Matt and Phoebe’s Wedding, Part 2: The Drive-In Ceremony

(For Part 1: Preparation, click here)

The day of the wedding dawned, not bright and clear, but not stormy and rainy either. A sort-of in-between, with gray, shifting clouds, and patches of sun. The wedding was scheduled for 11:00 am, but Amy, Jenny and I arrived at 9:30 for family pictures.

Matt and Phoebe had chosen not to see each other before the ceremony, so there was a limit to the pictures we could get. We took some sibling pictures, some family photos without Phoebe, and a picture with Matt and his sisters.

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Mom took this photo of the photographer taking our photo

After that, we did the last-minute preparations. You know, removing the plastic bags from the parking markers, putting tablecloths on the welcome tables, etc.

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About 45 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start, we realized that some guests were arriving, and we fell into formation. Jenny and I handed out programs and water and took gifts. The parking attendants directed them to their parking spot. Amy took pictures of them.

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I stole this photo of the program from my Dad’s cousin Trish.

It was very strange, because I was seeing all these people I’ve known my whole life. And it took me a bit to understand why that felt so strange. Oh, yeah. It’s been Corona times for three months. I haven’t seen these people for three months. It is weird.

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This picture cracks me up. Way to almost-but-not-quite knock over the stake.

Essentially, there were 25-ish people who were out of their cars doing all the work, and everyone else was supposed to stay in their cars. I think technically Oregon is now at a phase where more people out of their cars would have been okay, but they’d planned the whole thing at a time when restrictions were tougher, and they were trying very hard to create a healthy and safe environment.

Those of us who were allowed out of our cars parked in a different place, along the edge of the field, and sat in folding chairs during the ceremony. The chairs were arranged in family groupings so that we could still properly social distance. There were also extra chairs, so that the members of the bridal party could use them as a place to eat after the ceremony.

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Everything was going without a hitch. The musicians were in their musician’s tent, playing soft prelude music, as people one by one got ushered to their places. I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth that process was. We could have used one more parking attendant, but my cousin Randy ran back and forth between the welcome tents, and we made it work. I was afraid everyone would show up at once and it would be a tedious process with lots of waiting, but no. People for the most part showed up early and it all went super smoothly.

By 10:55 or so, most of the cars seemed to have arrived. Randy told us that he could give water and programs to any last minute guests, so Jenny and I headed up front. Jenny went onto the platform with her ukulele and played a short song she’d written called “Love in the Time of Corona.” (If you want to hear the song, you can find it on my Instagram under my story highlights.)

Then the musicians took to their instruments again, and all the proper wedding stuff started. Matt ushered Mom in, and then Dad and the groomsmen entered as well, and stood up front in their proper, socially distant, groomsman formation.

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That’s when the first hitch in the plan occurred. We all craned our necks to see the bridesmaids, and the bride behind them, but they weren’t there. They were nowhere to be seen.

Huh?

The musicians kept playing pretty music. The groomsmen just stood there. We waited and waited and waited.

Eventually, one of the bridesmaids stuck her head out the back door and told the musicians what was going on. The musicians then announced to the rest of us that the wedding was slightly delayed because of technical difficulties. Since many people still were unable to come to the wedding because of Corona, it was important to have the service live-streamed. But the live-stream was just not working.

So we just sat there. And Matt and the groomsmen stood there. And we waited.

The musicians were just playing music to pass the time. They started on “Oh Danny Boy.”

Jenny turned to me. “That’s such a sad song!” she said. Then she paused. “That’s what they should play if Phoebe really does leave Matt at the alter.”

We laughed and laughed. It was weird…with everything outdoors, socially distant, in cars, etc, it felt like you could talk and laugh out loud in a way you just don’t at most weddings.

Finally, Phoebe’s brother-in-law came along with a cell phone and started live-streaming on Phoebe’s Facebook page. You can watch the whole thing here, but I’ll warn you, it unfortunately got switched sideways in the process.

Anyway, the live-stream started at 11:13 am, so I guess that’s when things properly got underway. We saw a car drive from the house around to the back of the field. The wedding coordinator waved her arms to signal the musicians, and the song changed. The bridesmaids walked up the aisle, one by one.

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The next hitch was so small that I wonder if anyone, besides those of us on the chairs, even noticed.

Usually in weddings, when the bride walks down the aisle, the congregation stands for her. Then the preacher prays, and then instructs everyone to be seated.

Of course most people were in their cars and didn’t stand, but those of us in chairs did. Only, I don’t know if Dad didn’t get the memo, or if he didn’t think of it since he was mostly talking to cars, or what. But he never told us to sit down. So we were all just standing there awkwardly, waiting, and finally some of us just sat down, and then others did, and finally everyone did because no one wants to stand for an entire ceremony. Unless you’re in the bridal party, I guess.

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You know how in weddings and movies, the preacher always says “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace”? And it creates this dramatic moment for someone to leap out and say, “I object?”

Well, I’ve attended a lot of weddings in my life, but I’ve never been to one where the preacher actually said that. But at Matt and Phoebe’s wedding, Dad said, “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, honk your horn three times.”

Ha. Such a Matt joke. Later, I heard several relatives talking about it. “Ha ha, I was just about to honk my horn twice.

“Well I almost honked my horn four times.”

But no horns actually honked, and the ceremony continued.

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One guest snapped this picture of another guest watching with binoculars! I loved it.

I thought Dad’s sermon was extremely good. One of the best wedding sermons I’ve ever heard. (I feel like I could do a whole blog post on cringy wedding sermons sometime.) He framed the sermon by telling Matt and Phoebe’s love story, which was so special. I love hearing people’s love stories. (If you’re unfamiliar with their story, and you don’t feel like watching the whole wedding ceremony video, Mom blogged about it here.)

Then came the fun stuff. The vows. The “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” The kiss. The “Mr and Mrs Matthew Smucker.”

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I was hoping so badly that people would honk their horns, and they did! First at the kiss, and then when they walked back up the aisle.

The bridesmaids and groomsmen then filed out, and went back to the food tent, which was right next to the welcome tent. The caterers had arrived, and were pulling out containers of pulled pork and beef stew.

Everyone who RSVP’d to the wedding had to note their food preferences. Phoebe and her friends had taken a stack of paper bags and marked each one with the parking number, the family name, and the food preferences of each car that was coming. So now, the bridesmaids, groomsman, and the others who were seated in chairs instead of cars took charge of handing out food. They would take a bag, put in “two pulled porks and one beef stew” or whatever it said, and deliver it to the correct car.

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While they started this process, Dad got up and explained what the food situation would look like. (In the live-stream, you can hear him in the background.) Then he explained that Matt and Phoebe would go around greeting guests, and my parents and Phoebe’s parents would go around greeting guests and handing out cookies. Jenny and I were laughing because he was asking people to know ahead of time what kind of cookies they wanted so that the whole thing could go smoothly and efficiently. Dad is obsessed with efficiency at weddings. Literally after every wedding we go to, Dad rates its efficiency. Mostly in relation to the food lines. When you give people choices, Dad says, it takes forever for everyone to get through the line.

My siblings and I were slated to help hand out food, but we were also going to do some entertainment while people ate. Ben, Amy, and Jenny were singing, and I was giving a toast. A few days before the wedding, Phoebe decided that we should do these things directly after the ceremony, so that it would be in the live-stream. But I guess the memo never got to the brother-in-law, because he didn’t live-stream that part, haha.

So anyway. After Dad discussed the efficiency, my siblings sang several songs, and then I gave my toast:

Hello everyone. I’m Emily Smucker, Matt’s sister. He is the oldest in my family, and I’m the 3’d oldest. He is four years older than me.

Matt is a goofy guy, extremely creative, and willing to try anything. I can’t count how many times in my life I’ve said, “Matt, I can’t wait for the open mic at your wedding.” 

But now that Matt’s wedding is here, and I’m reflecting on what it was like to be Matt’s sister, I’m realizing that behind Matt’s goofy demeanor he is an unbelievably kind person. Of course he teased me a lot growing up, and tried to catch me in elaborate booby traps inspired by Calvin and Hobbes comics. But I don’t remember him ever saying anything mean-spirited or unkind to me. 

Big brothers have a lot of power to shape how their younger sisters feel about themselves. But Matt never made me feel stupid, never made me feel ugly, and never made me feel like my opinions didn’t matter. 

Four years is a large age gap when you’re young, but as Matt and I grew older, we became genuine friends. I began to wish that Matt would find a good wife, but I didn’t know how he would ever find the right person in the big city of Washington DC. But God knew what he was doing, and brought Phoebe into Matt’s life.

Like Matt, Phoebe is kindhearted, generous, and smart. She appreciates Matt’s goofy sense of humor, and is rather goofy at times herself. She enters happily into Matt’s strange fun world, buying him his favorite snack of mealworms, and acquiring her own hoverboard to match his. But Phoebe is also sensitive and kind. She understand people’s feelings, and she balances out Matt’s logical nature.

Matt and Phoebe, I love you both, and I am so grateful to God that you are part of my family.

After giving my toast, I reminded everyone that they could go watch the slideshow on their phones while they waited for their food. Although Matt had emailed it to all the guests, no one had mentioned it at the wedding, and I didn’t want my hard work to go to waste, haha.

By the time I walked back to the food tents, most of the food had been handed out already. It was an extremely efficient process. Dad was proud, I’m sure. I helped with the last of it, and then I just kind-of hung out, eating my food, being goofy with my siblings, and chatting with various guests.

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Somehow, Jenny managed to be part of the cool crowd that decorated the getaway car. Not sure how she snagged that gig. I didn’t even know it was happening.

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It’s so funny to me that they used our old family Kia as the getaway car. We’ve had that thing for ages. But Matt’s car is back in Houston, where his job/apartment are, and he’s been using the Kia since he’s been in Oregon.

This whole time, of course, Matt and Phoebe were greeting all the cars.

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But then, suddenly we realized that we’d never gotten the rest of the family pictures and such. So we hastily assembled. The photographer snapped away, and I grabbed a few photos on my own camera.

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Once people had eaten, watched the slideshow, greeted the bride, groom, and parents, and chatted with each other through open windows and such, they began to leave.

It had been an extremely successful wedding, all in all. Matt had put tons of engineering work into that parking diagram, arranging things so that everyone would be able to see. And he’d hooked up some sort of radio transmitter so that everyone could hear the ceremony through their car radio. Everyone I talked to seemed to have been able to see and hear quite well.

I helped with the cleanup some, but again, there wasn’t a lot to do. Comparing this wedding to other weddings I’ve helped with, I’ll say that by not having a traditional reception, with all those tables, chairs, and decorations, they saved themselves a LOT of work.

I really just wanted to go home, because I was exhausted to my bones. I was kind-of embarrassed by how tired and spacey I was, so I explained to people that I’d been up really late making the slideshow. Only I repeated that story multiple times, so that was even more embarrassing.

Looking back, though, I don’t think it was the loss of a couple hours of sleep that made me so tired. I think it was being thrust into so much activity and socializing after three months of Covid lockdown.

I went home and rested for several hours, but I was too tired to really even sleep. Finally I got enough of a second wind to go back outside, where a number of my relatives were socializing in our yard, roasting hot dogs for supper.

Thank God, we had nice-ish weather that day at least. Once I’d felt a slight sprinkle of rain, but most of the time it was nice enough that I was comfortable in short sleeves. And Jenny got sunburned. The slight coolness and periods of cloudiness were nice for those in their cars, who would have been quite warm if the sun had shone with its usual summer brightness.

And it was nice to be able to have an after-party of sorts, outside, where it’s much safer to be during Covid times.

My Smucker relatives were there, as well as the five Yoder relatives who’d managed to come. The two families know each other, although my Aunt Rosie (Smucker side) saw one of my Yoder-side uncles in the dark and called him by the wrong name, which she was embarrassed about.

“Isn’t it funny?” Amy said to me. “Some day, Matt and Phoebe’s children will be getting married, and we’ll come to their house and hang out with the Penix family. And we’ll see one of the brothers-in-law in the dark, and accidentally call him by the wrong name.”

It was so odd to think about.

But at last, the air took on a proper frigid chill, and the relatives one-by-one betook themselves back to their homes or motel rooms.

But it was the end of this wedding day. The day Matt and Phoebe got married. The very first ever wedding in my family.

Matt and Phoebe’s Wedding, Part 1: Preparation

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If you know anything about my family, you’ll know how long we’ve waited for this. There are six of us siblings, ranging in age from 21-34, and last Sunday was the first-ever wedding in our family.

We used to muse about which of us siblings would manage to get married first, and we all had different ideas. As time went on, we began to feel like it literally could be any of us. Jenny, the youngest, was technically old enough to get married before Matt even met Phoebe. But in the end it was still Matt, the oldest, who married first.

Matt and Phoebe had a unique love story (which Mom wrote about on her blog). And they are both unique people. So perhaps it’s fitting that they had a unique wedding as well. When COVID hit, they had no idea what things would look like in June. How many people would they even be allowed to invite? How would they decide which aunts and uncles could come, and which to leave out?

So instead of a traditional wedding, they decided to plan a drive-in wedding. The parents of one of Phoebe’s bridesmaids had a small field behind their house that they weren’t using, and they were able to construct a small platform for them to get married on so that everyone in their cars could see them properly.

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Matt made this parking diagram and emailed it to everyone who was coming to the wedding, along with a parking number.

Although we’d discuss wedding logistics every time Matt and Phoebe came over, and although we had a lot of cleaning and yard work projects around the house to do in preparation, the whole thing felt pretty low-key to me, and not super stressful. With Covid and such, there were a lot of us around to get stuff done.

Mom sewed new dresses for herself and Jenny, Amy re-purposed a nice dress she’d worn to a different wedding, and I pulled out a vintage dress I’d gotten for $3 at a thrift store. I had to modify it to make it fit me properly, and sew a lining for it, and of course sew a coordinating mask. But in the end we all had nice wedding clothes that coordinated with the wedding colors even though we weren’t in the bridal party. Our brothers were, and we wanted to coordinate for family pictures.

The first major hurdle in the wedding preparation was the weather. Oregon weather is a whole thing. We have these dry, sunny summers that are perfect for weddings, but June is still an iffy month. Sometimes it rains in June, and when we get rainy weather in Oregon, it’s not like, an hour of rainy weather, it’s a week of rainy weather.

And we hit a spell of cold, rainy weather over the time of the wedding.

In non-Covid times it wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but we were trying very hard to still keep things safe and healthy. We’ve had a rule for the past few months that we don’t allow anyone who doesn’t live in the house to enter our house, except to use the bathroom. Even for our Sunday dinners, Matt, Phoebe, and Ben always stayed outside.

But we had family coming from out of state, and we wanted to hang out with them. In the end, since not nearly everyone who wanted to come was able to, we decided to relax that rule. Our relatives all got their own hotels, but since there were only five of them, we let them in the house during the day.

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Aunt Anna

My Uncle Marcus and Aunt Anna arrived Saturday morning, but we barely got to spend time with them before we had to rush off to the rehearsal. We arrived and got briefed on our duties: Amy would take pictures of everyone in their cars in lieu of a guest book, and Jenny and I would be at the welcome tent, handing out water and programs, and taking gifts.

Rehersal 1

I should note that Amy was using my camera (which I bought to film YouTube videos), and I asked her to snap some pictures for my blog. So most of the pictures in this post were taken by her.

This was the first time we’d seen the venue, so we wandered around looking at the setup.

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The parking spaces were marked with stakes and numbered cardboard hearts, covered in plastic to protect them from the drizzle.

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The aisle was also marked with stakes, and there were kombucha-bottle vases glued to them.

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Again, everything felt so low-key and relaxed to me. There just wasn’t much to help with. It was too early to do the flowers. Finally Elaine, Phoebe’s mom, told us we could attach garlands to the platform to make it look pretty.

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After that we went home, ate lunch, rested a bit, and then prepared for the rehearsal dinner. That was a challenge. We’d planned to just have it in our yard, but it was much too cold and wet for that. So Dad cleared out a space in one of his three-sided storage buildings over at the warehouse, and we rented outdoor space heaters, and made it work.

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My Uncle Rod, Aunt Rebecca, and cousin Jason arrived from out of state, just in time for dinner.

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Catching up with our uncle and aunt.

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Jenny chatting with cousin Jason.

Matt and Phoebe didn’t want to have an open mic at their wedding. Matt’s best man, Justin Doutrich, and I were each going to give a toast, but that was it. So we had an open mic time at the rehearsal dinner instead.

Phoebe’s sisters and other bridesmaids kept talking about the early days of Matt and Phoebe’s relationship, and what it was like from their angle. All the lengthy letters and phone calls from Phoebe, detailing her dates with Matt, before they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Down to the tiniest detail, like his crusts.

“His crusts?” Someone asked. “What was with his crusts?”

Apparently Matt had, on one of the first dates, cut the crusts off of his bread and not eaten them. And Phoebe didn’t know what to make of a man in his 30s who didn’t eat his crusts.

I was so jealous of Phoebe’s friends. Here they knew all the tiniest details of those early dates, down to Matt’s bread crusts, and we on Matt’s side of the family knew nothing. They’d gone out, we knew, and they were going out again. We were on pins and needles for details. What had Matt thought of her? What was she like? What was he thinking?

We couldn’t seem to get any info from Matt. Finally he told us that they’d spent three hours together at the Air and Space Museum, and we latched onto that and discussed it for ages around the kitchen table, clutching our cups of rooibos tea. Any girl who could spend three hours at the Air and Space Museum with Matt had to be a keeper, right? That had to mean something, right?

It was so funny to remember that era, two years ago, and how desperately we wanted a Happily Ever After for Matt. And now, here we were.

Daylight began to fade, and it grew colder. We began to pack everything back up and go home. I was completely exhausted, and thought I might go to bed early. It was so bizarre, being with people and doing things again after three months of isolation.

But then I went downstairs for a snack, and saw Matt in the living room at his computer. “How are you feeling?” I asked him.

Turns out he was frustrated and stressed. This process, which had seemed low-key from my angle, was not low-key from his. There were so many random last minute details he had to fix. The detailed parking diagram had taken up so much of his time, and now he couldn’t seem to get it printed to hand to the parking attendants. He’d had to go rushing back to the venue, because the tents had blown over. And he’d had no end of trouble scanning pictures for the slideshow.

“Wait, you didn’t make the slideshow yet?” I asked him.

“No, I’ll try to figure it out tonight if I have time.”

So of course I volunteered to make the slideshow for him. It actually took a while. Matt had no idea what music he wanted, and the only music I could find on my computer was some random country stuff from the ’00s that I’d copied from Matt’s computer over a decade ago. I finally found a halfway decent song, but then the video editing software I had on my computer was not designed for slideshows. It made me miss Windows Movie Maker.

I finally finished, uploaded it to YouTube, and went to bed around 12:45 am. Here it is, if you feel like seeing a load of cute pictures.

I felt like I barely got any sleep before I had to be up, washing my hair, and ironing my dress for the big day. But it really wasn’t so bad, when compared to Matt. He got only an hour or so, tossing and turning as parking diagrams spun round and round in his head.

Read Part 2: The Drive-in Ceremony.

P.S. I changed my comment settings, so now all comments must be approved by me before they’ll show up. So if your comments don’t show up right away after you post them, that’s why! Just wait a bit and it should get approved shortly.

Stop Trying to Fix the World with Condescending Love

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

When I was a teenager, a well-intentioned woman in my church decided that she wanted to “love on” us youth girls. To “connect” with us. To “hear our hearts.” Maybe I should give her credit for caring and trying. But the truth is, none of us liked her.

When she talked, she always sounded holier than us. Like we should be grateful that she, such a wonderful, godly, loving person, was taking time out of her day to tell us how to live our lives.

Spoiler alert: we weren’t that grateful. We’d never asked for this. We didn’t want to share our hearts with her. It was awkward.

Instead there was a different woman in our church, named Arlene, whom we kept begging to be our Sunday school teacher. Instead of talking with a soft voice and a tumbling stream of holy-sounding words, Arlene treated us like we were normal people. People she enjoyed conversing with.

Which one of them loved us more?

Your first thought may be, “Arlene, of course.” But I don’t think that’s true. They both loved us, and perhaps the other woman felt it even more deeply. I don’t know. The difference between the two woman was not one of love, it was one of respect.

The other woman was holier than us. We were supposed to be grateful for her. It was the sort of love you give to children, and what teenager wants to be loved like a child?

But Arlene respected us.

I thought about this again today, because of a comment I saw on the Internet. Ha. Actually, because of lots of comments I saw on the Internet. In response to George Floyd’s death in particular, and in response to racism in general, white people like to say, “we just need to love each other more.”

But the comment that struck me the most was in a discussion about George Floyd’s deep faith and apparent struggle with drugs. Some well-intentioned person commented about how they wish they could have known Floyd, to love him, and to help set him free from drugs.

Um. Wait a minute.

A man who has struggled with poverty, with drugs, and with crime, who then comes to Jesus and turns his life around, but who has to fight a daily battle with addiction…your first thought should not be, “I could have helped that person.”

Your first thought should be, “that person could have helped me.”

I mean, imagine what a privilege it would have been to hear George Floyd’s testimony. Imagine. I hope one day in Heaven, I’ll be able to.

I hear condescending love from Christians all the time. A classic example would be the mission trips to orphanages, which contribute to terrible attachment disorders in children.

Those children are being genuinely loved by the people who play with them for a week on mission trips. How could genuine love have such devastating consequences?

The truth is, love is not enough.

We can’t fix any problem by simply loving. We westerners should have listened to the native people of the lands we tried to fix. We should have asked them what they needed, instead of giving them what we thought they needed. We had the love, but we were missing the respect, and the humility to shut up and listen.

And we’re still missing it, right here in the United States of America. We’ve decided that maybe racism is real after all, and the solution is to love people more. But have you noticed? Have you stopped to listen? The black community isn’t asking us to love them more, like that will fix all the problems.

They’re asking us to listen, and to march with them.

They’re asking us not to leave when the cameras leave.

They’re asking us to put our money where our mouths are.

They’re asking us to say, “It should not have to be this way, and I will spend my life beside yours testifying to the values that the Christian tradition places on your black life.”

To invite them to speak, and pay them fairly. To visit their churches.

I’ve seen white person after white person say some variation of, “if only we could just love each other more!” But I haven’t seen a single black person say that.

Now, you may be upset at my apparent dismissal of the fact that “loving others” is the second greatest commandment. And I’ll give you that one. Loving others is extremely important. More important, it would seem, than even respect and humility. Second in importance only to loving God.

But I find it telling that the Bible doesn’t command us to simply “love others,” it commands us to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why add the “as yourself?” What does “as yourself” have to do with anything? What if you don’t love yourself in the first place?

As I understand it, the “as yourself” means that you’re loving the person as a peer of equal value to yourself, not as a child. Not as someone who pulls on your heartstrings and makes you think, “aww, the poor thing, I just want to give them a big ‘ole hug.” But as someone whom you could learn a thing or two from.

Someone you respect.

Someone you will listen to, in humility.

 

The Bookish Tag (A Video)

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My blog has been sorely neglected during the month of May. Honestly I’ve just wanted to hide in a hole this month. And it just gets worse and worse. When I sit down to write, I can’t even express my feelings. I am just sickened at George Floyd’s death, and everything that caused it: the racial injustice in our country, and the violent police systems.

I don’t even have blog posts inside me right now. I’m sorry.

What I do have is this video that I filmed over a month ago and never uploaded because our internet couldn’t handle it. (Seriously, after 48 hours it wasn’t even halfway uploaded, and I gave up.) But today I managed to fix the problem by using the hotspot in Mom’s writing cabin.

Here’s the story behind the video: After my week of book-related posts last fall, Rachel Troyer of The Striped Pineapple messaged me saying she enjoyed it, and perhaps she’d do a bookweek herself. I told her that if she did so, I’d write up a “tag” of book-related questions for her to answer on her blog.

Rachel did the tag, and then Esther at Shasta’s Fog did the tag, and it looked like so much fun that I decided to do the tag too. Yes, I answered my own questions. Ha. But I did it via video, so that you could actually see the books I was referring to. (Subsequently Eden at The Happy Hedgehog did it too, but I didn’t mention her in the video because when I filmed it she hadn’t done so yet!)

Anyway, enjoy the video! And if you want to answer the questions in your own blog, video, or even in the comments, I’d love it! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the blogs of everyone who has done the tag.

 

Update on My Book: Title, Release Date, Etc

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well well well. I filmed and edited a video to post today, but sometimes it takes ages to upload YouTube videos. And today is one of those days. It’s been uploading all afternoon and evening, and it’s only at 23%.

So for my last April Blogging Challenge post, I’ll cover another topic.

On my last post, Norlene asked for an update on my book. Honestly, I love it when people ask me that question. It’s such a huge part of my life, but I never know how much people really want to hear about the topic.

For those who haven’t been following my book-writing/publishing journey, here’s the deal: Last year I went on a trip where I drove around the USA, living in a different Mennonite community every month. This year, I’ve been working on a book about that journey.

The two questions I get asked most often are, “what is the title of your book?” and “when will it be released?” I’ve kinda avoided answering those questions, because I’ve been afraid that I’ll change my mind. But my mind has been pretty consistent for several months now, so I think I can go ahead with them.

Title of my book: The Highway and Me and my Earl Grey Tea

Most likely release date: September 16, 2020

September 16 is a significant date, because I began the trip on September 16, 2018, and ended it on September 16, 2019. Since I have the bulk of the memoir completed, I think I should reasonably be able to have copies in hand ready to ship by that date.

However, I don’t want to PROMISE promise that it will be released on September 16, because I’ve never done this before. Self-publishing, I mean. For my first book I had a “traditional” publisher who took care of all that. Between getting the cover done and getting it printed and getting it formatted and making sure everyone is okay with me saying what I have to say about them, I’m afraid that something random will take way longer than I expect it to.

As far as the writing goes, I have the bulk of it done, but there are still things to do. I worked like crazy during January and February to finish my second draft, and my editor, Janessa Miller, finished her first round of edits on March 7. And then on March 9 she had a baby. The plan was for me to take the next six weeks and finish the third draft.

That shouldn’t have been hard. The third draft wasn’t nearly as intense as the second draft. But somehow I really was thrown for a loop with COVID-19. I took on all kinds of projects, and I had emotional breakdowns, and honestly I really wasn’t doing very well.

Part of the dynamic was that writing my book was much more emotional than I’d thought it would be. Initially, I wrote it much like an extended blog post, listing all the fun and wacky adventures I had. But Janessa pushed me further. “What did you feel about this?” she kept asking.

It was so strange for me, combing through my memories and feeling my feelings. Actually very intense and emotionally exhausting. Turns out I was much lonelier than I’d ever realized.

At the same time, due to a series of events that are still too personal to post about in this public space, I ended up leaving the church I’d grown up in. This made my feelings of loneliness even more intense, especially because I didn’t have time to fully plug into another church before the lockdown hit.

All that to say, even though draft 3 shouldn’t have been nearly as intense to create as draft 2, I ended up taking a break to fully work though all my emotions and feelings.

Once I’m done with draft 3, Janessa will do a line edit, and then after I fix all those mistakes it will be copy-edited/proofread, and then once those problems are fixed it will be ready to print. I think. Only I also have to get cover photos taken, get a cover designed, hire a printer, get someone to format it, figure out my marketing strategy, and probably ten more things I’m currently forgetting.

(Which, btw, if you happen to be good at copy editing or cover design, or know someone who is, feel free to drop me an email at Jemilys@gmail.com. I’m planning to pay a fair wage for these tasks, obviously. But I feel like I have to make that clear because we are Mennonites after all, LOL.)

Let’s see, anything else? I did start on a novel while I was waiting to get my edits back from Janessa. I thought that I could be a Real Book Writer and start in on another book while in the process of publishing the first. Which was a nice idea in theory, but then I decided to do All The Other Projects and the novel was the easiest one to put aside for now. So currently I’m only working on one book, and that is The Highway and Me and my Earl Grey Tea.

And oh, I almost forgot! Mom is also publishing some books this year, and we’d talked about doing a book tour this fall, hitting most of the places I went to on my trip, as well as some other Mennonite communities. And maybe that will still happen, but at this point I highly doubt it. I mean anything is possible I guess. I’m sure things won’t be nearly as locked down this fall as they are today, but I have a hard time imagining that anything like a book tour, with all its travel and gatherings of people, will be safe before we get a vaccine.

But again, who knows anything about the future at this point.

This has been my last post in the April Blogging Challenge 2020. It’s been a fun ride, but now I have to get back to my edits, haha. Be sure to check out Mom’s blog for her latest post, which is an interview with my Aunt Rebecca, who’s a hospice nurse working with COVID-19 patients in Chicago. Mom will post again tomorrow to close out the challenge.

Thanks for reading. Maybe we’ll do this again next year, and maybe we won’t. Maybe by next April the world will be vaccinated enough to provide adequate herd immunity, and we’ll be doing an April Book Tour instead. Who knows what the future holds!

Five Actual Romantic Lessons from the Life of Ruth

Note: This piece was originally published on my Patreon last May. To celebrate my 1 year anniversary on the platform, I decided to dig into the archives and share one of my posts on my regular blog. 

Confession: I missed out on a lot of Christian Purity Culture because I found it so mind-numbingly boring. But in the last 24 hours I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole so to speak.

I’m writing a play about the life of Ruth. Writing a play is a great way to really dive into Scripture, because you have to get to the root of what people were actually saying, putting it into as simple language as possible. I giggled and giggled to myself, because Ruth legit just asked Boaz to marry her.

“Wouldn’t it be funny,” I posted on Facebook, “if there was a Christian dating advice book based on the story of Ruth? Ladies, find a rich guy, sneak up to him while he’s sleeping, and ask him to marry you.”

Well, it turns out that I really am out of the loop on the world of Christian dating advice books. Because there are plenty, my Facebook friends informed me. Books with titles like…

  • Lady in Waiting: Becoming God’s best while waiting for Mr. Right
  • Boaz, the Promise and the Wait
  • Lord, is Boaz lost? Or am I just in the wrong field?
  • She was waiting on Boaz and lost a real man
  • Your Boaz will come
  • How to be found by the man you’ve been looking for

And I don’t know, maybe there’s some good advice in those books. But I’m weirded out by all the references to “waiting,” and to Boaz “coming.” BECAUSE THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED IN THE STORY OF RUTH.

My roommate had Lady in Waiting on her bookshelf, so I read it…and by “read” I mean “skimmed” because I still find it boring…and wow. Okay.

Lady in Waiting is based on an idea: If you just “wait,” not chasing after a boy at all, not going to Bible College or whatever just because there are eligible guys there…if you focus on following God instead…if you stay a virgin…ta da! The perfect man will just…appear. God will bring him along, and somehow, magically, you’ll be all married and stuff.

And look, I can see how that sentiment might be useful for teenage girls. They have plenty of time. Focusing on their spiritual life instead of their romantic life, learning to wait on the Lord, that’s solid. My primary beef with the book is this dubious connection to the life of Ruth.

Like, there was a whole chapter dedicated to the importance of remaining a virgin until you’re married. Is this a Biblical concept? Sure. So just use plain Scripture to back up your point. Don’t use the story of Ruth. Because Ruth was not a virgin when she married Boaz. Why would you go on and on about how special it is to save this one special gift for your husband, and then base your argument entirely on a romantic story where Ruth’s “special gift” was gone? 

Yes, I’m irritated.

Moving on. Can we get good romantic advice from the life of Ruth? I think we can. Here are five ACTUAL romantic lessons I’ve gleaned (hee hee, see what I did there?) from Ruth.

1. It’s okay, even good, to get married for practical reasons.

I think it’s fair to say that Ruth and Boaz were genuinely, madly in love with each other. It’s not stated in Scripture, but it’s implied in the way Ruth gushes about how kind Boaz is, and Boaz enthusiastically agrees to marry Ruth and then rushes off early in the morning to get things settled with his relative who technically has “first dibs.”

But Scripture makes it very clear that their romance was about practicality.

First, from a survival standpoint. The only way for Ruth and Naomi to not starve was for Ruth to work, dawn until dusk, picking up random bits of grain that the harvesters had left behind. It was heavily implied that Ruth was in grave danger of being raped while gleaning. Boaz says “I have told the men not to touch you,” in Ruth 2:9, and later, when Ruth tells Naomi about Boaz’s kindness, Naomi says, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with his girls, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed” (Ruth 2:22).

So basically, singleness for Ruth was not a time of patiently waiting, finding fulfillment in God instead of a husband. It was a time when she was, except for the kindness of Boaz, in daily danger of rape and starvation.

Second, while Naomi implies in Ruth 1:8-13 that Ruth will have difficulty finding a husband in Israel, Boaz implies in Ruth 3:10 that Ruth could easily marry a younger, perhaps handsomer, man than himself. “You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor,” he says.

Lady in Waiting uses that statement as proof that Ruth didn’t “chase boys,” even though she’d literally just asked Boaz to marry her, LOL. From context, though, it appears that Boaz is complimenting her on choosing a practical husband, one who could provide for her and be her kinsman redeemer, instead of just going for a hot guy.

And obviously, the times are much different now than they were in Ruth’s day. Singleness does not mean rape and starvation anymore, thank God.

But there are still tons of practical reasons to get married. Companionship, sexual satisfaction, children…I mean, maybe you don’t think you need children, but who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?

Ruth needed a husband for practical reason, so she found a practical solution. Why shouldn’t we do the same? If you need a job, or a car, or a tooth pulled, you don’t just sit around “waiting,” hoping it will magically happen to you. You make an effort to overcome the obstacles in your way.

(Added caveat, since this is my real blog where people still frequently misunderstand me: of course I think you should be in love with the person you’re going to marry. Obviously. I’m just saying, we should’t be ashamed to admit that we want marriage for practical reasons too, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to look for practical solutions.)

2. Be a person of character. Seek a person of character to marry.

Lady in Waiting talked a lot about being a woman of character, like Ruth. I think this is solid. Boaz’s comment about Ruth choosing him instead of the younger men makes me think that he probably thought Ruth was very pretty, able to snag a hotter guy if she wished. But he mostly admires her character. When he first meets her he praises her kindness to Naomi (Ruth 2:11), and when he agrees to marry her, he says, “all my fellow townsmen know that you are a woman of character” (Ruth 3:11).

But it irritated me that Lady in Waiting implied that if only you did everything right, you would end up with your “prince.” “When you picture the perfect man for you, what is your prince like?” The book asks on page 56. “To marry a prince, you must first become a princess.”

Who says we get to marry a “prince?” Boaz was no “prince.” He had good character, sure. He was able to provide, and he was very kind. But his comment on “younger men” makes it sound like he wasn’t the youngest or hottest man available.

Ultimately, just as he chose Ruth because of her character, Ruth also chose him because of his character and usefulness. This idea of waiting for your “prince” is kinda weird, not Scriptural, and certainly not practical.

3. Let others meddle in your love life

An enormous aspect of the story of Ruth that we usually brush over is the way that Naomi meddled. 

I mean, sure, Ruth did some pretty brazen things like spend the night with Boaz (innocently) and ask him to marry her. But it was 100% Naomi’s idea.

After my first point, where I argued that we should think more practically about marriage and not be afraid to “make something happen,” you probably wondered, “Does Emily think that girls should ask guys out? What is she really saying here?”

What I’m really saying is that I think we should let others meddle in our love lives.

And parents, married people, concerned aunts, I think you should meddle. Set people up on blind dates. Invite single people to your parties so they can all hang out and get to know each other. Chatter with your married friends about the single people they know that might be good matches for the single people you know.

I mean, obviously if the single person expresses discomfort, back off. But I just think it’s weird that our culture is all about single people, on their own, with no help whatsoever from meddlers, finding their perfect match. I guess it’s because the USA is the most individualistic culture in the world. But it’s honestly not that practical.

4. Your spiritual life is more important than your love life

This point, central to Lady in Waiting, is actually true. And it actually can be backed up by the story of Ruth.

Like I said before, it’s a little hard to say how many marriage options Ruth actually had in Israel. Naomi implies that the options are limited, while Boaz implies that Ruth could have married a younger man than himself.

However, it’s clear that whatever Ruth’s options were in Israel, they were worse than her options in Moab. Naomi’s motive for sending Ruth home was all about the provision and protection she’d have there. “May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband,” she says (Ruth 1:9).

Instead, Ruth chose God. “Your people will be my people, and your God my God,” she says in Ruth 1:16.

She chose God, even though it put her in danger of starvation and rape. And I think that is extremely powerful.

5. It’s okay if your love story is weird and unconventional.

This right here is why I ultimately love the story of Ruth and Boaz.

Lady in Waiting tries to skew Ruth’s unusual courtship method as a common practice of the day, hardly worth noting. Heh. I find that unlikely.

I mean, come on. It’s just so weird. There are no other courtship stories like it in Scripture.

Furthermore, the book of Ruth implies that Ruth was in a very unfortunate, sad situation, because she did not have a man to advocate for her. Not only did she lose her husband, but she lost all the men in her husband’s family, and she left her own brothers and father behind in Moab.

You could use the story of Ruth to argue that women should chase men, and ask them out, or even ask them to marry them. You could, alternatively, argue that Ruth only dared to do such a thing because she had no man in her life to find a husband for her.

But I think the most obvious takeaway is that romance can happen in very strange ways. There is no perfect cookie-cutter formula to finding a mate.

And that, I think, is what annoys me most about books like Ladies in Waiting. They imply that if you just do everything according to their foolproof plan, everything will turn out okay for you. And then they stretch and pinch the bizarrely beautiful romance of Ruth, trying to make it fit into the perfect mold they’ve created.

That’s not the point.

The point is that things go wrong, but God’s redemption is still there. Romance is bizarre, but we work with what we’ve got. There are countless ways you might end up with a kind husband or wife who is a good, practical match for you.

And will it involve sneaking up to them in the middle of the night and asking them to marry you?

Well, who knows?

 

In April 2019 I launched my Patreon, and it has been the most amazing, wonderful experience for me. Much, much more so than I could ever have imagined.

First, because that extra bit of income every month, though small, is steady. Most of my writer income is extremely unsteady, so having one thing I can count on is a blessing. In one year I’ve been able, while charging only $1 a month, to earn enough to buy a camera to make YouTube videos with, pay for my domain name, buy and ship some fun giveaway items, and pay for other odds and ends related to this blog.

But more importantly, my Patreon has allowed me to grow as a writer. At first I was only posting opinionated pieces. But then one month I posted an extremely vulnerable essay I’d written about a friend who’d cut me out of her life. I ended up taking that one down, because it was just too personal, but it started me on a path of experimenting with openness and vulnerability in my writing.

My Patreon supporters don’t always agree with me, which is good and healthy, but I’ve never felt misunderstood by them. What a gift. And their response to my vulnerable writing was so encouraging that it fundamentally changed how I wrote my book, and even how I process my life. They made me feel like my feelings matter, and that meant everything to me.

All I’m saying is, it’s been a good year, and I’m so grateful.

Up until now, my Patreon has been like the parable of the workers in the vineyard. Every post I’d ever written was available, so someone who signed up in March got the same content as someone who’d been signed up from the beginning. But I’m going to start taking posts down once they’ve been up for a year. So on Thursday, I’m going to take down my first post, Is Toxic Masculinity a Thing? And on May 13 I’m going to take down How Mennonites Set Women Up to Reject the Head Covering. Etc. You get the picture. (If you want to subscribe to my Patreon, you can do so by clicking here.)

And lastly, April is drawing to a close, and with it, the April Blogging Challenge is ending! Mom will post tomorrow, I’ll post on Wednesday (probably with another video) and Mom will close the month with a post on Thursday. Thank you so much for following along, and be sure to hop over to Mom’s blog and catch up on all her posts that you might have missed!

Rambling Quarantine Thoughts

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Thought 1: Nutria

Our house sits at an intersection, and our yard is full of wide open spaces. If I spend time outdoors on these beautiful spring days I feel very looked at. So I’ve taken to hanging out down by the creek, where bushy trees screen me from the rest of the world, although I can still hear the trucks roaring by.

Apparently a nutria has moved into our old swimming hole. I’ve seen it several times. It swims up, looks at me with its ugly face, and then swims away again or dives under the water.

It’s weird to me that we’ve always acted like nutria are normal. As we swam in the creek as children, nutria poop would float by, and we could see the nutria burrows along the banks, but we rarely saw actual nutria. Still, it never occurred to us to be scared of them, or worried that they’d interrupt our play.

Why not? Isn’t a raccoon-sized rat inherently frightening?

Thought 2: Masks

Remember in 2011 when that gigantic earthquake hit Japan? Weirdly what stands out in my memory is the way that in the news photos, everyone was wearing face masks. And it just seemed so bizarre to me.

I did wear a mask in public once, in 2014. I was extremely sick but I had to go to school anyway because in one of my classes, pretty much my entire grade was based on attendance. And you couldn’t get an excused absence unless you had a doctor’s note. And I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor. Welcome to America. I wore a face mask even though I knew I looked ridiculous. I was too miserable to care.

It’s so odd to see so many Americans, now, in face masks. Today as I waited to cross the road in front of my house to go down by the creek, a lady drove by, all alone in her car, wearing a face mask. It almost doesn’t seem like real life anymore.

Some say that the virus will create a new normal. I hope that the new normal will be to wear face masks when you’re sick, without people thinking you’re weird (or dangerous). Although wearing one while you drive alone is a bit much, IMHO.

I also can’t help but ponder of the stupidity of that class where I couldn’t be absent without a doctor’s note. It was a stadium classroom with like, 300 other students crammed in there with me. Dumb dumb dumb. How have we all not perished long ago? I hope we re-think situations like that in the future as well.

Thought 3: In-Between Times

I’ve seen a lot of people talk about what they’re going to do when this is all over. The trips they’re going to go on. The people they’re going to hug. The concerts they’re going to attend.

To be honest, it’s really hard for me to imagine normal life at this point. It seems a hazy thing in the future, maybe a year or more from now, when there’s a proper vaccine. Looking that far ahead seems mystifyingly uncertain.

I have, however, grown intrigued with the idea of what the in-between could look like. And what innovations it could bring. What if we could meet in groups of 25 again? Could we do small in-home church services? What if outdoor activities were permitted again, provided that fewer than 100 people attended them? Could restaurants set up tables in their parking lots, or on the lawn? Could we use the outdoor seating at Starbucks? What if little outdoor concerts in every park became a thing?

Right now I want to be able to go to coffee shops again, when I get tired of working at home.

And I want to take road trips again. Long drives though Utah, along endless stretches of highway, sipping McDonald’s half-sweet iced tea and praying the air conditioner doesn’t quit working.

But right now I have no desire to enter any sort of stadium, or even get on an airplane. Maybe in the hazy future I’ll fully enjoy those things again. But currently, just thinking about it makes me feel anxious.

For more quarantine thoughts, here are the latest two episodes of my podcast with Jenny. Last week we recorded Episode 7, and yesterday we recorded Episode 8.

Episode 7: A Question-less Episode
April 16, 2020
In this episode, Jenny and Emily talk about surreal moments, the books they’re reading, and the stresses that moving everything online can bring. They also give updates on the snails, the kittens, their upload schedule, and Emily’s YouTube channel.

 

Episode 8: The Personal Growth Podcast Episode
April 23, 2020
In this episode, Jenny and Emily cover their brother’s research, what superpowers they would like to have, and mostly, their personal growth goals and how to achieve personal growth.

 

 

 

 

Stay Gold, Jenny

Dear Jenny,

Today is April 21, and you are now 21. Your golden birthday.

I remember looking at you when you were a small child, and thinking about the cold hard truth that you might grow up some day. I hated that thought. You were so adorable, with your red curls and happy giggles. I wanted you to be a baby forever, and I thought that perhaps, since you were nine years my junior, you’d always seem like a baby to me. That was the thought that consoled me.

But when you grew verbal, and I’d say to you, “you’ll always be my baby!” You’d get mad at me. Ha.

It’s funny to think about that, because as you grew older, I started treating you like a peer rather than a baby sister. You were twelve, and I’d drag you to college classes with me, and try to get you to come to youth group activities. We did all kinds of random stuff together. Remember when I was church shopping, and you went with me to that church in Harrisburg, and people asked us if we were high school students? But I was in college and you were in middle school? I always feel amused at that memory.

Today I went searching through an old hard drive, trying to find pictures of you when you were younger.

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I don’t know how to sum up my relationship with you. I don’t know how to describe the feeling that you are my baby, and always will be, and I need to protect you. My biggest fear has always been that you would get hurt in some way.

Yet at the same time, I don’t know how to describe the way that you’ve been a friend and a peer to me, despite our age gap, even when you were quite young. From the very first, I’ve enjoyed hanging out with you. You always bring a fun time in your back pocket. Even in the worst times, when we fought constantly and you’d run to your room and slam the door in frustration, I always wanted to hang out with you again.

Do another project with you.

Invent a game out of fake jewels and egg cartons called “Ain’t No Mountain.”

Film a dumb video while wearing pink hats.

Go to town, and try to convince you that it wouldn’t be weird for you to walk through the Dutch Brothers’ drive through while I went next door to pick up the dry cleaning.

You’ve always been funny, and smart, and clever, and creative.

We’ve gone through a lot, for sure. We used to get so angry at each other, and I used to say such terribly unkind things. And I’ve probably embarrassed you an average of three times a week throughout the 21 years we’ve known each other.

But even though I’m that embarrassing big sister, I’ve always loved you. And like everyone else who knows you, your friendship has always enriched my life.

Stay gold, Jenny

Love, your big sister Emily

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Why Guys Should Stop Talking to a Girl’s Dad Before They Ask the Girl Out

selective focus photo of excited elderly man in blue sweater sitting by the table talking on the phone while using a laptop

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Somewhere in our Mennonite history, perhaps overly-influenced by Bill Gothard (who was neither Mennonite nor Godly), we adopted a system in which men, when they wish to pursue a relationship with a woman, are expected to speak to her father before they even let her know that they like her.

I think 2020 is a good year to end this practice.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re a guy and you’d feel more comfortable getting some advice from her dad before you broach the subject with her, cool. Go ahead.

Or if you’re a girl and you want your dad to have somewhat of a gate-keeping role in your life, cool. If a guy asks you out, just use your words, and tell him you’d like him to talk to your dad first.

But I think the blanket expectation that guys will talk to the dad first is harmful for everyone. Here’s why:

1. It keeps women from learning how to articulate what they want

Look. I love my Mennonite culture, but sometimes I fear that we don’t teach our women how to articulate what they want, or say “no.” Which not only makes communication complicated and unclear, but also makes women resort to manipulation. And makes it easier for men to take advantage of women. It’s just not cool.

An adult woman should be able to say to a man, “no, I am not interested in dating you.”

An adult woman should also be able to say, “I’d like you to talk to my dad before we discuss this dating business further.” If that’s what she truly wants, she should be able to say that out loud using Clear English Words.

2. It often makes men have to jump through completely unnecessary hoops

I can see value in a guy talking to a girl’s dad at some point near the beginning of their relationship.

I see absolutely no value in a guy having a long awkward talk with a girl’s dad, only to end up never dating her at all, because she wasn’t interested.

If someone has no chance, they should’t have to talk to your dad about it. It’s pointless.

3. It makes things harder for women in the long run

When a girl is 20, having a guy talk to her dad first seems to have some advantages. She can ask her dad to turn him down for her, and avoid that awkwardness. It weeds out the guys who aren’t serious and just want to have a good time. And it feels romantic to think that this guy likes you so much he’s willing to jump through these hoops to get you.

But it gets worse for women as they get older. Once a guy has talked to five dads with zero results, he’s gonna be exhausted from fruitless dad-talking. He’s going to be much less likely to ask out a Mennonite woman. That’s just the sad reality.

4. Do dads even like having these talks?

Obviously a dad will be interested in knowing more about who his daughter dates, especially if she’s pretty young yet. He’s going to feel protective.

But like, if the guy isn’t going to date her…if she’s just gonna turn him down…surely that can’t be a fun situation for the dad either, right?

Is there something I’m missing here? Do dads just like chuckling to themselves about the poor blokes they got to reject for their daughter’s sake? Because to me that just sounds cruel.

5. The older a girl gets, the sillier the whole thing is

If a woman is in her 50s and single, is a man supposed to drive to the nursing home and yell into her father’s ear for a while? What if she’s a widow? At what point does the practice become ridiculous?

Maybe if the girl is 18, talking to her dad isn’t such a bad idea. But can’t we just nix the practice for girls over the age of 25? Or at least once she’s been independent for a decade or so?

6. We can switch up the order of operations and still keep every single one of the system advantages

I get it. There’s value in making a guy prove that he’s serious. There’s value in a father probing into a guy’s life, protectively looking for red flags that his daughter may not see. Especially if she’s still quite young.

But the guy can still talk to the girl first, and talk to the dad later if she says “please talk to my dad.” It’s not that hard, and it accomplishes all the same goals.

Final Thoughts:

I don’t think a girl should ever make a guy talk to her dad if she has no intention of dating him. And I don’t think a girl should ever make her dad turn a guy down for her, unless he’s legitimately a creep. I think a lot girls, even if they are kindhearted, do these things because it’s just how the system works, and because it’s easier. But I think it’s cruel to the men. (Although men, I’m willing to be corrected if you’d rather be turned down by the dad than the girl.)

Also, I know that someone’s going to read this post and think, “but why does it always have to be the guy asking the girl out? Can’t girls ask guys out?” Honestly I don’t have enough data to tackle that one, but if you have a girl-asking-a-guy-out experience (positive or negative) I’d love to hear about it.

But it did make me think. What if we had a system where Mennonite girls started talking to the moms of Mennonite boys they had crushes on? Sort-of “hey I like your son, what do you think?” Maybe that would be less scary than talking to him yourself or waiting on him indefinitely, hahaha. I’m just joking around of course, but if you’ve ever done that, I REALLY want to hear that story.

…     …     …

I don’t usually post about this sort of thing on this blog. Normally I’d put it on my Patreon, which is an extra, subscription-only blog where I sometimes post controversial/opinionated pieces like this one, and other times I post more emotional, vulnerable pieces.

My latest Patreon post is both. I wrote about why I hated Greta Gerwig’s 2019 Little Women movie, which is a controversial opinion, since most people loved it. But it’s also a vulnerable piece, because my reasons for hating it were very personal.

All my Patreon posts are accessible for $1 a month (or if you want to support me more than that, you can edit the amount to give more). I try to post twice a month, but am committed to posting at least once a month.

If you want to sign up, go to patreon.com/emilysmucker and click the red “join” button.

 

 

 

Video: Turning an Ugly Sweatshirt into a Cute Skirt

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Hey everybody! Today I have a fun video for you.

As a writer, I’m always in the market for cute and comfy clothing, so I impulsively bought this pink beaded sweatshirt when it was advertised to me on Facebook. And. Um. It wasn’t really cute. And it was huge.

So I decided to turn it into a comfy skirt, and film the transformation!

If you want to subscribe to my YouTube channel it’s super duper easy…just follow this link and click the red “subscribe” button under the video. This will make it easier for you to find my videos in the future. I mentioned in the video that I’m trying to get 1000 subscribers…basically, that’s the benchmark for when YouTube considers you to be a “real” YouTuber, and starts giving you a small portion of the add revenue. So I thought that would be a fun goal to try and hit this year!