28 years ago today I went on my “very last first date”. While I was living it, I didn’t realize that I would never again have to wish for someone to share a New Years kiss, or someone to call “My Valentine”, but that is what was happening…
Oklahoma City was experiencing record snowfall in 1984. The town was literally shut down. The park behind our little college had turned into a Winter Wonderland. This “wonderland” was the setting of our first date. Greg asked me to go driving to look at the snow and I accepted. Once we got to the park we took a walk. As we walked, he recited a poem he had written for me. We still have that poem tucked inside the pocket of a sweater vest he wore in college. The poem goes like this:
When will the woman I love
Gently blow into the sails of my heart
So I may once again
Sail on the sea of love!
A little sappy? yes. But oh, how my 19 year old heart fluttered and skipped a beat…
The date continued as we walked through the snow and made snow angels. As we returned to his truck, he opened the door and turned on the radio. We danced in the falling snow… I can’t help but smile as I type this. If I hadn’t lived it, I wouldn’t believe it was possible. We had been friends for a year and a half, so once we decided to “date” it was very easy to see that this was not your ordinary relationship…I was in love from the first kiss. Oh, that happened in front of a Christmas tree!
I guess the most amazing part of this story is that 28 years later I still get giddy when I think about going on a “date” with my guy. We have been on many wonderful dates these last 28 years: I have had songs written for me, pictures painted, love notes written, surprise get-aways…but most of all I have had love. Real and lasting love; now that is a dream come true!
I’m singing a song tomorrow, a song that helps me remember.
messes clean up
life is not an emergency
I am richly blessed
I receive grace
I must extend grace
gentle and quiet are precious to God
children are a gift
we only have right now
we only have this moment, don’t wish it away
they grow up so fast
laughter is good for the soul
love is hard work
love is all that matters
love makes life worth living
love is messy…
When a dad loves his little girl; all is right in the world.
She grows up feeling secure.
She grows up knowing what to look for in a future husband.
She grows up knowing she is precious.
She grows up knowing that her thoughts matter.
She grows up feeling like she can do anything she sets her mind to do.
She grows up not needing some sweaty teenage boy to make her feel special.
She grows up feeling cherished.
She grows up understanding what love really is.
The hard part is… she grows up.
I haven’t ever been thin…probably won’t ever be in the future either, but I digress… back to the focus of this blog post!
Today on this 4th day of my February “Month of Love Challenge”, I am thankful for a husband who has stayed around for 24 years! We set out to love through better or worse, through sickness or health, and through thick or thin. Or as in my case: thick, thicker, not-so-thick, oh pooh! I’m thick again, well I think I’m getting not-so-thick, thick, thicker, thickest…you get the idea! Thanks sweetheart for being here and loving me for me!
I am so thankful for a husband who works hard. Whether it is leading worship, flipping a house, building a set, planting a garden, conducting a rehearsal, counseling, parenting, whatever…his work ethic is second to none! Thanks honey for doing such an amazing job of providing for me and our children!
I am giving a challenge to all my women friends: In the month of February post something you love about your man every day. Express you gratitude for the things he does, the way he provides, the work ethic he employs. Usually we all focus on Valentines Day and women receiving roses and candy, but this year I challenge us all to give our men what they really long for; our respect.
Last year our church participated in 40 Days of Love, I am only asking for 28! So come on, let’s take time to notice the special qualities in our men. Let’s drink in the everyday routines and realize what a blessing they are. Post your comments here on the blog and let the thankfulness begin!
p.s. It is a good idea to express your gratitude to your man as well…
I used to think being a perfectionist meant you did things just so; you did them “perfect”. I married a man who people saw as a perfectionist. His work was always “perfect”. If he hung a picture, he had the level and the hammer and the hanger, no improvising here. If he was painting a room, it was cut in perfectly, free-hand of course, with no drips. When he went to the laundry during college, the attendant commented that she hadn’t ever seen anyone fold clothes so perfectly. The list goes on and on; perfectly straight rows in our garden, perfect hospital corners on our bed, perfect bulletin boards in the youth room at church, perfect sets for our church productions, perfect wife…oops! My husband who produced perfection at every turn had married a girl who was the direct opposite of perfection. Wow, it sure did provide opportunities for us to grow! I hadn’t ever even made a bed, much less one with perfect hospital corners. (I was kinda spoiled) I employed the out of sight out of mind method of house cleaning. Before anyone would come over, I would open drawers or closets and stuff all the stuff out of sight. This method worked just fine until the first time Greg decided to help prepare our home for company. His idea was as he put stuff away he would clean out and reorganize where ever he was going to put it. Everything came out of the hall closet and it was reorganized before we could hang up the jackets! (you get the idea) Talk about the clash of personalities! What neither one of us understood until many years later was that I too suffered from perfectionism. Oh, I never performed to the level most would say is required to wear the title of perfectionist, but I struggled with it just the same. Mine was an inner struggle with never being good enough, never performing perfectly enough. I also felt the need to “fix” people and situations. If things didn’t turn out perfect, then somehow I felt it was my fault. I can hardly believe it even as I type it. I put myself under so much pressure, the stress was unbearable at times. And my husband; he didn’t expect perfection, he didn’t even feel that he had ever performed perfectly. Perfectionism is a trap. A trap that holds us hostage and keeps from being and doing all we are created to be and do.
Greg and I have learned a lot over the years. The most important thing we have learned is to not give our perfectionism so much power. We are constantly learning to let what is, be what is. We don’t need to fix everything. We need to be OK with our limitations. We are learning to let go of our need to be right. We are learning to not just accept our humanity and its imperfection, but to actually embrace it. It is who we are. As we embrace it, the realization for a savior is even more profound. Our weakness truly provides the “perfect” opportunity for God’s strength and grace to be shown.
So, no perfect people in this family. We are just people who love each other deeply and are committed to learning how to grace ourselves and those around us everyday. Sounds like the perfect place for me!
This time last week I was sitting in an auditorium in Dallas participating in a marriage conference designed especially for pastors and their spouses. Greg and I hadn’t ever attended a marriage conference before, and frankly didn’t ever think we wanted to. We feel like we have a great marriage and we work on keeping things alive on a regular basis. But boy am I glad we attended. It was so different from anything we ever expected. First of all, the chairs weren’t in rows, but rather they were set up in groups of 2 all over the room. There were candles and chandeliers decorating the room. Most of the conference was interactive. Someone would speak and then we would turn toward our spouse and work through a question answer activity or an exercise like staring in each others eyes for 2 minutes: no talking, no touching. I usually am the first one to say I hate “group” activities, but somehow this was different.
My favorite part of the conference was the last session of Thursday evening. They asked us all to exit the room and when we returned for the last session, they had cleared a large space in the center. They brought in a ballroom dance instructor who taught us to do a simple swing dance. It was a blast! Now, I know its hard to imagine a bunch of pastors “cuttin’ the rug” with their gals, but trust me, somehow you forgot where you were and found yourself caught up in the moment. Once we learned the basics (even an underarm pass) they played 3 or 4 songs and we danced, and laughed, and sang, and smiled… For me this was extra special. I know 3 months ago when I started my “fat to fit” journey, I couldn’t have made it through one song without being completely out of breath. I danced the entire time without a problem. In fact, I was singing along while we danced the last dance. I had many reasons that motivated me to start on this fitness journey. I never dreamed one benefit would be dancing with my love. At that moment, every push up, every minute of cardio, every lap I swam, every mile I walked, every weight I lifted was so worth it! I felt like Eliza Doolittle…”I could have danced all night”!
Falling in love with your kids again.
Do you remember those days when you first brought your baby home from the hospital, and every time that baby opened their eyes you thought your heart was going to explode with love! Somehow those feelings fade when you are trying to make dinner and you have to walk over a screaming three year old in the middle of your kitchen floor or you have a teenager screaming back at you. I’ve been trying to focus on getting back to that first love I felt for my kids these last few weeks of summer, before school starts and I begin to loose more and more time with them.
I am reading a devotional book right now by Gary Thomas called ‘Sacred Parenting’ the first devotion suggests a very simple yet, profound idea. The devotion suggest every christian family’s motto be ”God is in the room.” God, the one who created the precious beings that I have been given temporary charge over, is in the room watching and listening to every interaction I have with His children. This idea has made me think not only before I yell, at my kids just for being kids but it has also made me think about how much more God loves them than I do. He created them exactly the way they are, and then he gave his only child to die on a cross for them. When I try to look at my kids through the eyes of God it brings back some of the warm fuzzy feelings of those exciting new born days when you thought parenting was easy and your child was perfect!