Category Archives: marriage

When the Anniv Gift Isn’t on the Lists

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As I understand tradition, there are specific types of gifts for each year of marriage.

What if there were gifts for each year POST marriage?

Here are mine.

Year 1: cowboy boots (someone sent me a check for the exact amount before the fact!)

Year 2: for some reason I cannot remember!

Year 3: I traded in a broken Silpada necklace for 6 stacking birthstone rings representing my kids

Year 4: a new bed frame since I didn’t want to take the one from our Day 1- I got this great deal on a metal frame which is very different from the solid wood from before.  But after watching a few episodes of any BBC series, I now believe it looks like a hundred year old hospital bed.  Insert smiley face here…

Year 5: I had considered looking for a keepsake from the James Avery store for this anniversary but got worried they would send me to the “full FINGER” area of the store after shopping for “unmentionables” earlier in the day.

But I ventured into the store finally and found a ring to commemorate this 25th wedding anniversary. It has Hebrew letters that say the verse from the book of Ruth. “Wherever you go, I go.” It will be my constant reminder that I am following God on this journey, wherever it leads me. It kind of goes with the heart necklace I bought the first year with the German phrase “Allein Gott”, meaning God alone.

On this journey I need to be continually reminded of my connection to Christ. Do you? It is so easy for me to get distracted by the glittery things of this world and this culture.

So now I wear the six stacking rings to represent my children, my thumb ring we found while cleaning out the garage that was an unknown man’s wedding band that I wear to represent 3 men in my life who have gone ahead of me (my brother, my husband , and my dad), and now a ring just about me following God.

Ruth was a widow who left behind all she knew and was comfortable with to go with her mother-in-law to a new land, new language I’m guessing?, and a new culture. She was not part of the Israelites. She was an alien.  She had no way to provide for her little home. But she followed her bitter mother-in-law to her homeland and did all she asked of her. And her obedience helped turn her mother -in-law’s bitterness around to sweetness. Her obedience and new faith put her in line for the Messiah. She became King David’s great-grandmother! I believe she is a great model for me from Scripture. She modeled obedience, love, purity, faith, and trust. Exactly what I want said of me.

And the largest readership I have ever had was this facebook post I made on my 25th wedding anniversary. If you missed it, here it is. I had over 5000 people see this. Crazy.

This.
Is.
The.
Day.
The. 
Lord.
Has.
Made.
I
Will.
Rejoice.
And.
Be.
Glad.
In.
It.

Twenty-five years ago I married this man. I dreamed of this anniversary because we had big plans. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer. At least we covered all our bases. Married life seems like a faraway dream. So much has changed. I’ve forgotten what it is like to be the number one person in someone’s world. I’ve forgotten what his whiskers felt like against my face. Hugs are different now. All the movie quotes and song lines that I repeat just fall to the floor with no understanding. The stories I want to tell someone but no one will understand or care. But life is good. I miss all those things but I have so many blessings. So this, this 25th wedding anniversary, is the day the Lord has made. I WILL rejoice. I WILL. and be GLAD. in it. Glad? Yes, Glad. Glad for all the 30 years of memories with Mr Mark. Glad for these six children we had. Glad for his smart genes that have been passed down to my kids. Glad for his biblical knowledge he shared. Glad. Because 25 years ago he gave me his name. Happiest of anniversaries, honey. I miss you each and every day.

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2016 State Fair

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2016 State Fair

I keep thinking that this tradition is going to die but I keep resuscitating it!

I have a long history with our state fair. When I was a child, my parents worked with a Christian ministry who had a booth at the fair. They would tell Bible stories to the children coming through. In those days, the kids would stay and sit and listen while the parents hung around in the area. We even had this strange contraption like a Ferris Wheel but for animals! I’m sure PETA would have been on us like ugly on ape nowadays. In the midway, there were freak shows and rides and any kind of unusual person you could imagine.

After college, I moved back to this great state. In the first months, I was working a job at a Christian talk radio station (no, not as a DJ or a talk show host…) and they needed me to cover their table at the fair. They even gave me 4 tickets to get in so I could take a couple friends. I had met some neat people, some cool cats, at the church class I was going to, so I asked these two handsome young men to go with me (and a gal who looked sweet on one of them just for good measure) and we went to the fair. I had an awesome cinnamon roll that day.

Those two handsome men were MarkandNeil. It became the one name for the two of them. They were best buds and I was their third wheel. We did everything together for five years.  We took road trips to Dallas and small plane trips to eastern Oklahoma. We even took a trip around Europe. Best times.

The week Mark proposed to me, he took a state fair cinnamon roll out of the freezer and warmed it up. He saved it for months for that moment.

Mark and I got married and we had a room in our house that was ‘Neil’s room’ for many years. Until we needed it for kids. But probably every year, Mark and I attended the fair. With stroller. With babies. With toddlers. We always had a cinnamon roll.

The last year we attended the fair, Mark was not very healthy. He mostly sat at the cooking demonstrations while I swept through the aisles of the buildings with the kids. We continued to make state fair memories. He always liked to look at the leather booths while I was suckered in by the free things.

As the kids have gotten older, schools don’t let out for ‘fair day’ any more, so we don’t get to go with the whole family. Two years ago I went with one child on her school field trip. Last year my sister and BIL took two of my kids, and included freak shows this time….thanks. This year I am homeschooling so I took those two during the day and we nearly passed out from heat stroke. Seriously. I even offered them to go on a ride, which I NEVER EVER do, but they actually said it was too hot! We did receive a small evergreen tree to plant. And the kids got some caterpillars that will hopefully turn into butterflies. They are pretty excited about it.

So the fair… I have loved it for so many years. I’m not sad when I go. I am thankful for the memories. And I want my kids to have memories to share with others. Sometimes those memories are good. Sometimes they are strange. Sometimes bittersweet. But all the memories together make a beautiful tapestry of life.

And this year, I just had a corn dog, for the record. No deep-fried Oreos or bacon-wrapped chicken-on-a-stick. Just an old-fashioned corn dog.

Collect memories today, friend. 

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Twenty-Two Years Ago Today…

TWENTY-TWO YEARS AGO TODAY…

The Other Side of the (Marriage) Mountainwedding

On this day, twenty-two years ago, I walked down the aisle at my church to marry the man I loved. It was a hot day just like today. I remember that Mr. Mark left the wedding rings at his house as he ran out the door, flustered because of a cat issue. I remember that he sweated through the ceremony because the a/c was turned off so the candles wouldn’t blow out. I remember the ones who stood up with us. I remember the families with their little ones who came to celebrate with us. I remember Mr Mark’s siblings singing together at the reception. I remember my daddy walking me down the aisle. I remember the convertible Stingray that we drove away in, driving up and down the expressway with my veil blowing in the wind. I remember opening the gifts and hanging out with family after the reception. I remember driving to Dallas that afternoon in our red Peugeot. I remember so many faces of friends and loved ones.

But on this day, twenty-two years later, all I have are memories.  The red Peugeot died many years ago. The dress is kept in a box on a top shelf of a closet. The pictures sit on a shelf, collecting dust. The man who walked me down the aisle has gone and so has the man I met at the end of the aisle. Both of the most important men in my life are in Heaven. So much has changed…

I will never claim to be a marriage expert.

But now that I am on the other side of marriage, so to speak, I have some thoughts.

We all need the relationship with someone who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions and can handle the ugly answers. Perhaps that could be one reason people get started down a wrong path. They find that they feel better when they _____________ (gamble, spend money, drink alcohol, smoke, look at porn) so then they don’t have to deal with it right then. In a marriage, this is deadly. And if no one (spouse or friend or counselor) is asking them the tough questions, they can justify their actions to themselves.  They never have to explain. They can rationalize and compartmentalize. I truly believe that marriages with secrets from each other will self-destruct. When a spouse is hiding a secret sin, the marriage is headed to a rocky state of existence.

I heard a speaker on the radio the other day on marriage. He said he had found five things that EVERY couple WILL have to deal with (at least one of) in their marriage.

  • Finances
  • In-laws
  • Nagging
  • Addiction
  • Selfishness

Do you believe that if your pastor or counselor had said this to you in your pre-marriage counseling, you would have listened and taken notes? Probably not. I would have said that it wouldn’t happen to us. When you are in the “honeymoon” stage, you think you can carry your spouse one-handed up the marriage mountain!

Finances? Remember the days when you were “poor”? You may have been newlyweds and were too happy to notice! Or it could have happened somewhere in your fifties when the economy crashed and you weren’t too happy to notice this time.

In-laws? I have heard it said (and I take offense since I have four boys!) that in a marriage, there are two women in love with the same man. I am going to be a mother-in-law someday, so I will have to remember this and not let it cause problems in a marriage.

Nagging?  We can just skip talking about this one and move to something else!

Addiction? Kills relationships. Whether it is gambling, drinking, porn, gaming, overspending, over-eating, under-eating, or infidelity, all addictions bring a third party into a marriage that wants nothing to do but destroy you or control you. You may think you are controlling it, but most likely, it is controlling you. Many marriages cannot survive this issue. No one sets out to destroy his/her marriage but these issues will definitely do it.

Selfishness? Uh-oh. Now we’re meddling… this is a DEFINITE issue that all marriages will face. Which may explain the addiction. Which may explain the finances. Which may explain, well, every conflict in a marriage.

So, to all of you considering marriage, please remember that you will encounter at least one of these issues in marriage. The difference between marriages that last and those that don’t is how these issues are handled. For better or for worse…

So would I do it again, knowing what I know now? Absolutely. Even though it ended in “til death do us part”. Even though the last anniversary we celebrated together was a difficult one. Even though we had more than one or two or three of the five issues.

Yes, I loved this man with all my heart. He made my heart skip a beat and he gave me butterflies in my stomach. He loved God and he loved me. He worked hard and he snored. I miss those butterflies and snores. I miss the way he would tuck my tags in before I left anywhere. I miss hearing his rumbling 240Z pull in the garage, honking his incredibly loud air horn. I miss the smell of his cologne. I miss seeing him dressed in a suit for work (before the days of casual work wear!). I miss his singing all the parts of the Hallelujah chorus at the same time. I miss his bathing the children while listening the Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, second movement. I miss our like-minded political discussions. I miss so much.

Twenty-twophoto years ago today…this was a celebration of two people’s love for each other. Only one of the two are left, so now it is my day alone to celebrate as quietly or loudly as I want.  This year, quietly.

Thank you, Mr Mark, for the “mother ring” as this year’s celebration of our love for each other. Six rings with the birthstones of our children.

Twenty-Two Years Ago Today…

Rush to Judgment

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Mr Mark had been waiting for this movie to come out.  It is a movie about two Formula I drivers, one of whom I had heard of and the other I hadn’t.  When the movie was released recently, I wanted to see it for Mr Mark.  I knew it wouldn’t be my favorite movie but I wanted to see it anyway.

When I found out it was rated R, I decided that the children would not be seeing it with me, in case it would be embarrassing for me and them!  So instead of children, I took some of Mr Mark’s longest friends (Neil and wife and Mark and his wife).  And if the movie met my high standards, I would allow the older boys to see it.

Needless to say, it had been a VERY long time since I had seen an R rated movie and was very glad I had this small card (pictured above) to block my eyes through too many scenes!  Really, did Ronnie Howard need to include that much immoral living for us to get the point that the driver was a guy who “got around”?  I got the idea, honest.  I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I understood what he was doing!

Niki Lauda is an Austrian who drove for the Ferrari team in the mid-seventies.  James Hunt drove for MacLaren.  They were bitter rivals.  The funniest part was in the first half.  Niki Lauda was not into the party scene at all so he wanted to leave a party with the Ferrari family and hitched a ride with a lovely lady also leaving.  She was driving a Peugeot (anyone who knew Mr Mark knew his enjoyment of driving those- we owned at least six at various times) and Niki was noticing engine noises that meant possible problems soon.  Sure enough, they broke down on the side of a country Italian road.  He tried to get a car to stop and help but no luck.  She tried and the car sreeched to a halt, since it is Italy, and we know how they feel about beautiful women.  But we also know something else about Italian men-they love their race car drivers more!  The car stopped because they recognized Niki Lauda and giggled the whole time, as they let Niki drive their car.  They enticed him to give it some gusto and he gave them a good show.

I liked the scene because that would have been Mr Mark – he never would have noticed the beautiful woman if he saw a Formula I race car driver standing nearby!  Or a beautiful race car nearby…

Our cat is named Schumi after the world champion driver Michael Schumacher.

We have been to see Formula I races in  Indianapolis.

Our older boys even had F I driver suits.

But the best is that about 5 years ago Mr Mark bought Italian leather driving “shoes”.  No, I don’t wear them.  Ever.

We weren’t the biggest fans out there.  We weren’t the most knowledgeable.  But Mr Mark was a huge fan and we supported him in that.  Some of the best Sunday afternoon naps I took were during Formula I races! Does that count as supporting your man?

No, I will not be recommending the movie to my boys, even the “adult” one.  Too many embarrassing scenes.  But I was glad I went.  It was just another way I remembered my late husband and events we shared over the last several decades.

This is what I do instead of visiting his grave.  i remind myself of the memories.  And I move forward with my children.

I Coulda Been a Contender…

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Marlon Brando in a screenshot from the trailer...

Marlon Brando in a screenshot from the trailer for the film en:On the Waterfront. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I coulda been a contender.  I coulda been someone.”

Mr Mark often quoted this line from a Marlon Brando movie.  I have never seen the movie but heard this quote quite often.

One definiton of the word contender means to strive in opposition or against difficulties; struggle.

This month I attended my first wedding post-Mr Mark.  The next weekend I participated in the first wedding post-Mr Mark.  I played my flute with  Janet  on the piano.  We rocked the prelude, guys!  And when I say rocked, what I really mean is that we sounded good.  We didn’t actually rock in the sense that we played rock and roll.  We enjoyed ourselves so much.  It was a pleasure to give my gift of music to wonderful friends giving their daughter away in marriage.  We played a little Bach, some Telemann, and a sprinkle of Twyla Paris just for good measure.  Against my better judgment, I refrained from my 80s repetoire of Carpenters, John Denver, and Anne Murray music.  You’re welcome.

But I didn’t cry until I saw the dads walk the bride down the aisle.  Her birth father and her father who has raised her through adolescence and college.  I almost burst into tears, thinking how my girls won’t have even ONE father to walk them down the aisle on their wedding day.  But how cool that this family lived in harmony for this big event in the sweet girl’s life.  I applaud both of the families for their courage and unselfishness.

The real fun came at the reception.  Cupcakes.  Chocolate fountain.  As I gabbed with friends, I noticed they were getting ready to throw the bouquet.  I wondered if I should get in while the gettin’ was good but didn’t think I was quite ready for that big step.  I kept telling Janet that I could take (and I would name the name of one of the gals waiting to catch the bouquet) her down. I could get that bouquet.  Then when the bouquet was finally tossed, a small little girl caught it.  All that was running through my head was that Marlon Brando line, “I coulda been a contender.  I coulda been someone.”  I had my chance.  Dodo, their widowed grandmother was out there.  Plus all the bridesmaids who weren’t married.  I coulda taken any one of them down!!  But I just stood off to the side smiling.

So when the garter tossing came, I thought it was time to tackle the single guy who catches the garter!  Just joking.  He was like 22 years old.  Nothing wrong with 22 year olds when you are, say, 22.  But at my age, it would be frowned upon or illegal in some states!  Again, “I coulda been a contender” but I just stood off to the side smiling.

My perspective on weddings has changed since becoming a widow.  I look at the young people, so in love.  Their promises of ’til death do them part.  Do they know that is a REAL possibility?  Death DID do us part.  Their promises to love through richer and poorer.  Do they know that job loss can play a huge part in destroying a marriage?  No income puts a really big stress on the marriage.  Their promises to love through sickness and health.  Do they know how hard it is to hold your lover as he slips into eternity?  Cancer, Alzheimers, depression, anger, heart attack…Do they understand the lack of control they actually have over all of these circumstances?   They stand up there making these promises, thinking they have the world by the tail.  Just like I did.  Just like many of you did.  But now looking back over the past 21 years, and for some of you looking back over decades longer, my perspective is very different.  I would not have changed anything about my wedding day and the promises I made.  Well, I would have changed the fact that my video guy didn’t record the solo and Scripture reading…But I wouldn’t leave out the vows.  They are necessary even though you have no clue what they really will be like in your life.  Some marriages can’t stand up to the fire of the loss of income or the death of a child.  So many marriages hit hard patches that can’t be resolved.  You know the ones.  But on your wedding day you think you can handle any of life’s stresses or conflicts.

What rough patches has your marriage been through?  What promises are the hardest to keep?  No one really has the kind of marriages like some display on facebook.  Seriously.  Some people make me ill with their display.  I loved my man but, honestly, none of the men are THAT perfect.  Neither are the women.  Except for me, of course.  And you.  But the others just can’t be that wonderful.  We are all sinners.  I was married to a sinner.  And Mr Mark was married to a sinner.  Your spouse is married to a sinner.  So the marriage thing takes a lot of work.  Contrary to what you think on that day you make the vows for forever.  The reality is that you WILL hit a rough patch.  You WILL encounter selfishness.  You WILL sometimes not really like the person.  But be a contender.  And be honest.  With each other and with others.  Don’t air your dirty laundry about your spouse but I think we need to hear more about marriages that are “real” but sticking it out.

I miss Mr Mark each day, even though there were those times throughout 21 years that were extremely difficult.  I was a contender.  Sure there are things I would do differently and if he were here, he would tell you that he would have done things differently as well.  But overall, I wouldn’t trade the last 21 years of my being Mrs Mark Dyer for anything.  Well, maybe for a chocolate fountain…

Cinnamon Rolls, Freak Shows, and Love

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Mark, Liz, NeilIt is that time again in the great state of Oklahoma…State Fair time!!

Do you have some fun memories of this?  I have some crazy ones from my childhood, when, I might add, we still got “Fair Day” off of school on the Monday of the fair.  My parents were working for a parachurch (ministries outside of the church, working with churches) organization called Child Evangelism Fellowship.  The group always had a booth at the fair with a homemade ferris wheel with small animals going around and around in cages.  My parents were not in charge of that creation, just the Bible stories…I am sure the bunnies were in therapy for years afterward.  It was a sight to behold.  PETA would have been all over this booth like ugly on ape.  No abuse went on, just unusual.

But my best memories began in 1987.  The picture above is from about that time.  I had just moved back to Oklahoma City after college and a summer in Austria.  I didn’t have a “real” job and just worked for friends at places like KQCV Christian talk radio, OCU Bookstore, and Dr McWilliams, the urologist (another blog for another day…trust me).  KQCV had a booth at the fair at which I was to volunteer but I would have some time to spare beforehand so I naturally asked some folks from my Sunday School class to go with me.  Free tickets to get into the fair!  I asked two good-looking, friendly boys to go.  Mr. Mark and his BFF Neil.  But there was a little problem.  I thought a certain girl was Mr Mark’s “special friend” so I invited her too.  I figured the four of us could have some fun.  We did had a wonderful time.  And the girl was NOT his “special friend”, so thankful was I!  One thing we did was look in the freak shows, like the bearded lady and the smallest man, etc.  Another thing we did was eat a famous State Fair cinnamon roll.  Oh gosh.  A festival for the tummy.  Amazing.  So every year after that, we went to the fair and had cinnamon rolls.  Every year, meaning maybe 2 or 3 because I moved to Austria in 1990.

Do you know what that sweet Mr Mark did?  While I was in Vienna, he went to the fair and purchased a couple of cinnamon rolls and froze them.  I came home at his bidding over Christmas in 1991 and he met me at the airport in Dallas.  We spent the night at his grandmother’s and for breakfast he pulled out of the oven, state fair cinnamon rolls!!  He drove the 3 1/2 hours from OKC with frozen cinnamon rolls to serve them up to me for breakfast!  I think that was the moment I knew I couldn’t let this man go to any other woman!

So the state fair holds some fantastic memories for me.  Pretty much every year since we were married in 1992, the fair was a constant fall event.  My kids would look forward to the “space needle” , as we called it.  And the monorail.  But we rarely entered the abyss called the midway.  Maybe twice.  Talk about freak show!  The fair has gone through some evolutions for the better over the last three decades and it is such a fun place.  And the food.  I feel like Templeton from Charlotte’s Web.  We were never too brave in our eating but we sure enjoyed seeing the offerings.

Last year was very difficult for me.  Life was very difficult for me, let’s face it.  But I decided we would go anyway and make our own sunshine.  Mr Mark always liked to visit the South of the Border booths to buy cheap leather items like belts and wallets.

This year I wondered if we would go.  Life is different.  Again.  I have 5 kids at home who aren’t much at home!  We go in 15 different directions most days and we are hardly involved in much except church and school.  I can’t even come up with a day that we could all go or if only some of us went, how the others would get home!

So enter Brother-in-Law…My sister’s husband has moved in with my mom until my sister can sell their house and move here.  He has gone out of his way to be a man in my kids’ lives.

He is intentional.

I love that.

He has taken a couple to a movie.  He has taken others to various places.  He has raised his own kids and is taking the time to invest in mine.  So when he called to take a couple of kids to the fair, I did not hesitate.  Yes, thank you.  So I dropped two off at my mom’s house to go with him to the fair (while a friend picked up one of my kids from after school choir and another kid found his own ride home from after school saxophone sectionals).  They had rain, of course, because with the fair always comes rain!  But they came home with funny stories of Uncle David saying this or that, funny foods they saw, and booths that sold everything.

So. Thankful.

Not sure if I will make it this year unless I go alone some morning.  Hmmmm.  That doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all!!