too. 

I would like to thank a few special people that have made this journey possible.  First to my husband, David.  He is the one who holds my heart and is always there for me, anytime, anywhere, day or night, willing to do pretty much anything I ask him to do.

To my children, and a few of my Favorite Things, for traveling so far and just being here with me on this special night; I’m still sorry it wasn’t Ireland. Special thanks to my son, David Lloyd, thank you for playing this evening for us, you’ve taught yourself well on your guitar and I am so proud of you.

Dot, thank you for the beautiful ceremony; you are my ESA mentor, the one who started me on this journey, my bestest friend and my forever sister. 

 Rickie, you have guided me this past year and I know you will forever have my back.

Janet McMaster, Markie, Kim Krantz, Maggie, Mildred, and Charlene, you all have been my cheerleaders, always a smile, a hug, always a feeling of warmth and sisterhood.  Markie, you keep me laughing, and that’s a very good thing; I love ya Sista!  Judy Simpson, thank you for giving me my first chairmanship, and especially for being here tonight.

When I came back into ESA after several years of absence, I was afraid of how everyone would react; would I be welcomed back?  At Convention that year, it was so good to reconnect and see the faces of my sisters who I had missed so much, and they were there with open arms. 

There was one-person in-particular who I have always admired and looked up to.  She probably doesn’t know how much she impacted my life when she walked up to me that afternoon, hugged me, and whispered in my ear, “I am so glad you’re back!”  Marilee, you will never truly know what that meant to me that day; to receive the love and acceptance of one who I so highly respect.

Thank you for that moment in time, I will always treasure it.

When asked what my theme would be this year the answer had become easy, “BELIEVE.”

The next questions would be, “Believe in ESA? Believe in Yourself?” as though there was a blank to be filled in.  My reply to those who asked was a simple, “No, just BELIEVE.”

Believe has become a very special word to me with deep meaning; it became a visual that would pop up in the strangest places. 

It all began at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, Michigan, in the fall of 2017. I had found a beautiful white glazed ornament with the word “Believe” written in glittered red script. I bought that ornament for my daughter and son-in-law, who, for quite some time, had been trying to have a baby despite medical issues that made us all question if it would ever really happen. 

All across the country as David and I made our way back home I would see “Believe” in so many different places; everywhere we went, everywhere we’d stop, there it would be, “Believe.” Probably the strangest place was in a little pizza joint run by a Mennonite family in Beaver, Utah. On a shelf in the dining area were big blue lighted letters spelling out

What I didn’t know during that time, was that while David and I had been gone, God had made a promise to our daughter, a promise to fulfill the desire of her heart.  I chose to believe that promise too, the promise of our miracle. That miracle we believed for is here tonight, Reina, my Thing 10, who will be 8 months old on Wednesday.

To believe is a special thing.

To Believe, in my heart, is that the impossible is possible. 

This year I ask that you Believe with me.  Believe that our beloved California ESA will thrive in every way.

 Believe in yourself.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made, there is no one quite like you, you are an original, so Believe in you.

Believe in us, we are California ESA family by choice. We come together to help each other accomplish amazing things that bless the lives of others.  You are my sisters and brothers, we are a family, Believe in us!

Believe in your reasons for being a part of ESA.  There are as many reasons to belong as there are people in this room.  Each of us chose to be a part of this organization because we believed in the vision of ESA. Believe that your reasons are as valid today as they were when you accepted the vows of our ritual in the golden glow of a candle-lighted room.

Believe in what we do.  We join together as an International Council to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Hope for Heroes, and Easterseals. We join together as a state to support the Alzheimer’s Association, and through our local councils and chapters, we support so many other worthwhile organizations, causes, and events.  Believe in what we do.

Believe that we are not only helping countless individuals and families through what we do together but that we are also making a huge difference in their lives.

Let’s continue to share ESA with friends, with our family, and with those whose paths we cross.  Let’s continue to be a blessing to others. 

BELIEVE with me then go ahead, make it personal to you, fill in your blank. 

There is a “Believe” pen and two cards for each of you on your table so you may fill in that blank.  Fill out both cards, one is for you to keep and one is for me. I’d like to share your “Believe . . .” this year in the Blue ‘N Gold and as I visit Councils throughout the state.  There is also a place for your name if you don’t mind me sharing who it came from.

As you leave here tonight would you drop the card for me into one of the baskets a few of my Favorite Things will be holding at the back of the room?  Keep the other card and the pen as a reminder of this evening and to “Believe.”

Thank you for your love, for your encouragement, for your support and always remember that nothing is impossible when you . . . 

California State Council of Epsilon Sigma Alpha