All posts tagged Marriage

Marital Bliss?

The waitress arrived at our checkerboard-sized table to take our order.

“We are celebrating a very special occasion. My husband and I have had 27 years of marital


“Don’t say it Pauline, it’s getting old,” Tom mumbles into his water glass.

I couldn’t help myself, “27 out of  35 ain’t bad!” Then I through my head back and laughed heartily. A few seconds passed while I regained my composure.

“You know, Pauline, you are the only one who laughs at it,” Tom added.

My daughter and her husband smiled politely. Who knew thirty-five years ago we’d be sitting in a French bistro, in Bethesda, Maryland, celebrating our anniversary with our almost thirty-year-old daughter and her husband.

“Hey Tom, Sarah and David both got the same tattoo on their wrist in honor or their first anniversary. How about we get a tattoo together tonight?”

My spouse shook his head. “Not me. I don’t want someone using a needle on my body. Although after 35 years, it’s probably safe to have PAULINE tattooed on my arm.”

I couldn’t stop laughing. In fact, as I write this, it makes me chuckle.

The thing about marriage is—it isn’t safe. You open your heart, home, and bank account to someone, with no idea what the future holds.

For us, the future held ups and downs financially, owning a business, raising teenagers, caring for aging parents, watching them die, and becoming grandparents. Recently, it included changing careers, moving to the country, starting a farm, and finding jobs that paid actual money.

It seems as if nothing we have done is safe. I’m kind of glad about that. Taking risks can make life tense, but it also makes it interesting. And challenging.

The fact is, almost anything worth doing is risky. Like having kids. Who knows how they will turn out? My daughter and her husband are buying a house—that’s risky. They could just rent an apartment their whole lives and depend on the landlord to fix anything.

How about driving on US 19 in Pinellas County, Florida? You definitely take your life in your hands when you pull out there. My children think it’s risky riding with me. Maybe they’re right.

Life is a risk and needs to be lived.

One thing I know isn’t risky. It is a sure bet—the gospel.

1 Corinthians 15: 1-5 states:

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the

People spend billions of dollars on insurance for stuff that will get old or obsolete or rust or die. But the gospel is free and eternal and good.

The best, even.

So the gospel isn’t risky, marriage is. Tattoo’s are—but I still want one.

Maybe on our 50th.

27 Years of Maritial Bliss

Yesterday morning, before Tom headed off to work, we leaned against the headboard for a few minutes of communication. (Coffee already consumed) Our conversation consisted of the usual chit-chat about schedules, chores, and other responsibilities.

As we rested before a long day, light sneaked in our windows. Hummingbirds flew past our porch. We giggled. I thought of how comfortable I felt with my husband. I mean, it’s been 27 years of marital bliss. And 27 out of 34 ain’t bad.

I guess when I glanced over at my husband of 34 years, I noticed his gray hair, and how he looks a lot older than when we married. I know I look much older, too. But, I guess what I’m trying to say, is that when I looked at him, I felt not only love but respect that comes from the long, sometimes arduous commitment of marriage.

We moved to North Carolina to farm about three years ago without knowing anything about it. (Except YouTube University) He built an infra structure, and grew plants. He tilled and weeded and fixed and harvested. But it wasn’t enough to support us, so about 6 months ago he got a job. He works between 50-65 hours a week for what he used to make in a day. Yet he completes his work with the same diligence, perfection, and dignity.

That’s commitment. That’s honor. That is dignity. And I respect that. I admire him.

We finished our second cup of coffee and read 1 Peter and then we prayed. About our family, our church, and others. We expressed our gratitude to a God that takes us as we are and loves us enough to keep us when we fail.

And I said a prayer thanking the Lord for Tom.




Beneath the Cross of Jesus


As I prepared to sing the night before Palm Sunday, I glanced up at the cross hung which on our bedroom wall. Tom and I received it as a wedding gift from a soldier of the Clearwater Salvation Army Corp. It’s a beautiful piece of art, made by Art Fielgley.

He fashioned redwood, walnut, and birds eye maple into a stunning representation of the cross of Christ.

In the 32 years of our marriage, often it’s been in a closet or a back room. But when we had our farm house built, Tom hung it above his dresser. I have a perfect view of it from my side of the bed.

Through 32 years of marriage, and children, and caregiving, and life, I’ve lived beneath His cross even though it lay packed in a box. The cross of His forgiveness. The cross of His suffering. The cross of His love.

For me, the cross represented repentance and humbling–not just one time, but daily. When I’m impatient, or angry, or gossip or lie, I remember the cross and it brings me to my knees.

You’ve only got a day until Easter. Why not bask in the cross of our risen Savior? Search the pages of Scripture for the hows and whys and then worship.

Here are the lyrics of the song I sang yesterday. Crawl beneath His cross. It’s both a safe and wonderful place to be.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
I find a place to stand,
And wonder at such mercy
That calls me as I am;
For hands that should discard me
Hold wounds which tell me, “Come.”
Beneath the cross of Jesus
My unworthy soul is won.

Beneath the cross of Jesus
His family is my own-
Once strangers chasing selfish dreams,
Now one through grace alone.
How could I now dishonor
The ones that You have loved?
Beneath the cross of Jesus
See the children called by God.

Beneath the cross of Jesus-
The path before the crown-
We follow in His footsteps
Where promised hope is found.
How great the joy before us
To be His perfect bride;
Beneath the cross of Jesus
We will gladly live our lives.





An Unforgettable Anniversary

Besides the fact that for our anniversary, Tom and I drive to our local card store, peruse the rack together, pick out a card, show it to each other, kiss, then put them back, we’re pretty typical. We have a nice dinner out, or spend the night in a hotel. For our 25th, we took a cruise to Alaska.

However, the anniversary present we bought for each other this time, trumps any I’ve heard of. We bought a tractor. It’s orange. And for those of you who understand tractors, you’ll know what kind we bought. The salesman asked if we wanted to “take it for a spin.”

“No!” We shouted in unison. The reason is we don’t know how to drive one. Nor do we know how to farm. But we’re gonna try.

We inherited about 65 acres of land in a remote county in North Carolina. It’s hilly, and quiet, and covered with red clay that is almost impossible to get out of clothes.

But we can’t stop smiling.

After 30 years, most are winding down. Sealing up their 401K. We’ve had our own business for our married life, so there is no 401K, no health insurance, no retirement.

We’re moving from fishing to farming. Both businesses depend on weather and the economy and are back-breaking. But we feel “called.”

Called to a business that makes money in order to share with others. I call it our IIH stock. Investing in heaven. We don’t want to retire, we want to keep going until we drop in the field.

We’ve instructed our kids to till us into the land.

Because we know that this earth will pass away. James, the brother of Jesus says we’re just a mist that appears for a while and then vanishes.

I’m okay with that.

So for the next 30 years, we’ll be in a remote place of North Carolina, investing our lives in IIH stock while living on earth.

I h0pe they have card shops in the country.

A Tune-Up

I held Tom’s hand and looked him straight in the eyes.

“I think we need to talk to someone, Tom. It may hurt because change is never comfortable, but it’s kind of like an operation. It hurts at first, but when it heals, you feel better.”

We only waited a few days before we met with our good friends who also happens to be our pastor and his wife.

I explained. “You know I had a kind of ‘mission meltdown’ after I got back from Honduras. After that Tom and I had a fight I couldn’t get over. I knew that just because we’d been married for thirty years, it didn’t mean we had it all together. There were sin areas in both of our lives, and we needed help.”

I went on to confess the sin areas in my life that I’d discovered. Then we talked about Tom’s. My pastor and his wife interjected godly wisdom along the way. When we finished, they both encouraged us. Some things they said “Stop it.” (From a very funny Bob Newhart clip), other stuff they said wasn’t such a big deal.

He said, “Work on your individual relationship with the Lord, and you will have a better marriage.”

We got into our well-used mini-van and headed home. We were both smiling. We had a plan. And a purpose: to serve each other and the Lord, together.

Years ago, I wrote an article for marriage for the Tampa Bay Times. I said, “Just like delivering papers, marriage is so daily.”

It is. We have to fight for our marriage each day, each year, each decade. In this mixed-up world, we cannot afford to get lazy.

Today, I’m grateful for friends who don’t tell us what the world whispers, but shares with us God’s truths.

I found this quote from Psalm 141:5 a, “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head. Do not let my head refuse it.”

I’m glad for “smiters.” It’s like an operation and the scalpel hurts, but when it heals you feel a whole lot better.