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It’s half over …

was my sorrowful thought one day this summer, as I lay in his arms, head on his chest … my place in our world.

Thirty years of marriage have now come and gone.

Thirty years, three provinces, seven homes, numerous work places, eight pregnancies, three children … adult children now, good days, bad ones, seasons of plenty and those of want, health and sickness … mutual love and disdain at time too.

But today, as we celebrate thirty years of living under the covenant of promises that were both kept and broken (’cause there is none who keeps such lofty vows perfectly) I keep thinking, as I did that day this summer …

it’s half over
and I feel the weight to make the best of each day that is left …

be it thirty years, or more, or much less.

To know that you are entering the second half, is to know the value of what you have spent the first half fighting for, because now dawns the realization that together is not forever.

I have started to awaken to realities, since that summer day in his arms. That dinner for two is less about the food, and more about the two. That rolling over in bed, in the middle of the night, is an opportunity to whisper I love you. That driving together in silence can make you smile, just for the pleasure of being together. That the sounds of football (baseball, hockey … ) are indicators of his presence. That touch still creates shivers. That thank-you can’t be said enough. That the season of dreaming together isn’t over until we return to dust. That it’s not too late for ________ (fill in the blank) … yet.

The gift of thirty years of marriage is that each remaining day is sweeter, more valuable … not a moment to be wasted by attitudes or actions that could only bring regrets. This is the season for adventures for just two, for shared laughter and private jokes, for kisses that linger and amen whispered each night.

The gift of thirty years of marriage is waking up, thankful for the day together.

“Grow old with me
Let us share what we see
And oh the best it could be
Just you and I
And our hands they might age
And our bodies will change
But we’ll still be the same
As we are”
Grow Old With Me – Tom Odell

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The marriage relationship is not an easy one. If the classic rose colored glasses were ever worn, by either party, they have usually been shoved askew before the nuptials even take place.

The bonds of marriage are legal as well as spiritual and at times (for all people) it can feel like a life sentence.

The marriage of two people, is often the language used of God and the church.

“‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Sometimes I look at my own marriage and cannot, for the life of me, see any comparison to how God loves his church.

I am selfish … He is unselfish

I seek my own well being … He seeks our well being.

I give up easily … He is committed eternally.

Perhaps if our focus is on how he loves the church, rather than on how our spouse loves us … perhaps then we would see his plan for us in our marriages. Perhaps that is the true mystery.

First we need to understand His purpose for the church, as well as for our marriages.

The purpose of the church is to glorify and worship God … such is the purpose of marriage.

Now that is a mystery! For few of us can say that others would see our marriages as examples of the glorification and worship of God. Yet, our marriages are to be the mirror through which others see the love, the sacrificial, selfless love of God. If we were to achieve this lofty goal, it is a mystery as to how profoundly our world might change.

Two flawed mortals tied together in marriage can make a great deal of knots, twisting and turning us inside and out. It can also be the binding that can make you feel more freedom than anything else … I think the later is how it was intended. Loving our ‘other’ as an outpouring of our love for God … that he, God, be glorified … and in fulfilling this we are more freed than bound.

“The covenant that binds can be what sets you free to be.
The covenant that binds can be what holds

when everything’s blowing up.
The covenant that binds

can bond your heart to your one place of belonging,
when everything else lets go.”
Ann Voskamp

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Almost thirty years of marriage!

That’s what hubby and I will be celebrating in a few weeks.

Thirty years ago our understanding of love was not what it is now. There have been seasons when my perspective on marriage was all about me, or all about him … not where it should have been. Eventually we all need to land where it is supposed to be, if we ever hope to thrive in marriage … in life.

Gary Thomas said, “the irony is that thriving and celebration is rooted outside the marriage rather than within it …

When God rather than your marital status defines your life, marriage changes dramatically. ” 

“don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life” (1 Cor. 7:17).”

God, not your marital status, defines your life

I had thought that in being married the definition of my life was being constructed, but then I discovered that if I first allow God to define my life, my marriage is one of the first areas of life to improve, to thrive. Mainly this is because …

love is no longer defined by what I do for hubby, or what he does for me, but by who God is.

This marriage (ours, everyone’s) is not about me, it’s not about him … it is and was and will ever be the outliving of our relationship with God. Not about me or he, but about God’s strength in the midst of our weaknesses, God’s purposes in the midst of our wanderings, God’s love in the midst of our selfishness.

Our marriage is a reflection of God in our lives … some days a poor one, some days much clearer. We reflect best when we are reflecting the love of God, rather than reflecting each other or ourselves.

We love each other best when we love each other as God’s creation and through His eyes, rather than our own.

God, not your marital status, defines your life.

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Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 8.50.57 AMMarriage should never be boring … right?

So, I recently learned something about my hubby of nearly twenty-nine years, and it all started with an invite to a shower (no, not a bridal shower … the one in the bathroom) … is that too much information? Probably … oh well …

So, he was heading to the shower and I said, quite innocently, “can I pop in too?”

His response was … typical (I am NOT going to define that), followed by a shocking comment, “as long as you don’t wear that shower cap”.

Truly the floor fell out from beneath my feet.

I mean I had just gotten it (new house, new shower cap) and it was so nice to replace the one with the broken elastic that could easily have been replaced with a Ziplock freezer bag, with better results.

What followed was a hysterical conversation about how … uninspiring my (pretty) (new) (practical) shower cap was, in his eyes.

This was a breath-of-fresh air, humorous sharing that felt so good … so … not serious.

Sometimes marriage can become all about the decisions, the hard stuff, the heart-breaking stuff, the mundane stuff. Sometimes marriage just needs laughter that is inspired by something unimportant and silly. Sometimes marriage just needs giggles about something that no one else would understand. That laughter is from a place that is deeper and more intimate than any other words or act.

“Live happily with the woman (man) you love
through all the meaningless days of life
that God has given you under the sun.
The wife (hubby) God gives you
is your reward for all your earthly toil.”
Ecclesiastes 9:9

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Despite the fact that, when asked, I almost never know how many years hubby and I have been married (it’s twenty-eight today), I never forget how very much I felt that I loved him on that day … oh, and I still do 😘.

But anyone who has been married long enough to have had a disagreement, an all-out fight, knows that they had no idea what love was on their wedding day. For love is not a once-for-all feeling, but a gradual, ever-evolving metamorphis.

This past summer I watched a video that reminded me how very little real love was involved in the early days of our marriage. As a matter-of-fact, I would say we really only found, in each other, someone who would meet our needs.

In this video Rabbi Dr. (psychiatrist, professor, author) Abraham Twerski introduced me to the concept of Fish Love. Fish love is described as how one might say they love fish, when what they mean is that they love to eat fish, because fish tastes good to them, and it satisfies their appetite. The fish meets their needs.

Twerski said,

“True love is a love of giving, not a love of receiving.”

When we were first married the knowledge and feelings of love were greatly defined by what we received from the other. He filled my cup of needs, wants and desires, and I filled his. In a sense it might be hard to tell where the love originated … was it in the giving or in the receiving? One can feed the other, and in the early years of marriage the give and take is constant.

But, as the years go on it is not so constant, and the cups empty.

It is then that one realizes that fish love doesn’t last. For it is in the selfless, sacrificial giving to each other, even when we aren’t sure that our giving will be recripricated, that we know that we love and are loved by the other.

Ephesians 5:1-2 continues this theme of giving and sacrificial love …

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a grant offering and sacrifice to God.”

There is to our twenty-eight years, and counting, of learning to love beyond fish love, hubby. Let me take you out for dinner … but maybe not seafood.


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spirit

The vehicle was filled with the sounds of a baseball game. Barely a word spoken for dozens of miles. Contentment filled my heart, my soul.

I remembered hearing my grandmother say that a good marriage is one where a couple can drive in a car for miles and the silence be comfortable.

Numerous times over previous years, driving in the same direction, on the same highway, with the same baseball team playing on the radio, barely a word spoken for dozens of miles …

but my heart was filled with the emptiness of discontent.

The silence so uncomfortable.

The seasons in a marriage, like the seasons in the northern hemisphere, can be such a contrast, one from another. The sunny summer days can seem like endless picnics, cookouts and sweet days at the beach.

But the storms of winter can rage, blowing out electricity, and snowing you in, torrential rains causing permanent water damage.

I remember one such winters day in our marriage when we drove this very route, and I had prayed (with little investment of hope) for a miracle for our marriage. Truly it was a last ditch, faith-lacking prayer.

We had reached the point that, though we did still love each other (in a covenant-commitment manner of love), neither one of us liked or had affection for each other.

Why would I share such weakness, such imperfection?

Because I believe that heartache and suffering just have to have purpose outside of personal growth. If telling our story resonates in the heart and experience of another who is trying to protect themselves from the wintery blizzards of marriage, then I can look back and be thankful in all circumstances.

This is marriage … real marriage. Though we go to the alter and make promises in clean, perfectly altered attire, we live in the sandbox of reality. It’s not clean, or pretty, nor does it always fit. We all have these winters in our marriages … not one is perfect, not one is a bed of summery roses every day.

As we, wordlessly, comfortably drove that same highway, one night this summer, I felt the gentle, fresh breeze of summer evening coming into the windows of our car.

Suddenly, I realized that the comfortable silence we were surrounded by was the miracle of my hope-lacking prayer of years past …

when the season was not so gentle to our relationship, and we were not so gentle to each other.

The hopeless had been reborn, redeemed through the groaning of the Spirit, when we were weak, and did not know (feel) in our hearts that hope that was available.

hope that is seen is no hope at all.
Who hopes for what they already have?

But if we hope for what we do not yet have,
we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
through wordless groans.”
Romans 8:24-26

(Image above Lawton Wilson)

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My Sunday evening was interrupted by Twitter:

“a beautiful speech shows great character in a man”

“Attractive, smart & so generous to his partner”

“was beautiful to acknowledge the sacrifice of others to follow your dream”

“Hey girl” has been officially replaced with “my lady”

 

I was hooked, and had to uncover why social media was so enamoured with the acceptance speech of Ryan Gosling at the Golden Globe awards.

“You don’t get to be up here without standing on the shoulders of a mountain of people … while I was singing and dancing and playing piano and having one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, on a film, my lady was raising our daughter, pregnant with our second and trying to help her brother fight his battle with cancer. If she hadn’t taken all that on so that I could have this experience, it would surely be someone else up here, other than me, today, so, sweetheart, thank-you.”

sigh …

swoon …

Then I pondered, what was really so exceptional about the words of Mr. Gosling? After all, all he did was acknowledge that his success was not his alone, but thanks to the efforts and commitment of his wife, to him, his success, their children, and her brother.

Isn’t what he did, what should be expected of us all?

romans-129-10

Perhaps, his words, his public deflection of his success being from his own merits, is exceptional because celebrities rarely stoop to such humility?

Or, perhaps, his words, deflecting his own honour, by honouring his partner in life, is exceptional because we humans, as a whole, rarely stoop to such humility?

Our world is one of individual goals, devices, efforts and successes. But our human race is created for community, mutuality, and inter-dependence. We need each other.

We need to honour each other, and our reliance on those around us, in all that we do.

This is not exceptional (or shouldn’t be), it’s expected of us all.

 

 

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