Monday, March 16, 2015

Are We Marriage Video Material?

Hubby and I walked into church hand in hand that sunny fall Sunday morning. I wore a new dress and new shoes I was finally getting to wear after buying them on clearance last summer. Hubby leaned over and commented sweetly about how I looked. I laughed and we shared a few kind words back and forth.

It was a beautiful day...I was at church with my man...and he thought I was pretty. Soon we would meet up with our kids in the church service and then enjoy a family lunch together. It was a good day and I was all smiles.

As we walked across the church lobby, one of the associate pastors caught my eye. Being new to the church, we didn't know him and he didn't know us, but we made eye contact and I said hello. At that point, he surprised me by walking over to tell us that he was watching as we walked across the lobby. He introduced himself and then said that we looked so happy as we walked into church that it made him think we should be in a marriage video.

Well no one had ever said that to us! We laughed, and went on our way, but I have to say...that moment felt really good.

Now, Hubby and I have no intentions of ever being cast in a marriage video. There are plenty of days when we probably aren't a very good example to anyone. On the other hand, we don't take this marriage gig lightly. We never have. From the very beginning we agreed to make our marriage and each other a priority in our lives. We offer a strong effort every day in treating each other with love and respect.

Of course...if that same pastor had seen us in our living room "discussing" something the night before, he might not have had the same thought about us. He might have actually suggested we needed to watch a marriage video. After nearly twenty-six wedded years, we don't claim to have a perfect marriage. And while we may not really be "marriage video material", I know that love and forgiveness come much easier for both of us than it did early in our marriage.

Over the years our love has grown deeper and so has our resolve to fix things when they get out of whack. I am so grateful for that.

That Saturday night, what started out as a normal conversation quickly escalated to a heated discussion. But after a few tense moments, we both realized it at about the same time, and we stopped it right then and there.

Forgiving and moving on was more important than who was right. What could have (and might have in the past) turned into a full blown argument (that halted any solution) was quickly defused and fixed because we were both more interested in forgiving and loving each other.

Of course, it's not always that easy with us. Some days or some conflicts are harder to navigate. But we are maturing in our marriage, and as our love grows deeper for each other, we are more protective of hurting each other during a disagreement.

As you may know, the apostle Paul wrote about the love and respect of marriage in Ephesians.

Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband. ~Ephesians 5:33 (VOICE)

I really love the way The Voice Bible words this verse because what wife doesn't want to be loved and protected as if she were her husband's very heart? And I certainly believe that every husband wants the respect of his own wife.

Endeavoring to live this verse has been a central part of our union, and I think it's a key ingredient in loving, strong, successful marriages.

So while we may never make the cut in a marriage video, I believe our marriage is blessed by God and held together by our love and respect for each other. That is vital when you have those "not really marriage video material" days. And knowing that makes the days when we don't need to forgive each other all the sweeter.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Just Wait

Are you experiencing a time of waiting? I am and it seems like I have been for quite some time. Actually, when I stop to really think about it, most of my adult life has been living in a constant state of waiting.

You would think I would be better at it than I am.

There are probably equivalent experiences in the "civilian world", but military families do live in a regular state of waiting. When a member of the family is active duty, there's always something coming next.

Like all other military families, we spent our Air Force adventures waiting.

At any given moment, we were waiting on orders...reunions...housing...phone calls...household goods shipments...promotions...connections....letters...leave time...training completion...assignments...packers...email...family visits...kisses...moving trucks...new friendships...trips home to see family...finding a church...or a hairdresser...or a school...maybe even a job. 

And in the back of our minds, we were always waiting for the season of life when we didn't live in a constant state of waiting anymore.

Last March when we made the decision for Hubby to retire from his military career, we thought our time of waiting was finally over. The relief that flooded over us both at that moment was more than either one of us expected. It was almost like we had been holding our breath for the past 24 years and we could finally breathe normally.

We scheduled our last military pack up and watched the movers drive off with all of our household goods for an unknown storage unit.  We enjoyed a big send off from family, friends, and the military at Hubby's retirement ceremony, and then we took off for our next adventure in Texas.

We expected to settle into our "retirement life" quickly, to purchase our "forever home", wait for our movers to arrive one last time, and then finally the waiting would be over.

Isn't that a sweet picture?

Turns out...that was not the picture God saw.

And so...here we are...eight months later...and guess what we are doing?

This has been the weirdest and hardest wait we have struggled through. It's also been the most relaxing and best one yet.

No, we are not settled. We haven't purchased our "forever home". The movers have not brought us our household goods. We don't think it will be much longer, but we are still waiting. 

This is not at all what we expected when we made that exciting decision a year ago, which may be the biggest reason it was, by far, the hardest one. On the other hand, it has also given Hubby and I a glimpse into what real retirement will be like someday. 

After a slight adjustment period, we have decided "pretend retirement" isn't bad. We have really enjoyed our time together and think we will rock real retirement someday. We have most certainly delighted in the extra time we have had with our kids. It truly has been a blessed family time, making this waiting time our best one ever

For me, the secret to getting through any time of waiting is focusing on the good in the present. Each day when I get up and mark another day off the calendar, I am not only one day closer to what I am I waiting for, but I am also given another opportunity to look for the blessings in my life that day.

When I focus on the gifts God has showered down on me, it takes my mind off of what I don't have and helps me see the beauty of what I do have at the moment. 

Of course, this isn't as easy as it sounds. Some days are just a struggle. Waiting can be mind numbing and even painful. Sometimes it feels like the end will never be in sight. Sometimes you just want to give in to the frustration.

Thankfully, we never have to go through one period of waiting by ourselves. Not even once. God is always there to see us through it. He alone knows the plan and has everything in our lives under control...even when it totally feels out of control.

In Lamentations, there is a poem (most likely written by Jeremiah after the destruction of Jerusalem) that has these words:

How enduring is God’s loyal love;
    the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion.
 Here they are, every morning, new!
    Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.
Have courage, for the Eternal is all that I will need.

    My soul boasts, “Hope in God; just wait.”      ~Lamentations 3:22-24 (VOICE)

When the waiting feels too overwhelming, I think on these words. Drinking in God's love and inexhaustible compassion,  I put my hope in God.

And then...I just wait.