We’re All Unique

Over the years I’ve noticed married couples and how they interact. Every couple is unique in their own way. One of the sayings in Proverbs gets me thinking every time I read it:

Proverbs 30:18, (KJV):  There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:

Pro 30:19  The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.

(photo from images search yahoo.com, for married couples)

We visited a couple in their eighties and nineties, she and he respectively and she asked how we came to meet and date. Then I asked how they met and when did she know he wanted to go out with her. He glowed when he spoke about her and told us he has a good wife. She worked in a small restaurant and he kept coming in for coffee. One night she got stranded there and was trying to come up with a way to get home. He offered to give her a ride and she didn’t feel comfortable with that until her co-worker vouched for his character. Since she trusted her co-worker, she accepted his offer and the rest is history. 🙂

At a marriage enhancement group of some sort, many years ago, we attended because I convinced my husband that we should go. He told me we were okay, but I felt there’s always room for growth. He’s a nice guy, so we went. We wrote in notebooks about our feelings and what can I say, I’m a writer. I would have about a page and a half for each category; he would have about three sentences. Then we had to exchange our notebooks and talk about them. For him, this was akin to torture. By the end of the weekend, I felt sorry for him.

I’ve shared here before that he and I see the world differently. He’s opposite me in lots of ways. Even our upbringing wasn’t the same, although we both came from parents that loved us and worked hard to provide for us and we learned to work for a living, too.

He was brought up in a rural town, and I grew up in a city. He’s athletic, I’m not. His parents didn’t attend church. We went every Sunday and for the first eight years of school I attended a religious school. He got straight A’s in school, not I. Well, there are other areas of differing interests, but I’ll stop here.

I think what helps our marriage is our willingness to step into each other’s world. If he wants to watch basketball, I’ll watch for a while. I may even watch the entire game and enjoy it. When he wants to watch some kind of wrestling match or no-holds- barred Eastern world fighting, I may notice for about twenty seconds and then I leave the room. I’ll get busy doing something I want to do and then later he’ll look for me and we’ll do something together. He started watching a series on television about a Canadian Mounty and a schoolteacher falling in love based on stories set in the early 1900’s and he now likes it. The occasional catching of criminals and the horses appeal to him more than the relationship stuff, I’m sure.

We agree on the major things in life. We both love God and pray for others to know how much God loves them. We view money and the use of it pretty much the same. Sometimes we compromise if there’s a limited amount and we both want something at the same time. He’ll get what he wants this time, and I’ll get what I want the next time, or vice-versa. It usually works out. We talk about financial disagreements when we’re not exhausted and cranky.

Our differences balance us out when we listen to each other. Every marriage has ups and downs, but I learned over the years to give him space when he needed it. If I needed to confront him over something, I usually prayed beforehand and I waited for the right time to bring it up. When he ran into problems at work, I didn’t talk that day. I didn’t wait too long, but I wanted us both well rested and less stressed when I brought up a touchy subject.

My aunt and uncle told me the secret to their successful marriage was the respect they showed each other. As an older adult, she decided to go to college. She told him he had to keep up with her on the learning curve so they didn’t grow apart. He agreed to, so they talked about the new concepts she encountered. She actually ended up becoming a college professor for less than ten years if memory serves me, and it didn’t seem to hinder their relationship.

One time we stopped for ice cream at a roadside stand and she told him to choose the flavor for her. He tried to get her to pick the kind she liked the best. When he came out carrying a cone without her favorite ice cream, she pouted and frankly I don’t think he even noticed. She got over it soon enough, but I thought, my mom wouldn’t have tried to get my dad to figure out her choice.

We’re all unique and interact differently. She was an only child and they never had children, so she liked to be pampered once in a while. She didn’t demand a lot, but I suppose like all of us, once in a while she was selfish.

She kept a tidy home, worked outside the home and sewed clothes and doll clothes for us – her nieces. She was like a second mom to us, my brothers and sisters.

May God bless you. If you’re married, it’s worth it to work at your relationship for your sake and the sake of the many people that know you and care about you. I’ve heard it said that divorce is worse than losing your spouse due to death.

When I consider things from my husband’s point of view and we communicate clearly and kindly, things go better at our house. He’s good to me, too. He tries to understand where I’m coming from. We’re all works in progress is what I figure.

Do you have some ideas for solidifying a marriage that I didn’t mention that are appropriate for any audience? I’d love to hear from you.

Keeping One’s Peace

Lately, I’ve determined to stay quiet, as much as possible, and listen to others sometimes. Today, I spent some time with the Lord and I thought he said to listen to a friend when I saw her in the afternoon. She didn’t show up to walk and I missed her text message saying she wouldn’t be able to walk and when she did arrive so we could go to our reward for organizing our homes, she had words of wisdom that blessed me.

When she didn’t show up I began to wonder if I really heard from the Lord. Yet, as she spoke about feeling resistance from the enemy of our souls and to her that was proof that these changes we’re making must be close to being accomplished, I felt a whoosh of joy almost like a whoosh of air but inside of me!

Thank you, Jesus.

I have been going to the two doctors that I usually go to when I’m wondering if something is up with my body. The last time I went she suggested I have a scan at the hospital so she’ll know if I need medicine. She’s young enough to be my daughter. Usually we talk about my writing or some other subject for a little bit. Not this last time. I’m telling her I don’t want medicine and she’s telling me the risks of not taking the medicine and of course, she tells me it’s my choice. If I don’t, I may just DIE! A horrible death, I’m sure, so I meekly say, okay, I’ll take the test. Okay, I’ll stay on the medicine. Brother.

Now that I’ve had the test, I think I’ll exercise more and eat a little bit better. I had two kinds of soup today, one our leftovers, the other at a friend’s home. We did not walk either – this is another friend – because of the rain. Healthy soup should help, shouldn’t it? I believe food makes a difference in people’s health. I told that to the dermatologist last week. He doesn’t think so. If I ate blueberries and apples and broccoli and red cabbage every day, I think my dermatologist would see me less often. When I juiced carrots two-three times a week and drank carrot juice every morning, my eyes improved – small cataracts disappeared.

I thank God for doctors, I really do, but I don’t think they spend enough time on the benefits of good nutrition in their studies, from what I’ve heard over the years. God made our bodies with healing properties inside us, but if we sabotage them with unhealthy foods and drugs and excess alcohol and bad habits they will age more rapidly and get sick.

One day we will all die and we can impact that date and the quality of our lives to some degree. God talks about us disappearing like the lilies of the field and that we should live our lives to the fullest while we have the opportunity to do so. Unlike the devil and people that live for themselves and Satan, God wants us to do good to orphans and to widows and to the poor.

Jesus spoke here:

Luke 14:12, (ESV):  He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.

Luk 14:13  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,

Luk 14:14  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

John 14 talks about eternity and our heavenly home, but the verses near the end of chapter 14 are of Jesus teaching His disciples about love and obedience and of His mission to return to the Father for our benefit:

Joh 14:24  Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

Joh 14:25  “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you.

Joh 14:26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Joh 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Joh 14:28  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

Joh 14:29  And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

Joh 14:30  I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

Joh 14:31  but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

 

My prayer for all of us is to reside in God’s peace. He stands ready to help us and to encourage us and to strengthen us no matter what comes our way if we will call on Him and then wait patiently for Him to show Himself strong for our defense.

I’m also learning to “hold my peace,” as my parents used to say back in the day. “Keep quiet.” Holding onto my words as one of six children surely gave them a measure of peace and quiet. 🙂

God bless!

God Likes Change

Last night after I finished blogging and reading other’s blogs, I got ready for bed. My mind raced with people’s opinions and my opinions. It occurred to me that I ought to blog earlier in the day.

Within the last couple of weeks I blogged about eating at a home with many folks we didn’t know. The lady I sat next to turned out to be a professor. She mentioned the changes in education that may be coming under President Trump if Betsy DeVos becomes United States Secretary of Education. The professor said she knows principals who are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder over the chance that she’ll be nominated. This dinner and conversation took place before President Trump took office.

I don’t understand. Why would people become afraid before something even comes to pass? I told them that it’s a complicated situation that needs to be handled with a lot of wisdom and I was going to research so I could know more about it. They agreed.

Lately, I read two blogs with people upset over proposed changes President Trump said will come into being. One lady, a teacher from the South said she’s never been in a protest march but now she was going to march with women in Washington, DC in the million women march (which happened a few days ago).

As a Christian for many years now, I’ve noticed that even though I don’t always welcome change, my life is continually being nudged and sometimes shoved into new situations requiring me to adapt. At times, I’ve been the one to take a risk and embrace a challenge. Three homes ago, I told the Lord I thought I’d moved enough, thank You very much. I wonder if He smiled. I’ve heard it said that God loves me too much to allow me to stay the same. He wants me to become more Christ-like according to the Bible.

The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy in 1Timothy 1:12, (CEV):  I thank Christ Jesus our Lord. He has given me the strength for my work because he knew that he could trust me.

1Ti 1:13  I used to say terrible and insulting things about him, and I was cruel. But he had mercy on me because I didn’t know what I was doing, and I had not yet put my faith in him.

1Ti 1:14  Christ Jesus our Lord was very kind to me. He has greatly blessed my life with faith and love just like his own.

1Ti 1:15  “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This saying is true, and it can be trusted. I was the worst sinner of all!

1Ti 1:16  But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life.

1Ti 1:17  I pray that honor and glory will always be given to the only God, who lives forever and is the invisible and eternal King! Amen.

The Apostle Paul tells believers to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. In Col 2:5, (CEV) it says, “Even though I am not with you, I keep thinking about you. I am glad to know that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong.

Col 2:6  You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him.

Col 2:7  Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.

Col 2:8  Don’t let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ.

Col 2:9  God lives fully in Christ.

Col 2:10  And you are fully grown because you belong to Christ, who is over every power and authority.

Col 2:11  Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body.

Col 2:12  And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death.

Col 2:13  You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins.

Col 2:14  God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross.

Col 2:15  There Christ defeated all powers and forces. He let the whole world see them being led away as prisoners when he celebrated his victory.

 

So, it is my opinion that as Americans we should sit down with others of differing cultures and opinions and listen to one another.

I went to a parochial school until I finished eighth grade and then I went to a public school in a city in NY and then to a public school in a suburb in NY. Violence was beginning to encroach upon the peaceful students in the city school and we became a family that finally moved to the suburbs for my mom’s peace of mind and for our well-being. Violence begets violence.

When my mom reached her seventies, I asked her for a bit of wisdom. She thought a moment and then said, “Be ready for change. Life brings change all the time.”

Jesus offers peace and love and forgiveness and kindness. The fruits of the Spirit are in Galatians, chapter five.

May God bless you.

How to Choose the “Right” Spouse

I chose to write this draft today during my quiet time with God because He re-arranged my thinking. Blog first, novel second, dishes third. I intended to do the dishes first. My husband might ask, “Are you sure you heard from God?”

LOL. I asked my incredible husband if he had any ideas for this blog. He told me he didn’t think there was any one right way to choose the “right” spouse.

I had a list of qualifications for the person I wanted to marry. My apologies if I happened to date you and it didn’t work out and by some miracle you are reading this. Possibly, most probably, God in His infinite wisdom, had a different plan for the both of us.

Anyway, on my list which I never wrote down, which I will swear is not true if you quote me, I wanted a man smarter than me. Being a Christian, I’ll refrain from lying, but I won’t like it. So, this is why I often quote my husband, because as annoying as it sometimes is, he is smarter than I am, and I get to take advantage of it.

I probably wrote this before, but at age nineteen when we decided we were crazy in love and heading for marriage, he said, “I will never leave you, but if you ever want to leave me, just light up a cigarette and I’ll know you want me gone. You’ll be free.”

He hated the smell of cigarettes. I knew that. I didn’t take it well. Craig and I are opposite in many ways, including how we perceive the world. That can be a blessing, or not. I felt the heat rise and I said, “Well, if that’s how you feel, I’ll say the same thing to you. If you and I marry, I will commit to you forever, but if you want to leave, feel free.”

That was almost forty years ago now. For the rest of my list, if you’re interested:

1.) He had to be a Christian because I was a Christian.

2.) I wanted to feel comfortable around him. This list is not in order of importance after #1. This is something I didn’t realize was important to me until after our second date and I could eat with ease in front of him.

3.) He had to have a sense of humor.

4.) I needed to like his looks, his way of carrying himself, all the personal stuff. I dated a guy in college that took judo, like Craig did. He dumped me. That hurt, but one thing I hated was him coming over right after gym smelling like the gym plus some. Craig came over after showering up. Yay!

5.) Okay, I’m being brutally honest here, I came from a home where my dad worked hard and my mom raised all of us kids, sewed, cleaned, baked, etc. I wanted a husband to work hard at a job to provide for the family so we could have kids and I could be a mother at home. Craig and I were on the same page with that.

6.) Communication and honesty are huge on my list. If I couldn’t talk to my husband and be real with him and be vulnerable with him, and strong in my opinions with him, we would have never made it.

7.) I wanted a husband worthy of respect who would respect me.

8.) I wanted a guy my family would approve of, that my friends would approve of. When I was in college, my friends started telling me, “Connie, you’ve got to meet this guy.” His friends were telling him, “Craig, there’s this girl…”

The night before our wedding, after three years of dating (and he never got mad at me during all that time, “can you imagine that?”), I talked to my younger sister, “I hope I’m not making a mistake” for hours. I was crazy about Craig, but I hadn’t dated much and I knew I was committing for life. FOR LIFE. Aughh! How could I be sure?

When he got mad at me the first time, I thought, “Oh, God!”

I am an extrovert, he is an introvert. Introverts, in my experience, get quiet and avoid their spouse when they’re upset. Very unnerving to an extrovert. Anyway, no marriage is perfect.

As a sociology and psychology major in college, it seems I learned that:

9.) It’s best to marry someone in your own socio-economic level. If you are poor and you want to get rich, just do it together. I would add to that, learn all the differences in the culture so you’re able to adapt along the way.

My aunt always wanted to go to college and she didn’t get started until she was in her fifties. She told her husband that if she went, she wanted him to go with her, figuratively speaking. She wanted him to grow along with her so that they didn’t grow apart. He was agreeable. They stayed married until death parted them.

So, how do you pick the right person?

1.) Pray like crazy.

2.) Notice every thing that annoys you and remember you are committing to it for the rest of your life. Most of it will not change. Being in love makes one overly optimistic.

3.) Be compatible with your religious beliefs.

4.) Talk about how you handle money and how your family handled money. Many marriages break up over money problems. Whoever is better in handling the finances needs to do so. Once again, communication is imperative. Talk about this stuff before you get married.

5.) Be sure you can communicate in a loving manner. Talking; Listening; Repeating what you think you heard them say back to them; Respecting their opinion; Listening until they’ve finished; Listening without formulating a come-back as they’re talking; giving them the benefit of the doubt if they’ve been honest in the past; Listening as if it were you talking to them; and then talking only if you’re not about to spout ugly, hurtful things at them. If you are tempted to hurl anger and pain at your loved one, then stop and say, “I need some time to sort out my response, please.”

If you can’t do these things while you are dating, it will only get worse when you get married. People tend to hide their worst things, unintentionally or sometimes, sad but true, intentionally. If their basic character is sound, and you can weather the storms, you will have a successful marriage and a bonding like no other.

If you find yourself making excuses for your perspective spouse’s behavior continually, don’t get married. There are many people on this planet, you have time or you may continue in a saner, happier single life. If the issues can be worked out, great, but take your time!!!

Joining lives with someone is a serious commitment. According to “Focus on the Family,” many people that live together first and then decide to marry, end up breaking up. Maybe the man doesn’t respect her, but it’s usually him that leaves.

There are wonderful men and women out there, please don’t get me wrong. If you are single and reading this, live your life to the fullest and prepare yourself to be ready to serve and love and to respect, and to receive love and respect and service. It’s a life-time work that gets sweeter and sweeter and is hard hit by the media and by co-workers and by other negative forces. Like Paul said, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “Keep on desiring the better gifts. And now I will show you the best way of all.”

He then leads them into the famous chapter on love – 1 Corinthians 13.

My husband, the man I love more now than I did in the 1970’s, says the one you are married to now is the “right spouse” for you, unless they are cheating on you or abusing you. Cheating, Jesus said, is grounds for divorce, although God never intended for people to divorce. Abuse is grounds for separation in my opinion and many professional’s opinions, as well.

God made us in His image to love Him and to be loved by Him and to be loved by your family. If a spouse is not loving you, but hurting you, you need to get out, especially if children are watching and soaking up the behavior into their impressionable brains and spirits.

If you are afraid to date, pray and venture forth in safe places. God says in Genesis that He set Adam and Eve in a family. That was a model for us. It is a good thing if done well.

We got pre-marital counseling before we got married and the one thing I remember is hearing, “Don’t hit your partner below the belt.”

When fighting, and you will disagree, don’t bring up a ton of stuff – stick to the issue at hand and don’t be mean about it – or hit below the belt. That left an impression. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” in  the book of Matthew.

You should enjoy the person you’re intending to spend the rest of your life with. I still smile almost every time I greet my husband as he enters our home. If you don’t like them, he or she is the wrong one, something’s missing. Jump ship.