The First Thing I Ever Wrote…

Today is the anniversary of my Dad’s passing. The day is as vivid as ever, and I feel like he was here yesterday. I know many of you can relate. I read this at his funeral. It’s deeply personal, but not meant to be kept to myself. God revealed so much to me during that time, and when God shows up…it’s hard not to share. This is also the moment that I realized God expected me to use words to communicate all my random thoughts to friends, family, and the passing stranger on the internet highway. 🙂

Good Morning, the family and I want to thank you all for being here. Wes, my Dad, always said that funerals were for the living. He was right. He knew he wouldn’t be here today. He was also known for saying, “People should get their flowers while they’re alive, not just at the end.”, and that’s how he lived. Dad always made sure we knew how much he loved us. He had special names for all us kids. I was ‘Princess’. He liked to buy little sparkly gifts for me on special occasions. He said a princess needed jewelry, and who was I to argue?

Anyone who knew him heard about his family, certainly about his grandsons. I’ve heard it said, “No one is as crazy about their kids and grandkids as Wes.” Well, that was true. He gave everything he could to all of us.

Life without Dad will always be bittersweet. We’ll smile when we remember his funny sayings, his hilarious hissing laugh, and the colorful way his stories always got better with each re-telling. Then we’ll be sad and miss him when we’re all together and his recliner remains empty, we watch the Sooners, or enjoy playing with his grandkids.

Well, that’s a brief glimpse of the past, and a small forecast into the future, but I need to talk about why we’re here today. Monday morning, my Mom called and said, “Come fast!” I hurried over, ran through the house to his bed, but when I looked at him, I knew he was gone. In that moment, all seemed lost. My Dad had died. There was nothing I could do. The most desperate hopeless feeling engulfed me, and through my tears all I could say was, “No. No. No.”.

Hopeless.

But then there was a whisper, louder than all the noise in my head, and the presence that until that moment had always been a steady warm glow in my heart, a beacon on the shore of a calm sea, the sweet song in my soul since my day of salvation…it swelled, it blazed, and it shouted, “No Aimee! All is not lost, your Dad is not gone, and it is NOT hopeless. Remember…I made sure of that.”

I fell to my knees, laid a hand on my Dad, wept, and thanked God for him, the life we had, and for the beautiful hope that we will see him again. Peter penned my experience over two thousand years ago: “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him, and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (IPeter 1:9)

This past Saturday, I told a friend, “Life is good. I am blessed, and am so thankful for all God has given me.”

Well, that was Saturday and here we are four days later at the funeral of my Dad, and that is why I had to speak today. The shadow of death has passed by, and because of Him I can stand here even in the midst of that darkness and still say, “Life is good. I am blessed, and thank you, God, for all you have given me.”

Dad…we love you, miss you, and we will see you again.

Securing the Borders

Dear Aimee,

Do you think a married person should have friends of the opposite sex? I think if a relationship is strong then it will survive friends outside the marriage.

This reminds me of the movie When Harry Met Sally. Harry is convinced that it’s impossible for a man to have a female friend and not be attracted to her. Sally disagrees. Alas, in the end they…well I won’t spoil it for you. Watch and see.

I’ve been married for sixteen years. That’s just getting started in our neck of the plains, but in Hollywood, it’s like 114 years. Or maybe that’s my marriage in dog years, I’m not sure. I think they use the same factor. Anyhow, let me answer you with a couple questions of my own. Do you send a person who has sworn off carbs to the local donut shop? Do you ask a recovering alcoholic to tour a winery? Do you hire a former jewel thief to work security at Tiffany’s? I’m certain the answer to all of these questions is a resounding, “NO!” If you assume that because you are married and on a one-man or one-woman diet that you are above temptation, than you are setting yourself up for an epic failure. It has nothing to do with the strength of the marriage, but everything to do with knowing you are not infinitely strong. Even if your husband has the body of Channing Tatum and can turn a phrase like Shakespeare, there will be moments when he forgets his world revolves around you, leaving you feeling disappointed and unfulfilled. Enter the perfect opportunity for your ‘just a friend’ to start looking like a better option. It happens everyday. Marriages fall into the ditch, and many times there was an extra marital relationship in the works long before the vows were broken. That man or woman was eating their low carb bun-less burger outside the local Krispy Kreme. Reader, I don’t believe even Superman has the strength to turn down a maple Long John after eating nothing but protein for six days!

Marriage is beautiful, fulfilling, rewarding, and my best chance at a happily ever after, but it takes work and sometimes sacrifice. If doing without outside friendships is what it takes to make my marriage borders more secure, then it’s one offering I’m willing to burn. My spouse is definitely worth it, and I hope yours is too.

Was Sexy a Scoring Category in the Olympics?

Gymnast Statue

Gymnast Statue (Photo credit: Focused Exposure)

Dear Aimee,

What are the Olympics teaching our children?  I hope good sportsmanship and that hard work can produce a championship outcome, but as we sit and watch, sometimes it seems that’s not always the case. What’s your opinion about this summer’s Olympic viewing?

 

I love the Olympics.  It’s such a great bonding time.  The family gathers in the den and cheers their country on towards the gold. Historically, it’s been a good clean form of entertainment the whole family can enjoy.  However, for the first time this year, I have noticed something that makes me scratch my head.  In fact it has prompted me to think about changing the name of my column to something more sensual, maybe using the word bikini.  There was a time I actually did change the name of a page on my blog from My Book Picks to My Guilty Pleasures.  I was just trying to be clever and create more clickable titles.  Well, it worked. Looking back, I now see the reason for the 400% spike in views on that page. It was sensual and promised more revelations than my favorite summer reads. I laugh picturing the disappointment of someone clicking on Guilty Pleasures only to find my review of the latest Christian Fiction Romance title.  I quickly realized the implication and changed it back.  I’m not seriously thinking of changing the column title, but the truth is sensuality sells. This idea seems to be seeping not only into our movies, shows, and commercials, but is it possible the Olympics are catching the fever too?

As I sat with my family late Saturday evening and tuned into our first viewing of the games, I was a bit taken back by the intro for the men’s gymnastic event. For a moment, it looked like a trailer for the new Magic Mike flick.  The young male gymnasts were shirtless, tan, and posed. I’m not necessarily complaining, however it certainly made me unsure of where to rest my eyes without feeling a little scandalous.  Perhaps I am the only mom that hovers her finger over the remote during prime time viewing just in case that scantily clad girl selling the mid-sized sedan pops up, but my three-year old daughter doesn’t need to think that parading around in her bathing suit is appropriate.

It will be interesting to watch the rest of the games and see if they really are trying to take a more sensual approach to their presentation. I know this was a departure from your question, and the sportsmanship aspect is a note-worthy topic and deserves a discussion of its own.  I will keep a keen eye on that as my family enjoys the games, but I’m afraid some of the technical aspects of sports are lost on me.  I tend to pay more attention to the theatrics and the uniforms. Did I ever mention I was more of a nail filer in my younger years?

The Daily Elk Citian, The Cordell Beacon, The Tuttle TImes_August 01, 2012

 

 

 

Never Save the Flowers for the Funerals

Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase

Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Reader,

I have an inbox of questions and will return to the normal format next week, but in light of recent circumstances, I wanted to address the area where many of our hearts and prayers have been focused.  We have shed tears for a family in our community that lost a precious son.  We have all watched in horror as people a state away went through a terrifying night to wake and realize that reality can be far worse than nightmares. One thing these types of tragedies do is make us stop and think about our loved ones. It’s easy in the hustle and bustle of life to forget that the amount of time we have to make a difference in the world is limited.

Michael Hyatt is an incredible motivational author and speaker. At a recent blogger conference, he led us through an exercise that left not a dry eye in the room.  He instructed us all to closed our eyes as he described a setting. He painted an elaborate picture of a beautiful room, adorned with incredible arrangements of freshly cut flowers, where everyone we loved and cared for were gathered, and dressed in their finest. All focus and attention was on one single thing, a shiny box at the front of the room.  Have you guessed it?  The setting was a funeral and the person of honor was each of us.  He then asked us questions pertaining to who would be in attendance, and what those people would say about us.

So I pose the same scenario to you, reader.  You may be able to plan the flowers, the music, and the speakers, but you will not be able pick what people will remember about you.  Those memories are earned, and the time to invest in them is now.  Michael Hyatt has a free e-book called “Creating Your Life Plan” at michaelhyatt.com/life-plan .  This interactive book walks you through the above exercise and helps you create a plan of action to make sure that you take time to achieve the things that really matter to you.

We cannot change the inevitable, but we can face it prepared. Knowing that we made the absolute most of our time here.  My dad, Wesley Brown used to always say, “Don’t save the flowers for the funerals.” Let’s try today to find a way to give ‘flowers’ to someone we know. Smile, encourage, buy a lunch, write a card, send a Facebook message, or actually send them a bouquet. Let people know what having them in your life has meant while it can actually make a difference. Then perhaps when it’s your turn and loved ones gather to remember you, it won’t be the blooms and colorful arrangements that bring tears to their eyes.  It will be the beautiful memory of you, and how you embraced each day and each person as a gift, choosing to never save the flowers for the funerals.

Daddy Dearest

Dear Readers,

I am overflowing with words and want to share with you something my husband and I witnessed this past Sunday.

We were leaving a bakery parking lot when he glanced out the window past me and had the most horrendous look on his face. I followed his gaze and saw a man shove and punch a teen girl in the back seat of a pickup. The mother came around and cautiously tried to persuade him to stop, but he shoved her and threw a couple more jabs to the arm of the girl until she finally managed to get out of the truck where he gave her a final shove.

So I pose a question to you today. What do you do as a witness to such events? Do you intervene and possibly become the victim of a greater assault? Do you call the police and ask them to take your word for it? Is whatever you do only going to make things worse for the family when the perpetrator gets them home alone? These and about fifty other questions flashed through my mind in the thirty seconds I tried to decide if what I saw was even real. Before I could come up with a good option, the man looked up. Our eyes met, and all I could do is what I do to my boys when I catch them acting up from across the pews at church. Mustering up the deadliest mad mom stare I could mange, I did the two finger point from my eyes to his, saying with crude sign language, “I see you.” The man turned and put his arm around his wife and daughter and painted on a big forced smile as he walked them into the restaurant.

My husband and I spent the next few minutes re-living the event and trying to decide what we could have done differently. Of course we would have intervened had he continued, but it was all over in an instant. The part that baffled me the most is how I, a total stranger, seemed to ache for those children more than their own mother. I am not pretending that such situations cannot be dangerous or deadly for all involved. But I hope, in her shoes, I would have the courage to protect my kids and get the heck out of Dodge. Which reminds me, it was a black Dodge pickup.

Anyhow, I spent the next few hours coming up with all kinds of vigilante scenarios worthy of any Clint Eastwood flick to help a man like that gain respect for his family. Ideas all promptly shut down by my law student sister that works for the District Attorneys office. So, dear reader, have you ever experienced such a scene before? Email (mrs.aimeejones@yahoo.com) or Facebook me (www.facebook.com/housewife.reallife) and let me know how you handled it or how you would approach the situation if it happened to you in the future.

Just Smile and Wave Ladies

English: "The Dedusting Pump", later...

Dear Aimee,

I keep a decent house most of the time, but if there ever is a day when it looks like a tornado hit, that is the day my mother-in-law or someone from church will drop in.  Does this happen to anyone else?  How do some women seem to keep their lives in order all the time?

Elk City, OK

My mother-in-law may actually think that I asked this question.  She has experienced my house at its worst many more times than she has enjoyed it at its best.  There does seem to be a cruel physical law that draws people to your home on the day that you spent six hours organizing closets, but the kids had free rein on the kitchen and made a sheet tent in the living room.  If you are like me, you spout apologies and offer a tour of your newly well-organized utility closet because you need them to know you really are a decent housewife.

In my fifteen years of keeping house, I have learned that most people who have children understand the relentless war against clutter and have much sympathy for your plight.  We recently had a meeting at our house.  Let me rephrase that.  We recently hosted a small group gathering for which my husband gave me very short notice for. I snapped into military sergeant mode and the house was clean on the surface as the first guests arrived, but I still wasn’t sure that someone wouldn’t leave with a sucker stuck to the back of their pants. A lovely older couple was in attendance, and I muttered off a few preëmptive apologies for the state of my house as they made themselves at home.  She smiled so sweetly and said, “I had three of my own, dear. You don’t ever have to make excuses with me.  I know how impossible it is to keep a house with little ones running around.”  I exhaled, mentally kicked off my shoes, put my feet up on the coffee table, and realized that this woman was my new best friend.

I like what Julia Child said when asked about cooking for others. She said, “Never apologize and never make excuses.” I think this philosophy can trickle down to housekeeping as well.  There are many times that I may have never noticed a piece of torn wallpaper or a stain on the carpet if the host hadn’t pointed it out to explain first. Sparkling floors are nice, but they in no way compare to dazzling hospitality. It is important to give your family a clean sanitary home, and put a little pride into the little place on Earth you call your own.  But when it comes to impromptu guests, party invitees, and mother-in-laws; open the door wide, greet them with a smile, and serve them as the special guest they are, but do it without apologies or excuses.  After all, they did drop in unannounced and if this was a Dear Miss Manners column? She would definitely have a few things to say about that.

Summer Bucket List!

Dear Aimee,

My kids are turning into couch potatoes this summer. Do you have any tips or ideas for keeping them active and off the couch?

Needing Some Fun in the Sun – Elk City, OK

My family looks forward to the reduction in activities and schedules during the summer. However, I do understand there are people who thrive on order, so an unproductive unplanned summer vacation day can feel more stressful than relaxing. My blogging friend, Greta Funk at www.gfunkified.com posted a fabulous idea for making sure the summer includes all the fun and activity a family can imagine. It’s called the Summer Bucket List. I have done a little research and found there are several variations of the idea, but the underlying theme is cheap family fun designed and organized by the family. Greta used index cards hanging on a ribbon, but you could just stick them to the fridge, pin them to a cork board, or use a piece of poster board as a display. On each card the kids and parents write something they want to accomplish during the summer as a family. It’s simply a creative, interactive, and visual to-do list, but a great reminder to take time and indulge your kids in the little things of life. So many times we plan a summer around big events such as trips and camps, but overlook the many activity opportunities that are in our own backyards. Here is a list of a few things my family came up with: sleep outside in a tent, learn to play tennis, go play laser tag, watch a sunset together, family bike ride, trip to the zoo, go fishing, teach kids to cook a meal, go to a drive-in movie, sit around a campfire, visit the aquarium, read a classic novel together, the ideas are endless and don’t have to cost much or require a lot of time or travel. As the goals are accomplished , the cards are removed and replaced with pictures of the family participating in the various activities. Before you know it the season will be winding down and you will have a fridge or poster covered with images and reminders of a fun and fabulous summer 2012! Make your Family Summer Bucket Lists and share a pic with me on my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ajoneswrites. Have fun and be safe!

My Summer Romances

Dear Aimee,

Can you share with us some of your favorite books to read this summer?

Empty Bookshelves – Elk City, Oklahoma

It’s summer, and in the Jones house that means sleeping in, staying up late, poolside fun, and of course reading some really great books!  So in the spirit of kicking off the season right, I am going to share with you some of my favorite reads.

The first being a historical romance written by an up and coming author right here in our neck of the plains called Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings.  I’ll share a brief synopsis and try not to give away any spoilers.  Rosa is a beautiful young Mexican widow who stumbles upon some financial difficulties.  She falls in love with a rich Texas cowboy, but the differences between them might be too much to overcome.  It’s filled with all the elements we women love; romance, humor, a beautiful setting, and a strong handsome hero.  Sixty Acres is a late 1800’s re-telling of the Ruth and Boaz story from the Biblical book of Ruth with a few twists. I know you will enjoy the little escape into the wild west.  This book should be enjoyed on the back porch, in a rocker, with a mason jar of iced tea.

The second book recommendation was given to me by a dear friend, a woman I met and have only ever talked to on Facebook.  See, deep and meaningful friendships are made on the magical and invisible World Wide Web everyday.  Anyhow, the book is Kissing Adrien by Siri L. Mitchell.  The reason I loved this book from page one is that most of it takes place in grande Paris! Once again it’s a romance, but modern-day with great humor sprinkled in.  I recommend Kissing Adrien poolside with a lemon Perrier water in hand.

Lastly, but most certainly not least is Submerged by Dani Pettrey.  This book set in Alaska will at least keep your mind cool on a hot Oklahoma evening.  It all begins with a heart quickening plane crash and then you’re hooked. There is an underlying romance to this story as well, but Submerged also has deep layers of drama and mystery as the pages turn.  This one is a stay up late with a caramel latte in your favorite comfy chair kind of book.

All three of these recommendations are great easy reads and will leave you feeling uplifted and refreshed.  I consume books almost as heartily as I do cake, so please friend me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/housewife.reallife and share your favorite summer reads with me and my fellow readers.  Have a safe, fun, and romantic summer!

We Have a Winner!

Thank you and welcome to all of my new email subscribers and hello again to all of my old friends!  I am happy to present you with my first video blog ever.  I am really excited to communicate with you in yet another way, and look forward to many vlogs (video blogs) to come. Thank you Heather Whitsett for sharing your talent and adorable jewelry creations with us. You can find more Heather at the How to be Fancy blog. Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/aEjdYt9moFM

What Do You Get When You Cross a Tiger and an Au Pair??

Dear Aimee,

There are so many books out about parenting techniques in other cultures and countries. I would be interested to know your take on who is raising kids right.

Is Parenting Lost in Translation? – Tuttle, OK

Knowing this question was in my email queue, I did some intensive people watching while at the world mecca of family fun, Orlando, Florida. Whether you are standing in line, eating at a restaurant, swimming at the hotel pool, or clamoring for a dry croissant at the continental breakfast buffet, you are surrounded by mothers, fathers, and children from around the world. It was a great opportunity for a little unprofessional and hugely unscientific sociological study on the family.

Many of the points in the books you are referring to are focused on how to bring about excellence and discipline in a child. Great attributes and nothing to be neglected, however you can have a highly successful child with a long tiresome list of achievements, but if they lack compassion for those around them, have you, as a parent, truly succeeded?

Rudeness and lack of regard for our fellow human is alive and well, it knows no borders, and is never lost in translation. When an adult uses obscene language because a child cut the line at the Tea Cups to join his family, when a woman will cut you off at the faucet while you’re holding your daughter up to wash her hands, when a grown man and his wife will stand on the curb to watch a light parade while three little boys behind them struggle to catch a glimpse of Peter Pan, when you have to be disabled in a wheelchair to garnish an ounce of the human decency every person should be allotted, then something somewhere in our human training has gone terribly awry. My teenage boys showed more care for the children and people around them than many of the adults we encountered.

My kids may not have that killer instinct or the competitive heart to do whatever it takes to be first and win. They may not have been raised by a disciplined Chinese tiger mother, or an unemotional French au pair, but I will accept a second place ribbon any day if it means that they tried their best while treading lightly on this Earth and on those around them. Don’t get me wrong, my kids are not perfect. They learn lessons daily about how to be better citizens of the world, but the more I get to know the world the less I am concerned with them fitting in and rising to the top. No, I’m beginning to prefer that they stand out and adopt a new idea of success, one that involves being considerate and helping others rather than just helping themselves. I’m not sure which country gets credit for that type of behavior; I’m afraid that compassion and putting others first just might be out of this world these days.

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