Friday, August 21, 2009

Truly, Madly, Deeply

I was making our bed this morning, and had one of those ooey gooey waves of love for my husband wash over me. I was able to move around at an easy pace this morning and was tucking sheets under the mattress and I was overwhelmed with what a lucky girl I am. I am crazy in love with my husband. I don't always act like it, but I am.

I'm proud of my marriage. Looking around and watching so many of them fall apart, I am very proud of the fact that ours is going strong. But I don't take it for granted, you have to work hard to keep a marriage strong.

That was one of the first lessons I learned, marriage is hard work. It's a fact, and one most young couples don't realize when they first sign on for what they imagine will be some great romantic adventure meant to last the rest of their lives.

I look at the picture above, two (kindly) pudgy, middle-aged folks, those madly in love 19-year-olds had nothing on this couple. And although there was a time when our inseams were longer than my waistlines, that's just about the only advantage those two cool kids had over these... grown-ups.

It's been a hard road to get "here," but I'm so glad we took it.

No, it's not our anniversary, and it isn't Neal's birthday - I just really found myself counting my blessings this morning, and he is without a doubt on the top of my list. I know a lot of women adore their children and tolerate their husbands, but I would not count myself a member of this very large club. I don't just tolerate my children, but they are second to my husband, and I honestly think that's the way it is supposed to be.

I don't wonder, "what will we do?" when the kids are gone. I look forward to those years with great anticipation, knowing an empty nest will someday mean more time for "us," with less family business to partner over and more time to just be together and connect. That will be the reward at the end of the challenging years of our journey. I hope Neal and I are both blessed with long lives so that we have a lot of those years together. (Maybe working on those waistlines would be a good effort to make.)

We aren't attached at the hip or anything. We both have our own interests and things we like to do, but we connect through them when we can. I like to write and read and blog. Neal isn't much of a fan of reading, he'll probably never see this, but he supports me, lets me share the occasional blog I wrote, or listens as I drone on about the latest book I'm reading. He has his softball. I have left Monday nights untouched for 17 years, even when it meant I had to pull double parent duty at times, because I know he loves to play. And when our schedules allow, I go and root him on from the stands... LOUDLY of course, it is me after all.

I grew up going to baseball games incessantly as a kid. My dad was an umpire and I went to high school and college games as well as lots of Angel games. By the time I met Neal I was BURNT OUT... and if I never saw another baseball game again I would have been great with it. But a couple years into our marriage when Neal came out of the "closet" as an Angel fan, I came back around too. When he turned into a hardcore fan, I jumped on his bandwagon. It wasn't long before I found myself watching the games even when he wasn't around, because it became something we could share. I love it now, because he loves it.

Our romance quotient is great. I will keep it at that to spare you all pink cheeks, but it is our friendship that truly sustains us. I LIKE my husband. I like hanging out with him, I like talking to him, I like the person he is.

It took a lot of years, but regularly praying together cemented our relationship even more. I believe the most intimate thing we share together is seeking the Father together. When we let it lapse because of life and its schedules, we can feel it, we suffer for it. We bicker more.

I say more because even when things are good, we bicker. The other night I asked Jake if it bothers him when we fight. He adamantly told me it REALLY bothers him when we fight. So I asked him about our recent camping trip. We had a couple "incidents" on our family outing. He laughed, he said, "you didn't fight on our trip, that's just bickering. That doesn't bother me."

I make no apologies for bickering. You take two different people from two different backgrounds with two different ways of communicating, and there will always be conflict. Bickering shows my kids that when things get a little rough, you work it out.

I wonder how many marriages are cut short because couples give up too quickly when the waters get rough. I know there were lots of times in the last 20 years when I thought it would have been easier to walk away than stick it out and work it out. But I'm sure glad I didn't.

If love is an action, marriage is a commitment. You don't base the love of your marriage on what you "feel" but you choose to love your spouse, and you act it out... "fake it till you make it" even if you have to, but you need to spend a lot more time concerning yourself with how you can love better than how you can feel more loved - it will change your marriage. And as far as the commitment goes, well, there are no deal breakers. You decide in advance that it is "until death do us part" long before the trouble comes (and it will come) and when it's tough, divorce isn't even an option... (and even though I said "til death," murder isn't an option either... )

Yeah, I am a blessed woman - I am so in love with my husband - truly, madly, deeply; but credit where credit is due... it's had a lot to do with wise investments, of God and self into this incredible adventure called mariage.

Don't think me prideful, but I am truly proud....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Powerful and Effective

My husband and I took our kids on a camping trip almost a week ago. We left the comforts of home and packed up in our cars and headed out of town. We spent 4 days and 3 nights at Paradise Cove in Lake Isabella. We left almost all the comforts of home including wifi and computer access to just get away from it all.

Things have been really stressful around here. Our work situation is tense, the business we work for, like many these days, is suffering greatly under the pressures of our economy. Although we got good news about our refi working out before we left, we're still in limbo waiting for when it will actually finalize. Relationships have been strained (not in the nucleus of our little family, but beyond it.) There have been health issues and concerns, bills due, expenses like the upcoming school year looming ahead, our plates are very full, heavy full.

So our few days of "roughing it" were actually incredibly precious to us when we realized we were able to not only leave behind the comforts of home, but the crises of it too. It was nice to actually not even think about the "stuff." going on. Nothing about home weighed on my shoulders the whole time we were away. I slept well at night (and actually have not been struggling with sleeping even at home, believing that is the grace of God); I would wake up in the mornings so relaxed. Although we dealt with little camping issues that would arise, they'd rise and fall quickly, and they would dissipate. None of the cumbersome constant stress was looming about like it has been here at home for weeks, months even perhaps. It was a really nice respite.

Even when we got home Sunday evening, as we unpacked everything and began the hassle of regrouping and settling back in, there was a pervading peacefulness. It felt really good. I actually kind of forgot about the stress... for a little while.

But Monday morning was sure to come, and it did. Although I had a good night's sleep, as I started to rouse a few minutes before the alarm clock went off demanding I get up. As I became aware of the room around me, I also felt the familiar presence of the anxiety that has greeted me every morning for weeks. It varies in degree, but for weeks it has been there, often faint, and nagging, but at times, even overwhelming and suffocating. As I woke up this Monday morning, it wasn't faint. I wasn't drowning in it, but it was strong, the sick heavy lump of it right in my breast.

It made me sad. It made me long to hop back in the truck and head back to Isabella. I don't know why it suddenly reappeared. More accurately I guess I am not sure why it ever disappeared, but I know after having a few days of freedom from it, I didn't want to have to bear it anymore.

The rest of the day was really rough, miserable at times, and I could not shake the sense of my morning's greeting. Anxiety is not our friend.

Not knowing what else to do, I sent a prayer request out to a few of my friends. I asked them to please pray for me. I asked for prayers for the complications of my day, but even more I asked for prayer for freedom from the constant anxieties that have been greeting me day after day.

Then Tuesday came. I woke up again just before the alarm yesterday, and suddenly I was aware of something different. I laid in bed, waiting. It wasn't there. The daily heaviness in my chest just simply wasn't there. My shock pushed me to look for it, which almost led me to create it, but I stopped myself. I had asked my friends to pray, and I know I was feeling the result. God was answering their prayers and mine.

This morning I awoke again very aware of the absence of the pit in my chest. It was a blessed feeling. I immediately begin to speak words of praise and thanks to God. I pray it continues. As I sit here and type about the anxiety, I can feel it laboring to rise in my chest, but awake I can fight it, I can take authority over it with the word of God. But awaking to it, that has been a battle I have not been able to win on my own. It has greeted me before I have been ever aware enough or my surroundings to stand, much less stand on the word of God.

So today I find myself thankful for my friends and their prayers. It has made an incredible difference in my life these last two mornings, and I am grateful for them, and for a God who hears and responds.

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. James 5:15-16