Anniversary Celebration with Oil and Ice

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July could not have been hotter or more humid that summer. We were seven months late celebrating our anniversary for several reasons. Money was tight in December, and so was our schedule. Child care was also a dilemma.  We decided to wait until later.

Later finally came, in July.

“If you’ll go with me, I promise I’ll stop and buy you diet coke on ice or an ice cream cone whenever you ask,” my hubby told me.

That’s because our little blue Mazda had air conditioning that didn’t work. Its oil reservoir had a continual leak. We would be stopping to add oil as often as we would petrol. We packed a case of motor oil, opened our windows, and hit the road.

Just the two of us. How long had it been since we’d had time to ourselves – just the two of us?

Less than half an hour after we left home, we stopped for gas – and to fill up with oil. Next, we stopped for my diet coke (that was back in the days when I drank soft drinks instead of water) and Dave got his favorite: Mello Yellow.

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Every time we stopped to fuel the car, Dave added oil. We didn’t care.  Our half-dozen were in the care of a reliable babysitter and we had nary a care in the world.

Footloose and fancy-free, we drove west for almost six hours, stopping along the way to stretch and cool off our backs from those seats in the car.

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Three days of relaxation and fun being together. Three days of fixing only our food and our plates of food. Three days of going to bed when we felt like it and getting up because we wanted to and not because someone else was calling our name.celebration

We’ve been a lot of places since then and celebrated in a myriad of different ways. They’ve all been fun. Yet the one that makes us smile the most is the time we hit the road in a Mazda with over 200,000 miles on it with money for gas, oil, and ice.

 

One True Fragrance (in Marriage)

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Roses. I do like roses and their fragrance.

‘Especially on our anniversary, my birthday, on Mother’s day, or any other time in-between. Especially other special times, like the births of our babies – I like roses.

I used to tell folks that when I wanted a dozen roses, all I had to do was have another baby.

While it’s true that roses were waiting for me six times over when I got back to my hospital room from Labor and Delivery, it’s also true that I don’t get roses for every birthday, every anniversary, or every Mother’s day. Just sometimes, and sometimes in-between.

After all these years, he continues to splurge. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know how much longer we’ll have each other and he wants to have no regrets, so I’ve quit fussing about the cost.

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You know what makes the roses so special? 

The fact that, on any other day when there are no roses, my man is in my corner. Any other day when I’m unkempt and the house is a mess, he helps pick up the pieces and puts me back together again.

Any other day when there is no wafting fragrance in the house, he becomes the fragrance by serving me, again.

The man’s rather imperfect, and no one knows it better than I.  But then, so is his wife. Imagine that. He can verify that, but he won’t broadcast that because, he says, we are one. To speak negatively of me is speaking negatively about himself because we are on the same team. Even so, in a world of strife where so many marriages have dissolved or  are falling apart, we are blessed.

Like so many other marriages, ours could simply be a statistic.

It’s not that we’re so smart or so special. It’s that God – and the way He tells us to do marriage – is.

When you go to God for help, when you really seek for wisdom, when you truly apply what you know to do even when you don’t feel like it,  you  will find that marriage can be done well.

There have been days when I’ve stormed the gates of Heaven, asking God to show me how to understand and love this man. Every time I have asked, He has given me answers.  ‘Not that I always liked the answers or felt like following the directions, mind you. But every time I’ve asked for wisdom, He has given what I needed. ‘Trouble is that sometimes we just don’t bother to ask or we just don’t really don’t want to know.

Our marriage bed is not an array of roses minus thorns.

It’s a fragrance that comes when the petals are crushed as  becomes us.

It’s a fragrance that comes when making love is not so much about “everything is perfect and we’ve got it all together” as it is about “even though we are frustrated with each other, we are still committed to each other; so tonight making love to you is a great way to emphasize that commitment.”

I always thought I’d want a summer wedding, but that didn’t happen. Does that matter now? Not at all. That’s how it is with marriage. The things on the “must have” list, many times, are no longer important and really weren’t that important in the first place. What really matters is commitment.

I figure some folks are tired of hearing me say that, but it’s true. If more people truly believed it, there would be fewer marriages floundering by the wayside.

In a small town in western Maryland over thirty-two years ago, in the church where my parents were married many years before, we tied the knot. Amid freshly-fallen snow, family, and friends, we celebrated. With flowers, music, family – and with God – we were wed.

Life happened, and now our kids are grown and mostly on their own. Life happened, and it is still happening. As life happens, we still celebrate. I still enjoy roses and their perfume. Most especially, I enjoy the fragrance of commitment.

Most especially, we continue to celebrate the greatest fragrance of all: the true faithfulness of God.

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Why I Am Wearing Red Today

I am wearing red today* because it was Mom’s favorite color.

Mom Slabach always said she didn’t understand why Christian conservative folks didn’t think women should wear read.

Yes, red was a color often worn by harlots, she knew. She’d been reminded of that many times. She didn’t care if that’s what harlots wore, because she wore red, too.

She’d say, “Red also represents salvation — because

the blood of Jesus Christ, His son, cleanses us from all sin.”

So this wife of a Mennonite minister wore red.

Today I remember Mom. And I am wearing red.

Mom loved –

steaming hot coffee,

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ice cold Pepsi,

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fried bacon,

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and delectable ice cream.

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Looking at this list makes me smile as I put on my red in honor of a mom who enjoyed life and family fun.

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I didn’t know much about raising boys because I grew up in a family of girls.  When we started our family, God gave us three of our four boys in a row. I used to think, if I was having a problem with one of my guys, I’d just send them to Grandma. She’d have Sunday school (as her kids called it) and send them back to me, all fixed up. Only thing is, she didn’t get to help raise those boys because she died when the oldest was five and before the youngest was born. I never got to send them to her for Sunday school, but she had prayed for them! She prayed for her kids, her grandkids, and those not yet born.

I wear red in memory of Mom’s Sunday schoolsIn honor of her prayers, I am wearing red.

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I wear red today for the mom who believed in her son Dave and the spunk he possessed; who always said she wouldn’t give a dime for a kid without some spunk – and then prayed and prayed over that spunk and asked God to use it for His kingdom. I wear red today for the memories I cherish of a woman who claimed me and was glad I was loving her Dave.

I reap the blessings of a life well lived, a character well defined, and a faith well practiced. I benefit from the harvest of her commitment to her family and to God and gladly claim her son as mine.

I wear red today in honor of my mother-in-law, who was not just a mentor, but also my friend. There wasn’t a subject that was unmentionable with her, and she didn’t mind delving into the nitty gritty of life. Even when we disagreed, we were friends.

Although cancer took her life, it did not deprive her of her spirit. That is why everyone wanted to help care for her and be there during those last weeks.  Mom could make a party out of an event, and none of us wanted to miss the party. I am wearing red in memory of those parties!

Twenty-five years ago we stood by her bed and watched her face change from agony to peace, calmness, and rest. We watched her lips change from a grimace into a beautiful smile. Oh yes. She smiled.

Ah, that smile!  I remember it still. When we saw that smile, we knew that Mom had Arrived! She fought the fight, she finished her course, she kept the faith. Mom finished well.

I wear red today because she won the Victory.

Today, I am wearing red, in honor and in celebration.

I wear red today, not with tears, but with joy.

 

Happy 25th Anniversary of your Arrival in Heaven, Mom!

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Watching Mom fight that dreadful disease of cancer was not easy. Caring for her was a privilege and a blessing. That journey of grief and gallantry is chronicled in the book Aren’t We Having Fun Dying?!.  The title of the book is a direct quote from Mom two weeks before her Arrival.  Each chapter title is a quote from Mom during her last months here on earth. For more information about this book, you can visit this page.

[some wording/quotes come from (my) book “Aren’t We Having Fun Dying?!”

*the anniversary of Mom’s arrival in Heaven is March 16.

Pinterest wearing red

A Different Kind of Romance

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Romance. Ah, yes. Don’t we love the sound and the meaning of that word! Flowers and being loved. Feeling important and invigorated. Experiencing exhilaration and ecstasy. I relish it all.

We celebrated our 29th last weekend (December 8) and, as Dave told Sarah Beth on Saturday, “There’s not going to be a whole lot of fireworks around this place this weekend!”

But I experienced romance, and it’s spelled differently than r-o-m-a-n-c-e. This different-kind-of-romance one is spelled: commitment.

Dave came in from work at three o’clock on Friday. I was happy to see him show up that early because he was babysitting that evening while I went to a Christmas dinner.

I’d been busy all day, and our little foster kids were constantly underfoot. I was glad for the chance of a reprieve and thought I’d have more time to get some things done – until, that is, I learned he’d come in because he wasn’t feeling well.

He spent the extra time in the recliner, and I provided Motrin and water since there was no iced tea in the house (Woe is me!)

He can sleep through anything, so I sent the munchkins into the living room where his sleeping presence made them feel safe enough to be in a different room than mine. I even got the kitchen floor mopped before I headed to the shower.

I worried about him a little because his chest was hurting as well as his head, but my troops in other cities were on standby to call and check on their father and I knew they’d let me know if there was cause for concern. So I went and had a great evening of good food and festivities.

Three hours later, they were standing at the door waiting for me when I got home: the two munchkins and their padre.

He had fed and bathed them and tidied the kitchen. All that was left to do was to give bedtime medications and breathing treatments, and they were off to bed.

I tucked my babies and my man in and came back downstairs to finish some proofing for a family book.

When my eyes could no longer stay open, I headed upstairs for bed but ended up spending most of the night in the bathroom.

By morning, I knew the sewer system in the house was in fine working order since I’d been through more toilet paper than any person ought to go through in a week. I was keenly aware I’d never survive the day without help.

So when my man crawled out of bed, I am certain I asked him if, since he wasn’t feeling well, he’d be hanging around the house for a while. I am just as certain that he said he was.

So I went back to sleep, comforted that I wouldn’t be on my own.

That is why I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting Little Nugget when the toddler woke up at 7:30 AM. Looking out the bedroom window, my cloudy brain finally realized that no truck in the driveway meant no man was in the house.

I moped my dehydrated body out of bed and managed to heave the 28-pound toddler out of his crib, change his diaper, and put clothes on him, all the while clutching my swollen abdomen.

Then I called Dave.

“I thought you said you were hanging out here this morning,” I complained.

“Nope, I’m at work. I told you I was going to work.”

I didn’t question the fact that he needed to be at work. He’d taken some time off in the past weeks and was playing catch-up.

We also had dinner plans that evening with two other couples and he’d be coming in early for that. I just questioned how I could have misunderstood his reply.

“Well, I was sure you said you’d be here this morning. I’m so sick and all we have is ginger ale. You know how I hate ginger ale,” I whined.

I’m really good at hinting at my needs, hoping he’ll catch on and supply them because he cares. He’d as soon have me tell him what I want than to try to figure it out himself.

But this time he didn’t have to figure it out. He knew what to do.

“I’ll bring you some Sprite,” he assured me.

By the time Dave got home, I’d managed to give breathing treatments and antibiotics to both kids. Plus, my foggy brain had remembered Miralax and probiotics for Little Miss and Zyrtec and probiotics for the little guy. I was struggling on toward breakfast when Dave got there with two 2-liters of Sprite Zero.

BLOG medications

When we are sick, Dave and I respond differently.

I want to be downstairs where I can hear the sounds of my family.

He wants to crawl under the house and be left alone. If he survives, he’ll come back. If he doesn’t, he will have gone to be with Jesus, which is where, some days, he’d like to be anyhow. So for him, it’s a win-win situation.

Even though we both understand each other’s love language of “when I’m sick,” we tend to try to treat the other one the way we would like to be treated.

Dave shooed me off as he scrambled eggs and fixed toast for the kids.

I made one more trip to the bathroom, fixed my Sprite/grape juice drink-on-ice with insulated cup/lid/straw, and headed to the love seat recliner in the living room. Burrowing under a thick cover, I shivered for a while until all parts and limbs and the chair were warm, and fell asleep.

Once Little Miss climbed up next to me on the recliner. She was all set to cuddle up, but Dave sent her away.

I wanted to tell him it was okay – that I didn’t mind. But I knew she’d be better off without snuggling with my germs, and I was too tired to talk, so I just went back to sleep.

From time to time I woke up and heard the sounds of family: children playing and laughing, Dave scolding, Little Nugget on the potty chair, applause from Dave for accomplishment, more laughter, and some singing, and I’d fall back asleep.

Once I woke up and smelled Mr. Clean. I heard water being wrung from a rag and wondered what he was cleaning. Sometimes I can feel defensive if Dave cleans up in my department, as though I don’t do it well enough for him.

This time I was too sick to care, so I went back to sleep. But then I’d wake up and smell that smell, and I’d wonder what he was doing.

It can’t be the ceiling fans, I thought. We just did those two weeks ago. It can’t be the kitchen floor. I mopped it yesterday.

It didn’t matter and even though I still wondered, I didn’t have the energy to care, so I went back to sleep.

I woke up to Dave telling me he was taking the kids to town with him. I offered to keep Little Miss but he said “no,” and headed out the door.

I was too tired to argue, and I went back to sleep.

roses anniversary 29 My man came home from town with a dozen red roses and left them on the kitchen counter.

He bought the roses, not because I was sick, but because our anniversary was on the morrow and we don’t shop on Sunday.

I heard the kitchen drawer open and though I heard the cutting from scissors, I didn’t think about roses and how he always feeds them with the stuff the florist sends and uses a scissors to cut open the packet. I heard more water running and being poured, but it never occurred to me that he might be watering roses he had bought for me.

I just went back to sleep.

Then this man tucked Little Nugget into bed and left Little Miss in the room with me after telling her to take a nap. He told me he was heading back to work, and I convinced Little Miss to get a pillow and blanket.

Soon she was asleep, so I went back to sleep.

We haven’t done a lot of hugging and kissing the past few days because we were busy – and tired – and sick.

We talked about our anniversary coming up and agreed we’d celebrate later because the weekend was already full. As it turned out, I would not have been up to any celebration or romantic kissing.

Yet I did get hugged and kissed – in a different way.

Snuggling under the blanket and hearing the sounds of life and home and family in the background while I slept was one big, massive I-care-about-you hug.

Having not one, but two 2-liters of diet soda at my disposal was one big smooch of a kiss.

BLOG mop bucketI asked him later about the mop bucket and dirty rag in the bathroom. He said he had mopped the kitchen floor. Yes, he knew I had mopped it the day before. Between his work shoes and my youngest (Butch’s) running shoes, it seems I am always sweeping and mopping.

But he’d seen the tracks, so he got down on his hands and knees and mopped the floor while I slept. Yet when I asked him about it and expressed thanks, he acted like it really wasn’t a big deal.

Later that evening Dave headed up to bed. I was still asleep in the recliner and kept telling myself to get up and put sheets on our already-stripped bed. I needn’t have worried. He got sheets out of the closet and made the bed. When I finally woke up enough to head upstairs, he was snuggled down in a freshly-made bed.

How nice it was to snuggle in next to him after being cared for all day long.

When it comes to romance, I really do like flowers – and going on a date with my man or spending the night away.

I enjoy spending time with him, entwining hands.

I cherish the playful tweaks he gives me when no one is watching, the way he can read my face and know how I’m feeling.

I like feeling special.

I like being cherished.

I really do like being loved.

When it comes to romance, I can hardly think of a way to feel more special, cherished and loved than to be sent to rest, sleeping all day because I’m sick – and to know he’s holding down the fort for me.

Being comfortable and cared for was what I was given because it was what I needed.

I didn’t have to ask Dave to stay – when he got home and saw how sick I was, he changed his plans (and his checkbook balance) to take care of our little ones, which was also taking care of me.

He didn’t have to say he loved me or that I was special and important.

He told me all that and more when he said, “You go get some rest. I’ll take care of the kids.”

Flowers and dinner out wouldn’t mean a thing to me if I was left to fend for little ones by myself when I’m sick.

There are many ways to celebrate commitment.

We don’t often think of mopping floors as a celebration of commitment. But at our house this past Saturday, that’s just what happened in my kitchen while I slept.

Sometimes I forget to remember that the little things he does are really big because they show his commitment to me and to us. I rather just expect him to change the light bulbs and fix broken things and figure out why something’s not working.

I forget to remember that the ordinary days of commitment are what make celebrations worthy in the first place.

I rather like this different (and wonderful) kind of romance.

Happy 29th to the man who not only says he loves me, but who lives it (almost!) every day.

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