Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Filling Up Life

It's 1:19 am and I really should be in bed, giving my body time to heal from all the germs ricocheting through the air at this time of year instead of living on ecchanacia (or however you spell this dratted word). But I felt this place calling me and wanted to thank the people who come regularly to read my blog.

Thank you for coming and participating in the madness. Thank you for your patience and caring. Thank you for your loyalty.

I know how busy people are. Heck, I have, at any given time, about 14,387 different things I'm neglecting to do. Yeah. Really. I have a sickness called helium hand. Hopefully I eventually get to the things that really matter and learn to take a hard pass on the things that don't.

Let's just say that I'm glad I'm not juggling running chainsaws, lit candles, and raw eggs, because the dropping balls have hit hailstorm proportions.

I'm the membership secretary for a national writer's association. My work there is pretty undetectable since I haven't yet figured out how to do that job yet. I need a visual.
I also work for the Boy Scouts of America as a unit commissioner. Let's just say I'm not getting my commissioner's knot until I finally get the last twenty six or so visits in and recorded. My units and my ADC have forgotten I exist.
I am the women's president for my church congregation, which means I'm the busiest woman in that body of people except for the compassionate living person, who is a saint. People call me all the time to do things for them or help them out in some way. I should be doing more.
I'm also the mother of six nearly all grown children and at this time the coughchokenanacough of three and a half, which means I get to drive them lots of places and try not to look stupid in comparison to their brilliance.
I'm trying to lose about six and a half stone (I believe that means lots of pounds) by running two miles very slowly three days a week. Or I was before I broke my rib, a post I'll get to when it isn't the middle of the dang night.
I also sing Tenor in two and sometimes three choirs, complete with loads of practices, plus practicing playing various instruments and composing now and then. I draw and paint and dance and write poetry too.
I spend way too much time making an on-line presence writing for four blogs and Facebook and Twitter.

And I write books, one of which (SUNRISE OVER SCIPIO) is coming out in January (YAY! Dancing in the street). Which means I'm getting even more busy doing the marketing for that book as I work on edits for SUMMERHOUSE and finish books YEAR OF THE HONEY BADGER and MARIN AT THE WELL I was already halfway through. I have some eighteen or so books in various stages of dress or undress, plus new ideas for books queuing up all the time.

I've filled up my hours. Will I look back at them when I'm ninety and feel I've done my best to fulfill my purpose? Am I coming within stabbing distance of my potential? Am I selling my minutes for crumbs? Should I be doing something else? Not? Who knows? It's a gamble. I just hope that at the end of my life, when I kneel at my Maker's feet, that I don't look up into His incredible eyes, to hear Him say, "What have you been up to, you lazy thing? You've squandered all My gifts of minutes on meaningless fluff."

So what am I saying with all this night rambling? Besides that I'm really busy and maybe a little contemplative? Basically that life is never boring. Good night.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


I'm supposed to be working on a speech I'll give on Sunday. I'm supposed to be finishing off the Christmas decorating, checking lists, buying gifts, making 65 little presents to give out Sunday, or working on my honey badger book. I have a slush pile of books to read a mile long.

But Betsy Love's book THE PENNY PROJECT totally jumps the queue. I really want to finish the book I'm already reading, but something speaks to me when my friend Wes hands me the book with a quirked eyebrow.

At first I'm thinking kids can't be that continuously mean. But then I remember my sojourn on the geek throne at the front of the bus. I wore ugly, calf-length skirts at a time when everyone else wore miniskirts or jeans. Not only was I four-eyed, clumsy, plain, and lousy at math, but I had a dad who taught German and English. Every time he flunked someone (daily, it seemed like) they'd come after me. They'd corner me in the bathroom or against the lockers and beat the tar out of me. They'd call me names a dock worker would be proud of. Back then I cried. Or sat alone on the bus and memorized the dictionary. Or stared out the window and vowed to give up talking forever.

Now I know I can take them. Back then, the hatred worked like poison inside me, and I'm amazed now that I never had an ulcer. I chalk that up to ballet and books and the love of a kind Heavenly Father. Words, always my friends, always stood by to take me to Mars or Oz or Narnia or Middle Earth and dancing set my body free.

Penelope doesn't have much of an outlet. I at least had a few fellow geeks who would let me hang with them at lunch. At first Penelope has no one. But one two many distancing strategies backfire for brilliant, hunky football-player Jake and his teachers force him to tutor the ugliest, stupidest, smelliest girl in school. Instead of Lexi, his crush, he gets double helpings of Penny.

And boy do his teammates let him have it. They bully the pair so consistently that it's a wonder the teachers rarely get a clue (which is also believable). He has to become a hero and save them both. Luckily Jake is, while cocky at first, a good person at heart. He has much to learn and Penny has much to teach.

I really actually fell in love with this book. It spoke to me on an intrinsic level. I got both Jake's longing to be "in" with Lexi and the team, and the basic empathy he keeps buried until Penny's gift unearths it. Jake finally learns that outer ugliness is only skin deep and can be remedied. Inner ugliness is a blight much harder to cure.

Do yourself a favor and pick up THE PENNY PROJECT this Christmas. You'll be glad you did. You can get it here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


YES!!! I slew NANO a week early! And I'm still going strong. It's just taken off so well. For a while there I nearly ran out of gas, but the honey badgers seem to have taken the story by the scruff of its neck and shaken it into waking up for honey badgers do.

I'm actually going back to writing on this thing after I bake a few pies for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I can't leave the gang hanging.

Just came to crow a bit. Thanks for being patient while I worked. More later.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Day at the Vampire's

I'm hard at work on my NANO book, YEAR OF THE HONEY BADGER, so I won't stay long. I just wanted to catch up on the news.

Last week I went to give blood. I do that because I have rare blood and they keep me on call. So I'm sitting in the seat getting all ready to accommodate the vampire in the white lab coat. I have my book all out and am joyfully reading away when he says, "That rots." Just that. So I look down there and he's thumping the hose. "It's sluggish," he says, still thumping.
Then he asks, "Do you mind if I adjust the needle a little?" which is vampire for, "Okay if I stab you repeatedly with this huge needle and perforate your vein another four times?"
Stupidly I agree. So stab he does--like the dude from psycho at the woman in the shower. Then he says, "This isn't working. Let me go get xxxxxx. She's better at it than me." By this time I'm not listening, thinking that a two-year-old with a butter knife would draw blood better than he is.
So xxxxxx comes over and plunges around another ten times or six and by this time the old arm is feeling distinctly like one of those watering hoses you don't have to stand there and hold because it's full of holes. Water just squirts out in seventy-five different places. "Well this isn't going to work," she says.
"Can't you use the other side?" I ask, not wanting all that time to be in vane (or ar).
"Nope. You just threw a huge clot. Look," she says, holding up the bag with a finger-sized blotch in it. "And look. There's more clot coming out of your arm."
By that point I'm thinking, "Wow. It's a really good thing blood doesn't bug me. 'Cause if it did, I'd be out cold by now."
So I'm out of there after giving a measly third of a bag of clot-blighted blood. They try to appease me by letting me know that my donation will not go into the dumper. "It's going to science," she says. Probably Vampirish for, "This blood's going into the back where the newbs will get to ogle and exclaim over it before it goes into the dumper."
"Does this mean I should run, not walk, to the nearest doctor or ER?" I ask more than mildly horrified at the size of that monster.
"Naw. You're just a little dry," says the Vamp guy (who does not sparkle, by the way).
"What the heck does that mean?" I ask, wondering how he pegged my version of wit. Only it wasn't wit he was talking about.
"You're a little dehydrated today."
I think that's kind of crazy, since after I got done caving the day before, I'd gone home and drunk about a gallon of water. So off I trundle after the requisite fifteen minutes of eating and drinking their goodies, feeling just a little impotent about the whole thing. By the next day there's a big old lump and a nice bruise.

I'm not paying much attention to the bruise, though, because I've broken a rib. I'll tell that story another time.
80-oss (my rebel bow at the local lingo).

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To My Daughters

To My Daughters:
I recently wrote a letter of sorts to my sons. This one is to my daughters:
I grew up, like lots of little girls, playing dress-up and dreaming of the day I would find my handsome prince and he'd toss me up on his horse, jump on behind, wrap one arm around me, and gallop off into the sunset to live in his castle happily ever after.
Well for starters, riding double with a saddle is highly unpleasant. And jumping on there hurts like a mother, I'm told. Castles are damp, drafty, moldy and often infested with rodents. I know this because I've been to many of them. Don't let the movies fool you.
Welcome to reality. Your handsome prince might not be either. He could be really cute but really twisted and ugly inside. Or slightly toad-like on the outside, but princely in his ways. He might not own a horse. Ever. Or he might gallop into the sunset with someone else, leaving you with a screaming princess under your arm, towering debt, a wasted body, and a shattered life. Maybe your castle is actually a hovel to begin with. Or always. Maybe you have to go be a scullery maid to put him through school. Maybe your handsome prince gets sick and dies early. Maybe he likes you...and twelve other dancing princesses from the next
castle over. Don't just latch onto the first dude who smiles at you. And don't expect that just because he takes you to get married in the temple it's an automatic lock on a life of Eternal Bliss. It takes two of you working like crazy to keep even a temple marriage intact.
Date lots of people so you have a frame of reference. You need lots of toads to kiss before you find the Prince. Don't just fall into his arms because nobody else has opened his, or because all your friends are getting married. Or because he sweet talks you into it or serenades you under the stars. Or any other reason but that you love each other deeply and know you can build an Eternal life together. Love alone can't do it. You need hard work on both sides. To start with, you need to have a good enough frame of reference so that you can spot fallacies and problems before they blow up in your face. It's like not relying on one grape to make your juice with. What if that grape is the sourest, most awful grape there is, but you only find out after you've opened the bottle and taken a swig? You need a whole bunch of different grapes to choose from. After the choice? That's it. No more tasting other grapes. You're done. Cap the bottle and rejoice in the vintage.
Life doesn't conform to your plan. You plan for life. Don't just wait for a rescue. Make your own stories. Don't just wait for his. You might not meet your handsome prince until you get old and prune-y. You might not meet him at all. Things happen. Make a plan. If you sit around waiting for the cherry guy to fall into your arms, you could be waiting a long old time. Go out into the world. Learn how to live on your own. Learn how to live within your budget. Go to school. Get a skill set. Learn to work hard. Go on a mission if you feel called. Explore what kind of Child of God you really are. Get a degree. Learn to do things that make you happy. Learn to serve others. Get out of your cocoon and be a butterfly. Be worth something. Learn to be a well-grounded adult person before you become an "us." Be flexible, because if there's anything I've learned, it's that plans always change. But at least have a plan. Do your best. Above all, be excellent. 

Be logical about your must-have list. Expecting a guy to be perfect is ridiculous. There has only ever been one perfect man on this planet and you'll not be lucky enough to go out with Him. So you're going to have to logically decide what are definite must-have qualities and skills, and what items are just perks. Because if your guy is missing a few of your must-haves, they might not be changeable. Remember, though, that if your guy's nearly perfect, (somehow) won't he expect the same kind of perfection? Who is he when you aren't around? Does he change like a chameleon with his surroundings? Do you trust him? Do others? Ask.
Expecting him to change for you is ridiculous. You might be completely ga-ga over him and find out that he can't keep a dime in his pocket. Changing that will be impossible. If he's casual about his priesthood responsibilities, that probably won't change. Laziness will stick. Dishonesty will still be there when he's eighty. If he skates along the raggedy edge of the law, hit the ground running, before he brings out the ring. Essential things about him will stay the same or only change for a little while. It's human nature. Keep that in mind. That's why you take your time.
Make a must-be list. For yourself. You can't expect him to do all of the changing. He won't. You're going to need to make changes. You're the one you can control. So choose right, before the problems arise. Change things about yourself that are weak or unpleasant. Make this a habit, not just something you do right before he comes to the door to pick you up. I had a roommate in college who was a full on slob. She'd race around the room tossing things in the closet and under the bed, hoping he'd think she was a good housekeeper, when in reality she sucked at it worse than the vacuum she never used. That's bait-n-switch. How would you feel if he was doing the same thing? Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
What are you like when he's around? And when he's not? Does being with him encourage you to be a better person? Or do you turn into the owner of a few dozen flying monkeys?
If you're a horse and you marry a rhinoceros, expect trouble. You're already going to have some problems meshing your lives together. If you add in extra differences, the mountain of problems increases exponentially. If you have mismatched (or nonexistent) spiritual beliefs, or come from other cultures, you'll have a much rougher road. You'll have to make extra decisions not only for yourselves, but for your children. If you go bullishly ahead with your choice, just know that you'll have to deal with the consequences sooner or later. You need to discuss how you'll make it work before he slides that ring on your finger and the kids come along.
Great Expectations can be a killer. Go into it with your eyes open. Life isn't going to be all roses and smiling cherubs. There are Maleficent Moments in everyone's existence. Be prepared. Be strong. Suck it up. Running home to mommy is for pansies. But getting occasional wise council from her is smart. Your parents love you and want the best for you. They've been there, done that, and ripped up the t-shirt for rag material.
Train him early to talk with you. It's supremely important. You can't expect him to read your mind because half the time he'll be in his computer game world and you won't even be a blip on the horizon. You have to be able to work things out in a way that doesn't give you ulcers or get you locked up for assault with a deadly frying pan. 
Take some time. Some girls take more time to pick out a pair of shoes than they do a boyfriend. I had dated lots of other guys. But when it came to my previous husband, I was stupid. I only took four (4, vier, quatro, chi, IV, yes four) days of dating and hanging out to decide to say 'yes' to my ex (the operative word being EX). Don't get me wrong. He had credentials. He was talented, studly, and sweet. I simply didn't give myself long enough to really explore the guy's personality. I had no good idea what made him tick. I had no clue what happened when he got mad. I could have talked to his best friend and found that, in reality, he was a pathological liar. I could have found out that he was actually in love with himself and any girl who worshiped him. I could have found out that he couldn't be bothered to keep a job. And I could have found out that he had a drinking problem. I didn't give it enough time. I didn't want anything to pop the euphoria bubble I was bouncing around in. Bad mistake. Take plenty of time to get to know him. You need to let him reveal that seamy underbelly if he's got one. And that'll take longer than a month or two. What's he like when he's mad? What's he like when the money runs out? Or if he gets lots of it? What's he like when it comes time to make major decisions?
Infatuation isn't love. We went straight from the ex guy serenading me in the Spanish from his mission, to the physical kissing. I was completely hooked. If you go straight to being physical, hormones take over your brain and you lose that ability to think intelligently about anything at all. And you won't listen to council from friends or family, either. After the initial loss of all cognitive ability that comes with the kissing and cuddling, comes that period when you've ripped off the mask and see the not-quite-as-handsome guy beneath. Give yourself a chance to experience that before saying "I do." Too many girls just jump at that bubbly feeling they get from kissing (or Heaven forbid sleeping with) the guy. Then when the mask comes off and they see the warts and moles and boils of his actual personality, they freak.
When you marry him, you marry his family. If you don't think that's true, you'll be in a world of hurt. His family raised him. Sometimes people can rise above their upbringing. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes they go the complete opposite of their parents' upbringing, instead of finding a happy medium. How he treats his mother (especially when he doesn't think you're looking) is how he'll treat you. Remember, his parents are going to be your kids' grandparents.
Sitting around all the time eating bon bons and watching Netflix or reading romances all the time is uncool. He'll hopefully be going off every day to work hard to put food on your table and a roof over your head. If you sit around all day doing nothing, how is that fair? You don't have that right. Growing up means you accept responsibilities, not just that you can stay up longer and eat what you want. It means your efforts should match his. You aren't the Queen of the World and you aren't the scullery maid. You're his partner, which means you work hard too. It means sometimes you have to fix things. Sometimes you have to kill your own mouse. Sometimes you have to dig up the garden or landscape the backyard. And you can't always expect him to come home from his grueling job and do all your work too. Do your own. Give 130%.
Remember that relying on someone else to make you happy is a fallacy. You choose to be happy or not. If you need a guy to prop you up, you're going to be disappointed and unhappy a huge chunk of your life. Because at some point he's going to disappoint you. He'll definitely do things that make you want to bury him in the backyard. That's a given, probably by the end of your honeymoon if not sooner. If you let those things knock you off your perch, you'll be running to a lawyer as soon as he does something stupid or treats you like you are. You have to know who you are and that you are loved and a valid, intelligent, gifted, worthwhile person in your own right. His love doesn't make you worth something. God's does.
You didn't marry Mr. Goodenough. Stop looking for Mr. Right after you get married. Your husband is IT. The words "Married for Time and all Eternity" should mean something to you. Those words don't mean married until rough seas make you feel like barfing. They don't mean married until someone cuter or richer or better in bed comes along. They mean you're married until long after the world ends and the Sun explodes. They mean you've got your man forever. Stop looking. Stop comparing. Be true to him in your heart and mind and actions. He'll be able to tell. He'll be your Prince if you let him be.
 Be true to your man. You expect him to be true to you. Return that service to him. You wouldn't want your guy to be off with his friends discussing your every fault and foible behind your back. There's a fine line between working out your troubles with a trusted female confidant and just spouting off the things that bother you about him. This is something I've had a difficult time with. 
Don't allow other guys into the marriage hideout. Don't make someone of the opposite sex that isn't your husband a confidant. It's too easy to get emotionally involved with them and destroy your marriage because you've allowed another man to dig into personal and intimate details of your marriage. They can't solve your problems with your husband. All they can do is commiserate, which is juggling dynamite.
There are absolutely some things you DON'T have to put up with. Things can change even if you've done all your homework. You don't ever have to put up with being battered. You don't have to put up with him sleeping around with other people. You don't have to put up with porn. You don't have to put up with someone who hurts your children (and I'm not just talking about the occasional much-needed smack). You don't have to put up with criminal behaviors. If you choose to put up with these things, you do so at your own and your children's risk, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. You are not a punching bag or a doormat. You are a Child of God. You are the Queen he chose to marry. Don't risk your Eternal Salvation to stay with an evil person.
Always remember that there are people who will love you whatever happens--God, Christ, and your parents. We want and expect you to succeed. We know that you can't do that without being close to the Lord and following Christ's example. If you make the Godhead the third partners in your marriage, you'll have a successful life. Your parents are there to talk to, and sometimes council with. But remember that the Bible asks us to cleave unto our husbands (no, that doesn't mean take a meat cleaver to him). That means when you get married, your husband is in charge with you, not your parents. Run to Heavenly Father first, your husband second, and anyone else last.

Thursday, October 30, 2014


I think I would have titled this book THE ETERNITY GAME. It's all about longevity treatments, cloning, cybernetics, and chips.

PERCEPTION by Lee Strauss is a gripping must-read. The intrigue clenched onto me like a vice grip. So many dystopian books lately emphasize the hopeless nature of the situation. The idea of a GAP (Genetically Altered Person) girl finding out who she really is and has become because of what's been done to her appeals to me. It gave me hope that she forsook the heritage her parents thrust on her to follow her conscience.

 The premise of religion surviving the massive overtake of science is a hopeful one. Mankind and all of his creations, which are powerful in their own way, still cannot dig God out of their trench. The indomitable search for freedom in a rapidly caving society grabs at me. I want to stand up and root for them. I liked that they didn't stoop to the level of those after them and resort to desperate tactics. Through it all runs a thread of budding romance between Zoe and Noah. That they didn't immediately throw off all their clothes and have wild sex on the nearest church bench makes me wildly happy.

GAPs live in idyllic cities, separated from the unaltered have-nots. Zoe is no different. She's been raised as a privileged socialite on the fast track to success. She'll probably marry her GAP boyfriend and settle down to have her allotted two children and shop for the next 200 years.

At least that's what she thinks until her brother goes missing and is found dead on the wrong side of the 'wall'. Zoe heads to the 'Outside' to find answers. What she finds is more questions--and the son of her family maid, who helps her hunt for the information everyone else is withholding from her.

Shadowy people are trying their best to keep all information about her brother's demise close to their chests. They'll do anything, including erasing memory, murder, and alterations to bodies to guard those secrets. What they don't plan on is Zoe's tenacity and Noah's ingenuity--and their capacity to love each other.

The possibility of a chipped future chills me to the bone. The thought that we could soon in actuality be forced to be chipped makes my teeth itch. The technology is already in use. We already know that cloning and chipping are being done on animals. Certainly somewhere cloning is being illicitly performed on humans. Chipping is. Technology has far outstripped our ideas of what is actually possible outside the realm of sci fi. So what's to stop our civilization heading in exactly this direction?


Not law. Not ethics. Not lack of money. Not lack of talent or drive or greed for money or power. That's why I loved the hope I found in the end of this book. We are starting to experience the potential for mankind's evil.

But can we also experience the potential for overarching good? Please let that be the case. Let there be people like Noah and his father who won't stand for being forced into second class citizenship because they won't mess around with the human soul. Let's hope there are Zoe's who, though born to privilege on a grand scale, still can shuck it off and rise above it.

I've already gone out this morning and purchased the boxed set. I definitely have to know what happens to Zoe and Noah. Check out PERCEPTION by Lee Strauss. You won't need any but the edge of your seat.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What My Sons Should Know

I believe the scripture about men's hearts failing them in the last days is very real. And it's happening now. People are losing the ability to look beyond their own personal bubble to empathize with others' problems and challenges. Hearts are becoming vestigial organs, like the appendix.

If, my son, you are lucky enough to trap a woman into marrying you, there are a few things you need to know for future reference:

The most powerful words in a marriage? "I love you and this is why...." Find something to complement her on every day. Even if she's gained a ton of weight or she's got a bad haircut or something else has happened, there's got to be something you find appealing. Even if it's just her shoelaces or the way her hair shines. Saying something loving will get you miles down the road toward a happy home. And it will do wonders for her self esteem. If she thinks her husband is still interested in her, still loves her even after two weeks of wedded bliss, she'll bloom for you. And she'll try harder to look nice for you. Sometimes she might act like she doesn't believe you, but deep inside she'll eventually believe it if you keep it up. And if you don't, there'll always be that worry that you've lost that loving feeling and she's just running on fumes. Don't make her guess. Tell her.

Take care of your Spiritual Responsibilities. You are the Priesthood in your home. Act like it. Go to the temple. Make it a priority. When it comes time for FHE, call them together and have FHE. Call for family prayers. Give them blessings. Take your son out Home Teaching or to collect fast offerings if that's his job. Call the family in for scripture study. This is your job as a priesthood holder.

Own your own baggage. Everyone has troubles and challenges. Everyone. If you didn't have some flaw, the good Lord would have translated you already. So acting as if you don't, is pure hubris, and it's frustrating for anyone around you. Don't force your wife to consider rigging an angelic visitor because you won't listen to anyone else trying to batter through your lofty throne of pride. You do get some things wrong at times.

She's not always wrong. It's statistically impossible. Someone once said a room full of monkeys typing random letters on typewriters will eventually come up with the works of Shakespeare (poor monkeys). Well, your wife will sometimes be right. You need to acknowledge that. It really doesn't take much effort to let her know. But it will mean the world to her. When you hog all the credit, it's a total mental beat-down. Recognizing this gracefully makes you a real man.

Do your own personal housekeeping. Sure she might stay home all day with nothing to do but eat bon bons and watch Netflix (extremely unlikely) but she isn't your purchased slave. Pick up your own dang socks. Put them in the dirty clothes hamper. Take your place settings to the sink. Do your chores happily. If there is something broken around the house, it's your job to fix it. If you don't know how, learn. It'll save you loads of money not having to pay someone else to do it for you. And best of all, it'll save arguments. Also, she should be able to alert you to the fact that something is broken without being called a nag. If you have to be told countless times, that is firmly your problem.

You need to work. Hard. That's a fact of life. You are the provider for your wife and children. Nobody else should have that responsibility. That means that you need to study hard in school. Put forth the effort to make great grades so you can then get into college so that you can then get a good enough job so you can feed and clothe your family and put a roof over their head. And you need to start that now. Life doesn't have to offer you nonstop entertainment. It's not one big video game convention. And don't just think you can test video games for a living. It rarely works like that. Find something to do to contribute to society. Find the work you love and love the work you find. But you're going to have to get off your rear and DO SOMETHING. Because if you don't make that choice, life will make it for you, and you might not like what it picks.

Your wife is your bride. Never forget that. Even if she looks dragged out or chubby. You chose her. You put that ring on her finger and signed the license. She isn't your love slave, your maid, roommate, or unpaid cook. She certainly isn't your punching bag or doormat.  She's your wife. She's your Queen. Treat her like that. Remember that you aren't giving her these rights. She alreadyhas  them by virtue of being a daughter of God. She shouldn't have to earn your love or respect. And she shouldn't have to earn her children's respect either. She has just as many rights as you do. Her job is simply different. 

Be her champion. And I don't just mean just when you're out in public. Always. Don't make her fight all her own battles with the kids. If you act like it's not a big deal when they yell at her, or tell her "no" when she asks them to do chores, or lie to her, they'll push the boundaries they do come up against. Pretty soon your home will just be an armed camp, and your wife will snap. You'll have 156 lbs of screaming hag on your hands, rightfully. Yes, your wife should act like an adult. But it isn't really your job to raise her. It is your job to raise your children. And if you allow them to treat your wife like she's a third class citizen, you're reaping the tornado. They won't respect anyone. Be her champion with loving patience. Also she won't have to deal with a constant barrage of barrier challenges.

Don't abuse her children either. There's a fine line between being a father and being a friend to the exclusion of your wife. Don't always force her to be the bad guy. Be the friendly father. There are going to be some times when you can't be their friend, but you can discipline with patience and kindness and love unfeigned. Set boundaries for your children. Enforce them lovingly. Let them know with velvet gloves on, that you won't allow them to treat your Queen like they are. Believe me, your life will run much smoother when your children understand that your wife isn't champion-less.

 Ask her how she's doing, preparing for an honest answer. When she tells you, respond with kindness. If you give her a calm way to address the things that happen in her day, she'll adore you for it. If you don't, she'll have to go elsewhere to work out her problems, and sometimes it's not where you'd like her to go. More importantly, if she's going elsewhere to talk about you, she's not really fixing the problems with the only person who can actually work on the problem with her.
 Pillow talk is a fantastic thing. When she's feeling fragile, it's your job, as the Prince she married, to find out why. It's not always your task to fix it, but you need to at least listen. Find out what makes her feel loved and do that thing if it's right. If what makes her feel loved is drinking a bottle of whiskey or pushing people in front of trains, that's not an option.

I'm convinced that, in general, women think on a broader bandwidth. Men have compartments in their heads. I call them rooms. The big important things have larger rooms. Men can go into a room in their head, shut the door, and ignore all the other rooms. Women can't. That problem will bite at their high heels right up until it gets solved. I once handed my husband a penny-sized box. When he finally asked what it was for, I told him it represented the Heidi room in his head. Everything else had enormous rooms: work, computer everything, Church callings, the kids. He never responded, which made me think the cube I'd given him was much too big. Give her the second biggest room in your head. God and Christ are the only ones who should have a bigger room.

Communication isn't just a perk of a great marriage--it's essential. Talk with her. Respond to her questions and dig deeper. It's utterly essential. And it can't just be surface stuff about the kids or the bills or whether the dog needs a vet. You need to dig into the deeper layers and really get at the feelings and spiritual essence. And you need to do this while you're dating too. Practice something more than face-sucking. Surface talk is for roommates and people you don't particularly care deeply for. And don't wuss out and fall back on the "Oh men don't talk" thing. That's the Natural Man rearing his hideous, lazy head. Caring men do talk.

Show her you care about who she really is. Don't just hand her the flower you got at church on Mother's Day and call it done for the year. This is a daily thing. She uses those words of love and encouragement as fuel. Good fuel can fill your home with happiness. Bad fuel will nuke the place. You choose what you want to come home to.

Don't accuse her of nagging. If she has to tell you repeated times that something is wrong, GET A CLUE. Something is not right in her world. How else is she supposed to address it? Apparently wigging out and lopping off body parts is frowned on. Don't wait until she feels like doing that. And yes, it might be painful, but you have to rip the Bandaid off and examine what's beneath it. Maybe it needs Neosporine. But maybe, since you've left it so long, it's going to need amputation. Don't let it get that far. Hello. Man up and address it.

When you have an argument (because you will) don't lie in wait for her like a lurking shark. Dredging up all her past wrongs and flogging her with them is wrong. How can she address something you've glazed over? It's not fair. She may even have forgotten about the problem, it's been so long. This isn't a court room. She shouldn't have to subpoena witnesses, keep a record of every offense, and formulate a defense. If you have a beef, address it as quickly and Christ-like as you can, and not in front of others (certainly not the children unless you're both doing it deliberately to show them how to do it correctly and with kindness). Saving things for the next big argument will make it World War III and she'll feel like you're sniping at her from the building across the square. Own your mistakes. Work to address what's wrong. Give her credit where credit is due. Be honest about your feelings. Give tangible, logical, workable ways to fix the problem. Don't sweat the stupid small stuff. Be patient. Actually work to change what you've done wrong. Squash pride and selfishness.

Sometimes you're going to have to go out of your comfort bubble. Do it. Her happiness is worth a night of dancing or a trip to the theater. Do things she likes to do sometimes. I don't mean you have to be surgically sutured to her side, but it shows her how important she is to you when you gracefully endure discomfort or boredom to do things she likes (graceful being the operative word here. If you complain, all bets are off). And she'll be more inclined to do some things you like to do. Also, she might need a cooling down period too. Moms never get to go home from work. They live at work, and they don't get paid for it very often. You try working for the occasional child's smile or the split second the house is actually livable.

Don't ask her to do something and then make it impossible to do. My husband hates it if I touch his things. At all. And yet he likes a clean house. But to clean, I need to dust and move furniture and dusty stacks of papers. Sometimes he loses things. If I've moved anything an iota out of the way, he accuses me of their loss. He hates not being able to find tools in the shed but he won't let me clean it, putting everything in clearly marked containers. He wants to do it (or not) because he knows where everything is. But he forgets that he isn't the only one living in his house, or his bedroom. For years we haven't been able to walk into the shed or find anything out there, because he has to have it just so. All my growing up years my dad yelled at me until everything was clean. Now my husband yells at me if I touch anything. This is a great frustration to me. Don't do that to your wife.

When you want to do something, plan it with her. Otherwise she'll feel like she's only accidentally along for the ride. She has valid points and hopes and dreams (and a working brain) too. She should be your first mate, not the skivvy. And when you're out there on that family vacation, treat her like she's your love. Walk with her. Hold her hand. Thank her for things. Ask her how she's doing. If you want to buy a new car or a house, consult with her. She'll probably be spending a fair amount of time in it.

Open her door even after the ring is on. Take her out on dates. They don't have to be expensive, but something with just the two of you. Don't make her beg for them and complain when she does. You chose her, after all. In case you don't realize it, THIS IS BIG. This marriage thing is for real. It should last for the rest of Eternity. It takes maintenance. You can't just flick a ring on her like in a ring toss game and call it quits. You have to work hard at it constantly. And yes, you have to, or you'll fail. Lots of people do. It's never going to be easy with anybody. Ever. If you think it is, someone is selling you a water-spanning structure.

Treat her like you'd like to be treated, or better. If you would rather not be sniped or yelled at, and you'd like the Kingly treatment, imagine how she must feel. Nobody wants to be treated badly, and certainly not from the mate they've chosen to spend Eternity with. You're the guy she's dreamed of and planned for and secretly kissed her pillow for. You're her Prince. Act like it. Believe me, it'll be worth it.

Next time I'll write to my daughters.

(Published in like form on another blog by Me)