In the middle of blasé, I’m slapped awake by love. It happens while looking at my husband, Sandy. With 25 years of marriage in our pocket, it’s against the odds. Why does he still tweak my heart strings? We do have that “magic” going on, but that’s not what I’m talking about. This is different. It’s as if all my senses have the gift of sight. I see with my heart, soul, mind. Like seeing him through a pair of divine glasses. About now, he asks….
“What? Why are you staring at me?”
Vision blurred, I dismiss his question moving on with the mundane day, grateful.
I love those sloppy, in your face moments of love. Like:
Catching him knelt by a child, giggling.
When he smiles through a backache because his hard work and talents blessed others.
Watching him in prayer, worship or meditation.
Or recently, when he lifted my suitcase, into the car, placed his arms around my shoulders, and kissed me softly. After confessing he’ll miss me even if I’ll be away only one night, he hands me a bag with apples and almonds for the road, and says— marriage
“I want to pray for you.”
Golden moments to savor. The times you think it just doesn’t get any better. Yet, it does There is something even more incredible…marriage
It’s a place. A destination. I can’t say how long it takes to get there, but I guarantee, it’s 5+star and worth whatever the cost. We chose the long route. The wide highway with multiple lanes, all mysteriously located on the edge of a cliff. I don’t recommend this well-traveled road, as it is in perpetual rush hour. It zigs. It zags. And, it takes a spiritual enema to blast you out. At least that’s how we got through the bowels. marriage
When the portal leading to the “place” opens, it’s glorious. To enter you must be alone, and together, at the same time. And, mysterious as it sounds, you never arrive. Enough riddles. I’m talking about standing before God together. It’s the best place a couple can be. There we are independent of each other, yet interdependent with our Father. marriage
We are one in quiet… one in prayer… one in awe and praise… one in gratitude. If I named this place it might be Clarity… or Peace or simply, Good. Here is where I know who I am, who Sandy is, and most important who God is. It’s a place packed with power, wonder… magnificence. marriage
We often visit this place alone, which somehow brings us closer together, enriching our relationship beyond any other cure. But when we stand before Him as a couple, bothersome worries and gargantuan challenges flee. Just like shining the light on a nest of roaches. Nothing is too big, complicated or irreparable. You might enter empty and discontent, but you’ll leave full and satisfied. A guaranteed occurrence.
I wish we’d taken the short cut. It’s not like we didn’t see the signs, have a map or hear the Guide offering help. I recommend the fast train to this destination. Why not skip the detours we suffered? I don’t plan on getting lost again. I keep the coordinates for His presence close to my heart.
Coming soon: Check out a sample chapter of our book – “In Spite of Us – Stalked by a Loving God.”
I don’t know when it happened, or how. But it did. One unremarkable day, we became that couple. The one people snicker at and call CUTE! Sometimes even SOOOOO CUTE!
At first we were confused. After all, we had not changed, yet, whenever we held hands or smooched a little cheek peck, the world stopped, fingers pointed and exclamations of delight proclaimed our adorability. This is especially true of young couples. We can only imagine what might happen if they caught us partaking in an innocent love pat on the behind? Oh my!
What changed? How did we jump from being the rude couple, known for PDA (public display of affection), to the Cutie Patooties belonging in the Guinness World Record book with the caption: Old Farts in Love. When the “Awwwws,” first began, we’d back away, fearing our groupies might pinch our cheeks, or worse, snap a photo to share on Facebook. Over time, we’ve gotten over our fear of death by koochie-koochie-koo. When it happens today, we share a secret nod of wisdom and a wink of…
“If they only knew.”
Truth is, I’m more in love with my husband today, than ever. And, yes, I mean IN LOVE. Mad, lust worthy, hot, married you rock my socks, kind of LOVE.
Hello? Hello? Is anyone still reading?
If so, I’ll share what I’ve learned about love. My prayer is that someone might be spared the wild seek and conquer dating escapades I suffered. Sadly, I know I am not alone in this, having many single friends looking under the same rocks as I did.
My quest for love, is best described as a manic episode of Where’s Waldo? Desperate, I sprang between victims, begging for alms of love, to fill my black hole of a heart. He must be charming, like Cary Grant, funny like Mr. Bean and strong and protective, like Grizzly Adams. And, most importantly, he must speak my personal dialect of love language, willing to be like the guy in My Fair Lady who sings, “On the Street Where You Live.” That guy felt happy just standing outside, knowing his love was in the vicinity.
Love me, love me, love me. Who will love me? Who can fill my bottomless pit of a heart?
My sad, wild safari in search of love guaranteed three perpetual moods:
I remember a day, when I believed I could not take another breath, unless tossed a crumb of relief to the gaping hole in my heart. With no other options, I sent a weak prayer out, begging an ignored God for help.
When I met Sandy, my husband to be, he had the Grant schmooz, the big protective brute air, and, he was well endowed with Mr. Beanisms. Sadly, though, he did not speak my love language, nor show any desire to stand outside on the street swooning with love. He had better things to do. Yet, there was something about him that kept me hanging around. He was patient, loving, and kind. He spoke of God and faith.
And then, we lived happily ever after… right?
We dug, dredged and sucked every ounce of love from each other. But, it was not enough. He could not feed my hunger, nor I his. What then? None of the equations add up. X + Y = Z … if X is me and Y is you then Z should be love… Okay, math is not my subject.
And, fought some more.
Something was missing from the equation. It took years for us to figure it out. I should add, we are still working on the math, but we found the missing component, the foundation, the cornerstone. God. When we invited God into our relationship, our sparse baskets of fish and bread, became more than enough to feed ourselves and each other, with abundance to share.
Without God, marriage is like the wood, hay and straw, spoken of in the Bible; when the test of fire comes, it disintegrates. The tests will come, in many forms. Losses, disappointments, struggles, temptations. And no one will escape the trials of time; gravity, erosion and decay. Just as the Beatles song ponders, “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?”
It’s flattering to be admired for outer beauty, but to be revered for inner beauty is the biggest rush of all. I grumble at the woman in the mirror, wondering where she hid my youth. Yet, the most beautiful I have ever been, is in the eyes of my husband, where glows a lasting beauty, beaming from the inside out. I marvel at the image, coming from the eyes that have seen me at my worst. I’m not talking about the mother of all insults, “I love you even though.” That’s a tainted love, that pats the giver on the back. No, I want none of that.
To best understand, the love I refer to, it takes a child. A child whose well loved toy is showing wear. No longer new, shaggy, tousled, tired looking. Maybe it’s even missing a few parts. But what happens when you offer this child a shiny new toy in exchange for the old one? You can’t pry it from their clutches, not even to toss it in the laundry. They love it just the way it is. After all, it’s the toy that’s been there, through everything. The ear hanging by a thread, the bald spot, the dangling button, are like precious gems, badges, reminders of trials, victories, parades marched side by side.
I’m no longer dependent on love. Instead, my love is dependent on God.Without God in our marriage, our love is weak, no better than a silly love song. With God, we are like two children under an umbrella of His love. Holding hands, peering into each other’s eyes, marveling at who God created us to be.
And… I guess we’re pretty cute.
A note to my husband: Happy 24th Anniversary. I thank God for answering my prayer.
1 Corinthians 12
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
The marriage dance… synchronized grace… harmony… coordination. A couple gliding across the floor, form and shadow… perfection. Sigh…
Then there’s real life marriage, like ours. It’s a dance too. I’m the one, beat abandoned, arms flailing, one foot clogging, the other waltzing. My dance partner/husband Sandy, is the easy does it guy with a lackadaisical sway, dancing, mainly with facial expressions–just picture a stoned mime. That dance accurately describes our daily challenge to not step on each other’s toes.
Recently on a short road trip we were brainstorming topics for potential blog posts. Doesn’t everyone do that for auto-tainment? I had a banner idea… the top ten annoying things he does that make me crazy. I scribble them with ease in my notebook while he quietly drives down the road. “Finished ta-da!… piece of cake… I’m ready to write the sequel.”
“Okay, but first, I have ten of my own, counter to yours.” he says.
A strong marriage team is like complementary colors which, when placed next to each other, create the strongest contrast and reinforce each other. So here they are below, in living color.
He’s like a GPS chatterbox. Have you ever heard that saying “ask the time and he’ll build you a clock?” That’s my husband. If you ask for driving directions, you have to know when to walk away, usually after his first three steps. After that… he wanders… listing alternative routes… sharing memories of the last time he was there… asking questions like, “remember the auto parts store on the corner?”
She never pays attention to where she’s going. Even if she’s been someplace a dozen times she’ll ask me for directions… walking away, fingers in ears before I’m finished. Later, she calls, irritated with me because she’s lost.
I’m in the middle of a project, reach for my hammer, but it’s nowhere in sight. Why? Because Mr. Neat Nik put it away. He’s OCD about his sacred tools. One day I’m searching for a simple screwdriver. He runs into the garage, clearly shaken, accusing me of tool abuse. The specific crime was opening and closing the drawers too fast causing the pretty little rows of tools to fall out of alignment. Really?
I know Deb’s up and ready to start the day when I walk into the kitchen and bang my head on one of all the cupboard doors left open. Her logic is that she might need back in there someday. And, she’s a junkie for junk drawers. We have 27, with more on the way. What goes in a junk drawer? Whatever fits. She even carries a mobile junk drawer disguised as a purse.
I’m forced to live my life at least 15 minutes early. All those minutes spent waiting for the normal guests to arrive. We are always first, period… no challengers. I suspect our friends will soon start tampering with the time on our invitations because they’re tired of entertaining us before the party begins.
She calculates our departure time like a ticking time bomb, not wanting to arrive one millisecond early. What’s with that? What horrendous plight awaits early guests? Do the hosts eat the first to arrive? Punctuality is not a crime. And ish? It’s not a time. Period.
He won’t try new things. Food likes and dislikes are written in stone. If it’s green, he’s leery. If he tried something once as a toddler, he’s not giving it another chance. Memories of childhood food traumas rule his adult taste buds.
I – DON’T – LIKE – LIVER. Is that so complicated? I don’t care how many people she has converted to “liverites” with her special recipe, the flavor and disgusting texture have not changed since I was a kid. That goes for most green foods, like avocados. How about oysters? She tosses raw oysters down her throat and wonders why I don’t trust her food judgment.
As picky as he can be, (see above), he has no problem devouring 30 day old leftover pizza. He responds to my concerns for his health with “what?” And expiration dates on food? They’re just some conspiracy theory bunk.
40 years ago, she may have gotten food poisoning after eating a burger from one of our local restaurants. It’s obvious she was the only target because they’re still in business today. If they still want Deb dead, she’ll never know because she’s not going back. If I get a craving for one of their famous juicy burgers, I have to sneak for fear she’ll barge through the door with a makeshift stomach pump. Even worse, if she hears someone reported slight nausea after eating at a national chain restaurant across the world, our local version is exnayed off the list… forevermore.
Remember the story of the Princess and the Pea? She was so delicate and sensitive she could feel a pea placed under a stack of 10 mattresses. That’s Sandy. He complains of imaginary minute particles jabbing his back side. This carries over to his clothing. He’s been known to remove tags from shirts leaving a gaping hole and according to him, he’s under constant attack from his killer underwear.
You know the saying that “____ rolls downhill?” Well, I‘m bigger than Deb, so my side is where all the crackers, peanuts and popcorn end up. There’s nothing worse than starting the day with a peanut embedded in your back like a 3-d tattoo.
Rules are suggestions and never apply to him. He’ll suffer dire consequences to reserve his right to break the rules. If the button says don’t push, he’s going to push it. If the sign says wrong way, he ignores it. He even jumps up and down on motel beds. My guess is he was told not to when he was three.
She’s a slave to rules. It’s genetic. You better read the guide book before meeting the family. There are rules for all occasions, even simple ones, like dinner. I was warned not to pass food in the opposite direction. If her dad orchestrates the peas, potatoes and meat clockwise, you must abide. I tried, but wouldn’t you be curious what would happen if the biscuits rebelled and suddenly turned counter clockwise? As you can imagine… nothing horrific happened… until later when I got an earful from Deb.
If it were up to Sandy, all life would be freestyle. No plans. There’d be no such thing as wedding planners, special event coordinators or even simple dinner menus. We’d all just show up somewhere random and fend for ourselves. Yet, when life gets messy, he’s right there asking me questions like “what shall we do?” Stick to the plan… oh, yeah… we don’t have one.
Compared to Deb, the Boys Scouts of America are slackers. She over prepares for everything. Her to-do lists have master lists, outlines for future lists and appendices for existing lists. Once she’s tortured me with the original micro-plan, the second “just in case” phase begins, . If she invites you to dinner and you find fifty hungry strays on the way, no worries, she’s ready.
In his mirror, dressed up means wearing a T-shirt with a clever (subjective) statement. If it’s a worthy quip, holes or stains are no concern. What’s wrong with a starched white shirt and blue jeans? Someday I’m having a shirt made for him that reads: Disclaimer: My wife does not pick out my clothing.
She gets a sadistic thrill when I wear uncomfortable clothing. Starch is her friend, not mine. My neck will be red, raw and my legs chaffed and bleeding from new stiff jeans… she’ll shoot me a sick grin saying, “you look so nice.” I suspect it’s payback for high heels and bras.
He doesn’t even try to keep up with the conversation. This is the man who can build a house from a tree, fix just about anything and tests high on IQ tests. Yet, he can’t keep up with a lighthearted update chat of the week?
Once again, I try. Yet, I’m the insensitive jerk because I’m lost between conversation change one and two while she’s darting between 11, 12 and 13. How did we go from squash to her mom’s hair color? I’m not sure what kind of tree that is? Yes, I agree the treehouse needs painted this year. I didn’t realize buttermilk was a color. Yes, biscuits sound good for breakfast. I try, I really try.
Yes, he drives me crazy and, I guess, I have the same effect on him. The truth is, we celebrate these differences as they make us better individuals and strengthen our coupledom. There is mutual benefit in the rubbing of two iron blades together; the edges become sharper, making the knives more efficient in their task to cut and slice.
If you want your own messy relationship to flourish, we have one word of advice:
Leadeach otherto the cross.Start there… live there…die there.
Confession: I’m writing this blog because I can’t face the blinking cursor on the screen today. You see, I’m at the scene in my book “In Spite of Us,” when that three letter word… S E X… needs to be addressed. Blink… blink… blink.
I’m the Mom whom, when two neighbor dogs presented a perfect opportunity to talk to my children about… S… E… X… well… I choked, telling them a silly story about the doggie dance. Focus successfully diverted, we searched the car radio finding the perfect song to accompany their dance.
Fast forward years later? I still avoid the subject. At least, this time I have a legitimate concern. You see, I’m writing about two people before they knew God. A couple stumbling in the dark, clueless. Who are they? They’re not strangers or make believe characters in my head…
That couple is … us.
Keep in mind, I grew up with images of married couples like Lucy and Desi pecking a kiss on the cheek before retiring to their twin beds decked in matching chenille spreads. Both wearing more armor than a roman solider… her in the full boudoir attire – duster, nightgown, feather puff slippers, night cap and he all buttoned up in pajamas, robe, and slippers. It’s the picture our parents attempted to plant, unknowing that a sexual revolution would blow in with the sixties not only stripping off dusters and slippers, but leaving us without our bras for support.
Stop! I see you rolling your eyes… (especially my single friends). You know where I’m going with this and you’re right. Yes, If I had it to do over, I would honor the marriage bed today. Stop it… you rolled your eyes again. I know it sounds like I just downed a triple cheese burger, fries and large shake and now while bursting full, I’m claiming I would choose to abstain.
A little background…
Thank You God that I’m not the same person I used to be. Time was when I thought God was some jerk in the sky hovering with his giant rule book waiting to smite people who wouldn’t obey. All this fuss while ignoring that people were hurting all over the world. So, I plugged my ears, froze my heart and turned my back on a nit-picking God of legalism.
But He didn’t turn His back on me. He stayed. Massaging my heart. Whispering… a truth. Revealing a lie. Never leaving me. Returning my scolding hand to His face with open, welcoming arms of Grace… for years… plus more.
Mind boggling transformation and brain renewal take time. It’s a process. Today I love God’s book of rules. I no longer picture a mean old rule mogul waiting to pluck the wings from helpless victims. Instead, I see a doting Father who wants His beloved children to receive the blessings that come when His loving and supernaturally thought out commands are followed.
Staring at the blinking cursor I’m still a little tempted to write my story all spiffed up and Christianized. But it wouldn’t be true. And worse? It would dilute the magnificence, the wonder, the super-sized power of His miracle. If the sins of our ancestors like King David and Bathsheba, were omitted so as to keep the story G-rated, the Bible would be a thin, trite paperback story rather than the Greatest Story Ever Told.
So, with God’s help, I will conquer the blank screen.
Note to our children… we apologize for the TMI and the PDA in this blog.
Warning … I’ve decided to walk the tightrope without the net. I’ve made some changes to the blog and I want you to know what to expect.
The main change is the name, “IN SPITE OF US,” after the book I am writing – one keyboard click at a time. Other than that, I will continue to post the same random stories but occasionally will share excerpts from the book or reflect on the agony of the writing experience. “In Spite of Us,” is a book in progress about a completely unremarkable couple, doomed to DEATH by stupid choices. Two people coerced into a blind date, attraction acknowledged along with RED FLAGS waving. Yet, they continue… a stiletto heel and a biker boot… limping along with clashing lifestyles, heading toward a mass grave, overflowing with hopeless relationships.
A double memoir told through the opposing voices of myself and my husband, TESTIFYING TO GOD’S GREAT LOVE. A God who never gave up on us.
My heart for the blog is to show that although my walk today may outwardly appear to be simple and ordinary, it is in Spirit, truly remarkable with His miracles around every corner. Yes, I still question and unfortunately whine with the best of the Israelites, but hopefully, before the Amen is spoken, Praise His Holy name.
My prayer is that the book and blog give glory to His deeds, lighting a path of hope for others, who may feel undeserving, as I once did and still do, without a huge daily dose of His Grace and Mercy.
I hope you enjoy the changes and keep following as I wrap my toes around that tightrope and reveal my heart.
As a single mom, divorced, bitter and broken, I made a list of “MUST HAVES,” vowing to flee from any man who couldn’t swear by them all. Thank God, I broke that promise.
Today, after 22 years of marriage, I celebrate Valentines Day, grateful for the Godly characteristics my Father in heaven instilled in my husband – most of which never made my original list of qualifications.
Here is my TOP TEN list today. My prayer is for all, single or not, to realize the wondrous plan God has for your life. I know the best is yet to come.
10. I love the way he loves his daughters. He speaks sweetly of them. Respects who they are. It’s truly beautiful.
9. He brings me a cup of hot tea when I’m sick.
8. He treats other women like sisters, moms, friends. He shows them respect and genuine brotherly love.
7. He reads the Bible, hungry for more of God, eager for righteousness.
6. He prays.
5. He listens, even when I’m whining.
4. He loves my daughter and son and he is the best co-grandparent imaginable.
3. He cries. He weeps. He sobs. He laughs.
2. He loves me.
1. He loves God more than me. By putting God first, he keeps our life ship afloat.
The point is – give God a stab at choosing what’s best, you might just find out that He knows you better than you know yourself.
Go here to read the top ten Bible scriptures on love.