A Love Song For Stephen

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I love Valentine’s Day as much as the next girl. I love to be told I’m loved and adored, I love to laugh  with my husband, Stephen and I love presents. But, some years, we’ve not had enough to get a Valentine’s present and make it through the week. You know, those lean years when you just have to choose which is more important. It is during those times I have felt more love than when I am given some token of love.

Love is a state of being. It’s not just a one day thing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying (or am I ?) that one day out of the year does it for most people. I somehow can’t imagine that. But, many times, people choose only to show their affection through words and gestures on this one day.

My husband is not perfect. Neither am I. That’s what makes us so perfect for each other. But, my husband brags on me, tells of when we met with a gleam in his eye, talks about strengths he sees in me even before I see it myself and I do the same . We’re crazy about each other! That’s the whole thing. We are the real deal.

It’s not always been this way. No siree. There was a time when we were divorced. For two long years. I’m here to tell you we were the world’s worst divorced couple. We were miserable together and apart. But the thing was, we were more miserable apart than we ever were together. I moved away -way far away – to Granger, Texas. A four hour drive  from Stephen. Distance made no difference. If my car broke down, Stephen was there. If I was sick, he came to nurse me back to health. Flat tire? He came Stephen from Dallas to fix it.

Eventually, I moved back to Dallas and because I had no place to stay, Stephen let me stay at the house. It was Valentine’s Day 2000, when  he and the boys came in my room and said they’d talked and wondered if I would marry him again! He had asked the  boys if it was okay with them before he asked me. It was romantic and amazing and I realized I never had lost the love of my life. So, we married that April. We still celebrate our first marriage on our anniversary and six months later, we celebrate our second wedding anniversary. What could be more perfect than that?  We have the occassional argument, but not often at all.

So, I would like to suggest that Valentine’s is a state of mind and we would all do well to practice it every day. Besides, it’s more fun. It’s not the cards, flowers and stuff. Shoot! I have those things. But, the best thing, is the state of mind.

Stephen, “Wild Horses couldn’t drag me away.”

Stuff Around the House

It’s that time of year at our house. The time of year when everything we own begins to fall apart. Yep. When it’s that time , there is no winning against home products. I have to admit this time has lasted a lot longer than previous eras.

Okay, so one day when everyone (read the whole world) was at my house, the Keurig coffee pot decided to quit making coffee. I have one of those small ones, red, if you please, not the full size Keurig. Our full size Keurig lasted about three years ,which is a record for me and a coffee pot. But, this little red Keurig I bought that day lasted only a couple of months. I would put the water and the coffee in the pot, turn on brew and nothing. I’d try again and it would brew. The next time, nothing, then, brew. This went on and on until I finally got an old fashioned (which not so long ago was the standard pot) coffee maker. Oh my! I was so spoiled by the Keurig. Perfect coffee everytime. Standard pot? Not so much. Either it was too strong (my husband loves strong coffee) or it wasn’t strong enough.  How did I ever survive with a Mr. Coffee pot? The world will never know, I’m afraid. At any rate, my Keurig finally just gave up the ghost. Or so I thought.

As I was preparing to write this  blog, I was looking for images of things that had broken around our house. I wanted this to be a pretty visual blog entry so everyone would know the chaos that has ensued at our house. What I found was a photo of a broken Keurig with someone sticking a paper clip in the orifice. I brought up the photo and there was, lo and  behold, an article about Keurigs you thought were dead. I read the article in hopes of reviving my poor little Keurig (and me). According to the article, I was to put said paper clip in the orifices and turn it round and round, thus dislodging any bits of coffee, debris, minerals from water, etc from the orifice. Then, I was to descale it with vinegar and water. I was somewhat sure nothing would help poor old Mr. Keurig, but to my surprise, when I put the water and vinegar in, it started  boiling the water straightaway. Previously, this step was skipped in the brewing process, and so no brewing took place. But, I had brewing going! Still skeptical, I let it brew with the water and vinegar, turned it off, poured out the vinegar water from the cup, filled up the Keurig and did it again. IT WORKED! But, I was still not convinced and ran it two more times before trying to brew a cup of coffee. The coffee was made and it was the perfect cup. Mind you, I’m still a bit skeptical that it is well and truly fixed. But, we’ll see with time.

So, my original blog post will stay in my head, but if you have a Keurig and you think it may be broken, get a paper clip, stick it in the orifice that punctures the coffee container, wash everything you can wash, use half water, half vinegar and wash that thing out!  For those who already knew that, no “i told you so’s please. I already feel kinda dumb that I didn’t know to do that, and kinda smart because I fixed it! I’m so excited.

Note to my husband: Honey, you make the best coffee when you know it’s for me, but when it’s for you, it’s just tooo strong for me. But, I love you!

 

 

Beyond Words

I am hardly ever at a loss for words. I’m a natural talker and words are always my best friends. But, last night, my friend, Kim, sent me this photo her daughter took of the marquis of Half Price Books Flagship store in Dallas. It’s me! On the marquis! I was so surprised. I have a book signing for The Conservative Congregant this coming Sunday, so the store was advertising it.

I was so shocked! Needless to say, I’ve never had my name on a billboard, marquis or anything other than the role at school. So, I wanted to share this with you . I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s pretty cool!

 

 

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Which leads me to talk a little bit about marketing books. I’m trying to learn how to do this as Independent authors do not have the luxury of a publicist or marketing director. So, I thought, “What better way to advertise than to use my husband.” It was brilliant when I saw the advertisement for the shirt. I had to buy it. It was his Christmas present this year. He laughed when he saw it and said, “It’s really all about you, isn’t it?” Well, maybe  not all the time, but it’s fun when it is. Enjoy his promo ad for me.

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This Time a While Ago

This time of year, a while ago, my sister and I would be cleaning house like crazy, getting ready for the company to come for Thanksgiving. My mother was world famous for catching bits of dust we might have missed. How? I have no earthly idea! She could catch a speck of dust that God couldn’t even see. No kidding!  My sister and I actually worked pretty good together, as I remember. Now, that may be a wishful memory, I don’t know. But , the crux of the matter was, we just wanted to get the housework done so we could do our own thing. For me, that was playing any  sort of thing. I loved games. Yahtzee (which I still love), cards, Risk, Monopoly , oh and Scrabble. Anyway, I digress.

While my sister (Martha) and I didn’t like cleaning the house, the only thing we really hated to do was clean up the backyard after the dog. EWWW. Neither of us were big into cleaning up the dog poop. But, we wanted the dog, so it was our job.

Martha and I shared a room-especially if there were people who would be spending the night.I have to admit, her side of the room was always neater than mine. Well, we all have our flaws.

My favorite thing to do was vacuum. I don’t know- it was some kind of thrill to hear the bits go into the vacuum cleaner bag. Like, it was proof things were actually getting cleaned.

My mother, about this time of the week would have written everyone’s name down on the back of an envelope who would be attending the Thanksgiving dinner. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, babies. You name it, they were on it. She also would have a different envelope in which she had the menu. All the delicacies we would be eating was on that envelope. We had a big people table and a little people table. If one was unfortunate as to have to eat at the little people table even after reaching the age of the big people table, it was just too bad. Our family was huge and if you had a place, you were lucky to get it.

Although Mother had to work everyday, she stayed up late working out the details of the dinner down to the minute. I don’t know how she did it, but every item of the dinner was ready at the same time the other things were.I am not that coordinated in my culinary abilities to be able to achieve that feat. I am just not that person, I guess. She could have given me that talent in the gene pool, but maybe I was standing behind the door when it was passed out.

Not only did Mother work out the details, but she had time for a bit of television and Bible study. She studied her Bible every night and knew more than I will ever know about the Bible. She would wake my dad, who would be sleeping in the chair and say, “Paul, Paul, let’s go to bed.” She had this tone to her voice that she only ever had when she was tired and ready for bed. Or, when she was telling him in the night to turn over because he was snoring.

So, off to bed she would go just to get up and start it all over again. And our job?  Mine and Martha’s? To keep the house clean until after Thanksgiving.

Come Thanksgiving day, of course, Martha, Barbie (my oldest sister, now deceased) and I would wait anxiously for the guests to arrive. We always knew who would be first to arrive and who would be woefully late -holding up the dinner. Mother always said we would eat at noon, sometimes, one o’clock. Invariably, we ate at one at the latest. If anyone would have the audacity to show up after one, they would find themselves having to eat after we got started.

Every year, we’d sit at that very same dark wood dining room table and tell the same stories and laugh as if they were brand new. It was the funniest thing ever how last year’s and the year before that and the year before that memories got such huge laughs every single year.

The memory I hated the most was told so many times that if it had been cute when I said it, it wasn’t any longer. And never would be again. To this day, I hate that memory still. What was it? Well, my mother had a habit of calling each girls name when she wanted one of us. If she wanted me, it would be “BarMarPaula” One day, I got aggravated that she did that and said, “Oh! Just call me Suzy!” Whoop. I just can’t conjure up even a grin when I think of it. Brother.

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This photo is of one of the smaller reunions. My niece was just lucky she got to sit at the big people table!

Do you have an unfavorite memory of Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear it.

 

The Best Life is the Good Life For Me

There are times I feel like my life has been hard. I have had hard times- we all have. But, today, while riding my horse, I passed my husband who was riding his lawn mower, mowing the pasture. A wry smile came across my face as I realized, not for the first time, how wonderful my life really is. My husband mowing the lawn on his day off while I rode my horse. Amazing!

Some might wonder why I think this is such a big deal. Well, the reason is because we were, at one time, both city kids, both terribly spoiled, woefully oblivious to other folks plights, but struggling to stay afloat with our little family of a daughter and two young boys.  Oh, we knew there were other people worse off than us. We were sure of that. We had no idea who they might be, but  we knew they existed.

My youngest son, Micah, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a lung and endocrine disease- so far without a cure. We found out when he was about 9 weeks old. My older son, David was about 22 months when Micah was born. My daughter Amanda, was almost 13 . We were in and out of Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas seemingly all the time. It had become like a revolving door. Micah’s CF was pretty well under control after he was about 5, I suppose. At 9, he was back in the hospital and then again not for 11 years. We have been blessed. Very blessed. It didn’t seem so at the time. Funny how time changes your mind regarding your circumstances.

I say all this to say to you- If you are in difficult circumstances right now- try to view it as a learning experience. We had many a heartache, heartbreak and despair. We had times we were on food stamps, CHIPS (before that CIDC), our doctor vistis for the kids were often write offs for the docs. It was quite embarrassing  to us. Both Stephen and I had been well off within our families, so we had no idea how to cope at this point in our lives. We flew by the seat of our pants and God’s grace. You can too. Prayer changes everything and sometimes situations occur in which God is the only  one who can help, who can understand, who can hear you. Stay the course, it works out- maybe not the way we want it

A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice
A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice

to – maybe it works out fine- but it works out how it is supposed to according to what God wants you to know. 

I feel as if I am writing to someone who needs to hear this right now. If so, I hope my message helps, because God will make your life the Best Life. 

 

 

What Happens at Walmart….

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It all started Sunday afternoon when my son and my husband set up a swimming pool at our house. It’s one of those pools with a pump – not very deep, but just about the whole neighborhood could fit in it. Kinda like a huge spa. “Redneck Riviera” – that’s what Stephen calls it. 

like he says, "Redneck Riviera"
“Redneck Riviera”

I wanted to try out our new toy, but realized I had no swimming suit. Grabbing my coin purse, my keys and my flip flops, I was out the door on my way to Walmart. My son and daughter in law coming toward me got a quick hug and kiss and I asked if she wanted to go with me. She declined. I would too. Who wants to spend a Sunday afternoon at Walmart ,of all places! 

I had a simple plan. Run in, get a swimsuit, run out, get home, jump in the pool and relax. But it was Walmart and a Sunday afternoon-school supply weekend, of all things. Anyway, I didn’t find much in the way of swimsuits. Picked up some swimsuit bottoms and a few pair of scrubs and I was off to the self-checkout. As I put my clothes down, panic ensued after realizing my coin purse was not with me anymore. Where could it be? Where did I drop it? I didn’t feel myself drop it. Did I lay it down somewhere? My debit cards were in it, over two hundred dollars was in it – farrier money for my horse’s shoes, my drivers license and donor card- my whole life was in it! I combed the store- went back to every place I had been -all to no avail. Customer service had not had anything turned in and the ladies I asked out on the floor- employees, you know- were less than interested in helping me look.”I haven’t seen a coin purse, but then I wasn’t looking for one either,” one said with a bit of a whine in her voice. Whatever. I called my husband, panicking and crying. “There’s over two hundred dollars in there for Rigo, ” hearing myself whining now. “Just come home – there’s nothing you can do now. It’ll be ok.”  I left the building, grateful I had my car keys at least and praying my coin purse would be found.

Once at home, I decided not to dwell on the whole thing. I felt stupid for losing it. I mean, how could I drop it and not know? Or maybe set it down somewhere and walk off? That’s just dumb. (I can hear my mother saying it now! )

The next morning, I had to get ready for work early and decided to stop by Walmart. I went straight to customer service, finding for once, no line. I explained my plight and one of the ladies went into the office to check for my coin purse. In just one minute, out she came with my purse! I was so relieved. I opened it immediately to see if anything was still in there and lo and behold all my money was there, my debit cards- everything! Tears filled my eyes as I looked to the woman and said, “My money is still there. ” She said, “See, not everyone is bad” and smiled a sweet, genuine smile. 

In a bit of a stupor, I was able to push the button on my telephone and call my husband. He was as amazed as I .  Normally, I might say “What happens at Walmart should stay at Walmart.” But, i think this time, it should be told.

Thanks to the lady at Walmart and thanks be to God for answering prayer. 

Growing Older Together

Stephen, my love, Happy Birthday!
Stephen, my love, Happy Birthday!

Today is my best friend’s birthday. My husband, my lover, my everything- is a year older today. It seems like yesterday when we met at Tom Thumb’s tobacco bar. Only wanting to buy  “two packets of Marlboro”, he ended up with a girlfriend and then a wife and then children and then grandchildren. I, on the other hand, ended up with a best friend, a husband, a father, a mentor, and someone I look up to every day. Who would have ever thought ?

We have had fun, sorrow, love, hate, joy, sadness and humdrumness together. And isn’t that the way it should be? We married- he adopted my daughter, loved her like his own always,  we had two boys. We divorced. We were terrible at it. We missed each other, loved each other , called each other, remarried. The second time around- bliss- not all the time- most of the time.Every day I am grateful this man waited for me to gather my craziness and marry me  all over again anyway. 

I look forward to the next year, awaiting new experiences, deeper love, laughter and pure -D silliness. I love you honey. Happy birthday.