Sunday, June 21, 2015

He Calls Her "Love"

I have read that the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother. My dad loves my mom, he calls her "Love", and he has given me and my sisters and my brother the greatest gift.

I don't know a lot of details about my parents' dating relationship, but I do know they grew up on farms in the same county in Iowa and met at junior college and then both went on to Iowa State University. I know that my mom encouraged my dad to take his relationship with Jesus more seriously. I know my dad told my mom first that he loved her and she didn't believe him. I know they were married in 1953 and I came along seven and a half years later, the youngest of four. 

As I was growing up I always knew my dad loved my mom. He told her that often and he often grabbed her to kiss her and hug her. They had their disagreements, but they fought to find a resolution. He worked hard to provide for her and our family. 

September 6, 2013 my mom had a very severe stroke. Since 6:25pm that day my mom has not been able to speak, walk, or take care of herself. Since that day my dad has stepped into the role of taking care of my mom. While she was in the hospital and nursing home, Dad was with her every single day. He listened to the doctors and nurses, asked questions and advocated for my mom. He had a little notebook where he wrote all sorts of information. He asked such educated questions that a doctor once asked him if he was a doctor. After about five months of recuperating, my mom was able to move back to their home and my dad's love for Mom kicked into a higher gear. 

Dad helps Mom get dressed, helps her with the bathroom needs, (he has home health aides come in a couple of times a day to help him) and he fixes meals for them.  I've been impressed with the food he has been cooking and baking. He looks up recipes on line and tries them. And like every true cook, he modifies the recipes to his own personal tastes.

Dad is very in tune with Mom. While she is napping, he listens for her to indicate she needs his help. When she calls out, he immediately goes to her to see what she needs. Last January he sent out an email to us kids with a concern about Mom having a headache. (She ended up in the hospital and had medications adjusted.) At first glance of the email, I thought, okay, I'll pray for Mom and the doctors. Then I started thinking.... how did he know she had a headache? She couldn't tell him so. I asked him and he said he could tell she wasn't feeling well and asked her questions until he figured it out. She can nod her head yes and shake it to indicate no. He says he should be able to read her facial expressions after 62 years of marriage!

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained” C.S. Lewis

My dad is constantly looking out for my mom's good. I have never heard him be cross with her even when she is complaining loudly. He just continues to help her and reassure her and call her "Love". He told me during one visit: "She's already been knocked down more pegs than she deserves. I can't knock her down anymore."

Since my mom's stroke, my dad and I have had many wonderful phone conversations. Before the stroke I would usually call and talk to Mom on the phone or Mom would call me. Maybe it's a strain for him, but I think he knows I miss talking to Mom. It's a gift to me. (I have been so preoccupied with all that our recent move to South Carolina has brought that I haven't talked to Dad as much and I miss it.)

In the ICU back on that 2013 September day, he said to Mom, "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health. This is the "worse" part . We've got a new adventure ahead of us, Love." 

In last year's Christmas letter, Dad wrote:
"It's the last decade," I said to Verlee, "it will not be the declining decade that it is, but a joyful one when we focus on the mercy of God's grace." Which is huge!

My dad is awesome. He is setting such an amazing example of love and dedication to all of us in the family and to the people he interacts with.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

I believe Dad's faith in Jesus Christ is why he is able to live out his wedding vows of 62 years so incredibly well. His love and compassion are unsurpassed by any person I know. My mom is blessed to be called "Love" by him.  My siblings and I are blessed to see Dad love Mom.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Weekend

Hubby and I took a little road trip on Saturday. He was told about a little town in northern Georgia, called Helen, that has cute shops and restaurants. Along the way we stopped at a Farmer's Market stand and bought some tomatoes, a watermelon and some Georgia Peaches.
Somehow buying Georgia Peaches in Georgia just seemed right. I love fresh peaches and really want to make a peach pie, but I haven't found my recipe box in the unpacking yet so I don't have the recipe. (I should insert here how anxious I am about not finding my recipe box. It would be a disaster to loose 31 years worth of recipes collected.)

As we approached our destination, we got stuck in a traffic back up. We figured out that it would take us awhile to get into Helen and we were hungry, so we turned around to have lunch at a pizza place we spotted along the way.

The pizza was very good...

But the popcorn they served while we waited was amazing...

I have no idea what made it so good, but we devoured two bowls of this. It reminded me of popcorn popped in my parents' really old popcorn popper.

Our lunch spot was less than two miles from Helen, but it took us 30 minutes to finally get onto town only to realize there was a Shriner's parade going on which explained the forty billion people trying to get into town. We decided it wasn't worth trying to fight the crowds, so we decided to not explore the town that day.

We took a small detour on the way back home to see this college campus. 

A sweet friend went to school here a number of years ago, so we thought we'd give the campus a look. This friend and her little family live in China loving people there for God. You can read her blog here.

 It was a very pretty and very small campus.

We were back home in time to slice up some of the tomatoes we bought for the summer's first BLTs. 

I love BLTs, but I cannot stand the smell of bacon in the house for days afterwards. I had a brainstorm about cooking the bacon. I put eight slices of thick cut bacon in my biggest cast iron skillet and put it on the grill outside. It worked wonderfully! The bacon cooked nice and crispy like we like it and the smell stayed outside!!!

Sunday morning we visited yet another church that didn't seem like a good fit, went out for BBQ for lunch and came home to unpacked a bazillion boxes. I have unpacked every box that was labeled "kitchen" but still have not found my recipe box. Because of that and because I unpacked a box that was labeled "living room" and had pillows from the couch and three small shelves from the basement bathroom, I have to conclude that the recipe box is probably in a box marked "garage" or something equally absurd. Whenever the recipe box is found, there will be much rejoicing on my part (and probably on Hubby's part as well since he won't have to listen to me whine about it anymore).

This week's goals for me are getting the pantry in order, unpacking a box from my desk and finding a place for all those things, organizing a bookcase in our bedroom and getting a pedicure. Lofty goals for sure.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Last night Hubby was invited to attend a Greenville Drive minor league baseball game by a local college that Hubby's company works with. Since he could bring a guest, I tagged along. I'm not a huge sports fan, but I can sit through a game now and then and sitting in  a suite, meeting some new people and having yummy food sounded fun.

The game was rain-delayed about an hour, someone forgot to order the food and we ended up with hotdogs and chicken strips. Not terrible, but not great. I ended up not talking to anyone. A few people introduced themselves, but quickly went on to other conversations.

I titled this post Weary. Why? Because that's how I am feeling about this move. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy to be here in South Carolina. It's a beautiful part of the country that I haven't explored and am excited to. It's just this transition time that seems to drag on and on and being the new kid on the block that is making me weary.

I don't know if it's just me or if it's common with all humans, but I long to feel like I belong. I've even forced myself to use the word (or is it words) Y'all to try to sound like I belong, but it sounds foreign to this Midwesterner. (But I'll keep trying because it is cooler sounding that You Guys.)

I can't even count the number of churches we have visited since we moved here in January. So far we haven't found one that seems like a good fit. If we have a conversation with someone at one of those churches, it seems to be one sided...the other person doing all the talking and not asking any questions about us. Is it because we all have a desire to tell our story? I know I do and I get weary because no one wants to hear it. Maybe that's selfish. Maybe the point of all this is for me to learn other people's stories and not push mine. All the same, I still long for a friend I can meet for lunch and have a nice long two-sided talk.

I think God created us to be in relationship with other people. In fellowship with other believers. I keep looking for that, but I grow weary at times.

When we were looking for a new job, our prayers turned from, "Dear God, Make this job available because this town seems like a logical place for us to move to because of location and closeness of family," to (after many no's from God), "Dear God, Your will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen."  So even though I don't understand how living halfway across the country from our kids is God's answer to that prayer, I believe this place is God's answer to that prayer.

There is a story in the Old Testament book of Exodus, chapter 17 about a battle the Israelites were in:

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
Exodus 17:10-13

I feel weary and tired. I need help and prayer to keep my head up. I want living in South Carolina to be a wonderful experience we look back on with fond, positive memories.  I'll keep praying, "Dear God, Your will. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen." I'll probably continue to have times when I feel weary.

But in the end,
God is still God and Jesus is still sitting at His right hand.
And that's all that is important.
Praise be to God.

Monday, June 8, 2015


There have been many places in the Southeast I have wanted to visit for a long time and since we now live in the Southeast, this is the perfect time to take advantage of that!

Memorial Day weekend we hopped into our car, hit the road and a mere three hours later we were in Charleston, SC! That is a little mind-boggling for this Midwest girl. We are wanting to take advantage of being able to travel in a part of the country we haven't seen much of.

We started the weekend by having pizza with a high school friend of Hubby's. He actually lives in the Chicago area, but was visiting his daughter who lives in the Charleston area. It's always good to see him and his wife. I was determined to take a picture of them, but I stupidly managed to talk myself out of it. I seem to always feel awkward when we are with friends to ask them for a picture.

Here's a crazy thing: We met Hubby's friend in a town that is the same as our last name, only spelled differently by one letter. Our hotel was in a town that has the same name as the town where my hubby went to high school in Iowa. Funny.

Saturday morning we decided to tour a plantation called Middleton Place just outside of Charleston. 

The property was beautiful. This house, built in 1755, was one of three that were there at one time. This is the only one that survived both the Civil War and the 1886 earthquake.

I was enchanted with the huge live oak trees that were dripping with Spanish moss. 

Just beautiful!

The "wildlife" was enchanting as well.

I am also enthralled with peacocks. The male peacock is a stunning creature. God has some crazy imagination to create this creature. I have a book from my childhood called Suki and the Invisible Peacock. It was one of my favorite books. I think of it whenever I see a peacock.

After some yummy seafood for lunch, we headed off for a boat tour of the harbor.

We often will take a tour of a new city to learn more about the history and layout of the place. This boat tour was a disappointment. The guide spent the majority of the 90 minutes talking about pirates. While I understand there were pirates in the area, it would have been more interesting to hear about what we were seeing along the shorelines and even more about Fort Sumter and the Civil War.

I didn't get very many good pictures, but here are a few:

Fort Sumter

Saturday evening was another time I wished I would get over my stupid awkwardness about taking picture of people we are with. We had supper at the home of some friends we met while we lived in Singapore. We hadn't seen each other for 15 years. It was fun to be in their house and see some familiar artwork and pieces of furniture. Us expats sure seem to like to buy the same types of things! Linda and I were in a number of Bible studies together over the two years we were in Singapore together. Since she had already lived there three years before we arrived, she had a lot of tips and knew where the good shopping places were. I learned so much from her. Butch enjoyed talking with our kids at church and especially teasing our daughter. It was a very enjoyable evening. I hope we can see each other more whenever we go back to Charleston.

Our Sunday morning carriage ride around the old part of Charleston redeemed the horrible harbor cruise. Our tour guide was very informative and we learned so much about the area.

Sunday's lunch was on the waterfront. The scenery and the food were both fantastic. 

I had a soft shell crab BLT. I am a huge fan of crab but had never had soft shell crab. I've heard people rave about it so when it was on the menu, I ordered it. I was not disappointed. It was soooo yummy!

As we worked our way around Charleston on foot on Monday, we came across this very old cemetery.