I married a Chicago Cubs fan

The past couple of weeks I’ve been blowing up my Facebook personal page with Chicago Cubs status updates. It was a thrill this year when they won the wild card against the Pirates, followed by a successful division series against the Cardinals.  Then there was the crushing defeat last night when the Mets swept them in the NLCS.

Truthfully, I have never been a sports person.  About 25 years ago there were sparks of enthusiasm for the high school basketball team, but the highlight was hanging out with friends on the bleachers.  It was all about socializing.  When Dad and the brothers watched their Detroit Tigers, you would have heard me complaining, because I preferred to watch my beloved Little House on the Prairie.

Years later, I met my Dean man.   He turned out to be a “sports guy”.  He enjoys watching  football and he loved playing church softball, but above all, he is a baseball guy.  And not just any baseball guy.  He is a Chicago Cubs fan.

gocubs

Dean grew up in suburban Chicago in the late 70’s.  His family had one small black and white television, complete with tin foil  antenna.  This tv could receive only one channel:  Chicago’s famous WGN.   Are you seeing the connection?  Dean, who is kind of shy, quiet, and was the only boy in the family with two sisters, tunes into the Chicago Cubs. Being a future math teacher, he started tracking  players and stats, even creating his very own game–a sort of baseball solitaire, if you will.   He was hooked. For life.

It’s no surprise that his favorite color is Cubbie blue.  When he asked me to marry him, there was one condition:  I had to attend a game at his beloved Wrigley Field first.

Karen's first Cub game

 

Since he required me to attend a Cub game, I told this city-boy that if he wanted to marry me, he had to milk a cow at my dad’s dairy farm.

misc 006

(I still consider it cheating, because he did not actually touch a cow’s udder, but merely hooked up a milker.)  I digress.

It was during our engagement that I made a decision:  This non-sports person, would become a Chicago Cubs fan too.  Of course, I was in love with the man.  But I also knew from experience that things you adore about the other person when you are dating, can easily become agitations in the future.   Since Dean loved to spend some of his free time watching 2-3 hour long baseball games, I decided I would not kick against the goads.  I would become a Cubs fan too.

We walked into our wedding reception with “Go Cubs Go” playing in the background.

Go Cubs Go!

Naturally, our first child was born on opening day.  We watched the first game of the season in my hospital room, and while you can’t see it in this picture, our son was already wearing his Chicago Cubs onesie with matching booties.

Go Cubs Go

 

We have indoctrinated our children to become Cub fans.  Normally super strict on bed times, we allowed them  to stay up late and watch play-off games the past couple of weeks.

Go Cubs!

In summary, here are some major perks to being married to a Cubs fan:

  • I can buy pretty much anything Cub themed, and my normally frugal husband doesn’t object.
  • It is a wonderful way to spend an evening.  You cannot imagine how much crocheting I can accomplish while spending time with my husband and watching the Cubs.
  • During the off season we keep track of the news, draft and trade information, so there is always good conversation.
  • We dream about someday traveling to watch the Cubs play in several ball parks across the country.
  • If Dean  is loyal to the Cubs through all their ups and some terrible downs, I have no doubt he will always be loyal to me.

Go Cubs Go!

 

How about you?  Have you become a sports fan via marriage?   Would love to hear your comments below.

Why I’m a Big Fan of Opposite-Sex, Christian, Monogamous Marriage

I know that my husband has never slept with another woman.  I was his first and only sexual partner and sex between us began on the day of our wedding.  He even went so far as to reserve our first kiss for marriage. The fact that my husband reserved the most intimate, passionate part of his being for me, provides a sense of trust and comfort for me that he will continue to do so.  He showed respect for me while we were dating, and he continues to respect and cherish me.

First Kiss!  Pure Bliss!

First Kiss! Pure Bliss!

Sacrificial

Christian marriage is understood to be a sacrifice, based on the sacrifice that Jesus made for his bride,the church.¹   I admire the tradition of Orthodox Christian wedding ceremonies when the man and woman wear martyr crowns as a symbol of the self-sacrifice required in marriage.  It is simply putting your spouse above your own needs/desires/interests.

My husband would probably enjoy using all of his spare time to play golf, softball or bowling.  Instead he chooses to spend his time (when not working) with his family.  We certainly take breaks and pursue individual interests, but with the view that it is a time for refreshment, and beneficial to the family as a whole.

Community

Another blessing of being in a Christian marriage means that we live in Christian community.  We worship in our local church as a family. Our pastor encourages Christian marriage and family life. We have fellowship with other believers in all stages of life, single and married.  There are always friends who we can talk to and share struggles with when we are having a difficult time.

Health

There are many health benefits in traditional marriage. My husband has been a tremendous support to me as I have gone through miscarriage,  weight struggles, and grief from losing loved ones. I have supported him as well “in sickness and in health”, through unemployment, job changes and the many difficulties of life.

Fruitfulness

God told the original opposite-sex couple, Adam & Eve, to “Be fruitful and multiply.”²  One obvious way that the marriage is fruitful is when children are born, fostered and/or adopted into the home. This doesn’t mean that having children is the only way to be fruitful.  Christian marriage provides unique avenues for fruitful service and living that serves God and others in the home, church and community.

Statistically, traditional marriage is the most stable environment for children.  Scripture itself promises blessings when we follow God’s instructions for marriage and family life.³

My grandparents, Fred & Ada Vlietstra celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

My grandparents, Fred & Ada Vlietstra celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

I am a grateful recipient of these blessings:

  • My grandparents on both sides were faithful, committed Christian spouses who celebrated over fifty years of marriage.
  • My own parents have been happily married and faithful to one another for over forty-five years.
  • None of my aunts & uncles have divorced. The ones who are married remain with their original spouses.
  • Most of my cousins are also in Christian marriages with very few divorces among them. (I am one of the few who is divorced.  I wrote about that here.)

More posts about my family history here.

No Shame

There is no shame in maintaining an opposite-sex, Christian, monogamous marriage.  I feel shame and regret about many things in my life.  I have struggled with temptations,difficulties, short-comings and sins.  I believe that God not only forgives me, but uses even my sins to draw me closer to Himself.

All that being said, sexual abstinence apart from marriage is  a specific area where I don’t have regrets.  I credit my parent’s teaching in this area. Saying  a firm “no” to sexual temptation (as a teenager, single, dating, engaged and divorced woman) has produced fruitfulness and blessing and joy throughout my life.   Note: I am only speaking from my own experience.  I am not condemning others. I  never claim to be 100% perfect in this area or any other. My favorite book on this subject is Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliot.

Deeply Fulfilling

Because of all these reasons, I heartily recommend Christian, opposite-sex, monogamous marriage.  It is deeply fulfilling to have a passionate lover and friend so opposite from myself.  These differences add conflict (yes, it’s hard…very difficult at times!), but there is the opportunity over time to  learn skills for communication and ultimately, a stronger marriage. In my own experience, this type of marriage  brings tremendous comfort, security, and true romance. Couples that I know personally in these types of marriages have a peace, joy and contentment in the long term that I do not see often in society at large.

It takes a man and woman, both living for God and for one another for it to happen.  It’s crucial to marry an opposite-sex spouse who shares your faith and values.  In that, I am amazingly blessed and I would encourage anyone who desires this type of marriage to pray for that blessing and  pursue it with all of their heart.  If you know my story, you know it did not simply happen for me in the timing and way that I hoped.  But God’s timing is always perfect.

Russian style wedding crowns, 19th century

Russian style wedding crowns, 19th century “Ventsy brachnye” by Shakko – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

¹Ephesians 5:23-29

²Genesis 1:28

³Deuteronomy 4:39-40

Your comments are welcome and appreciated

GraceTruth-600x800

Things I’ve Learned in 2014

1.  Manufactured outrage and the news.  I was taken aback this summer when a fellow Word Weaver blogger used the term “manufactured outrage” and said she wasn’t “taking the bait” anymore.  I was allowing the news stories to take away my peace. Dwelling on them tainted my thoughts with fears and negativity.

Bowe Bergdahl

The Bowe Bergdahl story was a turning point.  Bowe is a beloved son and brother who was raised by a conservative Christian family.  The family attended a church in a denomination that I once attended.  I was baffled at the feeds I was seeing from conservative outlets and the accusations against his parents.  I came across this post which describes in better words how I was looking at the story and processing it.  Seeing the memes and headlines caused me to step back from all the news, the outrage, and the craziness. I won’t “fall for the bait” with the big headlines. I feel more compassion, realizing a situation is usually more complex than anyone can realize from one news story or Facebook page blurb.  (Not that I blindly trusted everything prior to this!)  While still interested in politics and current events, I’m holding the news at arms-length and feeling more peaceful inside; less stirred up.

2.  Consistent homeschooling produces results.  When I didn’t think there was any progress, it was still happening.  My seven year old suddenly took off with reading!  We had serious concerns about learning disorders  when he was reading backwards, mixing up words and switching letters around.  We kept at our phonics workbooks day after day, week after week (seemingly mundane at times), and all of a sudden—it clicked! He apparently reached a developmental milestone and there was rapid change. Now he is reading beyond where we were with our phonics lessons.  I’m amazed how far both children have come in a year, and it gives courage and incentive to stay the course.

3. Life is precious and there is a time for mourning.  We were shocked/delighted to find out we were expecting a baby in February. There were several weeks of hopeful anticipation, followed by a concerning ultrasound, followed by a confirming ultrasound that our baby was gone.  My heart has been grieving that baby all year.  The grief has finally eased up since getting past our “should have been” due date in late October.  That baby was real, that baby was wanted, and that baby was not insignificant in the kingdom of God.  That was the lesson learned.  There isn’t a shortcut for grieving.  Heaven will be all the sweeter to meet my little ones.

4.  In researching family history,  I learned of my rich Christian heritage.  My great-grandparents were common, every day people. They were poor immigrants who were rich in faith. They came to America in hopes of a better life.

On both sides of my family, great-grandparents, grandparents and parents prayed for their offspring to believe in God, to have faith in His Son. God has heard their prayers and answered them by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is my most important inheritance (not based on relationship with my relatives, but because it is now my own through the grace of Christ).  My prayer is that my children will also have this faith.

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

Four generations – 2007

Your thoughts and feedback are always welcome in the comments section below!

I want to be like my mom

It was many years before I was able to become a mom.  My first child was born a month before I turned 36.  When he would.not.sleep. on his back,  my mom visited and gently rolled him over on his belly in the bassinette.  She told me to  get some sleep and reassured me she would watch him.  I was a conscientious new mom and trying to follow all the “sleep on your back” rules.  Mom told me “You all slept on your tummies, and you all survived.  I will sit right here and watch his breathing the whole time.  Go get some sleep.”  I watched as she pulled up a kitchen chair right next to the basinette. For the first time in a few days, the baby and I both had a blissful time of sleep.  I think Grandma was pretty blissful too, having some one-on-one time with her first ever grand-baby.

That was the first of numerous times I discovered my mom has great advice about raising kids.

Always happy to be with her grandbabies!

Fast forward six years. A few months ago I called her, disturbed because this same child–who ended up sleeping on his belly from that moment on– was now caught in several little lies.  She told me “Seems like all of you kids went through a stage like that about his age.  You can’t let them get away with it.  Stick with it (discipline/consequences), and it will pass.”  She was right about that, too.

On a cloudy morning last week the kids were having numerous battles and I was overwhelmed. Time to call mom.  She told me to send them out in the yard to pick up sticks.  After another fight or two outside, it worked like a charm, and my husband was pleased with the big pile of sticks they set up to show him that afternoon.  “Make them run around the house a few times” is her cure for loud crazy kids in the house.

My mom is not a stand-out-of-the-crowd type of person in any way.  Unlike me, she is fairly shy.  She is quiet when there are lots of people around, but when she is with her kids or close family members at home, she can be the life of the party.  She is so much fun, and loves to laugh.  When times are tough, she hops on the John Deere Gator to get some fresh air at the farm, or she sits down at the keyboard to fill the room with a hymn.  She always thinks she should get a job!  (How many times has she told me that!?) However, she is always working, even though she doesn’t get a pay check.

 

Ready to go for a Gator Ride!

 

 

I told mom once that I felt her job was called “being available”.  When my dad calls to ask if she wants to run out to Filmore Equipment with him to pick up some parts, she is always ready to go.  When one of my brothers needs a ride to Martin Spring & Driveline to pick up their truck, she heads out the door to pick them up. She takes her sister-in-law grocery shopping nearly every week.  She hops in her car and drives an hour or two to visit her daughter (ME!) who is feeling overwhelmed with life, illness and  homeschooling her kids. This past week she took us all out for lunch.  Stopped and bought supper for us too, so I wouldn’t have to cook supper that night!   If she hears of someone who is ill, grieving, or having a hard time, she will bring them a hot meal–often that very evening. If you are ever at her house, you will hear the phone ring several times.  It is one of her daughters calling just to talk and share the events of the day.  Her sons call nearly as often,  and know there is always a meal ready if they are hungry.  She is a wonderful cook.  She knows 999 delicious ways to fix ground beef, after many years of being married to a dairy farmer.  Nothing makes her happier then taking a little road trip with dad, whether going to a toy tractor show or visiting antique stores and any place that fancies them along the way.  She doesn’t mind a little adventure now and then.

 

Always ready to go for a ride with dad.  On a combine, or in the car.

 

She can be a little crazy.  She will go buy a pack of Swisher Sweets every few years and smoke them with her daughters out on the porch while they laugh and laugh—all of them normally being non-smokers of course!

 

Mom knows how to have fun!

She has always shown by example how to respect the elderly.  As children, she took us to visit relatives and friends in the nursing home.  She still helps every month with a senior luncheon. When her dad wasn’t doing well in assisted living, she moved him into her house and took care of him.  She loved her parents and treasures their memory. My mom would never “toot her own horn”, and most of what she does is behind the scenes. She will blush like crazy to know that others are reading this about her.  She never spoke to us kids about these things like they were a “lesson to learn”.  She just lives it, and we see it.

She’s not a saint.  (Though you might consider her one, if you knew how I behaved during my teenage years.)   She is a sinner, saved by grace. To me and my brothers and sisters, and others who are privileged to know her well, she is a beautiful woman.  There are many godly women I admire and respect and consider to be heroines as well.  Of all of these,   I love my mom the most, and hope to be just like her.

 

My beautiful mom

My beautiful mom