Sweet 16

Happy anniversary to my best friend, MeLissa Horseman, and the love of her life, Shawn. I’m grateful I was able to be there with them 16 years ago to celebrate their wedding. 

My husband and I celebrate our Sweet 16 this July.  Marriage is probably the hardest thing I have ever done, aside from public speaking.  Honestly, there are times I never thought we would make it this far.  As I reflect on the past 16 years of life and marriage (over 18 years together), I ponder the highs and lows.

11008554_672905729488252_8464733163433890297_nThe years have been full of laughter and tears, fun and worry, love and dislike.  Just this past Saturday, we laughed more together than we have in a long while, and then the very next day got into a heated ‘discussion’ about house repairs, home improvements, and finances.  While the lows at times seem never-ending and the highs fleeting, I can’t help but be amazed and thankful we have made it to this milestone.  There have been moments I have wanted out (I’m sure he wanted to quit, too), but we have persevered.

20160701_204901We have three awesome children, ages 9, 7, and 3.  We have a nice home to raise them in and food to feed them.  We have friends, family, and our church to love on them.  We have life experiences to share with them.  And we have each other.  Our marriage is nowhere near perfect, and I’m still waiting on the magic year when it gets easier, but each day is another day God spoils me with the opportunity to be a wife and mom.  While some days I don’t make the most of it or feel I have the energy to do either, God lays on my heart that there is someone doing the parenting and spouse thing alongside me. So, happy anniversary dear hubby, and may we resolve to rely on God to continue to strengthen each other for each other.

Dear Daniel

*Today’s letter is written by fellow blogger and writer Mary Agrusa. Thank you, Mary, for your willingness to share your gifts with the world!*

Dear Daniel,

blog mary agrusa nov 14From the first time Mikael demurely admitted she was seeing someone, her tone of voice told me you were special. For the longest time she tantalized me with this well kept mystery – like a decorated gift under the Christmas tree. The suspense exhilarated me.

Every now and then she’d let something slip, “Daniel’s soooo.” My gift appeared to be exquisitely wrapped…but what was inside? Hmm. She’d drop clues, share tidbits. I’d pick up the box, feel its weight and shake it for any revealing noises. Still the contents eluded me. Who was this person who’d captivated my little girl’s heart?

Finally the trip to Boston came. In addition to time spent with Mikael the opportunity to begin to unwrap my gift arrived. What would I find? I rooted for fireworks and shooting stars, and I wasn’t disappointed. When you casually mentioned that the two of you had discussed marriage, my heart soared. “He’s a keeper!” it proclaimed.

That afternoon in March I was only privy to half of the phone conversation between you and Joe. I could read between the remarks on our end that a wedding was in the works. I spent the next six weeks with my head in the clouds. Mikael had found her Prince Charming and I couldn’t be happier.

On that Friday in May at the Marriage Bureau in New York City, the gift was totally revealed – a son, and what a son he is! It was an honor to stand as a witness to your commitment to Mikael, complete with a non-return clause LOL. Blessed with a kind, compassionate heart, a great sense of humor, a profound love of God, coffee, all things Irish and Boston sports teams, you are Mikael’s perfect counter-balance. I marvel daily at God’s gracious addition to our family. He thought of everything.

Daniel, thank you for being “the one.” You took Mikael into your heart and made her (and Joe and I by default) an integral part of your life. In you I’ve received a gift of immeasurable worth and one I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

Love,

Mary

What I learned from my parents

This piece was written by my former professor, who I like to consider one of my writing mentors, Dr. Teresa Burns Murphy, as a tribute to her parents. They will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this month. Happy anniversary to a couple who obviously understand what it takes to love others well.

My parents outside their first apartment in Long Beach, California

My parents outside their first apartment in Long Beach, California

My parents were both teachers, so there were lessons galore at our house.  I’ve written the following two stories to illustrate what I learned from each parent before I even “formally” started school.

From My Father

My sister, Liz, and I were tucked in our warm bed when the pre-dawn stillness of our house was rattled by the sound of a ringing phone.  I lay awake, listening to my dad’s voice as he took the call, paying close attention for clues as to the identity of the caller.  Then I heard the sounds of my dad’s footsteps coming into the room Liz and I shared.

“Teresa,” my dad said.  “I’ve got to drive the bus this morning.  Do you want to go with me?”

Did I ever!  I sprang out of bed and into my clothes.  The caller had been the superintendent of the school where my dad taught, informing him that one of the bus drivers was ill, asking if he could take that driver’s morning route.  In those days, there were no requirements for school bus drivers to have a commercial license.  They just had to have enough nerve to navigate the twists and turns of rural Arkansas back roads while ferrying a group of school kids.  I knew driving the bus was an unwelcome chore for my dad, but I was always thrilled when he got the call because there was a chance that I would get to ride with him.

I followed my dad out to his car, and we took off through the streets of our small town.  Lights in the houses along the road that led to the school flickered on as their inhabitants woke up and prepared for the day ahead.  The school building where my dad taught was not yet illuminated when we arrived at the space out front where he parked his car. Together, we walked to the area where the buses were kept and then we were off.

I could barely contain my excitement as I slid into the seat behind my dad.  To me, this was as good as a carnival ride, particularly the moment we left the familiar streets of our town, and the bus lurched onto the gravel road where most of the kids on the route lived.  Sometimes, we stopped for a single kid standing in front of a house tucked far back into the woods.  Other times, we collected a whole family of kids, often having to wait a few extra minutes while one of them, struggling into his or her coat, ran across the yard having perhaps overslept or lingered too long at the breakfast table.  Always, when my dad gave the silver handle a yank, and the bus doors whooshed open, the kids’ voices registered both surprise and delight to see “Mr. Burns” at the wheel of their bus.  As they made their way to their seats, some of the kids even spoke to me, and I basked in the glow of these older kids’ attention.

Those bus rides added texture to my mostly monotonous days.  Since I wasn’t yet old enough to attend school, my dad had to drive me back home when the bus ride was over.  In retrospect, I’m sure it would have been much easier for him to have tiptoed quietly out of our house, leaving me in my bed, garnering a few moments of peace and quiet before embarking on his task of driving the bus.  But he didn’t.  He invited me to go along on the journey, and I am all the richer for it – gaining in those few hours a glimpse of my dad’s world beyond the confines of our home.

From My Mother

The year I turned four, my sister, Liz, turned six.  That fall, she not only got to go to first grade, she also got to move out of the nursery at church and into a regular Sunday school class.  I knew there was no way I could go to school with her.  There were laws against that; but, I felt I had a good chance of joining her Sunday school class.  After all, this was church where you weren’t supposed to be a respecter of persons.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that my mother was going to be teaching Liz’s class.

I was sick of staying in the nursery with a bunch of babies and coloring those Bible story sheets using broken crayons worn down to a dull rounded shape, most of them with their paper wrappers peeled completely off.  Some of the crayons were even pocked with teeth marks where either the babies or nervous preschoolers had chewed on them.  I just didn’t think I could take another year of coloring with those gross crayons or pushing thread through those silly little sewing cards and being lumped in with a bunch of drooling, bawling babies while Liz joined the big kids in a class where they’d have actual lessons.  While my mother was no push-over, I felt it was worth a shot to begin my begging campaign to join her class.

“Pleeeeease,” I pleaded.  “Please, let me move up to Liz’s Sunday school class.”

I’m sure my mother finally grew tired of hearing my pitiful appeals because she reluctantly said, “Okay, but only on one condition.  You have to do the work that the older kids do.”

Even though I wasn’t at all sure I could meet that demand, the vision of myself spending another year in that nursery propelled me to promise my mother that I would do everything the older kids did.

I was beyond excited that first Sunday morning when I got to walk right past the nursery and into the first grade Sunday school classroom.  The other kids eyed me suspiciously, but they didn’t say anything for fear of making a bad impression on my mother.  When my mother announced that our first lesson was to learn the books of the Old Testament, my crisp enthusiasm wilted.  I was hoping we’d learn some Bible verses, preferably short ones like, “Jesus wept,” or even the books of the New Testament.  At least I could actually pronounce those names.  I wanted to whine, but I knew a complaint would send me straight back to the nursery, so I kept my mouth shut and focused on the assignment.

All week, I pestered my mother to go over the names of the books of the Old Testament with me.  This would have been going the extra mile for any mother, but my mother was completing her B.A. in English at Arkansas (now Lyon) College.  So in addition to dealing with regular motherly things – like preparing meals, doing laundry, and refereeing fights between Liz and me, she had tons of homework to do.  Still, she listened night after night as I stammered over all those names until I could say them without missing a single one.

I could barely sit still in my chair the next Sunday morning.  When my mother asked if anybody could say the books of the Old Testament, I shot my pudgy hand in the air.  My mother looked from face to face, but no one else moved except to narrow their eyes at me.

Finally, my mother said, “Okay, Teresa.”

To my amazement, I said them all from Genesis to Malachi, and then I held out my hand.  My mother’s pledge to pay fifty cents to the students who could reel off all those Old Testament books just sweetened the deal.  She smiled as she plopped the two quarters into my open palm, while the older kids looked on with what I’m sure were unchristian thoughts roiling through their brains.

Who cared what they thought?  With my mother’s help, I had learned that tenacity plus hard work could equal success even for an underdog like me.

From Both My Parents

Both of my parents took the time to teach me many other lessons, and they continue to teach me lessons even now.  Some of these lessons have been easy to learn.  Others, well, let’s just say I’m still working on them.  Perhaps the most important lesson I learned from them is the lesson of commitment.  Throughout our lives, my parents have remained committed to my brother, Rob, to my sister, Liz, and to me.  And, they have remained committed to each other for many, many years.  This month, my parents will celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary.  The symbol for that year is a diamond.  This hardest of gemstones was known to the ancient Greeks as adamas, the same word they used for anything that was indestructible or unmovable. My parents’ love for their family and for each other has been both enduring and constant, and that has been the most important lesson of all.

Day 26–Expect good things

*Thanks to my friend and former fellow volunteer, LaTresha Woodruff, for serving as today’s guest contributor. LaTresha wrote this piece for her co-workers on her two-year anniversary at her current job as a public information officer for a local police department. Hope we will all learn to expect good things in our lives, just like LaTresha!*

GOOD MORNING!!!!  HAPPY THURSDAY.  Hope last night went well and that you are expecting good things today.  Patrol worked very diligently last night as they do each night to keep you safe.  Continue to support the men and women who protect and serve us each day.

Please allow me to tell you all a little story.  I wake up each morning and tell myself and those around me to “expect good things” and I often tell you guys.  I just believe a great attitude of expectancy lends itself to a great day.  If “not so good” things happen, with your great attitude you are able to overcome them.  Well this morning I woke up and told myself and my running buddies to “expect good things.”

latreshaWhile getting dressed I was just bound and determined to wear a flower, I had no idea why, since I don’t do it often; last time it was for a church event.  But I listened to that voice and wore my flower.  I got to work and a co-worker in my morning inspiration group asked,”What’s today?  January 31st?” and I answered, “Yes, oh my gosh, this is my 2 year anniversary with the Police Department!”  He said, “and you have made a great impact.”  I proceeded to recite something I say to people all the time, especially those who start to get anxious about their jobs and may have low morale… “Bloom where you are planted right now.”

Then it hit me!!!!  I wore the flower unknowingly because of my anniversary, and I believe that I have been able to bloom where I am planted.  I love working here at CPD, and I put everything into my work and will continue to come up with better ways, new ideas to get this wonderful department, it’s officers and programs more grounded in the community; after all that’s why CPD is here, to protect and serve you.  So on my 2nd year anniversary, I pledge to do all I can for the department and this community.  Thanks for welcoming me 2 years ago and for the support you give to me and this department!  I look forward to many more anniversaries.

 

What will be on your gratitude list in 2013?

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest contributor, AGAIN! He’s such a huge help to me in keeping this blog going during times when I’m busier. I am so thankful for him and for other friends who have stepped up and written posts for the blog. As you read this post, contemplate what your gratitude list will look like at the end of 2013. Remember, gratitude’s a choice. I hope you choose it today!*

Henry’s 2013 gratitude list

ImageI will focus on being grateful in 2013 for opportunities.  I will come up on my 5 year anniversary where I work, and that will open a lot of doors to positions that I really didn’t get a shot at before.  I think it’s time to move on from what I’ve been doing the past 5 years, and if the Lord allows me to and it’s in His plan, I will pursue that and show off my other talents.

I will focus on being grateful for a new and improved Henry.  I am bringing back the old Henry that I grew to love so much, yet grew so far apart from.  I have learned about “being a man”, but this year I am going to take control of it.  It’s taken me a while to realize what works and doesn’t work in this world.  Let’s just say – I replaced the super Mario bros keychain with a Swiss army knife.  No, I’m not going all “mountain man” on you, but I am maturing into a more resourceful and scrappy dude.

I will focus for being grateful for what I have, and grateful for the things I cannot change that bring harm or good to me – for those things exist for an unexplained reason.

I will focus on being grateful for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  The idea that the almighty God our creator is willing to just put Himself out there right in front of us, humbled, as the Priest hands us the unleavened bread at Communion is…. breathtakingly awesome. 

For more from Henry, check out his blog!