Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts from a church bench

Even though I was sooo tired from my crazy weekend, and all I wanted to do was to stay in bed and snuggle Jeff, I stumbled out of bed yesterday morning to get ready for church. Even with my fatigue, I took more care than normal as I picked out my clothes for church. The choir was going to perform Come Though Fount for Thanksgiving, and I wanted to look my best.

I had to be at church earlier than normal to rehearse one last time, and so I was awake and ready before everyone else. Which meant that dear Jeff would be getting all the kids ready and to church by himself. I did Nora's hair and asked Kate to help dress her so that dad would have one less munchkin to worry about.

As I headed out the door, I felt pretty cute in my dress with whimsical birds on it, eyelet under skirt, and polka dot shoes. With my cupcake breakfast in hand,  I kissed Nora goodbye, as she was awake now, gave Kate a hug, who was staying home sick, and got into the icy Blueberry and waited for the windows to defrost.

I arrived at church in time to start warming up. Our rehearsal went well, and I could see the wisdom in asking to be there early.

After the choir was through practicing, I took a seat in the fourth row, sure to put my coat and purse down the pew a ways so that I could save spots for my family when they arrived. And then I waited. It was strange to sit by myself. Strange to sing the opening hymn and listen to the opening prayer without shushing my little ones, or keeping one eye open to make sure people weren't poking each other. During the sacrament, I was able to reflect and think about things on the horizon that have me wondering about the direction our family should go. And I was able to ask fervently how to help one of my children who is having some health concerns. It was nice to have the quiet, but lonely too, and I wondered where on earth my family could be.

I finally decided, as the minutes continued to tick by, that if they weren't there by the time I was done singing, that I would go home and check on them. Our van needs a new starter and has not been starting consistently, so I figured that was probably the problem.

As I thought this, Jeff and the children all came filing in. And yes, the car wouldn't start. Jeff had bits of leaves and dirt on the back of his sweater still from where he had laid on the ground to get a good look under the car. The van had finally started, and they were at church! I brushed off the back of Jeff's sweater and gave him an affectionate squeeze. He was happy none the less, and the children for the most part, sat quietly as we listened to the talks on gratitude.

The choir number went beautifully. It was one of those moments when being part of a ward choir felt worth all the extra time put in. I came back to our row to see Jeff in a new place between Charlie and Anne Marie. Henry leaned over and said, "Mom! I tried to wave at you, but you wouldn't look at me!!!"

"Henry, " I softly said, "when you are singing in a choir, you have to look at the lady moving her arms around. I'm sorry I didn't see you."

He was a little appeased, but still sad that mommy had watched the director instead of him.

I asked Jeff how he thought the choir sounded, and he said that the parts he heard sounded good. I'm sure that in the middle of moving disruptive kids around, and trying to quietly shush everyone, that the choir sounded wonderful:)

At that moment, all the support Jeff has given me really flooded my emotions. So I just gave him my 'I love you so much' look, that he knows and understands. He reached over and rubbed my calf in a return sign of affection. But at that moment, I felt slightly horrified. In my careful efforts to get ready and look nice that morning, I had skipped shaving my legs to save time. Thinking that they weren't that bad and no one would notice. Until Jeff touched my leg that is.

So I apologized. "I'm sorry my legs are prickly." I whispered. "I didn't shave them today."

"I don't care at all." Jeff replied, giving me his best smile.

"Really? You don't care that they're all prickly?" I questioned. I always wanted my legs to be smooth when Jeff touched them. So I was still embarrassed that I had skipped that step.

"Amy. I don't care at all. I just like touching you.  I love you and I think you're beautiful." He lovingly said. His voice was like honey as the affection practically dripped from him.

I just beamed at him, feeling so lucky and blessed. Not just because he didn't care that my legs were stubbly, but because in that moment I realized that I didn't have to be perfect to be beautiful to him. His love for me is much more than constantly smooth legs, a flat pre-baby tummy, or a line free face. Those were things I could offer when I was 22. Before 6 beautiful babies, before 15 years of marriage, before the realization that love and eternity last, where as looks fade.

I sat and thought about this for a long time. Trying to listen to the last talk as I thought about what real love is. Not just between husband and wife, but the love that God shows to us, the love that we can have for each other. You could insert any physical trait into this sentence. I don't have to be ____ to be beautiful. But it's impossible to leave out the words kind, loving, honest, giving, etc. etc.

You see, it's really who we are that makes us beautiful as women. If you rated me on physical beauty compared to celebrities and super models, I wouldn't even be on the chart. But if you rate me in my husband's eyes, and include all the things he loves best about me, I win every time.

So while I may still find myself looking at magazine's in the grocery store from time to time, wishing my legs were smaller or my arms more shapely, I can guarantee that Jeff never does that. He doesn't compare me to anyone else, and he thinks I'm the most beautiful of any.

Because beauty fades, wrinkles show up no matter how hard we try to keep them at bay, things sag and bag over time.

But the twinkle in your eye? The affectionate hug and kiss every evening? The kind words spoken to someone in need? The love between a husband and wife?

Those things last forever.


  1. I love this. You are so blessed.

  2. You got me all gushy eyed!! That was so awesome!! You have a way of writing that always keeps me hooked to the end!! I love that I can feel, see, be in these moments with the gift you have.....


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