Do Something Fun with Your Family

In July 2013, after months of planning, and hundreds of hours of work, we are thankful God brought it all together for a sweet and beautiful wedding for my daughter..

Perhaps your days have been blessed but busy, too.

I encourage you all to take a break this week and do something fun with your family. Yesterday, I left piles of laundry and a messy kitchen to have a "Family Fun Day." My husband took the day off of work and we took the two children we have remaining at home out for a full day of fun. Paddling a canoe, swimming, and a picnic at a beautiful lake was just what we all needed.

Carve out some fun time  with your children this week. Those little boys that are always on the go, may move across the nation in a few years. And your little, twirling princesses will soon glide across the floor in a wedding gown.

Go make some memories.


Preserving Your Wedding Dress and Your Marriage

     When my husband and I celebrated our twenty-fourth anniversary, we went out to eat dinner. On the way home, my oldest daughter texted me asking what time we would return. I gave her an estimate and asked her why. She just sent me a smiley face so I knew she and the other two young’ns were up to something.

     I had told her that after we came home from our date we would open up my wedding dress. The dress had been professionally cleaned and preserved after our wedding. It had been stored in a box underneath my bed for the past twenty-four years. I thought perhaps the smiley face text pertained to opening the dress. She and I planned to cut a piece of satin and lace from it and use it to wrap around her bridal bouquet. Her wedding was only two weeks away.

     When we arrived home, our three children greeted us at the door. They were all dressed up, which is no small feat for our eight-year-old son. He considers dressy clothes scratchy and every Sunday morning is an ordeal. However, his sisters said he got all excited about surprising us and didn’t complain once. The girls looked beautiful as they ushered us into the house.

     Music filled the room. They had found our wedding video and had it playing as we walked into the den. They must have rounded up every candle in the house (including all the tea lights) and had those lit. Pink roses from our rose bush adorned the coffee table. Chocolate muffins and sparkling grape juice awaited us. Also, there was a unique design of dominoes at the fireplace. Evidently, our son took great pleasure in diligently setting up two heart shapes, each encircling a tea light candle. He couldn’t find the tea light candle holders, but the little silver casing around the candles looked precious to me.

     We all sat down and watched the wedding video. Comments about the eighties' hairstyles came from the girls. Comments about who had hair then, and doesn’t now, came from my hubby.

     Watching the video brought back sweet memories of that day. My favorite part was when my husband sang to me during our wedding. He still melts my heart when he sings.
     The video ended and we enjoyed our muffins and grape juice. Then, the girls and I went to pull the box from underneath the bed.
     I warned them that preserving a dress was risky. Because it was sealed up, how did I know they did a good job preserving it? Had it turned yellow? For that matter, how did I know they even sealed the right dress in there? The dry cleaner that preserved it went out of business long ago. 
     Pulling the box out, I brushed off the dust. We pulled the packaging tape off. Opening the box, we saw another box inside. We removed the tape from that one and pulled out yet another box! This box was trimmed in gold so we knew it must be the one containing the dress. We lifted the lid and there it was—my beautiful wedding dress.

    The youngest daughter begged to try it on first since her sister would be wearing her own wedding dress in just a few weeks. It fit her and she hurried out to show her daddy. She looked gorgeous. 
     I tried on the veil, because I knew if the dress fit her, it certainly wasn’t going to fit me. Yeah! The veil still fits! (hee…hee…)
     Then, the oldest tried it on. It fit her beautifully, too.
     It was a fun and special night. We have sweet and thoughtful kids. We're so thankful for them. It has always been our prayer that God sends them all wonderful, Christian mates.

     Surprisingly, my wedding dress stayed well preserved. Part of that big bow on the derriere will make a nice wrap for my daughter’s bridal bouquet. There’s plenty for the other kids’ weddings if they decide they want to use it in some way. I don’t know if the dress would have lasted a “lifetime” as stated but overall it was well preserved.
     Each of the boxes had interesting messages on them. They made me think of preserving a marriage for a lifetime.

The first box was labeled:

Fragile, Handle With Care-
Top Freight Only

     A marriage is something to be treasured, held close, and protected.
     A spouse’s heart is fragile and should be handled with the utmost care. A marriage becomes strong by building it on the foundation of Christ.
     Top freight means the item is so delicate it is placed on top of everything else, less it suffers damage. A marriage should take top priority if it is to be healthy and happy and if it is to last a lifetime.
The second box was labeled:

Lifetime of Loveliness-A Thing of Beauthy is a Joy Forever

     Well, you and I know this dress is not going to last forever. No matter how beautiful a “thing” is, it isn’t going to last forever.
     True beauty shines through by the Spirit within. I believe this is the kind of beauty that lasts forever.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

 Then, we read the words:
to forever cherish...your lovely wedding gown preserved
for a lifetime of happy memories
     I don’t know. Makes you wonder if some people think more of the dress than the spouse!
    God presented me with a wonderful man, not a perfect man, but a man who loves the Lord. Because of our growing love for Christ, I think we will forever cherish our marriage. I look forward to a “lifetime of happiness” and “loveliness.”

 “Finally, brothers and sisters,

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—

think about such things.”     

Philippians 4:8


It's All Fun Until the Event Begins--Finding Courage

by Sally Matheny

     Have you ever labored for months striving to meet a goal? It takes a lot of work learning and implementing new things. However, for the most part, the training is enjoyable. You meet smaller goals and receive rewards--either verbally or materially. Finally, the big event you’ve been training for arrives, and everything changes.


   Our youngest child, “Z-man,” enjoys swimming. Thinking this would be great exercise, we signed him up for the city’s swim team.
     In the fall, he began practicing with the team at an indoor pool. A wonderful coach taught him all the strokes and how to dive.
     Although Z-man loved swimming, he would get nervous before every practice. We were unable to find the root of his apprehension, but once he hit the water, he was fine. Pre-practice jitters, I guess.


     Finally, summer rolled around and so did Z-man’s first swim meet. Wow! You could spot this newbie’s family a mile away. Cheering the loudest, taking multiple photos, and scrambling to the finish line to unload an embarrassing amount of accolades.

     Z-man didn’t mind his cheering fans. He liked it. However, prior to every meet the worst case of nerves set in.

At the opening swim meet, he was enveloped in uneasiness. 

“Will they tell me when to go?”

“What if I forget what stroke to do?”
“Why are my events written in permanent marker on my arm?”

     Questions, questions, questions. We had the answers to all of these but they were followed by:

“My stomach hurts.”

“I’m not sure I want to do this.”
“Do we have to do this?”

"I don't want to do this." 

     After all the pre-swim encouragement, I hardly had a voice to cheer once the meet began. But once again, the fears dissolved in the water. Game on.

     Several award ribbons pumped Z-man.  He chattered non-stop all the way home. Swim team was going to be fun!


     The next meet was his first away meet. The one-hour drive up the mountain provided too much time for those nerves to start jiggling inside. Once we got to the pool, all his concerns jumped out before he could jump in.

“The diving block is too high.”

“The water is way too shallow to dive in here.”

“Do I have to do this?”

“I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to do this.”

     Two, four, six, eight, that’s how many cheerleaders it did take—to get Z-man into the water! Teachable moments--about commitment, dependability, and being part of the team effort all ensued.
     Finally, after the promise of a LEGO Hero Factory action figure at the end of the swim season, Z-man’s tension liquidated as he jumped into the pool.

     By the time the third swim meet rolled around, we’re thinking he has this down pat. He knows what to expect at a home meet and at an away meet. He’s a good swimmer and a good sport. He'll be more relaxed--or so we thought!

     We had heard this pool was twice as long as all the other pools. Being the newcomers, we thought they would use a flag line at the halfway point as a finish line for the younger ones. We were wrong.

“I have to swim twice as much? This whole thing?”

“The water is too shallow to dive into.”

“It looks like it’s going to rain. I’m not getting in if it storms.”

     Before he could say another word, a reminder was given of his commitment and how the team depended on him (and the LEGO action figure).

“Just do your best, son.”

“Get in there and give it all you got.”

“You’ll never be asked to do more than you can do. You can do this.”

     Z-man’s cheerleaders did not have to exhaust themselves this time. Before he could even ponder on our words, his coach came and asked if he could fill in for a missing relay team member (in addition to his other events). We held our breath and looked at Z-Man who quickly gave a nod with one condition—no backstroke. The deal was set and off he went.

     It was a grueling, long swim meet. Z-man swam with all his might. The relay was too close to his first event. He was zapped of all speed but he finished the race. This time, he didn’t win ribbons in any of his events, but we could not have been more proud.

     It’s funny. Anxiety presents itself the entire day before a swim meet, but once he gets in the water, they never resurface. After his first event, he’s all excited--eager to swim and reach his goal, which at this point is the finish line.

     First place is awesome and he loves the ribbons. But Z-man hasn’t (yet) complained or pouted when he hasn’t won ribbons.
     For now, I think he is soaking in the greater rewards of facing fears, giving it your very best, and finishing the race. Okay, and maybe he’s looking forward to that LEGO man, too.

     But there’s something incredibly rewarding in knowing you completed what you were asked to do. That someone believed you could do it and even though you weren’t so sure yourself, you jumped in and did it to the best of your ability. And no matter what the world thinks, whenever you arrive at the finish line, there is always someone there to say you did a great job.


     What about you? Do you get nervous when God asks you to do something new? Does it seem too lofty, too shallow, or too difficult?
     Remember God is the ultimate, sought-after Coach.  He will tell you:

“Just do your best.”

“Get in there and give it all you got.”

“You’ll never be asked to do more than you (and I, together) can do. You can do this.”

     He plans to help you and give you what you need to accomplish His purpose. He will not forget you! He has your name permanently written on the palm of his hand.

     Instead of thinking of a zillion ways to say, “I don’t want to do this,” the best thing is bravely divinge in!
     The race may be longer than you expected. Focus and do what your Coach tells you to do. Look straight ahead and do not worry about what those beside you, or ahead of you, are doing. Block out what the world is shouting on the sidelines; listen intently for your Coach’s voice.
     He’s waiting at the finish line ready to say, “Well done! Well done!”