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!”

 

 

Something Missing, Something Found

Success3

I will never forget her radiant smile. Her laughter was contagious. Joy overflowed from her heart. I will never forget her jokes. I will never forget how much she loved Jesus. I will never forget that she prayed about everything. I will never forget how much I wanted what she wanted. God gave me the opportunity to watch her very closely since we rented a house together our last two years of college. She was the real deal!

I was a believer in Jesus, but as I entered my second year in college I realized my love for Jesus had waned. Something was missing. It wasn’t really clear to me that it was waning until I met Kim.

Kim radiated joy and that joy came from Jesus. Some of our theology was a little different, but that didn’t matter. I saw her living out her Christianity in front of my eyes and it made me thirst for what she had. I thirsted for that same Jesus intimacy she had. I thirsted. I found. The best word I can think of to explain what needed to happen in my life is the word surrender. Some might view that word a little negatively, since it entails the sense of giving up. But, it’s not negative!

Surrender is a wonderful way to live because we are giving up something that isn’t good for us in order to receive the very best. It’s giving up trying to run my own life to the One who knows best how to order it. And, it’s good. Because I witnessed a transformed life modeled through the life of my friend, I decided to hand over the reins of my life to Jesus. My life has never been the same! I still mess up terribly, but He’s always there to pick me back up and get me back on the right track.

Because of Kim, I became a part of a strong faith community, thus I learned how to grow deeper in a way that brings transformation. I distinctly remember discovering what I needed to do, how I needed to grow, in order keep that intimacy alive. There are things that ensure spiritual growth, but always required is a daily, even a moment by moment surrender. Again, it’s a handing over the reins of my life to Jesus the many things that, in reality, I want to be in charge of. Including:

  • My schedule.
  • My words.
  • My attitude.
  • My actions.
  • My thoughts.
  • My money.
  • My service.
  • My relationships.

I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt Who Kim was following. The question I need to ask daily, and often frequently during the day is: Who am I following? Me or Jesus? Would you be willing to ask the same question? Our homes and our world will change when it is Him and not ourselves.

Getting Filled Up from Something Empty

thFPKOJI55 cross

 

This is a week I want my “insides” to smile as I reflect on the event we will celebrate on Sunday. It’s not a day to celebrate the Easter Bunny coming to town, but it’s a day to celebrate and remember that the perfect man, Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth to live. He chose to die the most gruesome and cruel death imaginable. His broken body was put in a tomb to decay, but He was gloriously raised from the dead so all who put their faith in Him could really live.

What does the empty tomb mean to me?

  • Even though my life was once empty, it is now filled up with abundant goodness that came when I put my trust and faith in Jesus Christ. John 10:10 says Jesus came so we could have an abundant life.
  • Even though I get knocked down a lot, I get back up because Jesus is fighting for me. He helps me dust myself off and get moving again in the right direction.
  • Even though my earthly body is wasting away and life as I know it now will one day come to a halt, I will be made new and escorted into heaven where I will live forever with the One who loves me so.
  • Even though I mess up miserably, I am perfectly loved, restored, and forgiven by Jesus.
  • Even though I will never live a perfect life, I know I am further along in life than I was a year ago and even a month ago.

I do not have to “do” anything to ensure all of these blessings will continue. These blessings are mine because of Jesus’ blood that drained from His perfect body. The cross that brought death and the resurrection that brought life show the greatness of the love of God for all mankind. Let us truly live out this full and spiritually rich life that is ours because of perfect love that shows Himself to us in every breath we take. He is alive!