Archive for August, 2011

Throughout this blog, I have attempted, as honestly and truthfully as possible, to tell the story of how my marriage reached its apparent end and was then restored.  I have made many claims about God and His help throughout and now I would like to attempt to answer the question, “Why would God care?”  It’s a fair question, and one that deserves an answer.

After all, if God is the all-powerful, all-knowing deity that we think Him to be, why should He turn His attention to the marriage of two totally obscure individuals and work in miraculous fashion to save and heal their marriage?  It’s too much of a pat answer to say “It’s because He loves us.”  He does, but let’s get real here.  People are dying of hunger and disease all over the world today and everyday.  Dictators still deny entire people groups their human rights and natural disasters wreak death and destruction on a grand scale on a regular basis.

God would seem to have a lot on his plate, and if Ceecee and I had divorced, only a handful of people would have been directly affected, so what are we to conclude here?  First of all, it’s not my place to attempt to speak for how God does or doesn’t respond to all the evil in this world.  I don’t know why some prayers get answered and some don’t.  I do know that it would seem to many people that He could have been spending His time working on more important things than our marriage.

I would suggest, however, that taking such a position is to take a very narrow view of God.  If He is, in fact, all-powerful and all-knowing, then He can give His attention to as many things at a time as He needs to without losing sight of any of them.  He also has enough strength to deal with any and every problem that He chooses to with no possibility of over-extending Himself.  In other words, saving my marriage and changing my life didn’t take Him away from anything else that He needed to be doing.

Now, let’s cut to the chase and talk about God’s plan.  His plan, from before the foundation of the earth, was to reveal Himself through mankind, who He created in His own image.  Even at the time of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, He had a plan to restore all things.  He knew, even then, that His son, Jesus Christ, would one day come to earth to die on a cross for the sins of all mankind.  And He knew that one day, at the end of time, a great celebration would take place which the Bible calls “the marriage supper of the lamb,” or, in another translation, “the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb.”

What God wants and what we imagine He should be concerned about are often two very different things.  God sent his His son into the world to save and redeem people who were cut off from, and separated from His love.  His primary concern is the condition of people’s eternal souls, and His primary work on earth is now being accomplished by people through whom He is attempting to reveal Himself.  He uses people to show His love and plan, so that others can come to Him and receive His love and forgiveness.

In chapter 5 of the book of Ephesians, there is a little understood verse that speaks right to the heart of not only this post, but this entire blog.  In the context, it is talking about how husbands and wives should treat each other, and the statement is made that they should love each other the same way that Christ loves.  Just as the writer is concluding these thoughts, he writes, “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (verse 32)  Right in the context of talking about marriage and husbands and wives, he says he is really talking about Christ and the church.

Why does God care enough about my marriage to intervene in mighty ways when I called on Him in my time of need?  Because marriage was His plan, not mine.  God thought up the idea of love and marriage and happily ever after, not people.  God wants marriages between husbands and wives who truly love each other to show the world not only what real love is from a human perspective, but to show the world what kind of love He wants to share with the people He created and loves so deeply.  He wants people to see that true love never fails and that He will never abandon, forsake, or reject those He loves.

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Just because a calendar year went by doesn’t mean that everything that was ever to be completed as part of the restoration tour came to pass.  Like it is with a house, you’re never actually finished restoring it, because there will always be more that needs to be done.  You will always find things that you overlooked or that need your attention from time to time.  So it was yesterday.

Last night was the annual Moonlight Ride, a bike ride for Springfield’s Discovery Center.  Last August, it was the first organized ride that my wife and I had ever been in.  We had only started cycling in May of that year, when I got Ceecee her first road bike for her birthday.  The moonlight ride is a seven mile untimed ride that has groupings for advanced riders, leisure riders, and families with small children.  As beginners, we thought it would be fun to participate in something that wouldn’t be intimidating.

Unfortunately, earlier in the day of last year’s ride, we hit one of those bumps in the road that came with the early days of being back together.  We had been living together again for almost three weeks and we were very happy to be restoring our marriage, but we were still dealing with a lot of the junk that went along with having previously split up.  On this particular day, we had met for lunch at the mall (we were both still working our second jobs – Ceecee at Dillards and me at Macy’s) and the conversation had gone down a painful road.  We were both upset as we went back to work and it seemed that the ride wasn’t going to happen for us that evening.

She got off work earlier than I did, and when I called her, she was still angry about the way I had spoken to her and the things I had said at lunch.  I’m not sure how it ended up working out, but by the time I was off work, she had bought me a new headlight for my bike and gone and registered both of us for the ride.  All I had to do was change my clothes and grab my bike.  I was relieved and grateful, and we really enjoyed the ride.

Yesterday morning, as we were out running errands and I was thinking about the evening’s ride, I remembered all this.  Yes, August 6th came and went, and yes, the restoration tour concluded on that day as scheduled.  Beyond that, I saw an opportunity to add another to the list of restored memories.  Will there be more?  Maybe.  Will we ever stop working hard at love to make sure we never reach a place like that again?  Not as long as I live and breathe!

Waking up this morning after having our “wedding” last night was actually a bit bizarre.  Not in a bad way.  As the fog of sleep began to wear away, and thoughts began to emerge, I felt a deep sense of joy and contentment.  It was just weird to be waking up in our own house in our own bed like any normal day.

Of course, we already took the honeymoon last week, so here we are, with everything new, and everything the same as well.  It feels wonderful, and there’s definitely a tingle in the air, but not having anywhere to go, or anything specific that comes next is a little bit strange after a year of being so focused on this.

Please don’t get me wrong.  We had a wonderful week at Big Cedar, and our vow renewal ceremony was joyous and fun and everything we dreamed of.  The last 6 days have been some of the most amazing and fulfilling I’ve ever experienced.

The heat wave kept us either in our room (which is an extremely nice place to be kept, thank you very much), or at the pools and lazy river for most of our honeymoon.  Triple digit temperatures and Missouri humidity don’t exactly encourage outside activity, but fortunately, there’s plenty of water to get into at the resort, and we did.  We got much more sun-tanned there in 5 days than we did during a week in California.

Yesterday morning, we were up at 4:30 AM for the Tour de Cox, an annual 62 mile (100km) bike ride.  The clouds kept the temperature reasonable, and we really enjoyed the ride.  We finished up a little before noon after getting started about 6, so we had a few hours to rest and recover before the ceremony.  Out of town company was arriving throughout the day, and most of the afternoon was a blur.

My wife wore her orange “poofy” dress (no other way to describe it) with lots of fun pink and orange accessories, and I dressed as the Mad Hatter.  We ordered the actual hat online, but nothing else was authentic.  It was a Mad Hatter/Alice in Wonderland theme, but we did it in our own unique way.

Late in the afternoon, we took casual pictures in the park, then had the reception before the ceremony as the guests began to arrive.  It was meant to keep it from having a stuffy, formal, traditional wedding feel and allow everyone to relax, loosen up, and enjoy themselves.  Interestingly enough, there had been a wedding at the same park earlier in the day, and it seemed that it had been very formal and probably quite expensive.  While I certainly wish that couple well, we had several people tell us that ours was the best and most fun wedding they had ever gone to.

For the ceremony itself, we simply had a few songs played that were meaningful to us (we tried to dance, but couldn’t manage to keep from stepping all over my wife’s dress, so we had to cut that mercifully short), had three people (our oldest daughter and two close friends) say a few words, and then we stood and said our vows, which we wrote ourselves, to each other.

Oh….yeah…. and then I did the futterwacken dance from the new Tim Burton Alice In Wonderland movie, much to everyone’s shock and delight!  My wife said some special “thank you’s” and handed out roses to some of the guests and then we hung around with everyone for a little while.  It was pretty much perfect, and it was so amazing to have envisioned this day a year before and then see it come to pass.

I have a few surprises left for the blog, so if you are thinking this is the last entry, you’re not quite correct.  The main one is that we’ve decided to drop the anonymity and some of the secrecy now that the ceremony is over.  I am going to go back through the posts and add some pictures and reveal some more of who we really are that has been missing up to now.  I also have some other thoughts, but you’ll have to wait and see on those…  For now, thank you so much for reading and sharing – it means more than you know!

Really, I don’t know what more there is to say about this one beyond what it already says.  I mean, do it.  Love and cherish your spouse all the while you have breath.  I didn’t and I lost it all.  I started doing it, and I got it all back and gained more than I’d ever had before.

Now, here’s the key.  You don’t love and cherish on your terms.  You have to be willing to find out how he or she wants and needs to be loved, and what will make him or her FEEL cherished.  It’s not nearly enough to say to yourself, “He knows,” or “She knows how I feel about her.”  She doesn’t.  You have to tell her and show her over and over again.  If you love the person you’re married to, you need to express that love in tangible ways.  He won’t know that you cherish him unless you show it by your actions.

The truth is, this vow really means, “I will never take you for granted.”  That is the opposite of cherishing.  Your spouse needs to be the most important and most special person in your life, and if that isn’t the case, you need to change and make it so.  It’s that simple.

Finally, it’s for life.  Not just during the courtship.  Not until you have him/her.  Not until after the honeymoon.  Not until the newness wears off.  Not as long as it’s making you happy.  Till death.  That means forever.

Tomorrow is our vow renewal ceremony and I probably won’t blog tomorrow.  The three months is up and the restoration is finished.  I won’t just leave you like this, though.  I will come back and let you know how it went.  After that, who knows.  Thank you for taking this journey with me, and I hope that it serves as an inspiration to many people and couples.  What would mean the very most to me would be to find out that through this blog, a marriage was saved or healed.  May God bless all who read the words of this story.

Unless you go into your marriage with a pre-existing condition, most people just assume that they will spend most of their marriage in health.  Sure, you know that there will be colds and coughs, but that can be easily dismissed as nothing to worry about, and you believe that your sweetheart will surely be there to take tender care of you when you don’t feel well.

The reality is, sickness, on some level, ends up being a part of pretty much everyone’s life, and it isn’t usually as romantic as we make it out to be.  When both people work, and especially when there are young children in the home, sickness is, at best, a major interruption in the flow of things and, at worst, a threat to all that you are building in your marriage and family.  Minor illnesses still mean that someone has to pick up the slack and can represent a loss of income on some level.

If you’re not the one who is sick, you can’t let resentment of the extra hassle or worry about the effect on your spouse’s paycheck keep you from putting his or her needs first.  It’s not your partner’s fault he or she is sick, and that person really needs your love and caring.  After all, when we commit to marriage, isn’t that what we expect?  That our spouse will love us and care for us when we are the one with a need?

I’ll always appreciate the way my wife stayed strong and supportive when we went through a bad scare one night.  I have a heart murmur and I developed an arrhythmia one afternoon.  I went to have it checked and ended up being rushed by ambulance to a cardiology unit in another city a few hours later.   She was there for me, even though I’m sure she was scared, and she didn’t allow me to have to worry about how she was handling things.  She put her own concerns aside and showed true love in sickness.

Naturally, sickness isn’t always that dramatic, and many couples won’t have to face nights in the hospital until much later in life.  During any kind of sickness, you have an opportunity to show real love by being a comfort and strength to the one you love.  Something as simple as doing the chores that your spouse would normally do is a real blessing.  A bowl of soup, a movie in the DVD player, and letting your husband or wife know that you’ll take care of everything speaks volumes about your love

For Richer or Poorer

Posted: August 3, 2011 in Love and Marriage
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Singleness, especially in the case of women, is often equated with being broke.  It’s tough to make it on your own, and that’s one of the reason so many singles turn to roommates and other such arrangements – to help pay the bills.  For richer or poorer deals with your standard of living.  What will it be as a married couple?  Will you be better off than you were when you were single, or will you struggle?

In many cases, putting your resources together will help your financial outlook, at least in the short-term.  You now only have one home to pay for, and you are sharing utilities.  You are also usually at an upwardly mobile stage of your life, so you will see increases in your income as time goes by.

The flip side of that is that, after marriage, kids have a tendency to not be far off, and they can be a game changer when it comes to finances.  Of course, no one is immune from job loss, unexpected illnesses, or a host of other things that can keep us from enjoying prosperity.  Research says that the majority of fights within a marriage are about money, so for richer isn’t always the way it goes, and money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness either.

To make the vow, for richer or poorer, is to say that money won’t dictate the quality of your relationship.  If you have enough, you will be careful to not let it provide a false sense of security, or allow it to interfere with your relationship by pursuing materialistic happiness instead of being content in each other.

If for poorer turns out to be the case, whether for the short-term or the long haul, your love has to be true and you have to find ways to rearrange your priorities.  There are many ways that couples can still spend quality time together without spending much money.  Taking walks, picnics in the park, going to the cheap movie theater, and a host of free or low-cost events take place in nearly every city in the country.

You may not get the brand new car, or the big house in the best neighborhood.  You may not be able to wear designer clothes or belong to the country club.  If you truly love your spouse, you won’t resent those things.  In fact, by learning to spend time with each other doing simple things that you both enjoy, you just might become rich in ways that have nothing to do with money.

For Better or Worse

Posted: August 2, 2011 in Love and Marriage
Tags: , , ,

Some people view this statement in the traditional vows as having a negative connotation, much like some people think of marriage as a confining prison.  Even though there is exactly a 50-50 split in the vow between better and worse, so many people focus on the worse part and wonder just what that implies.

On the other hand, there are those who are so idealistic that they can’t imagine anything other than eternal bliss as they prepare for their wedding day.  “Of course my life is going to be so much better when I’m married,” they assume.  The thought of problems or difficulties are dismissed as things “other people” go through, “but we won’t.”

For better or worse means one thing.  Commitment.  It means I choose you now and forever, no matter what.  It means I will never leave you or fail to love you, come what may, period.  It doesn’t leave us an out or an escape clause.  It doesn’t say, “as long as you make me happy,” or “as long as it’s working out between us.”

Love and marriage are one and the same in that regard.  Love says, “I choose to care more about you than I care about myself.”  Love says, “I will lay my own wishes aside to see that your needs are met.”  Love is without condition, and love gives.  Love never demands a level of performance or carries a return requirement.  In this is security.