Wedding Words

When Dave and I married in 1984, we set up a tape recorder to capture the songs and words of our ceremony.  Thanks to some digital magic performed by our son Eric since then, we are still able to listen to the recording.  A few weeks ago, we marked 33 years of marriage and are now anticipating Eric’s marriage to Amanda in just a few days.

Dave and I listened to our wedding recording during a recent car ride that was sandwiched between attending our Best Man’s mother’s funeral and taking our sons and future daughter-in-law to a concert.  That may have been more sentimentality than my husband needed in one day!

What fun it was to listen to the love songs of that time.  We were blessed to have the music played by Molly Rondeau and sung by our friend, Julie (Schoenberger) Monk.  I laughed as we drove along, remembering how I forgot to have my mom seated until most of the theme from Ice Castles was over.  Meticulous plans are sometimes forgotten during the excitement of the day!  Dave experienced his own nervousness that day when our participating priest didn’t arrive until just before the ceremony began.

I was definitely paying attention as the first chords of the Bridal March were played.  I took the arm of my 14 year old brother and walked the aisle with a  smile that never gave way to tears.  However, listening to the recording in the car over three decades later, I heard words that caused me to weep with JOY.  Father Missler opened with a blessing, praying, “Increase their faith in you and in each other and, through them, bless your church with Christian children.”  Hearing those words, I suddenly realized that the prayer was answered!  Dave glanced over to see me crying, barely able to say, “He did it!  God did it!”

There was more to come. We repeated our Words of Intention, Dave being cued by the priest, and I following my pastor.  We promised to love, honor, cherish and sustain each other and to be faithful to each other as long as we both shall live.  What we didn’t say is something that I sheepishly tell the wives in my marriage classes about.  When Rev. Steindam previewed the wedding vows with us, I asked if we could leave out the word “obey” since we wouldn’t be bossing each other around!  He consented.  (I cringe when I remember how smart I thought I was at 23 years old.)

Riding along, we listened to Father Missler read from the fifth chapter of Ephesians about wives being submissive to their husbands and husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church.  Rev. Steindam then gave a message describing how two people who were strangers to each other are drawn together in an irresistible way – a gift from above – and how we must not allow commonplace experiences or difficulties to cause us to lose the vision that brought us to this day of commitment.  He finished by challenging us to read the Bible passage from the book of Ephesians many times throughout the years.

My eyes welled up again as I thought with amazement how God has brought us through every life experience to this moment in 2017 when I am honored to share with women in our church what the apostle Paul taught to the believers in Ephesus about a wife’s respect and submission (see A Different Approach for Wives).  Because of Love and Respect Ministries, I have come to better understand why my husband needs respect and how blessed a couple is when they obey God’s instructions for marriage.

On that day in March of 1984, Dave and I lit a unity candle as a “symbol of one new life that has been created out of two lives”.  Praise be to God!  We are His and He has made us one. I eagerly anticipate hearing the joyful music and  the Wedding Words as our son and his beautiful bride marry.  We will pray with them, applaud them, and celebrate with both families as their new life as husband and wife begins.

The LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23




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Annual Snake Hunt

One thing I love about our Eastern Ohio town is the close proximity to retail, restaurants, church, etc. and to nature’s flora and fauna.  It’s hard to imagine, living in our quiet neighborhood in St. Clairsville, that trains used to run about a block from here.  In 1997, a 2 1/2 mile Rails-to-Trails project transformed the abandoned track into a wonderful paved bike and walking path that includes the 522′ tunnel where trains passed under Route 40, a 342′ bridge that crosses Route 9, and a new tunnel that underpasses I70.  Those impressive features interest to a natural tree-lined trail where spring rains flow down cut hills and ever-changing seasons bring early spring flowers as well as stunning fall leaves.

The flora is beautiful, if not somewhat predictable, however the fauna can be quite surprising.  Lacing up our sneakers and heading for the trail is a favorite exercise and get-away all in one.  Every time we visit the National Road Bikeway, a variety of birds are present, including many of my favorite cardinals.  But, once in a while, a group of wild turkeys strut down a hill and cross the path in front of us.

As in our backyard, gray squirrels scurry and forage about along the trail.  However, one of the best surprises about living here is the presence of white squirrels.  I was amazed at seeing seven of them during one walk!  This one lives in an oak tree next door and visits our yard daily.

Leashed dogs are permitted on the path, and we’ve seen countless breeds.  But one afternoon while I was on a solo walk, a coyote stepped out of the brush to cross in front of me.  I have no idea how I would have reacted had a neighbor not reported a week earlier that she had seen one in our neighborhood.  The large canine and I both stopped in our tracks for a moment before he moved off to the other side and disappeared.  This was so alarming to me that I called the police department to let them know that a wild animal was in town.  No reaction.  I’ve since learned that folks who live outside of town are familiar with the howls of coyotes and that they do wander into town now and then.

We often we see white-tailed deer grazing along the trail, but we need only look out our back window to watch them resting or nibbling on our landscape plantings.  I’ve decided that I enjoy the deer more than hydrangeas anyway.

Other wildlife sightings include a fox and her kits, tadpoles and bullfrogs, and evening bats.  And then there were the 17 year Cicadas whose crescendoing drone was loud enough to send us to the mall to walk last summer.   

So we have mammals, insects, amphibians, birds, and, oh yes, reptiles.  It’s not surprising that snakes enjoy the trail’s access to shade, water, and an asphalt path for afternoon sunning.  What surprised me while out on an early spring walk not long after moving here was the sight of MANY small snakes swimming downstream in the ditch beside the path.  I’ve since realized that our spring garter snake broods, which can number 3-80, leave the nest shortly after St Patrick’s Day.  While not crazy about being surprised by a snake on the path, I have taken an interest in locating the little fellers on early warm afternoons such as we experienced earlier this week.  I’ve learned to stop and listen for them slithering among the dead leaves on the hills and then to spot the camouflaged reptiles.  When I’m successful, I can’t help but share my excitement with other walkers and smile at their reactions.  Those who are wearing headphones, riding bikes, or walking dogs are not likely to notice the emerging snake population.  Let me be clear.  I stand on the paved path and view the snakes while having NO INTEREST in venturing into their habitat.  Anyway, it’s against Bikeway rules.

Garter snakes are pretty nonthreatening .  On occasion, though, a 3 to 4 foot black snake startles a walker.  I’ve only seen one once.  It was lying in the grass beside the path.  My husband, however, was notified by our mail carrier one afternoon that there was a big snake resting beside our front porch.  Mercifully, I was not home at the time (although I would have snapped a picture) and only heard the story of the disposing of the snake when I returned.  I guess we don’t get to choose which critters make their way from the country into our quiet little neighborhood.




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Other Things Collected

Perhaps it was viewing a collection of funeral memorabilia (see Memorable Memorials)as well as an artistic display of Freida Warther’s buttons located at the Warther Museum and Gardens, that sparked the idea of writing about things, other than thoughts, that I’ve collected.The first things I can remember collecting were cancelled stamps beginning with a 1/2 cent stamp found on an envelope in Grandma’s attic, Lincoln Wheat Pennies, and porcelain horse figurines.  The stamps and pennies were treasures that I accumulated just by paying attention to what passed through my hands.  The horses were purchased with my own money and proudly displayed, then later passed along to a friend with a similar collection.

Not all collections are displayed.  Some are kept in secret places to be discovered from time to time and delighted in once again.  Just the other day, I pulled the rubber band off the bundle of love letters my husband sent during our dating days and was reminded of days gone by.  Photo collections from our kids’ childhoods are carefully stored in albums, ensuring that the memories don’t fade away.  When they were young boys, I subscribed to Family Fun Magazine.  Just last year, I leafed through the pile of issues, tearing out a few pages before recycling the magazines.  These days I subscribe to Cooking Light and tear out a couple of recipes each month to add to my recipe collection.  My other utilitarian collections include crochet patterns and flute music.

The value of my collections is much more sentimental than material.  I love to pick up a souvenir when on a trip, and have gathered bells from some states we’ve visited.  The Rooster bell  with salt and pepper shakers is from my mom’s large collection of sets that she has been parting with.

It’s nice when someone you love has a collection. When Mom was collecting a set of animal salt and peppers for each letter of the alphabet. I experienced the thrill of the hunt, locating a pair of Quails.  With a sister collecting clowns, I would buy or crochet one for her from time to time.  She has narrowed the collection to Emmitt Kelly Jr. figures, so I keep my eyes open for his sad face at antique stores .  With a son who loves Nintendo’s Mario collectables, it has been fun to present him with a hard-to-find figure once in a while.  As a kid of the 90s, Kyle also enjoyed the Beanie Baby craze and I gathered a selection of red, white, and blue bears to add to my Americana decor. Interesting fact:  those who collect teddy bears are called Arctophiles.

In 1992, we moved from Ohio to North Dakota, a state where Northern Cardinals fear to fly.  I had enjoyed watching the bright red birds in Ohio and hatched the idea to collect Cardinal sun catchers and attach them to my dining room window.  This was my favorite collecting experience.  I’ve disposed of broken or faded ones, but still have a few of the sun catchers.  Back in Ohio for 20 years now, this may be the time to choose a favorite one and put the rest in my garage sale.  Here are some that remain.

In 1999, the 50 State Quarters Program began.  It is reported that roughly half of the U.S. population collected those quarters, either casually or as a serious pursuit.  Here’s my complete group of State Quarters  which we still display.  Finite collections are satisfying and not as likely to encroach on space or sanity.

I currently have an open-ended collection of angel figurines who play flutes.  They have special meaning for me as a flutist.  They’re a little hard to find, especially angels who know that the flute is held to the right side of the body.  All but a few taller pieces are displayed on a china closet shelf in our dining room.

While collecting thoughts about collecting, I read a lighthearted article written by Mark B. McKinley, Ed.D., professor of psychology at Lorain County Community College in Ohio.  McKinley describes the evolution of collecting, the motivations to collect, collecting vs hoarding, and hoarding as pathology. He begins with the statement, “Everybody collects something.”  What do you collect?


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Memorable Memorials

It was a little strange pulling into the empty parking lot of Toland-Herzig Funeral Home and Famous Endings Museum and then walking in to do some sightseeing.  Some on-line searching for attractions in Dover, Ohio, had unearthed the museum where John Herzig displays his extensive and fascinating collection of funeral memorabilia. My husband and I were planning an anniversary get-away and I thought he would like the historical aspect of Famous Endings.  Dave and I were both amazed by the memorial that honors “those who have touched our lives”, including actors, astronauts, presidents, inventors, singers and writers.  Some honorees died centuries ago and many during our lifetime.  Mr. Herzig keeps the display up-to-date, already having photos of Justice Scalia and Mary Tyler Moore included.  We gave the very tasteful Famous Endings Museum two thumbs up while realizing that some would find entering a funeral home as a tourist difficult to even consider. (I may have been more tentative to go inside had a family been gathered to say good-bye to a loved one in another part of the building.)

Just a couple of weeks ago, Dave and I attended the memorable memorial service for a quiet man who touched our lives.  He was not famous or wealthy.  He was constrained to a wheel chair during the decades that we knew him.  We only saw him during family celebrations such as birthday and graduation parties.  His funeral lasted less than thirty minutes, but his legacy was evident as his grandsons spoke of the impact he made on their lives.  His physical limitations sparked creativity resulting in little inventions that helped him take care of himself and his family.  Every person who spoke of him, including his pastor, marveled at how he handled the difficulties of his life without complaining and was quick to help anyone in need.

The only music played during his service accented the hope of Heaven and the appreciation for a simple country life.  The uplifting message that his pastor shared with the roomful of grieving family members and friends is one that I won’t soon forget.

After relating that the last words spoken by this man who died on February 15 were “I love you”, the pastor presented the message of John 3:16 as a Valentine from God. He then described three ways that God loves us.

  1. God loves us as a father.  Stating that he was not raised by his biological father, but by his step-dad, the pastor recognized that we do not choose our parents and that it can be difficult for some to relate to God as a father.
  2. God loves us as a spouse or companion.  While a comforting thought to many, this idea can also be tainted by the difficulties that some experience in marriage.
  3. God loves us as a friend.  He chose to show his love for the world by reaching down through his only son, Jesus, and we can enter the friendship by reaching up in faith.  In this one way, we can have eternal life with God.

During his message, the pastor shared a famous ending, telling of Joe DiMaggio’s love for Marilyn Monroe.  Their marriage was short, but DiMaggio was a friend until the end and handled Marilyn’s funeral arrangements. During the years that followed, he saw that fresh roses were placed on her crypt two times a week.

Finally, the pastor stated that God expresses His love for each of us in the same way, seeing that beautiful wildflowers bloom each spring to remind us of how much we are loved.

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