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Today I’m linking up with my good buddy Lauren for Oh Snap!shots of the Week.

Happily Mother After

Here’s my Katie Pearl, right proud of herself after climbing into the rocking chair to watch the big kids in the neighborhood get on the bus. It’s just about her favorite morning activity.



Mike’s granddaddy Jud turns 98 this coming weekend, and my great-aunt Pearl will be 99 this October. Both of them are remarkably sharp in the mind to be as near 100 as they are, and Mike and I have both spent several hours listening to their stories. Granddaddy Jud’s tale about the first time he shoed a horse is worth hearing over and over (which is handy when you’re a Nelson and you hear the same stories a lot). Aunt Pearl’s memory of December 7, 1941 can bring tears to my eyes.

It may be time-consuming to visit your older relatives. You may have to yell at them to be heard (heaven knows Mike and I have done our share). You may hear the same story a few different times. But when they’re gone, you’ll be so very, very glad you did.

Mike and I have tried to make a practice in our marriage of praying together daily, typically in the mornings. Lately, we’ve moved to the cell phone prayer which, admittedly, took no small amount of getting used to. Rather than trying to eat my cereal in a whirlwind of milk and Cheerios so we can pray before Mike leaves, we make use of the hour or so he spends driving to work.

In these morning prayers, we are intentionally small. For the most part, we pray about things happening that day – doctor’s appointments, meetings with customers, projects that need completing, and other daily issues.

The best part about it is that when I’m in the middle of trying to get a project finished and out the door, it brings me peace to know my husband is asking God to help me with it. When he’s having lunch with a friend, I think Mikey likes knowing I’m praying for him to receive and impart Godly wisdom.

orange-giftI’ve been working on a big project in the last week that has kept me up late, up early, away from home, and away from just about everything else.

But let me tell you, if you are in any kind of family ministry, you have a lot to look forward to. It’s a huge gift you’ll get in a little over three months.

  • For a very close friend or family member: Buy a blank journal with 25-30 pages at a craft store, along with some fun pens and scrapbooking stickers. On each page, write abougiftt a memory you have with the person you’re making the book for. Decorate with doodles, stickers, or photos if you have them. Estimated cost: $10-12
  • For your mom or dad: Find old photos of yourself and your siblings and put them in a collage frame with a large white mat (these are always on sale at discount stores). On the mat, write a favorite Bible verse, a poem, or a quote about family or home. Estimated cost: $15-20
  • For your spouse: Plan a close-to-home weekend trip doing something your spouse loves like hiking, camping, playing a sport, visiting historic sites, or touring a free museum or art gallery. Atlanta has a great website for searching for free and cheap events; look for a similar site in your city. Estimated cost: $20-30
  • For anyone: Buy a set of white canvas place mats and fabric paint and create custom table linens. You don’t even have to be artistic – find an image or design you like and trace it onto the place mat, or paint basic stripes or circles, or print the person’s name or monogram. Estimated cost: $10-15

I have the two most precious girls alive as nieces. I adore them and would do just about anything to please them, so you’ll understand if I’m tempted to buy every piece of Disney princess paraphernalia in existence to gift-wrap for them on Christmas. toomanypresents

The problem, however, is that they have parents, two sets of grandparents, and great-grandparents. And we all want to make them happy. So when we all buy three or four gifts for each girl, they end up with no less than fifteen gifts each. Thirty total.

Thirty Christmas presents.

I’m not sure I’ve gotten thirty Christmas presents in the past five years. What’s more, it often takes them several days to open all their gifts.

So, as much as it pains us to do so, Mike and I limit ourselves to buying them one gift each. Once we have kids, we’re thinking of imposing a limit on the number of gifts each of our parents contributes, so as to combat the excess that marks Christmas for us rich Americans.

I’ll let you know how that turns out …

I’m not afraid to admit it – I kind of like being a cheapskate.

I have a relatively small budget for buying Christmas presents for this guy (at least, compared to what I see some other people spending at Christmas), so it’s vitally important to me that I get the maximum amount of gifts with the money I have to spend. And you know what? It actually makes gift giving more fun to me when I research and plan and compare prices via an intricate system of spreadsheets.

If I put this kind of effort into maximizing all the rest of the money I spent, I’d be in Italy right now.cinqueterre

If you’ve read this week’s posts wondering, “Do Beth and Mike have something they need to tell me?”, the answer is no. I’ve just been on a parenting kick this week after finding out about the existence of a baby spa near my house. A baby spa. Like where three-year-olds get pedicures. A baby spa. Good gravy.

These are all names of actual ancestors, either mine or Mike‘s.

  • Lunie – pronounced “looney”
  • Estelle – I wouldn’t be able to get past the image of Sophia from The Golden Girls
  • Cicero – as much as I love Italy …
  • Azarah – was that Gargamel’s cat on The Smurfs?
  • Gertrude – that one might be a little close to home, but can you imagine calling a two-year-old Gertie?

One thing I love most about Mike is his hands. They’re big. We can’t hold hands while interlocking fingers because it makes my hands hurt after a few minutes. They’re strong. I never have and never will win a tickle fight. They’re also covered with tons of little scars.

After we had dated for several months, I asked him about that. What’s with all the scars? His response: I was a good kid. He didn’t mean he ate all his peas and said yes ma’am and went to youth group every week. He meant he was good at being a kid.

He played. He ran. He fell down. He got cut and scratched and scraped. His mom didn’t keep him inside, safe on the couch, reading a book. His dad didn’t tell him he couldn’t play baseball because he might mess up his shoulder.

I dig that. I want to raise kids who are good at being kids.

I am well aware that, as yet, I have no children. Thus, I am not a parent. However, having been raised by parents, I feel somewhat qualified to speak on these issues.

A year or two after I graduated from college, I heard about some high school friends who had gotten divorced before I’d even gotten married. I heard about some friends who were deep into drugs and others who had multiple children outside of marriage.13goingon30

Almost without exception, these people had parents who were really cool. In high school, I’d spent time at their houses and they had the parents who let us watch R movies. They rarely had curfews. A lot of them (the kids, I mean) drove nice cars.

My parents were kind of straight. There was a lot I wasn’t allowed to do, things a lot of my friends could do. They knew when I couldn’t be trusted, and they protected me against it. Even against my will. They didn’t dress like they were my age. They set boundaries and held me to them.

My friends who had parents like mine ended up doing well as adults – one was a missionary, and another married a youth minister. One spent several years in Asia teaching English to little kids, and another was a teacher at an inner-city school in the US.

I think I’ll be the dorky parent, thank you.