Archive for May, 2012

It’s done.  We’re married.  I’ll let my wedding toast tell you all how I feel.  Thanks for everyone who’s been following along.  Stay tuned for more posts, but for now I’ll be off the air for ten days while we head out on our honeymoon!  🙂

Today I married the woman of my dreams.  When we first met I was drawn to her wonderful smile and confident spirit.  I came to learn that she was caring, loyal, and sweet — and can also break into uncontrolled fits of giggling.  Our love quickly blossomed to the point where we knew we wanted to spend our lives together.

I feel extremely honored and blessed to have Nicole as my wife.  With her, I know we will face the many twists and turns, joys and sorrow of life as a strong partnership just as God intended when He created the covenant of marriage.  Our journey through life to finally meet had its challenges, but in the end God brought us together and we could not be happier.

I want to thank all of you who are gathered here to share in our special day;  our parents, brothers and sisters, children, friends, and extended family new and old.   Nicole and I can feel your love and well wishes surround us and we cannot thank you enough for that.

Not everyone is so blessed to find a woman as God centered and overflowing with love as Nicole.  Nicole I thank you for choosing to share your love with me.  I will love you forever with all my heart, mind and soul.

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T-0

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Blending, Christian, God

When I was a young boy growing up in the 70s, I had the same dream as millions of others; to be an astronaut.  The space program was an area of national fascination.  Men had only recently walked on the moon and the excitement that it created made anything seem possible.  What kid wouldn’t want to help be one of the people to give the American people that joy?  I was lucky enough to see the third shuttle launch in person when we were down at Cape Kennedy on vacation.  I have seen several launches including being able to share that experience with my two oldest children on a trip a few years ago to Disney when we got up bright and early and made the trek from Orlando to the Space Coast, at that time knowing that the program was coming to an end for a bit, if not forever.

As we arrived and found our spot the anticipation in the air was something you could feel and touch.  People talked with excitement and joy.  They looked forward to the upcoming launch and for that moment that was the focus.

This process of moving towards a blended family has been much the same way.  The preparations started months in advance.  We booked venues, prepaid deposits for people and services we needed.  We’ve purchased furniture to make room for everyone moving from two spaces to one, and sold some things off for the same goal.  As the time has drawn closer the intensity of the endeavor has increased.  Today, on the wedding day, it has become our singular focus.  Just as the launch clock first counts the days, and then switches into hours, minutes and seconds, so too are many people mobilized today to a single focus.

As I write this we are around T -6:00:00.  Girls have curlers in their hair, guests are going through their morning routines.  At T -4:30:00 we are to gather here to begin the journeys out to decorate the banquet hall in preparation for T -2:15:00 when the photo journey begins on the way to the church.  As we get to the church and the crowd assembles like so many spectators of a rocket launching frail human bodies beyond the bounds of Earth, so too will all eyes, including God’s, be up at us as the clock counts down.   T -10…9….8….7….6…5…4….3…2…1….0  I give you Mr. and Mrs. Blended Family!

If there is one thing I do a lot of as a single dad with three kids, it is laundry; as a blended family with six kids that will only increase.  I do manage for the most part to isolate the chore to one or two days a week, but depending on how many of my kids have decided to let the tectonic plates of fabric form mountain ranges in their room rather than staying with the flat plains of carpet, some weeks can make those days a ten hour marathon of laundry in between all the other aspects of life.  I’ve got a whisper quiet washer with a direct drive drum, so no squeaks from belts, but every once in a while a towel or two or a bed sheet or comforter will get glued to a small area of the drum and cause a loud banging.  If I do not get to the machine in time it will stop and flash “UL” at me.  Until I read my owner’s manual I used to think it was some washing machine techie’s was of texting me a short hand for “U Loser”, but I found out that LG in fact does not employ such rude programmers (they are German after all so I felt it unlikely anyway), but that what the machine was politely trying to tell me in the two letter language it is sadly confined to, was that I have an unbalanced load.  I open my washer and find the offending textile globule and spread it out and start it up again.  Ah…. whisper quiet once more.  Life is good (which is the tag line for LG I believe. How ironic.  Who would have thought they’d brand a whole company after how their washers make you feel after a malfunction?). 

In the world of divorce and a blended family, this type of thing happens more than we’d like.  We tend to lean to one set of crises more than another and “UL” begins to flash on our life.  It is unbalanced and we need to stop, re-prioritize, and re-start to get going again.  During a divorce, especially in the beginning, everything tends to glom together on the emotional side.  We forget to wake up, to eat, to talk to other people, we just focus on how sad, angry, depressed and alone we feel.  Suddenly our physical well being goes down.  Our mental well being is impacted.  We’ve hit the unbalanced load.  Unless we do something, we will struggle along making strange thumping noises and driving people away from us in fear that we may explode and spew wet laundry all over them.  OK, that’s not quite right, but we do drive people away because they are afraid of what they will get hit with. Going through recovery and healing is very much like getting that washing machine moving again.  We need to open up our hearts and minds and sort through the stuff inside to find what’s sticking together and making us not run right.  Once we spread it out and deal with it we can move forward and not scare friends and neighbors with our short temper, glum moods and strange behavior.

Just as with the washer, this plays itself out.  As you start using the washer for the first time you are not sure how to load it and you tend to get more unbalanced loads.  As you learn, you get better at avoiding putting two towels in with a load of underwear.  Suddenly the washer blinks “UL” much less often.  So too in this process.  In the beginning of a divorce you can be bombarded daily, hourly, every other minute, with something that throws you off.  As you heal, the span increases.  You learn to stave off the unbalancers, staying away from situations that make you unstable and are also unneeded.  Eventually you get so good at it, you start to wonder if you have it licked.

Life has a way of still getting to you with those unbalanced loads.  Even the person who has done laundry for decades will once in a while have something slide around inside the washer, or just get a little soggier than before and create an unbalanced load despite best effort.  This week I got sucked into a tizzy about a comment about inviting an extra person to the church.  It tossed me off balance and I needed to work it and step back and re focus.  The UL was handled.  We have been working on and off with the financial issues of two properties not being needed and what we need to do about it.  Rather than take focus off the wedding, I said let’s table it until after we get back.  It certainly would have easily created an unbalanced load for my fiancée and I right at a time when we would miss out on focusing on more joyful things.  Nothing will really be impacted by waiting another month to start working through that challenge in our life.  Knowing how to load the washer has helped avoid an unbalanced load before it even begins.

To me this has always been a key in determining if I go through life as a nervous wreck or on an even keel.  Sometimes I fail and the thumping begins, and it takes effort to stop the cycle and rethink and reprioritize.  It’s only recently that washers know enough to stop themselves with an unbalanced load.  The one we had growing up would just keep pounding away at the side until someone came and stopped it or something broke.  God has still not created the new model of human that automatically stops when they are unbalanced.  We need to decide to stop the banging or it can go on until someone helps out or we break. 

So in our process over the last ten months, we’ve loaded our washing machine with our blended family many times.  In the beginning, we had a good amount of thumping.  We’ve learned to not toss the hiking boots in with the camis.  The unbalanced loads have become less frequent.  Every once in a while they will still happen, and we’ll stop and reset and move along again.  We’ll keep learning what causes more problems and by hard work and compromise we’ll keep going.  Ah….whisper quiet once more.  Life is good.

As moving day(s) approaches

Posted: May 10, 2012 in Blending, Fun

I came across this from Nancy P of Dallas.  As we get ready to move after we come back from the honeymoon I thought you might find this advice helpful.  After moving three times in seven years, I thought it was a really good plan.

DAYS 1-5: We are lovingly admiring and discussing each of our material possessions while discarding what we no longer use. We’ll have a garage sale and make trips to Goodwill to donate unused items. I’ll wash, dry and organize objects to be sold or donated. We have plenty of boxes, bubble wrap, Sharpie pens and packing tape. Boxes are organized in categories based on their contents. We write a detailed list of the items in the right-hand corner of the top of the box and carefully seal it with packing tape.

DAYS 6-10: It is not realistic to cull through all of our belongings in 30 days. We’ll cull and reflect when we unpack. We’ll also have a lot more time when we unpack to plan a garage sale or make trips to Goodwill. A detailed list of contents of each box is not needed, so all boxes are now labeled only with a general category in the upper right hand corner. I’m segregating my son’s possessions so he can go through them himself. Things are starting to look a little messy around here. I need a GPS to locate that cup of tea I keep misplacing!

DAYS 11-15: It is increasingly unproductive to sort and categorize items before boxing them. So with the miracle of bubble wrap, we’ve taken a new approach: We can simply dump the contents of an entire drawer in bubble wrap, stuff the bubble wrap in a box, and label the box with the location of the drawer, like ‘Master Bathroom: far left cabinet, third drawer down.’ We’re able to safely pack in bubble wrap the entire contents of drawers and closets in no time at all. We’ll just sort and categorize the contents of these boxes when we unpack.

DAYS 16-20: Bubble wrap is overrated. You can only fit about ½ as much stuff in a box when you use it. And it takes forever to cut the size you need. Plus – you pack items between the bubble wrap layers, and many of these things will fall out from the layers and break as you unpack, so what’s the point? I’m trying to be more pragmatic. After all, these are only material possessions. As Bertrand Russell so eloquently stated ‘It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.’ And as I so freely and nobly state ‘Do we really need two full sets of martini glasses, anyway?’

DAYS 21-25: Rather than box up and move things of value that we don’t want, we will simply leave them behind for the new proprietors. I doubt the new owners will mind that we leave them items with inherent use and value – like that 30 pound Folgers coffee tin full of nuts and bolts in the garage. The value of the nuts and bolts aside, the tin itself is an antique. And we haven’t even opened those tubs of frozen yogurt in the freezer, which would make a thoughtful housewarming surprise. We’ve also learned that we don’t need to tape every box, because they are just being stacked on top of each other, so we only need to tape the top one.

DAYS 26-30: The realtor stopped by and declared that we can’t leave anything behind for the new owners. ‘It all has to go,’ she said with that little smug look that I have grown to dislike. So all the rest of this stuff is going out on the curb, and whoever wants to pick it up can have it. And if my kid wants his things…well…he’ll just have to come get them, or they will also be out there with the rest of our clutter. How did we accumulate all of this worthless stuff? What could we possibly have wanted with 73 packets of soy sauce? The realtor also found my misplaced cup of tea somewhere in the front hall. I did not appreciate the face she made; very unprofessional, if you ask me. And by the way, you do need to tape up each and every box –but I’ll spare you the details – and before I tape up my next box, I’m just throwing the Sharpies in there with them. Because at this point what am I going to write in corner of the box, ‘Lots of other crap’? I’m overwhelmed…I really need to take a break…Damn it, I packed the martini glasses!”