It was about this time last year that I was involved in planning our daughter‘s wedding to Greg. Jody was a single mom with two children and wasn't looking for a husband when she met Greg. I deeply admired my daughter, a wonderful mother who continually put her children first. She did everything humanly possible to save her marriage and when she had no other option but divorce, it devastated her. After she met Greg, I remembered a prayer I'd said for her from the time she was small. I prayed God would send her a life mate who would love her as much as he loved God. I believe she found that man in Greg.
I have a small confession to make. I cry at weddings. It's embarrassing but I can't help myself. I don't even need to be close to the bride or groom for the tears to start flowing. Even before we head to the ceremony, Wayne knows to grab a second handkerchief because he's well aware that at some point during the ceremony I'll desperately search my purse for a fresh tissue. Even now I'm not exactly sure what prompts these tears. Memories of my own wedding day? Or when our children were wed? Perhaps it’s simply sharing the joy of two people who have found each other and are vowing love and commitment. No matter the cause of my tears, weddings are special and one of the very reasons I enjoy writing about them as often as I do.
With the wedding of our daughter, Jody Rose, last summer, and the release of BLOSSOM STREET BRIDES, wedding ceremonies and brides have been on my mind. I was reminded of a shower given several years back in which everyone was asked to give the bride advice on how to have a successful marriage. I remember that some of the suggestions were hilarious: Don't ever pick up his dirty socks or Have plenty of chicken recipes on hand. And some were real pearls of wisdom, such as: Stay close to God. Make dinner together a priority. Never go to bed angry with one another. The sharing was great fun and as applicable now as it was then. Like all married couples, Wayne and I have gone through a few rough patches but I've managed to have plenty of chicken recipes on hand and we've never gone to bed angry . . . okay, almost never.
One of the most frequently asked questions I get on radio or television interviews has to do with my story ideas. People want to know what inspires me. Last year, when writing Blossom Street Brides, my inspiration was my daughter, Jody. She and Greg had decided to marry and we were knee deep in wedding plans. I wrote their vows (as I did for my daughter, Jenny Adele, and her husband, Kevin) and was spending time with caterers, photographers etc. Brides were on my mind and it seemed only natural to write a book about brides.
The Blossom Street books have always been special to me as an author, mainly because I've been able to meld two of my passions: knitting and writing. I owe a great deal to this series. Back on Blossom Street was my first hardcover to hit the New York Times bestseller list. The Shop on Blossom Street, the first book in the series, had been published as a stand alone book the year before and reader response was encouraging and positive. I proposed the idea of another story involving Lydia and the yarn store and, as they say, the rest is history.
For many years now I've kept a Gratitude Journal. It's become part of my morning routine to start my day by listing five things (or more) for which I am most grateful that day. Some days I write down silly things, like finishing a challenging Sudoku puzzle. (Thanks to God for giving this non-mathematical brain a chance to shine!) Other days it's more serious things, like thanking God for the years we had our son Dale. This starts my day on a positive note and helps me remember how good God has been to me, even in the darkest of times. God is good. I say that often and believe it. As I look back on my life I can see His fingerprints all over my life and I am grateful.
A friend recently mentioned that the Army had given her grandson, who'd been injured in Afghanistan, a service dog. Her grandson had sunk into a deep, dark depression that in many ways threatened his life more than his physical injuries. The dog had made a tremendous difference in her grandson's life. She called the service dog, his “comfort dog.” I realized as she told the story that God had sent Wayne and me a comfort dog too. Bogie came into our lives shortly before we buried our son, Dale. God knew we would need this gentle, loving dog to help us through the darkest days of our lives. Today is National Love Your Pet Day so be sure and give your pet a little TLC and perhaps an extra treat or two.
It's my understanding that a lot of marriage proposals take place on Valentine's Day--and why not, it's the perfect romantic set up for a man to declare his love. As best as I can remember, Wayne proposed to me in February. What sticks out most in my memory is that we'd had a small tiff and I was feeling wretched. We didn't speak for a couple of days and then Wayne showed up with an engagement ring! I was in tears. I figured if he wanted to apologize with diamonds this was a promising future.
When we speak of Valentine's Day it's mostly related to romantic love. Readers assume that because I write about relationships that involve romance, I must be some sort of expert in the field. They think Valentine's Day is a day meant for flowers, chocolates and wild passionate lovemaking .
I'd like to suggest we start a new trend when it comes to talking about love and Valentine's Day. Instead of romance and seeking out that perfect someone who will love us the way we deserve, I think we need to start loving ourselves--not in a narcissistic sort of way but it a healthy, fun way. For in loving ourselves we are able to love others. Loving others becomes a reflection of how deeply we care about ourselves.
A single friend once told me she wished to remarry. She made a list of everything she was looking for in a husband and then worked on those very qualities in her own life. She became the woman that would attract the man she wanted. So today on this Valentine's Day I'd like to declare it as “love yourself day” and just for fun, enjoy a really wonderful, decadent piece of chocolate.
My life has been blessed with a number of wonderful friendships. But God sent a special friend into my life at a time when I needed a good friend the most. Back in 1986 our family moved to Port Orchard, WA (aka Cedar Cove) and as it happened, my next door neighbor was Linda Lael Miller. Coincidentally, Linda had also published around the same time as I did and being able to commiserate about our fledgling careers and the craziness of raising children and keeping a home was heaven sent.
As Linda and I walked around the high school track every afternoon we dreamed together, set goals, planned our careers and encouraged and supported one another. We even opened a shared office out of the home—unheard of among our author friends! And then Linda got wanderlust and moved. She joked and said the neighborhood was going down hill. She now lives in Spokane and while we don't see each other more than a couple of times a year, we still dream and plot and plan. I am blessed to call her my friend, knowing that it’s a rare and special gift to have friendships that bridge both distance and time.
When Wayne and I first met I found him absolutely fascinating. He was tall, blond and had robin's egg blue eyes I could melt in. In addition he was smart and funny and he seemed to think I was beautiful. Within a few weeks of our meeting I was convinced he was the one for me. Sure enough, a year later we were man and wife.
I soon learned that what I felt for Wayne was only the first layer of what it means to love someone. Love was nursing me through a bout of flu, or waiting 15 minutes longer after I assured him I was ready to leave but only had this one small thing I had to do. Love was reaching for my hand during a scary part of a movie. Love is finding a way to balance our monthly budget and still pay for Jenny Adele to take dancing classes. It was driving Ted and Dale to their soccer practice after a long day working construction. It was believing in me enough to say, "Write, Debbie, write, it's what you've always wanted to do, isn't it?" That, my friends, is love. Real love.