Addressing the “State of the Marriage”

During the holidays, most communication in our home went something like this:

“Can you pick up Mike from the airport?”

“Matt is driving home sometime today; is his car going to make it?”

“Mom, there’s no food”

“Mike needs a car to get to a job. Can you drive the kids to school and I’ll pick them up?”


“There’s a choir concert on Tuesday night. Abby needs to go to the doctor for a sinus infection and Peter lost his dress shoes.”

“Mom, the zipper broke on my dress and I need to leave in five minutes”

“Mom, there’s no food”

“Dad, my car is making a really weird noise”

“Can the guys come over tonight?”

“Mom, there’s no food.”

“Can Katie and I make Christmas cookies? Do we have any baking stuff?”

“Who made this mess???”

“Why does he have to leave his gross boxers in the bathroom?”

“Mom, there’s no food.”

“Her gross stuff is all over the bathroom and it’s covered in hairspray”

“Why is the dog in the neighbor’s yard?”

“Mom, there’s no food.”

For the last 24 years, my husband and I have been feeding kids, clothing kids, cleaning up after kids, shuttling kids around, watching kids perform, helping kids with insane school assignments, feeding kids, clothing kids, cleaning up after….

In the crush of years and kid-directed activity, I occasionally catch a glimpse of my husband/college sweetheart and think,

“Who is this guy?”

The School of Raising Children transformed two crazy-in-love kids into unrecognizable working drones, living in the same dorm.

This year, my dashing husband took charge. Instead of spending the last week of the year wallowing on the couch in a pile of Christmas cookies and wrapping paper, he booked a hotel room in the city. We packed our bags, donned some stylish clothes and abandoned the whole sorry mess.  With this act alone, he earned a hero’s cape, but he wasn’t finished.  As we sipped trendy cocktails in a restaurant devoid of college and high school kids, he whipped out a list of very purposeful questions.  They were as follows:

What is going well for us?

What three things can WE do better?

What three things can I do better?

What would we like to see happen for the kids in 2013?

How do we go about participating in this?

Where do we see God leading us in 2013?

And that folks, is why I married this guy. We spent the next two days evaluating, planning and talking. We also laughed, tried new restaurants and enjoyed each other’s company.  Instead of starting this year with tired resolutions, we have a written plan of action for 2013.  We will take some time in the summer and evaluate our progress.

The annual “State of the Marriage” address is our new holiday tradition.

champagne flutes touching

iPod Lobotomy?

I love my iPod. My playlists reflect who I am.  I’ve got a workout playlist, a lay-on-the-beach playlist, etc. We all do.  iPods are a very efficient and amazing form of technology. But, (I can see my kids revving up their eye-rolls already) we are losing a very important part of art and thought when we pick and choose our songs from an album, without hearing from the artist within the context of his or her work.

Albums tell a story. I remember riding my bike down to the record store with $5 in hand, to buy a new record. I can still feel the way the plastic tore off in one large sheet. I plunked down in my beanbag chair and poured over the album art and lyrics as I listened to my record, over and over again. Today, when I hear some of those old songs, I remember the song that followed on the album.  We miss the album story when we don’t hear all the songs.

Whether it’s a music album, a book or a piece of art, the artist expresses his or her beliefs through their work.  Whether or not we agree with or like the artist’s  work and beliefs is irrelevant.  We, the consumer, are exposed to new ides from the artist’s point of view and we have a chance to form our own opinion. True learning comes from listening, reading or viewing a work of art and evaluating it for your self.  You then have the opportunity to agree, disagree or change your own worldview.  That’s why censorship is so bad. It limits our information and our ability to get the whole story. *   But, when we decide to only listen to or only see the parts we like and eliminate the parts we don’t, we are in effect censoring our own learning process. We miss the whole message.  We also miss the opportunity to grow and to think. We are cutting short our intellectual process, thus the figurative lobotomy.

I’m not saying that we should dump our iPods. How I would I get through my workout without Lynyrd Skynyrd AND Bon Jovi?  But, we should consider making a conscious effort to take in forms of art in their entirety, as the artist intended. We become less educated and less as a people when we limit our opportunities for growth.

* Disclaimer – I am speaking of materials in the realm of mainstream or even fringe ideas and thought.  I have strong opinions about the “censorship” of sexually explicit and pornographic images and their usefulness to society. That is a discussion for another time.

Saturday Night Introspection

The lonely swing







My house is clean.

My laundry is done.

There’s food in the refrigerator.

I’m the only one home.

Instead of pursuing a career, I raised my kids.

I’m almost done. They’re turning out great.

I did the right thing.


I’ve worked myself out of a job.

I didn’t expect to miss it this much.

I’m not sure what’s next.

I hope I love it as much as my last job.









…and he grew up.

This was my little boy – dirt on the face, shoes on the wrong feet…check out the knees of his pants.

This is the kid who

  • Pooped in the neighbor’s yard.
  • Boo-ed his siblings at a recital.
  • Ran away from home to avoid getting an immunization.
  • Pretended to be special-ed for weeks to get out of math, ending with a call from the school offering him special services.
  • Spit into the wind on an observation tower at Gettysburg National Battlefield, hitting an innocent observer square on the chest.
  • Thinking he was lost, ran screaming through Wal-Mart pushing a kiddie cart, me chasing behind him with my cart, yelling his name.
  • Sneaked down stairs on Christmas Eve to put coal in all our stockings.
  • Locked his brothers shoes in a hotel safe and forgot the combination.
  • Dumped my sister out of a kayak into a cold lake.
  • There’s more – I came up with this list in less than five minutes.

Last Friday, my little boy looked like this.  He successfully walked a beautiful young woman through the high school gymnasium as an emcee spoke of his glowing accomplishments. He actually gave a shout out to me, his mother.

I cried.  I’m still crying.  God is good.

Life, Love and Death

ImageThis week, my friend Mary buried her husband Steve.  From a back pew, I watched as she walked up the aisle, followed by her six children to sit in the front row.  There were tears, but they held their heads high.

Steve didn’t have a lot of money, stuff, a fancy house or a fast car. Truly, he wasn’t spectacular by the world’s standards.  But, he had everything.

His wife, my friend, loved him.  She glowed as his friends and family spoke of Steve’s impact in their lives.  There was a moment when she dropped her head as a slide show flashed pictures of their lives together –  a young and handsome groom carrying his bride across a threshold, a glowing new mother and father holding a tiny infant.  He loved her so much. What does it take to get a life like that?

I’m sure with six kids, job issues, moves, college, life was hard for Steve and Mary.  My own life is similar to Mary’s in many ways. With so many marriages failing across the country, I have learned that it takes a commitment to something more than the other person to make a marriage work.  For us, it takes a commitment to God.  I promised God that I would love and honor my husband even when he is not lovable.  It takes two people to do that.  There is such pain when one person in the marriage refuses to keep their commitment. I’ve seen that pain and the following devastation in so many of my friend’s lives. I can’t make John love and cherish me.  There are days when I am profoundly unlovable.  John loves God more than he loves me and he trusts God to give him the strength and ability to love me.  That commitment to God first, and then to me, overflows to our children.  That’s a guy I want to love forever. I saw that in my friend, Mary.  No regrets, Mary and Steve finished well.

Our friend Steve left his children with a precious gift – his unwavering love. He loved God faithfully to the end, despite a terrible, debilitating illness.  They saw him live and die well, with love and thankfulness to God for his life. His sons are fine upright young men following their dad’s example  and starting their own families.  His beautiful daughters know their value.  They watched their dad cherish their mother. He loved them well.

Steve didn’t choose to leave his family, as so many men do.  Steve’s family will display his fingerprint of love and faith.  They will miss him, but his legacy will last through their lifetimes.

In this picture, Steve and his daughter Anna are in the middle.  My husband and daughter are directly to their left.  Our girls were in 8th grade. They are twenty-four now.  We called this event the Father/Daughter.  I’ll write on that next time.  For now, I am very thankful for what I have.

The Daddy Doll by Blogger Awanthi Vandaraj and Uncertain Crossroads

This is a beautifully written story of one daughter’s longing for her father – after reading this I am profoundly thankful for my father and for my husband who loves me and our children so well.

 Please read

The Daddy Doll.