An Unusual Anniversary Gift

Couple holding hands.

 

My husband and I have just celebrated 39 years of marriage. I remember celebrating our 25th by taking our first cruise. The cruise was amazing and I’m grateful God has allowed us to do many more since then. One of Mike’s dearest friends says that’s the best way to vacation because you get more bang for your buck – it’s all inclusive! I agree.

One thing that will be forever etched in my mind about that 25th anniversary trip is that whenever we told other cruisers that we were celebrating 25 they were shocked and impressed. Well, that was 14 years ago. Those same people would be REALLY impressed now. These past 14 years have held many joys and some sorrows. I’m grateful to say that we both made the choice to intentionally grow up in some places where some refinement was seriously needed. Through much prayer and much work our marriage continues looking like the marriage I know God always intended.

Mike and I always give each other gifts on our anniversary. Sometimes they’re practical, sometimes not. I’m glad that this year we were able to tell each other what we really wanted. That helps us both out a lot. Neither of us really like shopping. We loved on each other by doing just that. I wanted something that is useful but has some bling: a new watch. He wanted a ladder. It was not just any kind of ladder, it’s an amazing Megamax made by Little Giant. It has heavy –duty construction, folds to a compact size for storage and portability, holds up to 300 pounds (Yea! We can both get on it if needed), extends to a nice height of 15 feet, light weight (35.5 pounds) and has many safety features. It sounds like the perfect ladder and gift!

Where do you find this item? In the Home Improvement Department. As I read of these fabulous qualities of this amazing ladder I can’t help but be reminded of the things we are learning to put into practice that make up a great Marriage Improvement Plan for us in our couple-ship.

  • Practice communicating well in humility and honesty.
  • Practice showing love in action. Ask: What makes you feel loved? Then, do those things for the other person.
  • Practice sharing at the soul level. This is where we share how we feel. The response we both desire is that the one listening will listen attentively – without judgment and without giving advice. The best definition of intimacy I’ve ever read is that intimacy is “into me you see.” At times this is a scary place, but it’s worth the price to go to this deeper level.
  • Practice telling each other what we need. We should not assume we know what the other one is needing at any given time. My spouse cannot read my mind.
  • Practice lots of forgiveness and lots of patience.

It takes a lot of determination to make a good marriage but with God’s help, it’s possible to have one that brings Him honor and glory. He delights in taking broken people, which we all are because of our sin nature, and making us whole. Marriage is the perfect life stage in which we see ourselves as we really are. It’s the perfect place to grow in our spiritual walk. One of the first questions Gary Thomas asks in his book “Sacred Marriage” is “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?” The beauty of this is when we’re becoming more and more transformed into His image there is more joy, there is more happiness because we’re walking in closer fellowship with God, and therefore with each other. And, that can be a little bit of heaven that we get to enjoy in our homes, in our marriage here on Earth. And, God said, “It is good!”

 

 

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Wisdom from NCIS-Thanksgiving Edition

Team - 2

 

Last night, thanks to our DVR, we were able to get caught up on one of our favorite programs, NCIS. This is one TV program in which I can honestly say I love all of the characters. Each character is incredibly distinct and on occasion we get new insights into what really makes them tick. It’s not just that I love the unique personalities of each, I love the way they demonstrate their care for one another, even in their mess ups.

Holiday episodes are filled with emotion and life lessons – lessons that are worth taking note of. This year’s Thanksgiving Episode was no exception.

This episode is packed with hurts and pain. A young lieutenant will die with leukemia unless a donor is found. Ellie is devastated when she finds out the reason her marriage is falling apart. She leaves her work in D. C. and goes home to Oklahoma. In essence, she tries running away from her problems. Gibbs continues trying to keep everything under control as he continues to recover emotionally from a near death experience from a gunshot. Tim accidentally reveals a silly little secret about Abby to Tony – Abby finds out. Tony has plans to spend Thanksgiving alone working.

Ellie, while running from her problems in Oklahoma, finds that the case of the young lieutenant follows her. What impacts me is that even in her pain, she’s the one that works hardest to find a donor for the dying lieutenant. The potential donor is in military prison serving a life sentence. She makes three emotional visits to this person. He finally says yes

Her boss, Gibbs, quite concerned for her, goes to Oklahoma to check on her. His advice is great. He tells her to stop trying to handle this alone and that she needs someone to share her feelings with. She comes back with: “You don’t talk to anyone about yours.” Gibbs replies,” I do now. I found a friend, my Doc, to talk to.”

Back in D. C. Abby forgives Tim and both celebrate Thanksgiving by serving in a community soup kitchen. FBI special agent, Tobias, who has a great dislike for Tony, suddenly invites Tony to share Thanksgiving dinner at his home. The dislike seems to be mutual. But, in that moment, the look on Tony’s face is priceless. He’s smiling from ear to ear.

What are the life lessons in all of this?

  • Share your burdens with a trusted someone.
  • Forgive ALL things, big and little.
  • Keep pursuing positive solutions to obstacles.
  • Keep serving others in need even when you’re hurting.
  • Be open to opportunities of spending time with someone you make not like very much. Blessings will be found.

As I watched this episode I couldn’t help but think of what our Faith Community, called the Church, is to look like. The characters in this fictitious program form a team who care deeply for one another. It is shown in how they treat one another. It’s true that they don’t always do it perfectly, but by their actions we know how much they care. God wants us to be a people who can help sustain family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers as they go through difficulties. We’re do it with Christ-like grace that is full of comfort, peace and encouragement.

 

Showing Grace

Couple holding hands.

Unfortunately, as a younger woman I experienced severe PMS. Then years later that went into severe peri-menopause. No fun! I was desperate when peri-memopause set in. It was so severe I was willing to get on anti-depressants if a doctor would prescribe it. Instead of one bad week a month I had three bad ones. That’s when a friend recommended a doctor who was into prescribing bio-identical hormone replacement. I’d heard of this and it seemed that that was a very good option. So, I got an appointment with him. The first step was to get a test done that would check hormone levels and the most reliable way to test hormone levels is the saliva test. To do this you have to fill four vials half way with saliva. Kind of a yucky thought and it has to be done perfectly or the test will be contaminated. This test needs to be done every few years, and I’ve just now redone it. You have to follow many guidelines to have a clean, uncontaminated collection. My favorite sentence in the guidebook says that if you feel one of the vials is contaminated all you have to do is wash the vial with hot water, and redo. I love the word redo. Lately, my husband and I have used that word after having a little tiff. One of us has looked at the other and said, “I wish we could rewind and have a redo.” It’s amazing what has happened when we look at each other and say, “Yes, let’s do just that.”

Isn’t that what Jesus does for us? I know I’m flawed and I mess up but He is so gracious when I ask him to forgive me, cleanse me, and empower me to do better next time. He doesn’t hold my sin against me and I’m to practice this kind of forgiving and allowing of redos to others in my life. It’s worth it.

 

Be Real

MB900297565It seems every little girl in America is singing “Let It Go” from the movie Frozen. I was tired of feeling out of the loop, so finally watched it with my granddaughter. Movie time was a delight for both of us. Yes, this was her eighth time of watching it, but that didn’t matter. Since Let It Go is being sung everywhere, I decided to actually read the lyrics since I couldn’t capture them all during the movie. Here’s the first verse and chorus:

The snow glows white on the mountains tonight

Not a footprint to be seen

A kingdom of isolation

And it looks like I’m the queen.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

Well, now they know!

 

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door.

As I read the words a few phrases jumped out at me: a kingdom of isolation, don’t let them in, don’t let them see, conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know. I thought about those words and it took me back to six years ago when a group of four others and myself formed an accountability group which we call Heart Friends. I remember the day I decided to really open up and let them in and see the real me. There was a circumstance in my life that was causing me great hurt and anger. I knew bitterness was setting in. It was ugly and I did not want them to see it, but I came out of hiding. They didn’t judge. They listened. They cared. They graced me and prayed for me. It was a humbling experience, but it was a place I needed to go. There I found love, freedom, and healing. I experienced what James 5:16 ( AMP)says: Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false step, your offenses, your sins) and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored (to a spiritual tone of mind and heart:. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available (dynamic in its work).