Category Archives: Marriage

To the happy couple – my words to my niece as she marries …

I’m thankful to have a chance to be a part of today’s ceremony. It is always a joy to speak of love and the beauty that a day like this means not only to the couple, but to all of us who have found love and experienced what it means to commit your heart to another.

I learned a long time ago that finding your mate isn’t about finding someone you can see yourself living with the rest of your life. It’s about finding someone and realizing you can’t possibly imagine living your life without them. The first case is focused on the admin logistics of a lifetime together and the second more pressing interpretation, and the one I think brings us here today, is about the total faith and commitment of your most vulnerable self to another. Not because it will be easy, but more because you realize when it is not easy, you still want that man or woman to be the one by your side.

I would suggest that being in love on days like today is easy. It is when times are hard, when things are in chaos and when you are at your most vulnerable that real love shows itself in the form of that one man or woman who is there every time to lend strength and comfort to make you stronger than yourself and better than yourself when you are alone. I know that every married couple here, who utters the words “I love you” to another has experienced times when you’ve looked to your husband or wife and asked them to carry you through things you didn’t feel you could navigate alone.

I know too, after being in my own marriage for 28 years, that revisiting the type of love we witness today is an affirmation of our own beginnings and our early surrender to the promise and trust of marriage. In a way, I envy my neice and Steve. In a way I wish I still had that brand new love, that clean fresh rain of passion that you are experiencing now and will experience in the coming years. After consideration however, I will tell you a secret. If you do this right and if you guard the other persons heart and trust as I believe you will, your depth and understanding of true love will only grow deeper and more beautiful. Your depth and understanding of how strong it makes you to be so vulnerable with someone, your depth and understanding of how easy it will make the hardest of times and your depth and understanding of why today, you are giving yourself to one person for the rest of your life will be one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive.

Love that is true, love that is faithful and love that is vulnerable, scary, at times equally painful and exquisite in nature is as unique as a storm that opens to a rainbow, as beautiful as a winter that yields to a spring and as satisfying to see as a flower that blooms from a beautiful and youthful bud.

You have both had trials, you have both had victories over those trials and today you stand to yield yourselves to one another in love. We are grateful to share your day and as I shared at your sister’s wedding Becky, all of us are here to help you and Steve recognize there is nothing you cannot overcome together, there is nothing we will not help you grow through and there is nothing that will stop the growth of our faith in your love.

Becky asked me to read a sonnet by ee cummings. It is not an easy poem to read as cummings designed it to been seen and felt for the way it was written as well as for the words he selected. At no time in the poem does he capitalize the letter “I” to separate his importance from the importance of his love and save one or two semi colons there is no punctuation to mar the flow of the words. In particular cummings separates phrases visually as if to allow him to whisper to his loved ones heart quietly and yet still in full view of the reader.

I will however, do my best to help you sense the depth of his faith and surrender:

 

i carry your heart with me

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Be gentle with one another’s hearts. Be gentle with your words and strong in your commitment not just to each other, but to the promise of love.

beckys-photo

 

 

Advertisements

What’s for dinner? (Blog and Recipe)

Typical Day with four teenage boys and a somewhat passive aggressive mom:
0700– Someone in the house ask you “What’s for dinner”. Say you don’t know and wait for the next 4 people you meet to ask you.
1000 – Nonchalantly get up and look at what’s in the freezer and see you have some boneless chicken thighs.
1200 – Next time someone asks “What’s for dinner” say “chicken”.

When they say how are you going to make it? Say you don’t know .

Listen to them ramble on about what they personally want and why you should make that particular dish. Explain patiently that different folks in the house don’t LIKE what they want and then say you’re only cooking one dish.

Listen as they relentlessly plead their case about how the others in the household don’t matter.
Approximately 1500 -Watch now, as they circle the kitchen more deliberately, but separately, getting really concerned about the dinner situation.

(Fun thing for mom): Send them on little goose chases – “Well do we have buns?” (that might mean friend chick-fil-a type sandwiches.

“No buns”.

“Hmmm…do we have charcoal?” (that might mean teriyaki grilled chicken thighs.

“Nope not enough.”…then shake your head in dismay and act as if you have NO IDEA what to do then.
1600 – Ask who is doing what in terms of evening activities to figure out the timelines you’ll be cooking.
“Well dad and Dan have practice at 6.”
1602-1645 – Listen to them moan about not being able to wait until Dad and Dan get home and how you really HAVE TO COOK SOMETHING OR THEY WILL DIE!
1800 – commence to cut up the chicken thighs and watch as they all settle down cause they know SOMETHING is coming soon.
1810 – cut some bread and put it out (see 6:16 entry).
1815 – stand by as they start to get aroused by the aromas and they begin to move out of their rooms to circle you.

Caution them as they try to reach their hands into the boiling hot pans ONCE AGAIN and tell them things in hot pans ARE HOT (ONCE AGAIN) and they must take care not to burn themselves.
1816 –  After the first one yells because he’s burned, direct them all to the bread.

1830 – Tell them they can get food but caution them that Dad and Dan still have to eat.

1833 – Tell them yes they can get seconds but they can’t divide what’s left into 5. Dad and Dan deserve a full serving. They may get a second SMALLER serving. (Explain that a couple of times as they protest about “snoozing and loosing” yada yada.)
1845 – Sit and finish your drink just smiling cause you know your dinner (or at least the passive aggressive build up) was on time and on target!
1850 – Sit at your computer with a second glass of wine and reflect on how freaking lucky you are!

1855 –  Say “Yes you can be excused” and smile as they get up and start to clean the kitchen without being asked!!!!

They are satiated beasts at this point and will be relaxed and somewhat slowed in their next few movements.
2200 – Go to bed cause it is all going to happen again tomorrow and you need your strength!
Recipe – “What’s for Dinner Pasta”
Boneless chicken thighs salted and peppered on both sides
Cut boneless chicken thighs up into small pieces and cook in a pan in hot evoo. Drain and put in a holding pan. (Don’t move them around too much on each side. Let them brown-hard to do cause you worry they’ll burn so get on Facebook work something for about 4-5 minutes per side).
Start pasta water BUT DON’T PUT THE PASTA IN YET. Wait until you’ve melted the butter for the sauce (follows).
Sauce:
Same pan you cooked the chicken in. Leave the brown bits (that’s flavor baby) but get rid of the excess fat.
Melt 1 to 1.25 sticks of butter. Keep the flame LOW so it doesn’t burn.
Add either three diced garlic cloves or in a crunch put in about a tablespoon of garlic powder.
After that melts SLOWLY and is bubbly add in about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.
Once that is melted and smooth add 1/4 cup of whatever spaghetti sauce you like.
Keep mixing. By now you should have had the pasta in the boiling water.
To the sauce ingredients add either a 1/4 cup of diced basil or about 2 tablespoons of the tubed basil you buy in the store. Sorry I like that for sauces cause it dissolves.
Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Keep mixing.
Add the cooked Angel hair pasta and some pasta water cause the pasta will soak up all the sauce…and you want it a bit saucy.
Once it is all combined and “stewed” for a couple minutes…throw the cooked chicken on top and tell the heathens it is ready to eat.

“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else, needs to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

Imperfect Parenting

A friend recently told me she likes to read what I write. I let parents look at my imperfections. They get to read about about the things I’ve done right and wrong and they often identify with it.

I do make a lot of mistakes.

I remember taking the boys on a journey to New Jersey when they were very young. Danny was still in a stroller, just an infant as I recall. We stopped to go into a break area and there was a pond at the top of an inclined walkway that lead to the rest stop entrance. The pond was filled with goldfish so I stopped with the boys to gaze into the water. Cool right?

As the boys and I leaned over the edge of the pond, I heard a woman call to me:

“Ma’am, your baby.”

I looked around and saw to my horror that the stroller with Danny in it was rolling down the hill, about to hit a curb and jump into the road of the parking area.

What do you do at that moment?

What exactly do you do?

I had three toddlers by a pool of water, and an infant in a stroller; a stroller that was rolling into a parking lot.

I couldn’t catch the stroller. It had gone too far and was picking up speed. In those seconds that passed, I held my breath.

Literally, I held my breath and stood there paralyzed for what seemed like hours.

As the stroller picked up speed and rolled toward the road, God,

(I don’t often mention God actually taking the time to touch my life. I know it’s happened, probably more than I realize, but I don’t think he’s there waiting for me to screw up as a parent and come to my rescue)

at that moment God, sent me two guardian angels. Almost like it was choreographed those two angels stepped from behind the building and stopped the stroller.

They stopped it. It was kind of like they were waiting for that moment to do something amazing and stopping my baby from going into the road was that amazing thing they were there to do.

It was like going from panic to a perfectly normal moment in the blink of an eye;

in the blink of an eye.

Okay moms, then what do you do?

You get the little guys off the pond’s edge and you run, YOU RUN, down the hill and try to manage your mixture of relief, joy, and embarrassment. Relief that a moment of impending disaster has changed to a moment filled with tears, thank you’s, and joy.

“Thank God” drips from your mouth and little beads of sweat finally have the nerve to show themselves and run down your face.

Then, you feel the embarrassment.

You just did something SO FREAKING STUPID that you can’t believe that you’ve actually been entrusted with these four incredible, little lives.

SO FREAKING STUPID when you realize that, ONCE AGAIN, you screwed up.

Embarrassment since people are now shaking their heads at you:

“That’s why there’s a break on it lady.”

“Why’d she have that many kids so close together anyway?”

“Can you believe that she didn’t move?”

When you start to breathe again, you take your little boys and walk into the rest area.

You take them into the women’s bathroom with you and go into a stall telling them to stand

“RIGHT THERE!”,

watching their little feet under the door stall.

Then you vomit. You vomit everything you’ve ever eaten in your life. You vomit until your sides are sore and your stomach is squeezed in spasms and then, you wipe the puke off your face, and the tears out of your eyes and you go back out to those four little boys and smile and ask:

“Who wants a milkshake?”

There you have it. My parenting guide:

“Imperfect Parenting”: How to do a million things wrong, and still raise pretty good kids.”

That’s what I’m good at.

Making lots of mistakes, messing up the experts advice,

(most of whom have NEVER been stay at home moms or dads, and actually dealt with the day in and day out parenting realities most of us face),

and still raising children who are grounded, responsible and pretty darn cool.

Last night I found a little girl wandering away from the middle school where I was picking up my son. She was cute as a button. She had long pig tails, dressed real sweet, and just walking like she owned the road ahead of her.

Problem was she was way out of anyone’s sight and I didn’t see anyone near her. I knew she’d slipped away.

I jumped out of my car, walked quickly to her, and talked to her.

“I can’t find my mommy.” She said. She was four.

We started walking back toward the school together and after I got a pretty good distance toward the door of the school I hear from way over at the baseball field:

“Skyler, Skyler; What are you doing?”

We looked and there was Skyler’s daddy running full speed toward us. I started walking toward him and Skyler and I did “knuckles”.

“Thank you SO MUCH.” her father called to me and little Miss Pigtails went running toward a very important discussion with her father.

“No problem dad.”

“I’ve been there.” I yelled as she closed the gap between her and her dad.

Phew, I thought.

Guardian Angels – 2

Imperfect Parenting – 2

As long as it stays a tie; we win.

A Letter to My Husband

I wanted to write you a letter today.

I wanted to tell you that I love you as much today as I did 22 years ago; but I can’t.

In truth, that love was an immature love, a conditional love, and I realize I didn’t know you. When I consider our love now, I am struck that I love you more than I did 22 years ago. I love all of your strengths I’ve come to know, and all of your weaknesses I’ve come to embrace. I love the man and not just the image of the two of us being together. For better or for worse is not the definition of moments in a marriage, it is the story of a marriage. The acceptance of “for better or for worse” as the way life unfolds and knowing you are there to face that life with me has given me an incredible sense of security.

I wanted to talk about all the people that have helped us as our lives have unfolded and how we wouldn’t be who we are without that help; but as we both know, I can’t.

I cannot thank everyone who helped us along the way because in truth we have done most of this ourselves.

Any success we have has been because we’ve planned for that success. We have certainly had strong mentors to provide good examples, but we’ve made the choices and struggled through the highs and lows to get to this point in our lives on our own. I’m proud of that and don’t think I’d want it any other way.

I wanted to talk about everything I cannot wait to do with you when the children are gone and it is just you and me, but I can’t.

I don’t look forward to our children being gone. We have a life and a love that allows us to embrace all the things we want to do as a couple and with the boys; here and now. That doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to having time for just you and me…but I have no need to have that happen tomorrow, the next day or anytime sooner than it is supposed to happen. I am very happy living these days now. I am very happy not to rush them, and I don’t want our family to ever be so far apart that we cannot get together and celebrate the love we’ve built.

It will always come back to us. I am sure.

I wanted to point to the life I envision for us as we get closer to our goals but really; we have achieved our goals.

They are not somewhere out in the future…they are now. Every kiss in the morning, every smile in the afternoon and every time we get through another event as a family only impresses upon me how many goals we have achieved.

I wanted to write about the perfection of our union and how absolutely easy this has all been; but as we both know we are not perfect, and this has not been easy.

We started a life together that was literally tested by being oceans apart. We both understand that marriage is hard work and that love is a verb that has to be constantly acted upon to be real. I appreciate that at times when I forget that, you bring me back to those actions.

I appreciate that you demand a lot from me. I appreciate that we are partners in the marriage we have and that we are each other’s confidants. I know our secrets are safe with one another, and that love will always be a verb for both of us.

I wanted to write you a letter today, but as it turns out the letter has written itself. I hope you take it as my gift to you.

The adventure continues, for better or for worse.

Happy Anniversary Boo

I love you
d