The Spiritual Rudder

windshield-repair3

A little help, here?

Wednesday, May 8; 6:30pm.

I’m sitting in the basement of our church, just after enjoying our usual Wednesday night, PEAK (Praise Education And Kids) meal. The food is always yummy, the company friendly…and let’s face it…feeding a family of five for $12 total (all of which goes to the church) isn’t such a bad deal. Plus, I don’t have to cook on Hump Day.

All. Good. Things.

Sugar Bean is in her youth group and the other two sprouts are in their classes as well. Several lectures are being conducted in various rooms of the building, so there’s something for everyone if you choose to partake. I just happen to find the basement comfortable, inviting, peaceful and quiet…allowing my brain time to breathe. Which doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should lately. Neither the brain breathing nor the peaceful quiet. But WHO am I kidding? I have The Beans…and they are noisy. Carry On, Warrior!

Anyway, one of the lectures currently happening is titled:

 “War, Divorce, and Faith: A Military Psychologist Reflects on Being a Christian”

 

Although I don’t have the first clue what, exactly, the lecture is about, just seeing the flyer taped to the wall was enough to plant the seed for an inner dialogue…and, of course, a post. Call it FOUNDATION INSPIRATION!

Sometimes, marriage is a series of battles, which can lead to a WAR. Battles ensue over parenting, finances, intimacy, in-laws, addiction, work stress–the list goes on. Too often, those seemingly benign, civil disputes mount to such a height, it results in DIVORCE. Enter FAITH. You must have faith that everything–despite all evidence to the contrary–will be okay, and hope for the best. Or at least a peaceful ending. One way, or another. Easier said than done, I know. Trust me.

Never having been through a divorce from either perspective–my parents were married 46 years before they passed, and I’ve been married for 14 so far– I don’t have any words of comfort or pearls of wisdom to share on how difficult it is to navigate. But I can say with firm certainty that MARRIAGE is tough. Next to parenthood–which is an ongoing, flawed experiment in failure almost every waking moment in my world–marriage is the hardest job I have. Or have EVER had for that matter. I’ve modeled naked in front of an art class full of strangers…in fluorescent lighting…and that wasn’t as exhausting, soul-baring or frightening for goodness sake! I’ve slung drinks behind the bar of a celebrity laden, Hollywood hotspot and not felt so exposed or used up. Seriously. Just the basic principle of it, meaning whole-hearted commitment, takes effort, from both people involved. Hence the reciprocal, vows of matrimony. It’s a partnership, and the moment one person begins to neglect any aspect of it, the foundation begins to develop miniscule cracks. Not visible to the untrained eye at first glance, but nonetheless present, these cracks can–if ignored over time–spread farther and farther into the pillars of the marriage. Is anyone surprised? Not really?

I thought so.

Picture a windshield with a tiny crack buried deep in the far corner. You see it, but don’t give it much thought. Realistically, how much can that little thing compromise the strength of the great big windshield, right? The “I’ll get to it later” mentality sets in. Seasons change, storms happen, temperatures rise and fall. Before you realize what’s happened, that tiny crack has grown into a spider-web across the windshield, obstructing your view…making it impossible to see the road ahead with any clarity.  BAM! You are lost. Completely off the grid. And THAT is some scariness. 

Saddens me to say, but it happens in marriage too.

Sounds pretty grim, huh?

Kinda like a crash in the last lap of the Talladega 500, I’m guessing.

There IS good news though. If you have a spiritual rudder–whatever faith it’s rooted in– helping you navigate the twists and turns, you’ll avoid careening into the center divider, and instead…find a repair shop just around the bend. Hallelujah, and praise the Heavens! You can pull into the pit…rally the crew (if you’ve employed one) and get a refurbished windshield! Not entirely new…just reworked. They don’t give them away for free, mind you. It takes hard work, patience and effort, but if you love the car with your heart and soul, and would rather it spit and sputter…dying beneath the weight of your efforts to save it…rather than have to bear the heartache of trading it in…then it’s totally worth the time, effort and patience required to finish the race and see that checkered flag waving in the breeze. The kicker is, you AND your co-driver both have to be in it for the long haul. No compromises. It takes two, working together. Period. Why, you ask? Because inevitably…you will get a flat tire, blow a gasket, break a belt, overheat, lock the keys in the car, forget where you parked, leave the window down during a rainstorm, or get drunk and need a ride home. Guaranteed. You always need a partner when dealing with anything automotive…or marital. If you are single, I suggest AAA. Or a professional NASCAR pit crew, if you can wrangle one. But be warned…you don’t quite receive that “personal touch”. Especially if you happen to be negotiating with AA simultaneously. Amen.

So, regardless of the fact that I have totally compared my marriage…and perhaps yours…to the machinations of automotive car parts and NASCAR racing…

YOU GET THE POINT.  RIGHT?

 

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I now pronounce you “MAAH-WEED”.

Being goofballs as usual; Summer, 2006.

Being goofballs as usual; Summer, 2006.

On March 6, 1999,  The Man and I got married.  Or, “MAAH-WEED”, if you happen to be like me, and can’t utter that word without hearing the voice of Long Duck Dong saying it in Sixteen Candles–always a classic, favorite of ours.

Regardless, we’ve been hitched for 14 years, which means it’s actually the 2nd anniversary of the dreaded, “7-year itch”. Which, btw, never happened to us–at least not to me. Or to my knowledge. But second anniversaries are still technically the honeymoon phase, right? So with that in mind, I’ll just say it’s our second, so we can celebrate like newlyweds, and draw stares from people thinking, ‘look at those two…they need to get a room’…lol 🙂 Fifty more years, and we’ll reach the milestone my parents would have, if they were alive today. HOLY COW…in 50 years I’ll be 91. Am I really thinking about canoodling at that age?

Somebody freaking smack me, will ya?!!

All kidding aside, I treasure all the years we’ve earned, and moments we’ve shared together, including the awesome, the crappy, and the ‘WTF just happened’ ones. Marriage is a package deal. Reading between the lines of traditional matrimonial vows proves it. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health? Pretty strong evidence. If you’re really committed, it can be summed up with this statement, and you can move on to the reception: You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit. However, in the event you do toss caution to the wind, and throw a hissy….try not to go to bed mad. That’s the best piece of advice I can offer. Spending eternity with your soul mate can be hard work….but well worth the effort. Seriously.

Now. A tribute to THE MAN. 

The Top Ten Reasons A Divorce Lawyer Will Never Get My Our Money

1. The Man is frat-boy hot. In. Every. Way.

2. He understands that he lives with 4 females, and never leaves the seat up. Ever.

3. If one of The Beans is sick, The Man automatically takes the couch for the night (or the week), so she can sleep with me. Could be a selfish move, but still.

4. Despite, at first, saying the music was “kind of strange because of the violin”, he has become a diehard DMB fan, and completely understands that summer vacations must be planned around the tour schedule every year. It’s glorious. You can read about one of our adventures here. 

5.  He loves animals, and never scoffs when I announce it’s time to take in a new baby. In fact, at the moment, he wants a puppy. I do not.

6. When I said we needed to take the family on a 2000+ mile, cross-country road trip to Alabama, because I was homesick, he trusted me. Both times. 

7. The Man swears he’s Southern, attended the University of Alabama, and played football for my beloved Crimson Tide. He also claims we met there, and I just don’t remember. All lies. He was born and raised right here in Los Angeles.

8. Regardless of what I cook, it always ‘the best meal I’ve ever made’, and he thanks me for it. Even if it’s ramen noodles or delivery pizza.

9. There is never a shortage of cheesy jokes and silly nicknames for everyone and everything, because The Man’s cup runneth over with them. It’s both maddening and endearing simultaneously.

10. I know he loves me fiercely, without restraint or condition, and we have walked through Hell with each other to get where we are. Everyday, we choose to keep on going…with each other.

You can’t divorce that.

Happy Anniversary, dear. I love you.

Stolen moment; Street corner in Silver Lake; 2011.Photo-bomb by EZ-LUBE.

 

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64 years ago today**

 

Mama & Daddy...December 9, 1978

Betty & Buster…December 9, 1978

…the good-looking, silver-haired couple in the photograph above went to the preacher’s house at 8am and got hitched. Then, after making sure she would be excused from school that day, drove to Nashville for their weekend honeymoon. He was 19, she was 16, and they are my parents.

As the story goes, Daddy saw Mama crossing the street uptown, some 8 months earlier, turned to his friend and said…“You see her? I’m gonna marry that girl.” Standing at about 5’5″, sporting body measurements rumored to have been 36-24-36, along with blue eyes and blonde hair, she was the new girl in town. Although he hadn’t met her yet, it didn’t take long. He actually asked her out on the spot, for later that night, and she accepted. The only catch was, she was to be his buddy’s companion…on a double date, and he didn’t tell her that until after she agreed. Yes, you read that right. He tricked her! Turns out, Daddy already had a date lined up for the evening, but didn’t want Mama out of his sight, so he set her up, and I’m sure threatened the poor schmuck who was to be her date if he so much as THOUGHT about putting the moves on her). Buster Romine was a smoothe operator, yes he was! Anyway, after that night, he marked his territory by peeing in her front yard or something (not really, but it sounds like something he might do, right?) and diligently courted her. Picked her up and drove her to school in the mornings and back home in the afternoons, in addition to spending the between hours with her as well. Being in a small Southern town back in 1949, my Papa thought folks might start to talk, tarnishing Mama’s reputation, so he told Daddy they better go on and get married. So they did.

And the rest is history.

Romine History. 

You see, they went on to build a life together and stage a marvelous, somewhat locally famous–or infamous, depending on whom you ask–giant family circus. Not Duggar-sized huge, mind you, but one shy of Jon & Kate Plus 8. You can even read about some of the family shenanigans here, on my sister’s blog. Daddy was a plumber-electrician with a genius level IQ who complimented Mama’s homemaker/gifted seamstress roles very well. Out of that early morning matrimonial union, sprung….3 sons and 4 daughters. All the sons have good cooking and sewing skills, while the girls know how to fix a toilet and wire an outlet; the products of practical, common-sense raising. As a band of siblings, we would kick some serious ass on “Survivor: Brothers and Sisters”…lol. Among us, a Navy Seal who served our country in Vietnam, a well-known calligrapher/artist (who also has a nursing degree), another registered nurse, a kick-ass event planner & caterer, a retired prison guard (and damned good plumber-electrician), an EMS dispatcher/ writer/ blogger/ baker/ forensic photographer  (what can I say? she wears a lot of hats) and me–lucky number 7. You can dig through the archives to find out what I do, besides write. Go on, it’ll be fun!

To date, they have…

22 grandchildren

25 great-grandchildren already…..with 4 more on the way 🙂

The love they shared was deep and lasting. Passionate and messy….flawed yet flawless…wildly playful but seriously tamed…focused and distracted…whole yet fractured. In other words…real.

By example, my daddy set the bar high for all the men who showed serious intent while crossing paths with his daughters. He worshipped my mama, and no doubt would have sipped her bath water as if it were the finest champagne of the rarest vintage. And likewise, Mama sent her boys into the world as Southern gentlemen, raised to appreciate, admire, provide for and protect their wives. I’d say we are a damn lucky brood, we Romines, wouldn’t you?

Buster and Betty’s legacy is far-reaching, and sure to continue thriving well-beyond my destined time on Mother Earth. I hold such fond memories of Daddy singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to Mama as they danced around the kitchen, or on the back porch on a summer evening. Oh, what a glorious voice he had! Mama’s eyes lit up like Roman candles whenever she heard it. Fitting, as the eyes are the windows to the soul, and he certainly spoke to hers. True soul mates. They embodied the meaning of love and respect for each other, stuck to their vows and REALLY took to heart the phrase:

for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…

until death do us part

They died just as in love, as they lived. Daddy first on February 20th, 1994, followed by Mama on September 6, 1995. On this Valentine’s Day, I wish to dedicate this post to their memory as shining examples of true sweethearts. I love and miss them every single day!

**Okay…to be fair, it was actually 64 years ago on Monday, February 4th. But due to the fact that it’s about the sweet love affair between my parents, I wanted to feature it on Valentine’s Day. So… I waited 10 days to publish it instead of doing it on their anniversary. I know, I suck… lol.  It’s the thought that counts though, right?  

 

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Apparently, I have a built-in GPS. Chances are, so do you.

GPStracker:calibamamom

We just moved a month or so ago, and ordinarily I would blame The Man’s inability to locate objects on that. After all, lots of things are still in boxes. Granted, it’s all stuff that belongs to me, that he probably never even knew existed in the first place. Still, I’d like to give him the benefit of doubt. Then I began to think about it, and it dawned on me we’ve been together for 15 years…married for close to 14….and he’s always been challenged when it comes to locating items on his own. Your man too, huh? Go figure. 

Of course, it’s benign enough, when it only happens every once in awhile. “Honey, where’s the _______?” or “Dear, do you know where my _____ is?”  However, it breaches my threshold for irritation when it’s several times in a row, involving an item that doesn’t belong to me, I have never seen, or better yet, has never existed in our household.

At 5 am.

Before my eyes even have the chance to focus in the pre-dawn light, preceded by an all- too-familiar toned, term of endearment.

Yes, that has happened. More than once, I’m afraid.

Although I can only estimate based on my own experience, I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of guys out there just like The Man, constantly appearing in a state of bewilderment, searching for a clue.  At this point, I take pause and wonder “Do we, as women, create these co-dependent creatures?” The answer, most certainly is yes…but we didn’t do it alone. No. Obviously, somewhere in the history of the Universe,  the male species was informed that the uterus is a secret tracking device, able to pinpoint objects in the blink of an eye. Why else would they immediately consult us before first searching for what they need? It’s the only explanation. I mean, all women have one….unless you are medically forced, or independently elect, to have it surgically removed. I’ve even overheard The Man asking The Beans where things are, after he’s come up dry after asking me. True story.

So, there.

As I seek to further confirm this theory, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed between one of my older sisters and her husband years ago. My brother-in-law walked into the room and said, “Do you know where the ________ is?”. My sister responded with, “No. Did you look for it?” He stammered, and said “Well…uh…no. I figured I would just ask you first.” With a slight smirk, and a twinkle in her eye, she said, “Now, why on Earth would you do that? I don’t have a built-in tracking device anymore. I had a hysterectomy years ago.” Way to go, sis. Sheer, smart-assed brilliance, I say! Because, to my knowledge, he hasn’t asked the location of an item since, without waging an exhaustive search on his own first.  Btw, she raised 2 boys, whom I am certain are independent thinkers as the result of her quick wit.

So ladies, if you happen to find yourself fed up, constantly being questioned on the whereabouts of lost things by your male counterpart (and you still have your uterus), I have come up with a solution. Just tell him your tracking device is temporarily out of service because you are on your period. At the very least, he’ll be so shocked he will fall silent and leave you alone for a bit 🙂

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