Friday, March 31, 2017

Marriage: Knowing It All And Still Learning

Going on sixteen years of a healthy marriage can lend itself to a certain illusion of wisdom and the sense of having arrived. That sounds very conceited and hopelessly snobby and braggy but seriously, you've kind of heard it all by now.

He needs respect, she needs love; yes. Men's minds have boxes, women's minds are all interconnected; yup. He can't read her mind; uh huh. Men and women don't speak the same language; tell me about it.

It gets to the point where you even start recognizing the examples speakers use before they ever get to their punch line: "So, let's say you're taking your wife out to eat. You ask her, 'Where would you like to eat, honey?'........." Yeah, yeah, yeah. For the record, when I say I don't care where we eat, I really don't care but I know what your point's gonna be.

By sixteen years, it's pretty rare that you hear a new idea on marriage. I mean, you just know all this stuff now.

If I'm perfectly honest though, the truth about nearly sixteen years of marriage is that I'm still learning.  I'm still coming up against instances that threaten to tear my marriage apart; days when I am sure my mistakes can never be forgiven; faults that I am sure I will never understand how to deal with. It's one thing to know all the marriage wisdom and teaching in the world, it's another thing entirely to believe it and remember it in the moment. And sometimes you do hear things said in a different way that make you say, Oh. Really? Never thought of it quite like that before.

Tuesday Chris took a day off just to take me shopping. Should I repeat that? Don't hate me, I know he's amazing! He took me to Holmes County to shop fabric and thrift stores just because he likes me. No birthday, No anniversary or Valentine's day.... Ok. I'll stop.

Anyway, if you'll remember, he has this thing about thrift stores and old cassettes. While I head straight for the clothes, shoes and purses, he makes his way to check out the tape selection. Our very first stop, he came away with a stack of four. One was a cassette our oldest loved when he was three that had long since gotten lost, I could hardly believe my eyes! Another was this gem:

Never heard of the guy but we "got to know him" on our drive home. We even each had our "Really?" moments as we listened.

He broke this news to the men - "You're never going to be as appreciated as you think you should be." Really? Did you know that's how the men feel, ladies? My husband sure agreed with him anyway.

And he told this story, "My wife can come from the back bedroom as if a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom. She'll come out, kinda droopy, falling apart about what just happened. She'll sit next to me on the couch. She will tell me her problem in the back bedroom, and I - in all my wisdom and knowledge and vast counseling experience (7 years of Greek, 3 1/2 years of Hebrew) - give her the answer to her problem in the back bedroom. Now she turns on me. She doesn't want an answer to her problem in the back bedroom! No woman wants an answer. All she wants to know is, do you care? Hu? Do you care that a nuclear blast just took place in the back bedroom? That's all I wanna know! Because, if you care, then I'll go back and clean it up. But, if you don't care, there will be another nuclear blast right here in the living room!" I liked that story. And Chris will, undoubtedly, try the seemingly absurd "I'm so sorry, I really care" line sometime to see if it actually works.

Yes, marriage. I wonder how God came up with something so intricately complicated?

The true blessing of nearly sixteen years of a healthy marriage is this: When real life happens - When there are misunderstandings; when you don't speak each other's language; when you are in the moment and forget all the marriage wisdom and teaching you ever heard, underneath it all there is a solid knowing. You've crossed rivers and built bridges with this person; you've soared and fallen and gotten up again; you've loved and been loved. At the end of the day, you're still learning but the strength of the knowing propels you on to dig deeper and love more perfectly.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Ugly

Every Friday a little group of us on Facebook joins to write for five minutes on a prompt that's posted Thursday evening. If you think you might enjoy it, you can check it out here.

I'm digging back in the archives and posting something I wrote in December for the prompt "Ugly". Yes, we have some odd prompts sometimes! Surprisingly, those odd ones can turn out to be the most interesting.



Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ugly is not a permanent state of being. Is there anything ugly that cannot be transformed?

A smile on the face that looked so plain....

A sweet spirit discovered in the person who once looked un-likeable...

A coat of paint on the house that once looked un-liveable...

Fresh clothes on the child that was dirty and bedraggled...

A cleaned up room in place of the mess and clutter...

A sanding and refinishing job done to the old, old table and chairs...

A beautiful yard and flowerbeds where once there was endless brush and briars....

An apology from the person who hurt you so badly....

Peace in the heart that was full of turmoil and questions....

The transformation of Jesus in the heart full of sin...


May you have eyes to see beyond the ugly things in your life to the beauty of transformation and redemption. Happy weekend!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Don't let the title excite you too much.
I'm "rewarding" myself
for crossing things off 
my list all day
by sitting down 
and doing something fun.

Recently a blogger friend posted 
baby pics of her children
and it inspired me to 
look back and do the same.

Mine are poor quality
phone pictures of pictures
but I decided not to care
because it was fun looking back
and comparing 
and remembering.
When did those baby days 
turn into these big people
in my house days??

Let's go on before I need to
 search for kleenex....

Here are the boys,
on their first Sundays
of going to church



Here are the girls,
all wearing the same dress
for their two month pictures




And here is
every last one of them
wearing the same sleeper!


Okay, back to the present
 and the work at hand.
 All these big people, with their stories and backpacks and hungry stomachs will need to be picked up
 from school soon....

Friday, March 17, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Warmth

Sitting here in my nice, cozy house looking out at clouds and snowflakes and a cold, barren landscape. Back in December the prompt for one Friday was "Warmth". This seems fitting on this chilly, wintry day.


There's the warmth in your eyes,
The warmth in a handshake,
The warmth of a hug,
The warmth in your voice,
The warmth in one's heart.

There's the warmth of a cuddly baby,
The warmth of a tiny hand in yours,
The warmth of little arms around your neck,
The warmth of my teen's approval,
The warmth of a shared laugh.

There's the warmth of a fire,
The warmth of a home,
The warmth of the sun,
The warmth of fleece,
The warmth of a pile of covers.

There's the warmth of love,
The warmth of hope,
The warmth from peace,
The warmth of joy,
There's the warmth of knowing God is in Heaven and all is right with the world.


May your weekend be filled with warmth!

Monday, March 13, 2017

One Little Egg And That Treasure In Heaven Thing

Since January's writing spree, the idea of laying up treasure in heaven still colors my days. My husband faithfully runs it by me when I'm dragging my feet about oh, say, going away when I would rather stay in my own cozy house. Or when I'm feeling taken advantage of or when I'm wondering if I should do a project.

I need reminders constantly because I forget. It's not become the lens through which I see life yet. That's pretty evident when you answer a 'blue' text with "chalk it up to storing up treasure in heaven" and a couple days later, when you're the one sending the 'blue' text and the response comes back, "treasure in heaven!" you have to laugh because it never crossed your mind.

I had a lot of fun with this school dress up day business but when it was nearly bedtime and I was still working on details... Well, that's when the "treasure in heaven" text caught me by surprise and made me laugh. It's true though, it really does start at home.

I still struggle with thinking that the 'big things' are really where the treasure is at. Friends of ours recently took in a tiny foster baby with hopes of adopting; I read about being involved with neighbors - striking up conversations over food and fellowship, welcoming children in for a cookie. I get these Noble Ideas blown up in my mind and wonder what I should be doing? And then I realize I'm too chicken to even go ask my neighbor for an egg.

I'm really rather embarrassed to even tell you the egg story but just in case any of you think I have it all together, let me knock that notion out of your mind.

When we were working on our new house, one of my daughters kept wondering, "When will we get to know our neighbors?" I answered her vaguely and thought Big Thoughts of having the neighborhood over for an evening of fellowship some day. Like a friend told me with a laugh at church yesterday, "I do a lot of thinking. If I did everything I thought, I would be a wonderful person!" I am a lot like my friend.

Last week I was making a meal for a church family and halfway in, with multiple dishes in various stages of mixing, I realized I needed one more egg! It was too late to switch gears without really having a problem, one of them being enough time. Four years of living in my mother-in-law's yard - which is basically like living next to a store - had me spoiled. What to do?

I could drive the three miles to my mother-in-law's or I could run to the store or I could call a neighbor and beg. The neighbors next door have been over to see our house and we've gifted them with cinnamon rolls since we moved, so I didn't hesitate too long over dialing their number. But nobody answered.

Well, I'd finish up some things and try again, I decided. My other option was our Amish neighbor down the hill. I was a little ashamed that we had never met them yet and not too excited about having our first meeting be because I needed an egg!

My second phone call still brought no answer, and I waffled back and forth. I really just did not have the nerve to walk up to a stranger's door and ask for an egg. On the other hand, there was the Lord in my ear saying, "You admire so-and-so for her involvement with her inter-city neighbors, the ones on drugs and with horrible home lives, and you can't even go ask your Amish neighbor for an egg?!"

Really now, how silly.

You would not believe the courage it took to go do what I knew I should, all for one silly little egg. Of course, she was the nicest lady you ever met, with four sweet little girls peering at me with shy eyes, and I came away with a light heart and finished my meal.

I don't believe God measures 'big things' with the same scale that I do. I long for Him to keep teaching me, and His faithfulness with something as silly as one little egg makes me confident that He will.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five Minute Friday: Smells

I'm still doing the little project I talked about here. It's a fun little group where I share a writing prompt every Thursday night and then Friday, if we have time or are in the mood, we set our timer for five minutes and write and share. I think I will start sharing some of mine occasionally, just for fun. Today's prompt was given by a member of the group: Let's talk about smells. What scent brings you alive, triggers particular memories, or influences your mood? Let's try to transport each other.

My mind went immediately to a scent from my childhood and, while I could have written so much more, this is what came out in 5-ish minutes. (We're not super strict  with our rules and three year olds will interrupt...)

I am a child again, riding on the back of my father's pickup. It is the middle Saturday of our church's two weeks of summer Bible school, and we're headed to the traditional, in-between-Saturday picnic. The wind whips our hair, and as we turn onto the bumpy, winding dirt road, we find hand holds to keep us in place and look out for low hanging branches. The road is long, and our seats a mite uncomfortable but at last the air begins to cool and my nose picks up the peculiar, familiar smell. It is a dank and musty smell, and my nose tingles at the fishy, mineral laced odor. The smell spells sand and driftwood and water. It triggers memories of tables laden with finger food, volleyball on a sandy court played by all ages, children splashing in the frigid waters of the White River, while mothers keep a sharp eye on anyone straying out too far. I breathe deeply and inhale the earthy, damp odor and smile.

Even now when I smell it, I invariably observe, "That smells like the White River!"

Is there a scent that immediately evokes strong memories for you like the river scent does for me?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Six Years

Six years ago today, I googled "how to start a blog", and hit publish for the first time.

Hello Blogging!

Well, I've been wanting to jump. Been standing on on the edge waiting to see if I would actually dare ... So here goes! :)  I love to write.  Always have been able to express myself better with pen, paper or keyboard much better then with verbal words.  In the last 6 or 8 months I stumbled onto the world of blogging and found myself intrigued and wanting to jump in and try the water.

Now  that I've jumped I'll confess that I'm not quite sure what I expect out of or plan for this space. Basically it's just a place to share what's going on in my life, whether it's my children's funny stories, how my day went, personal struggles or a truth God is showing me. I'm finding that it's really all this common, every day ness that I'm about that is My Father's Business for me.  Sometimes i'd like to make His business for me something more flashy or dramatic but in reality it's this.  And I think by accepting "this" and viewing it for what it is can actually transform the regular into something special.

So! That's a bit of what I'm thinking and whether anyone reads or not, I think I will be bettered for having "picked up my pen" and letting my thoughts and ideas have an avenue of escape :)

Six hundred and fourty posts later, I think I would say I have been 'bettered' by blogging.

A lot has changed since that day six years ago. Back then I was mother to four - 6 months, almost 2 years, 7 years and 8 1/2 years. We were living in Arkansas and my world was just about to get rocked with the idea of moving our family to Ohio. I wonder how I would have felt had I been able to see six years into the future? Frankly, I'm glad I can't see ahead six more years!

There's more than one reason that I blog. The first is one I've written about before, the fact that I accepted the gift of writing and told God I would use it. Perhaps second to that is being able to look back and track God's hand through the years.

My mom was a writer. She loved stories and shared many of her own through countless letters and various articles. Now that she is gone, I am grateful for every recorded story and incidence I can get my hands on. I will never forget my mom but who she was and how her life shaped mine is soon lost in the passing of generations. Written words have the power to carry those details on to others.

That doesn't mean everyone should have a blog, of course. But I would encourage you to tell your stories or, better yet, write them down. It is intriguing to hear the stories of grandparents and realize what shaped my parents and how that affected my life. We learn so much from the inspirations and challenges of other people's lives. Interesting fact is, some of my most read posts are my June 'how we met' stories!

I don't know what the next six years will hold, it's probably good I don't. But I expect I'll still be here, sharing bits and pieces of it with you. As I read back through the archives, it's much easier to trace God's hand than when I was in the moment. That ability to see His trustworthiness in the past, gives me confidence I can trust Him for the future.

Happy Birthday, little blog. You have taught me many things. I have loved and hated you by turns and your presence in my life has added laughter and tears. Sometimes I wonder if I should plan for your funeral but your little, flickering flame always manages to stay lit. You have managed to weave your way into my life, opening my eyes to the stories and lessons in the everyday of my days. You have introduced me to people I would have never known otherwise; given me opportunities I never imagined six years ago when I timidly took the jump. You've grown up, little blog. I don't know what you'll look like six years from now but thank you for bettering my life.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Life's Meaning

I've been off for several days at a Tire Convention with my husband. What these occasions mean for me is:

* Getting to go to cool places - this year it was New Orleans!

*Staying in fancy hotels

The view from our balcony

*Entering into my husband's world by going to workshops with him

*Hanging out in our room alone with lots of time to read, think, redo my blog, sleep, worry wonder about how my children are doing....

*Spending amazing amounts of time alone with my favorite man

*Eating food I did not prepare

*Staying in a room
I did not have to clean

*Observing a world completely different from my own

A world of well dressed business people who consider wine, fancy dining and loud music a good time, is a little mind blowing

It's pretty amazing.

Every single time we get to do this, I have this huge struggle with trusting my husband that it's okay to leave home and enjoy such luxury. I'm not even going to go there. I can imagine that every mom reading this completely understands the struggle I'm referring to. I think maybe this year I learned a few things but it's something that always threatens to ruin the lovely time long before the day comes to leave home. 

There's a lot rolling around in my mind and I'm not quite sure how to say it. I think mothers everywhere understand me when I say that so many, many days we would love to get away from it all. The dailyness of life wears us down --the countless jobs we do over and over, the constant demands on our time and emotions, the selfless giving that is necessary to be a good wife and mother.

I love being a wife and mother, don't get me wrong; I'm sure you do too. But it's exhausting. It never ends and we're always thinking about what we need to do next, and taking care of everyone else's needs besides our own. Getting away from it all often sounds very, very enticing.

Well, I've been there, away from it all.

It was great. I was able to lay down my fears and worries and mistrust and enjoy the time, I really did.

Riding the glass elevator to the 27th floor

Chris and I talked and laughed and shared an intimacy and oneness that often gets lost in the daily grind of life. We relaxed and enjoyed people watching....

These two gentlemen on bikes, who were shopping at Dollar General had to win the
 'Most Entertaining' prize!

 ....and the loveliness of nature....

....and observing a different culture.

The convention coincided with Louisiana's Mardi Gras festival which was quite interesting

We even took the chance to stop on the way and visit friends we hadn't seen for years and years. It was amazing.

But you know what? Several days in, I discovered something. I was done now. You know why? My life didn't have much meaning when I was away from it all. 

God created me to fill a certain spot in this world. That spot includes endless meals to be cooked, dishes to be washed, floors to be scrubbed, laundry to be done, squabbles to be settled, tummy aches to be soothed, stories to be read, hugs to be given, tears to be wiped, lessons to be taught, truth to be modeled. Filling that spot is what brings meaning and fulfillment to my life.

In the middle of it all, it's easy to lose perspective. Being a mom is just what I do - the floors have to be swept, school lunches have to be packed, children have to be instructed and clothed and fed and loved. I forget that I am created especially for this niche, that this is where I belong; where I thrive and grow and make a difference. 

Sometimes getting what entices us makes us realize how much we appreciate what we have.

I was intruiged by the Spanish moss...

Since I am not only a mother but also a wife, I think time spent with my husband is invaluable. It is important that I place high importance on our relationship. If you and your husband get a chance to get away, by all means do it! Stop worrying about your children and all your responsibilities and what people might think.

...and the racaus, rowdy Mardi Gras parade

You don't need company paid trips and exotic destinations. You don't have to have several days; even an afternoon is great. And, maybe you don't need to get away at all. But please, do realize that you were specially created for the niche where God has you and that those daily, never ending responsibilities and demands are what really brings meaning and purpose to your life.

Go out and straighten your shoulders. Take a deep breath and find joy in the spot where God has placed you!