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An Arranged Marriage

By Tony W.

The pastor of the church my wife and I attend frequently speaks about the huge difference our perspective can make as we navigate life. For example, make a big mistake at work and you can see it as a valuable lesson that will help you in the future or as a confirmation that you will never be successful. Same mistake, same workplace, same you – the critical difference in your perspective.

This teaching about the importance of perspective combined with an article I read about the statistically higher success rate of arranged marriages led me to an “A-ha!” moment about marriages in general and my marriage specifically.

wedding1If you prayed about finding the right person to marry, wouldn’t you consider when you did find them that the match was arranged by the Ultimate Match-Maker? Especially if it took awhile to find your match and it came about in an unexpected manner? This Match-Maker’s done some impressive work in the past – Adam and Eve, Ruth and Boaz, Joseph and Mary. What if your marriage also was personally arranged by Him?

The article said cultures with predominantly arranged marriages have much lower divorce rates and now research also has established those in arranged marriage are just as likely to report being happy with their spouse as those in “love” marriages. It’s complicated but experts believe husbands and wives have diminished expectations going into an arranged marriage so then are happily surprised when their spouse exceeds those expectations. Conversely in love marriages,  when spouses feel they have found their perfect match, the expectations are much higher and often result in disappointment when incompatibilities emerge.

The Waco Back Story

My wife and I often say how fortunate we were to find each other and how unlikely it was that we both were in Waco, Texas at the same time, working at the same company. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. When I was first attracted to her and asked her to lunch hoping to get to know her better, she accepted but promptly let me know over Chinese food that she was dating someone and would want to be my “friend.” Over a year went by with us occasionally talking at work or having a meal together, sometimes in a group situation. All along I was visiting churches and praying on a regular basis (it’s what you do in Waco) and I’m sure those prayers sometimes mentioned my future wife by name.

As I got to know her better and did, in fact, become her friend, there always seemed to be a quiet voice inside me saying “she’s the one.” The voice seemed to note each positive quality about her that came to light as we talked.

“Wow, did you hear that? She really would be good for you.”

And then one day, things between us changed. She started to see me differently. Within a few months, I went from being her “friend” to being her fiancé, then being her husband, and

  • moving across country together for her dream job,
  • having a beautiful baby girl,
  • having a wonderful baby boy,
  • moving back to Texas,
  • buying a house together,
  • raising our children and two boys from my first marriage,
  • growing ever closer as we’ve aged, plus
  • still being in love after 22 years.

So while it’s not a big leap of faith for me to think a Higher Power brought us together, I had never considered the idea of our marriage being the purposeful act of the Ultimate Match-Maker. Churches talk about putting God at the center of your marriage, and maybe one of the best ways of doing that is to simply consider your marriage as having been arranged by Him.

Not So Heavenly

If He brought you and your spouse together, wouldn’t it make sense that He is taking an active interest in keeping you together? I’ve come to believe He does. Sure, we have friction and challenges but the Match-Maker never told me my wife would be perfect. He just kept emphasizing all that was good about her and that it might be possible for her to be my wife one day.

When I’m feeling a little neglected or misunderstood, I take those complaints to Him. But because he is all-knowing, there’s no fudging on what I’ve done or not done to further a situation. Before I address a problem, I start by thanking Him for finding my match and acknowledging what a great addition my spouse has been to my life. When I do this, things are sure to get better soon.  Part of the reason this works is that He put into both of our hearts a focus on what we like about each other, not a fairy-tale expectation. “A-ha!”

Grow Organically

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By LK

Not everything that grows starts with a seed. A friendly co-worker said I should go see the Chairy Orchard next time I was in Denton, TX. So I did.

It was at once chaotic and wonderful.

From the diminutive toy chairs to the giant Papa Bear chair with a stuffed bear sitting in it, the empty lot that was christened the Chairy Orchard was just the right diversion. The story goes that the children of the lot’s neighboring houses used to play there often but have since grown up and gone away.

The adults wanted to make use of the space and created a whimsical respite for all ages.

I hope you enjoy the images and consider making the trip for yourself. Bring a chair that needs a home; all are welcome here.

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Yet Another Tree Story for Earth Day

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In 2000, we started looking for our first home. This place was too small, that one was too expensive. Then we found one where the size was good and the price right because the couple was divorcing (it happens). I was sold on it at the curb because of the trees.

If you live in North Texas, you understand the attraction. You seek trees in hot parking lots and sports fields and just about anywhere else really, especially when there’s no breeze. I used to make the kids crisscross the street to the shadier side on their walk home from elementary school.

Two trees on the west side of our front yard provide a canopy of cool as you walk up the curvy sidewalk to the door. The first one you see is the Bradford pear.

This much-maligned ornamental lives 18-25 years because as it matures, the canopy spreads, pulling down limbs as it grows, even to the point of splitting at times. Some people don’t like the way they look so they cut them down. Their growth pattern makes it easy for nature to carve out a tree that IS hard to love.

Part of the issue with our property is that after we moved in, we realized that two other mature trees, not Bradford pears, should be cut down. The one on the west side of the house was dead. The one on the east side of the front of the house seemed to have three trunks and we feared one branch might be splitting and possibly falling onto the neighbor’s house. Nope, another goner.

I’m not just rooting for this Bradford pear’s longevity because now I only have two trees instead of three in the front yard.

No, I’m partial to the pear because it’s full of life —

even though it’s been cracked open by freezing rain,

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neatly pecked by the street woodpecker

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and otherwise disturbed by microbursts.

(I’m sure our neighbors across the way hate the view.)

So my husband carefully prunes those heavy branches. We sweep the flower detritus from the walkway and rake the leaves as the seasons require. And after every storm, we check on the Bradford pear first.

This is our welcome tree: Beautiful in its imperfection and ferociously resilient. I would like to be like that.

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(By the way, the second tree, a native live oak, is doing well, providing shade over the roof and protection from hail. The squirrels love it, too.)

By LK

 

 

The Cal State Fullerton Treatment Room

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I have a successful dental practice in a relatively remote location in Northwest Arkansas — a resort-retirement community. My office has three treatment rooms, each one decorated with pleasant pictures, to put patients at ease. The Cal State Fullerton room pays homage to my undergraduate years and I still follow this school’s sports teams online, especially baseball.

One day, Preston was welcomed to this shrine. He asked if I’d gone to school there and when. He shared that he had grown up there knowing another “Bushay.” Before we knew it, he was making a connection to my family.

I was skeptical until he said he knew my dad AND his brother, Brent.

Byron and Brent were only 11 months apart. Preston said he didn’t remember Dad having any girlfriends in school (he and Mom got married before graduation). But he recalled Brent having several and that rang true.

He mentioned that both brothers seemed to know the principal well!  He reBBushaymembered Dad joining the Army soon after high school and the newspaper article about his death.  And even my Dad’s program to have seeds sent to him in Vietnam for distribution to farmers.

Even though I was running way behind on the day’s appointments, I just pulled up a chair and settled in for a good chat. Preston knew my Dad from first grade on.

He said he might be able to locate his yearbooks, which could have pictures I’ve never seen. Over 49 years after Dad’s death and 1,576 miles from where I was born, I got to know more about Staff Sergeant Byron Haley Bushay, who died as a result of friendly fire in 1966 during the Vietnam War when he was only 22. Everything I knew about this 11F-Infantry Operations and Intelligence Specialist I got from my Mom and official documents. I wasn’t quite two years old when he died.

Preston is the only person outside of my family that I have ever met who knew my dad. Now I have a bigger picture of my Father from a complete stranger who just happened to need a dentist in a little corner of Arkansas. What are the chances of that happening?

By T. Bushay

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A Show-Off Flower in the Rose Vase

My husband has a knack for finding good deals. I love him for this.

Last Sunday was no exception. He purchased a bouquet that included red roses, baby’s breath, unopened lilies and some netting. Quickly discarding the netting, he arranged two vases. One for his lovely Mother who he was visiting that day and one for me. We have had several conversations and he knows that I am NOT his mother. But I can enjoy flowers like one.

My Not-My-Mother flowers sit on the window counter right above the kitchen sink so I can’t miss them. The roses are what I would call true red but the lilies were not in bloom so their color served as greenery. I recalled that I don’t appreciate the way lilies smell (there are worse smelling flowers) but tried not to think about it. After a little while, you know, as you go about your day, the flowers inevitably became an invisible fixture, something like the toaster.

Until mid-week that is. The only lily of the bunch opened, screaming “LOOK AT ME” with its flamboyant pink color, delicate rippled-edged petals and hefty anthers supported by slender green filaments. I didn’t even notice any odor.

Wow. What a show and what a treat. I think the roses are a bit envious.

By LK

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Time to Embrace your RBF

My RBF

By Melinda Y.

I used to be offended when someone called me a snob or told me I was unapproachable. But now I really don’t care.  I’ve learned to accept the fact that I have a condition called Resting Bitch Face or RBF.

This condition is found in women around the world and while some try to correct it, I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. Rather than overcompensate by adding smiley faces to every email, plastering a big fake smile on my face when meeting someone new or laughing at every little joke in the workplace, I let my face be.

Yes, that sounds bitchy, I know.  In my life of 70-hour work weeks, a daily 2-hour commute, swim team, early morning UIL competitions, single parenting teenagers, OCD cleaning tendencies and marathon training, my time is limited. I am an introvert so forcing myself to be friendly with people who don’t really care is not something I go out of my way to do. This isn’t about being mean, it’s about being real.

Do you wonder if you might have RBF? Chances are you do if you been the focus of these unsolicited remarks:

  1. Smile! We hear this from strangers without any warning. I should add that their reason for smiling is rarely one that I find smile-worthy.
  2. I thought you were a snob. Because we are naturally more reserved or quiet around people we don’t know, we get this comment all the time.
  3. You look so mad all the time. Chances are we have a million things on our minds and your perception of our lack of ‘smiley-ness’ is not a top priority.
  4. Wow, you’re actually really nice. This is usually said after the other person has taken 5 minutes to get to know us.
  5. Show some emotion. Women often are seen as cute and vulnerable when they cry at a sappy movie or a hurt puppy. For those of us with RBF, our reactions are different. We act rather than react.

So if you have RBF or you know someone who does, keep in mind that with this person:

If you get a smile, it is genuine.

If you get a laugh, you’re truly funny.

If we show emotion, it is heartfelt and should be taken seriously.

If you make a friend, you’ve got a loyal, hard-core woman in your court.

We are the women who don’t let emotions run our lives. There is nothing wrong or bitchy about that.

Eleventh Heaven

By Amanda S.

Maybe I was looking for stability. Dad used to manage Target distribution centers – he’d get them up and running for 18 months, and then our family was off to the next site/state. At some point in eighth grade, deep into a diary one weekend, I decided I needed something that would ground me, keep me me, and that the number 11, with its mysterious pull lately, was the answer. “It’s the first two marks when you’re drawing a smiley face!” I reasoned in the diary. Okaaay.

And then, 11 changed my life.

I started small, making wishes at 11:11 a.m. and 11:11 p.m. and setting my alarm clock for 7:04 or 9:02 because the digits added up to 11. I felt me, and it got sillier. I’d eat 11 M&Ms at a time, watch TV at volume 11, cheer anyone in a #11 jersey.

In a move that sticks with me today, I decided that the 11th of each month, I’d do something new and different – that no matter how many times my family would move, how many new schools full of strangers, I’d have one thing for me. Maybe a new shirt to wear that day, or sampling a new food (still hate you, mushrooms!) Bigger attempts have been made, like horseback riding, trying peanut butter beer at the Great American Beer Festival, flying first class, and getting tossed from a mechanical bull.

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The point is, it’s a built-in way to challenge myself.

Sometimes it’s still a small act – I’ll use all my Birchbox products for the first time on an 11th, or I’ll see a movie at a theater in a part of town I’ve never been to on an 11th. And sometimes it’s a big act – I adopted a cat on a November 11th and named her Ellie. I tried like mad to get married on 11/11/2011, but so did every bride in Arizona, so my anniversary is 11/5/2011. On 11/11/2011, though, I nailed a $300 PaiGow Poker hand and ziplined across the old Las Vegas strip, so it’s not all bad.

I thought I may get engaged on an 11th, but Kit knew that and he waited until the 12th. When he brings home flowers just because, there’s always 11 stems. The extra ends up with a coworker or a stranger outside the store. (Oooh that MAN.)

I listen more than speak and tend to be an introvert, and I think all the moving, with the finite time to meet people and grow friends, made me a people-pleaser more than I care to admit. So I cling like crazy to 11ths. Just ooone day a month, I can nerd out, do what I want, find or add meaning to whatever I want. There’s always a buzz in the air those days.

Sometimes it drifts to others. Every so often, someone will mention making a wish at 11:11 or forward me a news link that “11/11 is the equivalent of ‘Black Friday’ in China.” Warms my dumb old heart. As it turns out, I have traditions that are freeing and all me no matter where I am.