Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Falling In Love Again

It's been almost 21 years (wow!) since I fell in love with my dear husband, but I can sit here close my eyes and still remember so many details about that time in my life. I remember the way my blood pressure would rise just thinking about him, feeling my heart swell at the anticipation of spending time with him. It doesn't hurt that he can still rise my blood pressure and still make my heart go pitter patter, but this was a different kind of love, a new love. OK, OK before you go running and screaming from the computer, this post isn't about my passionate love for my husband, though if you'd like to read about that, you can do so here.

What I do want to talk about today is similar though, my heart's been set a pitter patter again, but not for my dear husband, but rather for my First Love, the greatest romance of my life, my love for the Lord. I'm not falling in love for the first time, like I did with Neal nearly 21 years ago, but I am falling in love again like I did almost 19 years ago with my Lord and Savior.

2010 has started off nicely, it feels more fresh and new than any year I can recall in recent history. I know it had lots to do with my unplugging in the transition of the New Year, but it's being built upon with renewed focus and a new effort towards discipline in life. Discipline and romance? How does that compute? I don't know actually, but it does.

Actually, I guess it does make sense. I never feel more loved than when my husband makes me feel like a priority. He does it in lots of different ways. Sometimes I'll hear him on the phone with a friend and I hear him say, "OK, let me check with my wife and I'll get back to you." It blesses my heart to know he is putting me and our marriage ahead of whatever adventure he's being invited into on the other end of that line. Or sometimes when my kids have made a poor choice and been disrespectful to me, I hear him say, "Don't talk to my wife (your mom) that way," and crazy as it seems it makes me really happy. It tells me he values me, because I belong to him, I hold a place in his life above all other people. Most of all when Neal sets aside time just for me, that really makes me feel loved. I remember for my 35th birthday when he went out of the way to plan a whole weekend just for the two of us. He booked a room at a bed & breakfast in Solvang (one of my favorite places) for a weekend, made arrangements for childcare, booked us a train ride, rented a car, and surprised me with the whole thing. He quite literally swept me off my feet, and it required a lot of planning, purposefulness and well... discipline to accomplish it, but it meant the world to me, and I felt so very loved.

Well, I've been trying to exercise the same kind of discipline with my First Love since the start of this New Year. I have decided that spending time with God needs to come first. I have decided that my time and attention need to be directed at him above all else. I've joined in with my church in the reading plan for the year, not just because I want to click something off a "to do" list, but because I know the Father is found there, in those words. I'm not reading and rushing but rather like my pastor said recently, I am seeking to "read the scriptures and be read by the scriptures."

The other night I rented a great movie (that I highly recommend) called Joshua. At one point in the movie this rather angry priest is talking about the scriptures, preaching hell, fire and brimstone, sharing a very legalistic view of the word when he turns to the main character and asks him holding out the bible what he makes this book out to be. Joshua looks at him and says, "It's a love letter." I suppose that sentiment has become somewhat of a cliche, but it doesn't make it any less true. (Cliches become cliches for a reason after all, don't they?)

So it occurs to me, if He took the time to write this beautiful love letter for me, then shouldn't I, at the very least, take the time to read it? Does it require discipline and effort? Well, yes it does, because the fact of the matter is, my Love has a lot he wants to say to me. But knowing the nature of my Love, He is not wasteful with His words, so each of them are important, none to be ignored. I have decided that this needs to take precedence over other activities in my life, like hours of time on Facebook and in front of the television on the couch... sometimes all three at once. Instead I want to spend the bulk of my time cultivating my romance. As much as I would like though to spend all day reading my love letter, practicality wins out. I am a wife, a mom, an employee. I have three kids who need me, a husband who's needs I want to meet, a job, a house that requires time and attention, life continually going on. It has to be tended to, and it turns out there is even still an appropriate time and a place for Facebook and TV watching (like the awesome time I had watching Joshua).

The difference I am finding here in the New Year, what is working to care for the greatest romance of my life, is God's place in all my activities, He's #1. Oh Lord, as I proclaim it, please by Your Spirit, help me to maintain it.

The bible says it like this, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17.

I'm putting Him first, for the first time in a long time, and everything. feels. so. different.

When Neal makes me feel like a priority, like he did on my 35th birthday, I want nothing more than to show him my love in return. I was so grateful for that weekend, not just for the time spent but the effort he put out to make it happen. I look back on that weekend with the fondest of memories because we just were able to enjoy each other's company so much. We just hung out together, focusing on each other, on our marriage. It strengthened the bond between us. Not only did I feel loved, but by the end of the weekend I know I had managed to show him love too, as much as he gave, I did my best to give back. We both came home feeling refreshed and renewed.

It's a lot like what I have been feeling these past few days, but even more so. As I have given my relationship with the Lord the honor and attention it deserves, reading, praying, meditating, even just "chatting" with God, I cannot begin to express to you how much I have been made aware of His love for me in return, and the strength I have found in it, is nothing short of miraculous.

I've been trying to take better care of myself physically in the New Year too. And I am coming to realize even that is a form of worship to the Father when kept in balance and perspective. My body and my health are gifts from God, and I need to be a good steward of them. The other night my son Ethan said something very profound. He said, "I only have one life, so I have to use it wisely." Unfortunately he was talking about the Mario Bros game on the Wii, but the truth of what he said rang in my heart. It's so much more true for us than it was for him in his game.

I've managed to work out every day so far this year, but this morning it was hard to get out of bed. For a moment I thought about enjoying another half hour's sleep before I got up to do my morning reading, but then I remembered that yesterday spending half an hour stretching and exercising made me a lot more awake and alert when I sat down to read the Word. So when I realized it was to the benefit of my relationship with Him, I got out of bed instead of heading back to sleep. Lord, continue to be my strength and my center in all I do.

Even as I am sitting here writing this blog, I cannot tell you how many times I have stopped and asked Him to help me find the words to share what He wants me to share. I want Him to be first in that too.

I have to tell you, it's so much like falling in love 19 years ago. My mind is consumed with Him, I fall asleep thinking about Him, I wake up thinking about Him. Last night Neal and I went to the store together and as we were packing our groceries in our car one of the store employees came over and started making conversation. Before I knew it he was telling us about some serious concerns in his life. I could hear the Lord in my ear, "pray for him." So before he walked away, I asked him if we could. The three of us stood in the parking lot and Neal and I laid hands on him. That is so not my nature. But even being in the grocery store parking lot had become about Him, my relationship with Him, and it's wonderful.

Unlike the potential to fail in reciprocating Neal's love when he makes me a priority through effort and discipline (of romance), the Lord will never fail in responding to my attempts to deepen my relationship with Him. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 says. It's "kingdom math" and I love and appreciate that so much. It's a guarantee, and the Lord will never fail to accomplish it.

I pray 2010 will be a year of Great Romance, the greatest of romances, because as much as I give and invest, I can never outgive God, and the return is unending. May 2010 be a year of Great Romance in your life as well... in Jesus' name.

1 comment:

GarzaFam said...

So I was reading your latest blog and this artilce was at the bottom with two other blogs. All I have to say is WOW! Total conviction for me. I have not been putting God first and this is just another reminder on how imporatant I need to make him. Facebook and movies can wait. I am making a commitment to do just that. I had a rule once no facebook til I have spent my time with God I really need to bring that back to help me . . . Thank you for being so faithful in writing . . . you are such a blessing