How we met

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about marriage so much is that I was asked to write a guest post on Bethany Eicher‘s blog about “How We Met” – the story of Ryan and I.

So if you’re in the mood for a romantic story, not too sappy I hope, and not without its fumblebumbles, pop over to About My Father’s Business and read it.

Story here.

(Okay, well it is a little sappy I guess.)

Spoiler Alert: When Jesus healed my freezer

“What is that awful noise?!” I said.

“Bdddrrrrddrrrrrdddrrrrddrrrrr,” replied a throbbing vibration from the laundry room.

I hurried in to look, and found the door of my upright freezer hanging open several inches, the contents melting, and the motor making a fearsome racket. “No! Son, when I sent you for bread an hour or two ago, did you really leave the freezer door standing open?”

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Confession: One of the reasons I can get away with tweaking my man so much on this site is that he has a great appreciation for sarcasm and humor. And the other is that I secretly adore him.

Though I am bold in telling others to pursue it, love itself is to me a deeply personal thing, savored with one man and not spoken of easily to others. He is the sun, moon, and stars to me, and he knows it. That is all.

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It turned out that he did most of the Valentine planning himself: a date night swap with friends. (Would you keep our kids one night so we can go out, and we’ll keep yours the next?) We talked our way through a delicious dinner, and then came home to roses and chocolate, cheese and crackers, and a Zook party of two.

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Sometimes at night I dream that I am Unchosen, and I wake to gratitude that I get to begin and end each day with someone I love, until death do us part. There is much to be said for this—no matter how flawed I am, or he is. We are together: and I bless Jesus.

Some of you have not known this love (yet), and some of you have known it to turn false. This is a hurt beneath my joy, and one of the reasons I do not often speak of it.

You have never been Unchosen. Don’t say that lie to yourself or let others wave it over you. You are beloved in Christ, chosen by Him, celebrated, cherished, never alone. Let your sorrow soften you. You don’t have to be brave all the time, but oh, I know how often you are… the conscious choice you make to cheer for a friend who celebrates new love, the pain you do not show the world. You are loved. Write it in soap on your bathroom mirror. Say it to yourself when you go to bed, when you wake in the night, when you rise up in the morning. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved.

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And to those who are married?


I am sure of one thing: love is what will heal us and the broken places in our world. We must soak ourselves in it, and drink great draughts of it, and hand it in tall glasses to friends and strangers. Love is often a waiting, when we wish for something stronger to kick us and the world into action. Love seeps into the quiet places and changes hearts, heals old wounds, offers hope for a new day.

We survive this world, change this world, taste this world, outlive this world, redeem this world by loving, our best love a little current inside the great ocean of His.


Rumpelstiltskin Reloaded

Some time ago I complained heartily about the fault lines running thickly through the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Remember?

“If anyone can hand me a better version that actually makes sense of the key elements in the story, be it a paragraph or a page, I will publish it here. Put on your thinking cap; ask your children for solutions; dig out your reference books. Serious, satirical, or sappy—anything would be better than the above. I’m grading for logic, not polish. Best version gets a prize, and I’m not joking.”

Incidentally, a Shari Zook version is not forthcoming. I had fun trying. I wrote a Memphis version in which the King turned out to be Elvis; but it just didn’t work. My husband told me so, and he is a) prone to overrate my work, not underrate it and b) never wrong. So that version called in sick and will not be showing…

But I’m happy to announce that I had three other takers! I’m linking to their versions below. Some snowy afternoon, curl up with hot chocolate and enjoy them all. Then cast a vote, or tell me which parts of the rewrites were especially fun.

Rumpelstiltskin Over Easy, by Regan Zook

  • This succinct version was written by my 7-year-old son. Paragraph breaks were added for readability; original spelling and punctuation have been preserved. The moral of the story is: Problems? What problems? There’s always a way out somewhere. Includes original artwork.

Rumpelstiltskin – An Alternative Ending, by Ryan Zook

  • Short, ironic, and political, this version finds its own solution to the problem. Meet Jenny, a savvy young woman who forms surprising alliances.

Rumpelstiltskin Re-Imagined, by Amy Smucker

  • Romantic, bittersweet, and almost modern, this version takes its time to develop a storyline that actually makes sense. Meet Annie, a young woman working hard to pay off her father’s debt—and Will and Andrew: the two young men who fall in love with her.

Many thanks to the participants for their courage and inspiration! No way I could pick a “best” version, so everyone gets a prize.

Amy's pen

Don’t you wish you had joined the fun? That’s okay, next time you’ll be braver…


The picnic date

goblets and juice

was everything I hoped for


and then some.


We drank sparkling grape juice out of goblets

and ate garden freshness

and hummus

and drank a toast to joy.


In the end, there is nothing quite like taking timed selfies with your husband of eleven years in a green and quiet graveyard.



Jesus, bless our parishioners…