All posts tagged Marriage

A Marriage Conference

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot. Probably because my daughter is going to tie the knot on Mother’s Day in Tallahassee. Maybe because after 30 years of what most consider a good marriage, Tom and I had to work through a few issues that have been problems in our marriage and we didn’t see them until recently.

Kind of like the crack on the big mirror in our bathroom. It’s been there since we moved in, but after a while, I got used to it and don’t notice it anymore.

So when there was a one-day marriage conference at Lakeside Community Chapel and Tom had the day off–we went.

The conference was an answer to prayer.

Steve Kreloff began with Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Strange way to start a conference on marriage.

He went on to explain being filled with the Spirit as feeding on God’s Word and willing to obey it. It’s being focused on others. Like our spouses.

Brilliant.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud ( if I can use that word) to be part of my church. So Christ-centered. So practical. So necessary.

I left during the next session on husbands loving their wives. I heard bits of it and marveled at how God uses His Word to change lives.

Next session was the role of women by Bruce Mills. A cop. And not a warm and fuzzy one, although I count him as a friend. Another winner. Bruce was so gracious and kind. Not only a succinct definition of what submission is, but also what it’s not. I needed to hear all of it.

Our assistant pastor, Joe Trofemuk ended the conference with a message about communication.

“Debbie and I have a secret to our marriage. If I have time at the end, I’ll tell share with you what that is.” Then he went on to describe 5 characteristics of gospel-centered communication. It’s designed to please God, preceded by thought, motivated by love, done with openness and honesty, and intended for good. Wow.

At the end, he remembered to share the secret of their happy marriage. “When we have a conflict, we both think we’re the worst sinner in our marriage.”

Simple but profound.

That thought has crossed my mind over these last several days. If I realized the magnificence of God and my sinfulness, I’d fall on my face and say, “Woe is me.”

We’ve been taught that in  Sunday School. But believing it, living like it, and especially seeing ourselves as the worst sinner in our marriages is life-changing.

I think I’ll have Tom order a new mirror.

 

Another Valentine’s Day

“Here’s my funny one.” Tom handed the card to me, and I opened it. I laughed out loud.

“Here’s my serious one,” I said, handing it to Tom. He smiled.

We looked at the grocery store rack a while longer. I picked a hilarious one for him, and he picked a serious card for me. It made me cry.

We kissed, put them back in the rack and walked out of the store.

It’s a tradition with us. Needless to say, we don’t buy Hallmark stock.

Rarely, do we buy gifts. Sometimes, we do when we really need or want something. As we’ve aged, what we need and want has diminished along with our hair and eye site.

It’s been thirty years this September. I can’t remember most of it. We were too busy trying to pay for the stuff that we had. Now, we want less stuff. A lot of time was invested in our children, and now they are grown.

We’ve realized that our marriage isn’t built on stuff, or even our children, but it is fragile. We’re taking some time to re-evaluate our covenant relationship. “A marriage tune-up,” of sorts. It’s a good thing.

Businesses do it annually. Why not marriages? We aren’t going to break any contracts, or bring in a new partner, we’re just trying to make ours the best that it can be. For surprising reasons.

The marriage relationship is a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church. A foreshadowing. The husband sacrifices and loves, the wife serves and respects. Not perfectly on this earth. But when those both within the church and outside of the church see a marriage where that is happening, they take notice.

They see through our marriage to the covenant maker, our bridegroom, Jesus Christ.

Jesus said in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life,  he cannot be My disciple.”

Jesus didn’t mean hate hate. He meant that our love for our family pales in comparison to our love for Him.

Strange, when that happens, our love for our spouse grows. It grows because it is not human love, but divine.

We exchanged cards and we’re sharing our lives. It’s all good.

One day, there will be something immeasurably better.

In the meantime, don’t tell the grocery store.

 

Mornings

Tom and I lean against well-worn pillows on our four poster bed. My favorite time of the morning right when the sun comes up, brilliant light filters through leaves outside my bedroom window. Orange and then white colors project onto my sage green walls. It is our time.

We sip coffee. We talk. We check the weather and baseball scores. We read and pray.

This morning, our new puppy, Sam is on the bed with us. Now just five months old, he weighs about 35 pounds. He wrestles with our covers and bites our toes.

“Sam is five months and one day old today, Tom.” Sam cocks his head to one side as if trying to understand.

“Wow. I didn’t realize that we’ve had him five months already,” Tom says.

“That’s because he was three months old when we got him.”

“I guess that explains it.”

First we snicker. Then we roar with laughter. Tears spill down our faces. Our stomachs jiggle because we are old. We don’t care.

It feels good to enjoy the man that I married almost thirty years ago.

We sip more coffee. We talk. We read. We pray.

A Radical Life

Tom received the call as we sat down to Sunday lunch. Our friends from Wyoming heard from their son who was in our area. Because of a misunderstanding, he, along with his buddy were stranded. They needed a ride to Ocala, where they attended the state fire school. I figured I’d have my husband alone in the car for two full hours, with few distractions, so I offered to tag along.

After we dropped the young men off, we turned our van toward home. We try to discuss our goals and the direction of our marriage monthly, but often there are phone calls to make, lunches to fix, puppies to walk:) I jumped at the chance to share with Tom what the Lord was teaching me.

It had to do with David Platt’s book titled, “Radical.” It’s a book about how in America, we really don’t understand what it means to follow Jesus. It challenges the reader to take up the cross, to deny self, to leave father and mother to follow him. Just like Jesus said.

I’d read part of if and listened to another part on my iPhone. My heart ached to share it with Tom. We both listened as we travelled down I-75. It was if Platt knew both my inward yearnings for intimacy with God, along with my unbiblical, American ideology of this life.

Occasionally we paused the book and discussedt what the author meant. Sometimes, we asked each other questions. We talked. We prayed. I wept.

In big businesses, there are always staff meeting to evaluate where you’ve come and where you’re going. Rarely, do we do this in marriage. It’s important. What Tom and I said and what we prayed is too intimate for discussion outside of our family.

I’ll tell you this. We both want to make a difference in our world. We desire to be sold-out to Christ. But our flesh keeps getting in the way. Still, that is our desire. Those are our goals and Jesus will help us.

Jesus knows we are weak. John 15: 5 states, “Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in Me and I in them will produce much fruit. For apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

We cannot do anything of eternal worth on our own. So we ask the God-Man who was radically different, who provided a radical salvation, for those of us who were radically lost.

Now that’s a radical idea.

Sam

“No no no no no NO!” I hear myself say as the newest member of our family escapes into our bedroom with mom’s slipper. He’s fast and he knows I’m old. I corner him.

“Sam! Grandma’s slipper is NOT a toy!” I pry it loose from razor sharp teeth. I look into soft brown eyes and melt. I love my 15-pound, black standard poodle puppy.

Initially, when I considered a new puppy I had a vague recollection of how much work it was. But that was over 13 years ago. My daughter was 10 and son, Micah, 7. My life was busier then. I just didn’t know it. It’s how it was. I remembered puppies chewed and had accidents, but what I didn’t remember was you lose your life for a few months.

Sam is up during the night one time. He wakes early and has no need for coffee to be energetic. He barks, bites, licks, runs, and generally is 100% cute even at 5am. In the B. S. years (before Sam), I’d sit in my postered rice-bed, sip coffee, contemplate my day, and do Bible study as morning rays filtered across my sage green comforter.

Now, I’m in and out of my back door, squinting into the darkness, waiting for a black puppy to do his business. He’s hard to see. Micah carries his cell phone with him to illuminate Sam. (How else do you know if you should say, “Good boy.”)

Last night, Tom and I escaped to Carrabba’s for dinner. We put Sam in his crate and told him that we needed some ‘alone time.’

During dinner, We spotted an older couple making ‘ga ga’ over a baby. They couldn’t take their eyes off of him.

“Must be grandparents.” I took another bite.

Tom turned back around. “Reminds me of a new puppy.”

We smiled. Time passed.

“I think grandchildren will be better,” I offered.

“Yea. You spoil them, play with them, and then you send them home. Let’s go.”

And then we went home. To Sam.