The weather in middle Tennessee this last week has been absolutely gorgeous. We've been outside almost every day for at least a few minutes, soaking up sunshine, running around the yard, ... and breathing in pollen.
Yep. Spring is here. Trees are blooming all over the place. Buds are gracing my azalea plants, thrilling me in anticipation. And noses are running even more than the poor fountain pictured at the top of this post. It started a few days ago with my daughter's non-stop runny nose. Then, my husband claimed a sore throat yesterday. Last night, my son's croupy cough came back. And now my throat hurts, too. Yay for springtime!
But in all honesty, would we trade the beauty of this time of year for less pollen? No. God created each season with its own good things and bad things. Just like in life. I have friends who have been fighting for their life or their child's life. I have friends who have lost parents and grandparents. We know so many people looking for jobs. Or fighting cancer. There's always a down in life. But if we can see the flowers behind what is making our eyes water, that's the beauty of it. God didn't give us only sad things or only happy things. He balanced it so that we can better appreciate the happy for having to suffer through the bad. And we can better appreciate the flowers for having to suffer through the sniffles.
Do you have bad allergies this time of year? Have you ever looked back on a dark time in your life and been better able to appreciate having come through it?
My house faces west-ish. In the afternoons, the sunshine streams through our front windows. The glass in this door shoots rainbows across the floors and furniture, much to my children's (and my) pleasure. When you look at this picture, you could be thinking, "Man, she needs to dust!" This is true, but you're not seeing dust there in the sunbeams. No. The air was a bit smoky in our house yesterday evening. Why am I sharing this? Because to me, this is love.
I love a smoky house? No. But I love the reason behind it. You see, my husband saw me reading and decided he would make dinner last night. Yes, he got the skillet a bit hotter than it needed to be, but dinner was great. And I didn't have to figure out what to cook or do any of it. He chopped the potatoes, seasoned and cooked them and the chicken, heated the green beans, set the table, everything. And that's love.
Also, my children came into the room, saw the sunbeams all lit up like this, and decided it was like stage lights to play in. They ran and danced and jumped through the rays, giggling and laughing. Something simple, yet so joyous. And I love that, too.
Do you see the amazing goodness in things that could be considered more annoying or frustrating? Do you bless every simple thing that could make your child giggle? Or do you only see the smoke from a slightly too-hot skillet? I hope this week we all look for the love behind the smoky sunbeams.
As promised, this month starts my series of guest posters talking about romance in their lives. Today, I have Sarah Floyd here to tell about an engaging trip to Vermont.
There are so many aspects of my relationship with my husband, Jason, that embody the definition of a real love story, but one of the most interesting is our engagement story.
We began courting in September 2008. We had been best friends for several months before that, but we made our relationship official on the first day of fall that year. We were already very serious about each other by the time the next fall arrived, and we were talking about marriage as something that would happen, but we weren’t sure when. I was a high school teacher in Tennessee at that point and had a fall break for a week each October. I mentioned to Jason in passing one day that I was feeling envious of some of my fellow teachers, who were traveling to New England to see the fall foliage during their fall break.
A little background information is necessary here…I have been obsessed with Vermont since I was about ten years old. I have wanted to visit and live in Vermont since I used to read the encyclopedia (nerd alert!!) and look at pictures of the state scenery. Most of the stories I wrote during my childhood were set in Vermont, although I had never laid eyes on it in real life. I was able to spend a few hours in Vermont as a teenager when my family took a trip through the Northeast, and that only increased my love for it and my desire to go back. I had often talked to Jason about this random, crazy interest.
Not long after I told Jason about my co-workers’ trip, he said to me, “Why don’t we go to Vermont for fall break?” I think I laughed at him at first. He was still in college, taking classes both online and on campus, and was working multiple jobs to make enough money to eat boxed macaroni and cheese and fish sticks. We lived 1100 miles from the edge of Vermont. I only had one week of time off. Our cars were ancient and not always reliable. But he talked me into it, so we made plans to go.
Our trip was long, wild, and complicated. We drove until we were exhausted. We packed a huge cooler of food to avoid the expense of eating out much. I learned the folly of trying to drain a can of sweet peas out the car window while traveling at 65 mph. We ate cold, disgusting food for most of the week. When we stopped at a motel for the night, I stayed in a motel room, and Jason, who could not afford a room, slept in the car in the 35-degree weather, nestled in an enormous pile of blankets and coats. We only had three full days in Vermont. We spent our nights in Vermont in the home of local church members up there, who had graciously opened their home to two Christians they’d never met. We discovered after we returned home that Jason’s car insurance had been cancelled before we left, so we’d actually made the entire trip illegally!
We also had an incredible time and made beautiful memories. On our last full day in Vermont, we traveled to Stowe, the location of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain. It was a place I’d always dreamed of seeing. We planned to drive to the top of the mountain, but there was already too much snow, and the road was closed for the season. Our only option to go to the top was to take the ski lift, which was expensive. I was disappointed because I knew we didn’t need to spend the money, but Jason, usually the frugal one of us, kept insisting that we should go up anyway. He finally said, “What if I wanted to propose to you up there or something?” That really piqued my curiosity, although I didn’t see how he could have a ring, so I agreed, and we got into the enclosed gondola-style car.
The view was spectacular. The fall foliage was at its peak at the bottom half of the mountain, but about halfway up, the scenery switched to snowy forest. At that moment, Jason dropped to one knee in the tiny ski lift car and took off my right glove. He said, “What would you say if I told you I actually did have a ring?”
I responded, “I would tell you that you should put it on the correct hand!” (Sooo romantic, Sarah!) He laughed and took off the other glove and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes, and he slid an amazing diamond solitaire onto my ring finger. By the time we reached the top of Mt. Mansfield, we were officially engaged.
Our engagement story always reminds me of the importance of real love because of the amount of effort and sacrifice it took Jason to make it happen. He sacrificed money he didn’t need to spend so that I could have a real diamond ring because he knew it was what I’d always pictured. He hid the ring in the ceiling of his closet for weeks so I wouldn’t find it. He slept in his car and ate gross food and drove and drove for days so he could propose to me somewhere unique and important to me instead of in one of the typical local “engagement spots.”
Now, over nine years later, he continues to demonstrate to me the value of unconditional love as he provides for and loves me and our two children at our home…in Vermont!
Have you ever had your sweetheart go out of his way to make something perfect for you? I'd love to hear about it!
Sarah Floyd, the author of the Voice of Joy series, lives deep in a Vermont hollow with her husband, two boys (ages 4.5 and 2), and Australian Shepherd dog. It took her more than fifteen years of dreaming to get to Vermont, but she finally made it. Sarah enjoys reading, writing, traveling, crafts, sports and games, and spending time with family and friends. She doesn't enjoy folding fitting sheets.
Sarah loves to hear from her readers. To contact her, send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Links for the Voice of Joy series:
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.