Difficult Decisions

A few years ago the media had stories on top of stories about a young woman who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer for which there was no cure. She decided that rather than endure a debilitating and painful death, she would choose the “death with dignity” option and select the time of her own demise, before she was no longer able to make that decision herself.

britanny-maynardBrittany Maynard was married in 2012 to her sweetheart of five years. They had their entire lives ahead of them; to travel, to enjoy being a wife, and then eventually become a mother. But within a year, at the age of 28, Brittany was given a devastating diagnosis. The doctors painted a horrible picture of what she would go through as the disease progressed, including horrible headaches, frequent and severe seizures, eventually being unable to care for herself at all. Suddenly both of their lives changed. Together they made the difficult choice for Brittany to enjoy the activities she loved as long as she could; to travel and see the places of the world she’d always wanted to see. To participate in all the activities she loved and those she’d always dreamed of doing.

And then, when she was at the point to where she was going through so much pain, and daily seizures, she would end her life when she chose, surrounded by her family who loved her so very much.

She gained national and even international recognition because of her decision. Many people were very outspoken about her decision, criticizing her for “committing suicide” rather than fighting; for going against God’s commandments against murder by killing herself; for not having enough faith that God would heal her. Many others supported her decision, and still others cried out that this would eventually lead to laws forcing euthanasia for the elderly and terminally ill.

Brittany ended her life the way she had planned on November 1, 2014.

Betsy DavisA few weeks ago I read about another young woman, Betsy Davis, who had been diagnosed with ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is always fatal; there is no cure. Persons with this disease end up wheelchair-bound, eventually unable to do anything for themselves at all; their muscles atrophy and do not work any longer. Not only can they not do anything for themselves, they cannot move, or even blink their eyes; their lungs slowly stop working and they end up suffocating because they can no longer breathe. It is a horrible death.

Betsy had been a painter, a sculptor, and a performance artist. Towards the end she could do none of that, nor could she move on her own or even scratch an itch. She spent most of her last days in a portable bed, facing the possibility of choking to death when she tried to eat or even take a sip of water. So she decided to throw a two-day “rebirth” party for friends and family, sharing memories, dreams, food, and just having fun. She encouraged her friends to take whatever mementos, books, paintings, etc. from her home as remembrances of her; she asked her girl friends to try on clothes from her closet and take the ones they liked the best, enjoying a private fashion show just for them. And after two days of partying with her favorite pizzas and tamales, she drank a specially prepared “cocktail” and passed away peacefully some four hours later, surrounded by her loved ones. She was 41 years old.

I am sure there will be many other Brittanys and Betsys who will end up in similar situations and will make similar decisions.
But Brittany and Betsy were the only ones who could make that decision. We have no idea what they were going through. What pain they were in. They both knew exactly what they were facing; we do not. While I have total faith in the Lord to heal, and I have seen Him do miraculous healings, I can also say that were I in that situation, I have no idea what I would do. I haven’t walked in those shoes, and I do not ever want to.

This does not mean that my faith is not strong. It is. But I also know that the Lord elects to heal in His own way. There are times that He heals through doctors. There are times that He heals by His miraculous intervention. And there are other times that He does the ultimate healing, and calls that person Home to be with Him in Heaven. Scripture tells us in Hebrews 9:27 “…it is appointed unto men once to die.” Even though Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, Lazarus eventually died and passed into Heaven. We don’t understand how this all works. But one day we will. And on that day all of our questions will be answered, before they are even asked.

I do know that God loved Brittany and Betsy, just as He loves us all. He loved them before they made their decision, and He loved them after they made the decision. And I truly believe He was there to greet them and welcome them when they arrived at their final heavenly Home.

I cannot say these women did or did not make the right choice. They both made THEIR choice; the one that was right for them. From all I’ve read, their families and friends supported their decisions. As a mother, I do not know if I could support a decision like that if my daughter felt forced to make it. I doubt I could be that unselfish. While I wouldn’t want her to suffer, I also wouldn’t want to lose her and would fight for every chance until the last breath.

But that’s me. And I have not been in that place.

I have lost many friends and family members to terminal diseases, even though I prayed with strong and absolute faith, believing for their healing. And they were healed; just not in the way I wanted. But I do know my prayers were heard, and answered.

The Lord gives us free will to make our own decisions. While He may or may not agree with what we ultimately decide, He still gives us that right.

I pray for comfort and peace for the families of these women, and for other families facing similar situations. I do not judge either of them for their decision; that is not up to us. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Why do I write this now? Actually, I began writing this at the time Brittany was making headlines. But I couldn’t bring myself to finish it, or publish it, until now. But at this time, I have several friends who are facing, and have been facing, severe and potentially life-threatening illnesses, not necessarily their own, but in their families. And I felt the time to post this was now.

I am not an advocate of assisted suicide; I am not an advocate of anyone taking their own life. However, there are circumstances in which hospice is necessary to assist our loved ones in their last stages of illness. How is that different to what Brittany and Betsy faced?

Life is precious. It is our most precious possession. We must value it. Be thankful for it. But we cannot judge others who are in terminally ill situations, in severe pain, and know that there will be only one end. Yes, the Lord heals us all. But sometimes the healing comes in the form of the ultimate healing and going to our heavenly home to be with Him.

What would you have done in their situation? Can you honestly answer that question?

I can’t. I pray I never have to.

The Bridge is Calling


My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. As ready as I can be. I know you want me to stay, but you always knew I couldn’t stay with you forever. So did I.

We’ve had a wonderful life together, you and me. And my kitty brothers and sisters. And those funny doggies who didn’t know whether to be afraid of me, or play with me. But it’s time. I’m tired and I’m in pain now, and that nasty tasting pain medicine doesn’t help all that much. And I’m having trouble breathing comfortably. It’s even hard to purr.

I’m going to miss purring for you. I’m going to miss cuddling with you. I’m going to miss trying to sneak outside when you’re not looking so I can explore the world. But now I’m going to have a huge back yard…and front yard…that I can explore with my friends. I’ll finally get to chase mice and bugs and roll around in the soft grass. And my back won’t hurt. And I can scratch my claws on anything I want!

You won’t have to worry about me getting lost, because I’ll always know where I am, and I’ll know when you’re coming to get me and take me with you to your new home. That’s a promise. And kitties don’t break promises.

I know you’re sad, and you’re crying, and I’m sad, too. But it’s ok. We both knew this day would come. And once I cross that Bridge, I’m going to be like a little kitten again! And I’m excited to be able to feel good again!

So please dry your tears quickly, and remember the fun we had together. We did, didn’t we?! But there will be more to come….it’ll just be awhile. And when we meet again I’ll be able to communicate with you and you’ll understand what I’m saying; we’ll have wonderful talks together. That’s just part of the wonder of the rainbow bridge. I can’t tell you any more about it now, but believe me it’s such a special place. God created it for all of us beloved pets because He wants us to be happy together again. That’s how much He loves you as well as me.

And don’t feel guilty when you get a new kitty that looks like me. It’s ok, because I’ve already put in a request for you, and you’ll love that new kitty just like you loved me. I know you had another one that looked like me before, and I’m sure Mischief will be waiting to greet me, so I can tell her all about what’s been going on with you since she left.

And now, let me go. It won’t hurt me. And then I won’t hurt any more. You will for a time, but you’ll understand.

It’s going to be ok….Meow!!!

Artwork by Stella Violano…Fine Art America

Meet Me at the Rainbow Bridge


You know, it was a little over ten years ago that we first met. I was a small little kitty. I’d left my mom, and my brothers and sisters, and I didn’t understand why. I missed my mom a lot. And I missed my siblings. We’d had so many good times, playing and sleeping and purring together. It was fun.

But then we were all separated. One by one we all said a quick good bye to each other, and had to go our separate ways. We didn’t know why. We didn’t understand, and there was no one there to explain it to us.

EXIF_JPEG_T422 And then you came along. You had been looking for a kitty just like me, and you’d been looking for a while. And as soon as you saw me, you ran over and picked me up and held me, stroking my fur and kissing me and telling me I was just purr-fect! And as nervous as I was, I couldn’t help purring back to you. It’s how we kitties communicate, you know.

And I knew. I knew you were the one I was meant to be with. You knew it, too!

And I went home with you. We had wonderful times together. I met my new kitty brothers and sister, and we became great friends! We had wonderful times together. Especially in the middle of the night when we’d chase each other up and down the steps and wake you and the rest of the house up late at night. But because we were so cute, you couldn’t be mad at us!

There were doggies there, too. I’d never really been around dogs before, so that took some getting used to…on both sides. I had to show them my claws several times before they realized who was the new boss in the house. But they learned, and we all eventually became good friends. I bet you didn’t know about all the times we got together and played tricks on you, throwing pillows around, and eating each other’s food, and watching those doggies chew the baseboards while we dug holes in the plants and tried to get in the fish tank and make friends (sort of) with those pretty fishes that were swimming around.

imageI cried with you when you lost those two doggies you had when I came to live with you. That was awful. But I have to tell you, before Lassie and Rocky left, they had the chance to tell me some things that I’ve never forgotten, and I feel like I need to share them with you now.

Because, well, you know why….

They both told me the story about the Rainbow Bridge. It’s a place that we animals go to when it’s time to leave the earth and meet up with all the other pets you humans have had over the years. It’s a special place. It’s a place where we’re not in pain any longer; where we can run and play like we used to do when we were kittens and puppies. Where we’re free to roam wherever we want; where we can eat whatever we want and it won’t make us sick; where our claws won’t need clipping, and we won’t need those baths we hate so much.

It’s a place where old and sick animals go, and we’re suddenly young and well again. There are fields of flowers and grass to play in. For us kitties, there are mice and butterflies and bugs to chase, and there’s catnip growing everywhere. For the doggies, there are balls and frisbees to chase and pools to swim in, and socks and bones to chew on. And all the dog treats they could ever want! For us kitties, there are soft warm beds to cuddle up in, and balls of yarn to bat around. There are spots of sunlight to chase, and all kinds of furniture to jump up on….we can go as high up as we want and play King of the Mountain. And we won’t get hurt when we jump down.

Christmas KittyDoesn’t it sound like the best of places? The bad part is, we have to leave you, our very special and very beloved owners, in order to go there. It means we’re both going to be sad, because we have to say good bye. And sometimes it’s a painful good bye. Neither of us wants to do it, but we know there’s not really a choice.

But the good part is, when we pets get to the Rainbow Bridge, and we cross over it, we’re not only young again, not sick and hurting any more, but we’re there waiting for you to come and get us.

Don’t worry, because we’ll have plenty of things to do while we’re waiting for you. It may be a lot of years before you come for us, but we won’t forget you. We’ll just be waiting there with our friends, playing and eating all kinds of wonderful treats. For us, the time will pass so quickly we won’t even know how long it’s been.

But we won’t forget you. Just like you won’t forget us. And on your way to Heaven, you’ll either stop by and get us, or we’ll be waiting for you in your special heavenly mansion. That’s not our decision to make, you know; only God plans that. But we WILL be with you again. Forever.

And now, I know you don’t want to hear this from me, but you have to. I’ve had the most wonderful life with you. It’s been everything I could ever hope for. You’re the best kitty mommy ever. But it’s time now for me to leave. You see, I’m in pain. My legs don’t work very well any more, and I can’t walk without hurting. And I’m not able to digest my food the way I used to anymore, and that’s making me feel worse. The pain meds you’re giving me help, but they can’t make me well. I really don’t want to leave you, and I’d be happy to keep lying beside you every night purring you to sleep, but it’s just not something I can keep doing. I’m tired, and I need to go where I can be pain free again.

imageI love you. I know there are people who say we animals don’t know what love is, but they’re wrong. We animals know love. Unconditional love. I would do anything for you. And now you have to do this for me. Let me go to the Rainbow Bridge. Let me go with my friends and wait for you. I promise we’ll be together again. And I’ll be ready to play and purr and cuddle, and I’ll even let you clip my claws without trying to bite you like I always did.

Until that time comes, please know I love you. And I always will.

Until we meet again……

Artwork by Stella Violano…Fine Art America

Remembering the Promises



It was a beautiful day. Picture perfect, as the saying goes. The sun was shining, the temperature was perfect. All your friends and family were there. Both sets of parents cried as you said your vows. And so did both of you.

You posed for pictures, toasted each other with champagne, cut the cake, and danced into the night. She tossed her bouquet, and he threw the garter. Then you left for a wonderful romantic honeymoon. You spent a week enjoying the perfect vacation, and you hated to leave. But reality called, and as much as you wanted to stay on that honeymoon forever, you had to return to real, every day life.

But you knew it would be great; it would be perfect. After all, you were finally married, and ready to officially start your forever life together.

But after a while, the newness wore off, didn’t it? The almost-magical, too good to be true feelings started to fade as bills came in the mail; the air conditioning gave up in the house; the car decided it needed a major repair; and you got really tired of cooking and eating dinner at home every night because you needed to stay on a budget.

But do you remember those vows you made? What you said to each other? Let’s take a look at them.

“I take you today to be my husband/wife…to have and to hold from this day forward…for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death we part.”

And you meant those vows. With every inch and every part of your being. Sometimes you need to be reminded of what you promised. Especially that “for better, for worse” part! Because no matter how good things can be, there’s always something that comes along that upsets the way things should be.

That’s where the “for worse” part comes in. And it may seem to last a long time, but that’s only if you let it. When you work through that part together, it works itself back into the “for better”. And it actually becomes a lot better, because surviving the difficult times together make you stronger together.

No one ever said marriage was easy. Because it isn’t. Even the officiating pastor at the beginning of the ceremony usually reminds the couple, “Marriage is a binding and true commitment of two people vowing to love each other for a lifetime. It is a commitment not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly. But reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.”

They weren’t just words you said for the moment, you know. You promised, and promises are just that. They’re meant to be kept.

The wedding itself only exists now in the beautiful pictures displayed around your home, but the marriage…that keeps on going. It’s a work in progress, with highs and lows. For better or for worse.

It’s what the two of you make it. Together.

Don’t forget those promises made in love in the heat of a disagreement.

The heat of love is much hotter and far brighter.

Looking in the Mirror

One weekend a few months before my dad died, he and my mother attended a wedding of the daughter of one of their friends. It was a cold Saturday, and a rather dressy wedding, so my mom borrowed one of her sister-in-laws’ fur stoles to wear. Of course back then, kids didn’t go to weddings unless they were part of the wedding party, so I stayed behind at my aunt and uncle’s house.

But before they left for the wedding, it was photo time, and my mom and dad posed, all dressed up, in front of the living room fireplace. I actually remember standing beside my uncle giggling, as he took their picture, which is framed and proudly displayed in our family room.

Mom and Dad 2And if you look very closely, you’ll see a little girl reflected in the mirror at the top left corner of the photo, which was taken before the days of digital photography where we can do re-take after re-take until we get it just like we want. Today we would have edited that little girl out of the picture so we’d have it perfect!

But to me, it’s perfect just like it is. It’s one of the last photos taken of my mom and dad together, and my mom’s even smiling (something she rarely did when pictures were being taken). It’s even more special because I’m in it, too. And no one even knew until the pictures were developed.

Today we call it photo-bombing. I call it another precious memory that I wouldn’t trade for anything, because I have very few pictures with the three of us together. Even though this one wasn’t planned, it’s still perfect!

Sometimes in our striving for perfection, we overlook those unplanned special moments that will never come again. They’re memories that get erased because they don’t look perfect. They’re real-life. And real life sure isn’t perfect.

Do you sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who that is looking back at you? Wonder where the time has gone? Do you sometimes imagine you’re seeing a second reflection in that mirror…a reflection of your younger self in the background looking ahead to the person she’s now become? Do you think that younger you you’re seeing ever expected your life to be what it is now?

I’d love to know what that younger me in that picture used to think when she saw herself in a mirror. I don’t really remember, except that I didn’t like the way my mother made me wear my hair (those permanents we had back then were awful – and we all had them at one time or another), and I hated my teeth because they were ugly (oh, what wonders braces can do!). I wonder what she’d think now, seeing herself grown up, married, with a daughter and a granddaughter! What she’d think of my career choices, and more importantly, my life choices.

Or maybe you see a reflection of the person you’re becoming in the next several years…and you don’t like what you see. But if you don’t, there’s certainly time to do something about it; it’s never too late, you know.

But here’s something else to think about…not only about that younger you looking back at you in the mirror…but what about the other people looking at you? Do you see yourself as you think others see you? Or do you see yourself as you’d like to be, but don’t think you have a chance at being?

Your reflection in the mirror is no more perfect than an un-airbrushed or unedited photo. But it’s real. Just like all the photos in your phone and on your computer. As much as we’d like, the photos we take today, unless we take the time to edit them all, are still like the old ones we cherish from the past. Honest, and truthful – showing us how we really are.

As for me, I want my reflection to tell who I am, or should I say, who I hope I am. But my true reflection is who others see me as. And I’m not sure I’d always be happy knowing what that is.

I’m not that little girl making faces in the mirror any more. That was some almost fifty-eight years ago. And we aren’t those same people any more, but we are a grown up reflection of who we were.

So what is your reflection like today? I hope mine mirrors someone who is loving, compassionate, and a good wife, mother, and now grandmother.

Many more pictures will be taken over the next years, and posted for the world to see. I hope mine still reflect the wonder in that little girl’s face as she watched her mom and dad getting ready to go to that grand event. The little girl who had no idea what life had for her in the future.

And still doesn’t, because I still have many years ahead, I hope, to continue to make that future happen!

Weddings and Marriages



What comes to mind when you hear the word “wedding”? Most of us still think about brides in beautiful long white dresses, with gauzy veils, carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers, surrounded by several close girlfriends as her bridesmaids, all dressed in identical pastel colors and smiling happily at their friend who’s ready to walk down the aisle in a flower-filled church or other romantic setting. We picture the groom, nervous in his rented tuxedo, surrounded by his friends in their rented tuxedos, anxiously waiting as the bride is escorted down the aisle by her father. Vows are exchanged and the two promise to love each other until “death do we part”. There’s an amazing tiered wedding cake the two of them cut, feed each other a piece (hopefully not smashing it into each others’ faces) and then leave on a magical honeymoon.

And then it’s happily ever after. Right?

Or does that exist only in storybooks and fairy tales?

What is “happily ever after” anyway? Is it what little girls read about in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty where the handsome prince sweeps his lady love off her feet and they live together forever in total wedded bliss, with a perfect home, perfect kids, and no worries ever?

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

But marriage is a lot more than having a perfectly planned and coordinated wedding. Once the dresses are put away, the tuxes returned, the wedding cake eaten, and the honeymooners return from their trip, then the marriage really begins.

And as much as you love your spouse, you begin to realize that the marriage is a lot harder than the wedding ever was. Planning a wedding can certainly be stressful, because you want everything to go perfectly. (And there’s almost always a little glitch that almost no one except the wedding coordinator notices.) But no one ever stops to think about planning the marriage. That is, planning what happens after all the wedding festivities are over and the real life together begins.

In reality, marriage is a lot more difficult than planning or coordinating any wedding!

For a number of years I was very much involved in wedding planning and coordinating. It was a lot of fun, and each one was different, each couple had their own definite ideas about what their wedding should entail, and each one had little glitches that happened at the last minute that we had to handle. One couple had a heavy metal band playing the Wedding March, which raised many eyebrows among the guests. One bride was adamant about certain family members not being allowed at the reception. One bride tried to add a bridesmaid the day of the wedding. One wedding entailed three groomsmen being almost an hour late for the ceremony, setting our time schedule in turmoil. One wedding involved the bride’s shy 5 year old son walking her down the aisle, and having to have a backup plan in case the young man got scared at the last minute (he didn’t and happily walked his mom down the aisle!).

All of these weddings came off perfectly to the guests. No one knew what went on behind the scenes, except those of us involved in the coordination.

But during one of the planning sessions for one of the couples, I distinctly heard the words, “don’t be so concerned about the wedding; be concerned about the marriage”. And those words weren’t aimed at just that couple, because I heard them several other times planning several other weddings. And before you begin to think it was because the marriages were possibly destined for failure, that was not the case at all. In fact, for all of the weddings I coordinated during that time, all of the couples are still together, and their marriages, although not without ups and downs, are still going strong.

On the contrary, the Lord obviously told me that statement to remind me that marriage is a lifelong process. Although the actual wedding may take months to plan, the actual event lasts only a day. The marriage is supposed to last a lifetime.

Good advice, but as a wedding coordinator I’d never thought about it that way.

Most couples don’t either. They’re more concerned about everything being “perfect” for their big day. They don’t stop to think about what happens after the celebrations and parties are over; when reality…life…sets in.

The truth is…marriage is not always easy. It takes a lot of work. The honeymoon was great. Your life as a couple is all brand new and fun; there’s no worries, no hassles. You’re on vacation, and vacations are meant to be fun and relaxing.

But then you return, and suddenly, you realize you’re married! This is it! And when the first thing goes a bit wrong in your relationship you immediately wonder “Did I make a mistake? Isn’t it all supposed to be happily ever after? What’s wrong?”

Nothing is wrong. You’re just learning to live together as a married couple. And there are going to be hard times as well as good times. Fun times as well as angry times. You’re still two individuals with your own opinions and your own ideas, but now you have to mold those ideas into one plan, one life. And both of you have to learn to adjust to each other. That doesn’t happen overnight; it takes years. My husband and I have been married almost 32 years, and we’re still learning. It’s a lifetime of learning.

All marriages start out with the idea of how perfect we are for each other; how much in love we are; and how great our life is going to be. But as daily life sets in, we can lose that perspective. Because a good marriage is hard work, and our human nature doesn’t always want to deal with the difficult.

Does every marriage have a happy ending? Unfortunately not. For many reasons. I can say this because my first two marriages didn’t last. They were weddings, but the marriage part, well, I won’t go into the reasons. But I can also add that my husband Ben and I have been married for almost 32 years. Has it always been easy? No. Of course not.

But if you love your spouse, isn’t it worth it to make that extra effort? Everything that’s worth having, worth keeping, is worth that extra effort it takes to keep your marriage as happy as you were the day of your wedding. Sometimes even happier!

After all, a wedding only lasts for a day; a marriage should last a lifetime.

When Families Feud


It’s not a game like on TV. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And certainly no one would want to watch it.

Because when families feud in real life, there’s no prizes; nobody wins anything. Because everyone is too busy making other family members choose who to believe in an often senseless argument, taking sides, spreading rumors and often lies about this person or that, and causing unnecessary strife and dissension.

All because someone, or several someones, think they’re right and everyone else is wrong. And they set out to prove it to the rest of the world.

And by the time it’s all said and done, no one can even remember what started it. Or when. Or why. But they sure remember WHO started it…not them. Someone else. The funny thing is, there are usually at least two or three people saying two or three other people started whatever it was.

Sadly, everyone is usually too busy accusing others than to bother to try to end the feud. Because it’s more important to be right. And to be right at any cost. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt; or how many innocent bystanders are dragged into a family situation that should be kept private, and be resolved privately.

It doesn’t matter that family members become estranged, and remain that way for years, even decades, and sometimes only a family tragedy will get everyone back together again. At least for a time.

Usually there’s no one specific reason the feud started. It usually starts with a seemingly innocuous comment that someone takes the wrong way, and before you know it, it’s a forest fire raging out of control. And putting it out requires a lot more time, energy, and manpower than most families are willing to give.

Family feuds have been going on for centuries. They’re nothing new. Sometimes people are killed because of them. Wars have even started and resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, because of family strife.

I think it’s time to look at each of our families and see if there’s a feud brewing. And stop it before it starts.

If there is a feud going on, whether you think you started it, or someone else did, do your part to end it. Cutting family members out of your life does nothing but destroy the family itself, and in the end, when it’s no longer a possibility to ever make things right again, you’ll regret it.

I know a number of families going through this very thing right now. No families are perfect. But this message is for everyone who reads it. There are no accusations, and no taking sides. There’s no right or wrong. It’s just time for families to band together and love each other the way families are intended to do.

Before it’s too late.

Before You Say I Do



He had it all planned. He’d already bought the ring. He’d asked her father. Now all he had to do was put his plan into action; make all the arrangements; and then get down on one knee and say those words. Ask THE question. And hold his breath until she answered. He knew she’d say yes, at least he thought he was sure she would.

And her…well, she was just waiting. They’d looked at a few perfect engagement rings, so she knew it was on his mind, and they’d talked about it a lot, but she just didn’t know when he’d be ready to finally officially ask her. And she knew that’s what she wanted. She just didn’t know for sure if he was ready.

Young love. It’s always a great story. How you met, when you started dating, when you really thought you knew he/she was “the one”. You’d talk about your future together for hours at a time. And you wondered…what would marriage be like? What would it be like to be together all the time?

So he finally found the perfect time to ask. Maybe it was at the place where you’d had your first date. Maybe your favorite restaurant with the waiter bringing the ring out nestled in whipped cream on an ice cream sundae. Maybe during a walk along the beach in the moonlight, or at an ice skating rink with “your song” playing in the background. But you really were surprised. You’d really had no idea. And of course you said YES!!!

And so then the excitement began. Setting the date. Planning the engagement party, selecting bridesmaids and groomsmen, dresses, flowers, cake, food, bridal showers, planning a honeymoon. It was a whirlwind.

Plus deciding where you’d live, picking out furniture, dishes, linens, signing up for the bridal registry and adding things you’ll probably never use!

So much to do. It was so easy to get caught up in all of the plans and details, that at times you wondered if it was all worth it.

Yes, you really did wonder that at times.

Because there’s a lot more to plan for than the wedding details.

There’s a life together to plan as well. And that’s the hardest part. Because wedding planners don’t help you with that part. That you have to do yourselves.

And no amount of planning can ever prepare you for what marriage is actually like. Each one is different, because each person is different; each personality is different. Each of you has set ideas about what marriage will be like. And you’d better discuss them together before you say “I do!” Because discussing them afterwards and finding out your ideas are different is not the right time.

Too often couples neglect the most important part of the planning process: pre marriage counseling with a pastor or other professional who knows the questions to ask, as well what the answers to those questions should be. And if your answers are totally different, the counselor can help you figure out compromises before those differences cause major problems later on. There’s nothing wrong with having pre-marriage counseling. It’s a necessary step in the wedding

Because a wedding lasts less than a day. The marriage that follows should last a lifetime. Are you ready for that lifetime together, because it’s not all wedding cake and flowers.

Each married day brings a new challenge to a husband and wife. Some are tiny, and some are big. Some start out tiny and become huge before you know it. And before you know it, in the shadow of your favorite wedding photo, you’re sitting in the same room not speaking to each other because you’re so angry.

Yes, it happens. And it happens to every couple. You’re not alone. Marriage is a process and a daily work in progress. Not all days will be picture perfect. Not all weeks will be easy. There will be disagreements, arguments, disappointments, and accusations.

It’s how you handle them. Together. It’s not always blaming him or her, but looking at the part each of you played in causing the problem. And then sitting down and talking it over. And solving your problems together.

So…are you sure you’re ready to do this?

The wedding will be much easier compared to the actual marriage. But when you really love each other, it’s all worth it. No one said it would be easy.

But the rewards of a happy marriage far outweigh all the rough parts along the way.

The Promise of a Rainbow

Like in many other parts of the country, over the past several months we’ve had more than our share of rainstorms and thunderstorms here in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Like the one we’re having right now as I’m finishing writing this. We were fortunate and extremely thankful we didn’t have the flooding and devastation that other parts of the country experienced, even though our pool is now green and almost overflowing, and our culdesac flooded for a little while.

But one thing we noticed after almost every storm was a colorful rainbow. A few nights we actually saw a double rainbow.

Technically speaking, rainbows are caused by the reflection and refraction of light in drops of water, which, scientifically, is the reason we see rainbows after rain storms, when the sky is still filled with millions of water droplets. Rainbows don’t last long because the water droplets disperse, thus making the rainbow fade away, not to return again until after the next rainstorm.

When I was growing up, like most of my friends, we always heard the old legend about the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and several times we actually tried to chase the rainbow so we could grab that pot of gold! But of course, no matter how quickly we ran, we just never made it, and the rainbow faded away before we could get there, leaving the pot of gold hidden safely away until the rainbow appeared again.

Through our children’s eyes and imagination, we knew eventually, if we tried hard enough, we’d find that treasure at the end of that rainbow one day. IF we tried hard enough.

Or maybe the next rainbow would appear where we were, instead of off in the distance, and that pot of gold would be right at our feet, ready for us to grab!

While we were making our plans we’d sometimes hear the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which caused us dream of flying over it, and ending up in a faraway place, a magical land we created in our imagination. A place where everything was wonderful and perfect.

That was the promise of the rainbow, the way we saw it. To us, as children, the rainbow was a hint of all kinds of good things to come in the future, because that pot of gold was waiting for us at the end. And one day we’d find it!

Today, of course, as adults, we know better. However, even though there’s no actual gold at the end of it, the rainbow is still a symbol of promise and hope for all of us. A sign the storms have passed and calmness has settled in. At least for now. There’s still cleaning up to do, because after a storm there is always some cleanup necessary.

After the great flood, Noah saw a rainbow in the sky, a reminder of the promise between the Lord and mankind. (Genesis 9:13-16) The Lord used the rainbow as a reminder of that promise, and a sign of His great love for all of us. A sign of hope, of renewal. Of better things to come.

Because no matter how bad things get, there’s always something good coming.

That first rainbow appeared after a time of great turmoil and uncertainty, and I can’t help but believe the Lord also used it to remind us that no matter how bad times can be, how rough our circumstances can be, there will always be an end to that trouble, bringing a time of peace and rest. Until the next storm.

Because life isn’t always calm and peaceful. We go through periods of calm and peace, and we go through difficult periods of turmoil and unrest…the storms of life. But like the storms we experience in nature, they don’t last forever, although at times it seems as though they will. There’s always a beautiful rainbow waiting for us at the end of each of our personal storms.

That’s a promise.

Stealing Her Shoes Won’t Make You Her



Jealousy and envy are powerful emotions. Emotions that can consume you piece by piece until the person you used to be is buried so deep inside you, you can’t find her any more.

Because you desperately want to be someone else. A particular someone. Someone you admire so much that you’re not merely content to model your life after her…you want to be her. Or him, as the case may be.

You want so badly to be that other person, you’ll do almost anything to become them. Not to become like them…but to become them.

Jealousy is not admiration. It’s being resentful of someone because of something they have, or you think they have, and you want it! And it makes you angry that you don’t have it.

So you decide to steal her shoes. If you have them, you can wear them, and you’ll be able to be her. Yes, I said stealing. Borrowing them won’t work, because you’d eventually have to give them back, and then you’d turn into the same person you are now, and that’s not who you want to be at all.

Are you sure?

Do you really, really want to wear her shoes? Because you have no idea what she’s gone through, what she’s endured, what she’s done while wearing those shoes. You may think they’re beautiful, and perfect. They look so good on her, you know they’ll look good on you, in fact, they’ll probably look a lot better on you than they do on her.

They’ll look better on you because you deserve them more. You’ll appreciate them more. You’ll take better care of them. You’ll be much happier once they’re yours.

Do you really want those shoes? Do you know they didn’t always look like they do now? They didn’t always fit her like they do now. Those shoes were once filled with dark moments, emotional turmoil, violence, unhappy relationships, financial disaster. Those shoes were ugly. Ill fitting. They hurt a lot. She hated them, but had no choice but to wear them, because they were all she had.

But hard work, lifestyle changes, a determined spirit, and the discovery of her faith transformed those shoes from ones you’d never even consider looking at twice, let alone putting on your feet and wearing, to those ones you want so badly right now you’re willing to steal them.

Do you think stealing those shoes will make you her? It doesn’t work that way. Because they’re one of a kind. Because for those shoes to make you like her, you have to wear them just like they were when she first wore them.

You have to wear them through all the bad things in order for them to look like they do now. Because these shoes are special. Wearing them while walking through great difficulties and surviving the storms of life makes them the beautiful, one of a kind pair of shoes you see today.

Are you really jealous enough to want to steal those shoes? Because if you do, and you put them on, they won’t start out looking like they do now. They’ll turn into the shoes they were when she started wearing them. And you’ll have to wear them through your own storms in order to get them looking beautiful again.

And it won’t be that easy. At all. You won’t like going through what she went through to get where she is now. All you see is the “after” and not the “before”. They won’t make you her, no matter how hard you try.

Instead of trying to steal someone else’s shoes, why not concentrate on the ones you’re wearing? You can make those look beautiful, just like she did, but they will never look exactly like hers. And do you really want to be wearing the same exact shoes as someone else? Because you’ll have to lose your own self, your own dreams, everything that makes you uniquely you, and you’ll still not be happy.

Do you want to start completely over, walking through someone else’s hard times, which you’ll discover were far worse than yours? Or do you want to continue persevering with your own dreams and goals, realizing that being someone else, stealing someone else’s shoes so you can walk in them, isn’t the answer.

Jealousy and envy are difficult emotions to control. If unchecked, they turn into hate. Which destroys. It destroys your dreams and your relationships; your very life.

All because you wanted someone else’s shoes instead of your own.

Think about it before you try to steal them.

The result won’t be what you thought it would be.


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