Standard of Loving


photostock couple

(Image by Photostock, courtesy of

Occasionally we all hear stories of young married couples who are simply unrealistic about the standard of living they will have when they first start out. Sometimes they are spoiled and have a sense of entitlement, but more often they probably just haven’t stopped to consider all the years it took their parents to achieve the lifestyle they’re enjoying by middle age. When young adults have lived all their lives in a comfortable, well-appointed home in a good neighborhood (heck, lots of us have home gyms and maybe a pool)… when they’ve had late-model cars to drive and plenty of new clothes and access to the latest technology…when they’ve been on nice vacations and kicked back on nice furniture and never had to worry about much of anything in the way of material goods, getting married and surviving on entry-level paychecks must feel a lot like a step down.

A young wife and husband might look around at their humble abode and their meager bank balance and feel that something is very wrong; something must be corrected as soon as possible, because this is failure! They got married expecting to be free and happy, not to be less free and less happy than they were back home. Sometimes they are unable to tolerate a period of relative austerity, and they foolishly go into debt to keep up the style to which they’re accustomed. They may blame one another for overspending and under-earning. A wife, especially, may come to feel that her husband’s inability to give her all the things her parents gave her translates into an actual lack of love or dedication.

We should probably all prepare our children from the cradle to expect to start at the bottom of the ladder economically, so that while it may not be fun, at least it won’t be a shock to their systems.

But it occurs to me that young adults may also be failing to realize the years of work it took their parents to find happiness, comfort, and stability in their relationship. My daughter looks at my husband and me and knows that for all of our ups and downs (some of which she witnessed) we have a permanent bond. We’ve been united for as long as she can remember, and she has watched us reaching goals together, spending time together, and now finally settling in for the second half of life together. Meanwhile, though she has a long-term boyfriend, her future is still to be determined.

And my young work-friends in their twenties…they overhear the pleasant phone chats I have with my husband when he calls me during his lunch hour to ask about my day and discuss what we have planned for the evening. I often tell these young ladies funny stories about happenings at home, or mention our comfortable, well-worn marriage routines. Now  I know twenty-somethings never envy the middle-aged; I’m not flattering myself that much! But I do suspect that when their relationships are rocky, or just poorly defined (“Am I his girlfriend or just a casual date?” “Is this marriage really what I wanted?”)…they might be casting a slightly-wistful eye over at me, living in the land of Security.

But, oh, there is so much about us they don’t know! So much they will never be told about the trials we’ve gone through..the temper tantrums, the bad habits and attitudes that were eventually adjusted. I will never tell them some of the detrimental things we blithely did in pursuit of excitement, and I may not ever share the selfish, callous, mean-spirited things we did to break each other’s hearts. Incidents have occurred between my husband and me that were so painful, recovering from them took years.YEARS, I’m telling you, when there were no pleasant giggly lunchtime phone calls. YEARS when we went through the motions, but the love between us had gone underground.  

Thankfully, we’ve forgotten some of it ourselves, now that we’ve gotten the hang of marriage. All of us who have been blessed to be married a long time may get so comfortable that we forget what it was like to be otherwise, and neglect to tell our grown children or our younger sisters or friends that a happy marriage can take a very long time to finally solidify.

I hope these words will give encouragement to any young person reading them in the midst of a marriage struggle.  Don’t assume that your marriage is a failure because you and your husband don’t have the bond and camaraderie that your mom and dad may have. Don’t assume that because things seem to be in a million pieces today, the Lord can’t glue them back together tomorrow. In exactly the way that it takes years to earn material assets, it might take your marriage a while to find its groove. Persevere, pray, and determine to show your husband the same kind of love you did on your wedding day! Don’t worry right now what he’s giving you in return. You are responsible before God for  your OWN behavior, not his. So start there. (I feel compelled to say that if your husband is actually harming your or endangering your life, however, you should seek help.)

  To the more “seasoned” ladies, let’s make it a point this week to share with younger women that our marriages were not always well-oiled machines, but the rewards of staying together make the struggles so worthwhile.


(PS–If you never have, go to my “About Me” page for two pictures that might just make you smile. :-) )

How to Stay Warm in a Dress


Are you new to wearing dresses, and wondering how you’ll manage your first winter as a beautiful, feminine, modest dress-wearer? First of all, congratulations on your decision to dress with modesty. You will never regret looking classy and respectable, and  you will soon appreciate the very significant differences in the treatment you  receive by presenting yourself  as a lovely lady instead of a hot chick. I want to encourage you to make it through the upcoming winter without “growing weary in well-doing,” so I offer you some tips.

First of all, know that YOU CAN DO THIS. There is no question about it! Generations of our ancestors managed their lives wearing dresses in all sorts of weather, without the benefit of central heat, by the way. Most of the time, the adjustment to be made here is psychological in that a dress is not actually impeding your functionality, you simply feel funny wearing one to do certain things. This may be because you don’t own the most suitable type of dresses or skirts for every activity yet, but that will come with time and perseverance. You can do it, and you’ll be so glad you did.

If you work in an office or other indoor setting, please FORGET the idea of wearing dress shoes such as pumps, and leaving your calves bare or covered only by pantyhose (if anybody wears those anymore!). You will be just like some of my silly coworkers, who walk in the door daily in skimpy dress and immediately start complaining that they’re freezing. Be wise about this! The weather won’t change to accommodate your clothes, so you must change your clothes to fit the weather. What you need are some BOOTS. I myself can hardly wait to start wearing boots each year, because for one thing, you can wear your favorite comfortable socks and nobody will ever know, plus you don’t need to be concerned with how your legs look! If your boots seem to look funny, chances are that there is a wrong-sized gap between the top of them and the bottom of your skirt. I think it’s best if there is either NO gap (so your skirt comes down over your boots) or a gap of several inches (if you have that much leg). Just a slight gap looks like a mistake, similar to the look of “high-water” pants. I would caution you, though, when leaving a gap, that “sexy” is not the look you are going for. Keep your skirt at a decent length, and please avoid blatantly sexy stiletto heels. You do realize, my dear innocents, that when you wear shoes like that, it tempts men to picture you wearing ONLY the shoes? I would love to have a man comment and back me up on that, because I am absolutely sure of it.

You are going to want to have skirts or dresses of thicker, sturdier material, that the wind will not cut through. In hot weather, I tend to wear very lightweight, flowing skirts, but winter is the time to change to khaki, corduroy, or thick knits, and denim for casual wear. Obviously, longer is warmer.

Your secret weapon is what you wear on your legs. You will need some or all of the following: tights, leggings, and thermal underwear! Tights are nice when the weather is not biting cold but just a bit chilly, and bare legs would look oddly summery. They are also nice when you don’t feel like boots and would rather wear a mary-jane or some other style of shoe. Leggings are warm and come in all sorts of colors and patterns, but be careful with those patterns if you’re a mature lady. Not all are becoming to us. A benefit to leggings is that they are footless, and since we’ve already decided you’ll be wearing your favorite socks, you don’t want your feet to get all overheated indoors. Thermal underwear is for SERIOUS cold! In the past I owned some actual “long-john” style with the sort of checked-looking pattern. I actually prefer those, because they have a band at the ankle that keeps them from moving around. (Thermal sets are great to sleep in, too, because they stay rather close to your body so they keep drafts from going up your clothes, and don’t get all twisted around as you toss and turn.) Now that I live in Florida where it’s not very cold for very long, I have not been able to find that style, but I have some “Cud’l Duds,” purchased at Walmart, that serve the same purpose.

Finally, if you run low on ideas or have no modest dressers in your daily life that you’d like to emulate, PINTEREST IS A GOLD MINE! Approximately one bazillion people (just kidding) have Pinterest boards labeled “modesty” or “modest clothes” and so forth. I’m sure you could even search “modest winter” or “skirts and boots” or whatever it is you’re trying to work with.

I wish you a wonderful winter and a delightful holiday season…Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year! Be beautiful be festive, be WARM, and be modest and classy, too!



Where Is Your Dignity?

Clown-Stuart Miles

 (Image by Stuart Miles, courtesy of

My son goes to public school, and as we all know, public schools are touchy these days about acknowledging any sort of holiday, lest they get complaints from someone who doesn’t celebrate it. But I was driving him to school yesterday morning, which was Halloween, and I noticed a girl about his age, riding her bicycle down the street in fuzzy pajamas. Well, you never know about THAT anymore–today is the first really chilly day we’ve had in Florida, and I saw kids wearing pajamas in both of the public places I went this morning. It’s a ridiculous habit and I think their parents could use a good spanking…I mean, is it too much trouble for your children–or YOU, for that matter–to at least put some CLOTHES on when you go to a store or a restaurant? I think not!  But I digress.

Anyway, I asked my son about the girl on the bike, and he said it was Pajama Day, the culmination of School Spirit Week. It’s all in good fun, of course, but I was rather glad he hadn’t participated because, as I was mentioning to him, you just never know what a day may bring. I can think of situations where one might really regret being caught in foolish dress.

Here is a real-life example. I once worked at a bank, and we all dressed up for Halloween. I was a cat, and my coworkers were witches and gypsies, superheroes and headless ghouls. One lady, the vice president, dressed as a clown. She was a tall, heavyset, older lady, and she went all-out for her costume, with the typical multi-colored suit, giant colorful curly wig, white face makeup and huge red painted-on smile. It was a great costume…until the vice president had to sit down with a grieving, recently-widowed customer to go over her late husband’s finances. Can you imagine what the vice president would have given to not be dressed like a clown at that moment? She certainly hadn’t meant any offense; she just hadn’t anticipated this meeting. But the end result was that she felt mortified and ashamed, and vowed never again to dress up at work.

I really think there’s a lesson in that. No matter what may happen to us in the course of a day, I think our appearance should give an accurate portrayal of who and what we are.  Whenever a Christian starts talking about standards of dress, somebody will cry “Legalism!” and state how they have freedom in Christ and it doesn’t matter what they put on their bodies. But do a little bit more studying on the subject, and you’re bound to run across the example of “wearing the uniform of the team you represent.” I happen to be watching the Georgia/Florida football game right now, and I can tell you that if a guy came on the field in an orange and blue (FL) uniform and started running touchdowns for Georgia, everybody would be very confused. (Don’t get me wrong, Georgia would be GLAD for somebody to run them a touchdown right about now, but I’m digressing again.) It’s pretty simple, really…if you dress rather simply and modestly, you’re likely to be perceived as a Christian. Dress like a floozy and you’ll be assumed to be a floozy. Dress like a bum or just like a pure-T fool with your pants hanging off your rear and a tattoo of  some silly character on your body—you’ll look like a bum or a fool. So what do you want to say with your appearance? Do you count on your behavior and demeanor to CORRECT the initial negative impression you made? Or just reinforce a positive one?

Ah, here’s another true story. The other day, a 20-something friend related that she had gone into a store (wearing the type of sexy outfit she wears most every day)  to buy a sandwich, and when she came out minutes later, someone had left a gospel tract on the window of her car. She suspected an older man she had seen, but noticed that the tracts were not left on everyone’s car–just hers. Laughingly she told us, “He probably looked at me and said, ‘She can’t be a Christian–she’s too cute!'”  Oh, honey, I wanted to say. That’s not what he was thinking…not at all.

If you are considering the subject of appropriate dress, may I recommend a couple of good books to you? They are written by authors with very different backgrounds–one Catholic, one Baptist. But I find them both very worthwhile and recommend them highly to you.

Dressing With Dignity, by Colleen Hammond.

Your Clothes Say It For You, by Elizabeth Rice Handford.


Speaking of reading…watch for emails or updates from me in the next few days, because I’m going to tell you about an awesome BUNDLE…do  you know what a bundle is?? Neither did I, until today, although I’ve seen them mentioned on blogs. Let’s just say it’s a large quantity of materials for a low price. The one I am going to tell you about is the ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN LIVING  bundle. For the very low price of $34.95, you will be able to have access to a large quantity of Christian e-books (please note the E!) in various categories, from marriage, to parenting, to inspirational novels, to devotionals, and more! Download the ones you want to your computer or tablet and have plenty to read for at least a year. Even if you only like 2-3 of them, this price makes it a great deal. PLUS, included in the same price, you will receive Bonus Reward Points from Tyndale Publishing–enough to purchase a physical (real, not E) book of your choice, which they’ll ship to you. You will receive a selection of Day Spring greeting cards. And finally, you’ll get access to a Christian workout program and accompanying DVD. All this stuff would retail for over $1000 if you purchased the items separately!

This is an awesome deal and will only run from November 5th through 10th, so watch for more info from me!

I Take a Bubble Bath Every Night


 (Image by Stockphotos, courtesy of

My coworkers are unanimously amazed that I take a bubble bath every night.

I mentioned it one day months ago, and I still hear them talking about it. One was wondering what she might give me for my birthday. “Well, she takes a bath every night, you know,” said another. “Oh, that’s right!” the first one answered excitedly, probably having visions of exotic bath products.

Also, the other day, I heard one comment, “I can’t believe Kim shaves her legs every night.” “What?!” said a second one. “Who does?” and when she was told it was me, she stared at me, incredulously. “Every night? There’s no way.”

I am surprised that they find it so amazing. I suspect they imagine me in a garden tub with candles and a flute of champagne, when really my bath is simply a part of my routine, no different than brushing my teeth. I fill the tub, toss in some bubble bath, and get in. If I’m reading an actual book I might take it into the bathroom with me and read a few pages while I soak. (One of the disadvantages of Kindle is that I’m afraid to read it in the tub in case I might drop it, so I read in the tub less often now.) Even including shaving, the whole process probably takes fifteen minutes—maybe a little longer if it’s a chilly night and the hot water is feeling especially good to my muscles. I like to go to bed clean in consideration of my husband, but also I simply enjoy my bath. I’ve taken them for as long as I can remember.

When I’ve asked my friends why it shocks them so, they’ll generally say, “How do you have time? Who has time for that every night?” I just cock my head and look at them, puzzled. I once read a book called Open House, by Elizabeth Berg. The narrator expresses curiosity about the lives of her neighbors, and wishes she could somehow magically crack open the roofs of their houses to peer inside and check out their lives. I think of that when my friends say they don’t have time for a bath. Granted, they simply might not care to take one, but to not have time? I wonder what it is they’re doing at 9 or 10 PM.

They’re not working. Cooking and cleaning seem unlikely at that hour. A few of them may be doing their college homework. But mostly I would guess they are shopping, doing errands they didn’t get to over the weekend, or coming home late from some sort of kids’ or church activity. See, this is why my children never did a great deal of extracurricular stuff. This is why I myself am not a “joiner,” and am probably gossiped about for my continuous absence at “ladies’ craft night” and various other activities at my church. My husband and I –both of us, and I’m very glad to be united in this matter—simply demand some “down time,” and will consider no other way of life. We work, we maintain an orderly home, stocked with groceries and clean laundry, we go to church on Sundays, and THEN—we expect some rest and relaxation. Period. 

When our son was younger, a buddy of his joined a Little League team. The two kids were in after-school care together, so we would run into his parents and speak to them most days. It seemed that this ball team had practice virtually every night of the week, and then games on Saturdays. I was more amazed by this than my friends are about my bath! Every night of the week? Seriously? And then to have the family’s whole Saturday dominated by the preparation for the game, the traveling to it and the playing of it? Thankfully our son was never interested in this kind of thing. But it seems to me that children are usually pushed into such activities by their parents when they’re barely past the potty-training stage. They’re too young to even know what baseball and gymnastics are, much less ask to participate. So parents, I have to wonder, why do you take on so much? Why do you over-schedule yourself and your family so?


 (Image by Stockphotos, courtesy of

My son usually gets home from school just a few minutes before I get home from work. Once I change clothes, sometimes I plop down in his room to visit, or sometimes he comes to mine. We talk about whatever presents itself. One day last week, I told him the whole story of the day he was born. On another day, I asked him what he was reading in his English class and we discussed that. Eventually he’ll say he’s hungry and I might go ahead and fix him something to eat if he can’t hold out until dinnertime. But the point is, nobody’s in a hurry. Nobody’s nagging anybody to get ready to go somewhere. No major tasks are hanging over my head because we routinely take care of shopping and cleaning.  It’s 5 o’clock, and we’re pretty tired, but it’s okay because our day is mostly done. I care for the pets, tidy things up and look around the kitchen to see what I might fix for dinner, which I assure you is nothing complicated. Usually I light the candles in the living room, and then we’re just hanging out, waiting for Daddy to come home and join us. Our family is in for the night.

Loving Your OCD Spouse


(Image by Stockphotos, courtesy of

My husband is somewhere on the OCD spectrum. His tendencies don’t seem to overwhelm his life and I don’t think he ought necessarily to be on medication or under a doctor’s care (which he isn’t), but the tendencies are definitely a part of his life and, consequently, a part of mine.

His mother tells me that she noticed Brian, at age 12 or so, exhibiting classic “checking” behaviors; namely, going around checking the doors at night to make sure they were all locked. In our years of marriage, a number of patterns have become noticeable.  Luckily he is not burdened with the common hand-washing obsession, nor does he seem to fear that disasters will happen if he doesn’t perform some personal ritual. But he is pretty loquacious (I never relate to those articles women write about their uncommunicative husbands!) so some of his tendencies involve talking. For example, if he has a plan for the future–whether it’s a trip out of state or a trip to buy a newspaper–he will mention it, repeatedly. Often he will ask for reassurance about some extremely minor thing that seems pointless, i.e.:

(HIM) “We’ll stop at Walmart for milk after church–is that OK?”

(ME) “Why on earth would it NOT be OK?” (…especially since I’ve already been notified about it twenty times! I think he is just obsessing about it and looking for a way to say it out loud one more time.)

It can be trying and annoying for a non-OCD partner. There are times when this excessive looking forward to events (especially big ones such as holidays and vacations) makes me wish they would hurry up and be over with, simply so I don’t have to hear about them anymore. There have been times when my own excitement about an upcoming pleasure has been beaten to death by over-discussion.

There are more trivial things. Immediately upon arriving home in the afternoon, he chooses his clothes for the following day and lays them out on a bedroom chair. This happens even if tomorrow is Saturday and he’s only going to wear khaki shorts and a T-shirt. (I think it’s kind of funny…I mean, my mom probably did that for me when I was nine.)

There are more serious things. As the partner who is not so much into planning and scheduling, who wants to wing it, do what I feel like doing and see what the day brings, I am constantly dominated–not by him, but by his tendency to have the days of our lives already filled before I even get a chance to mention my vague notions of what I’d like to do. At times I feel my life is passing by–weekdays structured by work, and weekends structured by Brian’s mental checklist.

It is very easy to make fun of him for the trivial things. It is also sometimes tempting to snarl at him about the more irritating ones, i.e.

(HIM–angrily) “If you don’t make [our son] take off his jeans and give them to me right now, they just won’t get washed tonight!”

(ME) “WHO CARES? They don’t NEED to be washed tonight! He has more than one pair! Nobody is worried about this except you!”

(…followed by a few mutterings about OCD.)

But a year or two ago, I had an epiphany about all this. Number one, I realized how cruel it was to make fun of him and  criticize him for something that he cannot help. It is a deeply ingrained part of his personality and I know sometimes it causes inconvenience and maybe embarrassment even to him, but it’s just the way he is. I’m pretty sure I might have a couple of tendencies and quirks of my own that HE has to live with and yet he never puts me down for them, so he deserves the same acceptance in return. I also remembered that men crave respect above almost anything else, and this type of ridicule and criticism is the epitome of disrespect.

And number two, I thought of all the ways our family benefits from his planning, organizing, and thinking ahead.

  • We never run out of anything. EVER. When you get to the bottom of the shampoo bottle, use the last bit of aluminum foil on the roll, put the last liner in the garbage can–never fear. Replacement items have already been purchased, because he watches the levels of everything and makes a grocery list.
  • We always have reservations. When we go on a trip, we know where we are staying, how to get there, and what restaurants are nearby. He will go online and scope out the menus of places we’ve never tried, to see if we might like to experience them while we’re nearby.
  • Suddenly need something while traveling? Not a problem. Band-Aid, safety pin, whatever it is–he’s packed it.
  • All of our laundry is clean, all the time. If it is not on our backs, it is in our closets. Granted, some of this is done by me, but only due to his influence.
  • We’re never low on gas at inconvenient moments because he makes sure we fill up.
  • I never find myself without pocket money because he puts it in my wallet.
  • The bills are paid, the checkbook is balanced. DAILY.
  • Our son’s lunch account is funded, and any supplies he needs are immediately purchased.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Like all of us, Brian is fearfully and wonderfully made. Like me, he’s imperfect and sometimes annoying. But I am so grateful for all the years I’ve had him beside me, and for all the ways his need for order and stability has brought those things into my life.

Prayer for Housework + Homecoming Hoochie-Wear

You’d think for once maybe I’d just write something NICE…especially since the idea for the first part of this post literally came to me in a dream, and I can’t remember that ever happening to me before. But alas, I cannot be as nice as some of my fellow bloggers, much as I admire them.  Hence the name Sweet Water AND Bitter. Here’s the nicer part:

Laundry tongdang

(Image by Tongdang, Courtesy of



I woke up this morning

(Awake, thou that sleepest)

And threw on some clothes.

(Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.)

As usual, it was waiting for me:

(Go therefore now, and work)

the housework.

(To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.)

Making beds

( Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled)

Washing dishes

(Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.)


(My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.)

Caring for pets

(Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?)

Doing laundry

(Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow)


(Thou preparest a table before me)


(And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished)

Surely there are more “fun” things to do in life

(Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom)

But I am blessed to have a home to call my own

(Every wise woman buildeth her house)

And spaces to keep clean and orderly, out of love

(To love their husbands; to love their children)

For those who fill the once-empty rooms.

(God setteth the solitary in families.)



Well, ladies, it’s that time again…seems like prom and wedding season was just yesterday, and here we are posting pictures of our beautiful teenagers in their homecoming attire. For those readers outside the US ( and I’m pleased to say there are many!) a high school homecoming, in its simplest terms, is a football game followed by a special dance at which the students dress up somewhat more than usual. It’s called homecoming because former students (whether college-aged or adult) often come back to visit and relive old times at their alma mater. I don’t know about you, but in my high school years, a homecoming outfit was simply a nice date outfit. Maybe a new skirt or sweater, but certainly something that could be worn for many other occasions as well. Nowadays, homecoming is one step below prom, and the girls wear…well, there’s hardly another word for them…cocktail dresses.

Prom DC Dominici

(Image by David Castillo Dominici, courtesy of

A few of my friends have proudly posted pictures of their beautiful daughters all dressed up for their special night, but I find the pictures distressing. The first one was a buxom fourteen-year-old wearing an all-black dress. She was fully covered on top, but her skirt was form-fitting and very, very short. Next I saw a pretty, slender girl in a strapless, jeweled gown. Not to say that any strapless dress is sufficient covering (by the standards of many Christian parents), but this dress was so poorly fitted that it covered even less than expected. It came down far lower than it should have, so that the entire viewing public was within an nth of seeing that which was designed for feeding her babies. (See, I could make a crack right here about how she’s liable to have some pretty soon, too, if she keeps going out dressed like that, but I’m too classy. ;-)) Another shot showed a girl in a white mini-dress, leaning back against a tree with her arms thrown over her head, doing an excellent job of looking sultry and provocative. Parents post these pictures, and their friends chime in, “Get the shotgun, Daddy!” and other such statements that are meant to be complimentary. But these are not compliments to a young girl’s loveliness. These are roundabout ways of saying, “Your daughter looks very sexually attractive!” Is that what you were going for?

Oh dear, and their poor dates. Those poor, scruffy, half-grown boys who don’t even own a pair of dress shoes, and who have no idea that they will never again in their lives attract girls as beautiful as the ones they are dating right now…do you think it’s even fair to them to expect them to view that much of your daughter’s skin and not want to do more than view it? And by the way…young girls are emotional and sentimental, and sometimes they have a hard time resisting the urge to make a special occasion even more special. Why put them both in a situation where it will be sooooo much harder than usual to keep their guard up?

If it’s the custom at your daughter’s school to have a special new dress and you desire to provide one, there is nothing wrong with that. And she needn’t look like a nun. But it is not nearly as difficult as people like to pretend, to find a party dress that decently covers a young girl’s body. One excellent resource is online stores catering to LDS (Mormon) girls and ladies. I’ve decided not to list any particular sites, but simply Google “LDS Homecoming dresses” for a selection of dresses that are special and fancy, yet modest. You might also consider using the word Apostolic in your searches…or simply the word modest.

The Ruby Slippers

rubyslippers - africa

(Image by Africa, courtesy of

Admittedly, I’m kinda recycling this post from my ancient blog of yesteryear, but I wanted something short and sweet, and this is still a good story and life lesson that I think about quite often. So here goes. :-)

My only daughter, Bliss, was about as beautiful a little girl as anybody could have wished for. She was like a live baby doll that I was able to take everywhere with me. I waited for her all my life and I loved her to pieces (still do!), but I am  a very frugal person. If I were not married, I would probably still not have cable TV (I’d do without) or make microwave popcorn (the old fashioned kind is so much cheaper!).  So even though I loved Bliss very dearly, my love was apt to be expressed with words, with affection, with teaching and explaining things, and with singing at bedtime–but not with gifts, treats, or spoiling with material goods. It’s just not my way. Gifts are for Christmas and birthdays, not for all the time.

BlissNana (Bliss with her Nana.)

When she was little, Target used to sell what I always thought of as “ruby slippers” for girls. They were mary-jane style, encrusted with sparkly red jewels. Just the thing to thrill a little girl, especially one who loved The Wizard of Oz.

Not very practical, though. I would pick them up and consider buying them, but then I would always think, Don’t be frivolous. That’s ten bucks, or whatever, that could be spent on something more useful. A thousand times I looked at those shoes. A thousand times I didn’t buy them.

Eventually Bliss grew too old to be delighted by things like ruby slippers from Target.

And then one day I realized that in all my life, I would never have another little girl to buy them for.

Moral of the story: That’s ten dollars I should have spent.

(Bliss all grown up.)


So, ladies, have you still not tried any Lilla Rose hair accessories? Welllll, I understand…I admired the pictures on other people’s blogs for probably two years before my cheap self actually let go of a few nickels and ordered some. But I love mine! All the stuff people say is true; the clips stay put, look beautiful, and don’t give you a headache OR yank out your hair when you remove them. By the way, MEN, these make super-easy gifts! Take a look at the site and you’ll probably see some clips that reflect your wife or girlfriend’s favorite color, interest, etc.


And besides that..(I’m talking to ladies again now)…if you’re looking for a way to make money on the side…the investment is extremely MINIMAL and the effort is about as taxing as posting a few pics on your Facebook page! Trust me, I am NOT begging anybody to buy these things. My friends are loving them! You can go straight to my page and get more info about becoming a consultant. (Please note: if you have a consultant, stick with her, but if you’ve never ordered before, make sure the name you see at the top left of the page is mine. If it’s not, you can opt to change it.) Lilla Rose consultants are very supportive of one another and not looking to steal each other’s customers. There’s also a great Facebook page where we share ideas and inspirations, so even if you are not so creative but you’d like to be a consultant, you will be able to share the info you find there.    <<<< Just click right there, y’all.


One more thing. You may have read my recent post  (Granny Has to Move) about my husband’s grandmother moving to a new apartment after living for 57 years in the home where she and her late husband raised their five children. We’ve very excited and thankful to report that Granny is doing FINE and is in great spirits and enjoying her new home! We sent her flowers yesterday and she was thrilled with them, so she called us and bragged about her new digs. She confessed she had become a little fearful of the neighborhood in her old house, but now she feels safe and, just as I predicted, has been having lots of visitors!

Granny Has to Move



(Image by Ambro, courtesy of

My husband’s grandmother has to move, and it makes perfect sense for her to do so.  She’s been a widow for–gosh, must be nearly fifteen years by now. She was always a homemaker and never learned to drive, so with her husband’s passing, the active years of her life came to a sudden halt. She’s been awfully lonely, and more so with each passing year. She hopes for visits on Sunday afternoons from one of her five children or maybe some other relative. Sometimes someone comes, sometimes not. She never has been able to sleep in a bed since her husband died,  so she catches forty winks in her recliner. She never cared to cook for just one, so she doesn’t eat very healthfully.

She’s lived in her little frame house for fifty-six years. Back then, Callaway Mills was everyone’s employer; a  strong, thriving backbone to the little community, and to hear my husband’s parents (who grew up as next-door-neighbors) tell it, the mill children might have had more fun than the rich folks. A swimming pool and skating rink were provided by Callaway, as were baseball fields. There was a grocery store in the community, and several churches in walking distance. All the neighbors worked and worshiped together, and it was a fine place to raise a family. But now the mill has been shut down for many long years, and the neighborhood is not so desirable anymore. We are not entirely sure of Granny’s safety there, and she’s certainly unable to manage any upkeep on the house or yard.

She’s declined a lot in the past couple of years. Her mind seems fine, but her hearing’s going and her arthritis leaves her nearly unable to scrawl her name on our birthday cards. She has a walker but doesn’t like to use it, so she’s taken a few falls. This last time, after she was safely rescued, her children descended on her and said Enough is enough. We’re not asking you, we’re telling you. It’s time to move.

We’d tried for years to encourage her to move, but she would have none of it. She called her husband by his nickname, Sleepy, and she would say, “Sleepy left me here and this is where I’m staying.” This was sentimental talk, of course, and we pointed out rather bluntly that Sleepy wasn’t coming back and would want her to be somewhere secure.  She wouldn’t hear of it. But this last tumble must have scared her, because the kids told her she was moving and she simply agreed and put the matter into their hands. They will handle the sale of her house, the moving of her belongings, the getting rid of what needs to go, and the transferring of utilities. And she is a very blessed lady to have a place to go! Only a few miles from her current home, my mother- and father-in-law live. And they happen to manage a small rental complex, just around the block from their house. Another of Granny’s daughters (plus an adult granddaughter) live in one of the apartments, and there’s a vacancy right next door to them. Neat as a pin, small and affordable. Perfect! We rejoice for her that while she’ll be within four new walls, all else will be familiar. The town and the faces, she knows. She can still go to familiar businesses, and see her same doctors. That should help.

GrantvilleNot every older person is so blessed. When I was a little girl, I lived in a small town, a portion of which is pictured at left. The Historic Grill in the photo was, back then, an office where my great-uncle worked. (Fans of “The Walking Dead” may recognize this scenery. The TV show is taped in my hometown.) Anyway, right next to the office was a grocery store owned by my other great-uncle (the first one’s brother). Meanwhile, a hop and a skip away, I was growing up in a house with their third brother, my great-grandfather. (And my parents.)

My great-grandfather, whom I called Poppy, was (or seemed to be) an ancient man, even when I was born. He was certainly an old-timey man, at any rate. I never saw him dress in anything but suit pants and a button-up shirt, and often a suit jacket and a hat. I never remember him walking without a cane. We lived with him in the house where he and his late wife had spent their fifty-plus years of marriage, and he spent many a day just sitting on the front porch. He would whistle to catch the attention of the occasional semi-truck driver who passed the house, only to throw up his hand in a wave to them. He explained to me that he made this gesture of kindness because the truckers got “lonesome” on the road. Poppy went to church faithfully on Sundays and and he loved to watch Lawrence Welk and Perry Mason. I believe he must have relished the independence of being able, even with his cane, to take a notion to walk downtown to the store and visit with his brothers.

But then one day his daughter came to get him. I was just a child so I am not sure why this happened. My parents had a hellishly unhappy marriage, so maybe she was removing him from unpleasant conditions. Maybe there was a disagreement of some sort. I’m not sure and there’s no one left for me to ask, so I don’t know how Poppy felt about this move. I can’t imagine it was anything other than traumatic and heartbreaking.

While his daughter had good intentions toward her father, she lived many miles away, in a larger town he didn’t know. And she lived, well, not in the country but not in walking distance of anything. She lived right off a very busy highway, and her porch was too far from the road for Poppy to wave at the truck drivers. How sad it must have been for a man in his eighties to be ripped away from everything and everyone he’d ever known. He didn’t live many years after the move.

boyslndgTo be honest with you, it was pretty difficult for my husband and me to get adjusted to life after moving to Florida in our forties. Look at that beautiful scenery! We moved to a good place but it took me a very long time to get over the feeling of being disconnected to everyone and everything I saw. There was no use scanning any crowd for old friends. There was no building or house where any portion of my life had taken place. I knew if I disappeared, nobody would realize I’d ever been here at all. It was very disconcerting. If you know any families who move far from home, keep them in  your prayers. They will tell you about all the good things, and probably won’t mention that empty feeling that they’re living a fake life. It really took a long time to get over that and begin to feel like a dual citizen of both my homes.

Some seniors may feel they won’t be around long enough to make the work of getting adjusted worthwhile. While a new home of their own or a place with family is surely better than a nursing home, I’m afraid their hearts may grieve for their real homes, and their absolute powerlessness to get back to them.

I think Granny will be okay, though. I think she’ll have many more visitors and much more activity. We, her family, are happy for her to open this new chapter in her life. And we think her beloved Sleepy would be happy, too. <3


 Image by Ambro, courtesy of



You’d never know it to see us  bantering and cracking jokes on Facebook. People are always saying, “You guys are hilarious!” or “You two crack me up!”

You’d never know it if you were my coworker. You’d hear me talking about our lives, how we’re always together no matter what we’re doing, often planning something fun, usually laughing about some line from a movie or some incident from years ago. We’re each other’s best friend. We’ve been together for twenty years, through thick and thin, good times and bad.

Now that we’re older, we sometimes muse about what will happen when one of us passes away. Brian claims he’d never marry again–he says he’s had his wife and he’d never find another one so compatible, so why even bother with a relationship that’s bound to be less satisfying than what he’s known? I just pray I go first, so I’ll never have to face life without him.

And yet there’s something missing; something that’s vitally important–but only, unfortunately, to me.


You’d never notice it to be around us. Like in the photo above, I’d be touching him, or patting his back. I’d give him a kiss on his head when I set his coffee beside him. I’d reach for his hand while walking with him. All of this is accepted. None of it is reciprocated.

There seem to be two conclusion I can draw from that. 1) It’s just his nature. Or, 2) there’s a problem. Well, if it’s  his nature, he sure kept it under wraps nicely when we were engaged. There was no lack of warmth and romance in those days, or even when we were first married. Was that just a special time, and then he cooled back down to what seems, to him, a normal level?

Maybe there’s a problem. I was different when we first married. I was older than him, so I thought I was the leader and the boss. My word was the final word in any situation. I wore the pants–or tried to, anyway. Plus, I wasn’t happy with how he got along with my daughter (who was two years old when we married) so I stood between him and her like a fierce mama bear. I wonder now (and have been wondering for a good fifteen years)  if I killed those tender feelings he used to have for me. He loved me enough to stick around, but maybe not as much as he did in the early days.

Sometimes, I can’t help mentioning it. I try not to. He never takes it well, he always perceives it as complaining and criticism of him, and it never helps or makes a bit of difference anyway. But sometimes, I feel like I’m starving to death, so I ask for a crumb.  I might as well be asking for the moon.

I keep having this delusion that if I can only find the perfect way to explain my perspective to him, somehow the light will break across his face and he will understand. I’ve thought of about a million analogies over the years…like this one:

Suppose our kitchen contained magic cabinets and a magic refrigerator. They were at all times full of delicious and nourishing food, and it was all absolutely free! You could never use it all up, because no matter what you used, it would be replaced by more. The only caveat is, you can’t serve yourself. I have to serve you, and you have to serve me. So every day of the week, I’m going to the magic kitchen to provide three meals a day, and snacks, and whatever else it takes to make sure you are never hungry. For whatever reason, it does not occur to you that I am hungry as well. So very nicely, occasionally, I say, “I’m starving, please look at me; I’m skin and bones, I’m wasting away. The magic kitchen is right over there–completely free and stocked with everything I could ever want. Will you please, please give me something to eat?” And he will inevitably sigh with irritation and say, “You’re starting that again?” or, “I’m tired,” or “I’m busy,” or whatever.

It’s really pretty stunning when you think about it. Why would somebody who loves me find it so incredibly difficult to give me a hug once in a while? Even if he were not especially inclined to be demonstrative, wouldn’t showing a little affection now and then be easier than enduring years and years of discussions about why not?

Another thing. It seems like it would cross his mind that lack of affection leaves me vulnerable. I know that I am responsible for my behavior no matter what, and I have no intentions of straying; it’s not worth it and it causes too much pain all around. But still…seems like a man wouldn’t want his wife wandering through the world with this sort of a need unmet. Suppose the shoe were on the other foot and the problem was sex–him needing it and me being disinterested. Suppose every time he asked for it, I said, “I’m tired. You’re starting that again?” What if I just wasn’t very interested in sex, didn’t particularly feel the need for it, and cared not one whit for his needs and appetites…for the LAST FIFTEEN YEARS. No doubt he would go and find it elsewhere, and then say in all self-righteousness, “What did you expect me to do?”

I did some research to see what the Bible says about affection in marriage, but I didn’t really find anything to fit the bill exactly. There are many references to husbands and wives, but they seem to be more about not depriving each other of sex. That’s not the issue here.

I found this question and answer by Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. PhD:

The question and answer are both great. The bad news is that Brian and I read Dr. Harley’s entire BOOK (His Needs, Her Needs) together, about fourteen years ago. It was a good book, generally. Didn’t help, though.

So I don’t know, maybe it’s just time to say God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. 

Maybe it’s time to just be thankful for a husband who’s here right across this table from me, and not out philandering with a girlfriend or drinking in a bar with his buddies. Thankful for a man who goes to work every day and provides for us. For a good father to our son and a constant source of support and encouragement to me, in spite of a lot of dumb schemes I’ve hatched over the years. For an utter lack of criticism about myself. For someone who never, ever puts me down in front of others. Maybe I’ll just be thankful for a guy who insists on giving me more pocket money every week than I think I’ll need. One who encourages me to go ahead and order those shoes in both colors, when left alone I’d deny myself either one. Maybe I’ll stop and be thankful for a husband who planned a vow renewal for us as a surprise to me; and who had our pastor mention, on the 20th anniversary of the day we met, that he (Brian)  felt his life began that day.  Maybe I should just be thankful for lively, plentiful conversation and…if you’ll pardon me…high quality time in the bedroom. Maybe I should remember that I am surely not his idea of a 100% perfect dream woman, and there must be areas where he finds me less than ideal as well. Maybe I should be grateful he never mentions them.

I would love to have him wrap his arms around me, or smile at me and touch my face. I’d love to have him call me “baby.” I will always want that.

But there are other things in life, too.






Book Price Slashed + My “Brilliant” Career as a Writer


Howdy there. If you’ll scroll down the handy sidebar to your right, you’ll see a link to my book. Click the picture and it will take you right to the site of the publisher, Createspace, where you can now order it for $12.55! At present, is still displaying the higher price, but that may update itself sometime in the near future–really not sure how all that works.

You can click on the Createspace link or navigate on your own to the Amazon site to read a synopsis of the story so I won’t go into that. I will tell you a little more about me as a writer.

I started writing for publication in 2002 and met with immediate acceptance in both national and local (Atlanta) magazines. However, I found quickly I wasn’t crazy about that sort of work. I wasn’t fond of conceiving an idea and pitching it and doing all the work, and then having an editor become the “boss” of my story. I know it’s normal and usual but I just didn’t care for it. I also was not fond of occasions when I picked up a magazine off the newsstand to find–surprise!–my work was inside, without so much as a word from them to let me know they were accepting it, and editing it, sometimes in ways that were abhorrent to me.  I suppose it might have slipped their minds to pay me, too, if I hadn’t happened to catch them.

ANYWAY…I decided to focus on fiction which was my true love, although the fiction market is much harder to crack. Did you know 80% of Americans say they want to write a book someday? And not much short fiction gets published in the US anymore. Remember how, years ago, there would be a short story in the middle of women’s magazines? Not so much anymore. If you want to publish fiction, you start with literary magazines (often put out by universities). The general public doesn’t read them much, but you hope maybe an agent will, and maybe you’ll get a book deal. (I was approached by an agent that way once…but he was an old Jewish gentleman from NYC and I don’t think he really related very well to my story about Baptists in Georgia. ;-) )

I was over the moon when I first got published in The Bellevue Literary Review. Even more so when, several months later, they invited me to come to New York and read at the launch party for the issue of the magazine that contained my story. I had to work with the editor quite a bit on that particular story, but the next few that were published in different magazines were accepted much more easily with barely a word changed.

In 2008, I was accepted to the Sewanee Writers Conference, an uppity 2-week affair held at The University of the South in Sewanee, TN. I was excited to meet and work directly with some of my Southern literature idols, but frankly the whole thing was a bust. I thought it would be fun, but it felt like a two-week-long job interview (with no job at the end!). Lots of very competitive folks with prickly egos around there. The most enjoyable part was the knowledge that I, with my high school diploma, was as good a writer as anybody I met there, and a sight better than some. (I think, seriously, I was the least educated person there, but some of their writing was pretty stinky.) I held my own just fine, but I never got any real benefit out of going. :-(

All the years that this was going on, I was working on my book. Sometimes I’d work steadily and sometimes it would gather dust for a while, but finally I finished it. Through the Atlanta Writers’ Club, I had the opportunity to pitch it (in person, not via mail or “over the transom” as the saying goes) to several literary agents from New York. The first year, my novel wasn’t finished and I just pitched it for the practice. I was blindsided when the agent requested to see the whole thing (angels come out of the sky and sing “AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” when that happens). I had to admit it wasn’t complete, and busy agents don’t look at partial manuscripts in fiction the way they do non-fiction. The next year, the book was finished and I pitched it to three agents at one conference and they all wanted to see it. (See, I’m trying to convince you it’s a pretty decent thing that I spent YEARS OF MY LIFE writing!)

I had a serious bite from one agent. I mean I thought the magic was HAPPENING. I was about ready to celebrate. I was emailing my real-professional-writer acquaintances to see if they would do a blurb for the cover. (Agents like that because it’s like a recommendation that helps sell the book.) But in the end, this agent decided that well, she wasn’t entirely happy with this one CHARACTER ( a major one who appeared on pretty much every page) and certain other points that would have required major re-writing of something that I had labored for years to get exactly the way I wanted it. Well, but still,  the name of the game is publishing and SELLING the thing, so I would have done it–IF she had only said, “Do these things, make these changes, and we’ve got a deal.” But she didn’t. She wanted these changes made, and then she would be willing to LOOK AT IT again and then maybe, maaaaaaaaaaaaybe…represent me. All the risk was on my side of the table, and I just couldn’t see myself doing it.

So I shelved it and moved on with my life. I had some major things going on, such as moving to Florida, so I put a “period” at the end of my sentence and knew that I would no longer pursue publication of that particular work. But then after a few years, I decided I would like to have it put into book form, just so my children would have a BOOK someday when I was dead and gone, and not just a bunch of loose papers. I did this through Createspace, a print-on-demand company. And if you’re interested in that for yourself, let me just share that it didn’t cost me a doggone thing except some time. I did all the formatting and a friend of mine agreed to donate the cover photo if only I would credit him and send him a copy of the book, which I was happy to do. When people order the book, they print one up and keep their share and send me a royalty. I recommend it to any writer, far and away above those vanity presses that make you buy 100 copies of your book or something.

I have been longwinded as usual. But check out the book and let me know if you enjoy it. :-) (If you look at it on Amazon’s site you can read the first few pages.)  One word of warning–while it does deal heavily with Christian people and ideas about God and religion, it is not a “Christian novel” of the variety sold at Christian bookstores. I was unchurched at the time I wrote it, and it has some cuss words. If it were a movie it might be PG-13. I dunno, maybe just PG; I’m not sure how they rate them exactly. Did you ever read The Rapture of Canaan? If not, you should–great book. Anyway I hoped that mine might be a little bit like that.  If I can answer any questions, I will be glad to! Leave a comment or just email me at

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