Tag Archives: Melanie Shankle

Love and Chocolate Treats for February (Part 2 of 4)When You’re STUNNED about your Valentine’s Day Gift…

Friends! Happy Belated Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! Please enjoy two wild tales…

FLASHBACK:  Valentine’s Day 1993…

“No babysitter for Valentine’s Day???” I whined, coupled with a proficient pout…

“Now honey…” my way-too-practical hubby began…”You know restaurants jack up their prices on Valentine’s Day, and the boys are too little to take out…”

Translation:  “Why don’t you just cook us up somethin’?

Silent thought while heaving an extra loud sigh for future Oscar potential:  “Oh boy, grocery shopping with three boys is such a trip…literally….”

Determined to create fun and education for our Valentine meal, I hunted down ingredients for everything RED:  cherry cool-aid, red spaghetti sauce, cherry jello,  red sprinkles to go on the ice cream with the not-so-red-but-filled-with-a-boatload-of-chocolate brownies.

Spreading out papers for the boys to color, my scary cooking commenced…

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Quickly into our “project”, something was not quite right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Our oldest son, John Jr., was way too excited about helping with his brothers. They were coloring at lightening speed, wanting more and more “Valentines” to make for Daddy.

Dinner pulled together, Hubster now home and seated,  John Jr. and Gordy seated, Woody in his high-chair, the following proclamation ensued:

“Mommy!  We have a huge surprise for you! Daddy’s gotten a babysitter and everything!”

Visions of an escape to a hotel sans les enfants rolled thru’ my head….

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Fantasy interrupted, my mischievous husband said, “John Jr., why don’t you tell Mommy about her Valentine’s Day gift?”

“Mommy”, John Jr. continued with wildly excited eyes, “Daddy and I got a babysitter for Woody…

so that the four of us can go to…..

…the Truck and Tractor Pull!!!”…

Taken from www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

Taken from http://www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

“The what?”  I managed to ask…feigning interest…

“THE TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL!!!” John Jr.  repeated, now standing, voice at high decibels.

Fabulous hotel fantasy comes to a screeching halt.

Pivotal moment in Mother/Wife Career:

Enter a God moment…”You’d better put on a sense of humor while raising these boys, being a Godly, cheery, loving  wife and mom, or you’ll never make it.” (Guessing The Lord didn’t say “or you’ll never make it”, that’s just my translation.)

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Bidding adieu to my very-sheltered-only-child background, it was time to buck up.  Riding a perpetual roller coaster comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will still praise you, Lord.

That year was a turning point for me.  Ups and downs, yes, but with a sense of humor.  Which segues beautifully into one of the funniest books on marriage I’ve read lately.

Allow me to share snippets of The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle.

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You’ve probably heard of Melanie.  She’s one in the same who wrote Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. She reports receiving countless pairs of earrings after the book published.  (There’s an idea!  She said she really wanted her next book to be Louis Vuitton Purse with Matching Wallet!!!  I’m thinkin’ A Caribbean Villa…could be swell.) Check out her way popular blog at www.thebigmamablog.com.

With killer humor, Melanie shares good times and not-so-good ones with her husband, Perry.  Melanie and Perry define opposites attract.  She puts it like this:  “Perry loves the outdoors and I love air-conditioning.”

She says,  “There are days filled with laughter and compromise.  And then there are days filled with silence and anger.  But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together

… For  better or for worse.  In hunting season and in health.”

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My  wild-n-adventurous husband, John, used to ride motorcycles.  Shouts of praise he’s not riding anymore.  (At least for today.)  I poked fun at all the “accessories” a bike could have, not to mention the “gear”.  They make that in leather???

But guess what Melanie’s husband’s hobby is?  In addition to hunting, he makes homemade ammunition. You go, Perry.

In addition to humor, Melanie includes the importance of their faith.  She alludes to not following God and making bad choices prior to meeting Perry.

She and Perry met at a Bible study at Texas A &  M.  She said, “There was something about Perry that intrigued me.  He was different from other guys I’d met.  And he had a heart for God I hadn’t seen in many other guys.”

Making a list of husband qualities, Melanie realized, “What you really need is someone you’d want to be in battle next to you, someone who can make you laugh even in the tough times, someone who will encourage you to be the best  you can be…” (Sounds just like our “Balcony People” from a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Trish says her husband looks at her with “husband eyes”.  Same concept.)

Since surgery seems to be in the air at our house (we’ll go there later), I cried from laughing so hard over an incident when Perry had yet another surgery for his back.  After a night in the hospital, Melanie got Perry secured in the car for the drive home.  Spying a Chik-fil-A and craving one of their chicken biscuits, Melanie pulled into the drive-thru’ only to be informed they were no longer serving breakfast.

Seven minutes past the breakfast hour caused her to jump the curb to get out of the drive-thru’ lane.  Never mind Perry was in the passenger seat, barely twenty-four hours post-op from back surgery.  This is only the beginning…

Melanie gets Perry home and situated on the couch, somewhat still sedated.  She reports: “According to Perry, the Clemson Tigers band marched thru’ our living room to dispense his pain medication at some point that afternoon.  Which is weird, because we’re not even Clemson fans, not to mention that South Carolina is a pretty good haul from Texas.  So I took this as an indication that maybe it was time to cut back on the meds just a tad.”

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So for a guy who creates his own ammunition, hearing him suggest they try “radiant barrier paint” one day doesn’t seem so far fetched.  When Melanie asked him what he was talking about, he explained:  “It’s paint that makes a surface heat resistant.  They use it on the space shuttle, and I’m thinking about buyin’ some.”

Melanie replies, “Well, of course you are.  I’ve always said that if it’s good enough for the space shuttle, then it’s good enough for us.” 

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John and I aren’t the only ones having fun with this book!  Guess who else was caught laughing out loud reading this?  Ann Voskamp’s husband!  “The Farmer”, as she often calls him, got side-tracked while paying bills, and read some from The Antelope in the Living Room.  Picture Ann and the Farmer  howling, all the way up in Canada.

Melanie also sprinkles in a few stories about their daughter, Caroline.  She discusses leaving a legacy for Caroline and her future children.  A prayer she prays continually comes from Deuteronomy 30:6—“that the Lord would circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our descendants so that we will love God with all our heart and with all our souls.”

“That’s the legacy that’s worth working thru’ the hard times to leave for our daughter.”   She adds, “In this world that sometimes treats marriage like it’s a disposable commodity we can throw away when it no longer seems to serve our purposes, a world that whispers to us that the grass might be greener on the other side, that’s something worth keeping in mind…”  Oh, someone please shout hallelujah over that one!  May we press on…

Finally, soak in this visual:  In one particular scenario, Perry offered Melanie some inexplicable kind of grace.  She said,    “…even tho’ I thought I understood what grace looked like, I really had no idea how deep and wide the mercy of Christ is.  That he looks at us when we lay ourselves bare before him, with all our ugly truths and realities, and says, ‘And?’”

“In Psalm 103 we are told that God redeems our lives from the pit.  Verses 11-12 proclaim, ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’”

Melanie adds, “I once heard someone say that those words (of Psalm 103) represent the beams of the cross—reaching all the way up to the heavens with his love and stretching out to remove our sins as far as from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  Grasping the picture???  Beautiful!!!

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I pray you’re encouraged and enlightened by these glimpses of The Antelope in the Living Room.  There’s twenty-four lovely chapters to keep you that way!!!  And don’t forget this Valentine’s week:  Marriage is fueled by fun and forgiveness.

‘Til next time!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from another Kentucky cookbook called “Splendor in the  Bluegrass” by the Junior League of Louisville.  Its’ Chocolate Chess Bars on p. 245 are not to be missed!
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Sophie Hudson’s Newest Book, “Giddy Up, Eunice—Because Women Need Each Other”, is Her Best Yet!

Friends! Run grab Sophie’s new book for you and for your friends! I bet I’ve bought twenty plus copies recently. This one is my favorite of all of Sophie’s books. (Soph—You are the BOMB!!!)

As if she’s my best friend, I’ve never met her, but she writes like we’re sitting across the table from one another… We could soooo carry on, and on, and on at Starbucks.

Giddy up eunice

In case you’re not familiar with Sophie, she’s best known for her blog, the Boo Mama blog: www.BooMama.net She also happens to be friends with another one of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, blogger of www.thebigmamablog.com

Further exciting, the two of them converse from time to time and record it on Sophie’s blog, calling it “The Big Boo Cast”. Check it out! Fab music, too. They kill me. (They’re currently on Episode 63.)

Anywho, let’s chat about Sophie’s book. This one’s my favorite because she includes mini-Bible studies about three beautiful friendships in the Bible: Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Lois and Eunice.

I’m only sharing tidbits from the first of the three friendships (Mary and Elizabeth) to entice you to read about all of them! Her humor is non-stop amidst the serious Scripture page-turner points. (I predict every one of us readers will have a sinking spell over the sink.  Someone, please, for Sophie’s sake, go get that sink…)

Plus, word of warning: the last chapters on Lois and Eunice include the decline of Sophie’s Mother’s health. You will need a box of Kleenex.  (I went thru’ this with my own Mother.)  Sophie really brings you in the room with her family. Precious, dear, and courageous.

My favorite chapter title is: We May Have to Walk Uphill Together, but at Least It’s Good for Our Calves. That’s the best thing us gals can do for one another is to simply be there for one another.

Woman Friends Enjoying A Day On The Beach

My friend Jane is the quintessential hold-your-hand-friend. (Surely she’s related to Radar from M*A*S*H.) She suddenly appears, with whatever you need, in hand.

When my Daddy was about to take his last breath on this earth, in walks Jane, Starbucks in hand for both of us, to hold my hand. Had she called, I would’ve said, “No, don’t come, I’m fine.” But she knew I wasn’t.

When our friend Gwen, recently widowed, was returning from a trip out of town, Jane drove over to her condo’, groceries in hand, stocked her frig, and turned some lights on so she wouldn’t come in to a dark house. Who does that?

Detached house at night view from outside the rear courtyard.

Back to Giddy Up, Eunice: One of many pearls Sophie offers is about the need for us older gals to come alongside the younger gals. She says, “These Millenial girls need us, y’all. They need us something awful.”

She adds, “We need to keep our spiritual eyes wide open as we walk our unique, God-ordained roads because:

  • We need each other, and
  • Sometimes the folks God sends to walk with us don’t look anything like what we expect.”

Lest you think you’re not qualified or have nothing to offer, Sophie pretty much tells us to just show up. Let the Lord take the reigns and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I declare our daughters-in-love bless me more than I bless them, so the tables can be turned age-wise as well.

Sophie also points out things you and I may not have considered before. Such as Mary must’ve been desperate for company if she walked seventy miles to see Elizabeth!

Plus, this is a major pearl—think about this with your own friends: When you know you can trust someone, and are in a safe place within your relationship…look at what Sophie teaches us that makes a relationship so special:

“When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.”

 Oh, that needs repeating: “Safe places become sacred spaces.”

 She adds, “…when we know we’re in a sacred space, there’s freedom to share our real lives and our real circumstances.

To sincerely pray for one another.

To bless each other.

To listen with our hearts as well as our ears.”

Isn’t that the best? I experienced this first hand weekend before last on a road trip to Nashville with my friend Nancy. Nancy’s the kind of friend who will drop whatever she’s doing to tune into you and your day.

While we were trekking south to attend a Beth Moore conference, that was exciting in and of itself, but for us to be together for three hours in the car, we both decided that was just as exciting as going to the conference! Why? Because we both possess crazy calendars and rarely get this kind of opportunity.

Further funny, both of us are writing books (more to come on that little topic down the pike…) and still cannot believe such truth. We are living proof the Lord has a sense of humor.

The other gift Sophie blesses us with is rich application. She teaches us about trust that Mary and Elizabeth had for each other regardless of their age difference. (They were approximately fifty years apart!)

Then she gives us a “let’s-take-this-upon-ourselves” question: “Are our spiritual eyes wide open as we look for our people?”

Look out. Literally. Some of my best friends came from the craziest of coincidences. And we know with God, there are no such things as coincidences, they’re God-incidences. May we all be in tune for whomever our Sweet Lord wants us to meet. 

This is where our ships, yes plural, shall come in:

Relationship.

Friendship.

Fellowship.

Discipleship.

Large yacht harbor in purple sunset light, luxury summer cruise,

This is my constant sermonette to our Bible study gals. When we study God’s Word, all, (Yes, ALL) of those “ships” will come in.  It’s an amazingly beautiful gift from God.

Sophie gives proof of this to us in one of my all-time favorite verses:

Hebrews

Let’s set sail and see where we land. While you’re packin’, be sure to pack Sophie’s book in your bag.

‘Til next time!

 

P.S. FYI, here are Sophie’s other books:

Home is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong

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A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, family and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon

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Another Plus for Community With Help from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Last week we discussed the importance of friendships and what a beautiful picture of Community they are. We’ll get to a different aspect of Community in just a minute…

There are a couple more Scriptures, as well as a jewel of a quote from Melanie Shankle, in her book we talked about last week:  Nobody’s Cuter than You, pointing us to a very close friendship in the Bible.

I Samuel 20:42 has Jonathan talking to David, but since we’re talkin’ about girlfriends, we must use the below picture for this poignant verse:

1 Samuel 20 42a
Melanie closes her book with, “…God has given us the people He has placed in our lives as He knits our souls with theirs:

It’s a Miracle…

A Grace-filled,

         Life-changing,

                 Soul-refreshing miracle.

 May we never lose the wonder of it all.”

 Think of all of your relationships and savor I Corinthians 13:4-7 with me from The Message:

 “Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.

Love doesn’t strut,

Doesn’t have a swelled head,

Doesn’t force itself on others,

Isn’t always ‘me first’,

Doesn’t fly off the handle,

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn’t revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.”

Long, deep, close-knit friendships love unconditionally. When you do have bumps in the road (and we all have), consider your friendship’s history….you know his or her character…Is the bump consistent or inconsistent with their character? Extend grace and move on…

 It’s important to keep and care for your Community.

Communities are not just found from long-term friendships… Many times they develop and grow out of Bible Study Small Groups, or Small Groups from your church. Some are actually called “Community Groups”.

While I’ve been talking about groups of girlfriends, Small Groups can also be composed of married couples or couples engaged to be married. It’s healthy to build friendships with other couples.

Our boys are blessed to all be in Small Groups of married couples they love doing life with. Best-case scenario is when your Community Group helps grow your faith.

An excellent resource to help you with this comes from author extraordinaire, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His book, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian in Community is for all of us.  (It’s also a nice, short, quick read.)

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Bonhoeffer wrote this pertaining to the unique fellowship he experienced in an undergound seminary during the Nazi years in Germany. His indescribable joy he had in the Lord, even during such harsh and frightening times, including his later imprisonment in the concentration camps, defines inspirational.

He was martyred by the Gestapo near the end of World War II. He’d been plotting to assassinate Hitler. Fellow prisoners have told countless moving stories of their encounters with Bonhoeffer and his evangelical, compassionate ways toward each of them.

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He begins with Psalm 133:1 which tells us:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (NIV)

He tells us, “We shall consider a number of directions and precepts that the Scriptures provide us for our life together under the Word .” Envision an umbrella of protection.  He includes beautiful Scripture verses in each of his five chapters: Community, The Day with Others, The Day Alone, Ministry and Confession and Communion.

Bible With A Burning Candle

Let this sink in for a minute: “For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day’s work. At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it.

All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night RETREAT before the clear light of Jesus Christ and His wakening Word. All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety FLEE before him.

Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to Him to whom our whole life belongs.”

Powerful! In short: No whining. Just praise!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention and recommend Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Total tome, but well worth your time! Beyond fascinating.

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Finally, if you’re not in a Small Group or Community Group and would like to be, call your church or ask a friend about one. It’s an experience you don’t want to miss and will be the best thing worth adding to your calendar!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Friends

Add a Side of Community with that Burger…Love for Friends (Part 4 of 4 in the Month of Love)

Doesn’t everyone love a good burger every now and then? Our family discovered Five Guys and Fries a few years ago.

Clearly novices, we all ordered cheeseburgers, not realizing that their regular burgers are double burgers. No one complained (!!!) and we were some sweet kind of happy. Peanuts in the shell to munch on, followed by juicy burgers, and a Titanic-sized side of fries….Oh my…

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Fellowship plus great food is the best combo’ you can order. While being with family can be super swell (We talked about family last week), this week I’d like to talk about the power of COMMUNITY in friendships.

I’m blessed to have a group of friends known as “The Yayas.” Kathy somehow assigned this moniker to us after finding a lovely gold plaque for each of us with this definition: “A group of three or more women whose hearts and souls are joined together by laughter and tears shared through this glorious journey of life.”

yaya plaque

One of the Yayas, fellow dog lover (!!!) named Susan, gave all of us an awesome book for Christmas, Nobody’s Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle. Friends, do not miss this book! You’ll laugh and cry and howl, shaking your head thinking, “I cannot believe she’s sharing this, but I’m so glad she did!!!”

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You don’t want to miss Melanie’s blog, either: www.thebigmamablog.com

She serves up “everything from soup to nuts” as my Mother used to say.

Melanie’s book takes us down Memory Lane to show different aspects of her twenty-five year friendship with Gulley. They do life together.

Melanie’s gift of writing draws you in so you feel like you’re in her family room watching it all transpire. (Sidebar: Melanie wrote an equally funny book on marriage.)

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One of a gazillion hilarious antics include Melanie conning Gulley into watching Frozen.  Wait til you read Chapter Four.  Does she love it like most of us???  Not tellin’….

This hugely tickled me as my friend Mary and I seemingly are the last two adults on the planet not to have seen Frozen.  Thanks to my cousin Bonnie, she lent us her copy.  One afternoon, we hunkered down in Mary’s basement and watched it.  We felt guilty…should we be watching a movie on a beautiful afternoon???  We got over that pretty quickly and became engulfed with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Hans and Kristoff among others… We simply had to  “let it go.”

One funny discovery is Melanie and Gulley realized road trips are one of their ultimate favorite activities. Now they take their children on road trips, all together, and you don’t want to miss these adventures.

The Yayas took a brief road trip recently when Kathy’s daughter got engaged. The Engagement Party was in Columbus and we decided we must, simply must go. It’s not every day one drives two hundred and fifteen point three miles to Columbus, Ohio from Louisville, Kentucky for a party and back.

Lo and behold, we were blessed with one of our Yaya children to accompany us. Translation: Us old chicks snagged a chauffeur. (Poor Megan was pregnant too, God bless her.)

These six sweet-special-n-southern Yayas met when our oldest children, now nearly thirty years old, were in first grade at Dunn Elementary School. Those were the days.

yayas

(Pictured left to right are Jayne Combs, Denise Seiz, Kathy Daniels, above her is Susan Bugh, then Bev Fleece and finally Yours Truly.)

Who knew we’d attend weddings and funerals together? Even the trials knit us that much closer together.

We’re a picture of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

There’s beauty and comfort in Community.

The plot blissfully thickens as our Yaya children are having children. No one has discovered grand parenting like the Yayas. While only two of the six Yayas are grandparents so far, we are all the best adopted Great Aunts on the planet. Just sayin’…And, as Melanie and Gulley always tell each other, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”(thence the book’s title), the Yayas are always telling each other, “YOU are the BEST!”

Melanie tells us her book “is about all the friendships we as women develop over a lifetime and the influence they have over who we were, who we are, and who we will become.”

Gulley’s the main friend Melanie talks about, and you’ll love becoming acquainted with Jen and a couple other of her friends. Jen endured a prodigal season, but then shared with everyone how she found her way back to Christ. In doing so, she got Melanie to go with her to a Bible study.

Melanie says, “by watching these people live their lives, I learned what it means to seek God’s will….ultimately they pointed me closer to not only Jesus but also to my dear husband.”

After reading Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Melanie says her favorite part is from Max’ recounting of the Prodigal Son:

Whatever you have done,

Whatever you have become,

It doesn’t matter.

Please come home.”

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Melanie adds, “So I came home. And God, in return, lavished me with a scandalous amount of grace as He filled my life not only with wonderful new friends who encouraged me and loved me, but also brought Gulley right along with me as she began to develop a real relationship with God too.”

Melanie says her five years at Texas A & M were what she needed and clearly what God knew she needed. She said, “God knit my heart together with the people He knew would hold my hands as I walked the path of the Prodigal Son.”

Friends, this is a beautiful visual of Community!

On that note, we’ll close for this week as we have a different aspect of Community to talk about next week plus another book. (Imagine that.)

Meanwhile, cherish your friends and thank the Lord for giving them to you. I always maintain, “Friends are cheaper than therapy.”

 ‘Til next time!

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When You’re STUNNED about your Valentine’s Day Gift…(A Comical Glimpse of Marriage: The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle)

FLASHBACK:  Valentine’s Day 1993…

“No babysitter for Valentine’s Day???” I whined, coupled with a proficient pout…

“Now honey…” my way-too-practical hubby began…”You know restaurants jack up their prices on Valentine’s Day, and the boys are too little to take out…”

Translation:  “Why don’t you just cook us up somethin’?

Silent thought while heaving an extra loud sigh for future Oscar potential:  “Oh boy, grocery shopping with three boys is such a trip…literally….”

Determined to create fun and education for our Valentine meal, I hunted down ingredients for everything RED:  cherry cool-aid, red spaghetti sauce, cherry jello,  red sprinkles to go on the ice cream with the not-so-red-but-filled-with-a-boatload-of-chocolate brownies.

Spreading out papers for the boys to color, my scary cooking commenced…

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Quickly into our “project”, something was not quite right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Our oldest son, John Jr., was way too excited about helping with his brothers. They were coloring at lightening speed, wanting more and more “Valentines” to make for Daddy.

Dinner pulled together, Hubster now home and seated,  John Jr. and Gordy seated, Woody in his high-chair, and the following proclamation ensued:

“Mommy!  We have a huge surprise for you! Daddy’s gotten a babysitter and everything!”

Visions of an escape to a hotel sans les enfants rolled thru’ my head….

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Fantasy interrupted, my mischievous husband said, “John Jr., why don’t you tell Mommy about her Valentine’s Day gift?”

“Mommy”, John Jr. continued with wildly excited eyes, “Daddy and I got a babysitter for Woody…

so that the four of us can go to…..

…the Truck and Tractor Pull!!!”…

Taken from www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

Taken from http://www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

“The what?”  I managed to ask…feigning interest…

“THE TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL!!!” John Jr.  repeated, now standing, voice at high decibels.

Fabulous hotel fantasy comes to a screeching halt.

Pivotal moment in Mother/Wife Career:

Enter a God moment…”You’d better put on a sense of humor while raising these boys, being a Godly, cheery, loving  wife and mom, or you’ll never make it.” (Guessing The Holy Spirit didn’t say “or you’ll never make it”, that’s just my translation.)

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Bidding adieu to my very-sheltered-only-child background, it was time to buck up.  Riding a perpetual roller coaster comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will still praise you, Lord.

That year was a turning point for me.  Ups and downs, yes, but with a sense of humor.  Which segues beautifully into one of the funniest books on marriage I’ve read lately.

Allow me to share snippets of The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle.

antelope

You’ve probably heard of Melanie.  She’s one in the same who wrote Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. She reports receiving countless pairs of earrings after the book published.  (There’s an idea!  She said she really wanted her next book to be Louis Vuitton Purse with Matching Wallet!!!  I’m thinkin’ A Caribbean Villa…could be swell.) Check out her way popular blog at www.thebigmamablog.com.

With killer humor, Melanie shares good times and not-so-good ones with her husband, Perry.  Melanie and Perry define opposites attract.  She puts it like this:  “Perry loves the outdoors and I love air-conditioning.”

She says,  “There are days filled with laughter and compromise.  And then there are days filled with silence and anger.  But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together

… For  better or for worse.  In hunting season and in health.”

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My  wild-n-adventurous husband, John, used to ride motorcycles.  Shouts of praise he’s not riding anymore.  (At least for today.)  I poked fun at all the “accessories” a bike could have, not to mention the “gear”.  They make that in leather???

But guess what Melanie’s husband’s hobby is?  In addition to hunting, he makes homemade ammunition. You go, Perry.

In addition to humor, Melanie includes the importance of their faith.  She alludes to not following God and making bad choices prior to meeting Perry.

She and Perry met at a Bible study at Texas A &  M.  She said, “There was something about Perry that intrigued me.  He was different from other guys I’d met.  And he had a heart for God I hadn’t seen in many other guys.”

Making a list of husband qualities, Melanie realized, “What you really need is someone you’d want to be in battle next to you, someone who can make you laugh even in the tough times, someone who will encourage you to be the best  you can be…” (Sounds just like our “Balcony People” from a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Trish says her husband looks at her with “husband eyes”.  Same concept.)

Since surgery seems to be in the air at our house (we’ll go there later), I cried from laughing so hard over an incident when Perry had yet another surgery for his back.  After a night in the hospital, Melanie got Perry secured in the car for the drive home.  Spying a Chik-fil-A and craving one of their chicken biscuits, Melanie pulled into the drive-thru’ only to be informed they were no longer serving breakfast.

Seven minutes past the breakfast hour caused her to jump the curb to get out of the drive-thru’ lane.  Never mind Perry was in the passenger seat, barely twenty-four hours post-op from back surgery.  This is only the beginning…

Melanie gets Perry home and situated on the couch, somewhat still sedated.   She reports: “According to Perry, the Clemson Tigers band marched thru’ our living room to dispense his pain medication at some point that afternoon.  Which is weird, because we’re not even Clemson fans, not to mention that South Carolina is a pretty good haul from Texas.  So I took this as an indication that maybe it was time to cut back on the meds just a tad.”

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So for a guy who creates his own ammunition, hearing him suggest they try “radiant barrier paint” one day doesn’t seem so far fetched.  When Melanie asked him what he was talking about, he explained:  “It’s paint that makes a surface heat resistant.  They use it on the space shuttle, and I’m thinking about buyin’ some.”

Melanie replies, “Well, of course you are.  I’ve always said that if it’s good enough for the space shuttle, then it’s good enough for us.” 

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John and I aren’t the only ones having fun with this book!  Guess who else was caught laughing out loud reading this?  Ann Voskamp’s husband!  “The Farmer”, as she often calls him, got side-tracked while paying bills, and read some from The Antelope in the Living Room.  Picture Ann and the Farmer  howling, all the way up in Canada.   Go to: www.aholyexperience.com and see if I’m not tellin’ the truth!!! (See February 8th entry.)

Melanie also sprinkles in a few stories about their daughter, Caroline.  She discusses leaving a legacy for Caroline and her future children.  A prayer she prays continually comes from Deuteronomy 30:6—“that the Lord would circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our descendants so that we will love God with all our heart and with all our souls.”

“That’s the legacy that’s worth working thru’ the hard times to leave for our daughter.”   She adds, “In this world that sometimes treats marriage like it’s a disposable commodity we can throw away when it no longer seems to serve our purposes, a world that whispers to us that the grass might be greener on the other side, that’s something worth keeping in mind…”  Oh, someone please shout hallelujah over that one!  May we press on…

Finally, soak in this visual:  In one particular scenario, Perry offered Melanie some inexplicable kind of grace.  She said,    “…even tho’ I thought I understood what grace looked like, I really had no idea how deep and wide the mercy of Christ is.  That he looks at us when we lay ourselves bare before him, with all our ugly truths and realities, and says, ‘And?’”

“In Psalm 103 we are told that God redeems our lives from the pit.  Verses 11-12 proclaim, ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’”

Melanie adds, “I once heard someone say that those words (of Psalm 103) represent the beams of the cross—reaching all the way up to the heavens with his love and stretching out to remove our sins as far as from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  Grasping the picture???  Beautiful!!!

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I pray you’re encouraged and enlightened by these glimpses of The Antelope in the Living Room.  There’s twenty-four lovely chapters to keep you that way!!!  And don’t forget this Valentine’s week:  Marriage is fueled by fun and forgiveness.

‘Til next time!

P.S.  My allusion to surgery earlier happens this very week.  Our middle son, Gordy, recently started a basketball league at his church in Lexington.  The very first game of the season, Gordy came crashing down on his knee.  Our good buddy, Dr. Scott Kuiper, who I recently wrote about (see “When You Think You May Faint”….) , whose retirement we’re now seemingly funding(!!!), confirmed a torn ACL.  Please pray for Scott and Gordy and for a good, speedy recovery.

Meanwhile, this year’s Valentine’s Day “gift”, will be a rip-roarin’ good time right here at home, welcoming Gordy home from the hospital.  His fiancée, Lauren, will also be with us, so back to the recipe boards we go for a “red” meal.

Love and hugs to my sweet Valentine, John, who like Perry, offers numerous grace cards when they’re highly undeserved.

Thus, a double dedication is in order: to Gordy and Lauren (getting a dose of “in sickness and health” before your wedding!) and to my John.  Love y’all!

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P.S. ONE MORE TIME (‘Tis the blog that won’t end….)  IF, you are particularly enamored with Championship Tractor Pulls, THIS IS YOUR LUCKY DAY….They’re in town at Freedom Hall this very week!  2/10-15.  Go to:  www.farmmachineryshow.org and snag a ticket.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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