2016: Looking Forward Friday, Jan 1 2016 


I love the closing out of one year and the welcoming in of another. While this year we actually got dressed up and left the house to attend a wedding and reception, we typically ring in the new year on the couch in our jammies watching movies. It was fun to get dolled up and leave the house for a change of pace, but home is nice too.

It’s nice to celebrate, with great fanfare, the change from the old to the new. I so enjoy the idea of a whole new year that lies ahead, full of possibility. The new year contains no mistakes, no regrets, no new experiences, no adventure, no disappointments. It just exists. It’s full of potential joys and possible heart break. While thinking ahead to this new, blank year, I am a natural dreamer and planner. I relish thinking about the what-ifs, how-tos, and should-Is of the new year.

Last year, I wrote about being more intentional and also my ongoing “relationship” with my iPad. Well, I had no idea that last year would involve a cancer diagnosis and passing of a close family member, several months of Robert covering another chaplain’s territory and working about 70 hrs/week, and new course preps and overload at work for me. Instead of being intentional, 2015 was more about survival. Not only was there not much creating, I also did not develop great habits and routines and I feel back into the TV/iPad trap. We were lucky to have a home-cooked meal a few times a week. However, my one great success was that I did establish a good nightly routine of writing all year in my gratitude journal and reading poetry each night before bed. I filled a journal and read three complete books of poetry. That routine is not firmly developed.

There are plenty of people who think making resolutions is stupid or pointless. The nay-sayers claim that most resolutions are never kept or followed through with. They claim it is an exercise in futility. Or like one of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Melton, stated  in her New Year’s Day blog post, “I don’t want a new, better life in 2016. I just want new eyes to see that my life is already staggeringly beautiful.” Those are lovely words, but I disagree. (Sorry, Glennon. I agree with 93.74% of what you write.)

I do want to notice the beauty in my daily life, hence the reason I started a gratitude journal last year. I try to find the joy in the small things, give myself and the people I interact with an extra dose of grace, and reflect upon and appreciate what is. However, that doesn’t mean that I still can’t dream. The Bible tells us that “without a vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18) and Willie Wonka, with apologies to poet Arthur O’Shaughnessy, stated, “We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams.”

So yes, I want to lose a few pounds, exercise more, and develop a good morning routine. I still need to put my iPad in its proper place. However, my main priority in 2016 is to create with my hands. I love to crochet and quilt, and I just joined an embroidery club a few months ago. I also want to write more poetry and learn how to create mixed media fiber art. I want to try out new recipes and complete some DIY projects. I will make time to create. There is no quota on how much time or how many projects–just an intent to do so. If I make one thing, then that is one more thing that I have created.


Today was a ridiculously successful day in that regard. Of course I have been home today with no agenda, so it is not a realistic gauge of the what lies ahead when the realities of work and daily life become more real and consistent. However, today, I colored one of the pages in the coloring set that Robert got me for Christmas–so relaxing and so fun!



For the past few days I have been crocheting a bed for kitty girl and I finished it today. She’s hard to see in it since she is black and against a navy blue chair, but she does like it.


And I made chicken and sausage gumbo from scratch, which is the most labor intensive meal that I ever cook. It’s pretty much an all day affair.



So, here’s to a 2016 full of new creations and hand crafting!

So About My Morning Routine… Wednesday, Dec 9 2015 


It’s been over two months since I last posted here. At that point I was 4 days into my 31 days of developing some new routines…particularly a new morning routine. It never happened. October was a hard month. 10 days after my last post my father-in-law died from cancer. There was my own grief, travel, and most importantly, supporting my husband and children through their grief. All routine went out the window. That was not only okay. It was the best thing at that time.

Due to a multitude of factors that I won’t go into because I don’t want to be a whiny baby, it has been a very hard semester. It’s been tough emotionally, physically, and mentally. I have never felt caught up or on top of things. I’ve been tired and overwhelmed which has made my brain feel fuzzy. Yet this is my life for this particular season. So, do I feel like I was defeated by not establishing a good, solid morning routine this semester? No! I adapted and did what I needed to do each month, week, day to maintain homeostasis.

Not only have I not had a good morning routine this semester, but my house has frequently not been as clean as I would have liked, I have not engaged in many creative pursuits (crocheting, quilting), and we have eaten out or had thrown together meals more than I would like. That’s the best I could do. I have peace with that. There have been other life periods when that has happened such as finishing my doctorate, being bedridden with a herniated disc and recovering from back surgery, and my first year on the tenure-track. I have learned that these times are temporary and I give myself grace.

I’m still alive and well. My life will be chaos for the next two weeks as finals roll in and massive amounts of grading await, but then comes sweet rest and a change in routine. We are very much looking forward to my mother-in-law coming to spend Christmas with us and creating new memories with her.

I will revisit the morning routine issue again in January. In the meantime, I would like to share an interesting and thought-provoking blog called My Morning Routine. Various up and comers are interviewed a couple of times a week with the same questions about their morning routine. It’s kind of an interesting read. Check it out!


31 Days of Routines: Baby Steps Sunday, Oct 4 2015 

Woo Hoo! I did it. I ate breakfast and had a leisurely quiet time this morning.

To be fair, I must remind you that not only is it a Sunday (which is way easier and different than a work day), but it was an unusual Sunday. Normally I am heading out to church, but today I had a special lunch with some ladies in a town about an hour away, so I had to miss church which gave me more time at home this morning. I had an unrushed morning of breakfast, then I was able to bring my fall/winter clothes up from the basement (Brr…it’s gotten chilly here) and load the dishwasher. 

If yesterday was about eating frogs, then today was about biting elephants. 


The elephant is an article that a colleague and I have been intending to write for months. Aside from the fact that we have both have had some unexpected family crises, we also keep letting it fall to the bottom of the priority list. I mentioned that I thought we were both overwhelmed by the enormity, so we needed to break up the article into six parts and each write about three. This morning I tackled one of my three parts. I wrote for an hour. I didn’t get finished, but I made a good solid dent in it and now I’m not staring at a blank computer screen anymore. I’m hoping to finish chewing that bite of elephant tomorrow.

And finally, I’ll be going to sleep before midnight which is a rarity for me. Not only that, but I have overnight oats in the refrigerator for an easy, filling, and nutritious breakfast tomorrow, my clothes are picked out and hanging up, and my lunch has been fixed.

P.S., Typically I prepare steel cut oats overnight (heated up, turned off, and then sit all night), but I only had about a third of a cup. I am trying refrigerator rolled oats for the first time. Hope they’re good!

31 Days of Routines: Eating Frogs Saturday, Oct 3 2015 

Did I get up and start embracing my leisurely morning routine? No. However, I didn’t really plan on doing much in terms of routine today. This weekend is more about getting my house in order (quite literally!) and resting up from the past two weeks. I did at least hope to eat breakfast, but that didn’t happen either. I slept late, picked up coffee, and went to my Hand Embroidery Group at 9:00 this morning. I also got grocery shopping done, which I have been putting off for five days. I did some paper sorting and organizing upstairs, conquered the laundry, and made 100 flashcards for Spanish. It’s been a lazy and easygoing, yet productive day.

A soul-filling and delicious joy of the day was making homemade gumbo. It’s been a blustery, mostly cloudy, and cool fall day, so the flavor and warmth of gumbo seemed just perfect. It’s an all day process starting with browning chicken and vegetables before simmering them into a stock to create a rich, golden broth. While the broth was simmering, I baked the roux (dropping the pan once while stirring and starting over). Then I sauteed the cajun trinity and the andouille sausage in the roux before adding it and the shredded chicken back into the broth. That simmered for a couple of hours and then I cooked the rice. It was a delicious labor of love.

During one phase of gumbo cooking, I caught up on my blogs in feedly. One of them mentioned a book about procrastination called “Eating Frogs.” I haven’t read this book and honestly, I’m not going to. However, I do like the concept behind it. I am a procrastinator and at 47 years of age, I will probably always be one. As with all things, there are pros and cons to procrastination. I thrive on the adrenaline of deadlines. I often do my best work under pressure. And sometimes procrastination even pays off. For example, I am a little behind on my ironing, but it has gotten cold here, so some of my clothes in the ironing pile will just move into storage without needing to be ironed. Score! Negatives though are things not getting done and hanging over my head, then building up.

The notion behind “eating frogs” comes from Mark Twain. The premise is that if you do the most dreaded task of the day first thing, then the rest of the day can only go uphill from there. Well, I didn’t eat a frog first thing today because of other plans and obligations, but I did eat a frog. I have had some mending to do for a few months. I don’t like mending because it isn’t very fun, creative, or inspiring, but it is necessary. I’m not one who throws something out because it is torn. The sewing machine has been sitting at the end of the dining room table for a couple of months in anticipation of mending. And sitting…and sitting. Today I gathered the 5 items and it literally took me less than 20 minutes, which included changing out thread and loading the bobbin. 20 minutes to complete a task I have put off for weeks! I’m glad that frog has been eaten. Maybe tomorrow breakfast will actually happen.

31 Days-Routines and Rhythms Thursday, Oct 1 2015 


I think this is my third or fourth year to participate in the 31 Days of October that I first learned about from another blog that I read, The Nesting Place. (And I can’t remember how many Octobers I have participated and am too lazy to look and see). At any rate, the point of 31 Days is to take the month of October and do something that you wouldn’t otherwise do…every day. One October I wore the same 10 items every day for a month. Last year I worked on cleaning out the basement a little bit every day. So what’s in store for October 2015?


Sounds exciting, huh? Well, it is for me. This semester has gotten off to a weird start. Usually we begin the Tuesday after Labor Day, but Labor Day was late this year. Therefore, we started the Wednesday before Labor Day, then had that next Monday off. Since then, I have been out of town to 4 different cities in three states in the last two weeks. I am wrapping up week five of the semester and still haven’t found my groove. I have been in a constant state of frazzled catch-up and it is no bueno. I’ve always been a go with the flow kind of gal, but I also like rhythms and routines. I need flexible routine, I guess, but at least some scaffolding of structure to my days and weeks. I wrote about this not too long ago.

I still have a very well-established bedtime routine. I shower, brush my teeth, write at least 3 things I am grateful for in my gratitude journal, read one poem, and then read a book until sleepy. What is not routine is my bedtime. I would love to get in the habit of being in bed by 10 and lights out by 10:30. The reality is that I am rarely in bed before 11:30 and closing my eyes around midnight. Even though I have a good, although belated, night routine, my morning routine is a hot mess!

I have been getting up originally at 6:00 am, but that has become more like 6:30 as the semester has progressed and I’ve been tired from all of the traveling. My snooze alarm and I are carrying on a torrid affair in the morning. Since I shower at night, I get up, wash my face, do hair and make up, throw on some clothes, grab my coffee (that I made while doing my hair), and head out of the door. No breakfast. No quiet time. Rush, rush, go!

I would like my mornings to include a sit down breakfast. I don’t want eggs and bacon, but I’d like to intentionally sit down with a cup of coffee and oatmeal, cereal, grapefruit, and/or toast. I want to spend some time in prayer and either reading my Bible or a devotional, and I want to do a short yoga or exercise routine like using the 7 minute exercise app. Adding in all of those things would probably only add 30 minutes total to my morning routine. But I have to take baby steps to get there. If I add in all these changes at one time, I will get discouraged, fail, and drop the new routine completely. So…for the next 30 days I will chonicle the steps in my new routines. I firmly believe the following quote, which is why this is so important to me.

While working on my morning routine, I want to address the ebb and flow of my weekly routine as well. This includes daily time for household management and chores, keeping work at work, guarding my evenings and weekends, and making time for my hobbies. If When I am successful in establishing my morning routine, I might add in an afternoon or evening routine that involves drinking tea and doing something briefly that feeds my soul, like reading, creative writing, crocheting, etc. 

Here’s to the routine that 31 Days will bring!

Leavetaking… Sunday, Aug 23 2015 

Tonight is the last night of the full nest in our home. Tomorrow afternoon we will drive up to Duluth, Minnesota to move Noah into his dorm. We have had quite a hectic weekend, but as the last of the laundry was done and the van was loaded up tonight, naturally I became a bit pensive. Always an easy crier, I’ll admit that I teared up a bit in church this morning looking over at Adam running sound and Noah playing the cajon and thinking what handsome, capable, intelligent, compassionate young men they have both grown into. My heart explodes with pride. Not only do I love them more than mere words can express, but I really, really like them too. They are so hilarious, witty, smart, engaging, and fun!

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook last week. If you are too uninspired to go to the hyperlink, I’ll summarize. Basically a guy I don’t know, named Alan Heathcock, posted the following poster that his 16 year old daughter received as a birthday gift:

FB poster

Just ponder those word for a moment. Basically, as a female, your life is defined by a boy. Ick. As many fathers would be, he was kinda miffed about the message this was sending to his daughter, so he wrote his own. It is cut and pasted below:

What I want for you: A life driven by a sense of freedom. A life of learning and being empowered by the knowledge you can change the world. To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies. To be a voice for those suffering and change the laws that oppress and discriminate. To be the first human to walk on Mars. To sit at the head of a boardroom table. To travel the world and paraglide off the peaks of mountains. To eat amazing meals in the world’s most beautiful cities. To tell and hear jokes in many languages and watch the sun rise on the shores of lakes and oceans and know that people are beautiful and the world is beautiful. To know your life is of your design. Your whim. Your dreams. Your work. I want you to be kind and considerate, curious and tenacious. To give respect and demand respect in return. Most of all, I want you to know you’re loved and that I truly believe you can claim an extraordinary life filled with wonderful relationships and adventures all without ever compromising who you are or who you want to be.

It sounds nice overall at first glance, but upon re-reading it I found it was focused on “success” as the world defines it. For example, “To find cures for diseases. To design buildings that will stand for hundreds of years. To write symphonies.” Yes, shoot for the stars. We should encourage our children to become people they never dreamed they could be and do things they never imagined they could do. But…the reality is that most of us never will go to Mars or cure a disease. Some of us will quietly impact the world in small, but significant ways one person at a time. Some people don’t want to sit at the head of a boardroom table, but would prefer to be the idea person or graphic designer behind the scenes. That’s noble and good too. Also, he spoke more about his wishes for his daughter’s accomplishments than her character. However, what Mr. Heathcock did do was to inspire me to write my own prayer and wants for my sons as they both go out into the world. Here’s mine:

What I want and pray for you: A life of purpose, passion, and service. A life of knowing that you are loved deeply and fully by your dad and me. A life of sharing that love with others, especially the lonely, the marginalized, and those that the world deems “unlovable.” Even your enemies. I hope you have a community of loyal friends and family who are your loudest cheerleaders, your sanctuary, your sounding board, and your safe place. A community with whom you can be silly, outrageous, serious, open, protected, vulnerable, whimsical, and thoughtful. I pray for you joy more than happiness and contentment over complacency. I pray that you are a world changer, a justice seeker, a servant leader, an extender of grace, a voice for the voiceless, and a righter of wrongs. I hope you pause and find delight in daily, simple things like the taste of melting butter on fresh bread, the sound of a loon’s call, or the pure beauty of a fresh snowfall. I hope for you a life of learning, of always discovering new books, meeting diverse people, traveling the globe, and being exposed to different thoughts and ideologies so you can consider multiple perspectives and reaffirm truth. I pray that you find your vocation and that it is something that contributes value to the world and passion to your soul. I pray that you know the incredible depth and breadth of God’s love for you. That you are secure in knowing that you are His precious child and He loves you more than any of us can comprehend. I hope you know that nothing can separate you from His love. That even though people, including me, may fail you, He never will. That He doesn’t sleep. That His grace is sufficient. That He is patient and longsuffering. That God is not “safe,” but He is always, always good. I want you to know that you cannot lose my love. That you are my joy, my heartbeat, my legacy, and my delight. I am so very, very proud of you. Always.

my poster

Clothed and Unafraid: Terrell Edition Sunday, Aug 16 2015 

Robert and I are fans of the Discovery Channel show, Naked and Afraid. In case you haven’t seen it or heard of it, a male and female are dropped into some remote area naked and left to survive for 21 days. They each get to bring one survival item which is usually a fire starter and/or machete. When the two contestants first meet, obviously being naked with a stranger of the opposite sex is awkward and weird. However, you quickly realize that the embarrassment is the easy part. It is the sunburn, total exposure to insects, nothing to retain body heat at night, and walking over rocks, thorns, poisonous snakes, etc. that is the worst part of naked. (There is also plenty of “bad naked”–Seinfeld reference–when you are bending over to chop wood, climbing trees, etc.). 

At any rate, it is interesting to see how they adapt and suvive for 3 weeks, as well as manage the emotional, interpersonal, and psychological challenges. With Naked and Afraid in mind, during our vacation in the UP, we had a taste of this survival challenge. Our cabin was missing a few key items, so here is how we adapted in the face of such hardship. 

On our first night we had planned to grill out steaks. We couldn’t find any matches in the cabin which was odd considering the grill, the beach fire pits, and the fireplace. The office was closed and the nearest town was 15 miles away, so Robert went into survival mode and made a fire with a piece of paper and the electric burner on the stove.  Boom! Fire!

The next night I was making smothered pork chops. Oh horrors! The frying pan in the cabin was missing. There was a saute pan about 5-6″ in diameter, but that wasn’t going to work for 3 porkchops. I adapted in the moment and cooked the porkchops in the boiler. So hardcore.

After the porkchops, I needed to use the browned bit to make a roux and then the gravy. Alas, there was no whisk to be found and I couldn’t use a fork because there was a nonstick coating on the pot. The pioneer substitute for a whisk? A plastic slotted spoon. Crisis averted and gravy made. No lumps either!

And finally, it was unusually hot and humid in Northern Michigan (upper mid-80s and quite humid) and we had no a/c. Robert had read up on ways to use fans going in different directions day versus night to suck out the hot air and bring in the cool air. He also had all sorts of cross ventilation going. The one fan needed to be turned backward to cool the interior down and it kept falling off the windowsill. Enter McGyver with brooms and physics.

Clearly we are hardcore survivalists and ready to take on any challenge. Our PSR (Primitive Survival Rating) went up at least 2 points. Such pioneers! 


25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage–Part IV Thursday, Aug 13 2015 

Well, tonight is the final list which is good because I’m tired. I probably could thing of a few more things beyond this final list of five, but I’m ready to move onto other topics. Robert and I have been talking about lots of big things and thinking deep thoughts while away on our anniversary trip and there are other things I now want to write about. Anyway, for my final list of things…

21. We compensate for one another and complement each other. My hands are almost always cold—ice cold. My family jokingly calls me the Ice Queen, and now since the advent of the movie Frozen, Elsa. People seriously flinch when I touch them and I had to rub my hands together or run them under hot water before dressing and diapering my babies. When Robert and I were dating we used to joke about his warm hands compensated for my cold ones. Ironically, on the rare occasion that his hands were cold, mine were warm. That pattern of opposite body temperature has played itself out over and over. However, it works in other ways too. He is alert in a car and loves to drive. On long car trips, it is rare that I can stay awake longer than 30 minutes. He does plumbing and electrical. I repair clothes, make curtains, and bedcoverings. He prefers mowing the lawn and I prefer weeding the flowerbed. I am extroverted and quicker to respond in anger. He is introverted and much more patient. It’s nice to have that balance and a yin to my yang.


He made the headboard, I made the quilt and most of the pillows.

22. My husband is the person I most want to tell my happy, exciting, sad, and/or troublesome news to. When I have a great day at work, hear a funny story, feel sad and upset, or simply need to vent, Robert is my go-to. He’s the first one I want to share the good news with because I know he will share in my joy. He’s the one I most want to share my bad news with because I know he’ll comfort me or share in my “righteous indignation.” He’s my safe place.

23. Husband before kids and marriage before parenting. We were encouraged to put each other before any potential children in our premarital counseling and I have heard that advice many times. However, recently I saw an internet article stating that point and the comments were vicious! Many women were responding that their children would always put their children ahead of their husbands. In my opinion, that’s too bad and they will probably be the couple that you see at a restaurant who don’t talk to each other because they have nothing to say. Ideally, there is a husband-wife before children and one day the children will leave. Then you are back down to the husband and wife. We are facing the empty nest in less than two weeks. I am so glad that we have put time and energy in maintaining our marriage. 

Our children have certainly been well loved and provided for, but part of that is creating a home in which they know their parents love each other and are committed to each other. Shortly after watching The Titanic, when we had a one year old and a three year old, we vowed that in a life or death situation, we would each focus on saving the children over each other. However, as far as daily life went, our marriage partnership was a priority over the parenting one. That doesn’t mean that we neglected our children. It just meant that we had regular date nights, went away overnight without our children at least once a year, and had a part of our life that didn’t revolve around them. On date nights we didn’t talk about our kids–we had plenty of other things to discuss. We have had a wonderful time as a family and were full partners in parenting, but now that we will be just a couple again, we have a solid foundation for the rest of our married life.

24. I’m glad we waited and he’s my one and only. Yep, we dated for 5 years, were engaged for 11 months, and still waited until marriage to “know” each other. That was a conscious choice from the start, in large part due to our faith and our belief that scripture teaches that sex should not occur outside of marriage (pre-, extra-, or otherwise). We also appreciated the sacred, bonding, spiritual commitment that literally “becoming one” means. We talked about it and waited…and waited…and waited. As with many (most?) things in life, it wasn’t easy, but it has been worth it. We both developed the spiritual discipline of self-control during that time and that has been an important and valuable character trait to have throughout life as a married couple and as individuals. We also aren’t haunted by past relationships and the comparison game, since we know we are each other’s one and only. 

25. We couldn’t do it without God being the bedrock and foundation of our marriage. And finally, the glue that holds everything together, that makes the good times better and the bad times endurable, is our faith in God. We know that He has bound us together. We believe that scripture teaches that marriage is a picture of Christ and His bride, the Church. We believe that we give glory to God by loving each other sacrifically and well. 


And in the words of Forrest Gump, 


25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage–Part III Wednesday, Aug 12 2015 

I had planned to finish this four part series yesterday on our actual 25th anniversary. However, the oldest manchild returned on Monday after a summer working at camp, so we were busy spending time as a family. Then yesterday I was running around grocery shopping and getting things in order to leave for our anniversary trip, as well as going out last night to celebrate. Things have been a little hectic (isn’t that life?) so I’ll do five things today and the final five tomorrow. 

We are currently in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, in a little cottage on the shore of Lake Superior, celebrating our 25th anniversary. We had a nice drive, some walking along the lake, sitting outside and grilling, and relaxing while watching Arrested Development. It’s almost midnight because Michigan is on Eastern time (which I detest), but since I’m still on Wisconsin/central time and I’m a night owl, here I type…five more things I’ve learned about my marriage.

16. He changed…but not because of me. Going by urban myths and pop culture, apparently many women marry men whom they plan to change. They don’t totally love the man, but thing he’ll be perfect, or at least good enough, when she works her magic and changes his habits or thoughts after marriage. In my opinion, that is a recipe for disaster. There is no perfect man (or woman) and living with another human being can be literally and metaphorically messy. There are going to be habits and quirks that initially drive you insane. There may be some big differences in religion, values, political ideaology, etc. as well–which probably should have been resolved before marriage. Those biggies do need to be dealt with, but again, not necessarily resulting in change, but at least a compromise or agreeing to disagree.

The thing in 25 years, people do change. If Robert didn’t change at all, then that means he isn’t learning, growing, thinking, being challenged, taking risks, etc. He is NOT the man I married. He’s much more complicated now and that keeps things interesting and fun. He has changed in his theological views, his political views, his view of ministry, how he parents, how he shows me love, the foods he likes, the clothes he wears, the hobbies he pursues, and the list goes on and on. I am grateful that he has changed and grown. It’s been fun to be a part of the process and it has affected how I have changed as well.

17. I changed too. Some of my change has been affected by Robert and vice versa. He has changed some of his eating habits and food preferences due to new recipes I have tried and new foods I have introduced to the family. I have changed in my views of grace, social justice, and ministry because of him. I have learned to love the writings of C. S. Lewis (except his science fiction), many action-adventure and comic book movies, and biking because of him. However, many other ways I have grown on my own–going back to school, raising children, reading, meeting new people, traveling, etc. have all changed me, my thoughts, my personal philosophies, and even my vocation. It’s been awesome to change together as we become the truest and refined versions of ourselves as individuals, which in turn complements us as a couple.

18. It’s fun growing up together. We got married fairly young, at 22 years of age. We thought we were pretty mature at the time. In some ways (i.e., money management) I think we were. In other ways, I laugh at how much we didn’t know and how pseudo-mature we were. However, it has been fun growing up together. We have gone from clueless and immature newlyweds, to young parents, to responsible adults, to a middle aged couple. It’s a cool experience to go through all of those phases of life together. 

19. Young love can be real love. A couple of months ago I went and saw a 30th anniversary screening of The Breakfast Club in theaters with a few coworkers. There were some extra features, including interviews with John Hughes, who directed the movie and was the guru behind all great teen movies in the 80s. He said something that stuck with me about how he took teenagers seriously and recognized their emotions as real emotions. I just found a quote on the internet along those lines in which Hughes said, “Many filmmakers portray teenagers as immoral and ignorant, with pursuits that are pretty base… But I haven’t found that to be the case. I listen to kids. I respect them… Some of them are as bright as any of the adults I’ve met.”

Robert and I met in the third grade, were friends on and off all through school (especially starting in 9th grade) and started dating in January of the 11th grade after we had just turned 17. At the time he asked me out we were good buddies and hung out in the same large social group. On that first date if you had told me that one day we would be celebrating out 25th wedding anniversary, I would have laughed in your face. However, after that date we went out again and then again. As much as we tried to go to different colleges, because everyone told us we should, we ended up at the same university. We didn’t say the “L word” for a long time, but by the summer after our freshman year in college, at the tender age of 19, we knew that we would one day get married. Our love as 18 and 19 year olds was every bit as authentic as our current love as 47-year-olds. It wasn’t as rich, meaningful, and multi-faceted as it is now, but that’s more a reflection of time together than of age. Teenage love can be every bit as genuine and sustainable as the love of more “mature” adults.

20. Keeping ourselves healthy for each other is important. We both probably weigh15-20 pounds more than we did when we married. Most of that is due to changes in metabolism that happen as we age, plus the fact that we were both extra skinny. However, we both stay around the same weight now and are at healthy BMIs. Since metabolism has slowed way down, that means we have to work at it. We are actually both in much better physical condition now than we were on the day we got married. Robert runs and I walk regularly, many miles each week. We both bike. Our vacations now often include bringing our bikes along and taking exercise clothes and shoes with us. We make it a priority because we want to be as healthy as we can to live longer and better. 

I also think it important from a bait-and-switch standpoint. Some people seem to let themselves go after marriage whether that be gaining weight, dressing in sweats every day, or never trying to look special for their spouse. By the way, this goes both ways—not just women. Obviously we are going to age. Wrinkles will come, gravity will move things southward, and hair greys and/or falls out. However, overall physical fitness, hygiene, grooming, and dressing are within our control. I think it is important to let my husband know that I want to look and feel my best for him, as well as myself.

And tomorrow, I’ll wrap up the final five…

25 Things I’ve Learned in 25 Years of Marriage–Part II Sunday, Aug 9 2015 

Yesterday I started a four part series reflecting on 25 things I have learned as I approach my 25th anniversary.For what it’s worth, I haven’t planned these all out. I am just thinking of them day by day…so I hope I can come up with 25. I’ve been mulling my five things over in my head throughout the day, so the topics I have come up with are two of the biggest problem areas in marriage: sex and money. Got your attention?

So here’s how this is going to play out. I don’t think one can have a discussion of a happy, “successful” (whatever that means) marriage without talking about sex. While I am going to speaking in generalities, my mother-in-law reads my blog (Hi Evelyn!) and occasionally some of my real-life colleagues do too. Under the right conditions, I would have this conversation in real life, but only with friends of the same sex. So if you are someone else that I encounter in real life, esp. of the XY chromosomal arrangement, let’s not make eye contact and let’s do pretend this didn’t happen, okay?:-) Now that we got that out of the way, onward!

chaplin quote

11. Sex gets better with each passing year. When I got married at the tender age of 22 years, I assumed that Robert and I were at our sexual prime–young, healthy, madly in love, and simmering in mass quantities of hormones. Not that I ever considered middle-aged sex, but if I had I guess I would have assumed that it happened rarely or that it was boring and dutiful. However, now that we are knocking at the door of our 50s, I can say that it is so much better than in our 20s. I have had many friends agree.

Robert and I have talked about why this is. I think it all goes back to communication, shared history, and trust. Sex should be a physical way of communicating love. Inherently, the act of sex requires a certain vulnerability and trust. It is a baring of the body and the soul and a means of physically, emotionally, and spiritually becoming one with another. It is not to be taken lightly. As the years of marriage pass, Robert has shown himself to be trustworthy in a million different ways large and small. He has cared for me in times of emotional brokenness and in sickness. He has seen me at my very worst and still loved me. Because of this shared history and good communication skills about problems, feelings, hurts, joys, dreams, and sex, I can trust him implicitly with my body and my soul. Plus, in 25 years with the same person, well…practice makes perfect.

I’m looking forward to the next 25 years, because I’m guessing that the 70+ year old crowd really has it going on.

13. Libido ebbs and flows, but sexual intimacy has to remain a priority. No doubt that there are those seasons in life when we can’t keep our hands off each other and there are some other times when illness, stress, or life circumstances make sex a distant memory for a period of time. I can easily remember being a young mother with a preschooler who needed boo-boos kissed and wanted to climb in my lap to read books, while also breastfeeding an infant every 3 hours and bouncing him on my hip in between. With two little humans in constant contact with my body all day long (a phenomenon of breastfeeding moms called being “touched out”), the last thing I wanted was one more human who wanted to touch me or needed something physically from me. However, at those times it is so important to communicate and talk. There is also a time just to rally.

Society and popular culture tend to portray low libido as a female problem. However, I have had more than a few friends who have dealt with it with their husbands too. Sometimes it is a matter of priority (i.e., workaholics who spent more emotional energy on their job than their wives) and other times it has been physical, like low testosterone. Often for women it is a medical issue too, including thyroid problems and poor sex drive related to hormonal birth control. Once medical issues have been ruled out or managed, the more complicated issues need to be addressed. This may include a lack of emotional connection, a need for more sleep, one of the partners feeling unappreciated or disrespected, unresolved hurt, and even past sexual abuse. The only way this issues will be resolved is through good communication and openness, as well as professional counseling in some cases.

For us, it has been important first of all to be aware that there are just some natural cycles in libido for both of us and to realize that we may need to adjust expectations when the other person is going through a particularly busy season at work or hasn’t been feeling well. There are also times to be honest and say “I’m not feeling it right now,” but understanding that intimacy can be the glue to marriage and sometimes you have to either rally or be an agreeable and willing, although maybe not a particularly…ummm…active participant. And there are times to be patient and wait it out. However, ignoring a long stretch of low libido is not an option—it has to be discussed so that one spouse is not feeling hurt, unloved, and rejected unintentionally.

13. Sex begets sex. Another thing I have learned is that during those low times, which will come, if I put on my game face and go for it, that usually my sex drive comes around as well. I think this situational low libido can be fairly common for women, but we shouldn’t just write it off and say “Well, that’s just the way it is. I can’t help it.” It certainly shouldn’t be accepted as the status quo.

I recently saw something that a friend had posted on Facebook, an advice column from mothering.com about a young mother’s lack of sex drive. Part of the post was “…I could live without sex. I am exhausted and just want to sleep or be by myself. How can I get my husband to understand I’m just now interested in sex right now?…” Signed: Lost Libido and OK with it. The advice columnist went on to offer possible reasons for low libido and strategies for dealing with it. What was shocking about this article was how many women commented something to the effect of “This woman said she was okay with her low libido. She wasn’t looking for advice. Why can’t her husband just accept that?” Well, because sexual intimacy is really a non-negotiable in marriage. Unless there is some physical reason that a couple can’t have a sexual relationship or they have mutually agreed not to for some reason, then sex is a very reasonable expectation. This is the whole reason for consummating a marriage and why an annulment can be sought pre-consummation, but divorce is necessary afterward. Sexual intimacy “seals the deal” of the marriage vows. It is an ongoing physical means of expressing love, being emotionally connected, as well as being stress-relieving, playful, and fun. There are spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits to both partners in a marriage relationship when there is an active and regular sex life and it is not something that should be neglected. Sex is a key component of marriage, not an afterthought or a luxury.

14. Marriage means joint bank accounts. Occasionally I hear of married couple of have separate bank accounts. Aside from not understanding how that works in a practical manner (who pays what and how is that decided?), it misses the mark of marriage in my opinion. Marriage is the intersection of two lives becoming one. In everything. No holds barred. Pooling together finances and sharing mutual access to money requires trust and vulnerability too. The breadwinner has to trust that the one who isn’t bringing as much money is going to handle the finances equitably and well. Also, the breadwinner can’t lord the salary differential over the partner. All income gets put in one pot that both partners have equal access to. Not only does it require trust, but also communication about how money is handled, beliefs and feelings about money, and what financial security and expectations mean for each person.

15. Both of us keep our hands in the finances and no one person holds the purse strings. For us, what makes our finances work fairly smoothly is a similar attitude about money, similar financial upbringing, and the fact that we work together to manage our finances.

Fortunately we were both raised by parents who taught us that debt was undesirable, paying cash was best, and we both saw modest, thoughtful handling of finances modeled by our parents. We have been able to pay for all of our graduate schooling (masters and doctorates for both of us) with no debt or loans by living below our means. We buy used cars and if we don’t pay cash, we pay off the loan quickly. After a several year period of owning all vehicles free and clear, we currently have a small loan on our new-to-me car. We have been in our current house not quite 8 years and owe less than half of the asking price because we pay well over our mortgage each month. We should own our house free and clear in about 7-10 years. We are able to do this because of similar convictions about how to spend our money. We tithe first and foremost then give to other needs and charitable organizations that we feel strongly about. We divide and conquer ongoing bill management. Robert does our taxes, pays the mortgage and car payment, and the one credit card that we use for rewards (paid off monthly). He also handles all of our retirement accounts. I deal with all medical bills and insurance issues including car and life insurance, pay utilities, and pay other incidental bills as well as weekly grocery shopping. We discuss all large purchases and must agree. For us a “large purchase” usually means >$50, which is likely laughable to most. However, it works for us and we are able to keep a good handle of our money this way and it decreases impulse purchases as well as trying to reassign wants into needs.

And that’s enough for tonight. Tune in for 5 more tomorrow…

lewis marriage

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