Thursday, February 21, 2008

What I Have Learned in 26 Years of Marriage

Wednesday was our 26th anniversary. What did we do? Nothing out of the ordinary. And that in itself is one of the things I like best about our marriage. Each day with each other is special. What have I learned over these many years?

Here are generalities for both husbands and wives:

1. Don't sweat the small stuff. It doesn't matter. It really doesn't matter. Recently I have been saddened to hear of people my age or slightly older passing away and leaving spouses and children. The little tiff you might have had, or the grudge you are holding because "I'll show them!", WILL NOT MATTER if the Lord decides to take your spouse home. Of course, we can't be thinking about death all the time, but we CAN be aware that no one is guaranteed tomorrow, and treat your spouse and family accordingly.

2. Don't treat strangers better than you treat your spouse. This is a biggie. In the course of a day don't you smile at strangers? Talk politely to them? Hold doors open? Say please and thank you? Then why do we treat the very ones we love the most with less respect? The stranger you might have smiled at and said a kind word to may or may not remember you next week; your spouse and children have nothing BUT memories of you. Make them count.

3. Try to start the day with a smile for your spouse. I learned this the hard way. I am NOT a morning person. Well, at least not until I've had the equivalent of a pot of coffee. I have found that the mood you get out of bed in is generally going to set the tone for the whole family for the rest of the day. Keep that in mind if you wake up grumpy and snapping at everyone. I may not feel like smiling, but I do it anyway because I sure don't want to ruin the rest of my day or anyone else's.

4. Make the extra effort. Whatever it might be. Do you see that your spouse just finished their drink/snack/whatever? Make the extra effort to notice and offer to get a refill or something for them. Do you see your spouse having difficulty doing something but you're comfy in your chair? Get up and help anyway. You'll be glad you did, and so will your spouse. Does your spouse like a particular food but you don't? Prepare it anyway. It matters.

5. SAY IT! Did your spouse do or say something that you liked? Tell them so. Are you thinking a nice thought about your spouse for whatever reason? Tell them so. Kind words are so easy to say, especially when they're sincere, and yet we can be so stingy with them. If you feel it (and it's a good thought - not a bad one!) then SAY IT.

Here are specifics FOR WIVES ONLY - *WARNING* - This may be uncomfortable for some or TMI (Too Much Information) for others, but I firmly believe these are necessary for a solid and happy marriage.

1. Never say no. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. S*x to a man is much more than that. It is stress relief, comfort, an all-around, good-for-whatever-ails-ya kind of thing. Be glad your husband is turning to you to meet that need. This doesn't mean be a cold fish and just give in, either. Have fun yourself!

2. Never complain about your husband to others. Yes, you may have a gripe that you feel you need to share with someone, but don't do it. It's disrespectful to your husband and your words could come back to haunt you if your friendship with the person with whom you shared your complaint ever soured. Besides, you wouldn't want your husband talking badly about you to his friends, would you?

3. Meet your husband at the door when he comes home. This is so simple, but makes such a difference. It lets your husband know that you are glad he is home and that he is more important at that moment than anything else you may have had going on right then.

4. To go with #3, say goodbye to your husband at the door when he leaves. DON'T stay in your warm bed in the morning when he leaves! Get up and say goodbye to him. If you want to go back to bed afterwards, then do so, but don't let him leave without a smile and a hug from you. Between #3 and 4, YOURS will be the last loving face he sees as he leaves, and the first loving face he sees upon his return.

5. Put him first. Always. Before the children, before the house, before your job. The children will eventually grow up. Your house is not going anywhere. You will eventually retire from your job. You were a wife first, and you will be a wife last, with all the other things in the middle. Make sure the ending will be as special as the beginning.

6. Don't be afraid of the word submission. Wait - don't throw rotten tomatoes at me yet - let me explain. That word used to scare me. I knew that as a Christian wife I was supposed to submit to my husband. That's what the Bible says, and it's what we wives were created for. But I fought that one kicking and screaming. I thought that I would be taken advantage of. I thought that I would be used and disrespected. The word "doormat" came to mind. Well, I am here to tell you that NONE of those things happened. As always, God's word is true and He really does know what is best for us. What happened instead was that my husband began to actually treat me better than he ever had. The more I gave, the more I received. I began to feel treasured - not taken advantage of by any means. If you don't believe me on this, I challenge you to try it. If your marriage isn't all that happy, then you have nothing to lose. On the contrary - you have much to gain.

Now, before you think I've been living in a fantasy world for 26 years, let me assure you that this marriage has had more ups and downs than a rollercoaster but the important thing is that we started this ride together, and we will end it together. Divorce should never be an option*. Working through obstacles is always tough, but in the end you'll be glad you did. Just like trees that grow deeper roots in order to survive where there is a lot of wind, your marriage will grow stronger and deeper by weathering together the winds that twist and turn you.

*Please note that I am NOT referring here to an abusive situation. If there is physical or any other type of abuse going on in your marriage, you need to get help for yourself and/or your children.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Skills

The aroma of baking bread can't be beat.

Four loaves at a time will last us a while.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Something To Think About

I was reading a book that was published in 1870 - no that's not a typo, it's a really old book - and I wanted to share something out of it. The book is considered a classic; "The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life" by Hannah Whitall Smith. In the passages she explains how we are to have faith in everything; how we are like clay and the Lord is the Divine Potter. Here are a few excerpts that I really liked. It's a little long, but worth reading.

By a step of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Divine Potter; by a gradual process He makes us into a vessel unto His own honor, meet for His use, and prepared to every good work. To illustrate this, suppose I were to describe the way in which a lump of clay is made into a beautiful vessel. The potter takes the clay thus abandoned to his working, and begins to mold and fashion it, according to his own will. He kneads and works it; he tears it apart and presses it together again; he wets it and then suffers it to dry. Sometimes he works at it for hours together; sometimes he lays it aside for days, and does not touch it. And then, when by all these processes he has made it perfectly pliable in his hands, he proceeds to make it up into the vessel he has proposed.

The lump of clay could never grow into a beautiful vessel if it stayed in the clay-pit for thousands of years; but when it is put into the hands of a skillful potter it grows rapidly, under his fashioning, into the vessel he intends it to be. And in the same way the soul, abandoned to the working of the Heavenly Potter, is made into a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for his Master's use. Having, therefore, taken the step of faith by which you have put yourself wholly and absolutely into His hands, you must now expect Him to begin His work. His way of accomplishing that which you have entrusted to Him may be different from your way; but He knows, and you must be satisfied.

The lump of clay, from the moment it comes under the transforming hand of the potter is during each day and each hour of the process just what the potter wants it to be at that hour or on that day, and therefore pleases him; but it is very far from being matured into the vessel he intends in the future to make it. The little babe may be all that a babe could be, or ought to be, and may therefore perfectly please its mother; and yet it is very far from being what that mother would wish it to be when the years of maturity shall come. The apple in June is a perfect apple for June; it is the best apple that June can produce; but it is very different from the apple in October, which is a perfected apple. By an act of faith we put ourselves into the hands of the Lord, for Him to work in us all the good pleasure of His will, and then, by a continuous exercise of faith, keep ourselves there. This is our part in the matter. And when we do it, and while we do it, we are, in the Scripture sense, truly pleasing to God, although it may require years of training and discipline to mature us into a vessel that shall be in all respects to His honor, and fitted to every good work. Just as the potter, however skillful, cannot make a beautiful vessel out of a lump of clay that is never put into his hands, so neither can God make out of me a vessel unto His honor, unless I put myself into His hands.

I hope you will read this through a couple of times and put yourself in the Divine Potter's hands. It's a very freeing place to be, knowing that He is in charge.


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