Sunday, July 14, 2013

Advice for the Bride

We went to a wedding yesterday.
Seems like all our sons' friends are getting married.
When he heard that the wedding was in a barn, Nate insisted on wearing jeans.
I have learned to not pitch a fit about these things.

I regret not bringing the camera,
because the wedding was beautiful.
We sat on sheet-draped hay bales.
Wildflowers in tin pails decorated the "aisle."
We could hear a raccoon chirring in the woods nearby.

After the ceremony,
guests had about two hours to visit and play games while the food was being prepared.
(The most popular game was the bean-bag toss).
We were supposed to write down advice, verses, or encouraging words
and hang them from a little clothesline on the pergola.
I could not think of one thing to say.
Which is ridiculous, because I love to encourage and I dispense advice all too freely.
If this young couple asked me to decorate all their future homes,
and name every one of their future babies,
I would be perfectly comfortable with that.

But I thought about it.
And now, I have my words all ready.
This is just a partial list, but it's what comes to mind today.

1. Be kind.
Often, this means waiting a bit before you speak what's on your mind.
I regret almost everything I spoke in haste.
"A soft answer turns away wrath."

2. Do not allow money to master you.
The only way to control mammon, or the love of money, is to give it away.
Ideally, for Christians, this means tithing ten percent.
Now, I confess that if Nate and I tallied all our income from the last 25 years, we would likely find we fell short in this. And our recent Seven Years of Leanness have made it difficult to plan for giving. But we have found, over and over, that when we give out of obedience, we receive unexpected rewards. Sometimes these rewards are financial. Sometimes they are something better, a peace that covers us because we have done this crazy, holy thing called giving.

3. Buy once.
You're at the beginning of your life together.
That means you may have 75 years of consumerism before you.
 If you're like us, you will buy hundreds of items that you later regret. Some of those purchases are unavoidable. You'll need cars, appliances, insurance, clothing, and a place to live. All those things are continual expenses.
But there are other purchases that should be one-time and done.
Your silverware should last a lifetime.
Get three or four excellent knives, and a simple knife sharpener, and that's all you'll need for cooking.
Find pots and pans that last, and buy them as you can afford them. (I have a mish-mash of Le Creuset, All-Clad, and one cheap $13 pot from Marshall's that works great for mac and cheese).
Hard furnishings (dressers, tables, everything that's not upholstered) should also hold up forever. Buy cheap, at garage sales and occasional shops, and you won't beat yourself up when you get sick of things and decide to replace them. As you figure out your taste, you'll make fewer mistakes, and then you can spend a little more. I have a friend who bought an expensive bedroom set at Ethan Allen, I think it cost about $5000. Now she wants something different, and she can't get rid of the bedroom set because that $5000 is a ball and chain.
Soft furnishings (everything upholstered, mostly your sofa) can be bought piecemeal. I happen to like a collected look, not a living room that looks like a furniture store. So our sofa is an antique from my parents, who received it free from old neighbors. We've had it upholstered twice during our marriage. Our two big living room chairs are from IKEA. I am a big fan of IKEA, but not everybody likes that much cheapness. All I can tell you is that if you're looking for beautiful soft furnishings, start there.

4. Pray together every day.
Yep, back to serious stuff. We learned this in our Married for Life class (sometimes called 2=1). When you pray together, you immediately and powerfully destroy the Enemy's barrage against you. Pray out loud. When you feel led, pray on your knees. If one of you wants to pray, and the other one is too hurt or angry to do so, the one who wants to pray should still pray, and you should still be near each other. But start with confession and forgiveness. The hurt person usually has good reason for being hurt.

Well, that's it for now.
I could write so much more, but Malachi is awake and he is not entirely happy.
He is getting a two-year molar!
It's early, and it's painful, and it's giving both of us sleepless nights.
In the picture of Nate and the baby and me,
Malachi is wearing Caleb's old sailor suit.
It's twenty-one years old.
So I guess that's my last piece of advice:
Don't get rid of all the baby clothes.

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