There’s Nothing Shallow About Having Standards

I just read Kat Richter’s blog “Are Standards Shallow?”  (After I Quit My Day Job) She was responding to being accused of “getting shallow” for refusing to date any man who is not taller than she is when she’s wearing heels.  Kat will probably miss out on dating some pretty terrific guys because of her preference for tall men.  That’s her loss, and it’s her choice.

Having standards is not shallow.  Physical attributes are not standards, however. They are merely preferences.  Any woman seeking a date or a husband needs to have standards.  When I was dating I had absolute standards—my line in the sand that I would not cross.  In my thirty-plus years of ministering to teen-age girls I have encouraged them to decide what their standards are before they begin dating.

For me the absolute most important standard was to date only godly Christian men.  Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” It was important that my future husband share my Christian beliefs and values.  I was not willing to risk falling in love with the wrong man, so I avoided dating non-believers.  I met my future husband in high school. I knew he was nice, but I didn’t know if he was a Christian until I saw him at my church one Sunday.  Of course, church attendance doesn’t equate to salvation, but seeing him at church gave me an opening to ask him about his beliefs.  My interest increased greatly as I realized how similar his beliefs were to my own.

Family values were next in importance.  I love children, and I wanted a man who also loves children.  As the second of nine children, my youngest siblings are considerably younger than me.  I was able to witness how a potential future husband would treat and respond to children simply by taking him home to meet my family.  From his first visit, Steve was comfortable with my younger siblings.  He spent many a Saturday afternoon taking them fishing in the summer and building snowmen in the winter. During our senior year of college, Steve and I took my four youngest siblings to a movie. They kids ranged from 10 to 18 years younger than us.  The next day one of his professors asked him about his children.  I guess he thought we got a very early start on our family.

Another standard was that a future husband prioritize family over income.  I can still vividly remember sitting in traffic on the Falmouth Bridge and Steve telling me that he wanted his future wife to stay home and raise their children. Those words were music to my ears.  Although I was in college and planned to continue my education afterward, I still desired greatly to be home with my children when they were young.  Steve added that being home when they were in high school was even more important. 

We were fortunate to be able to make that happen.  Steve worked hard, and I got to stay home. When the boys went to school, I went with them.  For the next thirteen years, they were either enrolled in a Christian school where I taught or I was home schooling them.  I cried on the twins’ last day of school (as seniors they finished up a few weeks earlier than the rest of the students) wondering how I would be able to come to school without them the next day.  I am so thankful for the time I had with my boys.

Beyond those three standards, everything else was icing on the cake. It didn’t hurt that Steve is tall—a full 9 inches taller than me—and very handsome.  But, I would have loved him no matter what he looked like. 

I maintained my standards and married the love of my life.  And there’s nothing shallow about that.

DNA Test: $400; Discovering Your True Heritage: Priceless

I never had any doubts about my heritage growing up.  My mother’s German lineage was well documented.  Her family came to America in the 1600’s and settled in Pennsylvania. My grandmother lived in Souderton and her twin sister in Sellersville.  Their father was a Souder and their mother a Seller, both direct descendents of the towns’ founders.

We didn’t have any information about my father’s lineage, although with Whitman as our last name, we were clearly of English descent.  This belief was reinforced when Dad purchased a Whitman family crest.  The documentation informed us that Whitman is an old Anglo Saxon name meaning “white man” and that the first Whitmans to come to America arrived in New England in 1635. 

I always thought that Whitman was a pretty cool last name.  “Whitman.  Like the candy,” I used to tell people when they asked how to spell it.  My siblings and I felt a special pride in buying Whitman samplers for our mother on her birthday and Christmas.  Perhaps we were distantly related to the makers of our favorite candy.  In school, I studied the poetry of Walt Whitman and read about Marcus and Priscilla Whitman, pioneer missionaries to Oregon who were killed in the “Whitman Massacre” in 1847. 

Last fall my brother Andy suggested the siblings all chip in to pay for a DNA test on our father.  Andy has been researching our Whitman family genealogy for several years.  We had grown up with the impression that we were part Native American, and we were excited when Andy discovered that one of our great-grandmothers was a Saponi woman named Red Fern. 

Andy had connected with some distant cousins, also descendents of Red Fern, who knew of other Native American ancestors in their lineage.  Wanting to know if we had other Native American ancestors led Andy to suggest the DNA test.  He researched the various tests and decided upon the saliva method.  We all contributed and the test kit was ordered.  The results arrived shortly before Christmas.

We were surprised that it detected no Native American DNA, since Andy had confirmed Red Fern as a direct ancestor.  Andy explained that the test can only go back five generations, and Red Fern was born seven generations before our father.  We were even more surprised to learn that the test identified our father as being of Jewish descent.  Andy did some more research and discovered that the first “Whitman” in our lineage was actually Peter Weideman who immigrated to America in the early 1800’s.  Although he came here from Sweden, he was most likely German.  Upon arrival his name was Anglicized to Whitman.  So much for one day inheriting the Whitman Candies Company. 

It’s been said that America is a great melting pot where many different cultures merged.  My family is more a part of that tradition that we thought.  We now know that our ancestors included Germans, Jews, and a least one Native American. Ironically, we haven’t identified any ancestors of English descent. 

It’s a bit disconcerting to find out that you are not who you thought your were.  Of course, in all the ways that really matter, nothing has changed. I’m still a wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and grandmother to some of the most wonderful people in the world. I do, however, feel more of a connection to the Israelites I read about in the Bible knowing that some of them are my distant ancestors. 

So, what’s in your DNA?  It might surprise you.

A Prayer for the Twenty-first Century Proverbs 31 Woman

Heavenly Father, I thank you for preserving me as a virtuous woman for my husband.  I ask that your hand would be with me today, helping me to live virtuously and honorably before you.  I thank you for the trust and respect my husband has in me.  May I honor and bless him through my words and actions each day.

As I go through my day, help me to do good to my husband.  Bring to my mind each day ways to lighten his load and make our home a true haven of rest for him.   Help me to remember the small “touches” that let him feel cherished and appreciated.

Please be with me as I work to make my home more comfortable.   Give me creative and economical ideas and help me to incorporate these ideas into my home.  Help me to stretch our financial resources to meet the needs of my family; let me not bring stress to my family by living beyond our means.

I ask for guidance as I plan meals and shop for food for my family.  Let me make meals that are nutritious, economical, and delicious.  Help me to view cooking as a creative challenge and a way to show love to my family, and not as one of many mundane chores.  This also applies to laundry, dishes, and house cleaning—let me view them not as labor, but as labors of love.

Father, help me to rise early and spend some time with you and my husband before we start our busy days.  Please help me to rest well each night and get up feeling refreshed so that I can be a pleasant companion in the morning.  It is important for my husband and I to share some time and eat breakfast together before we leave the refuge of our home for our work places.

As I work, inside or outside of my home, help me to work enthusiastically and energetically.  My family and my boss deserve my best each day.  Help me to make wise decisions that will benefit my employer at work and my family at home.

I know, Father, that I need to take care of myself each day—making time for daily devotions, exercise, and a little pampering—so that I may be strengthened and renewed to care for my family.  Help me to make these activities priorities and to incorporate them into my daily schedule.

Help me, Lord, to be aware of the needs of each member of my family and to work to meet those needs—whether it is a need of new clothing, help with school work, individual attention from Mom, or discipline and instruction.

Help me to use my time wisely each day, while still allowing time for fun.  Help me to limit time spent in activities that are not productive or that bring no real pleasure, such as watching television shows I’m not really interested in or playing computer games.   Help me to redeem this time to talk, read, or play games with my family. 

Father, your Word tells us that charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but good deeds done in your name will last through eternity.  Let me be particularly in tune to your voice encouraging me to write a letter, make a phone call, or say a kind word.  Help me to be generous to the poor and needy, to those who are lonely and need a friend, to a stranger who needs a smile and a kind word, and to friends who need encouragement. 

May I look to you each day, Lord, for wisdom to guide me through the day, and for the strength to be the woman you want me to be, so that my husband and children will feel loved and blessed.  Thank you, Father.

Valentine’s Day Reflection on Meeting the Love of My Life

Celebrating our 25th anniversary with a Caribbean cruise

I had lunch after church yesterday with the love of my life.  As I sat across from my husband in the booth at one of our favorite restaurants, it occurred to me that we had been coming to this restaurant for 33 years.  The memories of eating fish, fries, coleslaw, and hush puppies here together go all the way back to our freshman year of college.  They’ve remodeled the restaurant a time or two and tweaked the menu, but it’s in the same spot and I’m still coming with the same guy.

I vividly remember the first time I met Steve.  It was early October 1975, our junior year of high school. I was the vice-president of the French club and in that capacity I had to help select the cast for the annual French club play.  The French teacher, Madame Dameron, had chosen a musical—The Pale Pink Dragon.  I remember that some of the characters were turned into bears by a dragon. I was assigned to be in charge of costumes and spent many hours dyeing thermal underwear brown, making papier-mâché bear heads, and creating a dragon costume.

On the first day of tryouts, a large number of students showed up.  Most of the would-be actors read a scene from the script and sang briefly a cappella.  Some were quite good and others were, well let’s just say, not so good. Near the end of the first day, it was Steve’s turn to audition.  He was new in school, and I had never seen him before.

Steve’s was kind of cute, but he was not, at first glance, my type. He looked like a hippie with long straight hair that fell below his shoulders.  He wore blue jeans with holes in the both knees, a white Mickey Mouse teeshirt, and a plaid longsleeve flannel shirt. I wasn’t really interested until he picked up his guitar. He had my full attention as he strummed the guitar and sang.  He was, of course, cast in the play.  I remember giving him a pattern and material and telling him to have his mother sew his costume, a long hooded robe.  He said she couldn’t as she didn’t have a sewing machine.  I made his costume myself.

The remainder of the year, Steve and I had little interaction.  Senior year, however, we were seated beside each other in physics class.  We got to know each other better as we flirted on a field trip to D.C. and helped each other with physics homework.  Steve was shy and the year was almost over before he got up the nerve to ask me out. Once he did, I knew he was that special person God had for me. 

When people ask us how long we’ve been “together” Steve always says it’s been since the French club play while I count from our first date in April 1977.  Either way, we are well into our fourth decade as a couple.  In a few months we will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. 

As we ate our lunch, I thought about how special it is to have met the love of my life when we were only 17.  We share a lifetime of memories from high school graduation through college and graduate school to starting a family.  Our three sons were raised in a stable home with parents who loved them and each other unconditionally. Last summer we had the wonderful experience of becoming grandparents.  We look forward to making new memories with our precious grandson.

We don’t know what future God has in store for us.  We do know that God will be with us each step of the way and that we will be here for each other “for as long as we both shall live.”  Happy Valentine’s Day, Sweetheart.  I love you with all my heart.

I’m Posting every week in 2011!

I’ve decided I want to blog more. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a  week for all of 2011.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similiar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.

Signed,

Susan Ball

Praying God’s Word For My Family

When I was a young wife and mother, an older woman in my church shared that she prayed God’s Word over her family regularly. Soon God began opening my eyes to scriptures I should pray over my family.  I routinely did that for years, but lately I have gotten out of the habit.  God brought this to mind this morning as I read one of those prayers during my devotions.

In writing to the Colossians, Paul tells them that he prays for them continually, asking God to fill them with knowledge and wisdom so that they can live a life that honors God and bears much fruit (Col. 1: 9- 12).  I prayed Paul’s words daily for my husband during a period of great stress at work.  Over time I personalized it, asking God to let Steve be a light in his workplace and to give him wisdom to find solutions to the problems he was asked to solve. I believe that God does want us to be successful at work and that He is pleased when we ask Him to help in that regard. 

When my sons went off to college, I asked God to give them knowledge to do well in the classroom and wisdom to not get caught up in the many temptations of college campus life.  And when my sons married, I shared the prayer with their wives.  I hope their wives pray this prayer over my sons and my sons pray it for their wives, also. 

I’m recommitting myself to praying this prayer for my family and even myself.  I want to have God’s presence with me throughout my day.  You might consider asking a loved one to pray a personalized version of this prayer over you each morning? Wouldn’t it be uplifting to leave your home each day knowing that someone was asking God to be with you each moment, filling you with His wisdom and helping you to live a life that pleases Him?

  A Prayer for My Husband—Colossians 1: 9 – 12

 Dear Heavenly Father—

I pray for my husband today.

I ask that you would fill him with the knowledge of your will and that you would give him spiritual wisdom and understanding.

I ask this so that he might live a life worthy of you, Lord, and that he might please you in every way.

 I pray that he would bear fruit in every good work, that he would grow in the knowledge of you, that he would be strengthened with all power according to your glorious might so that he might have great endurance and patience,

And that he would joyfully give thanks to you, Father.

Amen

Letting Life Get Me Down

I’ve been a bit bummed lately.  After spending more than $1,000 on a root canal and crown in an attempt to save one of my teeth, I had to have it pulled yesterday.  So, now I have a hole where I should have a tooth.  It will have to heal for several months before I can begin the process of having an implant put it.  I don’t completely understand the procedures involved; I only know that it will be about a year before it is complete.  And, it will cost me another $1,000 or maybe more, and probably some discomfort.

I will be glad when the hole in my gum heals and I can eat normally again.  Hopefully, this is the end of the pain and infection I have battled for the past two months.  It’s been a real pain.  I’m ready to be off antibiotics and pain pills.

I know it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just something I’m going through, and millions of people have had similar experiences.  A friend shared that she is missing a couple of teeth because she didn’t have dental insurance and couldn’t afford root canals when those teeth needed them, so she had to have them pulled.  Ouch! I felt guilty for whining about my situation. I’m fortunate to have great dental insurance and to be able to pay to have the tooth fixed properly. 

Francesca Battistelli has a new song on the radio called This is the Stuff.  It’s all about how the little things in life get you down. The first verse and chorus are:

  I lost my keys
In the great unknown
And call me please
‘Cause I can’t find my phone 

This is the stuff that drives me crazy.
This is the stuff that’s getting to me lately.
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I’m blessed

This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I’ve got to trust You know exactly what You’re doing
It might not be what I might choose
But this is the stuff you use

 

 

Lately, I have related well with this song.  It seems we take one step forward only to slip two steps back.  Of course, an infected tooth is a much bigger deal than lost car keys, but compared to the problems faced by many people, it’s pretty minor.  The gum will heal, and the implant procedure will be completed in time. 

Life is full of problems, both large and small.  It’s easy to get so bogged down by our problems that they become our focus.  God allows difficulties in our life to show us our need for Him.  When problems come, we need to keep our focus on God and rely on Him to see us through.  Tomorrow is Sunday.  I look forward to worshipping with others in my church.  It is exactly what I need to get my focus back where it should be—on my Creator.