What Makes a Good Marriage? (Week 1)

My friend, Cole, asked me and a few other women who have been married a long time to write posts about marriage. She did such a great job introducing this important topic that I want to repost the series so my readers can read all the articles as well. Enjoy and may your marriages (or future marriages) be strengthened!

Twinning Babywise

I like to stockpile old People magazines under my living room coffee table and flip through them when I have an extra ten minutes to kill before nap time ends. Through some mix up that I cannot even begin to explain, a new issue arrives in the mail every single Friday even though I’ve never paid them a dime. Anyway, I can never get through the whole thing in a week so they tend to accumulate in that basket under the table.

That explains how last week I found myself sitting on the couch reading an article from an October issue about Mandy Moore.

“Mandy Moore Opens Up About Moving on After a Painful Divorce: ‘I Feel So Much Lighter'”

“My story deviated in a different direction than I expected,” Moore tells PEOPLE exclusively of her 2015 split. “But ultimately, life is about being happy and fulfilled and sometimes that…

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Here Comes the Sun

In sunny Southern California, rain is rare (especially during a drought, which we are currently in). We were lucky enough to get some rain last week. Except—-it rained for 4 or 5 days straight! We didn’t even SEE the sun. I actually prayed for that rain and was grateful for it, but was really, really happy when the sun made its appearance again a few days ago. I was struck by how much I appreciated the sun after not having it for 5 days in a row. That got me thinking about how I take the sun for granted. It shines nearly every day where I live, so I tend not to notice it—until it was gone for 5 days.

Then I spent some time thinking about other things I take for granted because they are always there; like my husband, Tim. He is faithful, steady, hard working and I can depend upon him. But one day one of us is going to die and leave the other alone. Just the thought of that makes tears spring to my eyes. I truly can’t imagine him (or me) not being here! So in the spirit of not taking him for granted, I made a point yesterday to verbally tell him that I love him and I truly appreciate how hard he works at his very stressful job. I also told him how amazing I think he is and that he has earned my respect for a lifetime.

Taking things and people for granted is like walking around in the dark. Practicing gratitude is like running into the light. I choose the light!

Carolyn: An Extraordinary Life

Someone very dear to me was placed under Hospice care this week, which has me thinking back over the past 33 years. I first met her a few months after Tim and I were engaged. I came to California to visit him during my Spring Break in March of 1984. She had just celebrated her 50th Birthday the previous November. Not only did Carolyn welcome me into her home, she welcomed me into her heart as well. She treated me as if I was already a member of the family. The night before I flew home, she came to my room, gave me a gift, hugged me warmly and told me how much she enjoyed meeting me. The look on her face was so full of love. My heart was touched by her kindness.

During every major event of our family’s life, Aunt Carolyn was there. She flew to Colorado for our wedding; was one of the first family members to meet and hold my newborn babies; attended my sons’ Birthday Parties and a few baseball games; and hosted us at her home on numerous occasions. She always gave such thoughtful and practical gifts. Every time she came to our house, she brought us something, like some fruit or some flowers she had picked up at the Farmer’s Market that week.

I’ve realized through the years that a lot of the things I do I learned from Carolyn. When entertaining, I learned from her to place a strip of paper in the bottom of each serving dish detailing what is to go into that dish. I air dry my dishwasher dishes, organize my pantry and keep a plastic bag for that day’s vegetable peels in my sink the way she did. More importantly, I try to make time for people and my family the way she did. I noticed through the years that she made sure to spend equal time with all three of her kids and grandkids, which was a lot with her daughters living far away.

She spent her time serving others by volunteering, which also made an impact on me. She could have used all of her free time for herself, but instead, she chose to serve others. She went through many hard things in her life, but I did not ever hear her complain about any of them! She always bounced back from each trial that entered her life and carried on.

A special recent memory was a few Christmases ago when she and her son, daughter-in-law and grandkids drove down the day after Christmas to celebrate Christmas with us and Tim’s Mom, who was visiting. We had lunch, opened gifts, then sent her into the guest room to take a short nap before heading down to the beach. She was filled with delight to be with all of the family and as I escorted her to the guest room, she exclaimed “I don’t want to miss anything!” I promised her that we wouldn’t do anything fun until she was up from her nap.

One time recently when we visited her in the nursing home-like setting she lives in, she said aloud “I’ve had a very ordinary life.” I exclaimed “No you haven’t! You’ve had an extraordinary life! You raised three kids who are wonderful adults; you made sure to always visit all of your kids and grandkids; and the things you have taught us has made an impact on all of our lives.” At first she looked at me with a disbelieving look in her eyes, but as I insisted that she has led an extraordinary life, I saw a the corners of her smile turn up ever so slightly.

Aunt Carolyn will always hold a special place in my heart. My life is better for having known her. Her legacy of love, unselfishness, faithfulness and devotion will live on through the lives of her kids, grandkids and now great-grandkids.

Wailing down the Highway

I heard a baby wail recently. Not a cry nor a whimper; but a deep, loud, gut-wrenching, mournful wail. The baby’s mother needed my help while she put the coffee service away at a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) event. I felt so sorry for this little baby! She was terrified of being separated from her mom. Thankfully, I was able to calm her by driving her around in her stroller near some music.

I heard myself wail the other day. I was in the midst of a long drive and began to pray out loud since there was no one else in the car. I poured my heart out to God; sharing my deepest fears and longings. I didn’t hold anything back from him. I had been worrying over a situation for several days and the stress was really taking a toll on me. I told him how sorry I was for worrying and not trusting him more and asked him to help me with this. I wailed; begging him to take this burden from my heart and reduce my stress and anxiety. I began to cry and to release some of the pent up emotion I was carrying.

Just then, the radio station became fuzzy so I pressed a random button. The song was almost over, but I heard “Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. Everything’s gonna be alright. So woman, no cry. No, no woman no cry.”* Of course, this made me cry more! Only this time it was happy tears. The God of the Universe reached down and spoke to me in my moment of need through a Reggae song!

Did God make that song come on at that very moment just for me, or was is a coincidence? I don’t know. What I do know is that he used it to bring comfort to my weary, hurting heart. How can I not love a God like that?!

*No Woman No Cry by Bob Marley

Ready, Set, Reset!

I like to go on trips. Not only is it nice to have a change of scenery and disruption of routine, but it also allows me to press the “reset” button on my life. While my natural bent is to pack my schedule full of activities, trips force me to be still while waiting in airports and flying on airplanes. These are times of deep thought for me: Evaluating where my life has been, where I am presently and where God might want to take me in the future.

My latest trip was to attend my 35th Class Reunion. I had not been to any of my previous reunions. I had a wonderful time reconnecting with my classmates from 35 years ago. I enjoyed hearing about their jobs, kids and where life had taken them in the last 3-1/2 decades. Some of them had been through incredible hardships, like the woman who had endured 5 back surgeries and was in constant pain, and her sister who lost her only 2 sons to muscular dystrophy 29 days apart. I barely held myself together when she told me this! My eyes filled with tears and I had to work hard not to sob. As we said goodbye, she said she was glad her sons were together in Heaven and didn’t have to be apart. I was humbled by her great faith.

There was also laughter as one friend and I remembered stalking 2 boys from our rival school and somehow landing a few dates with them. We laughed at how bold we had been!

What struck me the most was the humanity of each person at the reunion. It really didn’t matter how much education they had acquired, what job they had, how long they had been married or how many kids they had raised. Each one was precious because he or she was a soul created by God and eternally loved by him.

…And by me. I love each and every one of those people. I really do…

I admit I’m a task-oriented clock watcher. I like doing lots of things and getting things done. I often measure the success of the day by how many tasks I accomplish. I tend to be meticulous too, so I need to look at the clock regularly to keep me on track so I don’t lose myself in the details of the task at hand.

When I was a pre-teen, we lived on a farm on the outskirts of Pierce, Colorado. There were no kids to play with for miles. During summer vacation, my brother, sister and I watched a lot of television since we were home alone while our Mom was at work. Watching TV became tiresome and I decided I wanted to spend my time in a more productive way, so I would occupy myself doing things like reading books, making gum wrapper chains, and twirling my baton to songs like The Ventures “Telstar.” I also tried to teach myself to tap dance, but I did not own tap shoes and my tennis shoes kept getting “caught” on the carpet.

Today was a bit out of character for me because I did not put on my watch. At all. It was pure bliss! I ignored the clock altogether as I cleaned house, listened to a book on a CD while preparing food and took the dog on a long walk around the neighborhood. As I walked along, I noticed an elderly neighbor I had not seen in awhile. I crossed the street and spent some time chatting with her. I crossed back to the other side of the street and finished my walk, all the while experiencing a deep level of peace. I realized I am my best self when I’m not under a time deadline. Without time constraints, I am unhurried, open to random human interaction and at peace.

Lately, I’ve been asking God to teach me how to live in the moment. It seems that going without my watch is a good start.

Time

The Meteor and Me

Last night I was on the back patio flat on my back looking up at the sky at 1:00 am straining my eyes to see meteors shooting quick bursts of light across the sky. They were so fast! I was positive that as I gazed at one section of the sky, I was missing meteors shooting by in another section of the sky. Back and forth I scanned, seeing at least a dozen meteors shooting across the sky during the one hour I lie there.

While I waited for the appearance of a new meteor, I was captivated by the twinkling stars. It was as if each star was attached by a string, dangling down for the world to see. Some were very bright while others were more subdued. I marvelled at their beauty and my eyes filled with tears. A scripture came to mind: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1). I thanked God for creating such beauty for us to enjoy. I thanked him for my eyes and that I can see! Gratitude filled my heart and I felt warm all over… And then IT happened!

A meteor shot across the sky, only it was going much slower than the others. Instead of a millisecond, it took a few seconds to traverse across the sky, AND it left a fiery orange trail in its wake. WOW! I was amazed and slightly scared all at the same time! It was the most beautiful and amazing thing I have ever seen in the sky! I felt so small lying there observing this glorious show and pondered how the God who created all I was seeing could also love each one of us so individually and personally.