Friday, June 04, 2010


I'm going to wax very personal here. So..If personal things bore you please move on to someone else's blog. You will be very disappointed with this one today.

I used a phrase [not original with me] when I wrote about our anniversary recently that I've been asked about. In fact, two phrases were used and asked about. One was "stirring the oatmeal." The other was the altering of an old cliche to make it say "familiarity breeds respect." "Familiarity breeds contempt" was, of course, the original way it was said. I'll write about that later perhaps.

The first was used to show how ordinary things can be turned into an adventure rather than waiting for only the extraordinary things to be that. Who experiences many "extraordinary things"anyway? Much of daily living is lived in experiencing mundane often boring things that are more routine than exciting.

What celebrating the ordinary does is it keeps us appreciating what we have and are experiencing rather than always hoping something will happen that is exciting. It keeps us from wondering what we're missing out on in life. We're not missing out on anything. That's the point. Life is fun and appreciated where we are and with what is happening.

It is very similar to the old idea of "stop and smell the roses." Some people live their life without ever really enjoying it. They may even miss seeing what they have and waste their time longing for what they think other people have or are afraid they have missed out on. What a waste of time and energy and of life itself.

Mary and I HAVE had extraordinary times together. We've pastored large, exciting churches as well as small ones which were just as thrilling. We've gone to meetings sponsored by the multi-billion dollar Corporation for which she works. We've traveled to places like Hawaii, Israel, London, Egypt, not to mention trips on our motorcycle to Colorado, Bear Tooth pass in Montana, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole Wyoming. Those trips can ONLY be described as extraordinary when you're on a motorcycle.

Add to that the REALLY extraordinary events we've shared like the birth/marriages of children and grandchildren and who's to doubt that some really great things have been experienced by the two of us.

But, generally, our days are made up of the ordinary and it is the celebration of those times that make life far more exciting. This, especially as age begins to dictate the slowing down of extraordinary times/events. In fact, the older one gets the more likely it is that funerals become more common place than do weddings and births or travel and sight-seeing.

This is when having learned to celebrate the "stirring of the oatmeal" [What's more mundane than that?] comes into play. But I do think it takes learning this early in life on rather than later. You don't magically wake up one day doing it. It takes a commitment, time, and it takes practice.

Let me give an example. Mary's coffee. What I mean is this. Mary works for a major Publishing company and offices about a mile from our house. When I'm home from traveling myself, which is a good bit these days, I take her to her office, walk to Starbucks, three doors down, get a tall, mild, with room, cup of coffee. I then doctor it with a little sweetener, a little non-fat milk and walk the few feet to her office where she's unlocked the front door. I step in, she comes to me, I get a kiss, and she gets her coffee.

Now that's celebrating a cup of coffee if I do say so myself. This is every morning unless Providence dictates otherwise. When I can't, she jokingly wonders how she will get coffee that day. She doesn't know how to make it taste right she says.

Another example. When I'm gone on a meeting, two, three or four days at a time, it varies, and I get home I find something. The morning papers I've missed reading are at my place at the table, along with my personal mail, and a note has been written welcoming me home [With a few words that are private telling me how MUCH she has missed me.] and left on the cabinet that I see as I enter.

This is the moment I sense I'm REALLY home and I find relaxing feelings starting to take shape in my shoulders and back. Try it sometime. It's worth leaving briefly just to get to come home. Of course you have to learn to celebrate it like we do.

I might add that when she travels the same thing happens when she arrives home only the thing she finds is perhaps a clean house or groceries bought or a meal cooking. That says the same to her that my papers and mail do to me.

I could multiply these examples by telling about our noon dip in the pool during the summer time as I pick her up at 11:45am and have a protein drink ready. We float, we sun, we laugh, and she drives back to work by herself. [I'm going to be too busy in the pool to take her you understand. ;)] Or, a simple thing like her calling me "mister." Nothing else..just "mister" which I happen to be crazy about. Don't ask me why? I just am.

I could tell of our forgetting things as we get older but celebrate it by jokingly saying "There she goes" [Meaning she's losing it.] or "There he goes," depending on which one forgot something. This, instead of dreading getting older or getting upset that we are. We just are. And we are forgetful. "Celebrate it" is our motto. And we do.

I could even tell you about the moment we get in bed every night and Mary snuggles in close to my back. There is a small thing she says that makes me laugh every time. I will leave unshared what she says since it is personal and of a nature that would draw a censure from some I'm sure. But what do they know!! They just need to get a life. ;)

We started learning this several years ago when we would take trips and Mary would navigate while I drove. We'd REALLY get upset and even fight if wrong instructions, turns, or whatever happened to be given/made. One day we decided we would travel with the philosophy.."There are no mistakes, only ways of going and doing things we hadn't planned on. So we'll celebrate the unplanned." [Mistakes]

You ought to try it sometime. It will revolutionize any trip you take together. It carried over into other things for us and most little things have become an adventure. "Stirring the oatmeal" we have found can be a great thing. Try it sometime.

I do know that one day, for the spouse that remains, if that time comes, it will likely be those ordinary things that were shared and laughed about that will be remembered with misty eyes and smiles, rather than the trips.

By the way, if this is all too childish to really be right and is kind of dorky...don't tell me. I'm having too much fun thinking this way instead of being mature and as miserable as some people are.

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

I love it.

I heard, when I was maybe 22 years old, the following:

Some folks think romance is about a guy and his gal "running out of gas" on some secluded back road, late at night. Well .. it isn't .. it's more likely being on the sofa at 8 o'clock, watching TV, and then "running out of gas".

I thought it was funny, back then. I do, now, too, but for a vastly different reason.

Paul Burleson said...


That's hilarious.

I had a feeling you'd know what I was talking about. ;)

Aussie John said...


I agree with Bob. Excellent!

I knew there were similarities between you and I. Seems like we are what we call "plain meat and potatoes" fellers, BUT: Starbucks??

The first time I tasted their coffee (??) was at Princeton. My first thought was, "We pave our roads with that stuff!"

Hey!! I am smiling :)

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

If awards were given for the best lines ever..this one.. "We pave our roads with that stuff!"..would win the top award. That's classic. :)

Mrs. Austin said...

I find the simpleness of everyday life very romantic. Its not childish at all!

Paul Burleson said...

Mrs Austin,

You and I are in TOTAL agreement on this. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it was Mother Theresa who celebrated doing small things with great love.

My fondest memory of my husband when we were first married:

I had purchased a fur coat. I know.
Irresponsible. And yes it was, but not in the way you might think. I had gone to the Salvation Army Thrift Shop and there it was for ten dollars. A VINTAGE RACCOON COAT, made for a much-larger lady, but so wonderful that I had to have it. Didn't matter that it's lining was needing repair and some of the skins had come apart. And it did smell just a little bit, just a little wee bit.

My dear husband sat for many a night at our dining room table sewing on that coat with an upholstery needle, and when he finished, it was all in one piece. I remember thinking 'I know he's tired from work . . . '

Some memories are keepers.
This is one of mine.
A 'small' thing?
Not to me. Never that.
Love is a wonderful thing that cannot be measured in the way of the world. :)


Paul Burleson said...


Now that's what I'm talking about. Thanks.

Rex Ray said...

In college, my brother and I got down to our last dollar. We bought oatmeal.
For a week, we had oatmeal three times a day. We boiled, fried, and baked it, but it still tasted like oatmeal.
It got so our stomachs were full but we were hungry. Our cousin dropped by and left $5 in the fridge when she found it empty.

Yea, the old “secluded back road” wasn’t much fun when we climb out on my side thinking the car was going to turn over.
After a while a sheriff pulled us out saying, “Next time, be careful how you drive and gazed at the moon young fellow.”

Lake cliff beautiful. Turned motor off but not lights - ‘too daring’. Old battery made them dimmer and dimmer. Motor won’t turn over. Steep downhill - twenty feet to cliff. Push hard! Jump in - pop clutch. Motor nose wonderful.

After two miles of walking – near midnight - farmer heard, “Our car got stuck in mud going downhill through the woods near Lake Texoma. Would you give us a ride to Sherman?”

Belle’s father told her before we were married, “Now Rex is a nice boy, but understand one thing – he will never grow up.”
I was raise to know only one woman and that after marriage and I plan to enter heaven that way, but on the other part, Belle could have said, “Daddy, you don’t know the half of it.”

Bob, change that sofa to a computer; and you nailed me. :)

I shot a couple of land otters in Alaska, and planed to have a fur coat for Belle, but by the time we had the money their skins were too old.

She did get a fur coat and wore it to teach school. A first grader asked what kind it was - “Rabbit.”

“Boy! What a rabbit!”

Late one night this week, I was sitting three feet from a window with a raccoon staring at me. I could read its mind – “You need to have more cat food out here!”

No, it wasn’t big enough for a coat. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, REX RAY,

I LOVE your stories.

The line 'Boy, what a rabbit!'
was priceless.

Thanks for the laughs. You are a joy to read.

Paul Burleson said...


I agree with you about what Rex said. I think both he and bob Cleveland have a book or two inside them that may need to come out. ;)


I don't mind anyone using anything I write. It becomes a public thing when I post it.

I would request that you and anyone you show it to remember it is ONLY one way of doing things and since the bible doesn't say specifically HOW to do it, no one can say there is a biblical way explicitly laid down. If a congregation chooses to do it a different way, that way becomes their way.