el's rabbit trails, family life, Homemaking stuff, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 13: Random moments from the sahm scene.

File this one under “things that made me go hmmm”.

The last ironer in America?

Last week the kids and I were running late getting to “school” so I picked out a no-iron skirt, tank top, and fitted cardigan. Specifically because I didn’t have time to iron. Every where I turned, someone would compliment me, “You look pretty today.” I suspect it’s because the skirt was red. Kinda hard not to notice.

As a few of us were in the kitchen getting coffee (the school building is so quite cold), a few more mothers complimented me, so I said, “And I just grabbed the first thing I could find that I didn’t need to iron.” From there we were off to the races:

“You iron? I can’t remember the last time I ironed!” “I didn’t know anyone ironed anymore!” Several other women shared with me their tips for doing laundry in a way that keeps them from ever having to iron.

Thing is, I iron almost every day, because my husband’s shirts need to look more professional than they can from dryer heat. But my girls all iron their colthes every day -or every other day- also. It left me wondering: “Are we the last ironers in America?” Please, say it ain’t so.

Even with 4 “chefs” in the house, I still cook.

At church one night this week (it was a night the ministry we volunteer in meets to do our work), a woman asked me a question: “I heard your girls can cook. Since they are still at home, that means you hardly ever have to cook, right?’

“Well”, I told her, “not exactly. I actually still cook quite a bit. I get a couple of nights a week off, but I still cook 4-5 days a week. My husband will eat their cooking (he even likes it most of the time), but he prefers mine, and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to get out of practice.”

She actually concurred with that line of thought, unlike many other women would. But then, she was older. Which brings me to my last unimportant but tangentially related point.

Culinary discretion

Yesterday morning when SAM was leaving for work, he opened his bag, tossed a container with a piece of cake in it on the counter and said to me:

“Toss that out, will you? I keep telling them I don’t eat just anybody’s cooking and they still insist on bringing stuff in for me to taste. I didn’t have time to go through the spiel yesterday, so I just took the cake from her. I guess they figure if they keep trying, I’ll eventually eat something.”

My husband is pickier than most about his food, but he’s not the only person I’ve encountered who is wary of taking food from just anybody. I know a woman who decided from a person’s cleanliness habits at work that she would likely never eat anything she brings in.

I’m wondering what others’ thoughts are on that.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Humility is important, Living with other believers, spirit led living, wife stuff

Be appreciative rather than priggish.

Don’t you love the sound of that word; priggish? I assumes it’s where we got the word most of us are more familiar with: prick.

This is a bit of a follow up thought to a conversation my dear friend Hearthie and I have had numerous times over the past few years. This is just one instance. The issue of what she calls “survivor’s guilt” and what I have questioned as an undeserved life of an abundant amount of love.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote:

When I considered my friend’s sincere desire that I not underestimate what I bring to the table, for a split second I wondered if perhaps my near constant desire to exalt him means I am devaluing myself. Then it hit me: No.

Appreciating and relishing being loved by one who is excellent and worthy of praise humbles us, or it should.

My father was that rare combination of unabashed confidence and unquestioned humility. My man is more a combination of unabashed confidence and unrivaled compassion. Both combinations are great examples of people who appreciate that they have worked hard for what they achieved in their lives but without a smug sense of superiority over others.

These are examples I carry close to my heart and as the Scriptures says: Out of the abundnceof the heart, the mouth speaks. When yet another friend says “Don’t discount the good choices you made to have the life you enjoy”, I appreciate those words. It’s not my intent to dismiss them as one who can’t take a compliment

It is, however, much easier for me to accept a compliment on a dress, shoes or my hair than it is to allow myself to to indulge in the thought that I deserve a good life because of my wonderfulness. To take credit for it makes me uncomfortable and opens the door to judgement an a feeling of superiority. Not to mention taking glory for myself that rightfully belongs to Another.

We Americans are addicted to taking credit. I am not immune to it, and I used to like the saying attributed to Bear Bryant: “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” The longer I live, however, the more joy I get from giving honor to others, even if partial credit for something is genuinely mine.

That isn’t to say we are to lie about what we’ve done good or right. For me, however, the acknowledgement of the contributions of others, no matter how simple, who made it possible for me to do or be a thing is important. It also makes for a higher level of peace. I can’t even express the peace that comes with the prayer: ‘Lord, help me get over me.”

It’s absolutely true that there were times when I made choices that led to a better outcome than other choice would have yielded (sometimes the more righteous choice, even), it’s safer and closer to truth to accede that my imperfect yet often charmed life is more touched by uncommon grace and love from those better than me, than made good through my feeble efforts.

If I have to err in this, I’d rather err on the side of being appreciative rather than priggish.

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;
    a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

 

 

 

cultural absurdity, el's rabbit trails, wife stuff

Abuse?

I’ma keep this one short and sweet as this blog is quickly morphing into a “Hmmm. Isn’t that interesting?” type of deal. That may be for the best.

I got this tidbit from Dr. Helen in my feed and once again wondered if I am living in a paralel universe:

We’ve all read the articles and blog posts about how to stop yelling at the kids. But for me, my shouting was aimed in a different direction — at my husband.

So I decided to see if applying the same rules about not yelling at my hubby would yield the same benefits as it does with kids.

I started out thinking I’d simply “not yell anymore.” I managed it for a few days, but as all my projects and hobbies tend to go, it wasn’t long until I slid back into old habits.

You can read the entire referenced article here, but I was dumbfounded.

I cannot imagine yelling at my husband, and not just because it’s wrong even though I’d like to think I’ve grown enough to start from there. But I am, to be honest, a little unnerved and…dare I say it? Afraid of it. There. I said it.

This, even though I know he’d rather die than harm me, and he’s not going to start yelling back at me either. What I will experience, to quote something a friend wrote once, is being:

IMMEDIATELY and unpleasantly corrected. So … ahem. Not really an issue. Never has been.

To many people today, this means I am abused; because I tremble slightly at the thought of yelling at a grown man as if he were a little boy. And even though I can’t imagine feeling more loved and cherished in any other circumstance or with any other person.

 

 

 

Beauty, wife stuff

Comfortable in our skin.

I saw this story and as a mother of many daughters, I was reminded of a recent encounter where conversations and thoughts were sparked. Namely, about authenticity and trusting that God knows what He is doing when He makes us the way He deems best.

At our daughters’ commencement, several of us got separated, going in different directions for different things. SAM to get better shots of his girl, me to the ladies room, etc. Upon re-entering the crowded venue I didn’t immediately notice a man looking at me, trying to get my attention. I was looking over him, as I always look a little higher when I want to find my husband in a crowd.

When I finally did notice on him, he walked up to me and told me he thought the way I wore my hair was “beautiful”. I thanked him just as my husband and I found our way to each other in the crowd. My husband later made a joke about my picking up strange men, and one of my daughters asked rather pointedly, “Black guy?” The majority of men who compliment my girls on their hair are non black men.

As it happened however, this gentleman was black. Her next query was one of his approximate age. He was about my age I said, and she figured as much. The older ones are used to and more comfortable with black women straightening their hair and the younger ones haven’t quite matured enough to appreciate a look outside of what they see as the dominant look qua Beyonce, Kerry Washington, etc.

 Sidebar: Those are generalizations, and not absolutes. There is always an exception to be found to any general statement. Without generalizations, communication itself becomes impossible and generalizations do not emerge from nothing. Now, where was I…

Another of the 1,000,001 things I love about my husband -contrasted with many other men we know- is that when I made the transition from wearing my hair chemically straightened to wearing it in its natural state, he never objected. He never complained or requested the chemically straightened tresses that I’d worn from when we met in 1992, even knowing I would immediately straighten it if he asked.  This was 18 months ago, in transition, but before that it was longer. He was still cool with the curls. Once again, his overall confidence made it easier to confidently embrace the natural me.

Confidence left unchecked can easily become a vice. Nevertheless, it takes confidence in this culture to walk confidently in our God-given states, particularly if you’re a woman. Everywhere we look, we’re implored to change and alter things about ourselves -big and small- to appeal to as wide a consensus of attractiveness vectors as we can. Whether it was me with 28 years of relaxing or the woman who faithfully spends exorbitant amounts to be blond, or at least not gray. Those don’t even include the massive uptick in the amount of money spent on cosmetic surgeries year after year. The barbie girl is just the most extreme example of a dominant trend.

Single women are in a particularly vulnerable state. I am blessed to have the task of meeting the preferences and desires of one man. One who, quite frankly, has a high standard threshold. If I had the task of most single women, it would seem incredibly overwhelming in this climate. Niche culture has eaten away at the things we should do “in general”.

In general, stay fit, dress and groom well, followed with being kind and competent, would be enough for any woman to tackle as she navigates the single life in hopes of finding a mate. Those generalities however, are just the tip of a massive and winding iceberg. General rules have been tossed aside.

For example, I tend to find large tattoos ugly things, detracting from a woman’s beauty. However for many men tattoos (even arm-length ones), are just fine and dandy. You can expand this to include colored hair, overdone makeup, too much skin, etc. I could probably fill a page with things that were considered gauche when I was a teenager yet are perfectly acceptable now. “Nappy” hair was also on the list though, so…

I don’t engage in modesty debates anymore, for a host of reasons, but one of which is that in the absence of a commonly held set of belief about what is and is not acceptable for a woman to wear, there’s too much subjectivity. Even women who preach modesty can find themselves on the wrong side of someone else’s scale, and one man’s modesty is another man’s slutty. Given my propensity to feel choked without a décolleté just shy of too low, I decided to let my husband mind my business and let other women’s husbands and fathers mind theirs.

One thing that I do feel strongly about, and which every week I find my conviction growing, is that our best bet is to be the best, as beautiful, and the most honorable we can be in our own skin, and let the chips fall where they may.

Disclosure: I spend money, and sometimes quite a bit, on my appearance. What does that mean exactly? I’ll answer if asked.

 

 

 

family life, real living in a virtual world, wife stuff

Marriage should be a beautiful symphony, not a tug of war.

.Much has been said about the difficult time we Westerners have with the uneasy balance between our ideals and harsh realities. This is true in many areas including our thinking about Christian marriage.

We share with our daughters the principles of Christian marriage by example. Scripture is powerful, but the repeated New Testament commands for us to “one another” makes it clear that quoting verses alone falls short. On a recent walk, my girls and I touched on the blessing -and responsibility- of living in submission to a husband’s authority, and imagined -as that’s really all we can do- the blessing and responsibility of living with the authority of paternal and husbandly headship.

As I took the time to think about the things I read on the matter, the picture which emerges is often sad and adversarial to the point of being toxic. It also stands in stark contrast to my own marital experience. We never fought a lot. The occasional disagrement? Yes, but fighting as a regular occurrence just didn’t happen. The reasons for that were not always the healthiest, but it only took a few short years to get to the point that we realized it is best to deal with disagreements when they arise if the law of love was principal driver.

The headship/submission model, when viewed it as a blessing rather than simply a burden to both parties, is a beautiful interplay between two people who understand the gift that God has given them. As we love, with full understanding of the weight of responsibility and accountability towards God and eah other, our chlldren also benefit

In a world where everyone is clamoring for what they believe is rightfully theirs -authority, respect, validation, and affirmation- children of Christian parents should get to see that these things flow naturally when the law of love, rather than the law of grasping for power or control, rules. It should go without saying (leaving aside extreme cases and eggregous sins) that getting you off your mind and focusing on blessing someone else leads to greater life satisfaction and happiness. However, and I know I say this a lot, nothing goes without saying anymore.

I can’t imagine seeing my husband’s authority as a vicious constraint put on me by an angry God solely to hold me down and keep me in check, but also believe that He has graciously put his spirit in me to guide me into all Truth. Isn’t that contradictory? My husband can’t imagine a life where every single tiny difference of opinion or act that annoys is an attempt to usurp his authority or an attempt to test his fitness so I can decide whether I want to stay or go. If I’m manipulating, and sometimes I fall into that, a swift and sure calling out sets things right quickly enough without thoughts speeding headlong into the notion that I am ripe to file for frivorce.

What kinds of Christians view sex and money in marriage as commodities for which each has traded for in marriage? Where in the New Testament do we see this as a way to approach a relationhip that God has says mirrors the relationship between Jesus our Messiah and His Body? It’s disgusting really, and I am so very thankful for a strong, dominant, yet loving husband who allowed the Spirit to teach him how this thing is supposed to be done.

The result, and trust me on this, is a beautiful interplay between people who know how to love, who respect authority and submission, and still appreciate the unique gifts and talents God has placed in the members of the family to be a blessing to its other members.

So when the man says to me (as he justifiably did quite recently), “Please don’t ever walk out of my house again dressed like that”, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate that he was right to object. I am after all, representative of his glory. The only reason I should be offended by his request is thinking of myself as a free agent representing myself only.

When I suggested that it would be best to wait before embarking on a new household project he is considering, he understood that I wasn’t usurping his authority. Rather, I was doing exactly as he had instructed, keeping record of the accounts as we updated our house over the summer.

If either one of us had been conditioned to see every little question, comment, or slight as a “spit test” on my part or lording of authority on his part, how miserable we would be!

It’s sad that many if not most believing women find the very idea of submission offensive, and that some believing men think headship means any independent thought their wives express is evidence of ftness testing or hypergamy.

For those *teaching* women: You don’t do any favors by telling sincere and well-menaing women that they are vile creatures simply because they display any evidence of being human and that their husband’s less than stellar, but equally human tendencies, are all their fault and that their men would become perfect specimens of godly leadership if only the women would submit right. Talk about manipulation and subversion!

After all…who’s supposed to be leading whom here?

It is so beautiful and comforting when you expect the best of your mate, refusing to assume the worst. Also, as bad a rap as romance gets, it’s kind of romantic and sexy too. And not just for him, thank goodness. God is not trying to make our walk in this life even more difficult than it already is by making enemies of those He gave us to ease our load.

So please…re-examine the Scriptures and your ways of thinking about these things. You’re missing out on SO much if you don’t.

Humility is important, Living with other believers, wife stuff

True love should humble us.

When we are well loved, it humbles us. This should have not been an epiphany for me today, but it was.

I was talking to a friend, and she was encouraged by a compliment I offered about my husband: “He is the one who keeps this ship afloat”. Because we spend enough time communicating and in each others’ presence that she knows how much invest in my husband and family, she admonished me not to underestimate what I add to him.

I don’t underestimate it. I just don’t think about it,  instead directing my energy towards honoring him rather than focusing on me. He is open about his appreciation for me also and is equally likely to extol my virtues when the occasion arises.

When I considered my friend’s sincere desire that I not underestimate what I bring to the table, for a split second I wondered if perhaps my near constant desire to exalt him means I am devaluing myself. Then it hit me: No.

Appreciating and relishing being loved by one who is excellent and worthy of praise humbles us, or it should. My husband is not perfect, but he is unquestionably an excellent man whom I have no qualms categorizing as exceptional. That he loves me at the level of intensity with which he clearly does is deeply humbling. It is not something I deserve.

It made sense today, more clearly today than it has in a long time, the passage describing the marriage relationship as analogous to the relationship between Christ and His church.

This is the advantage and strength, I am learning, of developing good friendships and prioritizing time with them. It’s not all fun and games. There are some things that can only be transmitted in one on one relationships.

Common sense, family life, healthy living, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 6: Getting real edition

I’m a little under the weather today (the past few days, actually) and the down time is frustrating because I haven’t done as much, but it’s also been an opportunity to think about some of big questions and important principles.

Too much self-analysis is antithetical to Christian growth.

With a birthday approaching, this is a contemplative time. The Benevolent Dictator and I have hit this phase of life with reverence, gratitude, and awe which makes for a stronger connection.  Birthdays invoke more evaluation of where we are and how we live than either New Year’s or anniversaries. Primarily the questions revolve around, “Do our words and actions impart life to the receiver?” Life is not interpreted in our house as 100% good feelz. Sometimes (oftentimes?) Truth stings.

There’s a delicate balance to be struck here, and it’s something I consider a lot of late. The key to seeing things from a realistic perspective is by looking into the mirror of Scripture. Nothing is better for both the comfort and humility needed to live a sane, healthy life.

The second point piggybacks on the first: giving the direction, opinions, perspectives of my husband a place of preeminence is a key factor in growing and accomplishing goals as well. If it were not for him I would have run myself into the ground by now trying to play *super wife*.

So basically, looking at the mirror of Truth and being open to the man’s guidance is better for me than leaning into my own understanding of myself. To thine own self be true is suspect counsel, at least in my book.

Character is the thing we do when -we think- no one is watching.

This is cliche, and we’ve all heard it, but it’s very easy to forget in a world where technology provides ultimate “privacy”. And yet,  the only place you can be -99%- certain no one is watching is in the privacy of your own bedroom or bathroom. We have simultaneously more opportunities to do things in secret and just as many opportunities to get caught.

For me, this admonition is more aptly applied to making sure I do what needs to be done even when it’s inconvenient or I won’t suffer in the short term for neglecting it, but the principle is the same whether it’s about doing the right thing or not doing the wrong thing.

I have long lamented American obsession with propriety over piety, but it’s always good to be cognizant of the fact that even if no one else in the world can see what we’re doing, we know when we’re doing something wrong, and when we’re not doing what’s right to the best of our ability.  Both are damaging to one’s soul.

Conventional Western medicine heals trauma, but it exacerbates lesser ailments.

Did I mention I have a birthday upcoming? 46 I will be. I’m totally cool with that, which as I mentioned earlier, didn’t happen over night. There are a lot of factors that have aided in my ability to embrace 46, not the least of which is that life is peaceful, marriage is blissful, and health has been pretty good on the main. It also helps to get incredulous responses to revelations of your age, your children’s ages, or the length of your marriage.

However there are *things* that come with middle age and they often assert themselves in ways that demand they be addressed. So we go to the doctor. One of the sticky points in our relationship is that the Dictator has a bit more faith in the word of doctors than I do. My less than formal research tells me we are not at all unique in this regard. More time to read and research makes housewives -in general- more crunchy about these things than our husbands tend to be.

Recently however, we found ourselves on the same page on a suggestion offered by a doctor that neither of us liked. It was a surprising irony as I’d already determined not to rock the boat, but he did it for me. It just smacks of the same old tendency we have in our overall culture of treating the symptoms rather than healing underlying issues.

Band-aids on bullet holes and an old fashioned game of kick the healthcare can. It’s the Western way!  Of course, you can’t sell as many pharmaceuticals with a focus on real healing, now can you?

That’s enough musing for one Friday. Sorry if it’s lacking appropriate frivolity.

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty, el's rabbit trails, just for fun, wife stuff

Friday Frivolities 5: A hair raising edition

This is a hair raising edition because I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair this week. It’s not all I’ve been thinking about, of course, but it occupied more mental space than usual.

~It started last weekend when an older male relative asked my husband why- given his relative “youth”- he won’t dye his hair or beard. He has a fair amount of visible gray. He said no. The hair grows back too quickly, making it a frequent endeavor, and a waste of time. Most importantly, he’s fine with his gray hair.

The man countered that it just helps make a guy more attractive, no different from what a woman does when she wears a little blush to spruce up. My husband replied, “That is exactly my point. ” His pithy end of the dialog made me laugh but also made me think.

I’m thinking a bit about my own gray strands, which I usually color every 6-8 weeks for the express purpose of covering the gray strands peeking out in front. I’ve pondered it for a while now, even reviewing a book on the topic. Lately, I’ve been going longer between colorings because it does take time I need to spend on other things.

I almost never get around to coloring without going at least a couple of weeks with my visibly gray strands, which kinds of defeats the point of coloring in the first place, no? That’s an awkward angle, but the point is the gray hairs, not my big eyes. I couldn’t figure out how to do one and not the other without an even weirder picture.

Some days, I don’t mind them. It’s only a little, and only visible when I wear my hair pulled back, such as it is now. Other days it bothers me and it’s those days I find myself getting the color in. It’s funny the things we lament that previous generations of women never thought about. I just don’t want to find myself at 65 or 70 with a full head of black hair thinking I’m fooling anyone. 25 years seems like a long time from now but time passes quickly.

~This next bit is about growth of another sort: Veggies! I may not the worst gardener who ever planted a bed, but I am no doubt in the lower 50th percentile. Nevertheless, and with a lot of helpful tips and reminders from the man, I have been able to grow and harvest some good looking vegetables so far this summer. Here is yesterday’s take:

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Two eggplants, and three tomatoes. I didn’t have eggplant Parmesan on my menu for this week, but I may have to consider a menu change.

~My word for the summer is “productive”. As much as we’re told about wife and motherhood being hard jobs, for me the reality is that a plan and a some focus can do wonders.

**Caveat: I am NOT referring to mothers of babies and preschoolers here. My “baby” is 9.**

The challenge, or at least my challenge, has been to resist the temptation to coast, doing what I need to get by (“good enough is good enough”) without stretching myself in ways that will force me to grow.

With that as my focus, it’s been remarkable that I have done twice as much around the house and errands, taken naps and walks when I need them, did some things to stretch and challenge myself and still indulge in occasional 30-45 minute time “wasters” such as writing this post*. It’s been a good season.

~Lastly, I mentioned a while ago that I was reading up on how to start my own SCOBY to make kombucha at home. It turns out that this was not as easy as The Kitchn made it appear to be. The main problem was finding a pure, unflavored bottle of kombucha to use as a starter. I went to every natural food market I could think of in our area and not one had a kombucha that was unflavored.

Fortunately for me, I have the hookup with good friends who are into this kind of thing and one of them gave me a SCOBY, which has brewed enough kombucha to make another SCOBY. So I have the makings of a SCOBY hotel on my hands. Problem is, everyone in my house thinks it looks disgusting:

wp-1498074999260.jpg

The brew still tastes good, and it’s good for me, too.

Have a great weekend!

*I don’t really believe that writing this post was a waste of time.
healthy living, Humility is important, wife stuff

Mortality is an admonition and invitation to love harder.

Over in my Reading Room is an introduction to a series of posts on an insightful book discussing modern romance. It is written by a comedian, but it’s proving to be an good book. Early on was a quote from an author and relationship counselor I’d never heard of, Ester Peler. A short bit of reconnaissance led to an excerpt from her book on the subject of a supposed dichotomy between passion and security which she claims is inherent in marriage.

You can find the excerpt from her book here.

Peler’s overall assertion is that the very nature of marriage is designed to short-circuit passion and connection. Most people, she notes, are just not able to stay engaged in a satisfying way over several years of marriage. She describes what happened when she dared reveal publicly, at a party, what she was writing a book about:

As often happens in a public discussion, the most complex issues tend to polarize in a flash, and nuance is replaced with caricature. Hence the division between the romantics and the realists.

The romantics refuse a life without passion; they swear that they’ll never give up on true love. They are the perennial seekers, looking for the person with whom desire will never fizzle. Every time desire does wane, they conclude that love is gone. If eros is in decline, love must be on its deathbed. They mourn the loss of excitement and fear settling down.

At the opposite extreme are the realists. They say that enduring love is more important than hot sex, and that passion makes people do stupid things. It’s dangerous, it creates havoc, and it’s a weak foundation for marriage. In the immortal words of Marge Simpson, “Passion is for teenagers and foreigners.” For the realists, maturity prevails. The initial excitement grows into something else—deep love, mutual respect, shared history, and companionship. Diminishing desire is inescapable. You are expected to tough it out and grow up.

I couldn’t identify with the extremes her two camps fell into. Why you can’t have both? You may not have both 100% of the time, but certainly you could a lot of the time. Finally there was something later in the excerpt to which I could relate:
For a lucky few, this is barely a challenge. These couples can easily integrate cleaning the garage with rubbing each other’s back.
For them, there is no dissonance between commitment and excitement, responsibility and playfulness. They can buy a home and be naughty in it, too.
They can be parents and still be lovers. In short, they’re able to seamlessly meld the ordinary and the uncanny.

While contemplating how we got to be this way (since I don’t believe it’s because I’m a perfect wife nor my husband necessarily an alpha stud), I was suddenly reminded of what Paul wrote to the Romans (chapter 15) about the things recorded from before being written for our learning.

Depending on your perspective this might seem morbid, but we have been -ever since we’ve known each other-  intimately connected to the fact of our mortality. It is said that the young don’t believe they can die, but that was not true of us. My mother died when she was 31 (I never knew her). My mother-in-law passed away at 44 (I barely knew her). My husband had a strong sense as a young man that because of where he was culturally and geographically, he was as likely to be cut down young as old.

Our kids have experienced a lot of loss as well.. This may be a part of life when you hail from very large families on both sides, but when you’re paying attention, it can inform your sense of what’s important.

It is not at all uncommon for a knock down drag out fight to be concluded swiftly with one sibling making up with another before parting ways because they don’t want to part on that note. The Dictator and I are far from perfect, but we can really piss each other off, say our peace, go right to bed, and wrap tight around each other. The next morning it’s as if nothing ever happened.

I used to think this is what most couples do: Keep short accounts, expect that your spouse will be irritating sometimes, or that mundane routine might kick in, but knowing that you’d miss all of that if it were suddenly not there anymore. This is the kind of thing that keeps you turning toward your mate with a love, energy, and gratitude that can’t help but keep a spark there.

Peler did offer an example of one couple whose marriage floated on their understanding that life is fleeting, but their understanding did not produce much in the way of good fruit, which brings me to the point of this ramble.

Embracing rather than ignoring the reality of our mortality can make all our relationships better, starting with our marriages but certainly not ending there. The fatal mistake is believing the lie that we should do whatever we feel like whenever we feel like it because “we only live once.”

Understanding that this life is not all there is provides the missing link needed to distinguish between choosing to love your mate with abandon versus choosing to shower all that “love” on yourself.

Beauty, healthy living, Humility is important, wife stuff

Exceptions don’t validate fat acceptance movement.

This post is mostly fresh, and partly re-warmed leftovers from a 2012 entry on my now defunct blog. The message is still relevant as the trend of forcing the national consciousness towards acceptance of what should be rejected has gained more steam over the past five years.

This couple’s photo and story, along with glowing commentary on how this husband proves that love and sexual attraction are much more about what’s on the inside than the outside, is another boon to the fat acceptance movement. It comes when many women are working out harder to look good in bikinis and tank tops as summer kicks into high gear.

This hoopla is an attempt to do two things. The first is discouraging women from exercising self-control and taking charge of their health. The second is to denigrate natural, healthy male sexuality by implying that men who prefer fit women are evil, mean and shallow creatures who value a woman’s appearance over her character.

The problem with this is that our outer life is usually a decent gauge of our inner life. In other words, a few extra pounds as we age or after the birth of a baby are one thing. It’s easy to see how this can happen when we do not make the necessary adjustments to mitigate the natural changes which come with aging or child birth. Perpetually carrying around an extra 50 or more pounds for years on end, however, may indicate an issue with self-control that will rear its head in other areas of life as well.

To use a woman who has earned the love and devotion of a man over several years, has given him two young children so far ( this is a young couple),  as an example to indicate that any chubby chick can reasonably expect to land a hot guy is ridiculous on its face. Does it happen occasionally? It does, but exceptions don’t create new rules. Rather, they highlight the opposite tendency of most people.

I seem -perpetually- to be losing (and gaining) 20-25 pounds so this isn’t body shaming. I am also, despite the extra weight which makes me painfully average among American women my age, married to a man who is above average in looks and indisputably conventionally handsome. He is not rocking abs anymore like that guy, but I digress.

Like the husband in the Yahoo story, mine is virtually blind to what I view as the disparity in our presentation, roundly dismissing with incredulity any assertion on my part that he is the better looking half of this duo. Gratitude doesn’t begin to summarize my response, but I’ve also had nearly 25 years to rack up the track record that led to his love blindness. I was also pretty fit when he first laid eyes on me.

There is a bigger problem here though, no pun intended. I was discussing this with a friend and she pointed out that we (the larger culture) have reduced this subject to black and white, when there is plenty of room for gray.

We have relegated “fit” almost entirely to the realm of emaciated models or world class athletes. Normal healthy ladies who aren’t obese yet also without muscled arms and bikini worthy abs lament their lack of fitness. So you’re either a total health nut or you eat donuts and Doritos, without much middle ground in between.

For those women who can’t or don’t want to get to super fit, they give up on just trying to be a normal healthy human weight. It would be good for us to accept that normal human doesn’t usually look like an athlete or a model, but nor does normal healthy human equal obese. We’ve fallen into the ditches of extremes.

As I thought about her words, I was reminded of a trip I recently took with our girls into an Under Armor outlet store, drawn in by the desire to take a closer look at a very large Incredible Hulk statue they had placed there. Instead of being shirtless, as the Hulk is normally seen, he was wearing an Under Armor shirt.

The store was a picture of the extremes my friend mentioned, with the super fit perusing the racks alongside those who clearly seemed to view the clothing as athleisure rather than something to get sweaty in. Since I don’t fall into the former category, I voiced my concern that I looked like I belong in the latter category. Our daughter looked at me and assured me that I am not what anyone has in mind when they think “fat people”. In other words, I’ve allowed my mind to be trapped in the thinking of extreme dichotomies when considering what it means to be healthy. And I know better.

Even though I find this love story romantic and sweet, it’s a bad idea in these cases to celebrate exceptions. Especially at the expense of encouraging the greater population to do their best to be as healthy as possible. It is not only foolish. For many women, this is downright deadly.