First comes love, then comes marriage?

Last weekend Patrick and I participated in a marriage retreat called Strong Bonds. True confession, as this blog is entirely about, it was emotionally difficult for me. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m mulit-lingual in the languages of love and that my hubby hasn’t even learned to sound out words. [That’s my pride talking, a subject I’m am constantly re-submitting to the Lord.]

We are learning, or I should say, I am learning, how to communicate. Wouldn’t you think that the girl who can’t shut-up would have this communication thing figured out?

As you all know from reading here, Patrick and I have been through some major mud, over towering hurdles and through the lowest of valleys. And actually, our sustenance has been, the trick to all of this is, learning to believe in God’s LOVE for us, both corporately and individually. Because when God’s love become progressively more real, we cannot help but see His reflection in each other and personally glow with His radiance.

Wrapping up this month of LOVE, I’ve still hardly scratched the surface of C.S. Lewis’ wisdom in The Screwtape Letters. So, we will carry on in March, looking for modern application of this book and alternately peering into the depths of the One Word: Naked.

After this past weekend, it really comes as no surprise that God brought us to Lewis’ chapter on love, sex and marriage. Consider this nugget:

The humans are to be encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-colored and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result.

Do you see that? Kinda makes you think for a second, doesn’t it? In a generation that wants legal marriage for all and at the same time argues for no-fault divorce, it’s pretty obvious that humans believe love is the foundation for marriage. But what if that’s not as God intended?

Perhaps, and it seems evident in the Garden of Eden, marriage, oneness – is the foundation, the fertile ground for love.

Thoughts?

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Privilege of Loss

I’ve been blessed to go home to the mid-west multiple times in the last 12 months. My checkbook might not be feeling very blessed, but it did survive!

First Kylie was born!

Then, a couple months later, poor Kelsey got sick. Then Chelle got married! Each time I am swept off my feet by how much I love my sisters… and their husbands… and their daughters… and my parents. I am in love with steamy-hot Kansas and Oklahoma. I am in love with what will always be home.

Quite literally, I live a nomadic life. Patrick and I unpack as little as possible with each move, just to avoid re-packing it later. I am of the mind that if we don’t open in the two years that we live somewhere, everything in the box is disposable. He doesn’t agree. Anyway, that’s beside the point.

When I flew home after Kylie’s birth, I felt buoyant. I had enjoyed every moment, hugged at every opportunity, stayed up late, and soaked all the life out of every flicker of the second hand. But suddenly, as Kelsey drove away, and I stood on the curb outside DFW my heart lunged toward my feet.

Oh how it hurt.

To leave.

To leave Kylie.

To leave my sisters.

Say goodbye for longer than a restful night.

The pain was all-consuming. I wandered into the airport feeling lost and listless, panicked and angry. What time would pass, what days would lengthen Kylie’s little body? What progress would be made toward Rachelle’s wedding day? What tears would drip without my knowledge? What happy moments would I never experience?

Never mind that I would have my own happy moments, tears, friends, joys, growth… my own life. I would miss them. The pain wedged itself in my windpipe and fought each inhale for my whole flight home. Slowly, it loosened…

When Brave ran into my arms at my own front door,

When Patrick came home and we sat down to watch our favorite TV show together.

That’s another privilege of pain I realized. Do you see it? What if there was nothing wonderful about my sisters? Nothing compelling about home? Nothing to long for, look forward to? Isn’t it far better to have someone to cry for than to shed no tears at all?

Recently, my Bible study girls shared prayer requests. One of the girls asked for prayer for her grandmother. Another one mused out loud, “How blessed you are to have had grandparents for over 30 years!” In my self-pity moments after a sad goodbye, I don’t stop to be grateful for the fact that I have someone to miss.

My grandfather died last year and it hurt deeply. But I had loved him and been loved by him for 30 years.

I am certain that I would rather feel the pain of longing, the ache of loneliness and the tears of goodbye than to have no one to love, no one to miss, no one to hug goodbye.

“I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.” Tennyson

Comical Perspective

Let’s add some levity to the subject of perspective that I brought up on Monday. A change in perspective almost necessarily requires learning to laugh at ourselves, our circumstances and sometimes our frustrations. Let me tell you about the week of Rachelle’s wedding… and the week after we got home.

The second week that I had been living out of a suitcase, I was sleeping in my parents’ basement. I had just driven from Dallas, TX to Wichita, KS, arriving at about midnight. Talk about perspective – I thought midnight was the witching hour and I never stay up that late. Well, given the right incentive (spending time alone with my mom and the excitement of wedding preparations and the fact that I was needed in KS) suddenly, midnight was totally possible.

I woke the next morning to a cryptic email from my business partner with Moms Who TRI, Kristen Hench, who is also my dog-sitter. “Call me, it’s about Brave!”

I bolted out of bed and stood trembling as the phone rang. “He’s not getting out of bed, he wet himself on the floor, he’s shaking and he’s barely eating.” Here’s the point where I lost perspective. Sobbing hysterically, I hung up with Kristen, called the vet, cried to my mom and prepared my sister that I might have to fly home and skip her wedding – my dog was sick. Let’s not yet discuss my lack of perspective. To keep a very long and embarrassing story short, I wrestled with God concerning my perspective and priorities. Finally, after two expensive trips to the vet, Brave began to recover from a UTI and was back to his normal self.

Next, hurdle. Smaller, Patrick’s luggage got lost in Atlanta on his way to the wedding. It was found and delivered at some heinous hour. Hysterics averted.

Next hurdle. As a writer, my computer is practically an extension of my fingers. It’s not quite my livelihood, but writing is my passion and the computer is a necessary tool. I opened my cherished Mac Book Air on Sunday morning to find the equivalent of a “blue screen of death.” Another unplanned expense.

Next hurdle. I always struggle returning from a trip, trying to re-assimilate myself into my own, real life. This time I had a workable schedule in mind, certain things to do on certain days for my first week back in VA. Tuesday morning, I hopped in my car and cranked the key… nothing… not a click. After two jump starts, I was afraid to turn the car off. I drove to a Jiffy Lube where they laughed at me when I told them I needed a battery that fits in the trunk of my car. When I called the Miata dealership, they had one single battery left. I traipsed through VA traffic (again a matter of perspective) and waited for over an hour while they did a $200 battery replacement.  Tuesday’s agenda shot. Another whopping bill. Perspective.

This is not meant to be a pessimistic or “poor me” post. I don’t want to imply “it can always get worse.” But I’m grateful to my Heavenly Father and the work of the Holy Spirit in me. In the past, the accumulation of these little setbacks would have had me in tears. This time, one at a time, I rode through them and found my joy intact. Perspective.

June – Here We Come!

Confessions first: the first two weeks of this month are going to be hard for me to be present. MY BABY SISTER IS GETTING MARRIED!! I already told you that – and I am spending the first 2 weeks of June between Texas and Kansas with all three of my sisters, my parents and close friends. My gracious hubby is releasing me from my wifely duties to play big-sister again for a little while. Honestly, he’s probably glad he’s not coming along until the wedding day because I will be a giddy, girly, sobby mess the whole time.

To hold myself accountable, I’m submitting to you a rough draft of our June plans here at Predatory Lies.

Your’s truly has been the victim of many lies.

John 8:31-32 … So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

BUT

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I could write this whole post in Bible verses, but that’s cheating (: I promise you that I have submitted these hands and this keyboard to the work and glory of Jesus- who is the truth.

This month I will share several sources of truth that God has used to save my life, encourage my growth in righteousness and keep me in the truth. Lucky for you, each of these resources has an online presence, so I will provide links and details about what aspects of each resource ministered to me the most. I will spend one week on each source. To be fair, I am constantly learning more from these ever-growing resources. I will do my best to highlight all they have to offer, how you can take advantage of them and how you can give back.

For the first week of June, we will take a close look at an online, Christ-centered, freedom ministry called: Setting Captives Free.

Week two, we will look at Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, and the Flag Page, ministries by Pastor Mark Gungor.

June 21-24 boasts the annual Hungry For Hope conference, hosted by Finding Balance. I’ve spoken much about this ministry before, but I’ve barely scratched the surface.

And for the final week of June, I will try to select only three days worth of valuable, truth-filled resources available at Lifechurch.tv.  Wish me luck. There is a fairly recent book and online experience called Chazown, by Craig Groschel. Maybe if I focus on that resource I can limit myself (:

I’m so excited, Friends. As I re-explore some of these ministries, I know I will be blessed as much as you. I do plan to offer some of the books and CDs that these ministries produce as giveaways throughout the month. So make sure you’re chattering here in the “comments” section!

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified youd to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption,e the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:10-14

Run Baby RUN

Obviously, endurance is important in a marriage. You’ve got to survive the honeymoon, then the seven-year itch, then the kids and dirty diapers, the moves, the financial catastrophes, the football games and shopping trips, the burnt dinners, the in-laws and late nights without courtesy phone calls.

For many of these posts, you have endured my cloaked complaints about the ups and downs of marital bliss.  I can tick off the idiosyncrasies that I have endured but I haven’t humbly given credit to my husband’s endurance.

A prime example of his endurance and patience is our recent road-trip back to our roots in Oklahoma and Kansas. Patrick drove 20 hours each way. He stopped every 2-3 hours for my pathetic bladder. He allowed my dog to climb up, back and over the seats when he wanted to sit in my lap. He let me pack home twice as much stuff as I packed to begin the trip. And he barely complained at all!

Have you ever considered how you have benefitted from another’s endurance? I’m not just talking about putting up with you (that may or may not be a chore). Patrick and I have prospered in direct proportion to our parents’ endurance. Both of our parents’ are still married – my own just celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU, DAD AND MOM! All of our grandparents honored their wedding vows well over 6 decades, till death parted them. Now, I easily run to the arms of my mom or mother-in-law with full assurance that they will advise to the preservation of my marriage – not to simply tickle my ears.

I have been noticing and admiring endurance in many aspects of life, recently. My sister, Kelsey and her husband have embarked on a long blessing that will require great endurance. I introduced you to Kylie , in November. Doubtless children demand endurance!

My youngest sister just got engaged to one of the most fantastic men. She endured a long, sometimes long-distance dating relationship while she waited for God’s perfect timing for the marriage. I’m sure these last few months of waiting for the date to arrive will seem to stretch on forever, but it will be worth it!

What are you enduring? Is it painful? Is it in high hopes of a wonderful future? Is it worth it?

As Christians, our high calling is to be Christ-like. Endurance is an indisputable requirement to imitate our savior.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

It will all be worth it.