Monday, April 25, 2016

Friends Stick By You When You Run Into Hot Water, or Out of It

by Sally Matheny
Friends Stick By You When You're In or Out of Hot Water
Occasionally, I underestimate the amount of help I'll need for a project, and later find myself struggling. 

When our first daughter got married, I thought it wouldn’t take long to clean a reception venue designated for 155 people, especially if friends chipped in on the effort.

My assumption was wrong on two accounts. I assumed people would stay and help with the clean up. Our friends assumed we had a clean-up team in place, and since they weren’t asked to stay, they did not. It was my fault. 

Plus, I should have realized if I find a home for five difficult to clean, then a space for 155 would be challenging! Nonetheless, God was merciful and we completed the job with a few family members.

But, when our second daughter began planning her wedding reception, I knew we had to do things a bit differently. My aches and pains had increased greatly in the three years since the last wedding. I’d need more assistance on all fronts.

Three relatives and a friend were coaxed into helping decorate for the reception while another friend and I worked on floral centerpieces and bouquets. Two more families helped with the baking. My wonderful mother took charge of pressing all the table linens. Thankful for my dear friends and family, I thought I had all the reception bases covered. Right down to the servers and a clean-up crew.

Three servers were designated for the buffet and two other people were in charge of clearing dirty dishes from the tables. Two more delegates were to run the rented china and glassware through the commercial dishwasher. Impressed with my planning, I imagined a beautiful, snag-free reception.

Eh. Even the best-laid tables can go awry.

Don’t get me wrong. It was a beautiful reception. The food tasted delicious and the fellowship delightful. However, pretty early in the evening we were in “hot water.”

Even though we tried to think through all the logistics in advance, we still encountered a few hurdles. It soon became evident the salad bar and the buffet line would go more smoothly and move quicker with more servers.

The dish-washers were needed to help serve food. And later, the original food servers and the two collectors of dirty plates were desperately needed to help the initial two dish-washers.

Apparently, after the meal began, the facility ran out of hot water.
Then, after a few loads, the commercial dishwasher broke down. My diligent plan for a smooth evening was in a heap of “hot water” for the lack thereof.

Even the best-laid tables can go awry.

However, if my friends panicked, I didn’t see it. No one made the comment, “You said I’d only have to collect dirty plates—no one said I’d have to wash them.” No one high-tailed it out the back door. In fact, they didn’t even tell me about the simmering situation in the kitchen until the evening was almost over.

After the guests gave the bride and groom a sparkler send-off, we gave our guests good-bye hugs and wished them well. Then, I went to the kitchen to see if we were in knee-deep or barely treading water. 

To my surprise, my sweet friends—all of them—the catering crew, servers, dish-washers, and plate collectors were in there smiling and chatting away. They rinsed what food they could from the plates and stacked them for washing later, when the hot water hopefully returned. I knew they had to be exhausted. I hugged each of them and told them how much I appreciated them. 

They only had one request—wedding cake! 

My friends could have left, but they stayed. They worked with what they had to make the best of a tough situation. I love my friends. Moreover, I must add my love for my family as well.

When I left the kitchen, there they were, already busy clearing and breaking down tables. And not just the ones I had asked in advance to stay and help. God opened the floodgates. Grandparents, siblings, cousins. My heart swelled with gratitude. Not just for the family and friends God has blessed me with, but especially the ones with whom He has blessed my daughter and her new husband.

One of my greatest joys was watching their friends. Most of them had a one-to-three hour drive ahead of them and it was already almost nine o’clock in the evening. When I came out of the kitchen to help clear tables, there stood a troop of college kids and recent graduates. I never expected them to stay. 

God always takes my assumptions and uses them to teach me. Sometimes He teaches me through the tough love of consequences. Other times it's lessons of mercy and grace. But one thing I'm learning is to trust Him with all things. 

“What can we do to help?” one of my daughter's friends asked.

Knowing some had a good distance to travel; I told them they needed to get on the road. They weren’t lightly responding out of politeness.

One said, “But we’re not going to do that. We’re fine. We want to help. So tell us what we can do.”

They wouldn’t budge until I began sharing ways they could help.
That’s when this mama’s heart was blessed beyond measure. Just as God had led me to choose wonderful friends, so too had He led my daughter.

It's encouraging to know your child has friends
who will stick by her even when the days
aren't so sweet.

It’s encouraging to know my daughter and her husband have the caliber of friends who will stick by them in the future. When they run into hot water…or out of it, whatever the case may be.

Friday, April 8, 2016

You Missed It! (Encouraging the Doubters)

by Sally Matheny
It Was Awesome and You Missed It!
     “You missed it!”
     Don’t you hate hearing those words? Perhaps you went to get a hotdog, and missed the best play ever made at home plate—by your child—the one who hasn’t scored a run in three years. Everyone kept exclaiming how awesome it was. 

     you missed it!

     Or maybe you had plans to meet some friends at a restaurant. At the last minute, you decided not to go. You had your reasons. But they didn’t seem so great when you heard about your friends' spectacular evening.

    A celebrity ate at the table beside them. An exciting conversation took place, the celebrity treated them to desserts, and they each received free tickets and backstage passes to his upcoming concert. Each of your buddies called to tell you their version of the incredible evening. And...
you missed it!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Children’s Book Review: God Bless Our Country by Hannah C. Hall

by Sally Matheny

Book Review of God Bless Our Country
God Bless Our Country, a board book by Hannah C. Hall, introduces young children to a few of the reasons we love America—especially in the summer.  

This twenty-page, Christian book, published by Tommy Nelson, reminds children of reasons to celebrate living in America. 

Too often, our little ones overhear negative opinions of our country. This joyful little book points out the blessings God gives us—especially those in the summer time. The satisfaction of families working and playing outside together, parades, swimming, stargazing, and fireworks to name a few. And don’t forget eating ice cream!

An explosion of cute, and colorful, pictures fills every page. Steve Whitlow chose to illustrate animal families to portray Hall’s rhyming stanzas. A family of deer picnic on a quilt. Two eaglets nestle beside a grandpa eagle who’s praying underneath an American flag. Children will delight in seeing God’s creatures participating in human activities. Children will giggle over an otter wearing a peppermint-striped swimsuit, holding his nose, and cannonball jumping into a lake!

The slightly padded cover with rounded corners and the heavy cardstock pages will make this a sturdy book for babies and toddlers. I’d recommend adults reading it to children ages one to five-years-old. Big brothers and sisters who are early readers (1st to 2nd grade) will also enjoy reading it to their siblings. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Learn From My Mistake - Don't Wait

Dear friends,

A long time ago, I made a choice which brought about great sadness. I share this because I want you to learn from my mistake.

One evening, some friends came by and invited me to go with them very early the next morning to the grave site of a dear friend. When I say very early I mean, before the sun was up.

I don’t know why they even asked me. They know I'm not a “morning person.” Ideally, the sun should rise two hours before me. Besides, I was already depressed, and going to the grave site was not how I wanted to start the day.

I told my friends, Joanna and Mary, “You’re early-risers. You go ahead.”

Mary and Joanna looked a little disappointed, but I didn’t feel bad about staying home. It had been an extremely stressful week. Someone we loved dearly had died unexpectedly.  I had not slept well for several nights. I was exhausted.
So other women went with Joanna and Mary instead of me.

And because of my choice to stay home, I missed something wonderful and miraculous!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Planning a Beautiful Wedding Reception on a Budget: It Begins and Ends with Family and Friends

by Sally Matheny

Planning a Beautiful Wedding Reception on a Budget
(Pixabay Photo)
Are you planning a wedding reception? 

The average cost for an American wedding reception is around $15,000—just for the reception. For many couples, that amount can start their marriage off with huge debts. Or it will deplete the savings accounts of numerous parents. I’ve heard of parents maxing out credit cards and running their retirement accounts dry. It’s not necessary to do this. Nor is it wise.  

I’m here to tell you it is possible to plan a beautiful wedding reception, even if you’re working within, what many consider, a frugal budget. Granted, it takes a bit more work, but sometimes that extra effort brings an even sweeter satisfaction. Expect a few challenges, but the overall experience can definitely be enjoyable—if everything is approached with the right attitude.

One thing my daughters and I know for certain is a beautiful wedding reception begins and ends with family and friends.

Are you planning a reception? Perhaps you’ll have a relative or friend offering financial assistance. That would be awesome, wouldn’t it? But if not, fear not. If you have a loving family or a handful of caring friends, you’re well on your way to creating a lovely wedding reception. In this post, I’ll share just a few of the ways we saved money. are too many to write about in one post so if you’d like the entire list, say so in the comments and I’ll email it to you

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Mama's Work is Never Done--Or is It?

by Sally Matheny

A Mother's Work is Never Done--Or is It?

Has your child ever called you an insulting name? One Saturday morning, after eliciting my eleven-year-old’s help with cleaning, he spewed the words, “You’re a Danny Tanner!” 

For those of you not familiar with the family television show, Full House, Danny Tanner is the parent obsessive with cleaning.

At first, I was insulted. I am not obsessed with cleaning. Danny Tanner uses a Dust Buster to clean his vacuum cleaner! He doesn’t allow anything out of its place. I vacuum once a week, and if we’re lucky, we may get the main pieces of furniture dusted. Also, I’m a stacker. I have little stacks of mail, magazines, and numerous slips of paper filled with writing ideas all throughout the house. Danny Tanner would go spastic in my house.

It only took a few minutes of comparing myself to Danny Tanner that I found the whole thing hilarious. I can overlook a messy house for almost five whole days before it begins to annoy me. And I prefer to do a multitude of other things instead of cleaning! But I feel responsible for maintaining a peaceful haven for my family. And let’s face it. An unorganized, messy home does not induce an atmosphere of serenity. Even my little name-caller will admit he likes the house better after all the work is done. I do, too. And so, for the next five to six days, we enjoy ourselves—before it’s time to clean again.

However, relaxing and having fun appear to come more easily for my husband and children. Seems like I have to be more thoughtful and intentional to stop doing whatever I think is "necessary" in order to join in the fun.
It’s a fact, a mother's work is never done. Truly. Never.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Book Review of “Jesus Today—Devotions for Kids”

Jesus Today
Our eleven-year-old son enjoys reading from this book for his morning devotion. However, my husband and I receive refreshing encouragement from this adaptation of Sarah Young’s ECPA 2013 Christian Book of the Year, Jesus Today.  

The 368-page book contains 150 devotions.  Each devotion, approximately 200 words in length, is presented on a left page followed by three or four corresponding scriptures on the right page.

I love the way Young writes—as if Jesus is talking to the reader.  I have to give credit to Tama Fortner who adapted the book for younger readers. She does a great job presenting the devotions in a simple and easy to understand manner. Yet, the devotions are not watered down.  They remain quite meaty.

An example of this is in the following excerpt from devotion #141, Leave Room for Mystery.

“… My ways are often a mystery to you—like why bad things happen to good people, or good things happen to bad people. You wish you could always know what I’m thinking, but your knowledge only goes so far.”  

“… When there is something you can’t make sense of, trust Me—and trust that there are some things too wonderful for you to know.”

This devotion is followed by 1 Timothy 3:16, Job 1:20-22, and Job 42:3. These are wonderful  things to ponder and discuss, right?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Prepare Your Daughter Now for Her Wedding Day

by Sally Matheny

Remind your daughter she truly is the daughter of a King.
Photo by Pixaby.
Is there a little princess twirling through your home? Perhaps she has difficulty choosing a wedding gown from the half-dozen glittering dresses in her closet. Days are filled with delightful giggles bubbling out as she waves from the top of the sofa...I mean, her horse-drawn, glass carriage. And you breathe in the moments. 

Then reality hits. Unless you have a fairy godmother, you wonder if you'll be able to make that future fairy tale wedding come true. Whether she's two or twelve,  begin preparing your daughter now for her wedding day.

The average cost of a wedding in the United States is around $30,000 according to Manhattan, New York weddings average a skyrocketing $88,000 and Mississippi marriages glide around $13,000. Weddings in my home state of North Carolina typically fly around $28,000 but not so for my family.