Friday, April 24, 2015

A Good Day

Take a glorious, sunshiny, blue sky-ed day + a crew of youngsters with adrenaline running high + a crowd of cheering, well-wishing parents, siblings and friends and what do you get? Track And Field Day!

The day was picture perfect, the spirit of camaraderie fine, and the competition high. We arrived home exhausted but happy, with sunburned faces and wind swept hair......and Everyone Was Hungry. Why do they do that to a mom??

But let us not mar the day with tales of cobbled together suppers and people with bleary eyes just wishing for bedtime. It was a good day!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Love and Respect

We were driving along through town a month or so ago when a billboard caught my eye. My head jerked up and I craned my neck to see. "Did that say Love and Respect Conference??" I asked the man beside me.

"What did it say? He wondered.

"I think it said something about a Love and Respect Conference April 17 and 18 at some 'Evangelical Friends' church or something like that?"

I didn't have to say anything else. Way back in 2005 or 6 I bought the book Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs and my eyes were opened to a lot of things I had never accepted as truth before. Here was a man who said everything my husband had been trying to tell me, plus some more, and I couldn't pass it off as....well.... "just my husband" anymore.

I actually went so far as to record most of the book on tape so Chris would listen to it and see what he thought. I re-read the book several years later and let the truths change me in deeper ways. I forget which year it was that we planned to attend a conference at a local church in Arkansas, but bad weather cancelled the event and we never went. After we moved to Ohio a couple from church was showing the videos and we planned to join the group but it ended up not working out.

All this to say - when the billboard caught my attention, it didn't take Chris long to gather the information, register online and send me the email with our registration ticket that said we were going!

You know how it is when you've always wanted to do something but it never worked out, and when the opportunity actually comes you wonder if you really even feel like doing this anymore? Maybe that's just a Bethany trademark, I don't know, but that's how I felt. "It probably won't even be that great and there are so many other things going on that weekend..." I'm embarrassed to admit that I also entertained these thoughts, "We know all this stuff already, it's not like we're going to be hearing anything new!"

To be honest, we didn't hear a lot of new things. But we did hear a lot of things that were good reminders! I think my favorite part about the experience was spending quality time discussing the whole thing together. We gave each other "grades" on how well we do with our love and respect toward each other. We expressed our appreciation for the areas where the other does especially well at meeting a certain need. We discussed why so many people miss the "respect" half of the equation and what it has done to our culture. In short, we renewed our commitment to each other and doing our marriage God's way!

It was also fun to watch my husband listen to a speaker address the topic of marriage in such a way that left him with practically no fault to find, but that is neither here nor there...

Dr. Eggerichs is an extremely talented speaker. He has the amazing ability of weaving stories and illustrations into his speaking in ways that bring his points home and make them come alive. I was blessed by his passion for truth. Not many would have the courage to stand in front of crowds and share a message that is so contrary to our culture and warrants such disdain! I sat and listened and wished we could have brought all our friends and acquaintences with us to fill that auditorium to the max -- imagine how this message could change the world!

If you want to hear a message that has the potential to change your marriage, check out the website at loveandrespect.com and find a conference going on at a church near you. It's worth putting forth the effort to make it happen! And even if you think you've heard it all already, there's always room for reminders and renewed commitment and quality time spent with your spouse!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Week In the Life of a Tree

Jasmine and I have been taking daily walks for the past week and a half. It's Springtime in Ohio, and there's new life to be seen every day it seems! Last Friday I got the idea to choose a tree and take a picture of it every day for a week. What you see are the results of that idea. They're poor quality, point-and-shoot phone pics but it's still fun to see the difference that happened in one week's time!

Aren't God and His Creation amazing?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dear Groom



 On the occasion of a couple's return from their honeymoon:

Dear Brand New Groom,

Was I you, once upon a time? That seems to be an amazingly long time ago, and sometimes it seems like only yesterday. I wonder what did you always dream being married would be like.

I look at you, and I wonder, how much do you know about marriage?

Do you have any idea what it's like to become one with a woman, to leave all and make a new unit, just the two of you? Do you have any concept of this woman’s deepest longings. How much she craves your implicit love and understanding. How she will want to know she is yours and yours alone. Do you realize the vast difference in a woman's needs compared to your own. Do you have any grasp at all of the importance of feelings to a woman. Do you realize how much differently you process thinking and feeling than she does? You think, and then think, and then feel. She feels and then feels, and then she might think, if she feels like it. (I hope you know a little something about feeling)

I wonder, have you had any bumps in your road yet - any arguments, any disagreements? Has she criticized your family, or you hers? Has she done something you just really don't like, said something that hurt you down deep? Has the realization of all that will be expected of you, all that will be new and different, seeped into your blissful bubble at all?

I was you, once upon a time, and I sat in someone's wedding service, holding my brand new wife’s hand, and the preacher kept repeating, "Marriage is hard work!" And I rolled my eyes and pitied the poor preacher, too bad his marriage didn’t work out like he had hoped! And, almost fourteen years later, I still roll my eyes at that poor man. My wife tries to give him the benefit of the doubt, she  says, “I know what the preacher meant, even if he didn’t say it very well” I’m less tolerant of the picture he paints of marriage. Marriage IS rosy cheeks and shining eyes and beautiful bouquets of roses and knights in shining armor, of course it is! That’s the whole point. If yours isn’t, you’re doing it wrong!

So, when you find yourself doing it wrong, stop! Don’t fall into the marriage grind, just don’t. Make a promise to yourself to never accept a marriage that is “hard work” We ALL do it wrong, occasionally, the trick is recognizing when it’s wrong and making it right as quickly as possible. As the leader of your home, make keeping your marriage “fun work” at the top of your list. Life and marriage include work, but never let it be drudgery.

I was you, once upon a time, Brand New Groom, and if I could go back, I would do it again, without question. In spite of all the bumps and the lessons and the things you will find out the hard way, it IS more than worth it. Just remember, Marriage is: (A.) Rosy cheeks and shining eyes and beautiful bouquets of roses and knights in shining armor, OR (B) Hard work, and drudgery and fighting and arguing and heartbreak. Your choice, pick A or B.

Here’s to many happy years of choice A. And if you find yourself experiencing choice B just stop and choose choice A again.

I wish you all the best!

Guest Posted by: The man whose first response was, “HUH?”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Currently....

I am a copy cat. I admit it. Once again, I was inspired by www.flowerpatchfarmgirl.com This time it was a post with a row of survey type questions that had me smiling and saying, "Oh, that would be fun!" When I tried it for myself it wasn't nearly as fun...or funny...but here it is, just in case you'd like to know:

READING ~ blogs; The Pokey Little Puppy; whatever my first grader brings home and begs to have read!

PLAYING ~ Rumikub; Clue; whatever my kidders can talk me into playing -- the other night my soft heart even gave in to Dealer's Choice. (I actually won, in case you wondered!)

WATCHING ~ My children grow up before my very eyes.

TRYING ~ To imagine keeping these 5 happily occupied when school ends in the near future...

COOKING ~ As little as possible. And when I do? Whatever is quick and easy.

EATING ~ Whatever can be found...sneaking chocolate when possible.

DRINKING ~ Water. And my morning cup of cappaccino.

CALLING ~ No one. Unless absolutely necessary.

TEXTING ~ My favorite man. Always.

CRAFTING ~ Order out of chaos. Every day.

DOING ~ A lot less than I should most days!

GOING ~ To a Love and Respect Conference next weekend, just me and my man.

LOVING ~ The wonder and beauty of Spring Time!

HATING ~ Being on the food committee at church. The end.

DISCOVERING ~ That some days I simply have to take a nap for the good of the rest of the people in this house.

ENJOYING ~ The 3 quiet days a week with my littlest side kick.

HOPING ~ That some day before I am old and grey the little man discovers the art of sleeping all night every night.

CELEBRATING ~ 14 years of marriage come June!

SMELLING ~ The lingering scent of Murphy's Oil on my hands from cleaning the new SIL's house.

THANKING ~ My husband for listening when the Lord said, "There is your wife" and his first response was, "Huh??"

CONSIDERING ~ House Plans!! Oh the fun!

STARTING ~ A new habit of evening walks with my oldest girl.

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

Feeling inspired to share too? Tell me all your answers! :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Happy Birthday Charles!

It was Charlie's day today, the day to sing Happy Birthday and play with cake decorating and give gifts - all for an oblivious 2 year old. I think he'd have rather been sitting comfy eating jelly bread or slurping an ice cream cone or hugging all the puppies and teddies! The frosting was yummy though, and now we know what he'll look like someday with a beard!

Happy Birthday, Charles! I can't believe you're 2 already!! I'd like to keep you this size for a good long time yet......

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Preparatory Service

We sat in rows, almost thirty of us, all neatly dressed, all a bit tense and shy. Preparatory service, they called it, for the Communion service coming up in a week and a half. We had come expectantly, timidly, perhaps even reluctantly, with our nerves and our weaknesses highlighted in our minds, and now here we sat, rows of women, invited to share our hearts.

I sat on the back row, my mind a scramble over words that wouldn't line up neatly. My emotions were on edge and the tears wanted to well in my eyes for no apparent reason though I fought them desperately, wondering how in the world I would get anything out past the lump in my throat? My eyes wandered over the backs of heads in front of me, we were a mixed bunch for sure -- white hair here, young, youthful faces there, tired, mom faces sprinkled throughout, middle-aged ones with streaks of grey.... there were stylish women and staid, old style women and every stripe in between. Two things we shared in common: we were all women, and we all had a story.

Actually, underneath it all we were more alike than different. Behind the styles and the hair colors, beneath the stages of life and the varied backgrounds, beyond the outside and under the surface we were really not so very different at all. All of us had struggles, many of them the same ones! Maybe they came out in different ways, maybe they showed different faces, but mostly there was no new struggle amongst the lot of us.

Our men gathered in their own rows in the basement, and as the evening progressed and we heard them dismissing well before we had made our way through the stories, I wished to be a mouse and observe the differences. Somehow I doubt there were quite as many tears in the basement but I doubt there were quite as many laughs either, and I'm pretty sure it's safe to guess there weren't quite as many struggles and raw feelings shared either.

We women have a lot of struggles. Let's just be honest, we do. More than our men. (Argue with me if you like but you might as well admit it!) And we carry this unreasonable fear with us that probably nobody else struggles quite in the same way I do. We put up our fronts, and we dress in our "Sunday-go-to-meetin" clothes and we try to pretend we've got it together because it sure seems like everybody else does! If you would ask us we would say, "Oh, no! I know everyone has their struggles. I know nobody is perfect." But still, our actions prove the fact that we seem to carry a secret fear that they might be!

I sat in the rows last night, and I opened my mouth and spoke - my insides a bundle of nerves and my voice all quavery and my eyes teary. My words were jumbled and I said things I hadn't planned to say and I was more than happy to have my turn behind me. But I learned from those rows of women! I identified with the moms struggling with parenting and the ones fighting to find a balance amongst all the voices of social media and the young girl who just started dating. I found security in the words of the older women who have been in my shoes and are now in challanging stages of their own. I found comfort in the expressions of another's grief; wisdom from the mom's with children older than mine. And I wondered, why do we dread this? Do we dread sitting down and having a good heart to heart talk with our best friends? What would happen if we sat in these rows more often and took the time to bare our hearts? What if we all became best friends? What would happen with a church full of best friends??

Knowing women, too often might end up being more detrimental then upbuilding, but still....it made me think. We need to hear each other's hearts. Many of our preconceived ideas, our pride and our fears, our secret jealousy and comparisons, could be put aside if we were given more chances to see past exteriors and into hearts. Or, maybe it's a personal choice. Maybe it would happen if we would each choose to allow others to see past our own exteriors more often!

I'm glad I sat amongst those rows last night. Glad each woman showed up with their nerves and their weaknesses, glad that we opened our mouths even though not a one of us would have claimed to feel prepared. Life is messy. We live in a broken, hurting world. While we are here, we need each other. We need to cry together, laugh together, hurt together, rejoice together, share together, as we hold hands and encourage each other onward. And, when the glorious day of our Home Going arrives, I hope to be amongst those same rows of women as we all receive the promise of Malachi 4:2 "But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. (No more broken world, Halleluia!!) And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture." NLT