Thursday, October 31, 2013

No one "just adopts."

Readers, I know I promised Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya’ll, so I hope you’ll forgive my literary detour. I promise I’ll be back to Theories December 6.

Why am I doing this?

Friday, November 1, 2013, Gnome’s birthmother and I are featured speakers at an important annual fundraiser for Bethany Christian Services, the agency that introduced us. I’ll call the Gnome’s birthmother “Tinkerbell” because she is bright, full of light, and small like a sprite! I adore her and we love to share our adoption experience with others.  Yesterday I met with our social worker to discuss the Bethany event and he said, “People just love your story.”

Tinkerbell and I each lived through difficult, emotional, compelling, modern, and—at times—humorous birth and adoption stories.

Tall Child was adopted in 1963. I suffer from secondary infertility.  I started trying to conceive a second child in 2002. I met Tinkerbell in 2010. Our complex journeys toward and with one another still astound me.
 For me, adoption was grief in reverse. For Tinkerbell, adoption was the supreme demonstration of selfless love. I gained the education of a lifetime in my eight-year wait for Gnome; I learned so much that I felt compelled to help others affected by infertility and/or adoption. So, I wrote a book titled The Eye of Adoption: The True Story of My Turbulent Wait for a Baby.

As I contemplated what I would say to an audience of hundreds of people at the Bethany fundraiser, I thought:

November is National Adoption Awareness Month!
I love to share my story!
I have a blog!
I think outside the barn!
I should share my story with my blog readers !
Thus, to celebrate adoption and enlighten, encourage, and entertain, I'll post one chapter of The Eye of Adoption each Friday in November. I’ve also teamed up with other adoption authors to give our books away throughout the month. Be sure to check the links at the end of each post for information on how to receive our free Kindle download dates.

Friends, I am the same everywhere I go, and that includes my writing style. I promise you will laugh and I know you will learn, so I hope you will read these chapters each week. Besides, doesn’t everyone love a good adoption story? Please share these posts and the free download dates with friends and family.

Happy Reading!

Do you see the baby in the clouds? An ethereal ultrasound?
~ ~ ~


the true story of my turbulent wait

for a baby


Jody Cantrell Dyer
~ ~ ~

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the
United States of America.  Any reproduction or unauthorized
use is prohibited without express permission of the author,
except brief quotes for use in interviews,
newspaper or magazine articles, or reviews.
For information, contact author.
ISBN-10: 1481040138
ISBN-13: 978-1481040136
Bible verses quoted within are from the following versions:
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by
The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The King James Version is public domain in the
United States of America.
Front cover photograph obtained from
Back cover artwork by Houston Dyer
Cover design by Sherri B. McCall

 ~ ~ ~


No One “Just Adopts”

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:
but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
—Proverbs 13:12

When I was a toddler, I entertained relatives by singing this little song:

Special, special, I am very special
           God made me this way!
I would draw out the word “way” as “waaaaaaaaaaay” like an operatic trill, a crowd-pleasing ending to my parlor trick performance. That song rings true for every child. My children are no more special than your children or the child for which you pray and wait. However, adoption is special. It was divinely designed and serves as a living example of God’s graceful, abundant love for humankind. 

I have two friends who, years ago, placed babies for adoption. Each was in college when she was surprised by a crisis pregnancy. One friend told me her experience when she found out my husband Jeff and I were trying to adopt. She gave me crucial advice regarding the birthparents’ extended family. Her help later proved vital. The other friend is unaware that I know she placed a baby for adoption. When she sees us, she asks to hold my child. I think holding my baby gives her assurance and peace about the decision she made so many years ago.

My initial purpose in writing this book was to chronicle the sweet and sour elements of our adoption story for my children. I am a public school teacher, not a writer, but I wanted my children to understand the extremes to which their father and I suffered and succeeded to create our family. Our children will have a colorful, descriptive, documented account of a story that tested love, endurance, commitment, and faith, a story they can learn from and someday pass on to their families.

As I revisited my journal entries, mined through letters and emails from friends and relatives, and studied countless pieces of medical documents and adoption paperwork, I realized that my story could benefit people outside my little family. For that reason, I expanded the book to reveal details regarding every step my husband Jeff and I took toward our second child. In these pages I will candidly present information to intimately describe how Jeff and I clumsily but successfully battled through the uncontrolled currents of infertility and adoption.  To protect my adopted child’s most personal history, I kept much of the birth family’s biological and social background information private. My intention in writing this book is not to expose my child, but to expose the raw and rewarding aspects of adoption.

Throughout each section of this book, I divulge friends’, relatives’, and strangers’ commentary, support, criticism, and reaction. I share the effects of all of the above on my marriage. I also try my best to illuminate God’s concern and involvement in every moment of our trek toward a baby.

I hope my story will benefit people who wish to become adoptive parents, regardless of where they are in the process. Whether you decide to adopt after failed fertility treatments, lost pregnancies, a lost child, no chance of conceiving, have a dozen children already, or feel “called” to adopt, I respect you. No matter the circumstances, adoptive parents share a special bond. I hope “waiting parents” will relate to my emotions, experiences, tribulations, and triumphs. I hope by doing so, you find camaraderie, relief, and optimism.

Because adoption is a spiritual transaction conducted within a commercial industry, success in adoption requires involvement from what seems like everyone connected to the adoptive parents. Thus, adoptive parents’ friends, relatives, co-workers, and even pets will find themselves here, too. I urge anyone connected to waiting parents to read my story to empathize with the adoptive family and perhaps alleviate, not complicate, the inevitable burdens. Do not underestimate the depths of suffering and lengths of endurance required of adoptive parents. Do not underestimate the difficult choice to find a child through adoption. No one “just adopts.”

My mother thought of the book’s title, The Eye of Adoption. She has a particular gift for naming pets; my aunts, uncles, and cousins often contract her to name their animals, so I asked her to name this book. After reading the book, her critter-naming gift prevailed once more.

Adoption is a storm of faith, fear, paperwork, people, hurt, healing, words, work, devotion, divinity, rawness, revelation, days, and, hopefully, a delivery.

I was not strong on my own. I relied on my husband, my mother, my friends, my family, and my faith to prop me up during my doubtful and weak moments.

I hope my story is a clear window through which you can visualize your potential adoption experience. I hope my story comforts you as you live in the eye of adoption.

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
—Robert Burns, “To A Mouse”
~ ~ ~

Readers, please send this post to anyone you know who is touched by infertility, adoption, or crisis pregnancy. You can copy and paste the URL into an email or you can Google+, Tweet, or share on Facebook.

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer Let's talk books.
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website:
Read reviews and/or purchase The Eye of Adoption here:

See you next Friday with Chapter 2! Until then, think outside the barn.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Theory 23: God and prayer are most definitely in schools.

I saw a photo on Facebook that read, “Now that the government is shut down, can we pray in schools?”

The picture obviously pokes fun of congressional issues and references the controversial topic of prayer in schools. In last week’s post, I told you that in 1983, my 3rd grade teacher started each day with a Bible story. Teachers can’t help but communicate ideas they think students should grasp, including lessons in morality, behavior, and etiquette.

A friend of mine once said, “I want to teach in a private Christian school so I can invoke the name of God when I discipline students. Instead of saying, ‘You are going to time-out,’ I can say, ‘You know, God sees what you are doing right now.”

I really don’t know how atheist teachers can survive this job. I deal with the frailties of the human teenage condition on a daily basis. I need divine intervention whenever I can get it — to effectively collaborate with all types of personalities, to meet the individual needs of 212 freshmen (heck, to remember their names), and often to save my own rear end!

What if I started my junior high school days with a nice little Bible story? Given the exponential reach of social media and emotionality of national mainstream media, how much time would I have to diet and dye my hair before I appeared on Fox or CNN to defend my actions? I am a rule follower – to some extent – and would never want to offend students and parents or cause trouble for my administrators and coworkers. But, shhhhh, God and prayer are most definitely in schools. Most of us recite the Pledge of Allegiance (under God, indivisible…) and then observe a moment of silence. Often, administrators ask students to keep staff members or students in our “thoughts and prayers.” I suppose “thoughts” are for the non-praying? I wonder what God thinks of “thoughts.” I often ask to God to interpret my “thoughts” as “prayers” because they are for more frequent and less eloquent. Well, actually, I ask God to interpret my good “thoughts” as prayers. I ask him to forgive my “bad thoughts” entirely. Sometimes all this thinking is confusing in a school.

Take my first year of teaching. Oh, Lord have mercy! I’m telling you: my first year of service  should really count for five in the Tennessee retirement plan. The school was rough. Administrators were tough. I’d had enough. After one week. It had nothing to do with poverty or race or ethnicity. Those demographics were similar to many American schools and I loved teaching a diverse student population. No, that school is a special place with fascinating stories, colorful faculty, and, honestly, an undercurrent (among students) that cannot be explained. One of my favorite students said to me, “I couldn’t be a teacher. I’d hit somebody.”

Did I want to hit somebody? YES!

Did I pray? YES!

Oooh, I need one of these!
Every day, in my car, I read the Serenity Prayer off a little laminated card wedged over my speedometer.  That got me inside. Once “on the inside” I repeated (silently, of course) a prayer I wrote for myself:

Dear God,
Help me not to cuss, cry, or quit.

I asked a colleague how he coped and he said, “I just look at a picture of my little girl on the beach and go to the Zen place in my head.”

I never cried. I didn’t quit. I came really close to cussing, but God saved me with cross-curricular planning. I taught pre-algebra, which brings out the worst in many people and is a high stakes content area for mandated testing. Frustrated at students' lack of commitment, I blurted out, “How in the Hel….k can you not understand this?” My bad. Rookie mistake. My 8th graders went nuts, saying “Mrs. D, you just said hell!," "We’re gonna tell the principal and our parents!," "Girl, you lost your cool," and "Whoa, Mrs. D, you said a bad word!” Luckily, I knew that English teachers were teaching foreign phrases (alma mater, du jour, e pluribus Unum) so I thought fast and saved my derrière by saying, “Oh, no I didn’t! Helk is a foreign phrase! It’s Norwegian (yeah, sure, Norwegian) for ‘I don’t know what it is going on right now.”

They bought it. My faux pas went unnoticed by administrators and parents, but my students employed the word “helk” ad nauseum for the rest of the school year. Praise Jesus, administrators never caught on.

~ ~ ~

Since I know so many teachers, I asked them for examples of prayer they’ve seen in school. Teachers can’t afford lawsuits, so I left their names out and paraphrased for their protection.

Students like prompts. I like prompts. Prayers often start with prompts.

Here’s a sweet little list of prompted prayers you may hear a teacher whisper:

Heavenly Father, …

I’m sorry I let those senior boys get something out of my car and they found Budweiser cans and brought them back into the building.

Don’t let my principal find out I cashed a check using the school newspaper money deposit bag as a bank.

Please get my bill collectors to stop calling me at school.

Forgive me for throwing a stack of math workbooks across the room. I didn’t hit a student. Amen.

I apologize for wanting to trip that mean 8th grader who called me a “b” and watch her fall headfirst down the stairs.

Keep me from backfiring in class. If I do, and it’s an SBD, pleeeeaaassseee don’t let a student pick up the scent.        

Get me through the day so I don’t say something I’ll regret later that will make me lose my job.

Please get those athletes and coaches who pray before games to be that pious during the week.

Thank you for sending the drug dogs to protect our students. Extra thank you for not letting the drug dogs find the dip in my desk drawer.

Let someone call in a bomb threat so we can sit in the sunshine in the football stadium for two hours

Get that other teacher to shut up so we can end this faculty meeting

Thank you for not gifting that child hand-eye coordination. If the desk he threw at me had hit me I’d be in some real pain right now.

Please don’t let those toga party pictures get out on social media

It’s my day to be observed against a six page rubric of educational performance perfection. I don’t want [student] to be sick, but can you make sure it’s time for him to have his braces tightened?

Let that tingling feeling be too much Aquanet and not head lice.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Parents, you may be wondering, “If teachers are praying such things, what on earth are teenagers thinking during the moment of silence?” I wondered, too. So, I asked my freshmen, and I felt immense shame afterwards. Here are some of their responses to my question, “What do you pray at school?”

God, help me make good grades

Jesus, will you please give me the answer to the questions?

Help me treat others like I want to be treated

Make all my answers be right

Don’t let my locker get awkwardly shut so I can’t open it

For my school lunch to nourish my body

At lunch, we all hold hands (sometimes we even intertwine hands) and pray. If you steal food during the prayer it’s the ultimate sin.

Help my teacher forget to check for homework.

That there’s no work in English because I always forget my pen.

I just say The Lord’s Prayer

For the military and that they are okay

My cat and my family

For all my friends

Thanks for providing me an education

That God will lead me down the right path

Just to get through the day. Fifth period biology gets me.

Readers, don’t be disillusioned by the cynical nature of the teachers’ prayers. Be encouraged by the soulful and positive attitudes of today’s youth! And please know that teachers pray sweet things, too! Yes, teachers get grouchy. Our attitudes sometimes buckle under the immense No Child Left Behind/Common Core pressure, but we are still passionate, nurturing professionals. We worry about our students. We counsel them. We love our students. We absolutely pray for them, without ceasing!

Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse: What a setting in which to learn AND pray

Two of my colleagues, Scotty and Rob, wrote a fantastic book for teachers. The title, The Ultimate Survival Guide for Teachers: An inspirational and hilarious handbook for the world’s most misunderstood wilderness*, says it all. Throughout the book, Scotty and Rob illustrate thoughtful, playful, and soulful interactions between teachers and students. Their goal with the book is to empower teachers to create healthy, dynamic careers for themselves and successful classrooms for their students.
Maybe we could collaborate on a devotional, guys. I’d love a chance to make a little extra money. Which brings me to Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya’ll.

First, though, in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month, I am posting the first five chapters of The Eye of Adoption. To read them, click here or go to the Theories: Size 12 home page or visit
See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn. 

Oh!, Speaking of hustling:

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website:
Read reviews and/or purchase The Eye of Adoption here:

* For more information on The Ultimate Survival Guide for Teachers, visit

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Theory 22: Dreams are necessary. Plans are pointless.

Ten years ago, when I was a branch manager for AmSouth Bank, I worked with a mortgage originator that I adored. I’ll call him “Peanut Butter” because every day around 2:00, I’d sneak out of my ground floor office to take the elevator up to the mortgage office break room, where we’d dip plastic spoons into a huge jar of peanut butter and commiserate about work.

One day, he announced, “Well, I resigned. I’m moving back to Indiana to be a farmer.”

I was disappointed because he was one of my best friends at work. He was successful, too, so I asked him why he was making this huge leap from the financial industry in Tennessee to farm life in Indiana. He explained, “When I was growing up, I had a dream. I wanted to work for my uncle on his huge Indiana farm right after I graduated from high school. I begged my parents to understand, but they wanted me to get a college degree. So, I did. Now, ten years later, I’m a successful college graduate and businessman. But, I’m not happy. I am going home to do what I always wanted to do. It’s taken me ten years to have the guts to try.”

One morning, many months later, I sat at my austere desk in the lobby of AmSouth, anticipating a long day of retail problem solving in pantyhose and high heels. I called Peanut Butter on his cell phone. He answered. I said, “Hey! It’s Bug! I am sitting here dreading the work day and thought of you. How are ya?”

He said, “Great!”

I asked, “What are you doing right now, this moment?”

He told me, “Actually, I am sitting on my tractor, just starting my work day.”

I laughingly said, “Well, I am looking at some grouchy tellers. What are you looking at?”

He answered, “Bug, I am watching the sun come up over a huge cornfield and it is spectacular.”

We talked about his new (old) dream life in Indiana. Before we hung up, I asked, “So, are you glad you made the move?”

He said, “Hell, yes. I am happy.”

I said, “I am jealous.”

Every time I hear Jason Aldean’s “Fly Over States” I think of my friend Peanut Butter.

Plans—like the ones his parents had for him—are a great idea but, to some degree, pointless because they are altered by human error, the free will of others, bad luck, accidents, and too often people (including me) don’t seek God’s will as they plan for the future. Plus, such plans often involve money, which comes and goes for most people, and is—to me—a carnal concept that can limit or liberate you if you let it, or depend on where you are unlucky/lucky enough to be born (as in The Sudan vs. The USA).

At Pigeon Forge Elementary School (PF), I was fortunate to have public, YES, public school teachers who openly discussed religion and encouraged me to dream. Heck, my third grade teacher read us a Bible story every morning and my 8th grade English teacher was also my Sunday school leader.  Shout out to Mrs. Trotter – new inductee to the Pigeon Forge Hall of Fame! I love you! Anyway, dreams need foundations and Mrs. Trotter, Mrs. Harrell, other lovingly Christian teachers, and my parents Delicious and Pooh inspired me in two ways:

  1. They lived Biblical principles of compassion, faith, forgiveness, and strength.
  2. They sparked my love of learning, writing, teaching, and taking risks.
I had a secret desire back then to become a writer like Judy Blume, Mark Twain, and Francine Pascal. I also had a more realistic plan: to make money. I told Delicious, “I want to wear a fancy suit, carry a briefcase, and meet my handsome husband for lunch.”

So, as I realistically planned to become a business woman, I secretly dreamed the impossible dream of becoming a published author.


In the fourth grade, I witnessed an impossible dream come true. It was fall, 1983. I was nine years old. Delicious, Pooh, and I were cruising back roads in Sevier County when Delicious spotted a sign at the corner of Douglas Dam Road and Rural Route 137 reading “Farm for Sale.”

She shouted, “Pooh! Go down that road. I want to see what’s for sale.”

Now, Delicious was a school teacher earning around $25,000 a year and Pooh was a Gatlinburg hotel desk clerk earning even less, but they shared a dream: to own a farm. That was a ridiculous dream because farm land near the Great Smoky Mountains is not cheap. Long story short, Pooh turned right and our lives changed forever. They had to “rent to own” for a bit, which meant they couldn’t sell our Pigeon Forge house, which meant we had to move into the 100-year-old farm house which was in ROUGH shape on a budget of pretty much zero dollars. HUD required some fixing up to secure the mortgage, so Pooh and Delicious did the best they could by putting down (no joke) indoor/outdoor carpet, hanging curtain “cabinet doors”, and installing a window unit air conditioner. We went old school with the décor. The washer and dryer shook the kitchen and a queen size bed filled the dining room. On moving day, Pooh and I were in heaven to have a house with such character surrounded by 72 acres to explore. Delicious was in a frigid state of shock. Literally. It was January and 7 degrees in that holler. My grandmama gave Delicious a tranquilizer. Mama lay on the sofa all day, moaning “What have we done?” while Big Booty J and the rest of us moved us into The Crippled Beagle Farm. Delicious doesn’t handle change very well.

The Crippled Beagle Farm was paradise for my unique daddy. He was an intellectual, Bohemian, spiritual, individualistic, inventive, emotional, resourceful, witty, fly-fishing, farming, and overall exceptional human being. He taught himself how to farm, fix stuff, do carpentry, and fly fish via Time Life books and the Sevier County Library. He barb wired the entire farm by hand and raised prize-winning tomatoes, pumpkins, and gourds. He wrote me sweet letters and in his wallet kept a love note some boy gave me that just cracked him up. He was uniquely masculine yet emotional and he worshipped Delicious and me. One day, he planted a hundred-foot row of flowers from the house all the way to the barn and penned a note to mama reading, “I planted these bulbs as a symbol of our love.”

The Crippled Beagle Farm
He often reminded us to recognize that an unlikely dream had indeed come true. Whenever Delicious expressed financial worries, he responded, “We’ll figure something out. I bet you never thought you’d live on a 72 acre farm in Sevier County, but you do.”

Pooh passed away in 1993, but in the 9 years he lived and loved on The Crippled Beagle Farm, he cultivated tangible testimony to faith in dreams and devoted love through now 30-year-old trees and flower beds he planted, the bridge he built for mama to cross to their garden, the back porch roof that keeps her dry as she carries in groceries, the swing that hangs in the barn, and even the sweet, hand-made grave signs that honor our beloved pets.  He lived his dream in our Appalachian home and our close bond as a family. On a dream, my parents built a foundation from which I could dream!

Pooh's bridge and flowers - for Delicious

So, I did. I dreamed of becoming a writer as I planned to become a business woman – the plan gave me relief, but the dream gave me happiness. I honored my secret desire by entering little essay contests through school and taking a creative writing course at UT. I secured a business degree and financially sound future. I helped my mother. I had my briefcase and my business lunches with a handsome husband. We started a family with little Sharky in 2002 and life was okay. But I had a plan—to have three children—so we started trying to conceive a second child. That second child morphed from simple plan to impossible dream. For two years, we endured miserable and unsuccessful infertility treatments.

Another farm dream intervened. The conversation with Peanut Butter.

The conversation with Peanut Butter in 2003 was a catalyst for me to reach out to Tall Child to discuss my becoming a housewife. Sharky was almost three years old by then and I was sad, frustrated, and depressed.  I thought shedding work stress could heal me/help me conceive. We both knew it was a big risk, financially, but I was up for it. I’d witnessed big risks and dreams come true before. And, I had faith and ridiculously detailed and humanly erred plans. So, I quit my job in 2004.

For the next four years, we exhausted our savings, our emotions, and my body as we worked our plan toward a second child. Then, finally, we converted the humanly limited action plan to a leap of faith. We abandoned modern medicine and fumbled our way through the domestic adoption process. Yes, there are deliberate steps in adoption, but only up to a point. Once you are “approved and waiting” you have little control and no idea of how the future will finally play out.

Some of you may ask, “What about Sharky all those years? Wasn’t he enough?” Oh, he was plenty. And, he was at the center of this dream. I wanted a sibling for him as much as I wanted a baby for me. I worship every freckle, every word, every breath of his existence. Go ahead and think I’m crazy when I tell you this, but one of my favorite things to do is put my ear to Sharky’s cheek as he crunches away on Apple Jacks. Try it, mamas.

So, with Sharky in tow, Tall Child and I gambled time, energy, and finances toward a sometimes seemingly impossible dream: to be chosen by complete strangers to raise their child. Special strangers did choose to trust us with something priceless. On May 13, 2010, Tall Child’s 47th birthday, our Gnome was born and Sharky became a brother. 

Brothers for life
Last year, compelled to help other women touched by crisis pregnancy, infertility, and adoption, I gave figurative birth to my other sometimes seemingly impossible dream: a published book. The book, titled The Eye of Adoption: The True Story of My Turbulent Wait for a Baby was made possible by the foundation that teachers, friends, my parents, and later social workers laid for me—a foundation made not of plans, but of education, faith, and dreams. Most of all, I was inspired by the love, risk, and sacrifice of two people I will appreciate beyond measure as long as I live—my Gnome’s birth parents.

As Tall Child likes to say, "Bottom line is this:"

Go ahead and make plans. Work toward your human goals. Happily anticipate change and failure and enlightenment along the way. In the meantime, don't sideline or sacrifice your dream. Take chances. Pray. TRY! An idea became a farm, a home. An idea became my family. Your idea is just as real, just as possible.

Readers, I know my last few posts have leaned toward sentiment and emotion, but November is National Adoption Awareness Month and on November 21 Gnome’s birth mother turns 25. As I anticipate a month colored by change and Thanksgiving, I can’t help but be reflective and grateful.  So, readers and friends, thank you for expressing your faith in me as a writer, even when I’m not funny! Mama, students, former and fellow teachers, thank you for encouraging me and forgiving my eccentricities. I love learning from all of you! I promise next week I'll be funny. So be sure to find me on Friday for Theory 23: God and prayer are most definitely in schools.

See you next post! Until then, think (and dream) outside the barn.

The Crippled Beagle Farm barn
Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!

Facebook: Jody Cantrell Dyer
Facebook: The Eye of Adoption Let's talk books.
Google+: The Eye of Adoption
Google+: Theories: Size 12
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website:
Read reviews and/or purchase The Eye of Adoption here:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Theory 21: In wedding ceremonies, vows need to be translated.

When we girls get engaged, it seems as though everyone we know feels compelled to toss out tidbits of unsolicited advice. Many brides-to-be happily float in a fog of  relief (let's be honest) and romance, and often buck when they hear any negative comments about marriage. We become moody, obsessed with detail, or, in my case, nervous wrecks. Perhaps this is why some of us morph into "bridezillas" or show up to the ceremony tottering three sheets to the wind. Perhaps some brides obsess over colors of tablecloths, candle heights, monogrammed paper napkins, chair covers, party favors, rice vs. bird seed, etc. because they tie the success of the wedding to the success of the marriage. As in, "No problems now = no problems later."

Depending on your age and marital status, you have either been exposed to or are now generating cringe-inducing sentences that begin with:

"Well, when I got married..."
"If I were you..."
"If I could do it all over again..."
"Whatever you do, don't..."
"Make sure you..."
"You'd better..."

The possibilities and comments are as endless as the sea.

The bride may feel like a Ritz cracker on the beach, surrounded by sea gulls who are harping out personal need for comfort and attention. The comments flare through the fog, warning of inevitable hardships to come. Hey, marriage is wonderful. I love being married to Tall Child.  Of all the advice I endured/heard/read, two pieces stand out and stay true to this day. The first came from Bop, Tall Child's mother. She warned, "If you don't want to do something the rest of your life, don't ever do it for the first time. For example, if you don't want to take the garbage down to the bottom of the driveway every Monday, don't EVER do it. Ever."

Why? Why did I cut those shrubs back 12 years ago? WHY???????

The other sentence that has probably best defined my marriage and saved my and Tall Child's unity sanity is from The Holy Bible. In the book of Matthew, Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." Tall Child, again, I am so sorry I backed your car into a palm tree in Panama City Beach. Oh, and for all my Tupperware throwing and door slamming temper tantrums. Good think you're an athlete. Just think, all those years of high school and college basketball were preparing you for marriage to me!

I'm no relationship expert but I do know this after being together 16 years. Marriage is a trip. And when you stand at the altar, you may think you have it all figured out, but you are beginning a journey that has no itinerary, no guarantees, and no real predictability.

Traditional wedding vows are beautiful and certainly a poetic way to hop on the love boat. But the pretty words aren't direct or descriptive. We sacrifice reality for pretty. Why can't we have both? All we need is a translator up there by the preacher.

So, here I translate the ceremony and vows East Tennessee style.


Preacher: Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the presence of God to join this man and this woman in holy matrimony.

Translator: Audience member, you may want to be here or you may be mad because it's a football Saturday and you have already spent an entire paycheck on this couple, but they love you, or at least they felt obligated to include you, so suck it up. There's an open bar at the reception. This is a church so behave and understand that God is here and you need to sit there and think about your own marriage and pray like heck for this one that's about to start. And, if your spouse glares at you, smile and squeeze her hand. If she looks at you lovingly, do the same, and pat yourself on the back.

Preacher: Marriage is ordained by God, regulated by God's commandments, blessed by our Lord Jesus Christ, and to be held in honor among all people.

Translator: Bride and groom, if you want a successful marriage, don't listen to what your friends and family say. There is a rule book. It's called The Holy Bible. Happy hour is singular, just like you'll be if you stay more than one happy hour. If the waitress says, "Do you want another round?" You need to think, "What would Jesus do?" He would go home and drink wine with his wife, boy. So get in your truck and high-tail it home. EVERYONE you know should honor your marriage. Audience, if you think she's a "b" it doesn't matter. Maybe you think he is a control freak. It doesn't matter. A husband or wife should never have to compete with in-laws, friends, or co-workers, within reason, for attention or money or time. So, audience, respect the couple. Bride, if your mama is obnoxious, handle it. Groom, if your mama is laying on the guilt trip, deal. Blood gives bad news to blood.

Preacher: Groom/Bride, will you have this person to be your wife/husband? Will you pledge your loyalty, love, and honor, duty, and service, in all faith and tenderness, to live with her/him and cherish her/him according to the ordinances of God?

Translator:  I don't know why I'm asking this because you proposed/accepted, but here goes: Groom/Bride, are you absolutely sure this is the one you want? As in "The only one I want" like Danny and Sandy? Are you that sure? Forever? This is your last chance and, though it will be humiliating to run like hell now, you'll avoid a bunch of legal stuff and your mamas will forgive you. Oh, but here's some good advice to consider if you are wavering at this point: you really don't know someone until you are married to him for a while. Living together is not the same thing. Marriage is legally binding. So, good luck! Let's do the vows now!


Bride and Groom: I take you to be my [spouse], to love and cherish, for richer or for poorer, in joy and sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live.

Translator: I am marrying you, but please know that sometimes you may hate my guts. No one can make you madder than your spouse (me)! Hopefully, we'll get rich but keep in mind, honey, that we may get rich and lose it all or we may never have a dime. God says you have to love me anyway. I will love you anyway. Right now we are happy but bad things will happen so hang in there with me. Actually, some of the bad things may be my fault. If I get sick, for the love of God, please don't be a jerk. Clean up the house (or me) and go get me a combo meal at Chick Fil A on your way back from Walgreens. I will make sure you don't have hair in the wrong places if you become incapacitated and I will take good care of you and keep you looking dignified. Please do the same for me.


Preacher: In the giving and receiving of rings, the man and woman give to each other an outward sign of an inward commitment. Let the rings be a sign of your love.

Translator: Let the circle be unbroken. Don't. Take. The ring. Off. or it'll be replaced with one around your neck.

Delicious just chimed in from across the room as I typed this, "With these rings, I do dread, all the [expletive] that lies ahead." 

I don't normally write with anyone else in the room, if I can help it, but I've had to exercise my marital/familial skills of tolerance and patience as we are wrapping up a cozy week together in a condo on Hilton Head Island.  Tall Child, Sharky, Gnome, Delicious and I make for pretty good roommates. The best behavior award goes to Tall Child; the worst behavior award probably goes to his neurotic wife. But, I kept all my vows this week. I was loving-ish and patient when Tall Child let the car battery die, adding another $200 bucks to our vacation expenses. I was cool with sickness and even spoon-fed (no joke) ALL my boys some cough and cold medicine. I was patient when Gnome pole danced with a hat rack at Hudson's Seafood Restaurant.  I protected my husband's sanity by giving him a five hour break from all of us. I prayed for safety as we giggled through a Dolphin-watching cruise in Calibogue Sound. We were not rich on Monday, but we are definitely poorer this Friday.

Tall Child and I have flaws and we have certainly made hurtful, stupid mistakes. Honestly, we've experience the good and bad end of pretty much every vow. But, this week AND the last sixteen years as a whole have been an eventful, educational, sweet trip. I'm thankful he asked, and I'm thankful I said "yes."

Imperfect and beautiful.

So, if you are embarking on your marriage journey, here's my obnoxious advice:

Love, forgive, and have as much fun as possible. Don't try to predict or control your future. Which reminds me of Theory 22: Dreams are necessary. Plans are pointless.

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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