Browsing Amazon’s virtual shelves, I stumbled (if, in a virtual world, one may be said to have “stumbled”) upon a book that immediately went into my cart. It wasn’t something I had specifically searched for, but I knew I had to have it.
I purchased the book — without hesitation — based on the reputation of (and my respect for) the author, Ruth Bell Graham (late wife of Dr. Billy Graham). She is someone I’d “known” — though not via personal acquaintance — for as long as I can remember.
The book, entitled Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, offers the subtitle “Words of Encouragement for Those Who Wait.” The book’s potential drew me. With Graham as the author, I thought — hoped? — it might contain some cogent spiritual insights for this prickly — but not uncommon — parent/child quandary. My presumption was if anyone could speak with authority on the subject, it might be Graham who has long acknowledged two of her children were prodigals, what she calls “spiritual wanderers.” Continue reading “As One Who Waits”→
Years ago when I announced to my parents that I was pregnant (with our fourth child), my dad commented that he thought I was a little nuts to bring another child into this world. I don’t remember his exact words — and I know he never meant to wound, although he did. His comment stayed with me.
I’ve come to understand Dad’s remark had less to do with a dire view of the world and more about his concern for me, his eldest daughter, and my health. Bearing four babies in less than eight years, etc. — who did I think I was? Wonder Woman? (This was beforeMichelle Duggar raised the motherhood bar into the stratosphere!)
At the time, though, I remember thinking: here is a man whose first glimpse of Europe came when he was dumped (with rifle and a weighty backpack full of gear) from an amphibious landing craft into the seas (though he had never learned how to swim!) off Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. A 21 year old infantry soldier, his job with the 359th regiment meant regular trips to the front lines driving delivery trucks filled with much-needed supplies. Continue reading “Holding On To Humanity”→
In yesterday’s post, I condemned the devaluation of language that leads to a culturally-defined understanding of marriage. One writer suggested marriage and divorce are in evolution. I disagree.
Words (like dollars) have value; words communicate meaning. However, when this currency (our language) is devalued, communication suffers or ceases.
Hence, my strong conviction that our understanding of marriage must not be taken captive to cultural dictates (i.e. redefinition).
A word to alternative lifestyle folks: Refer to the definition I quoted in yesterday’s post here. You have the option to enter into marriage. No disrespect or unkindness intended, but based on definition alone, same-sex unions aren’tmarriage; please create a different (better suited) word to define your unions.
Beyond general devaluation of language, as I see it, the greater injury (over the last half century) to marriage (as a bedrock institution of society) has been inflicted by the increasing prevalence of divorce. I’m hesitant to view divorce (like marriage) on an evolutionary continuum, but I concede divorce has had dramatic impact on society.
By definition, divorce has always been the legal means to violate the inviolable. What makes divorce a cultural phenomenon is how commonplace it has become; terms like amicable divorce, blended family, serial monogamy and starter wives are fairly recent entries to the social lexicon. Culture adjusts conversation and mindset to reflect everyday realities. Continue reading “Taken Captive By Culture (II)”→
The story ran nationwide with various iterations on a theme: more divorces in the South, fewer in the Northeast. Living in the South and holding a high view of marriage, I bristled because this simplistic reportage leaves so much unsaid.
The Washington Post took an unusual angle, addressing singles in an opening paragraph I’ll summarize: Hope to hear wedding bells? Then move to the South or West — but beware! Your chances of divorce will also increase. [Did I mention simplistic reportage?!]
The Post deemed the Census report a “first-of-its-kind analysis.” Similarly, USAToday ran a story by Sharon Jayson noting it “gives the clearest picture in 20 years ….” Jayson also stressed regional patterns. Her lead:
Where you live may influence your attitudes and actions toward marriage and divorce more than you think, suggests a federal report out today that gives the clearest picture in 20 years about the evolution of marriage and divorce across the USA.
(I’ll discuss the Census report later.) First, I must quibble with the USAToday piece. Jayson’s reference to ” … the evolution of marriage and divorce across the USA” insinuates marriage is a capricious, moving target! It is not. Continue reading “Taken Captive By Culture (I)”→
Back in July of 2006, my sister and I threw a surprise birthday party in honor of our mother’s 80th birthday. Though Mom’s birthday is actually August 29, we chose a date a month early … hoping she’d never guess what we’d planned. (I must quickly acknowledge my minimal role in organizing the event; my sister is a masterful party planner … I am not!)
It was a picturesque setting for a Saturday afternoon luncheon celebration. We were outdoors in historic Old St. Charles at a small restaurant with a quaint (but extended) cobblestone patio. (Here’s the website; see for yourself what a cute place it is!) The skies were overcast and it was muggy, but all the relatives shared the excitement and good wishes for Mom’s special day.
Halfway through lunch, the previously overcast skies opened up, dumping a torrential rain onto the overcrowded patio. Our lively group (about 40 of us) scrambled for cover! The inside dining room was hardly large enough, but we squeezed in tightly, and though thoroughly drenched, not willing to let the weather put a damper on our celebration.
That celebration toasted a remarkable woman (see my previous posts — here and here — about her). She’s always been a go-getter. Following Hurricane Katrina (in 2005), Mom traveled with a group from her church down to Louisiana to help in the cleanup. She’d never be satisfied to sit on the sidelines in a cushy spot and serve coffee; characteristic of her can-do spirit, she pulled on some well-worn garden gloves and helped haul debris. Continue reading “Hats Off For Ruthe: Plus 5”→
Before I married the man of my dreams, my surname was Stricker. In those days, researching family history usually entailed wading through rolls of microfilm at the public library, a monotonous endeavor — like looking for the proverbial “needle in a haystack” — that often produced disappointing results.
Thanks to the worldwide web and resources like ancestry.com today’s search for genealogical gems has been greatly simplified. We knew my dad’s forebears came from Germany but little else beyond some vital statistics. Vital stats are crucial, but what I’ve always treasured more are the stories, the flesh and bone details that suffuse life into nondescript names on a page.
Last fall, we were sitting around the dinner table when the lively talk turned to our name’s meaning: knitter or rope maker. That’s when my sister-in-law remembered a scholarly article she’d run across years before, an article written in German (thankfully, my brother and sister-in-law are fluent!) that referred to a 13th century German poet called der Stricker.
Conversing with my younger daughter today, she offered an apt anecdote for my previous post. She shared that one of her friends had recently undergone in vitro fertilization, in hopes of bearing a child. (BTW, my retelling of the story isn’t verbatim, so some details may be inexact.)
My daughter’s friend was painfully aware of her husband’s ambivalence about having children. (They were happily married. As he saw it, their status quo was quite comfortable; why introduce an unpredictable variable into an already satisfying relationship?)
At the IVF specialist’s urging, the wife requested they consult a professional counselor and the husband begrudgingly acceded.
[IVF therapy (psychological counseling) is a fairly standard recommendation. Folks experiencing infertility often sustain a psychological hit. If an in vitro procedure fails to produce a pregnancy, stress levels intensify. It’s got to be agonizing.]
I wasn’t there to eavesdrop on their conversation. During the session, I’m told, the counselor queried the husband about his childhood — what kind of toys he played with, what he envisioned his future job would be, the things that energized his imagination. Continue reading “The Miracle of Mother Love”→
Before my eldest child was born, I worked full-time in the personnel department of a Dallas insurance company. From the moment the pregnancy was confirmed, I knew I would quit working to stay home with our daughter.
Many of my work associates were envious, expressing their own wishes to do the same. Each was convinced her circumstances (usually financial) wouldn’t permit such a course redirection. [It’s worth mentioning: not one male co-worker expressed his desire to be at home with his kids.] On the other hand, at least one heartbroken mom acknowledged her toddler had grown so fond of the sitter, he preferred to remain with the sitter rather than go home with Mama at day’s end!
Although this was 1974 (during the so-called second wave of feminist striving), I never experienced a moment’s ambivalence in deciding to stay at home. In fact, I recall my final months and weeks on the job, I felt relief knowing the end was near. Working the 9 to 5 gig — keeping us fed, sheltered and clothed while my husband completed grad school — had been a means to that end. Continue reading “Caring For Little Creations”→
My earlier post, No-Fault Marriage, offered my thoughts on societal attitudes toward marriage. Not long after writing that post, a friend of mine (in the 43rd year of her marriage) received word that the divorce [her husband sought] had been finalized.
This didn’t come as a complete surprise to my friend; still, it was stunning for her to realize this organism — of which she had been one half for nearly all her adult life — had officially been declared done … kaput … fini! Even though she’d been preparing herself mentally, the finality of it hit her hard.There were no custody issues, the division of property had been addressed somewhat rationally, and whatever details remained were being handled soberly. Voilà! Is this what cultural elites identify as the “amicable divorce”?
A brief aside: why would anyone be amicable when the basis of the marital bond (till death do us part) calls down divine intervention to sever?!! Years ago, a women’s magazines (can’t remember which) ran a monthly column titled “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” At least at that time, saving marriages was recognized as a worthy goal! (So quaint and totally yesterday, right?)
So back to my friend. Even faced with the knowledge her husband cavorted with other women, her knee-jerk reaction wasn’t to retain a divorce lawyer. Her intent was to honor her marriage vows, despite what many folks saw as “just cause.” Continue reading “No-Fault Divorce”→