The Story of Us

June 21, 2015

I watched as my Dad finished writing out the last of the checks for the wedding of my dreams. It was almost midnight on the night before my wedding and I was sitting at the dining room table with my parents. We were talking, laughing and reminiscing about the events of the day. We had the rehearsal earlier that evening and everything had gone according to plan including the wonderful rehearsal dinner with all of the wedding party plus the multitude of family that had flown in for the event. I was born in Maryland, grew up in California and now lived in Indiana so many of our family and friends had to travel a very long distance to join us for the celebration.

Yes, everything was going along as I had planned it and that was just the way I liked my life to go. I am a strong “J” on the Myers-Briggs personality test which means I am a planner. I love lists and I thrive on organization and planning in advance. Planning my wedding had been a huge undertaking, but I loved every minute of it. I had checklists from every bride magazine I could get my hands on. I would revise and edit and re-do the lists as the wedding got closer. I probably went a little overboard on the lists, but I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget anything important and didn’t want to leave anything up to chance.

While we were sitting there at the dining room table my mom and I started writing out our “to do” list for the next morning. Make up, hair, flowers for the sanctuary, centerpieces for the reception, bags to pack for the honeymoon, etc. There was so much to accomplish that I contemplated not even going to bed. However, I am not a very happy girl when I am sleep deprived and I didn’t think my fiancé, Dwight, would appreciate a scowling bride walking down the aisle towards him. The advice my dad gave to Dwight before we got married was “If she’s grouchy she either needs food or sleep … or both”. My dad knew from years of living with me that this advice would come in handy to Dwight. So whenever I am grouchy Dwight just hands me a cookie or suggests that maybe I need to take a little nap. Because Dwight, like most husbands, had realized there is a lot of truth in the saying “happy wife happy life”.

My father was a minister so he was not only giving me away but was also performing part of the ceremony. He was co-officiating with Stan Banker, the pastor of the church where I had met Dwight. We were both in the youth group there and had started dating when I got the nerve up to ask Dwight to the winter formal at our school. It was a Sadie Hawkins dance where the girls were supposed to ask the boys. Being shy and new to the school I was nervous to ask Dwight because I feared rejection and wanted to make sure he would say “yes”. So, I had a mutual friend of ours, Matt McGraw, do some investigative work to see if Dwight was interested. Matt reported back to me that Dwight would say “yes” if I asked him – all I had to do was ask. I was still a bit apprehensive about asking him so I decided to take the easy way out and write a note. Dwight sat behind me in Mrs. Wood’s history class so I wrote a note that said “Will you go to Winter Dance with me?” Below that I put a check box for “yes” and a check box for “no”. I carefully folded the note up, made sure the teacher wasn’t watching and tossed it over my shoulder so that it would land on Dwight’s desk. After what seemed like hours, but in actuality was only a few minutes, Dwight tossed the note back to me. I slowly unfolded the note to see that he had not checked the “yes” box or the “no” box but that he had made a new box that said “Yes, definitely, of course, I’d love to”. I smiled and felt my heart skip a beat.

The years since that day had flown by. Dwight and I finished High School and went onto college. Dwight was my high school sweetheart and although we had broken up a few times over the years I always knew we would end up together and I couldn’t imagine spending my life with anyone else.  We talked about our hopes and dreams for the future: graduating from college, finding wonderful jobs, getting married and having kids. We even picked out names for our future children and talked about what we imagined they’d look like and who’s personality they’d inherit. We knew they would be adorable, funny and very smart – perfect in every way. Of course, we had no idea that our hopes and dreams for our family and our idea of “perfect” might not be what God had in mind. In the years to come we would learn more about what it means to truly trust in God and have Faith even when things may seem hopeless.

I vividly remember the night Dwight proposed to me. He had taken me to Olive Garden for dinner and then we had gone for a walk on the boardwalk near our college campus. There on the boardwalk, underneath a starry sky, Dwight asked me to marry him and to become Mrs. Dwight Elliott. After I said “yes” he told me that he had gone to my parents earlier in the day to ask their permission to marry me. I didn’t know which amazed me more – the fact that he had thought to ask my parents’ permission or the fact that my mom had been able to keep it a secret. My mom has trouble keeping secrets … she gets so excited that it’s just hard for her not to share. I have realized that I may have inherited that trait from my mom because I also find it extremely hard to keep a secret and the more exciting the secret the harder it is to keep! I think Dwight knew that it might be hard for my mom not to share this news with me so that is why he waited to ask my mom and dad for their permission until just a few hours before he planned on proposing.

IMG_7502As my Dad closed his checkbook and my mom and I finished up our list I remember thinking that this wedding had been much more expensive and time consuming than I ever imagined. The last 9 months had been a blur of bridesmaid dresses, flowers, photographers, and reception details.   Even though I was having what I considered to be a “modest wedding” it still ended costing more than I ever imagined. I was shocked at how fast everything added up. “Wow”, I remember thinking, “no wonder some people just elope. Think of all the time and money that could be saved!” However, I had been like most little girls and had dreamed of my wedding day for as long as I could remember and I would never have been happy to just run off and get married at the courthouse or even on some romantic island. I wanted a wedding in a church with bridesmaids and all my family and friends in attendance.

The next morning I awoke with excitement and anticipation. I was just sure everything would go perfectly and the wedding would be one that everyone would talk about for years to come. The wedding was not until 2:00 pm, but the morning flew by and before I knew it I found myself standing beside my Dad at the back of the church listening for my cue to walk down the aisle to marry my best friend. Everything went perfectly during the ceremony and we were introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Elliott”. We walked out of the church as husband and wife to the music of Harry Connick, Jr. singing “It Had to Be You”.   There was a limo waiting for us outside the church to take us to the reception.   I had never been happier in my life and the future was full of possibility. I could hardly wait to begin this new chapter in my life and looked forward to the life Dwight and I had planned together.

That was 22 years ago and we have been through a lot since then. As Dwight and I celebrated our anniversary last week I looked back over all that we have been through together. Things have not always been easy and life has not gone as perfectly as the wedding ceremony. (I guess I learned it was a lot easier to plan a wedding than to plan our lives!) However, I know there is no one else I would rather have by my side, in the good times and the bad, through the happy times and the sad. Happy Father’s Day to my sweetheart and best friend! Thanks for being such an awesome Dad to our four children and a wonderful husband!

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Dandy Dandelions

April 30, 2013

“Those are weeds!” Drew said to Emma as she came running in the house with her hands full of dandelions.

“No they’re not! They are flowers and they are for Mom!” Emma said looking a little offended.  She turned to me with a smile as she handed me the bouquet of carefully selected dandelions. “Ethan and I wanted to give you some beautiful flowers.”

Ethan piped up and said, “I like them because they are yellow and yellow is my favorite color. It’s bright and happy – like sunshine!”

“Dad said they’re weeds.” Drew said. “They are all over the grass and they are taking over the yard!”

“Well, I guess there are less dandelions now because Emma and I picked about 20 or more for Mom.” Ethan replied as he started looking through cupboards. “Do we have a vase? Mom! We need a vase for your flowers.”

I stopped putting away the groceries and helped Ethan look, “Here’s one – It’s the perfect size!” I said as I took it to the sink. “Let’s put a little water in it and then you and Emma can arrange them in the vase.”

I watched as the twins carefully arranged the dandelions in the vase. “I LOVE them!  Thank you both for thinking of me and taking the time to pick these beautiful flowers.”

“So you don’t think they are weeds?” Emma asked.

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“Well, they can be weeds and people don’t like them all over their lawns, but when you pick them with love they are flowers to me!” I explained as I gave them both a hug.

Drew thought for a moment and said, “I guess one mans weed is another man, or woman’s, flower!”

We all laughed and Emma took the vase and set it on the table. “Looks like flowers to me!”

Juggling Life

November 30, 2012

Emma & Ethan“I’m losing my mind!!” I shouted in frustration as I rummaged through the house trying to recall the “safe place” where I had put several important forms that needed to be signed and returned to school the next day.

“You’re not losing your mind” Ethan said sweetly, “You just got lots of stuff to remember!”

Yes, mommies have lots of things to remember from where Barbie’s clothes were seen last, to what kid needs to be where at what time, homework and projects for school and, of course, where important papers are and making sure they make it back to school on time.  Lately things have been so crazy and busy I’ve been having trouble keeping up with everyone’s schedules and trying to find time for other important things like taking a shower and finding time to sleep!

Let’s see … the last time I posted a blog was on the first day of school.  It is now the last day of November and before we know it Christmas will be here!  I was thinking last night about how much I missed writing and wishing I had the time and energy to post on my blogs more frequently.  I guess it’s kind of like exercise or studying or anything else – you just have to MAKE time. If you don’t’ block out a time in your day to write the days and weeks (and months) fly by and it never gets done.  I’ve found that every year of your life time goes faster and faster. When I was a kid the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like it drug on FOREVER! As an adult, I start having anxiety attacks the day after Thanksgiving as I look at the December calendar and realize I need to be careful not to blink or it will be Christmas Eve!

About a year ago I decided to go back to school to get my MBA.  I had always said that I would NEVER go back to school, but here I am at 40+ years old taking classes and learning new things. I have to admit I have enjoyed the classes, but keeping up with reading, studying, and writing papers while working full time, raising four kids, and being a pastor’s wife has really been a test of my juggling skills.  Juggling the responsibilities of a mom is kind of like real juggling in that you will drop a ball here or there, but you just have to pick it back up and try again. So here I go … picking back up the dropped ball of blogging and trying again.  I hope to post a few times before Christmas with stories of from the past few months.

There really have been a lot of funny stories and fun times and I need to write them down before the get lost in all the other clutter floating around in my mind.  It’s amazing how I can’t ever remember that “safe place” where I put things, but I can still remember all the words to The Brady Bunch Theme song and the Big Mac advertising jingle from back when I was a kid.  You know the one I’m talking about …. “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!”

I guess if I think about it that’s really why I started blogging in the first place. I wanted to write down all the cute storiesbugaloos and fun memories of raising our kids so I wouldn’t forget and so our children could share these stories with their children.  When I think back to my childhood I know that I may not remember very much about when I was in preschool or elementary school,  but I have lots of memories of the stories my parents told about my childhood. I have shared those stories with my kids and they love hearing about the time my brother, sister and I thought we could fly like the “Bugaloos” on TV and started jumping off of dressers trying to test our flying abilities.  Or how we used to fight over who had to sit in the middle seat with the hump … remember when cars had “the hump seat” in the middle which had absolutely no leg room?   

I hope that my kids have lots of stories and happy memories to share with their children someday. I also hope that they don’t’ remember a mom who was losing her mind, but a mom that loved them more than anything in the world!

Happy Valentines Day!

February 13, 2011

Emma and Ethan were talking tonight before bed and Emma said, “I am SO excited about tomorrow being Valentine’s Day!  I can hardly wait!”  Ethan just rolled his eyes and said, “I’m not … it’s just Valentine’s Day … it’s not like its Christmas or something.”  Ah, yes…Valentine’s Day is much more exciting for girls than for boys I guess.  The girls are all excited about the candy, the cards and the flowers and the boys can’t seem to figure out what the big deal is.

When I went to Ethan’s Valentines party at school last year he informed me that the little girl that sat next to him had said that she wanted to marry him.  I said, “Really? She said she wants to marry you?” He took a bite of his heart shaped cookie, smiled and replied, “Yeah, well … you know … I’m a really good colorer.”  And in First Grade that’s what all the little girls are looking for. 🙂

Mom! I’m thirsty!!

January 19, 2011

“Mom!” I’m thirsty!”  comes a small voice from the backseat.  We are racing down the road, late as usual, so I counter back with, “Swallow some spit!”  Silence for a moment and then the small voice pipes back up again with, “What?  How is that gonna help?”  I chuckle and think back to my childhood when I was the one in the backseat whining that I was dying of thirst and wondering the same thing when my Dad’s solution was to “swallow some spit”.  Of course I tried it (as did my kids) to see if it would quench my thirst.  As a child I thought it might work – I mean spit is kinda like water so maybe it would help.  After a few times of trying it I realized I was still thirsty – spit just wasn’t the same thing as a REAL drink of water.

Sometimes we think we will fill a void or stop pain in our lives with a fix of our own. We have a plan and think we don’t need God. Maybe we think that a big house, a nice car and lots of money will make us happy.  Maybe we try using food, TV, and other distractions to forget about our problems for a while and pretend that they don’t exist.  However, these things will only temporarily make us happy because although they seem like what we thirst for, nothing is as satisfying as a relationship with God.   God offers us living water that we may thirst no more.  So when you are down and things seem hopeless, know that God is right there waiting to offer you the love that you thirst for.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us ~ Romans 5:3-5

Let God pour his love into your heart so that your thirst may be quenched and you will never be thirsty again.

(This is part of a blog  hop for Women of Faith. Click here to view other Women of Faith Talk Back entires)