Tag Archives: relationship

I did 20 Years…and so did he

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A rather persistent, mutual friend insisted that I meet “this guy” that would be just perfect for me.  I brushed her off a couple times as I’d recently come out of a hurtful relationship and besides I preferred things to happen naturally.  Nonetheless, I humored her and agreed that she could give “this guy” my phone number.

He called and in a matter of a few conversations, we fell in love.  We had many subsequent, lengthy phone calls in the evenings after work.  Each of us couldn’t wait for the next time we could speak!  I agreed to attend a Christian concert with him and some other mutual friends.  After the concert, we all went out to eat.  I was starving.  Literally, I could hear the acids in my stomach raging but I was too nervous to eat.  I opted just to have a Coke and upon “this guy’s” insistence, a few of his fries.  I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat.  Ah, young love.  Well, we talked all night and our love story was sealed that June evening.

We were engaged on Christmas Day and married the following June, 20 years ago.

What is the secret of staying married until death do you part?

I like the quote I’ve seen around, “We were born in a time when divorce was not an option.”

or this one:

“I was born in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it.”

There’s something to those sayings.  It’s called removing the option of giving up, of throwing in the proverbial towel, and pushing up your sleeves and working on it.  A little elbow grease.  Effort.

Marriage is hard work.

There are no two ways around it.  But did you ever have a relationship that wasn’t?  We are all enshrined in this flesh called humanity, and as such, we have tendencies of failure.  We also have huge capacities to love.

And in my Bible it says that love conquers all.

Love hopes.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not boast.  Love places the other before self.

That’s what love looks like.

Yes, love is hugs, kisses and all the physical trappings that accompany the marriage relationship and make it one of the most beautiful unions.

Sometimes life requires more than mere hugs and kisses.

Sometimes it demands forgiveness, forbearance, time, selflessness.

The demands of family, work, finances can be absolutely draining.  And sometimes one can feel like you have nothing left to give.  There are certainly seasons like that, especially when the kids are young.

We are happily at the stage now where our kids are nearly grown.  The two younger ones at home are 16 and 18.  Our oldest left home quite a few years ago and is 27.  So, the physical demands on us are fewer than they were years ago.  But during the years of great demand, that’s when dating your spouse really is important.  Carving out “couple time” is crucial to staying on the same page emotionally.

Twenty years now.  This June it will be 21 years!  God sure has been faithful to us.  We’ve weathered some fierce storms, times when throwing in the towel sure had its appeal.  If we succumbed to giving up, we would have forfeited the most precious love we share today.

When we were newlyweds, our euphoric love seemed incredible – like Fourth of July fireworks!  We thought it couldn’t get any better than this!  We were so young and naive.  Weathering the storms of life together creates an undeniable bond and deeper love than one could have imagined.

Am I thankful for the storms?  Well, maybe I am.  Strange as that sounds.  Without them, I would not have seen the sweet expression of love and care when my husband has brought me soup when I’ve been ill.  Without the challenges, we wouldn’t realize how desperately we needed one another.  Without the adversities, we would not know the grace and mercy of God as displayed through the other.

You know, friends, when we love our spouses, we are honoring God.  And when God is honored, there are blessings!

One of the most meaningful things my husband and I do together is pray.  When our hearts are overwhelmed, we invoke God’s presence and power into our lives.  When our hearts are full of thankfulness and joy, we express that, too, in prayer.  God is such a vital part of our relationship and He has always been.  I encourage you to pray with your spouse if possible.  God truly honors the unity of prayer.

Not only that, but I believe there is power in prayer.  Sometimes the most spiritual prayer is – “Help!”   God is close to the brokenhearted, my friend.

My husband and I are testaments of God’s grace and His power at work in our hearts.  The beauty of being married for a while is that before long, you know the other’s heart.  My husband knows what I will and will not do and vice versa.  Our hearts trust the other.

So, love begets trust.  And like a garden.  If left untilled, weeds will grow.  Don’t neglect your most precious relationship.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  There are weeds over there.  Till your own garden and your marriage will flourish.

What you invest in, you will reap the harvest.  Invest well.

 

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Sibling Reunion

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The four of us live in four different states … and one of us lives 3,000 miles from the other three.  So, getting us together is no small feat!  But, we generally make valiant efforts to have a little reunion every couple years and this past week was no exception.  The last two left this morning before I awoke.  We said our good-byes last night and I had to leave the room before I began crying.  Hate good-byes!  Fortunately, we do stay close via technology.  I know our dad was glad to have his three daughters and son together again.

The party was at my house so each night we brought my dad over and we enjoyed my brother’s cooking.  Last night dinner was on me and I cooked chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, green beans and left over garlic bread.  Yum!  We made “Dream Cake” the other night with angel food cake, cream cheese and cherry topping, just like our mom used to make.  Ah, memories!

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We took a quick trip down to the cemetery where our mom is buried and visited some cousins who live nearby.  That was an exhausting but fun trip!  Let’s just say some of us siblings like to get up earlier than others …

We came across some old letters at our dad’s house, some that our mom had written to my brother when he was in boot camp way back in 1981, some I’d written also.  We all enjoyed reading those and made copies so we’d each have those to cherish.  Mom’s letters were filled with family news.  My older sister was soon to be married, my younger sister was a straight A student and then, there was me…Well, she’s not doing quite as well.  Haha.  But I was excited about my upcoming 12th birthday slumber party!  Yup, that was me — Social Butterfly!  I had certain priorities, okay?!

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The last week was filled with almost nightly Scrabble games, lots of laughter, sharing family updates, teasing, cooking, eating, passing the M&M’s and photo sessions … That’s about the gist of the last week!  We are each so unique and I always thought of us as being so different.  How did we wind up in the same family, born to the same set of parents?  But, this time together, I could see how similar we are too.  We each are stubborn – that is pretty common knowledge.  But, we each are neatniks and have fairly Type A personalities.  I’d like to think of us all as being highly intelligent too.  The most satisfying and gratifying common trait we share is that we each have our sights on heaven and a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father.  That is what matters most.  We wouldn’t want the party to end here on earth afterall!  No, we want to spend eternity together and join our mother and other loved ones in heaven!

Love my siblings!

 

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We Said “Good-bye For Now”

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My aunt’s health had been steadily failing over the last several years, but she made it four days past her 84th birthday before graduating to heaven.  She was my mother’s older sister by ten years.  Her husband passed away thirty years ago.  They had seven children and loads of grand, great and great-great grandchildren.  Her life was full and despite facing many tremendous obstacles, she persevered.  Due to an eye disease, she began going blind over forty years ago.  She lived independently in her own home up to the very end.

If her life was consolidated into the title of a book, I’d have to entitle it Tenacity, for she never gave up!  Her faith in God was the source of the great hope she clung to.  Psalm 23 was her favorite passage of the Bible.  It’s mine too.

As the family gathered at the funeral home for the private viewing, a slideshow of old pictures was running.  There were many special ones, particularly those that included my mother many years ago.  You see, my mother has been gone for 21 years now and I miss her bright smile and enveloping hugs.  It seems like a lifetime ago since I heard her joyful laughter.  Oh, what a reunion we will have one day …

As my aunt lie in the teal coffin with gold seashell adornment, I was struck by the fact that she looked nothing like herself.  But we know that the flesh we wear on this earth is temporary anyway.  For now, she has entered into her rest.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  ~ I Corinthians 15

The small Methodist church was packed with friends and family to say good-bye one last time this side of glory.  She would’ve been so glad to see such a nice gathering and so many beautiful floral arrangements.  Some had a ribbon across with the word – “Mother” or “Grandmother”, one was a floral arrangement of an open Bible with “Psalm 23” on a ribbon.  Clearly, she meant a great deal to many.

The minister shared a number of Scriptures and words of comfort, a great solace to all of us, in a quiet cadence.  We sang two hymns.  One, I must admit, I’d never heard of before – “Lord, Build Me a Cabin in Glory” and “I’ll Fly Away”.  I held it together through most of the funeral service, but when the organist played “Amazing Grace” at the end as we were leaving, I thought I would come undone.

My sister and I rode with one of our cousins to the cemetery for the interment.  The minister’s remarks and prayer again were very peaceful and I so appreciated the Scriptures he read.  There’s nothing like the calm of the Word of God.  Friends extended their condolences to the immediate family and, slowly, most of the crowd dissipated.  My sister and I walked around to see if we spotted the floral arrangement our family sent when I really thought I’d lose it then!  The trappings and overlay of the casket, etc. were spread over top of part of my mother’s grave, but the part that struck me was the large stake that was holding up the green funeral canopy.  The large stake was directly over top of my mother’s grave and it just seemed disrespectful and a very upsetting visual.  Their graves are side by side in a family plot.  There was not much that could’ve been done to ease the situation, perhaps.  I’m sure not a lot of thought went into the placement of the stake, but it was incredibly difficult for me to see.

Another cousin handed my sister and I a red rose from the casket spray as a keepsake, which was very nice.  The casket spray was huge with red and white roses and greenery, just lovely.  My aunt lived on an island most of her life, thus the seashell embellishment on the teal casket.  Very fitting and beautiful.

Throughout the day, my sister and I had the opportunity to speak with a number of cousins and catch up a little with them.  Some we hadn’t seen for many years.  I always appreciate when some of our older cousins share old stories of our mother.  It’s nice that they not only have such fond memories of her, but care enough to share them with us as well.  Since my mother was the baby of her family, her nieces and nephews were somewhat close in age to her.

There’s nothing like family.  Cherish those around you, for life travels at the speed of light the older one gets, it seems.  We can mistakenly think things will always remain the same, and then we blink, and realize how much has changed.

Reach out to distant family members.  Hug those kids.  Tell everyone you love them.  That God loves them.  That’s the stuff life is made up of.

There’s enough negativity and junk this world offers up.  We can focus on that or we can set our sights on the things that truly matter.  Like the bumper sticker says, “The most important things in life aren’t things at all.”  True enough.  It’s all about people, people who God has placed in our lives as family or friends.  We tend to take so much for granted when nothing is guaranteed.

Hug a little tighter.  Laugh louder.  Dance in the street.  Call an old friend.

Life is all about the little things.  For, in the end, they’re really the BIG things.

 

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Marriage: 3 Things I Wish I Learned Early On

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My wonderful husband and I will celebrate nineteen years of marriage next month and I’ve often pondered things I wish I learned sooner.  Time and experience are often our greatest teachers, but what if we could learn from the mistakes of others?  Wouldn’t that be the desired route?  Here are three things I wish I’d figured out as a 25 year old newlywed:

  1. Your marriage won’t be perfect.  Don’t compare your relationship to your friends’s marriages.  (You don’t know what happens when Mr. or Mrs. Wonderful aren’t on their P’s and Q’s) We are all unique and as such have our own set of challenges to overcome.
  2. You don’t hold the power to change your spouse.  Only God and prayer can do that.  Work on you.  Lay any expectations at the foot of the Cross.
  3. Overlook the petty grievances (i.e. socks and underwear on the floor, dividing up the housework, etc.) and focus more so on the big picture.

I can recall many challenging years as my husband worked long hours and the demands of raising small children coincided.  I was tired.  He was tired.  I think a big challenge in any phase of our lives is the fallacy of thinking that things will always remain this way.  Life changes.  Our kids are no longer toddlers.  They’re nearly all grown.  Our relationship has become rich and full, our love deeper than ever.  You see, the storms of life and the good times, as well, have both served to enrich our love and commitment to one another.

Too often spouses are ready to jump ship almost before it has left the harbor!  Hold on.  Remain steady.  The waters will be rough during the course, but you will be stronger for it.  You are not perfect nor is your spouse.  Expect imperfection and you will not be disappointed, my friend.  Extend grace.  Forgive often.  Love extravagantly.

The best things in life take time.  Marriage is not a sprint.  It’s more like a long distance marathon.  Pace yourself.  Give your relationship time and your spouse room to grow.  They don’t have life all figured out nor do you.  Make Christ the center of your relationship and He will never fail to guide you.

“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.” ~ I Corinthians 13 MSG

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5 Ingredients of Friendship

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I’ve been a social butterfly all of my life.  I love people.  They intrigue me, so many varieties, personalities, flavors.  Growing up I was highly involved in a church of over 3,000 members, so I had the pleasure of meeting countless people from all over the world.  My life has been richer because of it, for sure.

Some friends enter our lives and we experience an instant bond.  I’ve had a few like that.  Other friendships must be cultivated with care.  Here are five important components of lasting friendship:

  1. Be real.  Take the mask off.  Tear the veneer down.  Be yourself.   On face value, this sounds ultra simplistic, but so many hide behind emotional walls because of life’s hurts that they’re afraid to just be themselves.  Jesus is the Great Physician.  Pray and ask Him to heal you and make you whole.  Don’t allow fear to prevent you from experiencing genuine friendship with others.
  2. Be trustworthy.  Keeping another’s confidence is vital.  If they’ve shared something in confidence with you, honor them by not sharing it.  As women, sometimes this can be a challenge, but ask God to help you.  Talk to Him about it.  We are called to be people of integrity.  Live it out.
  3. Pray for one another.  This, by far, is the greatest component of true friendship.  When I’ve had a concerning situation and a dear friend has prayed for me, what a joy and an encouragement it has been!  Recently, a sweet friend even fasted with me about a particular prayer request.  That is a gem of a friend!  One who will walk alongside of you during life’s toughest times.  That’s what genuine friendship is all about.
  4. Invest love and time.  I have a dear friend who I see once a year because the miles separate us.  Every time we meet, I make it a point to bring a little gift for her and sometimes we swap gifts.  I find the greatest joy is in being on the giving end. One year I gave her a nice card and a tube of lipstick, another year a card with a nice candle.  Last year I gave her a throw quilt I made.  I want her to remember how special her friendship is to me, even after we’ve parted ways for another year.
  5. Laugh.  Lighten up.  Life is short.  Sometimes the best moments experienced together aren’t when words are exchanged, but when laughter deep from within the heart is shared!

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Two Really Good Forgivers

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I saw a quote not long ago that read:

“Marriage is made up of two really good forgivers.”

No truer words were ever spoken, I mused to myself.  My husband and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary this June and we can certainly attest to this.  We’ve shared some thrilling experiences together, but we’ve also endured some pretty fierce trials.  But, that’s life, isn’t it?  God has always been at the helm of this ship called marriage, and with His help, we’ve grown immensely.  I think we’d both agree that it was during the darkest nights that our relationship was strengthened.  When we didn’t have the answers to life’s questions, it was then that we not only cried out to God for help, but also turned to each other for strength.

No genuine, lasting relationship is without opportunity to forgive.  Men and women are so different.  And, we are created to be so.  We view the world differently.  We view our family differently.  We’re just polar opposites.  Sometimes just realizing this can eliminate so many arguments.  Too often, I think, we slip into the mindset that our spouse should view life through identical lenses when God created us to be unique individuals.  This is what keeps life fresh and exciting.  So, instead of warring against our differences, we really must learn to celebrate them!  They are the key components of what attracts our spouse to us to begin with.

The first cousin to forgiveness is humility and this is a godly character trait we must learn to cultivate in our relationships, especially our marriages.  Sometimes it’s difficult to admit fault in a situation, but when we learn to humble ourselves and apologize, we open ourselves to experience grace.  God always rewards a humble attitude and your relationship with your spouse will grow because of it.  When we value our relationship enough to invest humility and forgiveness, it will yield endless returns.

I Corinthians 13 says that love keeps no record of wrongs and we would be wise to adhere to this standard.  It will serve you and your relationship well.  Forgive.  No, it doesn’t let the other person “off the hook”, but it does free you up on the inside and allows God to work in your relationship.  I challenge you today to let it go.  Let it all go.  The petty and trivial stuff, the big stuff…all of the baggage.  Just dump it at the foot of the Cross.  The peace of God will flood your soul and your spirit will be much lighter.  Focus on the big picture.  And pray.  Pray not only for your spouse and changes that you might like to see, but pray for yourself as well.  Ask God to make you the spouse He designed you to be … loving, devoted, forgiving, supportive and one who is sold out for Christ!

 “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ~ Mark 11:25

 

 

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Made in His Image

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“So God created human beings in His own image.  In the image of God He created them male and female he created them.”  ~ Genesis 1:27  NLT

I’ve heard it said that every little girl wants to know if she’s pretty enough and every little boy wants to know if he has what it takes to be a man.  On the surface, every little girl’s question seems superficial, but, at the heart of the matter rests her confidence and self-worth.  And, really, so does every little boy’s question.

We’ve raised one strong, young man and he’s flown the nest.  We’re in the process of raising two teenagers now.  It’s incredible the challenges teens face just in our everyday culture.  We all were teens once and faced our own battles, but it seems the fierceness of the war has greatly increased with the epidemic of cutting, culture of death, eating disorders and “everything goes” mentality.  One reason I believe things have escalated to the degree they have is because we’re living in the end times and the enemy knows his time is short.

What I’d love to remind each little girl or young lady is that you are absolutely beautiful!  Stunning even!  No, you don’t need to emulate the air brushed cover of that magazine nor starve yourself to look like a certain celebrity.  Just be yourself, hon.  If you’re so busy trying to be like someone else, who will be you, the person God created you to be?  Accept yourself as the masterpiece that God created because when He creates something, it’s truly gorgeous!  Smile.  Smile because you’re even more beautiful when you spread joy.  You see, true and lasting beauty resides on the inside anyway.  And those emotions you’re riding like a roller coaster, dear one, they will ease.  Just remember, this too shall pass.  Don’t make any decision based on how you’re feeling.  Seek out wise counsel and all will be well, my friend.  Your future is so bright!  Don’t let anything discourage you or stand in your way.  God has great plans for you!  The best is yet to come!

What I’d love to remind each little boy or young man is that you are made in the image of God and you totally have what it takes to be a man!  A man full of wisdom, strength, courage, leadership and, yes, even compassion.  Wise because wisdom avoids the folly of this world and needless pitfalls.  Strength because it’s needed to walk out God’s plan for your life.  Courage because it will take all you’ve got to say no to anything less than God’s best for you. Leadership because that is the mantle God has placed on you, your place in this world.  Compassion because we don’t travel alone.  It’s our duty to take as many to heaven as we can and lead by example.  For, you see, character is what it takes to be a real man.

Young men, seek out godly mentors and their wise counsel.  Be teachable.  It will serve you well.  Learn from those who have walked this road ahead of you, so you don’t make the same mistakes they’ve made.  Be accountable.  Sin doesn’t live long out in the open, but usually in the dark, quiet recesses of our hearts.  Expose it.  Turn the light on and watch it flee.  Submit.  Surrender your heart to God wholly and watch what He will do with your life!  Seeds of greatness are on the inside of you, son!  We’re all waiting and watching for you to soar with the eagles, man of God!

And, to both young ladies and young men, I leave you this:

Guard your heart above all else,
    for it determines the course of your life.” ~ Proverbs 4:23

 

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