11/28/12

Happily Ever After

I was barely 19 when he asked me to marry him.  He was shy of being 19 years old himself by 3 months, something of which he enjoys teasing me about.  We had only been dating about 3 months before he asked me and 6 months later we were married.  Kids started coming a year later and married life just happened.  I was thinking yesterday (it was our 36th anniversary) of what Jane Bennett said in "Pride & Prejudice" about Mr. Bingley:  "He's everything a young man ought to be".   This is my husband, Dan.  He's everything a man ought to be and more.

Sometimes I feel guiltily happy because Dan is mine.  But I don't ever want to change my life with him for anything.  As long as he is near the world seems better than what it really is.  Even the hard things in life are better shared with him.  He is the knight in shining armor that slays the dragons and he brings home the bacon so that our lives are better.  We have lovingly called him the "Camp Director" at times because he does take care of everything (there was a time that he really was a camp director for our church and this is where that title came from).

All three of our married daughters have chosen men that are similar in some ways to their dad.  I love my son-in-laws and see in them the character worthy of leading my daughters and grandchildren well.  We might not always agree in certain things but this one thing is true:  godly men make manly men.   I and the women in my family are surrounded by them.  This causes us to feel safe knowing that our men stand between the onslaught of the world and us.  They try to shield us women from the worst of it.  And when they can't shield us from everything they make sure they get the worst of it so that we are better off than they are.  Ours are everything that men ought to be.

Our men aren't perfect and Dan would be the first to tell you of his imperfections.  But honesty and integrity are trademarks and this can be counted on.  I would be a fool to tell you that Dan or my son-in-laws were born this way.  The truth being that God has placed His hand on them and called them into the service of the King.  This is their heritage and they bare it knowing that their future has meaning and substance.  For God, family and the Kingdom of Christ call to them and they stand ready to serve, sacrifice and be slandered if need be.  This is not an easy place to be and is fraught with many hardships and heartaches.  In fact, to trust in what scripture says and to act on it can cause and has caused trouble for my man (I'm sure it is the same with the son-in-laws).  My dad was also one who acted on what he believed.   I'll say it again ~ godly men make manly men.

This is a tribute to my husband.   It is also an overwhelming praise to the Lord for His mercies to me as a benefactor of His grace shown to me in being married to Dan.  I certainly don't deserve him but, then again, none of us deserve any mercies from the loving hand of God.  Happily ever after stories, and good stories for that matter, are filled with the highs and lows of life.  And in the end they are not tragic but glorious.   This is our future and I am ever so happy to walk through it with the man the Lord has given to me.  He is a godly man and my manly man.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

11/18/12

Broken but Working

I was cleaning out the flower beds in the front of the house a few weeks ago.  It's that time of year when everything needs pruning and the leaves need to be picked up.  There is always something to be done and, I find that if I can do just a bit at a time much can be accomplished.  I used to be able to do it all in one fell swoop but that isn't the case anymore.  Most things now are done in bits and pieces ~ piece-meal if you will.  But it gets done and accomplished nevertheless.   On this particular day I had put one foot into a higher flower bed only to have my knee lock in a painful position.  As I was yelling in pain I was also laughing at the ridiculousness of my situation.  Here I was, straddled from one point to another, not being able to move because the knee had locked up.  Thinking to myself, "For crying out loud!  The body is just plain falling apart!".   My mind tells me that I can still work like I was in my twenties or thirties but my body is telling me, "Ah, not so much".

What does God do with a broken down worker?  From the outside it is the strong and beautiful looking ones who seem to take on the world, those whom we want to follow.  It does seem strange to look to the one who is crippled but calls you to "come and storm the castle with me".  This doesn't seem to exude confidence in us no matter how inviting his words are.  The images that we see everyday remind us that we don't measure up.  So we try harder and harder to fit that measure, thinking if only. . . . .

Truth be told, though, everyone is broken in one way or another.  Outward appearances are deceiving because for some the brokeness that they experience can be masked by a good outward appearance.   For most of us there is at least one thing that keeps us from feeling ahead of the power curve.   We live in a broken world with fractured bodies, minds or emotions.  Loneliness might be the thing that brings you to the edge while for someone else it is the rejection of a broken relationship.  Depression, abuse, mental anxiety can cause a host of broken pieces that, seemingly, can't be put back together again.  We don't have to have a great fall like Humpty Dumpty to realize that it's going to take a lot more than bandages and positive thinking to put us back to the place where we feel whole and able to accomplish all that we think we need to accomplish.  If we can be honest with ourselves and admit to the brokeness in our lives this can be the beginning of seeing the surpassing power of God.

Ken Sande once said that, "Christ breaks us to free us . . . to ultimately use us".  Again, I ask the question ~ "What does God do with a broken down worker?".   He finally has something pliable to mold and shape into a vessel that brings Him glory.  No longer are we able to depend upon our own strength to accomplish anything for the Kingdom.  We are now jars of clay,  being fashioned into something beautiful and fit for the Master's use (2 Corinthians 4:7).   What is really true is that which is unseen and eternal.  This gives us hope as we view the broken down pieces of our lives.

Pastor Andrew told the story today in his sermon about Itzhak Perlman, the brilliant violinist who has been crippled by childhood polio.  In this particular story Mr. Perlman was playing a most difficult piece in front of an audience when one of his violin strings broke.  The symphony stopped, realizing that it was close to impossible to go on but Mr. Perlman instructed the symphony to continue and he finished the difficult piece of music with three strings.  The crowd was silenced by the accomplishment of Itzhak Perlman and then erupted in spontaneous applause.  His response when asked was this, "All my life I have attempted to make music with that which remains."

We might not have all the strings of our life finely tuned but we can use that which remains for the glory of God.  His power is made perfect in our weakness.  Our temptation is to see our weakness more than His power.  May He give us true vision to view the eternal as we live out in the temporal.