Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Sisters By Choice

Sisters are one of life's sweetest gifts. And then there are sister-in-laws; sisters by choice, if you will. I am privileged to have four of them, three of whom live in Ohio.

This past weekend I spent time with the Ohio three over the Thanksgiving holidays. It hit me one evening as we sat together what a unique gift we four have been given.

We all grew up in different communities; several of us in different states. We have no blood relation to each other; we may not have even struck up a friendship had we met each other in a crowd. Our one common choice that brought us together was the decision to marry a son of Marvin and Janice Eicher. Our husbands had no sisters, so here we are, thrown into the role of sisters and the daughters that our mother-in-law never had.


We spent yesterday shopping together, along with our mother-in-law and the two oldest grandaughters. Sisters will always have the edge on the whole sister thing, since they grew up with you and know all your quirks inside and out. But sisters by choice are a pretty good lot to have too, at least mine are!

What a fun day yesterday was. We laughed together, exclaimed over each other's treasures and gave The Shoppers (you know, the ones who are always the last to make it to the check out line?) a hard time about always keeping the rest waiting. We disagreed on our taste in pictures and fabric and love of books. We told stories and made memories and learned to know each other just a little better.  At the end of the day we went home to the bond we all share -- a brother we call husband.

Those three will probably never know me quite like my sisters do. They didn't grow up with me and they don't know all the stories surrounding my childhood without having them repeated. I'll probably never be quite as free to be completely transparent with them as I am with my sisters. But we share a special bond that has formed a friendship and I am thankful for each one of my sisters by choice!

         -----------------------------------------------

Quote of the day:
      I'm sitting on a chair, waiting for ... cough cough ... The Shoppers, when an older gentleman joins me on the chair to my left and says, "What are you doing sitting here? This is where the men sit!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving Eve

It is 'Thanksgiving Eve' and the house is dark and silent, everyone cozy in their beds but me. The fridge is full of food prep for the morrow and the one day of the year when we specifically pause and take note of our blessings.

My heart isn't particularly overflowing at the moment. Not because I have no blessings, far from it! More because I haven't paused to specifically take note.

I was sitting here just now, relaxing in the stillness, and I came across something I wrote during the 500 Words for a week challenge titled "Blessings of four years with 7 people in 726 square feet". With a new house and twice that space just waiting around the corner out of my grasp, I must admit, 726 square feet is not a blessing I have been taking note of too much lately.

So, I thought it interesting that I should have happened upon my writing and that, just maybe, it was no strange coincidence that I should be reminded to take note of the blessing of 726 square feet on the eve of Thanksgiving. I remember a time when 726 square feet was, indeed, a huge blessing to be taken note of and one that I did not take lightly at all!

Five years and four months ago we packed up our belongings and moved our little family from Arkansas to Ohio. For one year we lived in with Chris' parents and then decided to renovate the shop building he had built before we were married. Four years and four months ago we dug our belongings out of dusty, dirty boxes and made these 726 square feet our home. It was amazing to have our own space once again. There was no need to stop and take note of the blessings, my heart was fairly bursting with them!

Time has a way of dulling our memories and I now take every square foot of the 726 for granted. In fact, most of the time lately I chafe at every one of them, knowing that three miles down the road is a house on the hill that promises so many more if only they would ever get completed. And so, tonight as I read over my list of blessings of living in this house, I decided it might be a good thing to stop and take note of, these 726 square feet we call home. Maybe you would like to hear them too...

1) Clean up takes so little time when there's so little space!

2) It cuts down on purchases dramatically. I have no room in my kitchen for all those extra gadgets so I'm not buying them! Same goes for furniture and decor and even, to some extent, clothes...

3) Nobody has the space to go off and do anything by themselves. We're all right here. Together. We hear everything, see everything, know everything...pretty much.

4) There is so much less to take care of. I'm convinced I am far less busy than other women partly because I live in such a small space.

5) It's a great place to teach contentment.

6) It gives an opportunity to cultivate creativity and finding unusual ways to make things work - all the clothes on hangers in the laundry room, bunk bed with full on the bottom and single on the top to accommodate three kids in one room, key board in our bedroom because there's no other space, plastic drawers under short hanging items...the list goes on and on.

7) The little perks - being able to reach anything in the fridge while staying seated at the table, having everything in the kitchen within two step's reach, not needing to gather hangers from hither and yon when doing laundry, and so forth and so on.

8) Hands on examples of the principles of simplicity and contentment lived out for our children in a way that would not have happened other wise.

9) Having only four windows makes the job of cleaning them quite simple (although they still don't get done very often, cough cough).

10) I've had a very valid excuse to not have company over .....wait..... Maybe not so much. I just thought 10 would look better than 9! 😄

Of course, for every pro I could probably name a con. But on this Thanksgiving Eve I am choosing to pause and take specific note of the blessings of 7 people in 726 square feet. The biggest blessing of all is a warm house and the 7 of us all here together and I am so very, very thankful for that!

Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you. May you find time to pause and take note tomorrow!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Potpourri

This is going to be a disjointed bit of hodge podge because that's all that is forthcoming from my brain these days. I thought it sounded more delicate to call it Potpourri......

I went shopping by myself yesterday and decided that maybe I could be a Shopper one of these days, when my children are all grown. I'm not one, see. I shop but I rarely Shop, if you know what I mean. I go to town, and go to two stores, and get the things on my list. Shoppers go to fifteen stores and get all the things on their list at discount prices, plus a lot of other things not on their list that I would never even think of looking for.

On second thought, I doubt I could ever be a Shopper. But it was fun to go to town by myself.

Sometimes I do get in a mood and I buy things like this --


Or this --


That I don't even know what I am going to do with. It's fun to shock my husband now and then. He's been known to require me to buy things on shopping trips.

I don't know why this thing grabbed my fancy but it did and here's where it sits at the moment.



                 *******************

Sometimes I come to the realization that I need people. I have this notion that I can do life very well alone, just me and my people under our little roof. But even loners get lonely and sometimes we have to force ourselves out of our holes and have someone over or go do that thing that takes us out of our comfort zone. We end up being better people for it, until we forget. Again.

                    ***************

Several weeks ago our church had communion. I was laying in bed the night before, trying to figure out what I was going to say the next morning when I needed to give my testimony. Often a certain verse immediately comes to mind or an experience or something but I felt completely blank. Just empty. As I lay there thinking, God seemed to say to me, "That's how I want you. I want you to need me."

He's been impressing that on me a lot lately. I would rather be a spring of life where the water continually bubbles up joyously or a river, that never runs dry. God seems to want me to be a water hose and I need Him to, minute by minute, supply the water running through me.

                    ****************

Can someone give me a recipe for keeping children from growing up?


This child here is just too cute and I cannot imagine life without him and his delightful imagination that makes me laugh or his cuddly, snuggly, kissy-ness.


But, oh yeah, it was fun to go shopping by myself.........

                   *****************

I have another question for you, and this one is serious. Can you live by both the letter of the law and the spirit of the law? Or do you have to live by one or the other?

                 *********************

Recently I started a little "Five Minute Friday" page on Facebook. Every Thursday night I post a prompt and on Friday we set our timers and write on that prompt for five minutes, then share it with the group and share encouragement with each other. If you're on Facebook and would like to join us, we'd love to have you! Last week we wrote on "The Color Green". I'll wrap up this rambling ...er... potpourri with the little story I wrote about my Very Green Dress -----

Once upon a time, almost 17 years ago to be exact, I was a young girl getting ready to go to VA for a year of voluntary service at a home for handicapped children. I needed new clothes, so I went fabric shopping and one of the pieces I chose was a corduroy-like, Very Green piece. I made the dress and wore it happily...and quite often. Especially, I guess, on the occasions that my boyfriend came to visit me in VA. I rather liked the dress and it was new, so I happily showed up in Very Green.

Well, much later I found out that my boyfriend really did not like that Very Green dress!! Any green material, in our fifteen years of marriage, has to have the Very Green dress brought back up and talked about and made to sound worse and worse as the years go by! And so goes the story of the Very Green dress that came to mind when I thought of the color green...

                *******************

A happy weekend to you all. May all your potpourri smell sweet.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I Then Shall Live

There are a lot of words being thrown out there right now about our country and the election and all that goes with it. I'm not sure it's necessary to add any of mine to the masses. I am not a politician nor even interested in politics, as a general rule. Chris was looking at video clips about the election last night and I had to keep asking him who the people were, that's how much I've kept up with the news!

I don't have any great words of wisdom or prophecy about the future. I don't claim to believe anything about the election results except what I believed before them: God is in control.

The words of this song, by Gloria Gaither, seem like a good prayer for myself, and I will leave them for you to ponder.....

I Then Shall Live

I then shall live 
as one who's been forgiven;
I'll walk with joy
To know my debts are paid.
I know my name
Is clear before my Father;
I am His child,
And I am not afraid.
So greatly pardoned,
I'll forgive my brother;
The law of love
I gladly will obey.

I then shall live
As one who's learned compassion;
I've been so loved
That I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear
Builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see
Another's point of view.
And when relationships 
Demand commitment,
Then I'll be there
To care and follow through.

Your kingdom come
Around and through and in me;
Your pow'r and glory,
Let them shine through me.
Your hallowed name,
O may I bear with honor,
And may You feed
A hungry world through me.
Amen 

The tune for this song is the same as "Be Still My Soul". You can listen to the song here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq3sM7-Cwmg

I Then Shall Live by Gloria Gaither Copyright © 1981 Hanna Street Music (BMI) (adm. at CapitolCMGPublishing.com) / Harry Fox   () All rights reserved.
 


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Five Things That Make My Husband A Priority

I'm laughing to myself at my title. I am not a "Five things" or "Ten things" kind of person. For one thing, we all know there's not usually some secret formula with a certain number of steps that makes anything in life work perfectly. For another thing, I don't talk about this kind of stuff. I do not enjoy writing things that, in any way shape or form, make me out to be this person that has it all together and now I think I need to advise you. Don't enjoy it.

But.

The other night Chris and I were talking about marriage - listening to a podcast on the subject together, actually. The speaker hit on the subject of us mothers and how we are so busy and exhausted and feel like we have nothing left to give at the end of the day when our husbands come home. (Yes, the speaker was a woman.) Right in the middle of that part, Chris shook his head and suddenly reached over and hit pause.

"Just hold it right there," he said. "That is not really the issue. The issue is that most women don't think it's necessary to make their husbands a priority. How many of those "exhausted" women would jump at the chance to go shopping with a friend? How many of them would have time for the neighbor lady or time to bake cookies for a church project? But when it's their husband, they are e-x-h-a-u-s-t-e-d and have nothing left to give; he doesn't even make it on their priority list."

I'm thinking he has a point.

Once upon a time I gave some Unsolicited Dating Advice. I emphasized that a dating couple should focus on becoming best of friends. Our best friends are pretty high on our priority list, right? They see us at our best - and our worst, for that matter - but we take time for them because we want to be with them; we like to be with them.

As newlyweds I'm pretty sure we would have all said our husband was our best friend. Then children came along and our responsibilities grew and our time shortened. It was easy to start thinking, "Well, my husband is my best friend, he can handle less attention," ...if we actually stopped to think that far. Most of the time we didn't even stop to think. Our husbands just got pushed to the back and the noisier, more pressing things took first place.

I think what is important in a dating relationship just might be doubly so in marriage. If I am concerned about obedience to the Lord and his plan for marriage, than one of my goals will be to respect my husband. And if my goal is to respect my husband, it is important - even necessary - to make my husband a priority!

All of this got me to thinking, what things do I do that make my husband a priority? I thought of a number of things that I try to do...and a number of things I could do so much better! Most of them seem small in and of themselves and I certainly don't always do them perfectly but I decided I'd share five with you. So, in no particular order, here are five things I thought of that I try to do to make my husband number one on my priority list:

No work after supper. This is something I remember being a goal my mom and dad tried to live by and I think I sort of subconsciously took it into my marriage. There are, of course, exceptions to this but as a rule I don't start any big projects after supper. When the children were small, Chris would often want me to come sit with him after supper and leave the dishes. That was a tough one for me but I'm glad for every time I did it. These days my children do supper clean up and you will often find me sitting on the couch with my husband's head in my lap being "lazy". ☺

Make food that he likes. My children know that when daddy is home for supper we rarely have soup or tortillas or homemade pizza. It's not that He would refuse to eat them, it's just that I know those aren't things he enjoys. After a long day at work I think he deserves to have food that he enjoys! I often ask him what he is hungry for and plan supper accordingly.

Be available. My husband is a spontaneous person, so maybe this applies more to me than other wives. I try really hard to be flexible and lay aside my neat little "planner" if I get a text asking me to run an errand or help with a project. When our children were little Chris had his own business. Many, many times I would pack everyone up and go hang out with him at the job. Sometimes I could help but mostly he just loved having us there! My work will always be there when I get back home but I never know how many days I will have with my husband.

Care about what he thinks. Maybe that sounds silly but too often I catch myself caring about what everyone else thinks and disregarding my husband.

Say yes in the bedroom. This one should probably be at the top of the list. It makes the prude-ish, Mennonite girl in me blush but I think it needs to be said. Think of the thing your husband does that makes you feel the most loved. That thing that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and close to his heart. That thing that connects you to him and makes you so thankful he is the one you get to do life with. What if he would tell you he is just too tired and exhausted to do that for you as often as you tell him that in the bedroom? Yeah. Changes the picture a bit, huh?


There's so much more that could be said! What things do you do that make your husband a priority? I'd love to hear from you....

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

On Needing Each Other

Two long days of traveling and four days away total and I'm home again. Home to little arms squeezing my neck; home to piles of laundry and an empty fridge; home to fill the role of wife and mother once again.


It's hard to find words for the past four days. The short version is that my dad had open heart surgery on Monday to replace a valve. My siblings and I were all gathered for the occasion and he is doing well. The long version is full of many more emotions and feelings and details.

For some reason I've found it the easiest to remain silent on the subject. It's been a little much to process - heart surgery less than three months into a new marriage and a new chapter in our family's history. Quite frankly, I wasn't sure I could handle the sympathy and the questions and the pity. I don't understand either what God has in mind but I'll be fine, thank you very much or something along those lines.

But that isn't quite fair, because when you're sitting calmly in a waiting room with the knowledge that a surgeon's knife is splitting your father's breast bone, you are keenly aware that it's the prayers of all those people you didn't feel like talking to that are holding you up and carrying you along. And during that horribly long hour between the time the surgeon comes to tell you they are taking your father back into surgery and the time he returns to tell you all is well, it is - again - the prayers of many that allow you to find rest even when the knot in your stomach almost convinces you to get rid of that free continental breakfast.

We need each other, we do. Some of us think we would rather do it on our own and some of us try to find our strength in numbers. The truth is, none of us can make it on our own and most of all, we all need Him. Sometimes He is enough in the quiet corners of our own bedroom as we clutch His promises and find peace in trusting His sovereignty. Sometimes He shows himself in skin with hugs and food and text messages saying "I'm praying". Sometimes He even appears in the questions and the sympathy that we think we don't want because we need Him and we need each other.

I don't know what other surprises God has for my story. I do know that I am happy to trust it all to someone who sees a much bigger picture than I do. I can testify to the fact that when I am in the midst of hard, the 'something different' I claim to have in my life does make a difference and I am convinced part of that comes from the multitude of fellow believers who lift me up and carry me on even when I go silent and think I would rather just do it myself.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Mom

I was hurrying along through Aldi, list in hand, gathering up groceries as fast I could with four children in tow. This was the last store, and we were tired of shopping. Suddenly, there they were, Mom. Memories washed over me as I gazed at the pile of acorn squash with their sale price waving like a flag in my face.


Ahh, how you loved acorn squash, Mom. You would accept them happily from dear old 'Ervin Dorothy', who always seemed to end up with an abundance of them. We would all groan, knowing exactly what was coming next: acorn squash with meatloaf tucked inside was sure to be on the supper menu. We turned up our noses, even daddy, who willingly ate almost anything. The only redeeming factor was the meatloaf and even that could hardly make up for the stringy, yellowish-orange squash that also had to be eaten.

Standing there in the grocery store, memories flooding my mind, I hesitated only a second, Mom. Then I picked a pretty, green squash from the pile and added it to my cart, just for you....well, sort of.

Actually, your efforts to teach us to like all kinds of food paid off, Mom. Somewhere along the line I acquired a taste for acorn squash and the sight of them there on the pile made my mouth water. I would buy one, just for me.

The past week has been hectic, Mom, and the acorn squash lay neglected til I noticed, with alarm, it had developed a bad spot and needed to be used. I intended to fix it yesterday but time got away from me and I finally had to give it up. Today, though, I was determined.


I cut the bad part off and reduced my meal to half a squash - two halves would have been too much anyway. Then I scooped out the seeds, tucked some hamburger inside and popped it into the oven. As I scurried around finishing up other projects, I looked forward to my lunch. But I hadn't taken into account one thing, Mom. Or maybe it was several things.

I never asked you how to make acorn squash, for one thing. Then again, maybe the ones grown by your dear friend were just that much better than Aldi has to offer. Whatever the case, my lunch didn't turn out to be that great. I dabbed on the butter and sprinkled the salt but it still lacked the flavor my memory had envisioned. Quite possibly it should have been baked longer but I was in a hurry, so I ate the softest part and pitched the rest and thought of you, Mom. I'm sorry I didn't carry on the tradition of making my children learn to like all kinds of food but they were quite happy to hear I was buying the squash just for me!


Some things you just never forget and acorn squash will always make me think of you, Mom.

Love you,
Bethany