I’m starting a new regular feature on the blog that I’m calling “The Best Things,” highlighting some of the best things that I’ve come across online (and maybe in print / elsewhere) that aren’t as widely known as I think they should be. First up: Lori Odhner’s “Marriage Moats.”
Marriage Moats: Daily Stories about Chickens, Children, and Making Marriage Work
Lori describes “marriage moats” this way:
These are small doses of hope couched in stories about chickens and children and carrots. My intention is that they might help offer a bit of protection from the forces that attack marriage, much like a moat around a castle. Not that my marriage is remotely royal, but by investing in it every day it is coming closer to a place where my family can live in safety.
Every day, without fail, Lori shares a short story about her life – interactions with friends, challenges in raising a large family including a special needs son, an insight from a book she’s been reading. They’re short, often funny, and always have a nugget of insight into relationships and marriage. Also, they’re accompanied by beautiful professional-quality photographs by various talented friends of Lori.
A blog / project like this could easily start to feel stale or saccharine or forced; Lori manages to avoid any of that by being (sometimes brutally) honest, by her sharp writing and sense of humor, and possibly by magic. (Seriously, I have no idea how she does what she does every day.)
Here’s an excerpt from a recent moat that gives a good sense of what these are all about; go read the whole thing (and you’ll see that it’s not all that much longer than the excerpt):
Sometimes one of my kids will open the cupboards, rummage through the cans of pintos and pineapple, sigh at the absence of a favorite kind of cereal, and complain to anyone who is listening, “There is nothing to eat in this house!”
I find this kind of comment irritating….. I forego retelling the stories spun long ago by my father-in-law who lived on a ship in the Pacific during World War II. Most of the rations were washed overboard and all they ate for a month was olives. …
I concede that my child is hungry, or at least as close to hungry as anyone who has never gone more than 16 hours without eating has ever been. I even acquiesce that I have not been to the store in a few days and we are indeed lacking a few of the regular inhabitants of our kitchen.
But the statement “There is nothing to eat in this house!” does not hold water….
Relationships follow trends of lack and abundance. When you are first falling in love, the briefest phone call is enough to savor for days, as any teenage girl who has described that call to her besties ad nauseam can attest. But somehow a decade later, a conversation ten times as long over the broccoli can feel like table scraps….
You too may be known to despair that there is no nourishment in your marriage. But check your pockets. Does he go to work every day, and even better, come home every night? Does she still do your laundry, maybe even fold it the way you like it? Is he still faithful, in a world that does not give much support to that silent effort, day after day? Does she still smile at you in that playful way that catches your heart?
You may not be having the exact kind of conversation or scintillating evenings that the media led you to expect. But even meringue will not sustain you through a January snow the way that plain lentils and rice can.
(Really, go read the whole thing.)
So, how do you get this daily goodness? There are several ways: you can go here to sign up for daily emails. Or you can go here to browse the archive or follow Marriage Moats via RSS or Twitter feed. And you can read the best of them collected into two books. Check it out now, even if you’re not married. It’s good stuff.
(Photo is of Lori and her husband John, who have been involved in marriage ministry together since 1988.)