A Time of Togetherness. And Not.

Just like everyone else who has been following the stay-at-home orders, the Think Beyond the Nest household has been a bit cozy these days. Togetherness has been a blessing and we’ve found many ways to enjoy this time together. We’ve reinforced those things that we enjoy doing together. Thanks to input from friends via the many Zoom calls, we’ve also discovered some great TV programming. The good news is we are on the same page on most stay-at-home-living activities.

But, hey, let’s be honest. With this much together time, we’ve also found some things where we aren’t totally seeing eye-to-eye. It’s OK. We all need our space, but the stars are definitely not in alignment on everything.

So, here’s a short recap of some of the things we’ve been doing, where we are in sync, and…where we aren’t! 

  • Total agreement on Schitt’s Creek (aka “the best show ever”). I even found a Rose Apothecary shirt online and immediately ordered one for Lailan. Just a little thank you for being my quarantine, Schitt’s Creek buddy! Thanks, Lailan.
  • Total agreement on The Kaminsky Method and The Voice (please vote for Thunderstorm – great vocalist, cool guitarist from Hawaii. He actually performed with Lailan’s best friend’s son in their Honolulu back yard.
  • Not in agreement. Ozark. Nope. Not even close. I love this series. Lailan can’t even walk by the TV when Marty and Wendy Byrde are yelling about another money-laundering crisis. Lailan’s dislike of this show is a real problem. I have two episodes left and I still have to sneak around in my own home to wrap up this latest season.
  • Not in agreement. The latest movie version of Emma. And Downton Abbey – the movie. Anything related to Victorian, obscure love stories. Not grooving. Hey, if I watch a few of these do I earn the right to watch Ozark? Well, I found out it doesn’t quite work that way. Haha.
  • Total agreement, sort of. We spent some quality time together on bike rides, walks and golf. We were on a roll. But, then the indoor sport of card playing happened. While Lailan was full of much happiness, I, on the other hand, apparently have a real phobia for cards. Just not my thing. Guess we’ll stick with outdoor sports and Lailan can get her card-playing fix with her weekly ladies’ bridge group!

And, just for fun, let’s throw in a few other COVID-19 Lockdown 2020 activities that we’ve checked off our list:

  • Getting Cozy or “hygge” in Danish – This is a Danish/Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment. Coincidentally, Lailan and I both just read a thought-provoking book authored by Helen Russell titled “The Year of Living Danishly – uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country.” During the long, dark days of winter, the Danes embrace staying inside and focusing on family time together. Pretty ironic given our current stay-at-home situation. Anyway, this is a very interesting read and maybe there is something to how their lifestyle supports happiness.
  • Closet Declutter 2020 – Goodwill and the Salvation Army must be overwhelmed (but hopefully in a good way) as America cleans out their closets. Lailan has been very busy getting rid of old clothes, organizing high school and college yearbooks, musty music books and boxes full of family memorabilia. It feels so good and our closets look great. Visitors who will someday return and stay in our guest bedroom will be happy to know you will actually be able to hang up your clothes now. There is room in the inn AND in our closets!
  • Mystery Paint Can Project – Quick contest – how many paint cans do you think we had piled up in the basement? Too low. Guess again. Actual count = 42. What the heck? We organized which ones can go to recycling and which ones we need to keep. We inspected the date on the cans to see if the paint was still from this century. The problem now? The local paint recycling centers are still closed so actually disposing of the old paint will have to wait.
  • You Know You Have Quarantined Too Long – When you decide to paint the interior of your garage. Of course, the 42 existing cans of paint did not include “suburban garage white.” And as you might predict, the painting project led to more decluttering (yipee), blowing out dust bunnies the size of  West Texas tumbleweeds, and even installing a snazzy new wall organization system. 
  • The Perfect Margarita – Perhaps most importantly, Lailan has officially perfected her unique concoction to create an amazing low-calorie Margarita. The truth is it’s never made exactly the same way twice, so this recipe is simply meant to be a foundation. If we continue to sequester, you’ll have time to give this recipe a try and add your own embellishments.

Lailan’s Hydrating and “Good for You, Haha” Margarita

  1. Fill glass completely with ice.
  2. Splash (or more) of Dulce Vida Lime Tequila.
  3. Splash (or more) of Tres Agaves Margarita Mix (organic of course)
  4. Add big splash of Vita CoCo Coconut water
  5. Squeeze a lime wedge and add lime wedge to drink
  6. Enjoy
  7. No judgement on what time of day happy hour begins

IN CLOSING: Sipping a margarita from an actual bar/restaurant, gathering with family and friends, returning to in-person church, and developing a vaccine are all things we long for. Until then, we are thinking about all of you, we thank our health care workers and other first responders, and we pray for those who have or are suffering from the coronavirus.

This too shall pass. Be well and stay safe.

It is well.

Do You Meal Prep?

There are things that come up every now and then, especially for me as an empty-nester, that really make me feel old and perhaps a bit behind the times. This whole “meal prep” explosion is definitely one of them. 

The popularity and power of the meal prep craze hit me hard on a beautiful Sunday afternoon last month when we asked our 26-year-old son, Kai, if he would like to join us for a sunny afternoon of golf. His immediate reply was, “Sorry, I can’t go. Molly and I are meal prepping this afternoon.”  What? And then a few weeks later while on the phone with our other son, Ryan (28) and his wife Erin who live in St. Louis, they casually mentioned they were meal prepping for the week. I immediately thought to myself, “Well, it appears everyone is meal prepping. I feel so out of it!” I have to admit a smile came to my face when I pictured both newlywed couples sharing time and working together in their kitchens. Maybe a secret to love and romance is through food!

Anyway, as a young girl, I remember my parents making big Sunday evening meals that we would then eat off for days. In that era of my life, we called those follow-up meals “left-overs.”  And with our own family, Phil and I would make big soups, chilis, or casseroles on Sunday nights and we’d enjoy those “left-overs” for the entire week. Usually those meals would even taste better the second night. Who knew?

So here’s my question…is meal prepping the new left-overs?  From what I’ve read, meal prepping is basically a nutritional and controlled portion-size way of eating. The more I think of it, Phil and I could really benefit from this method of eating. I’m just not sure I have the patience to spend the time preparing a week’s worth of meals, or the will power to only eat what’s in my container. Ha! We would love to know if there are any empty-nesters out there who have gotten on the meal-prepping band wagon. We’d love to learn and share your ideas with others!

Here’s another consideration – if you are considering meal prepping or have been meal prepping, you know the meal storage containers are an important part of the “prep.” There are quite a variety of meal prep container options and they are everywhere! I literally almost ran into this display at our local HyVee grocery store just last week. 

The different container options have their pros and cons especially as it relates to BPA levels, environmental concerns, keeping food fresh, and budget friendliness. Just take a peek online for a few ideas!

Conventional wisdom suggests older generations can learn a thing or two from our own kids and/or the millennial generation. I think the concept of meal-prepping is one of them. I’m still not sure I can change my ways and commit to ongoing meal-prepping, but I think we should at least give it a try. It might even turn into a good conversation topic to bring up with our kids on Sunday afternoons!  “Hey, what are YOU meal-prepping this week? Send us the recipe.”

Do I Need a Shingles Shot?

Happy New Year and welcome back to “Think Beyond the Nest” where we cover topics related to life as empty nesters. We’ve been a bit busy in the back half of 2019 with two weddings and a run for a local elected office (all good fodder for more blog posts), but in an attempt to be helpful and informative as it relates to our life stage, we wanted to share some info on the super fun (haha) topic of, wait for it…Shingles.

It starts with my dad who lives about three hours away. We talk every week and catch up on a variety of topics mostly centered around the current state of the Kansas City Chiefs or the Kansas City Royals. In terms of more personal topics such as ones health, he seems to be of the generation where you take life in stride, push through, and never complain much about all of the health issues that come with getting older. So I knew something was up when he mentioned how much pain he was in due to something called “shingles.”

Without getting too grotesque, he described a big, itchy and painful rash that had spread across part of his back. Medication helped a bit, but he suffered with this rash and the pain for quite a while. Finally, it went away and he’s fine, but I remember thinking, “Man that sounds pretty nasty. I hope I never get shingles, whatever it is.”

SO WHAT IS SHINGLES?

According to the MayoClinic.org: Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who’s had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years.

Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles. But, not everyone who’s had chickenpox will develop shingles.

The reason for shingles is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weakened immune systems.

We have an elderly neighbor who lives right across the street from us. We hadn’t seen him come or go in a while, and after checking in on him, we found out not only did he have shingles, but the infection and the rash was so bad especially around his eyes, that he had two hospital stays to help with his recovery. Thankfully, he’s made a full recovery and he was lucky the shingles did not cause any permanent vision damage. In speaking to him recently, he shared with us that he never had a Shingles vaccination.

Then at my latest “over 50” (closer to 60!) annual physical, my doctor said, “You’re at the age where you need to get the shingles vaccine. Shingles is not something you want to get.” Thinking back on my dad and our neighbor, I jumped on his recommendation and went and got my first of two shingles shots. Yup. You need to get two shots approximately two to five months apart. I got the Shingrix vaccine. The actual shot doesn’t hurt, but my arm was definitely sore for about three days.

In talking with other empty nesters who have also had the shingles shot, it appears people react in different ways in the 24 hours following the shot. Two friends of ours received the shot on the same day and both spent the next day in bed with flu-like symptoms. My first shot was OK. I felt slightly nauseous later in the day, but I was fine the next day. When I got my second round, I thought it would be about the same, but as the day wore on, I kept feeling more tired and a bit flu-like. So much so, that I had to crawl in bed, wrap up tight to stay warm, and luckily fell off to sleep. As expected, I was back to 100% the next day!

So, while you have to have two rounds of shots, endure a sore arm for a few days, and possibly feel a little crummy for a day, the experts say all of that is still much better than actually getting the shingles. The Shingrix vaccine can be in short supply, so you need to check with your pharmacy for availability. I was able to reserve a dose at our local CVS pharmacy.

Be sure to check our follow-up posts on the exciting topic of shingles as we follow Lailan through her two rounds of shingles vaccinations.

Yummy Winter Meal Prep

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So this just happened. Our “living-at-home-soon-to-be-married adult son,” Kai, totally earned his keep the other day. I think the Millennials call this “meal prep,” but whatever you call it, I’m loving it. And we’re not talking McDonald’s here. All in one day, during another cold Kansas City weekend, Chef Kai cranked out a giant Crockpot full of soul-warming chili AND a melty, golden, mouth-watering Pyrex-filled pile of chicken enchiladas. He even shared his work with dear old dad.

The empty nest is a bit wonky at the moment as Lailan has been in Hawaii for an indeterminate amount of time to be with her rapidly declining, 93-year-old mother. So, with her out of town, I find myself staring at the pantry wondering what I can do with various cans of corn, beans, tomato paste, olive oil and other basics.  So, perhaps you can appreciate my complete and utter joy when Kai steps up and knocks out the chili and enchiladas!  If you’re interested, here’s an untouched photo of the enchiladas and the simple recipe below.  Enjoy!

Kais Enchiladas

SOUR CREAM CHICKEN ENCHILADAS

Prep Time:   10 minutes                                                                                                Cook Time:   20 minutes                                                                                                Total Time:   30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb chicken, boneless/skinless, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8-10 flour tortillas
  • 1-1/2 cups Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 15 oz. chicken broth
  • 1 C sour cream (or greek yogurt – yes!)
  • 4 oz. green chiles
  • Optional: add some spinach (always Lailan’s idea). I say chop of some jalepeno and throw that in.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a medium skillet, cook chicken and onion in the vegetable oil until chicken is cooked though and onion is tender. * Add 1 tbsp taco seasoning for added flavor!
  2. Divide chicken evenly between the tortillas.
  3. Place 1-2 tbsp cheese on top of chicken in each tortilla. Roll tortilla closed and place seam side down in a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  4. In medium skillet, melt butter.
  5. Add in flour to create a roux. Kai says “it’s like gravy.” Allow to cook about 2 minutes.
  6. Slowly add in chicken broth and heat until bubbly and thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream (or yogurt) and chilis. Pour sauce evenly over tortillas.
  8. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of sauce.
  9. Bake in preheated oven (400) for about 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Opening Up On the Anxiety Conversation – I Know I’m Not Alone

Anxiety Image for TBTNWow! August is over, and I made it through! I have to admit that all year long I have been secretly dreading the month of August not just because of the heat here in Kansas City, but because of what I experienced at this time a year ago. I’ve always been a pretty easy-going, happy, and optimistic person. My faith in God is strong and I’ve always been grounded spiritually. But something really strange, and frankly quite scary, snuck up and literally bit me last August.

After visiting with my doctor about it and opening up to friends, I have learned that there are many of us empty-nester, 50-something gals experiencing some form of anxiety. I felt compelled to share my experience with anxiety and what I have learned from it in the hopes it may help you or someone you know. Here’s my story:

Phil and I had returned home from a wonderful trip to Park City, UT for a wedding. After a few days home, I started feeling like I was coming down with a cold. I just didn’t feel right. I actually spent some time in bed and forfeited attending a few social events with Phil thinking that I would start feeling better soon. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any better and my symptoms worsened. I struggled with focus, memory, irritability, and fogginess. I felt as though I was in a tube or in another world all by myself and couldn’t get out. I was dizzy and my vision was blurry which really scared me.

Phil finally suggested I see my doctor. I could tell he was really worried. So, I made the appointment, and Phil drove me there the next morning. I sat hunched over in the exam room holding a piece of paper where I had jotted down notes about what I was experiencing. When my doctor walked in, she calmly asked, “So, what’s going on?” I started rehashing my symptoms and then the floodgates opened. Tears started streaming down my face, and I couldn’t control them. As she calmly guided me through a conversation, I found myself telling her about everything that was going on in my life at the time. One thing that was really weighing heavy on my heart was my 92 year-old mother who was (and still is) in a skilled nursing facility in Hawaii in the final stage of Alzheimer’s. She has been on hospice care for almost two years. I shared with my doctor the guilt I felt at not being able to be with my mom every day to check on her. I also confessed that at the same time I actually dreaded visiting my mom and witnessing her in the bed-ridden, constricted, and mute state that she is in. Along with my mom’s situation, it seemed like I had no control over my life and everything just wasn’t going right!  My favorite yoga instructor was leaving the yoga studio I attended, my eye doctor who I loved was leaving, and my favorite nurse at my mom’s facility was leaving. Everything at once seemed to be going wrong!

I continued sharing my symptoms with my doctor. I told her about my inability to focus and think straight. I felt as though people were looking and staring at me all the time. I was pretty paranoid. I remember playing Bridge with my friends, holding my cards and not knowing what to do and thinking “everybody” was watching me and wondering what was wrong with me. I felt totally out of control in my thoughts! I had trouble getting a good deep breath. As my doctor guided me through a bunch of standard mental health questions, it finally occurred to me that what I was experiencing was anxiety – my inability to focus, dizziness, vision issues, not feeling well, sensitivity to light and sound. It all started making sense to me. When I told my doctor I hadn’t been to yoga in a while because I had been too busy trying to catch up on work since getting home from our trip and then also not feeling well, she immediately exclaimed, “Get back to yoga!” She ordered blood work to check certain blood functions including hormone levels and then she asked me if I needed to talk to a counselor. She also asked if I needed medication. I told her I didn’t think I needed either of those two things just yet. I had this overwhelming feeling of, “Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening to me.” Yet, at the same time, I felt a huge wave of relief in the realization that I wasn’t losing my mind and going crazy! My doctor helped me see how much I had going on emotionally in my life right then. I couldn’t see it myself until I was able to talk through it with someone.

A few weeks later I had a follow-up visit with my doctor. Gratefully, I was able to report to her that I was doing so much better. I had started back to yoga! I did not miss a day! I played golf and just walking the course really helped clear my mind. I had always heard exercise is so good for one’s mental health and I believe it now! I think the biggest comforting and reassuring aspect for me in this whole experience was talking to other empty-nester women my age that had surprisingly experienced the same thing that I had! I can’t help but wonder if hormones and menopause play a part in all this. From what I have learned, they very well could.

All I know for sure after what I experienced last summer is that I simply have a whole new outlook and healthy appreciation for mental health issues because it certainly snuck up and caught me by surprise! Anxiety is real and I am so grateful to my doctor who was able to talk with me and help me understand what I was experiencing. I am also so grateful to my friends who were able to open up and share their experiences with me. It’s always comforting and reassuring to know you’re not alone.

Benefits of Simply Taking the Stairs

 

You land in Chicago. After hitting the first available bathroom, you walk through the concourse on your way to baggage claim. As you near the end of the concourse the signage directs you down a level to baggage claim. There’s an escalator. Usually full of other travelers headed to the same baggage claim. There are stairs right next to the escalator. Usually only a handful of people are on the stairs. And in this case, the stairs are going DOWN! So which option do you normally take?

You have a doctor’s appointment at the five-story medical office building. Your health is clearly already on your mind. Perhaps you’re not feeling well, but let’s assume you are there for your annual physical. You go through the main entrance, check the directory for the doctor’s office remembering that it’s still on the third floor. Right in front of you is the bank of elevators. Perhaps a bit harder to find is the sign around the corner that says “STAIRS.” You’re only going up to the third floor. So which option do you normally take?

As empty nesters, most of us are still active, but probably not quite as athletic as we were in our younger years. Given all of the health benefits a simple thing like taking the stairs offers, we’re up for the climb (or even the descent!) here at Think Beyond The Nest. Check out the visual below for a few stair climbing benefits or check this short article for even more info! And next time – let’s all take the stairs!

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The Art of Marriage – On Our 30th Anniversary

Today, Lailan and I are fortunate enough to celebrate thirty years of marriage. And I couldn’t be more blessed. I have the notes from the toast my maternal grandfather, Philip Schuyler Lyon (Papoe), gave at our rehearsal dinner. I thought it would be interesting to read back through his words, and I believe he summed up his five-page toast in one simple sentence when he concluded with “to meet her (Lailan) is to love her.” He simply and accurately captured everything you need to know. Continue reading

Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge

The Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge began earlier this year on a drive to St. Louis. We were with our son, Kai, and we were reminiscing about when the boys were young and how on every road trip they begged for an ice cream cone – especially when seeing a Dairy Queen sign. You don’t know how many DQ’s there are in the world until you travel with children!

Anyway, Lailan and I went on to tell Kai that some traditions never die! Even as empty nesters, we have found stopping for an ice cream cone while on a road trip makes for a pretty darn nice rest stop. It’s also our incentive to not pack the car full of junk food while we travel.

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Back to the Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge. On our drive with Kai, we explained how we often stop at McDonald’s for their $1.00 ice cream cone. Hard to beat in our humble opinion. But then Lailan happened to mention her best friend in Hawaii adamantly argues that Burger King has the best cone by far! So, right then and there the Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge was born. Somewhere between Kansas City and St. Louis, on that fateful day, we decided to taste test the McDonald’s and Burger King cones.

We decided the test should be not who has the best ice cream cone, but who has the best overall value cone. It’s a simple value equation. Taste + Availability + Size + T-Bills Required + Yummy Factor = Maximum Ice Cream Cone Value or TASTY Rating as we like to call it.

We began the search by setting the bar surprisingly high at…drum roll please…McDonald’s. Yup. Here’s our TASTY Rating:

McDONALD’S

Taste: Smooth, solid vanilla structure, creamy and downright yummy.

Availability: Duh, everywhere. Unless you get the “uh, we’re so sorry. Our ice cream machine is currently broken.” What?  Say it isn’t so!

mcdonalds-vanilla-ice-creamSize: 3” extension beyond top of cone. Can be inconsistent based on ice cream machine operator. Expert tip: egg them on, cheer them on, ask them to break their cone swirling personal best. It works!

T-Bills: $1.00 in most locations. We’ve occasionally found cones for $.50 and that always blows the MICCV out of the water.

Yummy Factor:  Super dee duper yummy. Very subjective rating system we have here!

Overall TASTY Rating:           9.0 on a scale of 10

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However, after sharing our McDonald’s success with our good friends in Hawaii (experts in all things shaved ice, ice cream, and ice in general), they vehemently argued that McDonald’s rival, Burger King, had the best ice cream cones. So, we excitedly took on the challenge, jumped in the car, and made our way to the nearest Burger King. Here’s our TASTY rating for the King:

BURGER KING

Taste: Smooth, creamy, but our sample tasted a little funky. I hesitate to describe it as sour, as that would be super gross, but it didn’t seem to match the McDonald’s cone.

Availability: Also found on every corner in America. We did come across “we’re sorry, we’ve been waiting for a part for two weeks,” at one BK location. So much for “just in time” logistics!

bk cone1

Size: 2-3” extension beyond top of cone. Slight “cone lean” to the side and that tends to lessen the enjoyment just a bit!

T-Bills: $1.00 in most locations.

Yummy Factor: Refreshing, slight hint of vanilla bean extract with a bouquet of crispy cone wafer flavoring.

Overall TASTY Rating: 8.0 on a scale of 10

With Summer 2018 just beginning, we all have time to scream for ice cream, and to find the highest TASTY Rating! Think Beyond the Nest has McDonald’s in the lead so far, but we’d love to hear from all of you. Let’s hear from DQ fans. Does Wendy’s Frosty qualify as a cone? What other cones rank high on the TASTY Rating? Check out our Road Trip Ice Cream Challenge Poll on our Facebook page.

Enjoy your summer and an occasional sweet treat along the way! Say yes to the ice cream test!

 

When They Say, “I Do”

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Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Ricketts!

Spring is definitely in the air, and I don’t know about you, but it seems as though more and more of our nieces, nephews, and friends’ children are getting married. It’s a wonderful thing, and yet mind boggling all at the same time!  It’s crazy to think we have children old enough to now be getting married! Weren’t our kids just starting kindergarten? Time sure does march along, and our kids are now starting to make nests of their own.

I have always loved weddings – so full of love, joy, and excitement for the future. I started singing in weddings when I was in high school. It was a great source of income for me as a high schooler.  I loved experiencing different wedding ceremonies, music, and song selections. Over the years I have continued as the wedding singer for family and friends’ weddings. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I had transitioned now to singing in weddings of kids our own kids’ ages! How can this be?

I have a binder full of wedding songs that I have sung and collected over the years, but I love asking brides and grooms to choose song(s) that really speak to them and will hopefully hold a special place in their hearts in the years ahead. To this day, I still look back on the song my sister sang at our wedding, “One Hand, One Heart” from Westside Story.

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“One Hand, One Heart” thirty years ago

I had always loved the song and knew that one day I wanted it sung at my wedding. Thankfully, Phil agreed! To this day, I would choose that song again to be sung at our wedding because it really spoke to me and still does to this day. Being “one” in a marriage, like a solid team, was really important to both Phil and me and so the song, “One Hand, One Heart” was perfect for us. I have thought of that song over the years as a sort of mission statement for our marriage.

I recently I sang for a friend’s daughter’s wedding. When the bride asked me to sing, I immediately encouraged her to take time to choose a song that had real meaning for her and her future husband. I always try to encourage those getting married to take time to think about their song choices. The piece this couple chose to be sung during the lighting of the Unity Candle was, “When I Say I Do” by Matthew West. While rehearsing the song in the weeks prior to the wedding, I found myself soaking up and so appreciating the lyrics of this song. I would actually tear up at times practicing the song as waves of emotion came over me as I saw this young couple in my mind up at the altar saying their wedding vows. The song also caused me to reflect back on the vows I took with Phil almost thirty years ago. And then, too, it struck me  that our boys could possibly be exchanging vows with their future brides someday soon! I found myself completely awed by this thought.  Wow!  Below are a few of the lyrics from this beautiful and powerful song, When I Say I Do.”

You see the these hands you hold,
Will always hold you up,
When the strength you have,
Just ain’t strong enough

And what tomorrow brings,
Only time will tell.
But I will stand by you, 
In sickness and in health.

Take my hand,
And take this ring
And know that I will always love you,
Through anything

And now for better or for worse,
Are so much more than only words,
And I pray every day will be the proof.
That I mean what I say when I say ‘I do.’

The lyrics of this song so reinforce the glory, sanctity, and profundity of marriage vows for me. I hope this couple will look back on their song choice and be reminded of the vows they made to each other, and that the lyrics will give them strength when times get tough.

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The bride and groom celebrating “I do.”

Again, it’s so hard to believe that one day our boys too could possibly be marrying. Nervously, I often wonder, have Phil and I prepared them enough for marriage? Should we be guiding them more, counseling them more? Do they know what marriage is all about? Will they be good, kind, loving, faithful spouses?  And, will they “mean what they say, when they say, ‘I do.” I can only pray they will.  Thank you, Katelyn and Matthew Ricketts for sharing this song with me and all those who attended your wedding.

And so, as many of us enter into the phase of our children saying, “I do,” I send blessings and best wishes for happy, strong, loving, faith-filled, and vibrant marriages for all our newlyweds and future newlyweds.

 

End-of-Life Planning for Aging Parents

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In the past week alone, several of our friends have lost a parent. We even had one friend a few months ago lose both her parents in a tragic accident.  There have been some beautiful tributes and even social media posts sharing absolutely priceless photos and videos. As our friends faced the difficult task of planning memorial services, we learned that some of the parents communicated specific funeral wishes, while others did not. We realize this topic is highly personal and there’s certainly no judgement here, but it did get us thinking about how to have that conversation with parents. It’s hard enough thinking about end of life for ourselves, let alone broaching the subject with someone we love.   Continue reading