Tag Archives: Grace in Marriage

45 Years and Still Fighting…

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45 Years and Still Fighting…

I sat on the very last row, an early arriver for the wedding; I’d only met the couple the night before, and I was there because my husband was officiating.

I watched the groom casually stroll from the back of the room to take his place alongside my husband. They exchanged a few private words, smiling as they waited for the music to shift, signaling the start of the processional. Any moment, the doors would open and his beautiful bride would stand ready to join him, not only for the moment, but for life.

My mind wandered to the day forty-five years ago when my husband and I made the same journey, me on my father’s arm and he alongside our pastor. We met at the front of a room that is no longer a church, but that spot was and always will be sacred ground.

On this night, I bowed as my husband prayed over the ceremony and I was overwhelmed by the gravity of what would take place next. I knew that few in the room were aware of the throngs that were kept at bay by heavenly angels as these two began to make vows to one another before a holy God.

I pulled out our marriage service the other day. Surprisingly, the vows haven’t changed much. If we had known then what we know now, I’m not sure we would have had the courage to enter a covenant that flies in the face of the enemy. We stood before our pastor and about seventy-five friends and family and made promises that we couldn’t keep:

  • To have and to hold … till death do us part – (okay, the service was more King James than James Taylor, but back then there wasn’t much creativity with vows if you weren’t having a hippy wedding) We couldn’t fully comprehend just how long it would be before one of us would die. Seriously, that is not a commitment to take lightly on your eighteenth birthday.
  • For better or for worse – I had seen lots of “worse” and I was sure it would be easier alongside this man-child. What I couldn’t have understood was that sometimes, one of us would be the source of the “worse”. I didn’t know how often and how strong the enemy would come into a situation and attempt to position us at odds with each other, two very different people from very different backgrounds.
  • For richer or poorer – We were familiar with poverty. Of course, that was before we had to think about keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table. We couldn’t have known that financial tragedy would strike; we would have to join hands rather than point fingers if we were to survive and ultimately thrive.
  • In sickness and in health – Two young people, strong and healthy, stood before that preacher, naïve and clueless. When chronic illness struck, it changed our lives forever.
  • To love – We were crazy in love with each other. We had experienced it as our parents and families loved us and we had witnessed it in parents who loved one another. We had no idea of how broken we each were and how much God would use marriage to reveal and heal those broken places.
  • To cherish – Webster defines cherish as keeping or cultivating with care and affection. I had no idea that my dreams would only emerge as this man coaxed me to name them; that he would need me to assure him that he was enough.

In the cool of an air-conditioned sanctuary, on a muggy Friday in July of 1972, we stepped into our story.

The humble ceremony and the small reception gave not even a nod to the epic battle we were walking into. I won’t deny that it’s hard. There have been times when I wanted to quit and I’m sure he’s been tempted as well.

We’ve recently been sharing our excitement over reaching a milestone anniversary and the prevailing comments are all summed up in a few words. “That’s a really long time.” Yes, it is.

If you are looking for a how to list or step by step guide to wedded bliss, you are going to be disappointed.

We are quietly passionate. There has never been a great deal of arguing or bickering in this marriage, but oh, there have been fights. We fight hard for our home because we believe our lives depend on it.

We’ve gone to our knees again and again for our family. When the enemy wanted him to give up over human failure I’ve literally laid across his body and declared the truth about who God says he is. He has served me in big ways and everyday small ways with complete joy.

We have realized that our love story is not ours alone; it is set amid a war with a purpose far greater than our happiness. God longs to use our marriage to point people to Jesus. We have seen a glimpse into the value of what God is doing in our marriage, a glorious story of his faithfulness.

We know that love is costly; in fact, it costs everything. Our greatest example is God’s love demonstrated on the cross. We also enthusiastically agree it is worth it. As much as I loved that handsome groom on our wedding day, my love for him forty-five years later is so much richer and deeper. We choose again and again to honor, bless and serve one another per God’s best advice for life. “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” (Romans 12:10, The Message)

We believe that God is for our marriage. He has set the stage for romance, with beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, music, and deep desire for one another. “You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145:16)

I expect there will be many more battles; we will worry too much over our daughters and grandchildren. Despite our good intentions, he will leave his clothes by the hamper and I will make us late and overreact when he stops short behind the wheel.

I am looking forward to every new day with him, to every sunset he drives me to, to every doctor’s appointment I make when he wants to “wait and see”. We are finding more joy every day and I like to think the hardest days are behind us, but I know that is not likely.

Whatever the next decades bring, we are stronger because we have discovered that we have an enemy and he is not us.

Joying in this journey,

lorraine

A word to my husband, my most faithful reader, the one who believes in my dreams far more than I ever dared:

Thanks for always treating me like the beauty in the love story, honey. I’m so glad that God gave me a man who will fight for me, who has patiently loved me as the veil has lifted to reveal the beauty of who God created me to be. I love you and always will. Happy Anniversary!

 

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Wedding Dance 2017

 

 

I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

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I Wouldn’t Wait! Confessions of a Teen Bride…

We married on my 18th birthday.  I didn’t even have a driver’s license.  I’d known him for one year and he’s the only guy I ever went out with more than once or twice.  He was all of eight months older.

My parents were not thrilled about the wedding plans. There were threats that they wouldn’t come; I was their Catholic daughter marrying a Baptist boy in a Baptist church. I was too young and way too naïve. I was rocking their expectations, to say the least.

Our wedding was on a Friday night; there was a small reception at the church. A few of the ladies served cake, punch, nuts and mints.  I thought it was fabulous.  It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized just how plain and simple it really was, but I was in a beautiful dress that I had sewn with my own hands. I was ready to be a wife, HIS wife.

It’s interesting the things that you remember from such a significant life event. The pastor’s wife positioned my veil as my mom frantically hemmed dresses in the Sunday school room where the bridesmaids were getting ready for the ceremony. I was really glad my mother was there.

My brother Steve slipped his arm around me as I stood in the foyer and peeked through the back door into the sanctuary. In all of the hustle and bustle I remember him saying that I was beautiful. He waited with me for my dad to come and walk me down the aisle.

I didn’t hear angels sing as we exchanged our traditional vows, but a guy I went to school with named Angel sang the love theme from Romeo and Juliet. What can I say? It was the 70’s!

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When it was over, we climbed into our ‘68 Impala and drove to a car wash. Well-meaning friends and family had written all over the car with shoe polish (again, the 70’s)). There was a peace sign on the top of that car until the day we traded it. Make love, not war, people.

We drove to our little home and closed the door on the world for a week. I was completely content.

Our first home was slightly larger than the tiny houses that have recently become popular. We had purchased a 600 square foot mobile home at a price of $3,995; it came fully furnished. The sofa was so lightweight I could powerlift it over my ninety-eight pound frame.

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I felt like the queen of a castle. It was hardly majestic but it was our home. We were happy to start life together there. It was exactly what we wanted.

Over the next few years, we made a lot of decisions that we would later regret, but we have never regretted our choice to have our first child. We waited only six months to get pregnant – we were still getting to know each other, but we loved our growing family.

That simple ceremony was forty-four years ago. I suppose the odds were against us making it. We were too young, too poor, undereducated and naïve.

We started our marriage with less than one hundred dollars in cash, a fully mortgaged mobile home that began depreciating the day we signed the papers, and a car payment. Neither of us had a great job. It would be seven years before he earned an associate’s degree; thirty years to his bachelors. I never got around to college.

But we did make it and I’m convinced it is because of what we did have, mostly a legacy from our families, dysfunctional and imperfect as they were:

  • An example – Our parents were fully committed to keeping their families intact.
  • Lifestyle – Ours revolved around spending time rather than money.
  • Low expectations – We didn’t even once think that we should begin with what our parents managed to acquire in their twenty-five years of marriage.
  • Lots of siblings – We were used to sharing everything; we both came from large families and one bathroom houses.
  • Peer pressure – The couples around us were counting on us to remain a couple.
  • Hearts to serve – He did the laundry and ironing and cleaned the house after school and on weekends because his mother worked; when my sister was bed-ridden with a broken hip I got out of class early and walked two miles home every day so I could be with her when my dad left for work. Our parents taught us that families serve one another; we brought that gift into our new home.
  • Faith in God – Even when we lost faith in each other we knew that we were in his grip; that was enough when we couldn’t hold onto each other.
  • Inexperience – We didn’t bring a lot of comparisons to our bed or any other area of the house.
  • Refusing to keep score – We trusted each other enough to bring 100% most days; on the days one of us didn’t, the other picked up the slack.
  • Going to bed mad – Sometimes sleep and time are the best antidote to frustration and anger. So often the light of a new day brings clarity and peace. We learned to insert a pause and get some rest.

Everyone’s love story is different. I’m not advocating marrying right out of high school, skipping college or making babies in the first year of marriage. I guess what I’m really saying is that if two crazy, naïve and clueless kids could do it, maybe you can.

My simple prayer is that our story will encourage you to walk in his mercy, every new day and extend grace, first at home.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~ Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

By his grace alone,

lorraine

If you enjoyed this, check out another post on our crazy love.

 

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Medicine, Mirth and Marriage Vows

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My husband had major surgery last week. You know how I know it was major? Because minor surgery is any surgery performed on someone other than you or your loved one. Truly, though, a spinal fusion is major surgery.

In these days of healthcare reform, a five day/four night stay in the hospital is not common. However, if they had discharged us one day sooner I might have staged a revolt. And yet, I’ve never wanted to leave a place more.

hospital sunrise.JPGThe room was spacious and contemporary; the view was beautiful. We watched the sunrise every morning. There was a flat screen television with cable and meals were delivered by room service (for the patient, anyway).

But hospitals are, after all, institutions. Things tend to happen at a snail’s pace and by day three it feels like Groundhog Day. I stayed with my hubby 24/7 because he is my life and I was not about to trust complete strangers with taking care of him after surgery.

I think he appreciated that I was there to help him with things like using the bathroom, but he may have had second thoughts the night that as I was standing behind him holding his gown up, I dropped it. Two people, weary and one under the influence of narcotic pain medication, laughing hysterically over pee. And let me tell you, that announcement on flights about placing your own oxygen mask before assisting others? Applies to assisting with bathroom needs in the middle of the night. There should have been a sign on the door; perhaps I would have avoided falling into a half giggling/half crying heap in a puddle of my own urine.

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Roomies making the best of it

The best part of “rooming in’ is middle of the night visits from nurses for medication and vitals. It was sweet when they mentioned that we are so in love and remarked about how tenderly we spoke to each other. They see things, apparently.

 

 

Little did they know, I was right on the edge several times. Last year, we chose to “divorce” cable and I’ve been missing one of my favorites, HGTV. I was very excited when I realized that the hospital cable stations included my channel. After the first day, every time Mike was taking a rest, he would say, “Watch anything you like, but not HGTV.”

Seriously? I knew he was about to fall into a drug-induced semi-coma in two minutes. I cried out from my anguished soul and dug deep in the vault of forty-three years of commitment for the strength to love him in spite of this decree. As it turns out, in a drug-induced coma you hear a lot; as he “slept” he was very involved in the renovation projects and he was totally stressed out. Only my sweet hubby could be stressed while under the influence of narcotics and muscle relaxers!

Hospitals are lonely. They are noisy and busy places, but behind the door of a patient

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This is hospital food – have mercy.

room time drags. Visitors are awesome, especially when they come bearing food and drinks from “outside”. Please, if you are going to visit – for the love – stop by Starbucks or Panera and pick up a treat! Otherwise, your presence will simply be tolerated. My daughter brought me her leftovers from the Cheesecake Factory and a huge Starbucks mocha. I kissed her. I probably would have anyway, but I was sleep deprived and literally had been scavenging from the leftovers on my hubby’s tray. I might not have recognized her, but black beans and tacos smelled like love.

 

 

The place was a labyrinth. The few times I ventured from the room in search of coffee and snacks I was tempted to drop bread crumbs. Somehow, though, I found the gift shop.

When my oldest daughter was in high school, after a weekend that will prevent me from ever being nominated for Mother of the Year (that’s a story for another day), she was hospitalized at a small local hospital. A friend visited and brought a gift that was obviously from the gift shop in the lobby. A new family joke was born…just stop in the gift shop and by a box of tissues or chap stick. No thought required. Yes, we are classy like that.

Let me just say, hospital gift shops have changed. There were cases filled with fancy chocolates and pastries that looked nothing like the sugar free Jello that I managed to add to my hubby’s tray without pushing him over the carb count for the meal. As I passed into the Brighton purses and jewelry I knew this was a place that I needed to escape in my current vulnerable state. Fortunately, my compulsion to remain at his side overpowered the temptation to linger over the Vera Bradley display marked 25% off.

We are home now. Managing pain meds and praying for poop have kept us humble  but so far, but we are still laughing and can’t believe that we’ve been doing this for almost forty-four years. If you have to stay a few nights in the hospital, take your best friend and your sense of humor.

We Kissed Date Nights Goodbye

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Regular date Nights. Sounds great, right? Get a sitter, get out of the house and spend time together. If you don’t, your marriage is doomed. Everyone from Redbook to your pastor is declaring it.

Pisha, I say. On what grounds, you may ask, do I declare this pisha?

Forty three years of marriage and counting. Staying happily married for that much time lends credibility to one’s opinions.

I can’t jump on the date night bandwagon, in spite of the fact that hubby and I are in the “business” of hitching and counseling young couples:

  • First, the word regular. Regular as in your bowel function? Done or happening frequently? Or regular as in conforming to the usual?
  • Have you ever wrangled the kids out of the house on a weeknight? Better yet, on a Thursday night??? After a Wednesday night at church? That project that’s due on Friday isn’t gluing itself to a poster board.
  • Money. I know that you can argue that you can come up with creative date night ideas that don’t cost a dime, and good for you. What happens when we use those creative juices to come up with a way to get the baby to sleep through the night (or just through a quickie)?
  • No children in the house? Why in the world do you want to leave the coziness of your own nest? Nothing more romantic than a snuggling together and seeing where the night goes.
  • I’m totally in favor of special time together.
  • Weddings…always be the first to respond Yes! And never take your young children unless it’s a close family member. What a great gift to you! A beautiful ceremony to recall the joy and sacredness of your vows, followed by dinner (free) and dancing. What could be more romantic?
  • Coffee Breaks – I’m a striver. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to relax at home, surrounded by the things that I need to do. When he “scoops me up” for a visit to a nearby coffee shop it is a perfect diversion and gets me focused on the man I love.
  • Volunteer – What are you passionate or your spouse passionate about? Get involved together.
  • Completing projects – Paint a room, organize your pictures, or plant a garden. Work side by side, even if it’s after the kids are tucked in at night.
  • Family walks – Even with a passel of kids, you know they will run ahead and around you as you walk. Head to a park, run off some steam and you’ll be surprised what the endorphins will do for their sleep and your love life. There is nothing sexier than your man playing with your children.
  • Vacations – Biggest regret? That we didn’t take more…but as a family.
  • Every night – okay I know this doesn’t work for everyone but you know your life and can figure this out:
    • Put the kids to bed and spend time together, not just sitting in front of the TV
    • Go to bed together. It can be tricky if you’re a night owl and he gets up early. Adjust. The time before you sleep is critical to your relationship. Devote a few minutes to each other, even if you have to get up after he’s drifted off.In 1989, the Orlando Magic was established as a franchise. I married a man who loves, and taught me to love, the game of basketball. We were season ticket holders for the first few years and rarely missed a game. We were away from home lots of nights, but our girls were responsible and could look after themselves – it was “our” time. I remember seeing Larry Bird (Google him – he’s a legend) and Michael Jordan on the court and pinching myself. We thought we were in heaven.When I look back, the seats in the arena were a dream come true, but the time and money spent were extravagant. However, working as a team in that gym we accomplished something that was truly ours, yet outside of ourselves. It was ours to share.
    • Fifteen years earlier, we volunteered to run the basketball league for a local organization. Every Saturday we drove around, collecting a rag tag bunch of preteen boys in our Chevelle. The rear floor board was rusted out and we were always a little concerned about having enough gas to make the drive across town and back. We had our baby girl with us, too and she was at home on the courts. We spent all day at the gym, working together to get games started on time, pay the officials, keep scorebooks and keep tabs on those boys. Lots of weeks we spent our meager budget to buy at least one of them a burger. We worked hard side by side and we loved it.
    • It’s great to plan a night out. It’s even better to have a night out planned for you; to be dated, to be wooed and in the process remember the things that brought you together in the beginning. I love getting primped for a night out because it’s special. But I’m just going to say it. Regular sounds a little too….regular. There’s nothing magical happening at Chili’s, friends.

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If you are still with me…go, enjoy a night out once in a while. If your church (like mine) is offering babysitting services free or at a great price, take advantage of it. But don’t let anyone tell you that your marriage is doomed if you don’t have a weekly date night.