Monday, June 18, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 11

#11: Be flexible or be miserable.

This one is probably not something that will apply to all wives. Not all of you are married to men who like to plan things spur of the moment and who hate to set anything in stone. But I am. And this quote is perfection.

Long, long ago in the nursing baby, toddler potty training, diaper bag schlepping days, I somehow embraced tried to imbrace the importance of being flexible. I'm so glad I did.

Chris was a small business owner back then, building and installing kitchen countertops in all manner of kitchens. I have so many good memories of dragging my little kiddos out to the job.  Chris loved to have us there to help him clean up or to give him an extra set of hands or to just keep him company.

Sometimes the houses were new ones and we had the place to ourselves to run around and play Hide and Seek or I Spy. Other times we met the owners who gave our children chocolate chip cookies or sent home vintage toys or boxes of multi colored dominoes they still play with today. I remember one dear old lady who played Uno with my little tots. There were a few customers we made friends with and went back to visit long after their countertops were completed.

It wasn't that taking down directions to an obscure place, loading everyone up and keeping them happy throughout the process was always easy or convenient. I had my days when I drug my feet or grouched my way through. Sometimes I had to say no, I just can't do it today. But I'm so glad for all the times I dropped everything and went.

You never know how much time you have left to spend with each other. Sure, his spur of the moment, decide-as-you-go stuff annoys me sometimes. I learned long, long ago that you don't ever tell your children any plans until the last minute. Sure as you tell them earlier, plans will change and you'll be left dealing with disappointed kiddos. But it's always worth dropping my plans in order to spend time together. No one ever got to the end of their lives and wished they wouldn't have spent so much time with their loved ones.

So,yes. Seventeen years of marriage has changed me quite a lot in the flexibility department. You never know when you might get a call asking "Can you go pick up some tires and bring them to the shop?" or "Be ready to go out for supper when I get home!" It keeps life interesting and it sure isn't worth being miserable about.

Friday, June 15, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 10

#9: Giving my body to my husband means more than I will ever understand.

Intimacy in marriage is sacred; it is not something to go around blabbing about lightly, I understand that. On the other hand, it is also a vital part of marriage; a special element created by God to provide endless layers of beauty and amazement. I can't help but think that makes it an important thing to talk about!

The question is, how to talk about it and what to say and leave unsaid? Because I don't know the answers to those questions, I will keep this very brief and simple.

As a rule, men are born with a substantially higher sex drive than women. This is a well known, well documented fact. Sadly, modern American society has begun characterizing a man's need for sex as a bad thing. Men in America today are portrayed as lust filled sex addicts who are out of control. The truth is, men were created with a desire for sex in the same way that women were created with a desire for love. To a man, his wife's love is spelled S E X.

As I have slowly begun to grasp this concept, I've also come to recognize another fact. To my husband, intimacy is so much more than the act itself. God created men with an inborn desire to conquer, protect, provide, achieve. When I give my body to my husband and allow him to love me physically, to take possesion of my entire being and to become one with me, it does something for him deep inside. My willingness to give myself to him empowers him to love me in fierce, undying, beautiful ways.

Every time that I lay down my stress, my moods, my weariness, my frustration, my tense listening for children, my selfishness... The gift that I give to my husband and my marriage is of far greater value than I can begin to measure. For it is in giving, that we receive.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 9

#9: My husband needs down time too.

I hear a lot these days about self care for women. There's a huge push for mothers, particularly, to create time for themselves. We're encouraged to make space for doing something creative or getting away alone occasionally in order to recharge and, ultimately, be a better mom.

I get it.

Honestly, blogging is probably one of those 'self care' things for me. I do it for myself more than anything else. It gives me a place to process in writing, which is the way I process best. It gives me an outlet for some of my creativity, it's something I make time for that's just for me.

We don't usually think of men needing down time. They go to work and then get off work and come home. A man's job is not 24/7 like a mother's; now is the time for him to help her out, right?

Some men come home and hide behind the newspaper. Some have a hobby they tinker with or maybe they like to read or keep up on the sports/world news. Maybe they enjoy golfing or playing volleyball with a local team or hunting or fishing or shooting hoops with some buddies. Chris likes to play computer games.

We've had a lot of head knocking in our marriage over that issue. I was sure sometimes that he loved those games more than he loved his wife. And he probably did sometimes. For good reason. After all, computer games don't nag.

Of course, it's not just all one sided. Men can be addicted to their hobbies and their work and fail to spend the time with their wife and children that they should. For me though, my attitude was the biggest thing that needed an adjustment.

When I realized that my husband needs down time too and that sitting there, playing a game, was his way to relax and unwind after a long day, I became much more understanding. I stopped being bitter about my 'competition' and even discovered Chris loved to have me sit beside him while he relaxed. In fact, the more understanding and tolerant I am of his need for down time, the less he seems to need it.

Whether that is actually true may be debatable. Possibly it's just my focus that makes all the difference. Then again, maybe he just enjoys spending time with a wife who's not nagging.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 8

#8: Express appreciation for what your husband does. Over and over. Many times. Sincerely.

We all like to be appreciated for what we do. Children light up and go the extra mile when they are praised; a weary Mom receives new courage from a child's simple thank you or a stranger's quiet compliment. There are many stories of students who's teacher made all the difference in their lives because she praised them for what they did well. Men aren't any different.

I don't think we've been taught very well to express appreciation to our men. We get this idea that men are tough, they're not feelings oriented, they're logical and stoic; expressing appreciation isn't that important.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Tell him. Tell him you appreciate how he goes to work day after day to make a living, tell him how you appreciate when he offers to help, tell him how you love to see him interacting with your children, tell him you appreciate how he hangs up his towel, tell him, tell him, tell him. Tell him how much you appreciated him doing the thing you asked him plainly to do. I know you secretly think if he really loved you, you wouldn't have to ask. But you asked and he did it! He didn't have to; express your appreciation.

You want to know something? A lot of men don't want to do things for their wives because they feel like they can't ever do enough; what's the point? Translation: they don't feel appreciated.

"I can do all that stuff for her and she's not even going to appreciate it. She just expects me to do it because she thinks it's what I should be doing."

There is power in expressing appreciation. It means just as much to a man as it does to anyone else.

Tell him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 7

#7: My husband wants to be told plainly, not hinted to.

I am not a straightforward person, so maybe this one is particularly for me. But I don't think so. I think this is pretty strictly a female idea: "If my husband does something for me, it doesn't mean anything if I asked him to do it."

Know what I'm saying?

How many of you mothers with little children have gone through the rush and flurry of getting out the door on a Sunday morning thinking one frustrated thought -- "If he really cared about me; if he really loved me, he would see that I need help and offer to do something!!"

Or, how about this. It's Thursday and the grass really needs to be mowed and you know that Friday night your husband won't be at home and Saturday the chances of rain are very high and you really, really want the grass cut because you're planning to have company on Sunday. Do you sit down and explain all of that to him plainly? Or do you make a few subtle hints about everything that needs to be done before Sunday and look how tall the grass is getting already and wonder why he doesn't get it that it would be nice if he would offer to mow tonight?

Tell the man! Tell him. He cannot read your mind.

He cannot always know what restaurant you really want to go to or when you wish he would wash the dishes or which evening it would be so helpful if he would bathe the toddler or when you are reaching a breaking point and really need some alone time or that picking up his socks every morning is really making you angry or how you feel about having sex tonight.

Sometimes he will know. Sometimes he will offer to bring pizza home for supper or have the house all cleaned up when you come back from being gone or put the baby to sleep when you are exhausted or think about mowing the grass Thursday because you're getting company Sunday. But most of the time he wishes you would just tell him.

That doesn't mean that every time you just tell him, he's going to sweetly do every little thing you want. But most of the time husbands love to make their wives happy. And they love knowing how to make them happy.

How can they know how if you don't tell them?

Monday, June 11, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 6

#6: Learning each other's love language is interesting and helpful.

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm a fan of love languages, personality tests, the four countries and the like. It's so interesting to see the differences in how people do life and I like tidy little lists that show how it works. If you're not like that, that's fine. I know it can get a little over done sometimes.

When we got married, The Five Love Languages must have been the new, hot book on the market. We were gifted at least two, if not three, copies. I enjoyed the book, so that was a good thing.

Recently, I came across an online test for not only spouses, but also children. I promptly put my whole family through the questioning process. Poor people. But it was so intriguing!

In case this is all Greek to you....

In short, the book outlines five different ways people feel loved: 1) Through Acts Of Service, 2) Through Quality Time Spent Together, 3) Through Words Of Affirmation, 4) By Receiving Gifts, 5) Through Physical Touch. It's possible that several of them make a person feel loved but most of us have one that is our main "love language".

Again, this is just another way to learn what makes the other person tick and helps me know how to live my life accordingly.

For example, gifts are at the bottom of, or next to the bottom of, both Chris and my list of love languages. That might explain why we can count on one hand the gifts we gave each other while dating. And, guess what? It also eliminates any pressure to spend lots of time and money on gifts for each other, because that's not what makes either of us feel the most loved anyway!

Also, I scored a big fat 1 on Physical Touch and Chris scored a 7 as his next to the top love language. Let's just say that might explain... many things.

Also number three. It was extremely interesting to find that Chris scores high on all but one of the love languages. I guess I can either take that to feel overwhelming -- I need to fill so many languages. Or I can take that as a bonus -- it gives me so many ways to choose from.

Also number four. It was even more interesting to note that our whole family scores very low on Receiving Gifts and high on Acts Of Service and Quality Time. Does that mean your love language is affected by how you are brought up? Because we definitely are a family who has always focused on those things. Or are gifts actually really low on all of our radar? I would have leaned toward thinking the parent's focus might affect their children but then, I have one child who's highest score is Physical Touch and that pretty much comes out of nowhere so I'm not so sure that holds true.

Ok. This is getting off subject now and getting over done. I'll stop.

Except, one more thing. The Four Countries idea is a new one for me and was extremely helpful in understanding some of the differences in our marriage. I encourage you to check out the link and then go ahead and listen to the rest of Mark Gungor's stuff on marriage. Good, good stuff!

Now I'm done.

Friday, June 8, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 5

#5: Respect is the most important language a wife can learn.

I've written before how eye opening and life changing the book Love And Respect by Emerson Eggerichs has been for me. It's hard to corral all my thoughts on this subject into a concise, little blog post.

Respect is not a woman's mother tongue; it will not just come naturally. For a long time I struggled with the respect thing because I didn't know how. I couldn't even recognize when I did things that were disrespectful, so how could I learn to speak the language? I remember praying, "God, would you please show me? Please teach me?"

I am still learning.

One of the things that has probably helped me the most is learning to believe that if my husband says something felt disrespectful, than it was. It's easy to just argue "I didn't mean it that way!" I probably didn't. But that doesn't change the fact that it felt that way to him. If I don't acknowledge and believe how it felt to him, how am I ever going to learn his language?

Treating my husband with respect means learning what makes him feel respected, not doing what I think is respectful.

Around the time that I begged God to teach me how to respect, I kept a 'respect journal' for awhile. Every day I would write down anytime I was reminded to act respectfully and did it or anytime I did not act respectfully and realized it later. I think that exercise helped me a lot in gaining awareness of what respect really looks like to my husband.

These days respect is still not my mother tongue. But it's a much more familiar second language! I still don't always speak it fluently or eloquently but I am much more quick to realize my mistakes and try to correct them. That's how you learn.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 4

#4: Men and women really do think differently, act differently, speak differently; they speak different languages. Live like you believe it.

We all know this; we've heard it since forever -- Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus; The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs ... Right off the top of your head you can think of a stack of books on the subject and that's not even scratching the surface.

How many couples actually live like they believe it?

I'm not your bright and shining example of this. In the book Love And Respect, Emerson Eggerichs talks about men and women seeing, hearing and speaking in different colors. I confess that far too often I revert back to doing life through my pink lenses. In the heat of a moment, I forget to stop and think, "Oh, wait. He has blue hearing aids and he really is hearing disrespect, no matter how much I honestly did not mean it that way."

If I believe something, it changes the way I live.

Last fall, at church camping, our four year old wandered off and got lost. It was a terrifying experience; one that I still can't think about for too long. Before that happened, I would have never thought that he would do that. I would have said I didn't think he was that type. Now? You better believe I've kept a close tab on that child ever since. Belief makes all the difference.

We're not going to change the differences in men and women's thinking; we were made that way for a reason. But we can learn about the differences, believe that they're true and then adjust the way we relate accordingly.

Again, I'm not your poster child for this. Chris is my shining example in this area and I've learned a lot from him! I didn't realize it at first, but at least half of the rest of my posts are directly related to this whole idea. It's so, so important in a marriage.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 3

#3. The indescribable feeling that this person completes me.

I remember the first time I felt incomplete without Chris, and it was actually before we were married.

Chris and I dated for nearly two years. For the last half of that time, I lived in Virginia, volunteering at a home for mentally handicapped children. Long before my year of service was up, we were engaged, planning a wedding and Chris was threatening 'honorable' ways to get me discharged early. He was also nearly putting his mother through the roof over his daily phone calls. (Does the payphone make sense now?)

Near the end of my term, six of us staff took a group of residents on a PR trip. I don't remember the exact amount of time we were gone, at least a week. But I do remember the feeling of something being missing because I couldn't share it with Chris. I hadn't realized how much those daily phone calls had become a part of my life nor how much the man himself had begun to complete me. The experience of traveling and giving programs was rich, memorable and enjoyable but not nearly as much so without him to share it with. The late night phone call when our group finally stopped at my home place was definitely a much looked forward to one.

Of course, that feeling has only deepened and grown in the 17 years we've been married. Eventually your partner becomes as much a part of you as your right hand and completes your abilities and very life as much as having two feet. It's hard to describe the feeling of another person completing you and even harder to imagine doing life without them and I certainly wouldn't want it any other way.

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 2

#2: There are some things we will never agree on. Agree to disagree or come up with an agreeable compromise.

Chris and I agree on a lot of things. I would venture to say we agree on more things now than we did 17 years ago. But there are some things we will probably never quite agree on.

This is maybe a small thing, but for example, food.

I grew up in a family where the children were required to eat a little bit of everything prepared; and my mom liked to prepare a wide variety. We tried salad and squash and okra and lima beans and sour kraut and poke greens... I still think it was good for us.

My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a family that ate main dish and vegetables and that was about it. They weren't required to try odd things, but then again, there weren't very many odd things to try because that isn't what their mother prepared.

I like to say my husband isn't a picky eater, he just doesn't like anything unusual. This includes any kind of casserole with many different things mixed together, any salad that is not just lettuce, meat, eggs and cheese, and absolutely nothing that includes mayonnaise or chunks of onion and celery.

Early in our marriage we made a compromise. Our children would be required to eat main dish and vegetables, but other things would be optional.

I confess that I struggled with that compromise sometimes. Mostly I struggled when we were eating with others, like my mom, who believed tasting everything was included in the Bible somewhere. But fighting over the issue just wasn't worth it. What would I have gained? I really don't think the little I may have gained in the diversity of my children's diets would have been worth the strain on our relationship.

And, 17 years in I must admit, people's stomachs are just different. Celery and mayonnaise do actually make my husband's stomach upset and, honestly, I still don't like cantaloupe, no matter how many times I've tried it.

Monday, June 4, 2018

17 Things From 17 Years: Post 1

#1: Never stop saying I love you and giving a good-bye and welcome home kiss.

The very first day my brand new husband went off to his brand new job, he began a tradition. After saying "I love you" and kissing me good-bye, he went out to his vehicle. Then, he turned around and came back in for one more kiss.

I could probably count on one hand the days he hasn't kept up his tradition since. It doesn't matter where we've lived, what the weather is doing or what time it is. When he goes out the door, I can count on him re-appearing at least once for one last kiss.

Except for that one day when our oldest was little and I told him, "Don't come back in. So often when you come back, the baby wakes up and I just want him to sleep longer!"

I changed my mind quickly.

The very next morning I said, "Please come back in. That felt completely wrong yesterday. I'd much rather have another kiss than to have the baby sleep a little longer!"

In the evening when he comes home from work, it's rare that I don't take a moment to greet him with a welcome home kiss.

These little actions may seem small and insignificant in some ways. But 17 years of marriage have taught me it's often the little things that provide the strongest glue in a relationship. Saying "I love you" and knowing that second -- and sometimes third or fourth -- kiss is coming in the morning, and taking a moment to greet my man when he comes home at night is one small way we keep the stars shining in our eyes.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Seventeen Years

Seventeen years ago Chris and I said, "I do."

I'd do it all over again. Although it would be nice to skip a few things along the path from there to here.....

Of course, the truth is, if we skipped those things we probably wouldn't be exactly where we are now. The things along the path have a way of teaching us and shaping who we become. So, I guess I really would do it all over again.

Last weekend Chris and I spent  a few days away to relax and celebrate our anniversary.  We made no big nor fancy plans, just a motel a couple hours from home and whatever we decided to do. It was lovely, and so very "us". He required me to buy fabric for myself and loaded up on more snacks and sub supplies than we would begin to eat.

We lazed around and talked and hashed and talked some more. We learned a few things and understood a few things better and solved quite a few of the world's problems for them. We took a lovely walk and played a few games and then Chris got sick for the last day and night and that wasn't so lovely at all.

Mostly, we just enjoyed each other. What a gift that is.

A shared sense of humor is a gift, too. A few weeks ago we all went on a little drive on a Sunday evening and took a walk along the lake. Somewhere along the line we got started taking pictures of each other. It dissolved into hilarity quickly.

We laughed the hardest over Lillian's photo prop idea. There was an old payphone along our way, and Chris had been telling the children how he used to call me on a payphone while we were dating so he wouldn't have to hear the fussing about the phone bill he shouldn't be running up. She positioned us carefully and proceeded to take our picture.

I think that's close to how he looked 
the first time I finally said "I love you".

Since no "How We Met" stories have flooded my inbox, I guess I am forced to come up with a different brainstorm for the month of June. I thought at first I could do a series of posts called "17 things I've learned from 17 years of marriage". Then I started making my list and decided I'd better leave out the word learned. Not so sure that would be accurate. 

I am planning to do a series though, and I'm calling it simply "17 From 17".

Throughout the month of June, you can expect to find 17 posts with 17 things I've learned/ discovered/ become aware of in 17 years of marriage. They're not going to be anything lengthy or profound; just short little pieces of my personal experience. If you're not into marriage, feel free to come back in July. If you are into marriage, I hope you enjoy this month!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nudges Toward Foster Care

It's so hard for me to write about things when I'm in the middle of them. Somehow it seems so much better to wait to share experiences from the wise perspective of hindsight, rather than the muddled viewpoint of the midst.

A number of people have asked me recently, "So are you done with your fostering classes?" "Are you about ready to start fostering?" The answer to those questions is yes and no, respectively.

Getting licensed for foster care is a long process. Completing 36 hours of classes is the first step and, while that sounds like a lot of time to put in, I'm guessing it's one of the easier steps in the process.

The next step after completing classes was to fill out a six page application and send it back to Social Services. Two and a half weeks later, I got a call saying there were a few things we missed and they need to send the application back for us to go back over. Today it arrived in the mail.

So, yes we completed our 36 hours of classes at the end of April; no, we're nowhere near having foster children in our home. We knew going in that it's a long process. In fact, we were told that best case scenario it usually takes at least six months to get licensed.

Honestly, I'm fine with that. I'm still over here processing my feelings and not even sure that this is the path we will end up taking. We said we felt called to make ourselves available, so we'll see what twists and turns God decides to put in our path.

In the mean time, let me share with you a few people who have probably nudged me along in this direction more than I even realize.

Undoubtedly, one of the things that has made an impact are the few people I know in real life who have been involved in fostering or adoption. In Arkansas, it was a youth girl from our church and here in Ohio it's been our Pastor and family. Also, the writers of several blogs I follow have chosen this pathway. I know their writing has influenced my mind.

While I have never met these bloggers in person, both of these ladies shared their "How we met" stories on my blog; that kinda makes me feel like we're friends.

Reading Rosina's stories like this one, can't help but put a little ache in your heart. She also shared an  excellent article that every church should sit down and consider. Rosina was also the one I turned to in the middle of our classes when all the information was overwhelming my brain. Her reply to my email was so encouraging and helpful and helped tremendously in calming my questions and fears.

The most compelling reading I've done on the subject came from Shari. Her series on foster care is eye opening and beautiful. If you want to view the issue from every angle, go read her posts; I cannot recommend them highly enough.

I'm sure there are many more amazing people involved in fostering who could share encouraging stories. A couple weeks ago, a friend shared some podcasts from Revive Our Hearts Ministries. I finally listened to them today and they are so, so good.

Whatever all I do not know yet about foster care -- and I am certain that is a lot -- one thing I do know is that opening our hearts to this need is going to wreck us in every way. In the muddled midst of the process, I am hanging on to the belief that it will be in all the best ways.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Let Vacation Begin!

It's the last day of school.

I'm sitting here, in my quiet house, savoring the moment. I decided last night already that I will enjoy this last morning of quiet by doing nothing.

I'm actually not dreading summer vacation. I have some years, I'll be honest. This year, I'm not. But I know it will be an adjustment to have more people around every day, so I'm enjoying this quiet while I have it.

Honestly though, my emotions are all over the place this morning.

Just look at that man-child. I am so proud of him. He's grown so much in the past year -- like, literally; it's weird to look at an adult sized person that's your son. But I'm not just talking about on the outside. He's also grown so much on the inside. I see evidence of God at work in his life and that is so thrilling to watch.

And this woman-child? She's amazing. And not just because she makes cool macrome and grows cute succulents and takes on and conquers sourdough. I'm convinced the girl can pretty much do anything she sets her mind to. But that's not all that amazes me. I see Jesus in her life too, and it's so sweet to behold.

So, yes. I'm discovering lately the abundant blessing of watching my children grow up and choose truth. There is no way to describe the deep feelings that stirs in a parent's heart. But people! Look at my babies.....

Chris recovered video clips from an old hard drive and watching them last night just about undid me.

Just look at them playing church...

Chris was giving them flips and the giggles and hilarity were high...

And oh, my heart. I think they were only maybe two and four when I taught them the Bible verses of the wise man and foolish man story along with motions. Their sweet, lisping 
voices are just too much.

So, yes. This growing up business undoes me; the joy and pride and blessing of seeing them mature and the bittersweet ache of days forever gone. Not to mention, who were those young parents and what ever happened to them along the way? I mean, I feel like I'm still that person but looking at those old pictures, I realize I must be somebody much different.....

How this all works I cannot tell you. But now I must go pick up my school children. Let vacation begin!

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Dilemma Of A Woman Who Invites Company

So you're living your life, doing your work, accomplishing your tasks, content with your world, and then... you invite company.

Suddenly every nook and cranny is viewed through visitors eyes. As if the scales have magically been removed from your eyes, every room - every wall - every drawer - every cupboard - every closet - appears different than it did only yesterday. Every project you have been meaning to tackle, every half-finished idea you haven't found time for, every dream you wanted to do suddenly becomes a pressing need you should have accomplished yesterday.

"Oh, that horrible, awful trash pile that certainly shouldn't still be here a year after moving! Oh, the weeds I was going to weedeat; oh the brambles I was going to mow! Oh, the messy porch -- and most other people would wash their filthy siding! How do the appliances in my kitchen get so grimy? I've been planning to hang a plant in that corner... I've been wanting those quilts done... All winter those coat hooks were supposed to go up... HOW do I let my bedroom accumulate so many piles?? Why do I let my children pretend the bookshelf is their kitchen/play space/storage area??? Does anybody ever dust this place thoroughly?! When was the last time I washed that mirror? I absolutely refuse to examine the windows; there are limits."

Of course I am exaggerating.

A little.

Clearly I need to have company more often. Or I need to keep the scales off of my eyes on a daily basis. Or I need to leave the scales on and realize that the company will probably be wearing some themselves. Or I need to remember that visitors will be too polite to comment on that trash pile so who cares what they think.......

Or, even better, I could just focus on making the people entering my home feel welcome and cared about, instead of thinking about me and my pride and reputation.

Then again, I could just look at it as a good way to get some things accomplished around here for once. After all, when else do I ever get around to cleaning those corners that my company won't see anyway?

This is what happens when you try to take a Mother's Day photo --
One out of twenty catches everyone looking at the camera!


Obviously, we had company yesterday. And, obviously, although this is written tongue in cheek, it's also embarrassingly true. I'm curious, do any of the rest of you identify?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Little Of This And That

In case you haven't noticed, I've completely fallen off the blogging wagon lately. I've had dry spells before -- times when I felt uninspired and the words just didn't come. But I don't think I've ever felt quite what I've been feeling lately. For some reason these days I just flat out have no urge to write and, as a child said once, "I can't care."

I realized with a start the other night that June is just around the corner and the thought hadn't even crossed my mind to work on lining up 'How We Met' stories to share on my blog. The discovery gave me a twinge of something very close to guilt, like I had somehow failed all of you people. On the flip side, I felt no creative surge whatsoever to come up with an idea to remedy my slackness. I can't care.

The funny thing is, I'm not sitting over here feeling depressed or despondent. You'd think it must be something like that going on to bring about such long quiet spells and sporadic writing. That's not it. For the most part, my life is busy and happy and fulfilling right now.

I'm really not sure what the deal is except that, like I said earlier, the whole idea of fostering came up and I wasn't ready to share it and that kind of shut me down. Over that same time, as silly as I feel to admit it, I was obsessed with learning how to crochet and ended up injuring my hands to the point where I spent several weeks being really careful what I did in order to let them heal up.

I think maybe it's simply that those two things combined shut me up for awhile and now it's just taking too much effort to get back into the swing of writing. Or something.

So anyway, here I am. This is a feeble attempt at getting back on the blogging wagon. I'm guessing one day my urge to write will reappear but I ain't makin no promises, hunny. We're just gonna hang in there and do our thing and see what happens, I reckon.

As for story time in June? Unless I get some volunteers saying they would just love to write their story for me, I guess we'll skip the "How We Met" stories this year. I'm quite open to volunteers though, so feel free to send me an email at! And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you can go read last year's introductory post here. You will find links to all the other 'How We Met' stories at the end of that post.

As to what I've been doing? A little of this and a little of that...

I agreed to mark off this quilt for a friend, even though I didn't really know what I was doing. It ended up being a kind of fun challenge, although I'm happy to say it's crossed off my list and if I had it to do over I could certainly do a better job.

Chris tilled up a little garden spot for me the other night, bless his heart. I am so thrilled!

My youngest three hardly know what a garden is and think this little postage stamp deal is huge. I know we tried to squeeze too much into a little space and I know we're probably planting free deer food and I know the soil is probably poor and full of grass and pieces of roots. But walking in that freshly tilled dirt and making rows and dropping seeds satisfies something deep down inside of me.

Charles thought it was all like a giant sandbox and loved chopping away at the dirt with his little hoe. Now the challenge is to keep him in his corner so he doesn't destroy all our nice rows of seeds.

Now that my hands are getting back to normal I'm anxious to do some sewing and to f i n a l l y get the girl's quilts finished.

They've been sitting here waiting on bindings for months now!

And now, I really must run along. Nice chatting with you all again and thanks for hanging with me in my silence. I would be so delighted if some of you would feel led to send me stories......

Friday, April 27, 2018

Two Breakfasts For One

When the rest are at work and school, and there's only Charles and I at home, I am notorious for not eating. I don't enjoy cooking and Charles and I both have enough Gingerich genetics to easily do without or go with very little. It's not really the most healthy habit, because then we end up being starved at odd hours when it's easy to grab some quick snack to tide us over until the next meal.

Recently I've fixed myself two yummy breakfasts that I sort of made up and I got the notion to share them with you this morning. All of you homeschooling mommies or those with a busy row of toddlers or those heroes who get up and fix their school children a big breakfast can feel free to roll your eyes and skip over the bizarre idea of making a breakfast just for mom. Someday you might be odd, like me.

The first one is this....

No measurements here, of course. I just heated butter in my iron skillet, threw in a couple handfuls of frozen hashbrowns, sprinkled them with a few seasonings and fried them a couple minutes. Next I added some spinach leaves to the butter on the side, sauted it a bit, then mixed it into my tators. Last, I cracked two eggs into the empty side of the pan and fried them to taste. Two pieces of toast on the side, and there you have it!

It looked pretty and it tasted delicious too.... Except, that particular day I ended up getting two phone calls before I got a bite, so it was a little on the cold side.

The second one is a twist on creamed eggs over toast...

My mother-in-law is a native Virginian and grew up on cornmeal gravy. I'd never heard of it either, but I love it! It's basically the same idea as brown flour gravy but you use white cornmeal instead of flour. For my personal plate full, I put several tablespoons of vegetable oil in my little pan, added about an eighth cup of white cornmeal (I didn't measure but that's probably close) and salt and pepper to taste. I stirred that together with a fork and browned it a bit, then gradually added milk and whisked and cooked until it was gravy consistency.

I put two pieces of toast on my plate, cut up two leftover hard-boiled eggs I had in the fridge and sprinkled them over the toast, then poured the gravy over top. Yum.

I didn't bother to share either of these creations with Charles; he wouldn't have wanted them anyway! It's kinda fun sometimes to do something a little extra just for oneself.

Got any little extras you like?


I wanted to thank all of you for your encouragement after my last post. I got feedback from a number of you, all encouraging and blessing, and it meant so much! I'm finding out that there are lots of people who have been in the ministry of foster care over the years and it's so good to hear their input and stories. Thank you.

I'm sure you'll hear more about this subject from me down the road. Sometime I'll tell you about some people in the foster care trenches that I have greatly admired who probably planted more seeds in my heart than I'll ever know. Also, a few of you thought it would be interesting to hear more about "Module VIII"... I'll keep it in mind.

Many blessings on your weekend!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Things On My Mind

As of today, Chris and I have 27 hours of Foster Care classes under our belts and 9 more hours to go. My brain is cram jammed full of terms like 'Primary Family', 'Safety Script', 'Arousal Relaxation Cycle', 'Triggers', 'Child Protection Team' and that all inclusive answer to almost every question involving foster care -- 'It Depends'.

I've been keeping kind of quiet about this over here, I admit. It's something that I really never saw coming, to be honest. It's not some dream I/we have always nourished; not some idea we've had for years. It had crossed my mind a time or two, just because there's some people we know who do foster care and the county we live in has a desperate need in that area. But a while back when Chris nonchalantly threw out the idea that maybe we should consider foster care, I think my mouth dropped wide open. It just wasn't something I had ever imagined we would consider.

About a month ago, we attended an information night. It turned out that the meeting they had advertised hard for in order to spread awareness brought in exactly two people: Chris and Bethany Eicher.

We sat there with four members of the Guernsey County Social Services team that night and listened to staggering statistics and heartbreaking scenarios. We heard how the number of children coming into care in our county has more than doubled in the past two years due to the drug abuse going on. The same cannot be said of foster care homes available and you could hear the pain in their voices when they shared the difficulty to find placements and the devastation of needing to separate sibling groups and send children to other counties.

We came away from that meeting a bit overwhelmed and with an even lower sense of feeling qualified for the job. But we also came away with a deep impression of "Why not?"

Do we not feel a call to be the hands and feet of Jesus? Is there not a tremendous need right here before our eyes? Is there any reason to not at least make ourselves available to pursuing this idea? Why not?

And so, we enrolled in Pre-Placement Training and have spent the last three Friday nights and all day Saturdays sitting in a conference room, taking in information. To say the least, it has been stretching. Stretching and eye-opening and quite, quite interesting.

Frankly, I think all parents could learn a thing or two from taking Module VIII: Helping The Child Manage Emotions And Behaviors. It's not just foster kiddos who could benefit from some of this training.

So, now you know what's been consuming my mind lately. I still have lots of questions and feelings about all of this. We're still holding this idea loosely, waiting to see what God has for us; how He will choose to lead. Just because we take classes doesn't guarantee we will ever actually foster children but we're open to that; we're making ourselves available. It's a bit of a struggle for me to consciously keep my hand in the open position.

It's felt a little scary and somewhat unnecessary to put it all out there for everyone to see. A bit like the early weeks of a pregnancy, perhaps, when you're not sure if you want to tell people yet or not? So I haven't talked about it -- which, in turn, has seemed to effectively shut off my ability to talk about anything at all! But I'm kinda tired of hiding over here in my corner. I believe in honesty and openness and I sure would welcome any prayers you feel led to pray on our behalf. We don't know exactly what we're doing in all of this but we're pretty confident God does.

Monday, April 9, 2018

'Cats and Lilacs'

It is one of those "Cats and Lilacs" seasons around here. So many things tumbling around in my mind but none of them are things to elaborate on at the moment. The longer I don't push through and just write something, the easier it is to just be quiet. The odd thing about being a person with a need to write is that, while it is easier to just be quiet, the longer I am quiet the more restless and unsettled I feel inside.

And so, since I have no cat pictures and no lilacs blooming, I will show you the pictures that I do have.

We've had sunshine...

And snow....

 And rain...

And flooding...

All in the course of a week.

We also had two birthdays in nearly a week's time --

Jennifer turned 10 on March 30th. Her birthday wish was a trip to the American Girl Doll Store in Columbus. She was thrilled to have her dad promise a day together making her wish come true. At the last minute she opted to invite her sister along. They were two excited little girls!

Charles turned 5 on April 7th.

Remember the Curious George story a while back? I turned it into a book for his birthday. He loved it!

The incredible thing was that after several months of being missing, "Curious George" was found two days before Charles' birthday!

His sisters had great fun decorating his cake. They did a super job.

In other news, there's always new ideas and new projects happening at this house. Jasmine has gotten into playing with sourdough.

She's turned out some tasty muffins...

And some yummy crackers...
and some flops.

Her starter is finally looking healthy enough to try bread!

In spite of snow again this morning, outside the grass is beginning to turn green and on my daily drive to school I see more and more glimpses of tiny, green leaves. Inside, our windowsills are full of tiny seedlings, just waiting for warm enough days so we can plant them in the dirt.

So, there are my 'Cats and Lilacs'. Maybe one of these days the reminder rant or the emotions over another's crisis or the curious ways God leads will turn themselves into blog posts. For now, I really must run along and take care of laundry and get my hungry child some lunch. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

No Greater Joy

Last week my husband was in Arkansas helping one of his buddies with a countertop job. Upon hearing this, a lady at church commented that we'll probably hear about it in a blog post. I confess that I was immediately quite sure she wouldn't. But, here I am, writing some thoughts from last week after all. There is something about having the man of the house gone that makes me think things I wouldn't otherwise.

Here is the startling reality that hit me last week: My children are not merely children anymore. They are quite mature, responsible young adults who have wise, thoughtful ideals that I am proud of. They could now probably take care of me quite capably if the need arose.

Granted, there are plenty of times and situations when they act very much like they are merely children and, for sure, the youngest are just that. It is easy, in the muddle of daily life, to become so focused on the faults and failures that their childishness becomes all that I see. But on a grander scale, my children are so much more than that and they make me quite proud.

It is hard to completely understand the feelings of a parent until you are one yourself. When sitting down to play a game turns into an hour long discussion on church and living out our Christianity, your heart just swells with gratitude. Upon expressing my feelings of pride and appreciation, one of my children questioned, "Why? We haven't done anything!" My response was given with tears in my eyes.

"Yes, you have have done something. I see you wanting to follow God and making good choices; there is nothing that means more to a parent!"

Being a parent is hard, we hear that all the time. We all know that no matter how carefully we do our job, these children ultimately have the freedom to make their own choices. No matter how diligently we tailor our care, somewhere along the line we will hurt these children entrusted to us. No matter how much we pray and lean on God's wisdom, we are not going to get everything right.

My children are not all grown up yet. I don't know all the choices they will make or what the years will bring. But when I stop and take notice, I see the beginnings of good fruit and oh, how it blesses me. 

So, dear Mammas. In the midst of the hardness of parenting, there is hope. Take a moment to pause and look past all the childishness. I'm guessing if you do, you will catch a glimpse of some good fruit, however small it may be. Allow that glimpse to swell your heart with gratitude. And, while you're at it, it might not hurt to share your pride with your children. The shy smiles and bright eyes will do something for both of your hearts.

"I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth." 3 John 4 NLT

Thursday, March 22, 2018

To Make Their Eyes Sparkle

In Ohio, the first day of Spring meant a snow day. I'm not going to mention any attitudes associated with that, except gratitude about school being cancelled. I almost felt like I should apologize to the rest of the school patrons about the change in schedule, because it was obvious to me that the Lord just needed to take care of the lady on The Hill who's husband wasn't at home.

We spent a truly lazy day lounging around in night clothes, playing games that we were too lazy to find the pieces for and other such strenuous activities.

In the late afternoon, when I was putting off starting supper as long as possible, my eight year old came begging to have a "Restaurant" for supper. They've been wanting to do this for awhile and I've been putting them off for lots of 'good' reasons - mostly laziness and selfishness on my part. I started to drag my feet and then decided, why not?

We decided on a menu of Taco Salad so that each person could choose what they want on their salad and they came up with appetizers of Ritz crackers with melted cheese with or without pepperoni or ham. We came up with a simple dessert, some cheesy biscuits and a choice of drinks to round out the menu. And then we got busy.

Of course, the unique thing about this restaurant was that I got to be the chef and then turn around and be a customer ☺

Jennifer and Lillian busily worked on menus and setting up their table in the basement while Jasmine helped me work on food.

We set up food stations for them while they prepared all the details for their customers, right down to bells to ring for service.

When everything was ready, Isaac, Jasmine, Charles and I took our places at the table and our friendly waitresses came to take our drink and appetizer orders.

As they were leaving, Isaac wondered if this place has crayons and pictures to color? Lillian promptly popped his bubble by producing stickers and paper that she had prepared just for that purpose! We got a good laugh out of that one.

I had to be the annoying customer who rang the bell just to bring a waitress down to ask if they have a restroom?

The drinks and appetizers were served and then it was on to ordering the main course. Our waitresses made a few mistakes, which they apologized for profusely, and we chuckled (behind their backs) over the meager helpings they served us.

Turns out it was an all you can eat type of deal, so we all had seconds and were quite well filled.

Last of all we were offered dessert which some of us barely had room for.

We left our waitresses a generous tip, which they were quite thrilled with. Then we did a most unusual thing and told them the customers would clean up their dishes and food if they would bring the things up from the basement.

All in all, it was quite fun and well worth the extra effort. The sparkling eyes and the multiple thank yous, given with hugs and big smiles, were enough to make this mom glad she had said yes.

What makes your children's eyes sparkle? Do you have memories from your childhood when you were the one with sparkling eyes?