ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.30.2015

Perfect Grace

So Hillary is now Mrs. Charlie Blakeley, and the wedding was perfect.

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Well, maybe not perfect.

Like, the top of the wedding cake slid off in the heat. (But hey, Hillary likes things a little messy and asymmetrical, so I’m chalking that one up as a plus.)

And one of my travel-weary relatives, who got to town too late to make it to the rehearsal dinner, let himself in to what he thought was his rental cottage and climbed into what he thought was his bed. Turns out, he was wrong on both counts (as both he and Charlie’s aunt discovered, much to their mutual surprise, later that night).

Oh – and a stripper showed up at the brunch (a casual affair, held on the beach, where the woman had presumably spent the night) and said that yes, she was in fact with the wedding party, and could she please have a breakfast burrito? Charlie’s mother was standing right there when the gal introduced herself – by trade, not name – to the party hosts. (I guess, after the mix up with the beds, she just figured the newcomer was another one of “those people” from our side.)

But things like these are minor details. Nobody noticed or cared. (Well, nobody except Charlie’s aunt, but I like to think hers was an extenuating circumstance.) And if I’ve learned one thing after throwing two weddings in four months, it’s that no wedding is perfect. At the end of the day (like, as in the literal end of the day, when your husband lies next to you in bed and asks if you baked that wedding cake by yourself), it’s all about grace.

It’s all about grace.

I know that (in my head, anyway) but it’s a lesson I learned all over again from watching Hillary’s cousins, the flower girls. During the rehearsal, Anna Joy and Elizabeth had been told exactly where to stand. The wedding guild gal even taped quarters to the church floor, promising the girls that they could claim them if they stood on the “treasure” the next day, during the ceremony.

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Come show time, the girls nailed it:  They made it down the aisle, found the quarters, and planted themselves. Everything was perfect – until Hillary and Charlie moved up to the altar to say their vows. At that point, the girls could no longer see what was happening. And whether it was out of obedience or avarice (to an almost-five-year-old, a quarter looms large), Elizabeth was definitely not willing to move her feet. She leaned over as far as she could, straining to catch a glimpse of the action, until I was sure she was going to topple.

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And she really might have, had not the beautiful bridesmaid standing next to the girls noticed their struggle. She reached out her hand and pulled them forward, assuring them that it was okay to move just a bit. To me, it was like God said, “See? You can’t keep all the rules, no matter how hard you try. Nobody can. And if you try to make things perfect – standing on your quarter, no matter what – you’re just going to topple over and hurt yourself. That’s why there’s grace.”

(Lest you think I am super-spiritual or that I had this amazing deep convo with God right in the middle of Hillary’s wedding, I need to tell you one thing. The bridesmaid’s name is Grace. And what went through my head wasn’t some long theological observation. It was more like: “The girls can’t stay on their quarters. Thank goodness for Grace.” Bingo. Cue the lightbulb.)

And, in the “Lessons for the MOB” category, I’d venture to say that grace is probably the single most important thing that a bride’s mother needs. (Especially a bride’s mother who happens to be a perfectionist, like some people.) Because here’s the thing:  You work like crazy to pull off a beautiful event, and you want it to be “just right.” And when it’s over, you fall into bed, happy and exhausted. You think about how pretty your daughter looked, right down to the “perfect” Tory Burch heels that you found to go with her dress.

And then, just before you turn out the light, you check the wedding hashtag…

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Ahhh.

I should have suspected.

I love my girl. And I love God’s grace. Because when it comes to throwing a wedding (or doing anything in life), it’s really the only thing that is perfect.

 


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.25.2015

#Grateful

IMG_8137Hillary is now Mrs. Charlie Blakeley, and we couldn’t be more #grateful.

I’ll write a longer post with more details next week, but since Fridays are  prayer days I want to share part of the passage that Charlie picked as one of the readings during their ceremony. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Overflowing with thankfulness.

That pretty much describes how Robbie and I feel right now (although overwhelmed might be a better word than overflowing, cuz we are just sort of awestruck). I’m praying the Colossians verses for the newlyweds as they begin their new adventure, and I want to invite you to consider God’s blessings in your own life, and join me in this prayer for yourself or for someone you love:

Heavenly Father,

May ____ continue to live in Christ Jesus. Let ____ be deeply rooted and built up in Christ so that his/her faith will grow strong, and may he/she overflow with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7)
 
Amen.

ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.18.2015

A Prayer for Your Child’s Marriage

IMG_1069So tomorrow is the big day. Hillary will wed Charlie, a fella we’ve only known for a few years, but whom we’ve prayed for for about 25.

Seriously. Hillary might have thought her five-year-old wedding ensemble was just a Halloween costume, but Robbie and I have pictured her – and prayed for her – as a wife pretty much since she was born. And, given that Charlie is a little younger than she is, I figure we’ve been praying for him since before he was born. As I wrote in Praying the Scriptures for Your Children, “It’s never too early to start praying for your children’s choice of a marriage partner, for their eventual spouse, and for their marriage itself.”

Don’t wait until your kids are grown up – or until their marriage hits a rocky patch – to start asking God to bless them, to shape them into men and women of sterling character, to “make them” (and I am tweaking Fiddler on the Roof here) “good husbands and wives.”

You’ll find some great qualities to pray for your girl in Proverbs 31, and Psalm 112 offers a wonderful template for sons. But if you want just one simple prayer for your child’s marriage today (or for your own), consider this basic, but powerful, request for the way we love:

Heavenly Father,

Show ____ and his/her spouse how to love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Amen.

Let the wedding bells ring! And, as we’ll be saying tomorrow and always, Thanks be to God!


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.16.2015

The Good Wife

Well, it’s wedding week.

Not only is Hillary’s big day on Saturday (whoop!), but Robbie and I celebrated 30 years of our own bliss on Monday. I posted this shot on Instagram, both to mark our anniversary and because who needs pricey wedding calligraphy when your mom is such a whiz with yellow spray paint? Pinterest people, eat your heart out:

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In preparation for her impending nuptials, Hillary has been wending her way through Tim Keller’s book, The Meaning of MarriageIt’s a great read. And a sobering one; anyone who thinks marriage is all about finding happiness need look no further than the subtitle – Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God – to know that Keller isn’t peddling a fairy tale.

But Hillary isn’t the only Berndt brushing up on her marital literacy. I’ve been reading a how-to book of my own. It’s called The Good Wife Guide and, while this book may not be as widely read in evangelical circles, let me assure you that it is every bit as challenging as Keller’s work.

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The Good Wife Guide starts off with a no-nonsense observation:  “A man’s home is his castle and as such, he ought to be treated like a king.” Lest there be any doubt as to what, exactly, that means, there’s this:  “It’s every wife’s responsibility to dote upon her hard-working spouse, to show that he is truly appreciated!”

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That’s Rule #1.

And then, assuming that the reader is hooked (because who wouldn’t be?), the book features 18 more must-do’s for keeping a happy husband:

Rule #12:  Follow His Lead. (“If, instead of hanging on your every word, he mumbles one-word responses to your questions while perusing the newspaper…don’t take it personally.”)

Rule #16:  Sing His Praises. (“Tell him he cuts a fine figure…or marvel at his business acumen when he relays a story from the office.”)

And, my personal favorite, Rule # 6:  Greet him with a smile. (“With just one glance at your face, your husband should know that his very presence marks the pinnacle of your day.”)

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Shocking as it sounds, I will confess that it didn’t take me three decades to break every one of the Good Wife rules. It didn’t even take me three weeks. Heck, I’m not even sure I was a good wife for three days. Maybe. (But that was on our honeymoon, so I doubt if that part counts.)

The rules are hard. But you know what? I really like them! I think most of em make sense. I know I don’t have that exciting of a life, so maybe this isn’t saying much, but when Robbie comes home at night it really is the pinnacle of my day. So why do I show him where the dog dug up the grass, or ate the driveway rocks, or barfed on the sisal? Why don’t I smile?

I know The Good Wife was written as a retro-fun gag (its counsel comes straight out of the Ladies’ Homemaker Monthly, a popular magazine from the early 1900s). But, at least in terms of the sentiment that lies behind the rules, the marital advice could have been written way earlier.

Way earlier, as in the first century. As in, when Paul was writing his letter to the Philippians, which has a lot of terrific advice for relationships. Here are a few gems from that how-to:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

Do everything without complaining or arguing.

If I were writing a marriage book, I think I’d just rip off Philippians. Follow Paul’s advice – like his secret to being content both when you have plenty and when you are in need, or his idea of taking your troubles to God instead of worrying about them – and presto! Problems solved, right?

Actually, I wouldn’t steal from Philippians. (I mean, that one’s a best-seller every year; why mess with perfection?) And even more actually, I wouldn’t write a book about marriage, because Keller already did that (with his wife, actually), and theirs is pretty darn good. But, based on the success of The Good Wife Guide, I’m thinking that some sort of manual for the guys might be in order.

The Good Man Guide. Maybe, since guys like to watch TV (it doesn’t seem to matter what’s on; I once found Robbie watching a test pattern), it should be a video series.  Rule #1 could be, “If I have a problem, don’t try to fix it.  Just listen.”

Because, as every gal would tell you (and if you’ve seen this one before, it’s worth a re-watch), it’s not about the nail.

 

 


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.11.2015

Friday Prayer for Our Leaders

Proverbs 21-1September 11th.

Let’s use today’s date as a prayer prompt for our leaders, and as a reminder to pray for those of every tribe and nation around the world:

Heavenly Father, 

Thank you that you hold the king’s heart in your hand. We lift up our elected officials today, as well as leaders around the globe. Bless them with your good counsel, and direct their hearts – their thoughts, emotions, and decisions – like a watercourse, making them go wherever you please.  (Proverbs 21:1)

Amen.


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.10.2015

Need a Good Laugh? Try this Game!

There’s nothing like having a house full of recent college graduates to upgrade the family fun. They know all of the best games and – as promised – here’s a quick “how to” on one that we played during our Staycation last month. I imagine it’s known by many names, but we called the game “Salad Bowl.”

IMG_0742For starters, divide your group into two teams. Give everyone three slips of paper and have them write down one or two words on each. Almost any noun will do; our collection included patience (as in the virtue), Lawless (as in the movie)and Donald Trump (as in). Once everyone has written their words, fold em up and put them all in a – you guessed it – salad bowl.

(Note:  When picking your words, it helps to be a little bit crafty or off-beat. I learned this lesson the hard way when I picked Sewanee. That’s where Robbie goes to school, and since he would be leaving the following week, I guess I was already missing him. It’s a good school, but a bad word choice, since Round One involves giving verbal clues so your team. All anyone had to say was, “Robbie’s college!” and they got it. Lame.)

So for Round One, everyone gets 30 seconds to pull words out of the bowl and try to explain them to their teammates, using any verbal clues you want. (Think “Catch Phrase,” without the beeping.) You go through all the words, alternating teams every 30 seconds, until all the words have been guessed.

Tally how many words each team got, record that score, and then put all the words back in the bowl.

Round two is a little trickier.  You still alternate the guesses in 30-second intervals, getting as many words as you can in that time, but instead of giving long-winded clues or explanations about the word (“This is what happens when you have to wait for a really long time for something to happen…”) you pick just ONE WORD as a prompt. For instance, if you were trying to get your team to guess the word patience, you might simply say, “Virtue.”

(Since everyone is already somewhat familiar with the words, it’s not as random as it sounds.)

(Unless you are old like I am, in which case you don’t remember any of the words from Round One and you just sit there shouting out whatever occurs.)

IMG_0716Go through all of the words again, giving the one-word clues, until they’ve all been picked.  Tally how many each team got, add that to the Round One score, and put the words back in the bowl.

Round Three is basically charades. You go through all the words again, with each player having 30 seconds to get his teammates to guess as many as they can. (Talented actors may want to tighten the interval to 20 seconds.)  This is where the game can get interesting: Donald Trump was easy (the hair); patience less so. I stood there, doing nothing, expecting people to guess the word. I mean, they were waiting, right? Hello? Patience?

(Maybe I just had a bad team.)

Anyhow, you can end the game after Round Three, awarding the win to whichever team guessed the most words right after all three rounds. Or, you can move on to Round Four and add the sheet.

We recommend the sheet.

With the sheet in play, you put all of the words back into the bowl and pass it to a team member who is – you guessed it again – under a bed sheet.  The person goes through as many words as possible, acting out the motions under the sheet. No words or encouraging noises allowed. No discouraging noises, either.

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(My team got “patience” this time. Nothing like doing nothing to garner the “best actor” award, when you’re under a sheet. And I am pretty sure we won, by a margin of one.)

So…that’s Salad Bowl. It’s a game for all ages, as evidenced by the York family of Atlanta, Georgia. Special thanks to Kelly York for cluing us in to the world of possibilities that can open up in Round Four after her 82-year-old grandmother went under the sheet during their family vacay and pretended to be “Obama.”

Classic.

 

 


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.04.2015

Friday Prayer for a Trusting Heart

Isaiah 26-3I don’t know about you, but there are times when it’s not that hard to trust God with my head (like, deep down, I know he has everything under control), but my heart can still go bouncing all over the place.

In an effort to get it to behave, I looked up a bunch of verses about trust this week. It will come as no surprise that a lack of trust opens the door to nasty things like fear, anxiety and sleeplessness, whereas when we stake our trust in God – in his character and his promises – we welcome a host of blessings (think peace, security, prosperity, steadfastness, and joy, for starters) into our lives.

I wanted to find us a really good verse to pray today, and I managed to narrow the list of favs down to about 20. Then 15. Then 6. And I finally picked Isaiah 26:3. I chose this one because it starts with the mind and yields results in the heart. It gives peace a chance to take root.

If Isaiah doesn’t hit just the right note with you, do what I did. Grab a concordance and check out the listings under the words “trust,” “trusts,” and “trusting.” Just be sure to pour yourself a big cup of coffee first and prepare to settle in, because it’s easy to get lost in the offerings.  They are that good.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your promise to keep us in perfect peace when our minds are steadfast, because we trust in you. Give ____ a steadfast mind today – one that stays fixed on who you are:  Your limitless power, your incredible faithfulness, and your everlasting love.  (Isaiah 26:3, NIV and NLT, with character traits added).

Amen.

P.S.  The runner up is Romans 15:13 (yes, Romans again!), which I am praying for you this week:  May the God of peace fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

 


ARCHIVES: September 2015


09.01.2015

Paddle Hard

If you’re a mom (and especially if you’re a mom with an empty or mostly empty nest), you know that there’s nothing better than having all of your chicks in one coop. You love it when “the gang’s all here,” and you’ll do just about anything to make it happen.

For instance, I have one friend who rents a big beach house on some island every year and lets her adult children know that, if they “want” to come, she’ll cover their flight. (Um, that would be a yes.) Another pal keeps a family bucket list in a notebook, with a bunch of must-do’s like “learn to ride a horse” and “get scuba certified” as a way to keep everyone focused, engaged, and (this part is key) participating. And then there are moms like my grandmother. I am pretty sure she faked her own death-watch more than a couple of times, just so we’d come visit, all at once.

From a mom’s perspective, no cost is too high, no scheme too desperate. Which is how I found myself at a local tee shirt shop, having eight matching shirts printed up with the words, “Paddle Hard.”

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Paddle Hard has been a family motto of sorts for several years. Robbie likes it because of surfing. I like it because it reminds me of Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” And when I got everyone to agree to give me 30 hours of their summer for a “staycation” (two weddings in one year pretty much kills any normal vacation), I decided to co-opt the motto for our staycay theme.

As with most of my grand ideas, there were plenty of holes in this one. Like, who knew you couldn’t put a period in a hashtag? (Well, my kids knew. But why don’t they post this sort of rule someplace where mothers can see it? Like, before they try to be all hip and put it on a tee shirt?)

Anyhow.

The first item on our agenda (because what’s family fun without a typewritten plan, with copies for everyone?) was paddle boarding (because theme). Robbie hadn’t even finished telling us which way to hold the paddle (you’d think that’s a duh, but trust me) when Khaki the lab decided – like, suddenly – to shed her “mostly dead” persona and get with the program.

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Khaki is 12 years old, riddled with tumors, and pretty much doesn’t move (unless you count the 27 steps from our couch to her food bowl). She has no idea how to paddle hard…but she wanted to. And her enthusiasm was contagious. Pretty soon everyone was on the water. They even lined up, with minimal groaning, so that I could get in the photo:

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We had a wonderful 29.5 hours of good food, good laughter (I’ll share the how-to’s for our favorite game next week), and good conversation about what it means to paddle hard in life – in your relationships, your work, and your time with God. Plus, Khaki survived, which was a definite plus.

Feel free to borrow our motto for your next family gathering. You can even make everyone a handy scripture card, like I did, for when you pass out the agendas.

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Or not.

(I thought folks might want to memorize the verse, but from what I can tell, nobody got much farther than “Paddle hard.” But hey. A mom’s gotta try.)

 

 




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