"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, March 21, 2013

There Once was a Boy

There once was a boy who witnessed a marriage of 17 years dissolve right in front of him.

Two people that represented family and love and commitment, suddenly exploded into pieces of what they once were. 

One day, that boy, still young and confused, met a girl.  She was fun and exciting, but he still couldn't stop wondering if true love really did exist.  He was living in a broken shell of what used to be his life, and no one, not even the girl, could change the shattered truth that was in front of him every morning.

At first, he loved the girl and held her close.

Then, he pushed her away.

Rinse. Repeat. 

The girl, despite the heartache that he caused, loved the boy.  She tried her hardest not to love him, but something always pulled her back to him.

It was difficult for even her to believe, but somehow she knew.

God wanted her to marry the boy someday. 

So, the girl prayed for the boy.  She did her best to be his friend in any way that he would let her, and slowly, their friendship grew.

One night, after hanging out together as friends, the boy left the girl's house to go home.  A few minutes later, he found himself back on her doorstep.

As the girl opened the door, the boy wrapped his arms around her, then kissed her cheek, her forehead, and finally, her lips. 

He confessed, "I've been wanting to do that for so long." 

Overwhelmed and in shock, the girl smiled.

The wait was finally over. 

The boy and the girl grew in their faith together, and as their faith increased, so did their love.

Years passed, and the boy grew into a man. Eventually, he married that girl who was now a woman, and they had four beautiful children together. Each time their family grew, their faith did also.

The man and the woman trusted in God, and He provided for them.

Although their love was strong, their marriage wasn't perfect. They had moments of frustration and their fair share of disagreements. Life would get hard, and they would fight the urge to give up and run in opposite directions. Sometimes the woman would get scared that maybe the man would eventually give up on her, but they would talk things through and he would always reassure her.

"I'm not going anywhere.  Ever."

One day, in the middle of a disagreement, the woman asked the man, "How do you know that you won't give up like they did?"

With the quickness of a man who had already thought long and hard about this very question, he answered.

"I know because we have our faith.  We might disagree at times, but we also pray together. I don't think they ever had that."

His words gave comfort to the woman.

God was the glue that would keep their family together.

The man grew strong and determined.  He provided for his family, even when that meant long hours doing unsatisfying work. He was honest and hardworking, and he took pride in caring for his family.

Over time, despite his best efforts to be true to himself and to God, the world tried to break the man.  He was torn down and dragged through the mud, but over and over again, this man - this amazing man - dusted himself off and stood back up again.

The woman prayed for God to heal the man of the hurt that the world had caused, and each time He would.

Because He is our Almighty Father, and He can heal anything if we let Him. 

The man, strengthened by our Almighty Father, stayed faithful to God and to His Word.  He trusted God to help him provide for his family, and because he knew that God was stronger and mightier than the world, he did not worry.  The man led his family with his faith and his strength, and his family was so blessed by the man. 

Because of all of the heartache and frustration that the world had caused, the woman needed to find a way to tell the man that she is so very proud of him. She needed the man to know that he is such a blessing to her and to their children.  She needed to say that his example as a man of God is far more important than any fancy job title or paycheck. The woman also wanted to reassure the man that the weight of being Husband, Father, and Provider did not have to be carried alone.

She wanted to remind him that God can and will remain faithful to His promises, no matter who or what He is up against.  

 There once was a girl who fell in love with a boy...
                                            that turned into an amazing man of God.

(I love you.)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Real Love

I start my day reading and praying and reflecting.  I promise myself and God that I will try harder today.  I will practice patience.  I will be more forgiving.

I sit down at the computer and it starts.  The screen is filled with flowers and cards and gifts of love. 

It's Valentine's Day.

I tried to prepare myself for this, but I quickly realize that I should have just stayed off of the computer. I simply can't remove the woman in me that longs to be pampered and loved.

The kids still need to be dressed and fed and loved and led.  They wake up wanting and needing. It's the same dance that we do everyday, but today I try harder to focus on the sacrifice instead of the stress.  God called me to this life, and I want so desperately to make my Father proud.

I realize that Buddy is taking a little longer at the gym today, and I fight back the urge to hope for a surprise. He walks in and greets me.

"Good morning!" he says with a smile, oblivious to what day it is. 

I try to let the disappointment escape without him noticing, but who am I kidding? It's written all over my face.  He asks me what's wrong and I return his greeting by saying, "Happy Valentine's Day."

He apologizes for forgetting and I do my best to forgive and move on, but it lingers.  All. day. long. 

For the most part, we stopped celebrating Valentine's Day years ago.  When we were kids, young and in love with money to spare, he did roses and chocolates and stuffed bears with red hearts. He would blindfold me and drive me around (in what felt like circles) until we arrived at the restaurant he picked out for us.  The hostess would seat us and a bouquet of flowers would suddenly appear in front of me.  He spent all day planning for this moment with me.  He would hand me the card he picked out, and I would fight back the tears as I read of his promise to love me forever. 

As I think back to those days, I can't help myself.  I fight the tears that come from those memories.  Who would have guessed that something that made me so happy at that moment, would make me so sad in the years to come? 

We go about our day like it's any other day. It's almost dinnertime, and we still haven't settled on what to cook.  The kids have been fighting a stomach bug off and on for over a week now, so I live in fear of what to feed them.  Buddy and I settle on a plan, and we work together to get food on the table.

As we sit down together, we make the Sign of the Cross and begin to bless our food.  In the middle of the prayer, I look up to witness our children praying.  The two year old is my favorite to watch.  His hands are folded, and his head is bowed.  He is quiet and still and focused.  He finishes by doing the Sign of the Cross in a way that more closely resembles someone swatting away flies, but he is doing his best and that's all that He ever asks of us.

We talk and eat together as a family, and I remind myself that this is my gift.  It's not roses or candy, but it is definitely a gift. Flowers will wither away, but these family dinners are not only a blessing in the moment but also an investment in our future together.

Buddy goes into the living room with the kids and I stay to clean the kitchen.  I am exhausted. I pray silently as I clear the table.  I ask God to help me love better.  I want Him to take away the part of me that longs for flowers and appreciation.  I want so badly to do it all for His glory, but so often I find myself beaten down by the frustrations of this life.  I beg Him to bless me with the grace to practice patience and forgiveness when I'm struggling.

We get the kids ready for bed and say our prayers together as a family.  We begin by taking turns saying what we are thankful for and I listen anxiously to hear their prayers. These are the moments that help center me.  Their prayers fill my heart better than any flower or candy or card.

When Buddy and I finally climb into bed, I lean over to kiss him goodnight, but instead of a quick kiss, I melt into his arms. He holds me tight and kisses me hard.  He strokes my hair and touches my skin and makes me feel like I am his. We both know that we can't be together right now; I am fertile and we have agreed that we need to abstain.  I cry because I am worn down at the thought of waiting.  He holds me in his arms and reminds me that it won't be forever.

I didn't get flowers or candy or even a card this Valentine's Day, but I know that I am loved. I am loved by a man that is willing to sacrifice for me and for our family.  I am loved by a man that leads us with his courage, strength, and commitment. He is mine and I am his. God has blessed me with this incredible man to share my life with, and tonight, as I fall asleep in his arms, I remind myself that that is enough.

Real love isn't found in flowers or candy or cards.   

It is found in patience and forgiveness and sacrifice.