Tag Archive | marriage

The best I ever had


Here’s the song reference.

Nine years ago, I married the love of my life, the song in my heart, the light of my eyes.  Without him, there would be no Dailymomprayers.  It is something of a family joke that our priest obtained dispensation for our marriage to take place on All Saints’ Day figuring, having met the two of us, that we would probably need the intercession of the entire communion of saints along the way.  I’m of Irish descent.  He is of Italian descent.  Our kids got both, and there are certain stereotypes about tempers that are funny because they’re true.  And yet, here we are, still very much in love and still building our family by the grace of God.

Last night, after I had finished writing the blog post, Manie looked at me and grinned.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, the conversation that ensued will probably make you smile, but not surprise you.

“So what do you want to do tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.  It would be nice to go out to dinner.  When I talked to your mom this morning, I asked her if maybe we could come over for dinner.”

“I feel awful.  I didn’t get you anything.”

“I didn’t get you anything either.  I didn’t even get a card!”

“I’m a rotten husband.  Come on, there has to be something you want.”

“Yeah, a nap.  Really, it would be nice to go out to dinner.”

“We should probably do something with a play area.”

We left it at that, and curled up to watch the end of Apollo 18.  The movie was forgettable, but the company was terrific.

Although he was off today, Manie went into work for an hour to get a couple of things off his desk.  By the time he came home, Bugaboo and Beanie had finished their breakfast and were attempting to coordinate a raid on the Halloween candy.  The secret to their lack of success was their inability to agree who would be the mission leader.  I suppose I need to work on teaching them to cooperate, but it’s so terribly convenient when their bickering over who gets to be in charge keeps them out of the pantry.  While the girls were having their breakfast, Deedaw called to see if we might, perhaps, like to come over for lunch.  That sounded like a terrific idea, so I offered to run to Wegmans and bring lunch.  Nonno was in the hospital again last week, and is still a little weak and weary from it, so I didn’t want to put Deedaw to a lot of trouble cooking unless she was looking for a diversion.

Deedaw liked the Wegmans idea, so when Manie came home, he helped me get Mr. Man and Baby Guy some waffles to eat and clothes to wear, after which we bundled the bambini into the van and headed off to acquire the makings of an anniversary lunch.  Suffice it to say that sushi, cream of crab soup, salad and a roast chicken were involved.  We had a feast indeed for the Feast of All Saints; it was good to see Nonno and Deedaw laughing.

After lunch, we trooped home and settled the tiny people in for a desperately-needed nap, then sprawled ourselves across the loveseat (he) and the couch (me) to relish a few moments of quiet relaxation.  We talked for a while about things we needed to do later in the week, had a desultory discussion of some long-range plans, then enjoyed a warm silence for a bit.  I was pondering, with great wonder, the miracle of our little family, recalling the years before the children came, when we prayed and prayed to be entrusted with even one little life on this earth,and our joy when He answered our prayer with Bugaboo, then answered it again thirteen months later with Beanie, twenty-two months after that with Mr. Man, and fifteen months after that with Baby Guy.  For the record, there are presently no buns in the oven, as it were.  As I considered, smiling, that vow we made, nine years ago, to welcome new life joyfully, I realized there was a pretty good opportunity for a somewhat unorthodox prayer of thanksgiving to our mighty and merciful Lord.

“Hey, I know where I want to go for dinner tonight.”

“Okay . . .”

“Let’s take the tribe to Chuck E. Cheese.”

“Perfect.  We’ll have fun!”

And so, there we were, planning our anniversary dinner at the Rodent Redoubt, thanking God for blessing us with the children who made us want to do such a thing.  He and I agree that there will be many years for the quiet, intimate dinners at fancy restaurants, but the Temple of the Rat years are precious and few.  So, for now, we trade neckties and pearls for strings of plastic beads and mouse stickers . . . and count it as the most extraordinary of blessings, worth savoring and cherishing.

Afterwards, when the kids were loaded into the van for the ride home, Manie and I paused for a moment.  We looked at each other, started giggling, wrapped our arms around each other and chorused, “Best . . . anniversary dinner . . . ever!”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed our marriage with love, laughter, strength, and grace.  Your design, from the beginning, was that two should become one in flesh and spirit, and we praise you for Your wisdom.  Thank You for blessing us with children, and for the wisdom to recognize the beauty, wonder, and brevity of their childhood.  Please help us teach them that all blessings come from You, and that a stalwart, humble faith in You, coupled with reliance on the guidance You left in Your book of love letters to us, will provide them with everything they need to love as they should.  What You have joined, no many may put asunder, Lord, and we thank You for joining us together forever.  Please mold us into an example of Your will for married couples, and grant that our hearts may turn always to You, whether we face exhilarating joy or exhausting grief, with a psalm of praise.  Keep us ever mindful that marriage is so important to You that You performed Your first public miracle at a wedding, and keep us ever mindful of the sanctity of the sacrament You created.

Vocational education


Saturday, at our house, was one of those days everyone would rather forget, the kind where everyone ends up yelling, crying, or both, and harsh voices obscure the love that fills our house.  Our family was still somewhat tense on Sunday morning, as my husband and I tersely gave instructions to the tiny people and each other to get ready for Mass.  It was an uncommonly quiet van ride to church.

Mr. Man and Baby Guy were both having snuggly mornings; we actually had to roust Mr. Man, who would have been happier sleeping until noon or so.  Anger in our household upsets his sleep, and he had been up at strange hours Saturday night and the wee hours of Sunday morning.  When we arrived at our parish, Mr. Man was odoriferous, and my husband gallantly grabbed the diaper bag to change him so I could take the girls for a potty run before Mass began, then go find a place for our family to sit.

As it happened, the only available space that would accommodate our family of six was the pew directly behind the altar servers.  That particular location has been the site of some memorable Mass disasters, including the only Mass I can remember when we didn’t even make it through the homily.  I settled the girls in the pew and Baby Guy on my lap, and wished the lovely lady who always serves at 9:30 Mass a good morning and happy Easter.  My husband and Mr. Man joined us a minute or so later, just in time for the opening strains of “Alleluia, Alleluia.”

We did not have an auspicious start, as Beanie decided it would be fun to repeatedly raise her dress and flash her Hello Kitty panties to the entire congregation (the pew directly behind the altar servers is in full view for the entire church). After a sharp rebuke from me, followed by a stern warning about the potential consequences if she expressed her displeasure at my admonition by screaming, my husband, the girls and I bowed our heads in prayer.  Mr. Man and his blankie were snuggled up on my husband’s shoulder, and Baby Guy cuddled in my arms, playing a little quiet peekaboo with the two venerable and veiled ladies behind us.

After the Liturgy of the Word, we found that we had a visiting priest for the homily; the priest who is the director of the Office of Vocations.  The Lord has been known to send precisely the help we need, as my regular readers know, and Father Bashista was that help yesterday.  His homily was a brilliant explanation of the concept that every single person in God’s creation has a vocation, a calling.  Some are called to be priests, holy brothers and sisters, or deacons, but far more are called to be parents, husbands, wives, and friends who live Gospel.

A vocation, you see, is not necessarily the job a person does that brings financial recompense.  A vocation is the work the Lord has destined a person to do, to bring joy on earth and in Heaven.  Each of us who believes in Christ has the general vocation to be granted Heaven not only for ourselves, but also for as many of our fellow men and women as possible.  While I would be overjoyed if one or more of our children had a calling to a religious vocation, and my husband and I pray that the Lord will so choose, we are trying to train them all up to find joy in a life that finds its greatest joy not in the latest gadget, not in the biggest house, not in the most impressive paycheck, but in time spent in love and service to others.

Halfway through that homily, which captured even Bugaboo and Beanie’s attention, Father Bashista reminded us that the great vocation of husbands and wives is to help each other attain Heaven, by strengthening each other’s faith and setting a holy example for our children.  I sneaked a peek sideways and saw that my husband and I were doing the same thing — looking at our shoes and trying to look at each other out of the corners of our eyes.  We shared a pair of sheepish, apologetic smiles.

When the homily concluded, we held our daughters’ hands more tenderly than usual during the “Our Father,” and shared the gentlest kisses of peace with them.  “Peace be with you” and an embrace ended what may have been the worst and most potentially destructive argument in the history of our household.

After Mass, after we had buckled four tiny people into the van, my husband and I shared a long hug and a mutual apology in the parking lot before we headed for home.  Sunday was a day of rest from many things, but most of all from the stress of strife brought on by petty things.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You reminded us yesterday that our most vicious disagreements come when we forget, or disregard, the vocations for which You have chosen us.  You called us to be spouses to each other and parents to Your blessings, and You call us to raise them in love and service, not in selfishness and spite.  Please kep us mindful always that no matter how much of Your word we read to them, the lessons they will learn best are the ones they see.  Please bless them with the memory of how hurtful angry words hurled over trivialities can be, and with the memory of the joy and mercy true forgiveness brings.  Your Son gave His life so that we could be forgiven.  We are rarely asked for so profound a sacrifice; help us teach Your blessings that pride, envy, and avarice are things to be cast aside, and that sacrificing them to further Your Kingdom is no sacrifice, but a blessing.

Scenes from a birthday


Today is my birthday.  I was blessed to have a day filled with friends, family, and no small amount of laughter.  The tiny people weren’t exactly on their best behavior all day, but we still managed to have a pretty good time.  Plans got thrown out the window, and I spent the boys’ naptime watching cartoons from my childhood snuggled up on the couch with my daughters.

Even though the kids were a little rotten for most of the day, I am grateful.  Six years ago this week, we found out for the fourth time that we had lost a child.  On that day, I would have given anything to have four children whining at me for hours.  I give thanks for it now, and pray that friends and family who are still waiting for their miracle will get the answer they want to their most passionate prayer.

Because I want to spend the rest of the evening enjoying a Wegmans chocolate dome and hanging out with my best friend (who happens to be my husband, too — great benefit, that), tonight’s post is comprised of some moments from today for which I happened to have a camera handy.

Mr. Man, pulling out a chair so he could “teach” Baby Guy.

He gave Baby Guy a deck of flash cards and patiently told him what all the letters were.  He was even more patient in removing said flash cards from Baby Guy’s mouth.

Nonno and Deedaw made a special trip across the river just to wish me a happy birthday.

Mr. Man was assessing the possibility of climbing into Nonno’s lap, Baby Guy was trying to pull himself up on the chair, and Beanie was trying to jump off the chair over Baby Guy’s head.

Mr. Man was pretty intrigued by the “squishing game” Bugaboo was playing with Deedaw.

My very thoughtful and loving husband knows that the best birthday dinner going for an ex-pat Baltimorean is steamed crabs.

Beautiful birthday flowers from Nonno and Deedaw.

Cheery birthday buttercups (one of my favorite flowers, actually), lovingly gathered from our front yard by Bugaboo, Beanie, and Mr. Man when we came home from playgroup today.

My aforementioned wonderful husband also remembered that ever since Wegmans opened up here, I have wanted to have a chocolate dome for a birthday cake.  When I get done with this post, I’ll be enjoying a slab while listening to the Scott Joplin collection he found for me.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have blessed me with a large and loving family and an abundance of friends who are genuinely pleased that You have seen fit to grant me another year in Your Creation.  Thank You for the time they took to share joy with me, either in person, on the phone, by notes, emails, and Facebook posts.  Thank You most particularly for the friend who knew the greatest gift she could give me was to tell me about the plight of a neighbor in need, and thank You for the means to ease her distress.

Please, Lord, in the coming year, help me teach Your blessings that the greatest prayer and the greatest witness to our friendship with You we can give is to love our neighbors, to rejoice in their happiness and comfort them in their sorrows, to recognize the beauty and worth in every life and every day.  Help me live that witness and make my life a testament to the beauty of walking in fellowship with You.

And, Lord — thank You for enriching my life with ten children, four to hold here in my arms, and six to hold in my heart until I meet them again in Heaven.

Valentines


I’m a little flaky about Valentine’s day.  My husband is under strict orders not to crash our household budget with trinkets that I’ll have to either store or clean or flowers that will set off my allergies.  It is a testament to his love for me that, completely against his wishes, he abides by my wishes; he is the kind of guy who brings me chocolate just because he called to say hello and heard one of the tiny people throwing a tantrum in the background, or who quietly does this dishes while I let the dogs out after dinner.  He shows his love for me in a thousand little ways every day, from notes written on the shower wall with the kids’ bath crayons to restoring a creche my Pop-Pop made me that I thought was ruined beyond repair when our basement flooded.

That said, I hope everyone reading this had the sort of Valentine’s day that brought joy into his or her life.

This was the first year we deemed Bugaboo and Beanie old enough to have their own little boxes of kiddie valentines; we figured they’d have a good time folding them and giving them to all their playgroup buddies.  Bugaboo’s featured Tinkerbell and her fairy friends, and Beanie had a box of My Little Pony cards, along with their traditional little heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.  Since the girls were up long before the boys, who had a rough night, had even thought of stirring, and I had a ton of cooking to do for a friend’s soiree this evening, I hugged them, kissed them, showed them how to fold their little valentines, and set about kneading a loaf of parmesan-oregano bread (some semblance of a recipe will follow today’s prayer).

Some moments later, I realized that I was flanked by little girls, silently watching me knead bread.  Pausing to shake out my wrists, I asked them if they needed help with their little cards.  Bugaboo, who is usually the spokeswoman for the tribe, shook her head, smiled, and held up one of her little cards.  Beanie scooted around to stand next to Bugaboo and proffered one of hers, too, as her big sister told me, “Mommy, we think you should get the first Valentines.”

I scooped both of them up in my floury arms and held them close before they wiggled away, protesting that I was going to get bread all over them.  They returned to the table and gathered their treasure, scampering off to their room to compare the pictures on all their little cards and try to tuck all the little edges under all the little tabs.  The concept of actually putting names on the Valentines didn’t quite sink in, but they sure did have a good time.

My husband met all of us at the party this evening, then took the girls over to Nonno and Deedaw’s for a little Valentine’s visit while I brought Mr. Man and Baby Guy, who were both worn out, home.  After I had sung the boys their songs, said their prayers with them, and tucked them in, their Scouts playing a few minutes of lullabies for them, I called over to Nonno and Deedaw’s to let him know we were all safe and sound here, and the little guys were sacked out.  As we were saying goodbye, Beanie apparently wandered over and heard Daddy saying “I love you.”  She wanted the phone, so he gave it to her.

There just aren’t many things that can beat the sheer bliss of hearing your three-year-old daughter say, “By the way, Mommy, I love you.”

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your blessings, who love me, and for the sweetness of the ways they choose to show it.  Help me guide them to become men and women who will show, and share, their love freely.  Thank You for sending me a husband who doesn’t need the date on the calendar to tell him it’s time to love his wife, and for the many opportunities you put in our path today to share the love with which You have so richly blessed our lives.  Lord, please remind me that everyone needs to know that he or she is loved, and help me find ways to show that love to people who make it a challenge.

*******

Parmesan-oregano bread “recipe”

I never measure anything when I make bread, so all measurements are very, very rough

1 c  warm water
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp olive oil (I use extra virgin; you don’t have to if you’re not partial to the taste)
3 + c flour
1/2 c parmesan (or romano, if you prefer) cheese, grated
1 tbsp oregano

Dissolve honey in water; add yeast and stir.  Let stand 5 minutes, then stir in everything else.  Knead on a floured surface until dough is smooth and stretchy.  Roll into a fat rope, then form the rope into a circle on a big pizza pan so that you have about 3 inches between the outer edge of the pan and the dough.  Let rise for about 90 minutes; dough will spread and rise.  Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Put a pan with about an inch of water in it on the bottom rack; put the bread on the rack above, and bake for 25 minutes.  You’ll get a focaccia-shaped bread with just enough puff, a crispish crust, and a moist crumb.

Corinthinking


I was having the sort of morning that begins with the sound of two little boys screeching, continues with the discovery of two diapers filled with explosive runny poop, proceeds to a snit from Bugaboo over the Sunday morning TV ban, and is escalated by the realization that the only sound I hear coming from our bedroom is my husband’s rhythmic snoring.  My thoughts started that horrible death spiral that starts off with, “I’ve been up dealing with every unpleasantness imaginable, and you’re in there getting an extra couple of hours of sleep.”  The actual thought was a little more profane than that, but my understanding is that there are some younger readers of this blog.

With a very definite anger setting its hooks into my consciousness, I slammed open the laptop and prepared to launch a little screed on Facebook.  God has a way of smacking me upside the head with a metaphorical brick when the kids’ hugs and tears don’t cause me to realize that I’m about to do something stupid, and He got me this morning with a one-line post from a young friend of mine, who is to be married Tuesday.

She had posted, “I give up stuff for you.. You won’t for me!!!”

Gee, that’s exactly what I was thinking.  I don’t know the exact circumstances that caused her upset, but I do know mine.  How humbling it was to realize that with all the emphasis I’ve put on how we can show love for one another this past week, I had missed a fairly essential part of the lesson myself.

Most people are familiar with at least part of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians; it’s often heard at weddings, and reads thusly:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor , and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

4Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

8Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. 9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. 11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known. 13But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Love does not consist of expensive presents or passionate exchanges of bodily fluids.  It is a complete gift of self, a gift for which we expect nothing in return.  Granted, in all of human history, there has been exactly one Person who loved perfectly, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to give it, flawed as I am.  It is the reason I thank God for our children’s strong lungs when they’ve been screaming all day, and the reason I was ashamed of myself for letting that spiral of rage get started just because my husband, who works 60 hours a week to provide for our family, then spends most of his days off either giving me a break from dirty diapers or helping one or more of our aging parents take care of things they are no longer physically able to do for themselves, needed an extra hour or two of sleep this morning — after he got up at 3 a.m. to take care of Baby Guy so I wouldn’t have to.  The only reason I know he did it is that I saw the empty bottle in the sink this morning, and when he exited the bedroom this morning, I asked him when our tiniest tribesman awoke.  Then I found the pants stained with what the diaper couldn’t hold, neatly folded on a counter so they wouldn’t stain anything else, so obviously, he dealt with that too — all without complaining or raging at any of us.  Real love, the kind that comes from the gift of self, doesn’t worry about whether the time or place is convenient.  If I let it, it will fill the spaces in my heart where anger seeps.

After lunch, we insisted Bugaboo and Beanie take a nap to sleep off some of their crankiness, and my husband went downstairs to play with the boys.  Smudgie decided he’d had enough of being cooped up in the house and refused to come inside, so we gave him the run of the back yard for a while.  I decided to lay down on the couch for a few minutes, and, after a few minutes, the male half of our household came back upstairs.  Mr. Man, carrying one of his favorite books, climbed up onto the couch and laid down in the crook of my arm, looking at me hopefully.  I never thought it would be such fun to read a book about Cheerios, but it always makes both of us smile.

When I finished that one, Mr. Man succeeded it with a half dozen more.  Around the middle of the third book, my husband said he was still a little tired, so he was going to take Baby Guy into our room and lay down, since the couch was fully occupied.

While Mr. Man was retrieving his eighth book of the day, I closed my eyes for a moment; reading without my glasses gives me a headache, but I hadn’t really wanted to go find them and break Mr. Man’s rhythm.  Moments later, I felt a little kiss on my lower lip, then a honk of my nose, then the snuggling of a not-quite-two-year-old boy against my belly.

I suppose I drifted off, because I was startled from sleep by the sound of a Scribble ‘n’ Write crashing to the floor.  Glancing at the clock, I noticed about 45 minutes had passed since we had let Smudgie out, so I gave Mr. Man a hug and a kiss, then headed downstairs to retrieve our giant puppy.  Mr. Man followed me down the stairs, so he could retrieve his blankies from his bed.  When I came back up, the big guy was standing at the top of the stairs, crying because he couldn’t find me.  I picked him up and hugged him, sat back down on the couch and talked quietly to him while he cuddled against my shoulder.

In the meantime, Smudgie, having emptied the water dish, took up his position on half of the loveseat, using the arm of it as a pillow.  Mr. Man pointed to him and observed, “Puppy.  Muzhy [Smudgie] puppy.”  I replied, “Yes, Smudgie’s sleepy. He played outside for a long time.  He’s cold, too, so he’s trying to get warm.”

Without further ado, Mr. Man gathered his blankies, rolled off the couch, tucked Smudgie in with his beloved blankies — the best things he has, in his view — and gave him a little kiss.  Then he turned to me and said, “Shhhhhh,” before giggling his way down the hall to see what the noises coming from his sisters’ room might be.

I find a tremendous joy in realizing how much I am loved, and how many opportunities there are to learn new ways to love other people.  The Lord has blessed me with much to give.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You defined love for us, and set an example of self-sacrifice that none since has been able to approximate.  You have blessed me with a husband and children who give freely of themselves, and a husband who sets a tremendous example of sacrificing for the good of our family while expecting nothing, not even a word of thanks, in return.  Thank You, Lord, for these gifts, for these proofs of Your love, which I did nothing to merit, and for Your gentle reminders that expecting something in return for love is no love at all, but a commercial transaction.  Please keep me mindful that not once have You asked me, “What have you done for Me lately,” and help me to rejoice in the opportunities You provide me to love, instead of cursing the inconveniece.

Back where it all began


I would love to include pictures of Nonno and Deedaw renewing their vows in this post, but in all the hullaballoo, I forgot to put batteries in the camera. I do, however, have what might be called “before and after” pictures.

Before:

After 50 years of marriage, two sons, and six grandchildren:

There is pretty, and there is beautiful.  Wedding dresses are pretty.  Flowers are pretty.  Nonno and Deedaw are beautiful.

Yesterday morning, we hurried the tiny people into their best clothes and made ourselves halfway presentable, then ran out the door to make it to the church for 9:00 a.m. Mass.  Remarkably, we made it on time, in spite of a mischievous bag of toys that decided to flee the back of my van to have a playtime of their own in the parking lot.  If the dictionary people are ever looking for a definition of challenging, I would humbly submit the following:  “attempting to keep two preschoolers and a toddler from playing with several dozen small toys that have just spilled out of a bag in a church parking lot.”

Thankfully, years of practicing toy pickup skills helped keep the cleanup time to under two minutes, and we made it to the church on time.  The church in which Nonno and Deedaw renewed their promises to one another is the same one in which my husband and I were married a little over eight years ago; part of the roof is made of stained glass, and when the sun comes in through the glass, as it typically does in the late morning, the altar is covered with a thousand fragments of rainbows, dancing among the angels and saints and soothing the wounds of Christ crucified.

On this particular morning, I would venture to say they were dancing the tarantella as Nonno and Deedaw made their way to the altar and spoke anew the promises that anyone who knows them, knows have lived in their hearts for every day of the past half-century.  There is pretty, and there is beautiful.  The knowledge that they mean every word of those vows is beauty.

After Mass, my husband and I managed to make our way to a quiet corner of the altar, accompanied by our daughters (the boys were thoroughly enjoying all of the attention of their older relatives and did not wish to join our little party), and knelt there, with our arms around each other’s waists, just as we did on the first day of November of 2003.  We gave misty-eyed thanks to our gracious Lord and Savior, who joined us in a way that no man may sunder.  Like Nonno and Deedaw, we are a little older, a little greyer, a little more wrinkled, but we are building something beautiful together, with faith, honesty, and a love that uses Christ’s love for His church as its model.  I don’t know if we will both be alive for our fiftieth anniversary (we would both be 82, if we are), but for as long as we both shall live, I hope we can provide half so powerful a witness of what marriage should be.  I hope our children learn the lessons from us that my husband learned from his parents.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Nonno and Deedaw, who have shown us that after the pretty flowers and dresses are put away, the real beauty of a marriage is the complete sacrifice of each spouse to the other.  Please help us teach Your blessings that love between a husband and wife is, like Your love for us, boundless and eternal.  There is a reason Your Son performed his first public miracle at a wedding; we would have Your blessings know that marriage is sacred.

What God has joined


A quick piece of housekeeping . . . I like comments, and I’m not easily offended.  Tell me what you think when you read these posts; I’d love to hear from you.  On with the blog, now.

There’s been quite the excited buzz around here in recent days, since today marks Nonno and Deedaw’s fiftieth wedding anniversary.  Nonno and Deedaw are my husband’s parents, and a more wonderful example of what marriage means would be difficult to find.  Celebrating this joyful milestone will occupy most of our waking hours this weekend, and much of this week has been devoted to preparing the kinds of festivities that are pleasing to Nonno and Deedaw.  These tend to center around family and faith; they will be renewing their vows and spending time with relatives who are traveling hither from yon.

Bugaboo finds all of this fascinating.  She gets that Mommy and Daddy are married to each other, Nonno and Deedaw are married to each other — you get the idea.  She also understands that some people who were married to each other aren’t anymore.  While she may not yet be able to conceive of how long a time fifty years is, she knows it’s longer than Mommy and Daddy have been alive, and since Mommy and Daddy are “old,” fifty years must be a tremendously long time.

She and Beanie are, naturally, excited about all the parties and about seeing people they love, but rarely see because they live such long distances from us.  They have been busily engaged in helping select deli trays and wrapping plastic cutlery in napkins secured with construction paper bands, hearts, and stickers, and have watched avidly while I do incomprehensible things with wired ribbon and tiny silk roses.  Unsurprisingly, they have also listened to many a conversation with Grandma (my mother), and thus have picked up on some new vocabulary, which has added some variety to the constant fusillade of questions posed by my extremely curious daughters.  Mr. Man listens intently, too, but his speaking skills are not yet developed to a point where he can add to the hubbub.

At any rate, Bugaboo and Beanie have also been curious about this notion of “renewing vows.”  I explained to them that a vow is a promise that you make in front of God that can never be broken, and that Nonno and Deedaw wanted to repeat those promises they made fifty years ago to each other.  It’s a special kind of celebration, I told them, the kind that makes us thank God for holding them close to Him and to each other for all these years, and a way to remember a day that was among the most important in their lives.  Those of us who weren’t there half a century ago will be able to join them in a celebration of a love that has lasted a lifetime.  The  young ladies were duly impressed, and both declared that one day, they will find someone with whom to share a lifetime.

Bugaboo has two stuffed penguins who have been her sleeping buddies since she was big enough to have sleeping buddies; there is a large one with a scarf who she named “Doctor Pengie,” as she thinks his scarf looks like her pediatrician’s tie, and a smaller one named “Dada Pengie,” so named, saith Bugaboo, because he has a round belly like Daddy.  They are her besties and boon companions, and no childhood joy or trauma has she endured without one of them tucked under each of her little arms.

Given all the talk about marriage over the past weeks, I knew that somehow it would end up being the subject of some play among the girls; they’re at an age when playing make-believe is the greatest game in the world, because they get to play-act all the grown-up things without having to pay the bills or worry about other logistical details.  However, I had to pull the van over on the way to playgroup this morning when Bugaboo declared, “Mommy, Doctor Pengie and I got married last night, and Dada Pengie is our little boy.  We need our own house now, right?” because I was laughing so hard I couldn’t steer.

I think I’ll save the explanation of why she can’t marry a penguin for another day — preferably for a day after she finally gets around to asking how the babies get into their mommies’ tummies.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Nonno and Deedaw, who have set for us and for Your blessings a beautiful example of what You intended marriage to be.  For fifty years, they have been one, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  Having them here is a blessing that could only come from You.  Please, Lord, bless them with joy and peace in their remaining years, and help their children and grandchildren increase that joy by following their example of faith and trust in You and Your law.

And, Lord, thank You for showing me that keeping promises is not an anachronism.  You keep Yours always, but it seems that we have trouble with ours sometimes.  It’s good to have a reminder that yes, it is possible, and that it brings the greatest of joys.