Married Beyond Recognition

This is the final installment on the series of My Love Story! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it, because I know it’s been a blast to write. If you’ve not read the last 3 posts, you can find them here.

 

The other day, my husband and I had some time to ourselves, and we were doing something older folks love to do: reminiscing. I said, “Do you remember the time we were at the river, and one of us, was it you or me? One of us was walking with Dad when we were reeeeal little, and we tripped and fell in the water? Remember that?” A gentle ripple of laughter followed. Then it struck me.

“Ummm….was that your childhood, or mine? I’m starting to get them confused!”

That’s the way it is when you’ve been Married Beyond Recognition! My memories become his, and his become mine, and somehow it all blends together!

Want to have many happy memories together? Be Married Beyond Recognition! In my 30 years of marriage, we’ve learned a few things. We’re not perfect, by any stretch, but here are some thoughts we’ve picked up along the way:

1. Commit to learning about marriage – What you focus on improves. If you focus on keeping the house clean, your home will be neater and cleaner. If you focus on making good meals, your cooking will improve. If you focus on exercise, you will be more consistent in your program. The same is true for marriage. Michael Hyatt has an excellent article on his blog on 4 Commitments for Building a Successful Long Term Marriage. He suggests reading good books on marriage, attending marriage seminars, and getting marriage counseling. In my mind, it’s important to do whatever it takes to grow a good marriage.

2. Find ways to spend time together. This is a challenge for me, because my husband and I have such different schedules. Lately, however, I’ve discovered that if we don’t spend much time together, what little time we do spend together is often spent fussing over stupid things! Dr. Harley, in his Summary of Basic Concepts, suggests a minimum of 15 hours a week of uninterrupted quality time together. I think that would be ideal, although I’ve never been able to accomplish it, with a houseful of kiddos. So what do I do? I take spare minutes and seek out my hubby, and be with him when I can. Or I take my work and go sit by his desk and do my work while he does his.

3. Never give up on the physical side of marriage. One of the golden cords holding marriage together is sex. (With your spouse.) Maybe you were abused when you were young, or maybe you were promiscuous before you were married. Whatever the cause, your first thought of sex is one of repulsion. It may be a difficult thing for you, and you may be tempted to think that you’re broken, or unable to enjoy the sexual part of your marriage. Whatever may be going on, never give up on sex. Keep learning, keep reading good books like Good Girls Guide to Great Sex, or a blog like Hot, Holy and Humorous. If you need to, go to marital counseling. But never give up. Life is very long – too long to not enjoy something God created us to enjoy!

4. Have fun together! Have regular date nights, or do fun things together. Recently we went whitewater rafting for our 30th anniversary celebration, and we had so. much. fun! It is a memory that will last the rest of my life. There are plenty of blogs and articles that give advice on date nights, For Your Marriage, Mom Generations and The Better Mom to name a few.

5. Keep – or make – Christ the center of your marriage. Any marriage centered on Christ is like a strong woven rope, which is “not quickly broken.” The Banner suggests that a Christ-like relationship with your spouse, where each person is attached to the other, is one that has all the ingredients of a looooong relationship. In my experience, living for God together is more wonderful than anything I could have imagined.

Someday, you can look back and enjoy reminiscing on the many fond memories you have. You may even wonder whose memory was whose. In fact, you may find yourself Married Beyond Recognition!

Question: What have you noticed about couples that have been married a long time? What do you think we can learn from them?

Special Announcements:

    • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is OUT! It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon I will have it available here on TheCourageousJourney.com and Lionproof.com ! I AM SO EXCITED!

Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

My Love Story Part 3 – What I Wish I Had Known

In my last two posts, I wrote about My Love Story – how The Lord brought us together, how The Lord brought us together AGAIN after we both became born again, and how he proposed. If you missed any of those, you can get them here.

 

 

Our first Christmas was fast approaching, and I was getting nervous – we didn’t have a tree yet, and it was already December! I remember talking to Kevin about it several times, and not getting the results I wanted. His work schedule and mine never seemed to gel, so days and weeks went by, and no attempt was made to get a tree. Soon I was REALLY getting nervous – it was only one week before Christmas, and there was still no tree! I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and go Christmas tree shopping by myself! It was not at all romantic, but I simply didn’t know what else to do.

The tree I picked looked great – I thought! 😉 What I didn’t realize was that it was completely bare on one side, and of course it became the laughingstock of every Christmas since!

I didn’t realize as a young wife that HIS family tradition was to get the tree up and decorate it on Christmas Eve, while mine was to put it up the day after Thanksgiving. His family left their tree up all through January, while my dad faithfully chopped ours up and burned it in the New Year’s Day fire. Just this simple difference caused quite a stir in our young marriage.

Our marriage started out well, but as we all know, the flesh is ever present, and it wars against the Spirit.  We were definitely untaught in a lot of areas, and it really showed in our lives. There are many things I know now that I wish I knew then, that would have smoothed over many wrinkles.

1. Our roles – who would do what and when. In my home, my Dad took care of the trash regularly. In our new home, however, the trash (which I assumed my husband would take care of) would spill all over the floor. Needless to say, it was a source of irritation that could have been prevented if we  had thought to talk about it ahead of time.

2. Our leadership – who was in charge. Now, Biblically this was a no-brainer. According to God’s Word, the man is the head of the head of the home, and has the final say on decisions. In its purest form, it’s a Benevolent Monarchy, with the man looking out for the welfare of his people and listening to their opinions, but making the final decision himself. In our case, it was more complicated by my background, being raised in a feminist home. I definitely had a lot to learn.

3. Our traditions – how we celebrate holidays, etc. This is illustrated by The Christmas tree Mess I talked about earlier. Of course, this is multiplied by each and every holiday throughout the year! It takes time for a young family to develop their own traditions, and we now encourage our older married children to create their own traditions…but they’re always welcome to include us in any of them!

4. Our sex life – how much and when. In our case, there was a huge disparity between how much one person wanted and how much another wanted. And having little children always complicated matters, especially for mom who feels torn in a hundred directions. But over the years I came to realize that he needed it more than I thought – and so did I!

If I had my marriage to start over again, I would realize:

1. God can speak to him much better than I can

2. It is better for him to make the wrong decision (because he will learn from it) than that I take over the leadership and make the right decision.

3. We have a lifetime to make traditions together, so if one holiday doesn’t happen just the way I wish it did, it’s ok.

I’m sure this Christmas will be no different than any other – we’ll get the tree sometime, and as we put it up, he’ll tease me about the “half tree” I bought so many years ago. And as usual, I’ll throw a few plastic ornaments at him and chase him out the front door. It’s tradition!
Question: If you’ve been married any length of time, what have you learned? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew back then?

Special Announcements:

    • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is OUT! It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon I will have it available here on TheCourageousJourney.com and Lionproof.com ! I AM SO EXCITED!

Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

But God Had Other Plans…

Allow this “old woman” to digress for a few weeks to write a little of my love story – our story. If you missed last week’s post, you can find it here.

 

When my man proposed to me, I was shocked, to say the least. So many thoughts, so many feelings, and so many puzzle pieces suddenly coming together swirled around in my mind. To understand my odd mix of feelings, let me take you back to fall of 1982, at West Chester University.

If you had read the previous post, you’d know that I met my man while I was still quite young – in high school, in fact. We both had gotten saved and God thoroughly changed our relationship. We had one summer in which to study the Bible together before he went to college to study. Over the next few months, our plans settled into the thought that he would attend West Chester University for 2 years, and then I would join him there after I graduate from high school.

Ah, yes, we had it all planned out! He would graduate from college and get a good job while I would go for 2 more years, and then I would graduate. Why, I even thought through how much house we might be able to afford on his Geologists salary!

But God had other plans.

One of the things we loved to do together was minister together. The summer of 1982, we worked at Vacation Bible School for our church. I never would have thought this would happen, but God called my man to full-time Christian service that week at Vacation Bible School! Suddenly, things changed drastically!

“A call to preach is a call to prepare,” so my man enrolled in a local Bible college, while I went on to WCU without him! This meant another year of a long-distance relationship – 3 years total! You can be sure I was not the happiest woman in the world to walk onto a college campus.

But, be that as it may, I tried to adjust to my studies, taking on a double major and learning a lot. But by the time January rolled around, I began to wonder about this idea of having a career. For some reason (perhaps it was Titus 2) I was not comfortable with having a career while my man was in the ministry. I just didn’t feel that the two would mix very well. After all, wasn’t I supposed to be a help meet for him? How could I do that while having a career?

I was raised in a very career-oriented family. My father was a business man, and my mother was an educational psychologist – and a very good one, at that. So it was assumed that I would do the same thing – have a successful career in whatever field I chose. For me, that was the health field, so my majors were in Public Health and Health Education.

Along about March, I began to really struggle with this idea of whether or not to marry this man I’d been going with for so very long. I knew that it was either give up my dreams of a career and marry him, or break up with him and choose the career. It was a huge decision, and I simply couldn’t make it on my own.

I didn’t try to fast – I just didn’t eat. I simply wasn’t hungry. I became unsociable, refusing to go out with friends or even go home much. I took walks by myself and went to the dining hall and stared at my food by myself. My friends began to wonder what was wrong with me, but even I couldn’t quite verbalize the problem.

Someone, however, did know what was going on – missionaries to college campuses Andy and Karen Rice. Either they had been praying and God told them, or they were just very observant. They knew Kevin, and understood our relationship. They also knew what it was to be called of God and follow God.

Oddly, Kevin was completely clueless as to the turmoil I was experiencing, probably because I couldn’t verbalize my feelings well. Thinking everything was wonderful and knowing my birthday was coming up, he and his brother went engagement ring shopping, finally deciding on a beautiful yellow and white gold ring studded with small diamonds, with another larger diamond in the clasp. He was overjoyed as he made his purchase, took the box home, and planned his proposal. Soon he knew exactly what he would do.

At WCU on a Thurday night in late April, Andy and Karen knocked on the door to my dorm room, where I was – as usual – by myself trying desperately to study. They found me fairly quiet, so they got to their point quickly, telling me that they understood what I was going through. I couldn’t believe it! Here were some folks that actually understood, and cared enough to come to talk to me about it. Andy said, “I can’t tell you what to do, Lisa, but I can share some Scriptures with you.”

I have no idea what Scriptures he shared, but he spoke of the blessedness of following God and simply doing His Will. I wasn’t completely convinced, and told them as much, but they smiled understandingly and shared more Scriptures. Then they prayed with me and left. I sat in my room trying to digest it all. Was God trying to tell me something?

Was I willing to listen? What if it meant the death of all I held dear? Could I go home and face my parents and tell them I’ve left college? How could I disappoint them?

That night I took a long walk, and had a long talk with God. And the next day, I realized that following God was exactly what I wanted with my life. That Friday evening, for the first time in months, the food I ate didn’t get stuck like a nervous lump in my throat.

Two hours away that Friday, Kevin carefully wrapped the ring box in an old towel and put it in a shirt box, wrapped it in birthday wrapping paper, and packed his small suitcase to leave the following morning for WCU.

Saturday dawned beautiful and sunny – the kind of spring day that makes you glad to be alive. I had a little bit of recreation planned for that day: a friend and I were going to rent some bicycles and ride around town. I was in my room waiting for my friend getting more impatient by the minute, when finally I heard her familiar knock.

“Come in!” I yelled. No response.

“COME IN!!!” I yelled again. Still nothing. Finally, I went to the door and yanked it open to see my man there – and boy, was I surprised! I thought he was two hours away, preparing for his final exams in Bible college!! And, however did he get up to the eighth floor of the all-girls dorm? He must have had an accomplice…

So I picked my jaw up off the floor and invited him in. “I’ve got something for you,” he told me, holding out a package.

“Oh, thank you!” I replied as I took it in my hands. I didn’t want to appear more excited about the gift than his presence, so I didn’t open it until he urged me to.

I sat down and opened up the box and found the old towel. “Hmmm…ummm, how nice,” I muttered. By this time, he was acting quite odd, shifting nervously and rubbing his hands together. When I lifted out the towel, the ring box dropped out onto my lap.

My eyes must have popped out of my head as I looked from the ring box to him and back to the box again. He couldn’t be proposing…could he??

But he dropped on one knee and sang, “Let Me Call You Sweetheart,” and then asked the famous words, “Will you marry me?”

He couldn’t possibly have known about my decision the day before. All of the sudden, what God had been trying to do suddenly came sharply into focus.

But now was not a time for many words, or lengthy explanations. I looked deeply into my man’s eyes and responded simply, “Yes!”

It was the beginning of a wonderful life.

Question: did you ever wrestle with a decision to be made? How did it get resolved?

Special Announcements:

    • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is OUT! It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon I will have it available here on TheCourageousJourney.com and Lionproof.com ! I AM SO EXCITED!

Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

 

My Love Story, Part 1

 

When I first met the man who is now my hubby, I must admit – he had a really goofy sense of humor. I thought to myself, “This guy’s a little weird…I like that!”

We were unloading musical instruments off of the large step van that was used to haul the marching band’s instruments to the out-of-town football game. He was in the back of the truck, tossing instruments out, while I was standing on the parking lot, catching them. I’m not sure exactly what he was saying, but it was something like the names of each instrument backwards. That may not sound very funny to you right now, but just try it – “tuba” becomes “aboot”, and clarinet is even more distorted! And then he sprinkled a bit of “Far Side” and “Calvin and Hobbes” humor, and I was busting a gut laughing!

Before long, we were going steady, enjoying each others’ company and having a great time. Oddly enough, although neither of us were Christians, we didn’t smoke, chew, or go with those who do, so we got along quite well. Since I came from a feministic family, I was used to the woman running things, and so was he. So, as long as he did everything just the way I liked it, we got along together quite well.

But God had other plans.

There’s so much I could say about it, but the Lord worked in my man’s heart, and he gave his life to Christ and was born again! The change was dramatic – he was happier, more easygoing, and more loving. It SHOULD have been great…except…

He began to read in the Bible how the man is to be the head of the home, so he applied it to our relationship. Well, this was NOT what I was interested in! Suddenly he started making decisions, and I didn’t like it. Oh, no, not at all! Soon we began arguing, and it got worse and worse until we both decided to end the relationship.

For me, it was heartbreaking.

It took me months to get over it, but little did I know that the Lord used those months to work in my heart that I needed something: peace…joy! I was full of bitterness, emptiness, and loneliness, and I needed God desperately but didn’t know it.

I tried to find peace through alcohol, but that just made things worse. It wasn’t long before the grapevine sent the news of my new reputation back to my man, who was quite surprised. He thought I was a “good girl!” He didn’t know what was inside…

So one day, he called me up on the phone. Of course, those were the days when the phone was still a massive receiver that hung on the wall, and had a long springy cord attached. I was in my basement when he called, and I picked up the red phone to talk.

“What’s this I hear about you getting into drinking?” he asked. “I thought you didn’t do that stuff.” I was not happy that he called to bring me into account for my actions. What did he care? He had dumped me like a hot rock just 6 months ago.

Making a long story short, I responded with bitter barbs and thorough irritation, but he kept challenging me with the love of God. I found myself in a really odd spot – fighting against God! If you haven’t tried it, I don’t recommend it. It doesn’t work well!

So I had a three way conversation right then and there – with Kevin and I and God. I told God that I knew I was wrong in the way I’d been. In fact, I knew that it wasn’t what I DID that was wrong, it was what I WAS. I as a person was all fouled up all the way deep down, and I needed His help if I was ever to pull out of this pit. I wanted to give my life to Him.

There in my basement, while on the phone, I was born again.

Kevin and I didn’t start up a relationship again right away. Perhaps it was my pride, but although I wasn’t bitter toward him, I was a bit embarrassed to ask him to help me spiritually. But after a few days, I realized that if I didn’t have someone to study the Bible with and lean on for help, I would fall right back into the slime pit I had just been pulled out of.

And so we began studying the Bible together. Thankfully, there was no romance at all, just old-fashioned Bible Study. In a sense, it was a lot of the Blind Leading the Blind, because both of us began to learn together, but it was a good thing. We both needed the fellowship and encouragement.

Slowly, slowly, almost imperceptibly, we grew to love each other again. And God was at the center of our relationship. What a difference that made! 

By the time we were going together again, I was all of 16!

I’m almost embarrassed to mention my age, because I was so very young to be in a serious relationship…but I hasten to mention that I had to guidance from my parents, and neither did he. But that’s another story maybe I’ll tell another time.

For now, I’ll say that the same humor that attracted me at first is still one of the things I love most about my man. I also appreciate the fact that he will not be manipulated, by me or anyone else. He does what he does because he fully believes it to be right – and I admire that.

Perhaps next time I’ll tell you about the unusual way he proposed!

Question: Do you think having God in a relationship makes a difference? How so?

Special Announcements:

  • I have many people who follow along on my Facebook page for daily encouragements, reminders, and exciting assignments! It’s a great group of folks – come join us!

 

Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil is OUT! It’s now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and soon I will have it available here on TheCourageousJourney.com and Lionproof.com ! I AM SO EXCITED!

In this book, there is:

    • Not just information telling parents why kids are going astray, but proven parenting practices that have worked for generations that are successful in raising godly children.
    • Dozens of interviews from those 2nd generation Christians who KNOW what their parents did RIGHT.
    • Charts and graphs detailing the results of the interviews
    • Assignments to help the reader implement these principles in their own parenting.
    • And much, much more!

Linking up with: Monday: Alabaster Jar, The Better Mom, and Moms the Word, and Happy Wives Club Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, Mercy Ink Blog, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum