What do you mean we’re going to sleep in the same bed?????

cold feet

Cuddle with me so that I can put my freezing cold feet on you, and probably use you as a pillow, and steal all your covers.

The wedding was beautiful; everything I could have ever dreamed of. From the perfectly fitted wedding dress and gorgeous bridesmaids to the handsome tux-attired groom and his attendants; a perfect day. The honeymoon was just as perfect as we held hands over candle lit dinners then returned to our room to cuddle and snuggle. And then it was time to go home and start our new life together.

Now, I am a pretty independent person and that independence carries right through to my sleeping habits. I like to have my own space. At any given time I will be snuggled up with two body pillows (one for my knees and one for my back), as well as a standard pillow for my head. I like my covers wrapped around me a certain way with one foot sticking out at all times. You can imagine my disdain at having to share my bed space with someone who had their own idea of personal property rights!

Ah, the struggles that we have had over who was taking all the covers and, “Don’t touch my toes when I’m sleeping!” For years I was determined to have separate beds, but that is one battle I am glad I lost. I remember lying in bed with my hubby’s hand on my tummy as we felt the baby we were never supposed to be able to have, move. I remember intentionally cuddling so that he could feel the kicks at night. I remember holding him close to comfort him when his Dad passed away. We were sleeping the night we got the call that our son had been critically injured in Kuwait and was being flown to Germany. My husband held me there in our bed as I cried. And I remember how lonely I was while Jim was in the hospital having surgery for prostate cancer, I prayed that he would come back home to our bed.

Joining as one person is more than sleeping in the same bed . “And the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10. Becoming one person involves the sexual intimacy of marriage as well as the day – to – day activity of life.

One flesh. Two people blending together so well that they are thought of as one. I’m sure glad that God’s got this one, because it is way beyond my comprehension! At least that is what I thought when we first married.

Growing in marriage is much like progressing from baby to adult. We face many of the same stages:

  • Baby Stage: This is what I will call the Peaceful Stage. I smile at the anticipation of seeing my loved one’s face; knowing that no discomfort we face will last forever, because I expect that my loved one will always take care of my needs; not concerned with being myself, because we are now one.
  • Toddling Stage: I start to think that maybe I don’t want to be exactly the same as my partner. I want to explore on my own and live my own life, but with the knowledge that when I fall, my loved one will be there to pick me up.
  • Teen Stage: I really don’t want you to pick me up! I want to be independent and be myself, but I like knowing that you are there; just don’t stand too close.
  • Adult Stage: I can’t imagine my life without him, flaws and all. Til death do us part.

The advice I give all couples when I counsel with them before marriage is to accept each other for who they are and don’t go in to marriage with the idea of changing them. God made each of us unique and I love the qualities God gave my husband. Do I get aggravated when I have to bring the coffee cups from the garage to the house? Sure, but it’s not marriage – breaking. There is so much to marriage then the daily. The world tries to get us to focus on the nit-picky things, but let me tell you, my dear friends, life is always going to be nit – picky and it’s time we started enjoying and loving the good.

Marriage is for better or worse. The well – known vows taken originally from the Book of Common Prayer[1] go something like this, “for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.” Wedding vows have changed over the years, but I still remember saying these words at my wedding. Over the years I have felt at times that we were going through the worst, only to find down the road that it can get even worse than that! But I have also found that it gets better and the bad times do not overshadow the good.

When we were first married we struggled with finances. I worked as a waitress at Howard Johnson’s and my tips often what bought our gas and groceries. My hubby had a good job that paid all of $85 a week. We had no insurance so we were devastated with hospital bills within the first year when I miscarried our first son. It was tough! But when you are newly married, it doesn’t matter. We had no stove, but I cooked pinto beans in the wedding present crockpot and made fried taters in the wedding present electric skillet. I am going to interject a word of advice here, do not try to cook spaghetti in a crock pot! It was so tough the dog wouldn’t even eat it!

But we had love. And the second year of our marriage we moved north to look for better financial opportunities. Jim went to truck driving school and when he landed a job with Pepsi Cola and made $25,000 that first year we thought we were rich!

Sickness takes its toll on a marriage, whether the man, woman or the children. Jim’s diagnosis of prostate cancer came as we were preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving Dinner with the family. The phone call rocked us, but we held tight to each other. Eight cancer-free years later, we are facing another health challenge and I’m afraid our closeness is being challenged.

In November, Jim was helping load wood from a tree that had blown down in our yard. He pulled his back, but that was nothing new, he had bounced back from back pain many times before. Over the next few days, the pain got increasingly worse and we ended up in the emergency room where he was given a prescription for a steroid and a low dose pain killer. We thought everything would be ok in a few days. Three months and two hospital terms later, we are still fighting the pain. He developed pneumonia and blood clots in both lungs and is still not able to walk due to the pain in his leg from the herniated disc.

To say that this has been easy would be a lie. Jim is my strong tower, but the pain and the medication he is on has taken much of his strength away. He feels that he has nothing to live for and that he has become a burden to me, our children, and his friends. That is the hard part for me. It hurts to the core of my being to see him this hopeless. I can encourage him, but I can’t do it for him. At times he does reach for his Bible and devotion book and read and it always helps. But then there are the times that the depression takes over and I feel like I need to watch every move he makes so that he doesn’t harm himself.

We will get through this and we will have a stronger marriage for having gone through it. Jim’s faith in God is stronger now than it ever has been; he has seen how God has directed our every path in this and has taken care of oh so many financial needs. God has brought witness of Jim’s testimony to him for encouragement and has provided in ways that we would never have thought. This, my dear friend, is marriage. Depression, sickness, and financial troubles are the effects of living in a sinful world. But when the two of you trust in the One who made the world, and give all of it over to Him, you will grow as one just as God designed. When my brother married I told him to remember that marriage takes three. His reply, “I’m not sure my wife will agree to that!” gave me the opening to share that the third party to that marriage is God. Without Him, there is no substance to the unity of man and woman.

Learning to sleep in the same bed, cook foods that both of you like, and living life to please another are all a part of marriage. My advice to my children, and now my grandchildren, is to marry your best friend and expect the bumps in that friendship to help you pull together.

 

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years.

Simone Signoret

[1] http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bcp/1549/BCP_1549.htm

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FIXINGUS MEUS

mirror imageProverbs 31:30-31 reminds us that, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”

I, like many of you reading this, have had a struggle with my body image. I’m not sure when it started, maybe one day my Mom was changing my diaper and she said something like, “Look at those chubby legs!” And off I went, thinking that I would have those chubby legs forever!

Or maybe it came from years of watching my Mom go through diet after diet, and gimmick after gimmick trying to get to where she liked how she looked. I remember in the 1970’s, she went on a grapefruit diet. Supposedly this diet worked because of a fat – burning enzyme that is only found in the grapefruit.  This fad took off and became the thing to do, probably because, as long as you ate ½ of a grapefruit or ½ cup of grapefruit juice, you could eat anything else you wanted (within an 800 calorie per day limit) and  lose weight. And no exercise required! Needless to say, that didn’t last very long and whatever weight was lost was soon put back. After all, you can only eat so many grapefruit!

I used to love to eat the sweet caramel and chocolate weight loss candy that Mom kept around. You were supposed to eat one right before each meal to curb your appetite, but I would sneak two or three throughout the day, just because they were really good!

There was even one time that Mom had her ear stapled and every time she got hungry, she had to tap her staple to make her not want to eat. And I wonder where my lack of body image came from?

She taught me how to iron my hair (literally!) so that it wouldn’t be so curly. And she tried every color of dye on my hair. I remember when I was thirteen I sat  in a beauty shop chair for eight hours while the beautician tried to bleach the red out of my hair. Needless to say, the best she could do was what they called “strawberry blonde.” Once a red – head, always a red head!

So many of us live as reflections of how our Mom’s felt about themselves. We struggle with seeing our bodies as less than perfect no matter how much weight we lose. There is danger in the words we speak to our children, especially our daughters, when those words are anything less that positive.

I have to wonder where it all started, and why. I remember as a child watching shows such as “Lassie”, “Father Knows Best”, and “The Brady Bunch” where the main women of the show were of average size and dressed modestly. They were confident in their role in the family and I don’t remember any of them pausing in front of a mirror and saying, “Gee, this dress makes me look fat!.” (Unless, of course, that was the topic of the show and then there was always a moral outcome that showed the woman’s true beauty came from within.) Somewhere along the line we have convinced ourselves that the scale is our

My Mother – in – law bought me a juicer for my birthday one year. Not sure why. Maybe it was because I said I wanted a juicer so that I could get healthy. And she believed me.

Anyway, my hubby was on a fishing trip recently and I decided to pull the juicer out of its hiding place and get started on my new healthy lifestyle. I opened my juice book, highlighted a few really healthy recipes and made out a shopping list. Even the titles of the juices made me feel instantly healthy: Potassium Power, Nature’s Wash, , and Bone Builder’s Cocktail. I feel healthy already just reading the recipes! I threw in the Green Drink ingredients and headed to the market.

I strolled down the produce aisle of my local grocer and started putting items in my cart: parsley, ginger, Granny Smith apples, spinach, celery, beets, cabbage and kale (oh, so that’s what kale looks like!), just to name a few. I couldn’t wait to get home!

It was dinner time when I finished carrying in the basket load of goodness from my Jeep. I decided I would start with the Green Drink since it seemed to have the most vegetables in it. I don’t know why, but I associated the vegetables with a heartier dinner.

The recipe called for a handful of parsley (or wheatgrass, but even I wasn’t going that far on the first try!), two Granny Smith apples, two kale leaves, and a handful of spinach. At the top of the ingredients was the saying, “When you are green inside, you are clean inside!” I certainly hoped it was true as I put the parsley in first and watched as the juicer separated a slimy dark green juice into the juice cup. I then put one apple in. I guess they went that way so that I wouldn’t give up. Then the kale and spinach and just when I didn’t think I could look at the resultant juice one more minute, I put the second apple in. Whew! The juice was not too bad looking, actually, once everything was added. I couldn’t wait to try my concoction and start on my journey to health.

I had a towel in my hand and I had not noticed that the edge of the towel was lodged under the juice cup – there’s that aging eye thing again. As I turned to get a glass to pour my healthy drink into, the towel pulled the cup over and I looked with startled amazement at the green juice spilling out all over my counter. My life flashed before my eyes and all I could see were the monsters in the 1968 science fiction movie, The Green Slime. Green juice started sliming its way down the front of my dishwasher and onto the floor. It hid under the coffee pot and proceeded to chase the paper towels I was trying to mop it up with. When I finally got the mess cleaned up, I opened a can of spaghetti and meatballs, covered it with cheese and stuck it in the microwave. I’ll start all over tomorrow, but today I need comfort food.

Some days you eat salads and go to the gym, some days you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants.

It’s called balance.

I hate how I see myself in a mirror. And yet, it was brought to my attention (by my loving daughter) that I subconsciously do the same thing to her that my mother did to me. Oh, I have never forced any of my children to dye their hair or use diet aids, but I have seen their faces when I make a remark about me. When I say, “I hate to go swim suit shopping, I’m just never satisfied with how I look,” they hear, “Maybe I don’t look so good in a swim suit, either.” When I say, “I can’t make this curly hair do what I want it to,” they hear, “Ugh! My hair never looks good.” You see, my girls have genetic traits that I gave them. If I don’t like how I look, and speak of it often, how can I expect them to like the way they look? And they are beautiful!

Ladies, we are responsible for teaching our daughters that however God made us, he made us beautiful. We are to love ourselves first so that they will know how to love themselves. This is a huge responsibility that can only be accomplished through much prayer and soul searching.

And if we are not eating healthy, then it’s time to start, but not in a way that is defining how we look. We should eat healthy to define how we feel! The scale is not your friend, but your energy level is. Our blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and heart rate are all indicators of good health. If we are eating with these in mind, we will be healthy just as God designed.

Looking back to the opening verse in Proverbs 31, our works are the words that we speak in front of our daughters. We teach each day how these impressionable young girls will face the world and we must teach them that we are not measured by our outward appearance, but by our inner spirit. God should be the mirror that we face each morning, face – to – face, and then we, and our daughters, will know in full how beautiful we truly are.