Sunday, March 29, 2015

To The Bride

Dear Brand New Bride,

I was you, once upon a time, back what seems to be an amazingly long time ago. I wasn't so very young, although 22 seems a lot younger now than it did then, but I was very innocent. Maybe I should use the word naive, but I don't think it was that so much as innocence. In a lot of ways, I was like a small child who just doesn't know.....well, a lot of things!

I look at you, and I wonder, do you know?

Do you have any idea what it's like to become one with this man, to leave all and make a new unit, just the two of you? Do you have any concept of this man's deepest longings, how he'll crave your implicit trust and respect and you being his and his alone? Do you know that, in the same way that you want him to love you whether you're doing everything just right, you should submit to him whether he's loving you right or not? Do you have any grasp at all of the importance of sex to a man, how your willingness to give yourself wholly to him in this way makes him, in turn, want to move heaven and earth for his lady? Do you realize the vast difference in a man's needs from those of your own, do you realize how differently you think?

I wonder, have you had any bumps in your road yet - any arguments, any disagreements? Has he criticized your family, or you his? Has he 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 husband's hand, and the preacher kept repeating, "Marriage is hard work!" That phrase has been flung around as a joke in many conversations these past, almost 14, years. I know what the preacher was saying, and I'm assuming you do too. Marriage is not all rosy cheeks and shining eyes and beautiful bouquets of roses and knights in shining armour, of course not! But, excuse me for disagreeing dear preacher, marriage is not hard work either.

Is washing dishes hard work? Cleaning the toilet? Sweeping the floor? Not really. Do I always feel like doing them? No! Marriage isn't really hard work either, we just don't always feel like doing it! Marriage is only hard work if we make it hard work, dear Brand New Bride. When your heart is concentrated on loving your spouse, marriage is an easy job! When your eyes are turned upward and outward; when your focus is on what can I do for him? What does he need? What can I do to fulfill his deepest desires? marriage becomes a work of love. It's only when my focus turns downward and inward and all I can see is what would make me happy, what do I need, what would fulfill my deepest desires, that marriage becomes hard work. And, in all honesty, far too often my eyes are prone to the downward and inward position, and I know far too well what it's like to have marriage become hard work! But it doesn't need to be.

I was you, once upon a time, dear Brand New Bride, and if I could go back, I would choose to be you again. In spite of all the bumps and the lessons and the things to learn along the way, I would be you again in a heart beat! So, while looking at you makes me look back fondly and causes me to wonder, do you know? I wouldn't trade being a bride for anything. You will know, dear Brand New Bride, someday you will know. For now, embrace the innocence and be willing to learn. It doesn't all come in one big package, it comes in small, little snatches as you become one with this man you have chosen to marry. I have no doubt that, should the Lord grant me 14 more years as a bride, I will look back and say "do you know?" to the brides of only 14 years!

I was you, once upon a time, dear Brand New Bride. To you, I wish the very best of marriages! May the sheer bliss and happiness in your heart today carry you through the years. And, when marriage becomes "hard work" as it will sometime down the distant road, remember that it doesn't have to, and turn your eyes upward and outward and let it become a work of love.

All the Best to You,
Your Friend

*While it's true that adding a new sister-in-law this week end has stimulated my thoughts along this line, this is not necessarily written specifically to her...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


It's rainy. Rainy and drippy and wet. It's also Wednesday and I have many things on my list to be done before we leave Friday for the wedding. Why am I sitting here at my table, feet propped on a chair, not working on that list? I'm not really sure. Because I don't feel like it? Probably. Because when I don't write for days in a row I get twitchy and start searching for words, needing to get them out before I can go a step further? Maybe.

So, here I sit. The problem is, I'm not really sure what words are in there wanting to come out? Is it words about marriage, words to new brides, words that a wedding coming up have stimulated? Is it words about struggles, words about what a good example actually is, words that a friend's conversation at church have stimulated? Is it words about stressful projects and non stressful projects, words about what makes them one or the other, words stimulated by a stress free project this week?

They're all in there, but they'll have to wait their turn, I think. Of course, the possibility is always there that in the waiting they might end up being deleted completely, but that's just a risk that has to be taken -- waiting never hurt and deleting is sometimes a blessing in disguise! The fact of the matter is, there's a dress that didn't fit right that's been picked apart and must be sewed back together and finished Today, no.matter.what. There's a van that desperately needs cleaning out, dress pants that need pressing, a dirty, neglected floor that needs to be scrubbed within an inch of it's life (you can't leave with a dirty floor, didn't you know that?) There's clothes to be washed up, packing to be thought about......

So *deep breath* shove the words back and get with the program, lady. The dress. First of all, the dress...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Simple Christianity

Some days it feels like there should be so much more to life. Like there IS more, I just don't know how to get to it. I read about people who reach out of their comfort zones, folks who buy food for the homeless man, visit their neighbors on the other side of the tracks, make homes for the hurting children in this world. The flame in my heart flickers over these stories, and I wonder - when am I going to stop sitting here nodding my head and saying words? When am I going to stop being moved by the idea of being Jesus in shoe leather and actually do something?

Some days I feel so shallow, so surface-y, so white washed on the outside only. I say I'm a Christian, that my debts have been paid, my sins forgiven, my life changed, my heart made new. The truth is, I feel like the owner of a fancy, elaborate computer that has the ability to do thousands of things, and all I'm doing is typing out form letters in Times New Roman! Sure, we all enjoy reading letters, but what's the point of owning it all and using so little?

Some days I long to dig deeper. What is it that I'm missing? Is there something I've failed to do? Is there more that I just need to grab a hold of? Are there things in my past that I need to take care of? Are there failures, hurts, broken places that are affecting my 'now' and holding me back?

I'm not much of a philosopher. I like things that are practical; things that are simple and uncomplicated. Sometimes I think we enjoy the complicated processes. It sounds more spiritual and holy to 'deal with the past' and allow God to 'take us on journeys'. There seems to be something exhilerating about digging into our past and examining the pain and disappointments found there. I won't say there is never a time and a place for that, but sometimes I wonder if we become so in love with the complicated that we completely miss the simplicity of Salvation.

This morning I dealt with the chaotic business of getting four children out the door and to school on time with combed hair and clean clothes and something in their stomachs and lunch boxes and all their papers signed and in hand. I've been having these "Is there something more?" and "What am I missing?" kinds of questions for the past month or so. I'd been struggling with knowing whether some pain in the past needed to be looked at and God didn't really seem to be giving a clear answer. Chris and I talked about some of this, and suddenly I felt my focus shift: I've been making everything so complicated!

Maybe I do need to act and not just nod and say words. Maybe I do need to figure out how to do more with the elaborate computer in my possession. Could it be that the way to do that is much more simple than I imagined? Could it be that establishing and sticking with some morning procedures for my children might be more important right now than feeding the homeless man? Could it be that stepping up the discipline around here and curbing some whiny, bad attitudes might be more important right now than digging into my past pain? Could it be that doing my Mom job might be what I am missing rather than some great spiritual experience or truth?

Yes, there is always more to life; more to learn and grow in. But sometimes the 'more' is so simple that I fail to see it. Simple isn't always easy, it doesn't always bring the biggest high or the most recognition but it's really all my Father asks of me. And, if there's deeper, more complicated things? I know He can show me those too!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Just One Week

A week ago did a post with this title. I scrolled through her pictures and thought, "That's neat! I'm gonna do that." Pictures on my blog are always a bit awkward since I can't put captions right with the photos, but I decided I'd do it anyway.


Turns out this certainly wouldn't have been the week I would have chosen to do this, but here you go:

#1 ~ Monday. Glorious, lovely sunshine! Oh what fun to "help" daddy work.

#2 ~ Tuesday. Rain. Mud. Tuesday evening was the sewing and I would have gladly stayed home, especially when I discovered the gas light on in the van. But my man said, "Go." I came out to go home and found this on my steering wheel and the gas tank full!!

#3 ~ Wednesday. Nearly every day could have some variation of this picture. I've sewed and sewed. Wedding coming up!

#4 & 5 ~ Thursday. Dress up day at school for Jasmine. We had a Terrible Time coming up with an idea. Jasmine was sure that she hated dress up day! By the time she left for school she had to admit she rather liked it after all.... and this is where the week started going down hill and never stopped. This is how it looks when 3/4 of the family is sick.

#6 ~ Friday. And it doesn't start looking any better...

#7 ~ Saturday. This is what true love looks like. It's husband and wife finally dragging themselves out of bed because - what else can you do? and taking tylenol. It's the wife tackling laundry and a dirty bathroom and the husband going to get groceries and taking the 3 youngest along, just to be nice, and coming home with these.

#8 & 9 ~ Sunday. More juice and popcicles and pajamas.

So, that was my week. How was yours?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dear Mom,

There's a flu bug making it's rounds at our house, Mom, and I woke up at 3 a.m. thinking about you. I started with the unmistakable symptoms yesterday - aching head, stuffy/runny nose, chills in a nice, cozy house. And at 3 a.m. this morning, I woke up with an earache. I've actually very seldom had an earache, but that doesn't mean I don't know any tried and true remedies for one, thanks to you, Mom.

We never went to the doctor when I was growing up. I do mean that literally, almost. I remember going to the doctor one whole time before I got married and needed their prenatal services. That was, I believe, for a kidney infection when I was probably 11 or 12. I don't really think we were such an extra healthy lot, I think our maladies just didn't stand a chance against the home remedies thrown at them!

From as far back as I can remember, you had a remedy for everything, Mom. Sore throat? Gargle with salt water and drink honey and lemon in hot water; spray your throat with chloraseptic, that old spray bottle with the green liquid that lived in the medicine cabinet. If it was severe enough, you might get a batch of vinegar candy made to sooth your throat. I can also remember, as a child, going to bed with a hot, wet rag, covered with a dry one, pinned around my neck. I'm not really sure what that was supposed to do, but it did it, as I recall. A cold? Mega doses of vitamin C and good old Vicks were the first weapons in line. Of course the best thing of all (although you could hardly ever persuade anyone else to do it) was salt water up your nose. Cleared your sinus issues right up, supposedly! An earache, of course, required vicks on a cotton ball tucked into the offending ear.

There were also the many 'cure alls' over the years. I can't remember them all, but Ozie Compound was the thing for a few of us delicate, sickly souls. I don't remember how to spell it, but I certainly remember the image of that black, oily stuff in the little cup beside my plate every morning. It tasted like motor oil. Don't ask how we knew that; some things you just know! Then, there was the period of time that we passed the bottle of Sulfur around every morning, and each person stuck the handle of his spoon in and downed his little pile of the dry, powdery stuff. Sawdust, that's what that tasted like. I think corn bags could be included in the list of 'cure alls'. Just warm one in the microwave, and you were ready to cure anything!

It was for good reason we children would whisper our maladies to each other and add, "But don't tell Mom!!" We knew what the first question out of her mouth would be, "Did you take anything??" Our invariable answer was cause for much exasperation, "Weeelll, no." Although, on occasion we might state our affliction and add triumphantly, "And yes, I took something!" Why we wanted so badly to prove her remedies wrong, I'm not quite sure.

So it was, that I woke up at 3 a.m. with an earache and thought of you, Mom. I made my trek to the bathroom and crawled back in the cozy bed and couldn't sleep. I laid there for a while and fought the urge to get up and do what should be done. Finally, I gave in. I climbed back out from under the warm covers, dug around for the Vicks and a cottonball, and stuck the slathered thing in my ear. Then, I did one better. I groped in the dark for my rice sock, opened the microwave as quietly as I could and stuck it inside. While I waited for it to warm, I was tempted to check for a flannel night gown and house slippers!

Just wanted to tell you, all your home remedies were not in vain, Mom. Aren't you proud of me?

Love, Bethany

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Now You Know

I once read a motto which said something like - "If you don't have anything to say, don't let anyone persuade you to say it!"

So, I'm not.

Somehow I don't seem to have any words these days. The cold, dreary, cloudy, rainy, muddy days of the-end-of-winter slide by with an occasional glorious day of sunshine thrown in to remind us that Spring-Is-Coming!! My one priority right now is getting 4 dresses sewn for the brother-in-law's wedding coming up 2 weeks from Saturday. I'm tired of sewing. Actually, I think maybe I'm more tired of needing to keep up with a household and still sew 4 dresses, cause I Like to sew!

Just to add to the fun of it all, we're throwing in a flu bug that's making it's way from person to person. Fever, fatigue, a cough...that lays a person out for as much as 3 or 4 days. On a brighter note, we haven't had any earthquakes lately! :)

Really, life isn't so bad. My rather severe case of the glooms lately might have some thinking otherwise but it really isn't. If I'm honest, I know most of it is some darkness deep down inside that I haven't quite found the answer for. I've taken it to my Father, and He seems to have assured me that He will show me what needs to His time.

So, here I wait. And in the mean time, I must needs focus on the glorious sunshine that says Spring-Is-Coming and let God deal with the end-of-winter stuff. And if I don't say anything around here, now you know why!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just For You If........

On the off chance that any of you might have a snowy day with 5 children couped up in a house. And if, by some strange coincidence, you had seen a Clue game at the Goodwill recently that you were kicking yourself for not buying. AND, (hardly-possible-but-just-suppose) your school board decided to have no school on said snowy day and all you could think about was what a perfect day it would be to play Clue....... than this blog post is for you!

All you will need to fix your troubles is an abandoned Aldi box from which to cut the back (it can then go back to housing dolls and blankets and other such items, no harm done). Cardboard in hand, you will need an enthusiastic parent who is willing to dedicate a large portion of their morning to meticulously blocking of a half inch grid on said cardboard with ruler and pencil. In the mean time, take a paper and pen and write down the people, weapons and rooms used in the game of Clue. (Be sure to spend adequate time arguing over the rooms and weapons as not all games include the same names for these items!)

While the parent continues the intricate task of half inch squares, have one child cut 2'x3' cards and write the names of the people, weapons and rooms that were finally decided upon. Have another child make the papers to keep track of all your info while you play the game. Rob your Careers game of its dice and playing pieces. Fashion an envelope to place your suspect cards in.

Once the parent completes their tedious task, cut squares of paper to represent your rooms. Count the squares on your grid to determine how big these rooms need to be. Glue rooms in place and write their names in large letters. Mark the spaces for each playing piece and doorways to each room. At this crucial point is a great time to think of the idea to google "Clue playing board" to see a picture of how the board actually looks. Having done that, you may or may not discover that you have added an extra room to the game. You may, a) say "forget it" and play the game with an extra room or b) peel two rooms off the board and make one new one to take it's place, it all depends on the people in your family.

You are now ready to set up your game, deal your cards and let the fun begin!

P.S. To the parent: instead of focusing on the fact that it is now noon and you will need to make lunch soon, comfort yourself with the thought that you have saved yourself 99 whole cents at the Goodwill, and that the game you saw probably didn't have all the pieces to it anyway!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Tea Party

Last week was a rather 'navy' week for me. Maybe it was just *that time of the month* (Did any of the rest of you hate when your mom asked if that was the cause of your bad day?) Maybe it was that our week of winter break didn't really turn out to be that full of fun. Maybe it was mom guilt for feeling crazy after a week of five children in a small house. Maybe it was pain and heartache that weighed heavily in the back of my mind. Maybe it was just something wrong with my eyes, and the week was really all gold and white...

Whatever the case, when Friday rolled around and my husband was going to be gone for the evening taking the Quiz Team he had coached out for supper, and I realized I was going to be the sole adult making the evening a good one (again) and that my hopes for doing something fun on Saturday were crashed because of a brother-in-law who needs his house finished before his wedding in 4 weeks, I was cross. Cross and, I realized, jealous of every person who had gotten my husband's time all week! My children had even gotten to have turns helping work on the brother-in-law's house with dad. I was jealous of them too!

But, I'm a good girl. So I planned to have a 'tea party' with my girls since Isaac would be included in the going out to eat (Not fair, but there it was. I mean, it wouldn't have been out of place to take your wife along for the event, just saying). I even texted a friend about having her girls over for the evening, but they were out of state (doing what families should do during winter break...but anyway). I wrote up an invitation for my little ladies and planned a few things in my mind as I went about the day.

Evening came and I really wasn't in the mood y'all, just really wasn't. The man hadn't even brought the apple cider I'd requested from town and I just didn't have the energy! But, I figured something out for food and sent them into their room to get dressed up while I grabbed a piece of fabric from the cupboard for a table cloth and salvaged the best of the dying bouquet of flowers and pulled out doilies. And then the phone, I tucked it on my shoulder and kept going. And then Charles woke up from his late nap on the couch and was a total grouch and the person on the phone didn't take hints and the timer went off for the oven and I finally barged into the dressing room and deposited him there while I pulled my slightly crisp pizzas from the oven and threw away all element of surprise and asked the girls what plates and cups to use and slapped the rest of the things together and said go ahead and eat while I go put some clothes on!

The whole thing felt like the poor girl who can't play volleyball to save her life and all her team mates are politely saying "Good try!" when, in reality, it wasn't anything but a terrible fail. To my shock, my girls ooooohhhed and aaaahhhed and "thanked me so much for doing this" and "they're so glad it was just us" and "thank you mom"! Only two of us actually drank hot tea, the other cups contained cold tea, water and tang. Nothing was perfect, and the mom wasn't even feeling very sweet, but they loved it and it was a good time.

The moral of the story? I have my theories, but maybe you should tell me!