Love that lasts

A few weeks ago I went to a funeral for a lovely old lady that I first met over 10 years ago. During the eulogy it suddenly struck me that she had been married for 64 years. 64 YEARS people! And not only had she been married, she had been happily married.

In our day this sort of thing is becoming rarer by the minute. Marriages last a few weeks, months, years. We find it increasingly hard to find mentors and role models who actually still have a marriage, let alone a happy one. And nobody seems to care anymore.

Coming home from that funeral I decided to do something about it. I want a 64-year love – more if I live long enough! So this year I am going to get into the habit of being intentional about my marriage. I intend to read marriage, think marriage, and pray marriage. I want to surround myself with happily married people and be open to advice and help. I want to find any and all traits of happy marriages and implement them in my own. I intend to intentionally spend time with my husband.

A week or so after my decision, a blogger I follow launched a marriage reading challenge for this year. God has great timing! So this month I am reading Love & War by John & Stasi Eldredge. I am planning to purchase and read at least one of each month’s selected books this year, plus I have also purchased a marriage devotional and desk calendar for my husband and I to read together.

This year more than ever I want to keep on creating love that lasts.


A perfect relationship?

Lately I have been noticing a lot of Facebook posts about wanting perfect relationships. It appears that every teenage (and probably older!) girl out there wants a guy who is perfect. Someone who will bring home flowers all the time, who is a great cook, who loves to cuddle, never gets upset, and is just generally, well, perfect. But as my mother always said, ‘If you did manage to find a perfect guy, why would he want to marry you?!’ (Thanks by the way. *feel the sarcasm*)

But she is right. We are human and as such we make mistakes. We are not perfect. No relationship with another human (be it spouse, family, or friends) is ever going to be perfect.

I believe that we have forgotten that movies are fiction. The relationships portrayed in them are not real. And we get so busy looking for ‘perfect’ that we sail right on past ‘great’. A lot of the time even when we get ‘great’ we aren’t satisfied – we keep looking for or demanding more. And I think that is sad.

About two weeks ago I had surgery. My husband couldn’t be there. But as soon as he got home from work he rushed to look after me. He didn’t have flowers for me when I got home. But when I woke at 3am the next morning in pain, he got up. He got painkillers, food, and set me up on the couch with a movie. (And he did buy me flowers later that week.) He didn’t cook me a three course meal that night. But every time I even mentioned food over the next week he has jumped up and got me anything I wanted without even being asked. He did try to cuddle me but that just hurt my jaw so we settled for holding hands. And he did get upset – mostly due to me being an annoying and grumpy soul when I am sick or in pain! But even when I could tell he was thoroughly frustrated with me, he still noticed if I was in even a hint of pain and did all he could to help. He was so busy over that week – but every time I called or sent him a text he answered straight away.

Last Sunday evening we mixed and poured concrete for our new letterbox. And after it had dried a little my dear husband suggested that we carve our initials into it. And I was reminded all over again that while we don’t have a perfect relationship by any means, we do have a great one. And since we have our whole lives ahead to keep on learning together, great is well and truly enough.

Where I am thankful and terrified at the same time

Over 10 years ago I started getting headaches. Around the same time I got chronic fatigue and got hit in the face with a basketball. Hence, it is somewhat understandable that doctors never took my constant headaches seriously. They all just told me it was part of chronic fatigue. Helpful really.

And so I prayed. Numerous times I asked God to take away the chronic fatigue. Or just the headaches. Or make them occur less often. Or just make them less painful. But each and every time nothing happened. Well, not exactly nothing. I was always reminded of a verse – my verse – that got me through so many times. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” And He always gave enough grace. Just enough to remind me that He was still in control.

Now its 10 years later. I have not had trouble with chronic fatigue for the past few years, but the headaches have only gotten worse. However, finally there is light. In 4 days I am having surgery to remove 6 horribly impacted teeth and the cysts around them that appear to have been causing the pain all these years. However, four of the six teeth, plus two cysts, are sitting right on important facial nerves. And the surgeon has warned me that it is possible that he will accidentally break my jaw during surgery (something to do with the cysts having eaten away a portion of the bone, making it more fragile).

Therefore, I am terrified. (Plus I’ve had three whole weeks since I found out – which gives me longer to get freaked out!) But then I remember God’s promise to me so many times over the years – “My grace is sufficient.” His grace is enough. Enough for me as I go into surgery. Enough for the surgeon as he operates. Enough for my husband as he works that day and can’t be by my side.

So if you happen to think of me in four days, please send up a prayer. Not to remind God of His promise, but that He will remind me.

To a friend

A dear friend of mine got married nearly two weeks ago. And it made me think of the things I have learned since my own wedding day (almost!) 2 years ago. In honour of this grand occasion I would like to share some of those things with you.

1. When you wake up there will be someone on the other side of the bed. Do try to remember that. I forgot once. One morning shortly after our wedding I rolled over, hit a body, and screamed. My poor perplexed husband’s response was, ‘Who on earth did you think it was going to be??!’

2. When you get home from the honeymoon, remember that everyday life won’t be like that. You won’t have time to spend hours just being together. You won’t always be as relaxed. You will actually have to deal with life again. Some days there will be so much to do that you will only briefly see your husband at all. And that is ok. But do purposefully take time out of your busy lives to connect and just be a couple again. Go on dates. Have games nights at home. Take holidays together. Watch your favourite movie together – or expand his limited knowledge of the female mind by watching a chick flick. (He may even enjoy it – however, remember that he will never admit this in public, so it is best not to mention it.)

3. Don’t feel that you have to spend every waking moment with each other. If he wants to go and hang out with the guys, let him. If he wants to read a book or watch a movie that you are not interested in, go do something else! Enjoy hobbies and time with friends apart from each other. You’ll find that you have more to talk about if you’re not together 24/7 – and you will appreciate his presence more when he is there.

4. Remember that he is a man. He will not always see things the same way. He will not always think the same way. Sometimes you may wonder if he thinks at all! Just remember that God made him different for a purpose. Sometimes you will just need to try harder to understand him or even get him to explain things a million times. Other times you will just have to accept that you do not ‘get’ him and that that is ok!

5. He will have faults. We all do. And somehow there will always be at least one that you didn’t find out about before marriage. When you do find it, don’t panic. Just because he does one thing that you don’t like doesn’t mean it is the end of the world – or your marriage. Talk to him. If he is able/willing to change it then great. If not, deal with it. Move on. In time you will even come to love all the silly little things he does. (My husband wriggles. It drove me nuts at first. I was so frustrated that he couldn’t just sit/lie still! And then the first time he went away for a week I found myself unable to sleep because I missed the wriggling!)

6. Communicate. I know everyone says it so often it gets worn out, but it is important. Men physically cannot mind read. (It’s a shame really!) He probably has no idea that you are still bothered by some silly little thing he did 3 days ago. So talk to him. Tell him what is on your mind. And don’t keep secrets from each other. My friends all know that even if they tell me something in the strictest confidence, I will not keep it from my husband. (I trust him implicitly and know that he can keep a secret. If that was not the case it would be different.) You have ‘become one’ – act like it. Talk to each other about everything – even if it is hard to do. There have been times when my husband confronted me (gently!) over things that I have said or done that are not Godly. And I appreciated him even more for it.

7. No matter how much you love each other there will be days when he will do extremely stupid things and you will get mad and want to kill him. Don’t. Leave the room. Take a deep breath – several in fact. And then, as the pastor said at your wedding, choose love. If you cannot muster the strength to love in the face of pain, anger, or disappointment then pray and ask God to give you love. Remember your wedding day. Listen to the songs that were played that day. Read again the vows you spoke to the man you loved. By this point, if you are anything like me, you will be crying and going in search of him to make amends. If not, stay on your knees until you love that man again with all your heart.

Take on life’s joys and hardships together – remembering to face it all as a team – and keep on choosing to love. I promise that the love just keeps on growing with every passing day.

Three Months On

Three months after moving we are finally settled into our new house. Apart from a damaged table and a small moment of panic when we thought the fridge wouldn’t fit, the move went really well. And thanks to help from family, unpacking was relatively quick and easy. There are still several boxes to be unpacked but everything is organised. Finally. (The boxes appear to be breeding, but I refuse to let this get to me. Remain calm. Don’t panic.)

On a more cheerful note – I love our new house! It’s  about the same size as our first house (read ‘small’) but it is a lot brighter and airier. And it backs onto a nature reserve! Which means that I can look out of the window and see trees, not another house! We get regular visits from a variety of birds and lizards – our new kitten enjoys making friends with them from the other side of the glass.

The adorable Bella about 2 months ago

The adorable Bella about 2 months ago

In the 3 months since the great move we have unpacked, purchased the aforementioned kitten, had a wonderful Christmas holidays with family, gone away for a couple of days for our anniversary (which was lovely until my husband got sick!), attended a 21st for a dear friend (who was one of my bridesmaids a year ago!), and enjoyed numerous other outings with friends and family. (It is so good to be near them all again!) Somehow I have also managed everyday housekeeping without killing myself or the kitten.

I also finally finished my course at the zoo. I am sad that it is over, but so glad I had the opportunity – it was so much fun! After dramas with a teacher ‘losing/not opening their eyes and seeing’ an assignment and all the fuss that resulted from that, I was really happy to finish the assignments part. Now I am just waiting to receive my certificate.

I have been looking for some work but for now I have just been doing lots around the house and taking a break (if tidying, sorting, and trying to sell things we no longer need counts as a break!). It is nice to have time to do more crocheting and music too. Loving getting back into viola lessons, and teaching my mum to play piano.) And I am enjoying making respectable dinners for my hard working man. And catching up on sleep. Sleep. Sleeepp…………………

Watering the grass…

First off, I am not dead. Since I have not blogged in over 3 months this may surprise you. However you will be pleased (I hope!) to know that I have not died. I have merely been bogged down under great busy-ness with finishing my course, moving, unpacking, holidays, spring cleaning, and other housewifely things. (I do realise of course that it is not spring. But we have a house inspection coming up and a thorough clean was necessary. And since ‘summer cleaning’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it, spring cleaning it is!)

I shall bestow all the details upon you in another post. But since it is Valentine’s Day after all, I want to write about love.

Love can be hard to explain, though many people have tried. One soul in two bodies. Trust. What makes two people sit in the middle of a bench when there is plenty of room at both ends. Sex. Friendship on fire. Forgiveness. When another person’s happiness is more important than your own.

But my favourite description of love is God’s. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.

What a beautiful way to describe it. But every time I read that I get the distinct impression that I have failed. I know that it is only failure if you don’t get up and try again, but still. It feels like it. But then I read that last sentence. Love never fails.

Never, adverb. At no time in the past or future; not ever; not at all.

That means its just never going to happen. True love just will not ever fail. When it makes a mistake, when it loses patience, or envies, or gets angry, love doesn’t stop being love. It just gets up and tries again. And it will never stop doing that. Love doesn’t let you just wake up one day and say ‘You know what, yesterday we failed too many times, let’s just get divorced.’ Or stop loving. Or stop trying. Nope. It never fails, remember? It always tries again.

I read somewhere once about thinking that someone else’s situation is better than yours. They were discussing the dangers of thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Other people’s lives may look better or easier. Your friend’s marriage may seem like less work or more like what you think you want. Another friend may seem to love better – never falling, never making mistakes. But do you know what? The article I was reading pointed out that both sides of the fence are exactly the same – the truth is simply that the grass is greener where you water it. The people with the easier lives – they are just watering the grass. The friend with the perfect marriage is simply watering the grass. The friend that seems to love perfectly – she makes mistakes alright, but she just keeps on watering that grass.

Love may be hard to understand sometimes. It may get bumpy along the way and some days someone else’s grass may look greener. So what are you going to do about it?

You know what I think? I’m gonna need to go buy a hose. And maybe a sprinkler. A good, drenchy kind of one. Because today and every day, I choose to water this grass!

The night before the great move…

Mum and I are currently sitting on mattresses on the floor. My husband drove off about 10 hours ago with most of our belongings. Unfortunately someone had to stay behind to clean the house ready for the final inspection tomorrow morning.

So here we sit. On the floor. In an empty house.

Have I mentioned I hate empty houses? No? Well, I hate empty houses. They sound hollow. And they just feel wrong. I also hate sleeping on the floor. And without my husband. So far tonight isn’t going well for me!

But I have been blessed.

The truck hire company ran out of the smaller truck that we booked. Which meant we got a larger truck for the same price, and were able to fit everything in without stressing or cramming.

My husband and one of his friends managed to load said truck in 3 hours. And nothing got damaged. Yet.

The house is almost clean and there are only a couple of things left to go in the cars in the morning.

And we are going home. Tomorrow. Leaving our first home together and starting on a new journey.

Can’t wait to see where this road leads.