Marriage Is About Pulling the Weeds in Your Own Garden

I read an article last night about yet another prominent Christian woman ending her marriage after 25 years. This woman has a world renown ministry.  She writes books and speaks about marriage, family and home.   And yes, there was infidelity in their marriage.  No judgment toward her is intended at all — it’s just that the news is not only shocking, it is really sad.  So as I sit here and look at this picture of Jon and me on our wedding day, and try to remember those two young people, I am overwhelmed with emotion. We were so young! We had no idea what love or life was about. I had just turned 18, and Jon 20. What were we thinking? And what were our parents thinking? My mom and dad certainly knew me well enough to know I wasn’t prepared to “adult” and run a household. Jon had always been an “old soul” — mature beyond his years. And I know that was what I saw in him (and was banking on). I remember a sense of panic when I heard the music start to play in the sanctuary, and my bridesmaids began their trek down the aisle. Seriously? Isn’t anyone going to stop me from doing this? But then I looked down that aisle and saw tears running down the cheeks of the man soon to be mine, and my heart calmed (we’ve taken some heat about that over the years…. yep, he was already crying on his wedding day). But here we are 43 years later. How does that even happen? And how do two kids hold it together for that long? To be honest, I’m not sure. Like everyone else, we’ve had our ups and downs. Seasons of great love and seasons of, well, tolerance. There is a famous quote, ‘never fall out of love at that same time’. So much truth in that. We rode out the seasons of “lukewarm” until they sizzled again. There were times I loved Jon greatly, and times I would look at him, and think ‘who are you? and what are you doing in my house?’. Years ago, I read the book, “The Myth of the Greener Grass”. Also truth. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. It is the same grass with the same crabgrass. We’ve stayed on our side of the fence, tending to our weeds, and nurturing our blooms. We were determined to get through any muck. So here we are, over 40 years later… a bit muddy, but still in love, and on our side of the fence. Neither of us has ever mentioned the D word. Divorce was never an option. A friend recently said, ‘we’ve hit a rough patch, but we keep soldiering on, right?’ Yes. That’s right. You keep your guard up and soldier on. But not in a bad, trudging way. Yes, you are in a war — with the world and our culture.  Yes!  Fight!  But the fight isn’t WITH your spouse — it is FOR your spouse.  Fight for your marriage! Keep your guard up! Watch over your shoulder! Don’t let anyone or anything come between you.  Always always always depend on your faith and trust in God — He’s on your side. He’s fighting with you.  Love your wife.  Respect your husband.  Jon wants the best for me.  I want the best for him. And that’s why we’re still pulling weeds and planting flowers, tending to our garden on THIS side of the fence.

“A Babushka Pirate Named Maude”

2f6047de1f704dcdab78920729e5b3b5A babushka pirate named Maude.  What?

I cannot even begin to tell you the meaning behind the title of this post.

Well, let’s see…

It is the last comment of a group facebook message between my daughters and me.  It is actually the culmination of 3 different conversations we had going on, at the same time, during that particular post.   The bantering went on for several hours as the girls jumped on and off facebook to add their comments.  So, no, I cannot explain exactly what it means.  Because it wouldn’t be funny.  Now.  You just had to be there.  One daughter wrote back later, I snorted (out loud) at my desk over that last comment.

The girls were being witty and snarky and playful.

And it makes my heart happy.  Still.

They are grown now, and don’t see each other often as they live miles apart.  Two in the Midwest and two in the Rockies.  Hearing them talk in conversation — even in text — makes me get all soft and sentimental inside.


I don’t think 4 girls so different ever existed under the same roof.  I’ve said many times, there is no learning curve in raising girls.   Nothing you learn from teaching one applies to teaching the other.

When they were little, the days were filled with giggles, books, dress-up, and endless hours of pretend play.  I bought old prom dresses from consignment shops so they could be adorned in “princess” gowns for tea parties and balls.  Other days, we would spend hours in the library, and each girl would come home with a stack of books.  I had to have my own filing system at home to keep track of all those stories.

Not all days were “sunshine and lollipops” though.  I remember saying before I was a Mother, ‘when I have my kids, they will not fight with each other’.  Ha!  As in any family, there were also days of scratches, bites, mean words, and fights.  Days when one girl couldn’t stand the sight of the other.  I remember lecturing about “sisters are friends for a lifetime” and “you take this paper and pen and you write 5 things you like about your sister“.  Whew.  Some days were just like that.

Where did those little girls go?  It seemed like they would be under my feet forever.  I would do anything to have a bit of that forever back.


Lord knows I pray for these children, these women of mine.  They are my heart.  And it makes me happy when they love on each other.  So when they are witty and playful, even snarky, I cry big ol’ Mama tears.

The girls have told me there will be 2 epitaphs on my tombstone:  On one side, “She just wanted them to get along” and “Edify, Edify” on the other.

I guess I could do worse.

The days are long, but the years fly by.

And if I ever do write “that book”, I do believe the title will be,  A Babushka Pirate Named Maude.

31 days of Joy




Write 31 Days

I Still Get To Eat Dinner With My Mom: Write 31 Days

31 days of JoyWrite 31 Days

I walked into the hospital room, and was shocked by what I saw.  A old lady lie in the bed, mouth open, eyes rolled up toward the ceiling, sheet pulled up to the chin over the withered, disease-torn body.  I hardly recognized my mother.  How did this happen in 5 short months?  The doctors were stumped and couldn’t find any answers as my Mom wasted away.  They chased cancer, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and several other diagnosis.  None were confirmed.

That was 14 months ago.  We thought we would bury Mom before summer’s end.  We prayed to God; we cried out to one another; and we complained to the doctors.  “Why can’t you figure this out?”

20151014_173050Today I spent the afternoon with Mom in her new apartment at an assisted living facility.  After I was there for about an hour, she asked if I wanted to eat dinner with her.  “Sure, I would love to”.

When the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with her, my Mom’s near-death situation improved quickly.  I feel completely blessed that my Mom is still here with us.

No grumbling today.  No complaining.  Thank you, Lord.

I love you, Mom.






Write 31 Days: Breathe, Relax, And Let God Be God

31 days of Joy31 days of JOY

A friend of mine is struggling as  one of her adult children is going through something right now that is breaking her heart.  We sat over a cup of coffee and talked about life, marriage, children, parents, and God ….  yeh, that kind of friend.    After we moved to this area, God answered my prayer, and put this kindred spirit into my life.   I have only known her for about four years, but it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.

I have four children of my own — all girls, all grown.  They are beautiful, strong, and gochenaurs-4167independent women.  Each daughter has faced her own challenges; and if I’m honest, some are still trying to figure a few things out.  But then, aren’t we all?

Parenting is hard.   And whichever stage of parenting you’re in — babies, toddlers, tweens or teens — that stage seems to be the hardest.   Because every season is hard and takes it’s toll on us as moms and dads.    I always thought when my kids were raised, I could take a deep breath and relax.

No one ever tells you that whether your child is 5 or 35, you hold them in your heart and think about them, their decisions, and their well-being every single day… forever.

No breathing.  No relaxing.

I know that is not exactly true, and full-time parenting minors is certainly different than “parenting” adult children.   A wise woman once told me, ‘when your children are little, talk to them about God.  When your children are adults, talk to God about them’.

Which brings me to my point (finally)… I’ve been reading the book of Philippians recently.   There’s a really simple verse in chapter 2 that we often teach our children.  It’s a Sunday School favorite for memorization:  “Do all things without grumbling and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).  As young parents, we arm ourselves and quote that verse as we separate squabbling children.  At other times, we make them repeat it as they march off to clean their rooms.

il_570xN_319280390But THAT verse recently jumped off the page at me during a quiet time of reading and reflection.  I had actually been having a conversation with God — about my children.  I was arguing about a situation in which one of my girls finds herself.    What, Lord?  Even that?  I can’t grumble about that?

And I heard, “No, trust Me” (not audibly, but loud, just the same).

“I do trust You, Lord.”

“Then why do you grumble?”

“Isn’t it my right to grumble when things are not going well for my kids?   I want the best for my kids.  Can’t I complain when things stink?”

“Do you trust Me?” 

And there it is again.

Grumble or trust?

As a parent, the hardest thing for me to do is let go, and let God take care of my kids.  I want control.   I want to make things right.   I want to fix things.  I want to grumble.   I want to complain.  I want…

But it’s not about me.

And I think that is what God is trying to teach me.  My kids are His.   He is in control.  He will make things right.  He will fix things.

… in His own time

… and in His own way.

And He will get the glory.

And my children will be stronger and better when God works in their life (not Mom).

Do I trust God with my kids?  Yes, yes, I do.  So it’s about time I acted like it.

“Thank you, God, for what You are doing in their lives.  Thank you for loving them… even MORE than I do.    I praise You.”

My job is to pray and praise.

It’s hard to grumble and praise in the same breath.

God’s got this!  God’s got them!

Breathe in, breathe out, relax.





25 Reasons Why We’ve Made It 41 Years

Wedding 1974

Wedding 1974

We just celebrated 41 years of marriage.  That’s a very long time.  We married young, too young really, but somehow we’ve made it work.  Thinking about this, I jotted down a few reasons why I think we’ve made it 41 years… in no particular order, and with tongue in cheek for a few ….

  1. We made a vow to God
  2. We made a covenant with each other
  3. We made a promise to family and friends
  4. We created 4 children who count on us to hold it together
  5. We have grandchildren who need an example of what true commitment looks like
  6. He doesn’t beat me
  7. I don’t nag him (too much)
  8. He’s handy and can fix things
  9. I make a pretty darn good cherry pie
  10. We really do love each other
  11. We have never fallen out of love… at the same time
  12. We patch things up pretty quickly because I don’t like conflict; neither does he
  13. He mowed the grass for 35 years; now I mow it… life changes…. we adapt
  14. When he tells me he’s taken out the trash, I respond with “I love you too” (life got so much better when the epiphany of his actions became clear to me)
  15. I learned he’s not a mind reader, but when I tell him – with words – what I need, he responds with, “I can do that”PD_0147
  16. I respect him and he loves me for that – confides and trusts in me
  17. Because he loves me in that way, I can trust him to lead
  18. He wants the best for me
  19. I want the best for him
  20. We have never said the “D” word – ever
  21. Divorce is not an option
  22. The grass is NOT greener on the other side…it is the same grass with the same weeds
  23. As we just keep working on the weeds, flowers do bloom — eventually
  24. We muck through until it gets better
  25. It always gets better


PD_0056 (2)















jon and connie







































84 Years Old and Given a New Name

It’s Easter morning.   I didn’t go to church today.  I only remember missing one Easter service in the last 35 years.  It was the day my first child was born — an Easter baby.  We are going to celebrate her birthday this afternoon after our Easter celebrations.

I am  grateful that my Mom is here with us to celebrate (she came here after hospitalization after all).  She is feeling better.  Not perfect, but better.  She has so much more clarity.  I can hear her talking on the phone with friends and family members, and she is making sense — and most of the details are accurate.

My grandchildren will be here today, and they will be excited to see that GG is home from the hospital.  GG is what they began calling her when 20140403_100129she came here to live with me.  They struggled with a Gramma and a Great Gramma, and it all got a bit confusing.  The 5 year old boy finally landed on GG — and it has stuck.   I think it’s cute and endearing.   Mom is almost 84 years old and she has been given a new name!  Last week when she wasn’t here, my grandchildren were disappointed.

It is so sweet to watch their interaction.  I know the days get a bit long for Mom with 3 or 4 children undertow.  Sometimes the noise level gets a bit high, but she is getting to know those children as I know them.  She is making an impression into their young lives that they will remember.  I love that.

Welcome home, GG, the kids will be very excited that you are here.  So Am I.

I Did Not Marry A Farmer

imageI had the first date with my husband when I was 13 years old.  Well, almost.  The story actually goes like this:  My 8th grade best friend called me on a lazy Sunday afternoon, wanting me to go to a movie.  An hour later, a car pulled into the driveway, and my friend and her boyfriend were in the front seat with her mother (of course, we were not driving yet), and in the backseat was another boy, her cousin.  What?  She didn’t say anything about boys!  She knows I already “like” a boy at school.  I was instantly mad at her.  I was also rather awkward at the age of 13, and didn’t know how to talk to boys.  So consequently the next two hours were uncomfortable for all of us.  I was irritated at her for a week, and didn’t give the boy another thought.

As a sophomore, two years later, I started attending the consolidated high school, and I saw the boy again.  What?  “That boy” was now a hot-shot tennis-pro senior.  Wait.  I know him.  He knows me.  We went on a date once.  I was smitten.  Unfortunately, he was dating another girl.  So as I patiently bided my time, I memorized all the halls he walked between classes, and I walked them too, even if it meant I would be late for history.  Is that stalking?  Maybe.

One day, at the end of first semester, it was rumored that he and his gal had split up.  So on that very day, when I walked down his hall, I actually raised my eyelids and made eye contact with him for the very first time.  I smiled, said ‘hi’, and kept on walking.  He must have been doing some stalking of his own, though, because when his buddy offered to set him up with a blue-eyed blond, he guessed it was me.  We started dating that Friday night, January 21, 1972, and have been together ever since.  We got married two weeks after I graduated high school.

After he finished college we moved to the city where he worked as a certified public accountant.  We had 4 baby girls in the space of 13 years and enjoyed living in the suburbs.  Life went pretty much as expected for about 35 years (there are many stories to be told, but they are for another time).

Two weeks after the unexpIMG_0120 - Copyected death of my husband’s older brother, suburbia took a surprise turn.   Coming into the kitchen that morning to get his coffee, my husband said, ‘I would like to take Jerry’s place back on the farm’.  Whoa Nellie!  Seriously?  But almost as soon as I said it, I thought, ‘yes, of course that is what you should do’.  He had been struggling with accountant work.  He was bored and itching for a change.  My husband had been raised on a farm, and he IS that boy on the billboard sign:  You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.  Yes, that is what he should do;  that is who he is; who he has always been.

So I did not marry a farmer.  But I do find myself married to a farmer.

The “busy” times of farming are suppose to be spring and fall, but truth be told, life on the farm is always busy…there is always something that needs to be done.  20131010_143829 - CopyMy husband is working harder than he has ever worked in his life, but he is happy and fulfilled in what he is doing.  And even though I have done my share of complaining, I like this new adventure.  We are a team, and I knew, in my heart, this move was the right thing for him.  And if it is the right thing for him, it’ll be the right thing for me.  We are figuring it out and making it work.  That “other life” seems far in the distance now — it’s like he has always been farming.  It is who we are; who we were meant to be.


We didn’t exactly move “back to the farm”.  Our new home is still in a neighborhood, however, it is very rural.  We live in a small town of about 700 people, and most of them still travel by horse and buggy or bicycles.   We are in the mid-west and reside in the heart of an Amish community, Shipshewana.  Farming and buggies — it seems as though I have stepped back in time.

Instead of pictures of our home farm and equipment, I thought it would be fun to share pictures of how our neighbors live and work.  The Amish do not use modern equipment to farm — no tractors or combines!  They use the original “horse power”.

Here is a peek at my “rural America”.  (click on pictures for a larger view)



It is common for Amish families to bike into town

Amish Garden 3

Every Amish home has a gorgeous summer garden — complete with beautiful flowers as well as yummy veggies.


This is what the “parking lot” looks like for a summer fish fry.

Yep, it’s free, and plentiful — grab a shovel!

Pumpkinvine Trail -- Old railroad tracks converted to miles of beautiful bike/walking trails

Pumpkinvine Trail begins about a mile from my house: Old railroad tracks converted to miles of beautiful bike/waling trails

flea market

Our little tiny town is renown for hosting one of the largest flea markets in the country. People come from all over on Tuesday and Wednesday to find the bargains or attend the auctions. Very fun!

Ice sculptures are carved every December 30 in our quaint downtown area.