Friday, October 11, 2013


A conversation today prompted me to publish this blog post that has been sitting in my draft folder for a while.  I try to never post something that could be seen as aimed at any individual.  Dan currently has several couples in the pre-marriage process and I didn't want this to be seen as directed at any of them.  It isn't.  But, the conversation today centered around why pastors require pre-maritial counseling and whether or not we believe it helps.  

Yes, I'm a mother of 2 young kids and no wedding planning in sight but today I'm talking about weddings.  I'm a big proponent of marriage.  I love what happens when God joins two lives together.  Marriage is a big deal to me.  It wasn't until after I was married and watched a friend go through planning a wedding that it hit me how much time people spend planning a wedding but not planning for their marriage.  

I have to be honest up front when I say that planning my wedding didn't totally consume me the way it does some people.  I had a very limited budget that my parents worked very hard to provide.  The amount I could spend dictated very early on what I could do and could not do.  So, plans were made very quickly and we stuck to those plans.  Our wedding had about 450 people in attendance and it was so nice.  The generosity of several friends made it seem like we spent about triple of what we actually spent.  It really was so perfect.  I have zero regrets about the day.  

Dan and I both struggled with who to ask to marry us.  We had been on staff at several different churches and had relationships with several pastors.  We eventually decided which pastor to ask after talking to several of them.  They all had one thing in common...PRE-MARITAL COUNSELING!  Some of the pastors did the counseling themselves.  Some required Licensed Professionals.  But, they all required it.  I will forever be grateful for this early gift given to our marriage.  I truly consider this to be the first wedding gift received even though it was required.  Fast Forward 14.5 years later and we still value the things Ken Anderson taught us during those sessions.

Since Dan has been a Pastor, he has always required marriage counseling before he performs a wedding.  He doesn't do that to be mean.  He does that because he cares about marriage.  He used to do the counseling himself but he realized that was a disservice to the couple.  His degree isn't in counseling.  His degree is in Ministry.  He could offer some personal examples of ways to have good/bad marriages but his advice was just that...advice.  It didn't come from proven methods and techniques.  It didn't take into account different personalities and backgrounds.  It didn't consider family of origin.  It was approached solely from the point of knowing Jesus and honoring Him.  While that is a KEY part of marriage, it isn't the only thing that helps you through horrendous in-laws, job loss, instability, financial troubles, expectations or looming divorce.  

So, he started referring couples to licensed counselors and requiring that before he would perform the wedding.  Based on things we have heard from other pastors, he was prepared to make some people unhappy with this decision.  Usually, the biggest reason for unhappiness is money.  Seeing a counselor requires money.  One wise pastor said to us "If a couple planning a wedding isn't willing to spend a few hundred dollars on the future of the marriage, then they aren't serious about what comes after the wedding!"  I think he was right.  It's hard to understand a couple saying they can't afford $400 in pre-marital counseling when they are planning to have an open bar at their wedding and pay for alcohol for their guests.  Or, to spend $2,5000 on photography of a wedding that might not make it past the third anniversary.  That sounds harsh but it is reality.  The counseling will get you through the 3 a.m. fights when you can't bear to look at each other but that $4500 worth of catering is LONG gone!

Dan recently had an older couple ask him to marry them.  When I say older, I mean in their 70's.  When they found out he required counseling, they chose another pastor.  It didn't hurt his feelings or make him angry.  But, he also didn't change what he believes is a very important thing.  I admire him for that. He actually married one couple that had some significant issues with going to counseling and he gave them a pass.  He regretted it from day one.  They were divorced soon after marrying.  Counseling could have possibly saved them from ever walking down the aisle.  He regrets that decision and it made him more resolved in his ideas about counseling.  

I was talking to a friend who was divorced when she married her current husband.  He was on his second marriage.  He met her when he wasn't divorced from his current wife.  He had small children.  His relationship with them was practically non-existent.  He moved from their town in a different state to her town in MS to be near her.  It was only 4 hours from them but to them, he abandoned them for her.  To this day, those kids have never forgiven her.  They have kids of their own now and their relationship with their father never improved.  My friend and her husband have dealt with Alcohol abuse, money problems, major marriage problems, in-law problems and just about any other problem you can imagine.  She was there when I planned my wedding.  She was part of it.  She says she wonders what would have been different if her pastor would have required counseling for them.  I, to this day, wonder the same thing!

What about you?  Did the person marrying you require counseling?  Did it help?  Do you feel it was worth it? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

This weird life of ours

I think we are normal...until I talk to other people and hear about their lives.  Then, I think we are weird.  And, it isn't necessarily US that I consider to be weird, it is is more the life we live.  For instance, whenever I go to Aja's house, she has this cool ceramic dry erase easel that has her weekly meal plan.  You can look there and see seven days worth of dinner plans.  Sometimes those plans include dinner at the church or a night out but most of the time, 6 of the 7 meals are prepared at home.  

Can I just tell you that in our almost 15 years of marriage, I don't think we have ever had a whole week of meals prepared at home?  Well, let me take that back.  Seminary was different.  I think we ate at home every night for those two years but many times the meals weren't planned because we cooked based on what we got from the local food giveaways that a few churches did for underprivileged families and seminary students.  And, once we both had second jobs at night, we splurged every Friday night and shared a meal at Ihop.  Our total was less than $8 but we felt rich on those nights.  Oh, and as I type this, I can't forget to mention $4.32 pizza night at Domino's Pizza.  They sold 1 topping Medium Pizzas on the first Wednesday of every month and we always got one.  With tax, the total was $4.32.  We still talk about $4.32 pizza night.  It was a highlight, I tell ya!  (Are you catching on to how poor we were during Seminary?)

Anyway, back to life as it is now.  Whenever I meal plan, there is rarely a week that I can plan for cooking more than 2 nights a week.  When I cook 3 times, I feel like we've barely left the house.  We always eat at church on Wednesday night.  I never meal plan for Saturday.  That is always our fly by the seat of our pants night.  But, honestly, most Saturday nights we have a church related dinner/fellowship/outing anyway.

This week, I planned to cook Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Then, I remembered we had a dinner invitation to the home of some members of our church who wanted to share with us about their new ministry idea.  (Which we left their house totally encouraged!!)  I had already thawed a brisket and it had to be cooked so I kept my plans to cook Tuesday night even though Dan had a meeting and would not be home.  Jon and Jessica came over and ate with us.  Dan fixed a plate when he got home.  Church was tonight.  I had a new recipe planned for tomorrow but Dan sent me a text at 9:00 tonight from the meeting he was in asking if he could host a meeting at our house on Thursday night.  So, that group will be arriving here about the time we would normally eat dinner.  So, that won't work.  Especially when you consider Jonah has a tutoring session at 3 and Martial Arts from 4-6.  Oh, and something has also come up for Friday which means I won't be cooking. 

Does that sound as bizarre to you as it seems to me?  How often do you cook?  I know Amanda and Aja are every night cookers.  What about the rest of you?  Does your schedule interrupt family meal times?  I always hear family/marriage speakers talk about the importance of consistent time around the table.  If the well being of our children comes solely from that, we are up a creek!

The remnants of summer

I just discovered photos that were taken this summer that I never uploaded or blogged.  Both of these were from adventure days with friends.  The first was from our half day at Busch Gardens.  Beth, Courtney and I took the boys to Tampa for a fun day.  But, we forgot to tell the weather what we requested so our day ended soon after lunch when the heavy thunderstorms rolled in.  It was ugly!  But, we did enjoy the morning. 

Then, back in July, we spent a day at The Magic Kingdom with Beppa and Jessie while they were here visiting.  (Yes, the girl who says she will NEVER go to theme parks in the middle of July went to TWO!)  As you will see, I spent way more time without the camera than I did with the camera.  I have only 4 pictures from ALL DAY at Disney!

Another highlight of our summer was having play dates with friends.  On this particular day, several of us met at the play ground and splash pad in Sanford for fun with the kiddos.  It was miserably hot that day so the playground wasn't all that fun. 

Somehow I missed all the pics from the splash pad.  I was too busy chatting with the other mommies.  (And convincing Momma's Boy Micah to go back out there and play!)

Summer was fun.  It all seems like a blur now.  But, I'd love to go back and have a few lazy days again.  Summer break makes me wish I had one ounce of ability to home school.  I'd love to have these little ones home with me and have a little flexibility with our schedule.  But, just yesterday, Jonah used the word "Reconciliation" as a 2nd grader and I'm pretty sure his academic level would go down rather than up after school with me.  So, I'll keep him where he is and just patiently wait for Thanksgiving break!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mommy & Micah day at Disney!

One of my favorite memories of Jonah are the special days we have had at Disney...just the two of us.  Micah is finally old enough to enjoy days like this.  A month or so ago, the crowd calendar had The Magic Kingdom at a Level 1 out of 10.  So, we couldn't pass up that opportunity.  He and I got there right as the park opened.  We walked right in and onto the tea cups.  As you can see, he didn't like them at all.  Ahem. 

We then moved from ride to ride with no waits.  He had so much fun.  Seriously, SO MUCH FUN!

He even got to ride his very first roller coaster.  Goofy's Barnstormer was Jonah's first roller coaster and now it was also Micah's first.  He loved it.  Then, the very next week when Aja took Miller, he was tall enough too.  So, both of those little boys are now official thrill seekers.  (As if anyone ever would have imagined differently!)
It was time for lunch so we decided to leave the park and eat at Chickfila.  But, on the way out, I had an idea.  I knew we would spend about $14-15  at Chickfila.  But, Micah still eats free at Disney Buffet Restaurants because he isn't 3 yet.  So, I stopped by the Crystal Palace to see what their wait was.  Micah is a HUGE fan of Winnie the Pooh and all of his friends.  The Crystal Palace is a Character Dining Experience so I knew he would be thrilled.  And, since he didn't have to pay, we both ate a fabulous meal for just $10 more than I would have spent at a fast food place.  AND, he got to meet and chat with his buddies from The Hundred Acre Wood. 

When Pooh came over, Micah couldn't talk to him for pointing him out on his cup.  "Look, Pooh.  You on my tup!  Das you.  You on my tup!"

As we were leaving, the afternoon parade was ending.  So, we stopped to watch.  That little boy waved his brains out.  He thought those characters were all there just to see him. 

And, what is a trip to Disney without a quick stop to hug Mickey?  It was the perfect end to a fun day!


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