The Wedding Dress Housewife

In honor of our 3rd wedding anniversary today, I thought it would be appropriate to kick off a new series of weekly posts entitled “The Wedding Dress Housewife.” How did this idea originate, you ask? Well, people always say that you only wear a bridesmaids dress once. And, of course, the same is true for your wedding dress – which everyone says should be cleaned and preserved in a humidity controlled air-tight box which you can look at only through a plastic window (all in the hopes that your daughter will have the same style and taste and want to wear the dress you wore 30 years prior).

The Wedding Dress Housewife is here to say that there is another option! In the posts that follow, you will see many other ways that a wedding dress can be incorporated into the routine and even mundane tasks of life. So, to all the housewives out there, toss out the yoga pants, skinny jeans, and capris and rediscover the joy of being all glammed up in white.

My wedding dress on our wedding day.

My wedding dress on our 3rd anniversary.

Saying “Yes” When God Says Go

Have you ever had the sense that God is calling you to “go?” Go and talk with the handicapped woman in the wheelchair at the farmers market, go and introduce yourself to the new neighbor across the street, go and buy a lunch for the homeless man on the corner. Today at church, John Ortberg talked about this divine “go” and call on our lives. When God calls us to go, it’s usually to go from a place where we’re comfortable to a place that’s unknown.

In Genesis 12, God called Abram to go – to leave the comfortable land of Ur and to venture into the unfamiliar land of Canaan. God didn’t show Abram a pretty brochure of Canaan, with a list of all of the possibilities. All God gave him was a promise. “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:1-2).

So Abram went. Huh? Did Abram not question God or put together a pros-cons list? He just… went? I wish I could say that I’ve answered God’s call to “go” that easily. It seems like most often, when I feel that tug on my heart to go, my initial response is “no.” No-go, no-way, no-how. When I was asked to be on a prayer team at church, this was my immediate response. My prayers are often fumbling messes when I pray in public, and now I’m being asked to pray out loud with people at church? Aack! But right at that moment when I was saying “no,” God spoke to my heart and I knew that because I felt inadequate, that’s why I should serve. You see, I’ve learned throughout the years that when I feel the most weak in my abilities, that is when God can be the most strong. I ended up saying “yes” to the prayer team, and I was blessed to enter into other’s pain and intercede on their behalf. God even used my fumbling prayers.

It’s too bad I need to keep learning this lesson to say “yes.” There will always be an excuse to say “no.” But as John Ortberg shared over and over again in the sermon, “if you’re not dead, you’re not done.”  God wants to use me. God wants me to get out of the comfortable bubble that I’ve created for myself. God wants me to listen to his call and to “go.”

Lately, I’ve been filling my head with excuses. “I’m a new Mom.” “I’m exhausted.” “The kitchen is a disaster-area.” I can take a break from the divine “go” at this time in my life, right? But why do I keep getting this tug on my heart to introduce myself to the newly divorced mom four houses to my left, or to reach out to the mom of a newborn and 3 other toddlers who lives right across the street? God has been so patient with me, but he continues to call me to “go” with this same tug. It’s time for me to say “yes” and to trust that even though it’s unsettling to move out of the comfortable and into the unknown, Jesus has given me a promise, “surely I am with you always” (Matt 28:20).

Where you go, I’ll go
Where you stay, I’ll stay
When you move, I’ll move
I will follow you
– Chris Tomlin


Vacation Time Accrued


During a standard 40-hour work week, one might accrue a couple of hours of vacation time. I’d typically store up these precious hours like little gems to splurge on an adventurous international trip or a much needed, and sometimes spontaneous, long weekend. It got to the point where I didn’t really think twice about asking my boss for time off. I knew when and how to ask for vacation time and, hey, I deserved it, right?

Now that I’ve switched careers, I don’t accrue vacation time anymore. And to be honest, I’m not sure who my boss is either. I don’t have annual reviews, I don’t get raises, and I don’t get promoted. And? I’m okay with that. I wouldn’t trade being a mommy for a million vacation days. I’m serious. I’ve yearned and dreamt of this moment for years. And, here I am.

But, it’s still hard to adjust my thinking that life isn’t all about me or that I deserve x, y, z. I can’t just pack my bag and run off to the airport at a moments notice. I’m in a new season. I’m actually tired of calling it that, but it’s true, even when it doesn’t provide me much assurance.

This “season” came to the forefront of my mind again last week when I received the invite for my dear friend’s wedding on the east coast. I was doing mental gymnastics trying to figure out how I could go. It wasn’t a matter of accrued vacation time, it was a matter of juggling all of my new responsibilities and a little someone who depends on me during the day. The wedding falls during a difficult time of year for Carl to take time off, so he was out, and traveling with a toddler on my own on a cross-country flight sounds like as much fun as pulling out each leg hair individually with a pair of tweezers. I ventured down the path of figuring out a trip solo, like I used to do for so many years. But when it all came down to it, I’d only be on the east coast for about 24 hours, and that sounded like crazy-pants.

So, after a good pep-talk from my Mom (as she kindly reminded me of all of the amazing trips I’ve been able to take without hesitation over the years), and after a few tears, I wrote the hard email to my friend, telling her that I could only be at her wedding in spirit. My friend was full of grace and understanding. Now, I just need to offer myself some grace, take a deep breath, exhale, embrace this new season and realize that with each season of life there are disappointments but also great joys.

Writer’s Block

I’m not one for believing in fortunes from my fortune cookie, but occasionally there will be a nugget of wisdom or encouragement that will hit home. The above fortune has been posted on my fridge for about a month. I often wonder if I’ll have a creative idea soon or even the time to be creative. The difficult thing about creativity is that I can’t just turn it on with a push of a button. As soon as nap time starts, I can’t just say, “Okay, Marlene, you’ve got 1 hour. Now sit down and be creative.” I need time to stew and sift through my thoughts. Or, more often than not, I just need to take a shower or sit on my bed and stare out into space for a bit. Parenting a toddler is exhausting.

A good friend and my hair-dresser recently asked me this question on the same day: what have you been writing lately? The first thing that I blurted out of my mouth? Shopping lists. Oh, yes… those shopping lists on scraps of paper that I shove into my diaper bag are little gems.

It’s a funny season, this mommy thing. Yet, I hold onto my daily reminder on my fridge that perhaps tomorrow – yes, tomorrow – my creative side with shine forth with exceptional ideas.

Being Known

These shoes make me smile every time I see them. A dear friend at one of my baby showers gave them to me. Knowing my love of Michael Jackson’s Thriller days, she knew I’d crack up over the shiny metallic silver shoes, envisioning them on my baby-to-be doing the moonwalk on our hardwood floors. This friend knows me well. We’ve laughed a lot together over the years, and possibly cried more together in public than any other friend I know. It seems like every time we would go out to breakfast together, one of us would run out of Kleenex as we shared the hard things of life.

When I look at these shoes I smile and I’m thankful, because I realize how good it is to be known. I also get a little teary as I’m in a season of life where so many things are new – new town, new community, and new role as a mom. I used to love the adventure of moving some place new and exploring my new surroundings and meeting new people. Yes, there were tears sometimes in the beginning, but after I got over that hurdle, I’d dive right in. Going to six different elementary schools in three different states will teach you how to be adaptable. But making friends as an adult – no, as a wife and as a mom of a new little guy – is exponentially more challenging.

Gone are the dorm-room and summer staff Young Life camp days when you have a new bestie after a few days of bonding. I think I took it for granted as a singleton when I was free to join every evening event or volunteer activity where relationships can be formed so quickly.

At this stage of my life, I feel like I am dating everyone, and it is exhausting. It amazes me how much more effort it takes to get things on the calendar, since the calendar is no longer my own. And when you only see someone once or twice a month, in the midst of babies crying and toddlers running under foot, not only does it take significant discipline to stay focused on a conversation, but it adds to the slowness of moving towards any sort of depth in a friendship.

I often sigh a deep internal sigh when people say, “When I first met you, I thought you were very reserved and quiet.” Oh, new friend, you have no idea. Friends that know me understand that I’d rather have a karaoke microphone in my hand on a Friday night than a glass of fine wine. There is silliness in me that needs to be expressed on a daily basis, or I will burst. It truly is a good thing that I have a little guy who likes to be entertained.

We all long to be known. It’s how God designed us. I just think that feeling is much more acute during this season. At times like these, it’s important for me to remember how God has provided amazing friendships in the past and IS forming new relationships in my life as I write this. Each time that I have moved, I have been given the gift of friendships. These friends are like precious stones that have added to the beautiful path on my journey. Just the other day, one of my new friends made the comment that my middle name should be “fun.” What a compliment, and what joy to know that I am in the process of being known.

500 Hairs

There are many things that have happened to me during pregnancy and post-pregnancy that I was not prepared for. I’m just going to believe that my friends forgot to tell me these things, or they thought it would be fun for me to discover them on my own. Like, for example, the hair loss.

It all began at about 3 months post-pregnancy. (I’m not using the word “post-partum”… cause what does that really mean, anyway?) While I was nursing, I’d start combing through my hair with my fingers and have clumps of hair in my hand. I started to just shake them onto the rug by my feet, but each brush of my hand revealed more and more hair. So, I began to make piles of it throughout the house (to collect later of course… because if there’s one thing a new mommy is good at, it’s cleaning the house, right?). Poor Carl would sit down in his chair in the living room and find one of my hair balls sitting politely on the coffee-table staring back at him, and he’d say “What’s this?” Oops. Sawry.

All the hairs that didn’t come out while I was pregnant, were now exiting my scalp with a vengeance. It’s like they couldn’t wait to get rid of me. And this went on for 3 months. I recently read that post-pregnancy, you can lose up to 500 hairs a day. Yes. 500. A normal person loses up to 150 a day. Who knew? (And who was the crazy intern who had to count all these hairs to come up with this scientific fact?)

I think I’ve now turned a corner. I even got a new shorter hairdo to clean up the mess of the Mommy-hair I had left. But during the crazy hair-loss stage, I feared I might start to look like my bald little baby and thought I should see what I’d look like with no hair. I know you want to see that picture, so here you go.

There’s no question. He’s much cuter with no hair.

But what would he look like with hair? I still can’t tell what color hair he’ll have since it’s all just peach-fuzz right now. So, like any other normal mom, I put some wigs on him to find out. Cast your vote. Do you like brown, blonde, or green?

Bonding and Barfs

It’s an amazing thing, the bond between a mother and child. I don’t think I’d put up with a friend, co-worker, boyfriend, parent, or spouse who barfed on me once a day. I mean, I’d be nice to them and buy them birthday gifts and stuff, but the barfing business would have to stop.