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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The Lesson from a Grain of Wheat

wheat-field-640960_960_720 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

John 12:24-25

A loved one of ours is going through a really tough time right now. Her children are grown; she is alone and scared. Her whole life has been spent trying to hold onto her status as a needed role in her children’s lives and now that they have families of their own, it is hard for her to understand the change in the way that they need her. She is miserable and that in itself is pushing family and friends away. Her whole life is wrapped around her unhappiness in this world. And my heart breaks.

Jesus knew that this life was only temporary when he gave the parable of the wheat seed. The seed in and of itself is not life, but it plays a role in bringing life. Just as Jesus died and was buried in the earth to bring us life, so must the seed be planted so that it can die and bring forth new life in the stalk of wheat. If the seed does not die, then new life does not grow. And so must we be the same.

I have a good life here on earth, but I know that only in dying to self can I be truly satisfied and fulfill my calling to produce good fruit. I cannot cling to the comforts of this world and still grow in Christ. I cannot look at what I have and don’t have (friends, family, possessions) and keep the joy of Christian growth in my spirit. I have to die to self, I have to let go of earthly life in order to embrace new, eternal, life in Christ. And I have to die to self so that others might see the fruit of that death.

We go through stages in this life: single, married, divorced, widowed. And each stage has its own God designed purpose as I wrote in Submission is NOT a Four-letter Word, “God doesn’t call the roles of wife, single woman, or widow…God calls each (person), regardless of role in this life, to serve Him fully. We are to do this wherever we are and no matter what the role.”

I pray for my friend. I pray that she realizes that her life is not over, it is just beginning a new phase. I pray that she finds comfort in Christ and that she allows Him to direct her every thought, desire, and prayer. I pray that she would embrace this new relationship with her children and that she supports them as the generation that she instilled God’s love into as she raised them. And I pray that she realizes that she is never alone.

Thirty Days of Prayer for My Pastor – Day 18

Praying Woman

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”

Proverbs 31: 10-11

Father God, it takes a special calling to be a pastor’s wife. A call to often stand alone as she defends and supports her husband through everything. She is called to be an example to us of the Proverbs 31 woman, knowing that her every move is being watched and often judged. Help her to give liberty to our pastor to fulfill his calling, while caring for the home. Lead her as she prays for him, coddles him, and nurtures him when he feels overwhelmed. Let her be his “safe place” to re-energize and rest.

Lord, protect their marriage. Let them both put their relationship with each other above that of the church, because without that, there is no ministry. Protect them, Lord, from the plans that Satan has to cause jealousy, doubt, fear or any other anxious thought. Remove any and all temptation to give in to these emotions with a faith in the faithfulness of each other.

Father, I ask that You provide a special time that my pastor and his wife can get away, even for a couple of hours a week, just for each other. That they will not forget that their marriage is by Your design and it takes care to keep the fire alive. Cause a love that passes all understanding to fill their hearts at unexpected times during the day and let others see the smile and know that it comes from a true heart.

Lord, I ask that my pastor’s wife would be the help-meet that You intended her to be and to grow in her own walk with God. That she would understand Your design for true submission and walk proudly in her role as wife of the pastor.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Thirty Days of Prayer for My Husband – Day 29: Strengthening our marriage

old_couples_in_love_are_so_cute_640_01

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Father God, we’re in this marriage to the end of life on earth. And I pray, Lord, that it continues when we reach that mansion that You have prepared for us, because I can’t imagine heaven without my husband.

I know that keeping a marriage exciting and alive is not easy, especially when all around us we hear things like, “Well, if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t take much to get a divorce.” What is ‘divorce’ Father? It has to be a surgical procedure, because when we said “I do” we became one flesh. No wonder there is so much pain in the separation.

I ask, Lord, that You grow us closer through the years and that the struggles of daily life only push us to each other for comfort and wisdom. I pray that the fruit of the Spirit would prevail during hardships and that we would always think of how our words, moods, and decisions affect the other before they come out.

I ask that You would remind us to live in the Spirit at all times and that we would strive for peace, love, joy, faithfulness, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control in every aspect of our marriage. And, Lord, I ask you to know my husband and to strengthen him in whatever area You see that he needs Your guidance. If there are areas where my hubby knows he needs help, give him the boldness to come to me so that we can pray together. And remind me to do the same.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Galatians 5:22-23

Thirty Days of Prayer for My Husband – Day 28:His self – esteem

esteem

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”

Luke 11:9-10

Father God, this world beats us down. It makes us feel that there is no room for error in the way our children, marriages and jobs turn out and that same condemnation tries to make us responsible for all of the above. I lift my husband up to You as the head of our home and family. I have seen times when he was struggling with his job where he didn’t feel that he was doing a good enough job. I have watched him question himself when one of our children made a wrong choice. And I have heard him ask how he can know that he is a Christian when he fails You on a daily basis.

Lord, first of all, help my hubby to know that nothing on earth can take his salvation away from him; that is a free gift from Your Son, Jesus. And let your Holy Spirit remind him that he is a child of the King and that nothing he does on earth can take that prestige away from him. Teach him, Lord, that the world will always try to judge him and take away his manhood, but You do not look on what my husband does on the outside, You look on the inside. And I pray, Lord, that when I see him bow his head, it is not in shame from failure in the world’s eyes, but in prayer of thanksgiving for who he is in Your eyes.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Thirty Days of Prayer for My Husband – Day 27: Relationships with his family

Collect family silhouettes“And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:22 – 24

Lord, family is so important to us and to you. And knowing our role in the family takes Your wisdom in dealing with life’s little changes. I pray for my husband, Father God, that as our family grows into adults and starts to learn what it is like to fit into added parts of family, that you will help him to understand that it in no way takes away from him as their Dad. Help him to understand that, as we grow older, we are equipping our adult children for living life without us by understanding the separations that are happening today.

I pray for release from guilt when we are not in our own parents, siblings, or other family gatherings when we are invited. We may not all be together each holiday, but our hearts are together. We may not have the traditions that we once held dear, but there are new ones being made. We may not all go to the same church or bowl on the same teams, but we are still family and we love and cherish each other.

And, Lord, help our families to understand that our absence is not because we don’t love them, and that we pray for them even in our absence. I pray, Jesus, that where there is unresolved conflict, that God would step in and soften hearts. Where there is unhealthy dependence or distance, that You, Lord, would help to create healthy, appropriate boundaries. I ask, Lord, that You give my husband grace and wisdom as the peacemaker and “wise one” in the family. And help me to support him in all things.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen

Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 11:29