Archive for December, 2012

I have the most beautiful book gathering dust on my shelf waiting for me to FINALLY write the review so as to properly shelve it. It has been there for longer than my youngest has been alive. Six or seven months of dust certainly adds up fast. The book is Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick.

Starting with the shallow, I adore the cover. Moving deeper, despite the 6 months that have passed since actually reading it, I can still remember it well enough to tell you what I loved about it. If that doesn’t communicate its value enough on its own, read on. First, it’s about a daughter who loves tinkering with plants as does her father. She wants to make an apple hybrid that is tasty and peels easily, so she follows in her father’s footsteps and after many years of dedication and secret attempts, manages to do so. This is not being done in today’s ‘pursue whatever makes you happy’ atmosphere either, but with onlookers who think tampering with nature is anti-God, that mothers should only ever be spending time on their children.

In fact, in the beginning she HIDES what she’s doing. She wonders often if she shouldn’t be spending less time in the garden and more with her family (though throughout the book it is apparent that she does everything there is to do for her family and that gardening is just another way for her to have stewardship over what God has given her.) The author traces this ‘based on a true story’ novel through her overwhelming desire to create a type of lilac: one with a specific shade and number of petals. Through that main story-line we listen to the scientific method she employs, the dedication of a husband who orders lilacs from oversees, the pain involved in culling the ‘lesser’ of her plants, the determination involved in digging up and preserving them on rafts tied to trees lest the common flooding that destroyed her gardens ruin all her efforts. It highlights her struggle to balance her passion for her work on that front and her passion for her family.

Kirkpatrick highlights how others, whose storylines are carefully woven in, were impacted by what many folks at the time considered a waste of her time and even a blasphemy of what God made. It chronicled how she used her garden to help other children by paying them to help her water and housing them so they were near enough to take lessons or attend a school they wished to go to. I found myself really loving Hulda Klager in all her spunk and dedication. The reality of her story as she dove into an unexplainable depression that nothing seemed to help. How God used her love of gardens, the gentle prodding of her family and a simple seed catalog to coax her from it. I loved feeling her attachment to her children as she struggled with them moving away or suffering losses of their own and her attempts to meet them where they were. It further interested me to find that the author of the book actually has varieties of the very lilac that Hulda did eventually produce.

I was a bit perplexed by the multitude of reviews that said they had a hard time getting into the book. It certainly isn’t an action-packed spy novel or anything, but I felt the author fleshed out a real person in real ways and did a good job of making it interesting. This was a non-stressful, relaxing, yet somehow emotional read that I enjoyed very much and would highly recommend. Not just for the beautiful cover either.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through a blogging program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <[…]> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Love actually...

Two days.

Two short days til our anniversary. I don’t know which one we’re celebrating, but I know who I can ask. That’s one of the many holes the man I married helps fill… his instant number recall. He knows the birth weights/year/lengths of our respective children better than I do.

I could write an excruciatingly long post about the theological implications of marriage… (if I didn’t have 5 children waiting for bedtime… oh wait, that’s me doing the waiting…) or about whether or not the photo I posted is a completely accurate picture of a good marriage because when you marry someone you are signing a contract that says, in essence, that you ARE trapped. You are putting yourself in that person’s life for the rest of yours.

It’s definitely worth looking at it that way from the dating standpoint if only to realize that you need to look at it not as the first in a line of disposable relationship but a never-ending commitment that nothing will shake. I’d like to think that fewer foolish choices and, therefore, fewer broken homes would occur that way. But talking about that kind of kills the romantic bent of the photo, I suppose. Plus it’s probably not PC to refer to a divorced family as broken anymore.

For a brief time I spent 15-30 minutes 3 times a day about a year ago in a break room. Most of that time was spent listening to people comment on their relationships. Girls frustrated that their man of the minute’s main question about the twins she JUST found out she’s carrying was “Does this mean I have to pay MORE child support?” A woman who’d been married to the same man for years, raised a daughter with him but had no esteem or love at all for the man and spoke openly of her disdain. In fact, as soon as she had the cash ready and could sell the house, she said, she was leaving for her sister’s state of residence. He’s staying here. They’ve already discussed the divvying of pets. It was like a foreign country to me. Illustrated again when one of them asked if my ‘incentive’ had shown up properly on my recent paycheck. (Hers hadn’t.) When I explained that I hadn’t looked at my check amount. It was direct deposited and Matt takes care of the finances. Has since a few years after we were married, so I rarely notice what the amount is, but maybe I’d better take a look at that just in case. You’d have thought I had just confessed to keeping explosives stashed in the flue of a wood burning stove. Books being read at that table were put down, bites left untaken. Several alarmed glances were shot. One woman raised her eyebrows and said what everyone else was thinking: You HAVE to keep tabs on where money is going!  You should also have your own bank account that he can’t get into! I have my own and my husband isn’t touching a THING that I bring in from this job!**

Major culture shock, the realization that people married and/or lived with persons they not only couldn’t agree on finances with but also couldn’t trust with ‘their’ money!

Then there are stories of upstanding families who seem to have it all together and they look great… until the relationship seems to spontaneously fall apart. Did they spend alot of time on the paint and window dressings, but had no foundation? Or perhaps the foundation once was there but a crack appeared only to be ignored. It took a few floods and an earthquake, but it’s gone now. As is the life they built together. Baring a major overhaul to the broken parts, anyway.

Lest I sound proud of my marriage: I know that “There, but for the grace of God go I.” Or ‘go we’ as the case may be.

So not proud.  We’re hardly the image of perfection, after all. We certainly blow it on a minute-ly basis most days in some way or another. Just exceedingly grateful that we’ve been graciously given a good foundation. Just grateful for friends and family who I KNOW will speak up if we start taking one another for granted. Just incredibly willing to work and hope and pray towards this tie continuing as it should until death do us part.

So while my version of marriage says that I am, by definition, trapped… I certainly don’t FEEL trapped with you, my Love! You are the jam in my jelly roll. The peanut in my peanut butter! (Hey, I could quote from Song of Solomon if that would be better… 🙂 )

And I WOULD rather be with you than anyone else, Matthew Charles Roberts.

So those of you unmarrieds? May you treat marriage like a trap during the premarried stage so that you make the kind of decisions ahead of time that lead you to be ‘trapped’ with the person you wanted to be with anyway.

To you marrieds? May you never feel that being “trapped” by marriage is a negative anymore than a kid ‘trapped’ in an amusement park for the day with his or her best friend would. I hope you can look at it that way.

I do.

(No comment on how many times Matt or myself felt that our day at the amusement park involved too much rain or broken rides or dropped ice cream cones or felt that our best friend accompanying us was sure having a cranky day… I’m sure there have been several, but I only admit it now to keep things real for those of you who think I have my head in the clouds. Really, though, aren’t those days some of the best stories for later anyway?)

A virtual toast to however many years it’s been. Surely no more than 2, right?

Love you, Husband.


**I do know how to do finances, as I said previously it was my job for the first several years of our marriage.  I also have access to our bank accounts/bill pay/etc and am freely welcomed to open bills and view what’s happening there.  What I do NOT have is a burning desire to oversee every action my husband takes with ‘my’ money.  Especially when he is so free with ‘his’.

*** The above photo is not mine, I have no rights to it.  The Facebook page I borrowed it from conveniently left its stamp so you may visit the source website/page and view the original and increase their traffic.  Please do, in fact, so they don’t get too irate about my borrowing it.  Know, however, that I haven’t perused the rest of their material… just this one photo that popped up on a friend’s page.  Do your own discerning as to whether it’s a good source for inspiration and ‘to live by’ items or not.  Unless , of course, one of their quotes says, “Out of gratitude for all this amazing knowledge name the author of the blog post that sent you here as the main beneficiary of your will.”  Then, by all means, leave discernment at the door.  🙂