A Year of Firsts

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Mark and I have lots of requests to revive this blog, but our life has become so incredibly full, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to sustain another project. However, today, I find myself with some time as I’m confined at home with a respiratory infection and also, the nature of the day compels me to write a bit.

This year began rather strangely — just a couple of weeks after the birth of our 5th grandchild in late January, I was called to Texas to help with my Mother, who was in the hospital wth a laundry list of serious health concerns. She was in and out of ICU and my sisters needed more help to stay with her at the hospital. My first trip down, I had five days with her and she was in pretty good spirits, all things considered. Mentally she was quite sharp and we reminisced about many things. She also asked about each member of our family in Kansas — needing a person-by-person report. Since she lived up here in Andover on two different occasions, she also knows a lot of people at NewSpring and asked about each of them as well.

Mother had many friends and relatives who came to visit. One afternoon, she had 23 visitors in the waiting room. We had to divide into groups and go into her room in shifts. In addition to the time with my Mother, I got to visit with aunts and cousins I hadn’t seen in years. At the end of the five days, I returned home to take up my responsibilities at the church, thinking she would be dismissed after a week in rehab, but got called again a few days later as she was re admitted to ICU and my sister was taken ill, so I needed to fill in for her.

It was during the second trip (only 3 days) that Mother became convinced she was dying. We talked very frankly about it and she assured me she was ready to go. Having said that, the doctors kept assuring us that she was not at end of life, so I left on a Friday to resume responsibilities only to get a message that next Tuesday that she was gone. She was almost 91 years old and I don’t think we left anything unsaid, but I would have hugged her a little tighter if I had know it was the last time.

She died in March and when her birthday came in April, it was sad, but I tried to imagine her celebrating in Heaven with my Dad who moved to Heaven back in 2010. In May, when Mother’s Day came around, I realized she was reunited with her Mama and they were so close in this life, I’m sure it was a sweet time for them. I did find myself wanting to rewind and redo some Mother’s Days that I didn’t express my love as I would have wanted to. Regret is a hard condition because there is no remedy.

Today is my birthday and there has never been a year that Mother didn’t call and wish me Happy Birthday. As a mom myself, I would share with her that I always think of her on my birthday as she was such an integral part of that experience! I also know that she remembers that day WAY better than I do. She has shared the story with me many times so that I can almost envision what it was like for her. Of course, I have NO memory of that day, but without my Mother’s love to take on number 4 with an already crowded family, I wouldn’t be here. I truly owe her my life. Just 12 years later, she could have legally disposed of me. She wouldn’t have of course, but she had just gone through long months taking care of my older sister through a life-threatening disease and she had a full house with a limited budget. I’m quite sure I was inconvenient. I remember someone telling me once what a burden I had been as a baby — bad timing, cried all the time, etc. When my mother heard of it, she was LIVID! She said she asked God for each one of her children and she very much wanted me. I would hope that all mothers express such love and acceptance to their children no matter what the circumstance.

Perhaps the most sobering thing about this year is the awareness that Mark and I have entered a new season of life. It seems like just yesterday, we were bringing our babies home from the hospital, but now it’s our grand babies going home in the arms of our grown children. Of our four parents, only one is still living. Those sandwich years are almost over, then we become the top slice of the bread instead of the peanut butter in the middle. It all happened so fast! And, why is it that busy days consume lives faster than newspaper in the fire?

Mark and I have often discussed the seasons of our life together and since we were just children when we met and lived in the same area before that, I’m so glad we can walk pretty much all the way down memory lane together. We smile and shed tears as we remember all the amazing things God has let us experience and we shed tears over the regrets of opportunities missed, even though God is so faithful to redeem our mess-ups. God is SO good to us!

Our goal in this new season is to be thankful every day and apply God’s wisdom very carefully as the days left are short.

Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years when you say, “I find no pleasure in them.” Ecclesiastes 12:1

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Looking Forward

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There’s nothing quite like the cool, crisp air to boost my spirit after a couple of rainy days. I am NOT a rainy day person even though I thanked God sincerely for the much needed moisture

As the calendar carries us into the holiday season, I’m committed to pulling out all the stops to make this year a huge celebration at the Hoover house. It’s not possible to retrieve the time lost last year, but we can be very intentional as we celebrate God’s blessings this year! Read More

Point Three

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I’ve had a few hours now to calm down from bringing the talk for the fourth time this weekend, but I still think that parenting is the toughest thing we get into as human beings.  So challenging, so complicated, and who even knows what the final score is until God adds it up?

Anyway, in the two morning services, with time limited due to the appeal I made for volunteers, (by the way, thanks to all of you who responded so overwhelmingly… you really excited some leaders, I can tell you that!)  I actually had to leave out the third point in my list of things you want in your parenting experience. Read More

Summer Excitement

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It’s been a long time coming, so we are savoring the arrival of summer 2010. (I did have a dream last week that we had another snow storm in the middle of June. I think that was from all the times I wondered out loud if winter would ever end.)

At the Hoover house, we just enjoyed a visit from some of our kin folks from Burnet, Texas. It was a sweet reunion for Mark’s dad, WM to spend time with three of his siblings, John, James and Faye and also John’s son, Dennis. When the Hoovers get together they eat, share stories and sing. These are memories to treasure. Read More

Seasons and Things

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It looks like another cloudy, unseasonably cool day here in Kansas. I’m thankful for the moisture which is needed to keep things green and growing, but I really miss the sunshine when the clouds stay more than a day or so. This reminds me of what I used to hear as a child when the weather seemed out of the ordinary — that it was a sign of the end times. Actually, I’ve never found the verse that they were referring to, but in case you’ve been told the same thing, there is a verse you might like to know. It was after the flood and God was making his covenant with Noah. Among the promises God made, you may find this one interesting. Read More

The Thanksgiving Police

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Mark and I were out for a little walk yesterday and as we usually do, we had music playing to help us keep a good pace. We hadn’t gone far before we saw a lady coming toward us on the opposite side of the street. As she came up almost parallel to us, she shouted something that I couldn’t quite make out, so I asked Mark to repeat it for me. He said, “She said it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!” Read More

The Most Important Key

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Another Question from Love Songs:

What, with your experience with couples, do you feel is the most important key to a long happy marriage?

Unconditional love.

Long marriages are not always happy. This is a reality because life is not always happy. Living life as partners means you love on the good days and you love on the not-so-good days. You love when you don’t “feel like” loving. You love when your love is not reciprocated. You love when the future looks good and you love when it looks like there is no future. Read More

How to Respect

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One of the questions that came in during the Love Songs series:

You said we as women are called to respect! Your husband is a godly man following biblical values! But you as the women find it hard to show respect! How?

First of all, we women need to remember that our “nature” is not to respect, it is to control (see Genesis 3). One of the first strategies to gain control, is to assume a superior position. I believe that is why so many women systematically dismantle their husband’s self-esteem. She is quick to point out each of his faults and failures and trumpet her own successes. A woman may say — even to herself — that she is providing constructive criticism to make her husband and their marriage better, but in reality this behavior is very destructive to both.

Back to the question, “How do you respect?” My answer would be that you choose to respect. Make a decision to stop looking for faults, stop all criticism (contructive or not) and start building up each attribute or action you see in your husband that you admire. Look hard for every positive thing and express admiration and gratitude sincerely and often.

Mary Alice

Why can’t you be like my mom?

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If you’re a NewSpringer you know this already, but for those of you who may not get to attend, in the current series, Love Songs, people are texting me questions during the talk. At the end of each service I answer some of the most frequently asked, but unfortunately, I only get to a handful. For the next few days, Mary Alice and I are going to try to tackle some of the others.  Today, I’m going to take a crack at one of my favorites.

To set it up, in the first talk, I warned guys about making unfavorable comparisons of their wives to other women.  I guess that prompted this one…

 How do you handle the situation when the woman he constantly compares you to is his mother?

Bet your first inclination is to pack him up and drop him off at her door, but before it comes to that, try to help him see three things that he’s not getting.

  1. I doubt he realizes how painful this is for you.  There’s nothing wrong with him remembering some positive quality his mother possesses, but when he uses that quality to show you up, he’s no longer honoring his mom, he’s inflicting damage on you.  Let him know, not in an accusative tone, but in an instructive way that his words hurt! 
  2. Guys sometimes get the idea that the way to inspire their wives is to point out other women who are doing something better.  Most guys have no idea how much pressure women put on themselves to measure up favorably to other women, and when the man whom they look to for comfort makes them feel inadequate, it has a devastating effect.  Help him understand  that kind of unfavorable comparison doesn’t inspire you, it makes you feel like shutting down.
  3. The obvious.  You’re not his mom. You’re his wife.  She may have strengths you don’t have, you have strengths she doesn’t, but that’s not the main point. The first thing the Bible says about marriage is in Genesis 2:24. God says a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife.  Remind him that you are his wife, and to the best of your power, and within reason,  you want to do the things that will please him, but at the end of the day, you are who you are, the woman God made you to be.  You’re not his mom, you’re not trying to be her, and although you honor who she is in his life, you’re his WIFE!



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Remember the old Aretha Franklin song about a woman needing respect from the guy in her relationship?  Actually, the real history of the song is a little different.  Turns out it wasn’t written by Aretha;  Otis Redding wrote and released it first, as the plea of a man for respect from a woman. (Check out the Wikipedia article on the song.)

Last week in Love Songs, my talk was on a man’s need for respect from a woman, and in each of the services I read a list that I compiled from a meeting with twelve NewSpring guys.  The list was the responses from two questions I asked them. What makes you feel respected? What makes you feel disrespected?  I went through the answers so fast that a number of you asked if I would give them again, so here they are.

What makes you feel respected?

1. Appreciation
2. Pleasant tone of voice
3. Comments of praise (especially made about him to others)
4. The feeling that he can be himself around her
5. When she goes out of her way to please him
6. Physical touch
7. The words, “I’m proud of you.”

What makes you feel disrespected?

1. The feeling of not being needed
2. Being down on her priority list
3. Being talked down to
4. Being criticized by someone and she doesn’t defend
5. Trying hard to please her but nothing seems to
6. Dishonesty

This weekend we’re talking about The Climb, the challenge of making marriage work for a lifetime. I can’t wait to get started.