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To My Husband

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It was supposed to be a beach, sunset wedding… That is what we planned out over the course of six short days. And we weren’t even going to have a ceremony. We were going to go to the courthouse, get married and “make things right in the eyes of The Lord.”

That is what we were told we needed to do, by the mystical, “tennis court angel.” That is what I like to call her, even though you and I both know she wasn’t really an angel. And she wasn’t really “mystical.” She was just a woman who followed what she called the “leading of The Lord” late on a September night and found you exactly where The Lord told her you would be. She led you to salvation, and you then led me, but there was one thing she mentioned that we needed to do in order to “make things right”… Get married.

And it sounded crazy, stupid even… Believing some random woman was truly “Led by The Lord”…. “Having” to get married to “get right with The Lord”?

But we went with it. You followed the leading of a woman you truly believed was placed by God to intercept our world and forever change everything. You made the choice to follow Jesus and “make things right” as you felt you were being led to do. And I… Not so convinced… Simply made the choice to follow you. If you were going to follow Jesus, so was I. I would follow you anywhere… God knew that .

So we went to the courthouse on a Monday morning in order to “make things right,” if only on paper.

We walked out of that courthouse, ages nineteen and twenty-one, with a marriage license in hand. It was surreal to say the least.

And we would have gone to the court, but Tia and Tio said that wasn’t good enough and so we began planning a wedding.

Sunset. On the Beach. Hawaiian style. Standing room only… Lots of room.

We lined up a family friend who was a notary to perform our ceremony. We began thinking about flowers and favors… Little chocolates with our picture on it…. A cake with seashells, which we later learned was a bad idea.

(Mental Note: Real seashells on a cake is a bad idea. Also bad at the bottom of two betta bowls. Our poor wedding fish… Rough start but they survived! And so have we… Taking lots of “mental notes” along the way).

We planned for awesome homemade food cooked by your brother, a reception at Tio and Tia’s… It was all planned.

We invited every shocked friend we could think of and family. But being dead-set to get married soon, many, including our own parents were not able to attend.

We got as much marital counseling as we could in a week and a lot of prayer… God bless Pastor R and K-A for believing in us.

Come wedding day we ran late. Yes, late to our own wedding. Our “sunset” wedding became a pitch black wedding with only the headlights from family cars shedding light in the dark. And then half-way into the thing, it started. Little drops of rain. Wind getting stronger. After we both said “I do” it felt like the skies broke open and the wind came full blast. Sand whipped up from all around us. And our little flower girl, took off running. I can still remember the sight of her screaming and running off. Perhaps my favorite memory from that night.

It was so perfectly imperfect. So unpredicted. Planned and yet nothing really going according to plan. Light in the darkness. A name given. A name taken. Two vows made in the presence of heaven and earth. Holy and beautiful moments, and other moments that made us want to run…

Yeah- that is marriage in a nut shell.

But the secret to enduring the storms has remained the same, lock eyes, lock lips, and laugh in the rain.

And as I write this, it is 13 years. 13 years from that precious day when we “made things right”… So much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same.

To my husband- I love you. I thank God for you. Thank you for being “crazy” enough to step in faith, over and over and over again. Thank you for loving me, truth-be-told at times enduring me, with relentless, crazy, God-given, love. Thank you for locking your eyes on Jesus and leading me to do the same.

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Ironing a little girl’s dress, Ironing out my heart

It’s 11:30 p.m. as I start to write this. I still have a little girl’s dress to press to get ready for church in the morning… And to be honest I am having a hard time balancing a joyful, thankful heart and a totally broken heart. And I have a feeling, I am not alone.

My mind keeps going back to pictures of little ones whose bodies were being gathered together… Children in Iran who fled to the hills with their families for fear of death, only to starve and die of thirst. I keep thinking about her, that little girl who looked so much like our youngest daughter, limp in a man’s arms.

Our baby girl smiled earlier this evening, held up her pretty church dress, and I started to think of that little girl again, and the many others, children’s heads on sticks, women and mothers being raped, fathers being hung… And meanwhile, elsewhere there are women and children stuck in human trafficking, children and spouses stuck in abusive homes, friend’s who have lost loved ones unexpectedly, hurricanes, and mudslides… Yeah, I think of all those things and suddenly what we are wearing to church seems so trivial. Whether this dress gets ironed out not so important… But instead ironing out my heart.

Because I truly believe that God is not blind to what is happening.

Exodus 3:7
Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress…”

He is not deaf to the cries of his people. But I fear that all too often… We are… And we are by choice.

And somewhere in the mix of all of this it has really dawned on me that while I so desperately want to “save”so many… When I open my heart to the pains of others… It frees ME. It frees me from ingratitude. It frees me from being numb. It frees me from the little “happy bubble” that I like to stay in. And truly we aren’t meant to float around in a happy bubble. We are meant to feel- to take compassion. To cry…

“Jesus wept.” The shortest verse in the Bible and yet perhaps the most profound to me. That the all powerful Savior of the World wept. It was part of his purpose. Part of the reason he came and entered our world. He came to feel our pains, because only by feeling our pain could he free us from it.

We live in a great, big, broken world. And as we allow our hearts to feel it – to be broken for others, cry when they cry, pray when they ask for prayer- I really believe we WILL see miracles- including those that happen within our very own hearts.

I urge you friends- especially those of you who, like me, don’t like to let your happy bubble get popped- start clicking those links: see, hear, feel, fast, pray, cry… Let the heat of the world’s hurt hit your heart and let God iron out the shriveled and wrinkled places. Be moved. Move. And wait for a miracle.

 

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Fall or Jump?

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It was early evening. We were all out on the dock. Our bigger kids were jumping and splashing. Hubby and I were on watch guard duty next to our two youngest.

I had hubby’s phone in my hand trying to snap a picture. He asked me for his phone. I handed it over, and suddenly, immediately, I feel his other hand shove at my side.

In a knee-jerk reaction, I grabbed for one of the dock posts and thankfully catch myself from plummeting over. Hubby was smiling and looking a bit disappointed and even a bit more determined to push me in yet still.

I wasn’t dressed for swimming. I didn’t want to take the plunge. I was begging “Please, no!” He laughed, gave a few more bumps and let me be.

I felt relieved.
But most of all…

I felt loved.

Because there is something about standing out on a dock next to someone you love… This incredibly strong urge to push them over the edge starts to just rise up. You begin to imagine the sheer joy of seeing them surprised and then totally submerged in that water. And clearly, my hubby was overcome by that urge.

Where does that urge even come from? I can’t help but think tonight that it truly comes from Jesus.

Jesus desires to surprise us and submerge us in the love of God. Still many of us I think try to fight it. We don’t want to be one of those over-the-edge Christians. But can I tell you something? There is a lot of joy when you stop trying to hold firm to your post, but instead just let yourself fall into his love.

So, go ahead. Let go.
Better yet, JUMP into His love.

 

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Glimpses of His Love

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For two nights now (mornings technically) our neighbor’s dog has kept me awake with her barking.

The last three times the kids and I have left our neighborhood she has run with all her might along side our van following us all the way out of the development.

I have tried to stop and tell her to go home, it never works. The kids all laugh and cheer as they watch her run. Hours later when we pull back into our driveway the kids and I all look for her. She sees our van and runs back to us filled with joy.

Early this morning her barking was so loud that I broke down and got up to see what all the fuss was about. Come to find her sitting right in front of our front door barking and on high alert and what appeared to be perhaps someone walking the neighborhood in the far off distance. And as much as I wanted to be asleep, and thought I would sternly scold her, I did no such thing. I just stood there, overwhelmed by the love of God.

If we all could only catch glimpses of how much he loves us. We would see a God who pursues us, chases us down with all his might, and desires to remain at our side. We would see a God who keeps his eyes fixed on us, even though we have left him in the dust.

Look back, and there he is. You will see him in the rear view mirror of your life. And yes, he is always closer than he appears.

We would see a God who always runs to us with joy when he sees us coming home. We would see a God who watches over and guards us, who sits faithfully outside the door of our heart and just keeps barking, a God who wakes us up in the darkness. And we would see a God who desires to remind us of his love through everything and anything around us… even a neighbor’s dog.

May your eyes be opened to his love for you today. May you see his love for you through something so ordinary and yet incredibly extraordinary.

You are so loved. So desired. So guarded. So celebrated every time you come home to his love.

Psalm 139: 8-12

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

 

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Flowers in the Mailbox

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I can’t remember if it was a birthday, an anniversary, or Valentine’s Day. All I can remember is being convinced, absolutely convinced that when my hubby told me to go check the mail, it was because he had hidden flowers in the mailbox. Red roses were my best guess. I just knew it. My romantic man was setting me up for another sweet surprise. I walked up our driveway with butterflies and a smile. Put my hand on that mailbox door, paused for a second and closed my eyes for added effect, and then opened my eyes and the door to find… Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I walked back down that driveway feeling pretty silly, mad at myself and mad at him. He should have known! And the poor, innocent, man spent the next few minutes under a bit of a cold shoulder, paying the cost of a crime he had no idea he had committed. Not that he even knew I was mad, I kept my disappointment to myself, kicking myself for even hoping. But then I could feel The Lord smiling at me, laughing truly.

I laugh thinking about it now. And just this summer I confessed my high hopes with my hubby, my mom and sis-in-law. We were all laughing. And now “no roses in the mailbox” has become our phrase to pin that feeling of disappointment.

But I share this today because I can’t get passed the feeling to talk once more about this idea of hope. I think many of us are afraid to hope. We are afraid of disappointment. I get it. Being married to a pilot and military man I really get it. It isn’t easy to hope especially in someone else. Hope can disappoint. So the tendency is for us to want to throw up the walls, stop hoping in others, put our hope in ourselves and our own abilities under the guise that our hope is in The Lord. Yes, I called it a guise. Because even though our hope is in The Lord where it should be, many of us I fear go there by default. We go there by disappointment. We go there as our fallback. We place our hope in Christ because truth be told we have been hurt and disappointed too much placing it anywhere else. But can I tell you something?

Love hopes.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
“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.”

What is love without hope? What is a marriage without hope in your spouse? It feels good, so good to hope. To hope for them to come home. To hope for them to be a part of your plans. To hope for their success. To hope for their future. It even feels good to hope for flowers in a mailbox . Hope is an incredible, God-given feeling. And we shouldn’t be afraid to feel it.

Hope.

And if your mailbox comes up empty. Guess what? There is still hope. There is still joy. There is still love. There is love and laughter …tears of joy from laughing so hard at your high hopes with your husband, your family and friends.

Hope.

Laugh.

Love.

Live.

 

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All is Well Here

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This little girl melts my heart. Our potted plant was not looking well. In an attempt to help it, our daughter and I planted it here in a patch of dirt by our back door. Sweet baby girl watched me planting it. As I kneeled there, gently folding new dirt around the fragile roots, leaning a rock against the stem that wanted to bend… she randomly took back off into the house. She returned with this little “Get Well” balloon in hand. The same balloon that was given to me when I needed to get well. She insisted we place the balloon by our little plant. Moved by the gesture, I agreed. I planted a balloon in our garden… Once again motivated by a child to do the seeming ridiculous. I watched her today as she whispered “Get well,” to the little plant, touching its flowers so gently.

I don’t know whether or not the little plant will get well. I hope it will… I hope it will live longer, grow stronger… But even should it not… This little, sickly plant, has caused compassion and hope to bloom in our little girl. Love has grown here- in our daughter and in me. Incredible purpose is felt here, flooding over all that is not well.

How is that God can do that? He can take all that is not well to birth all that is: Compassion, love, hope and a faith that leans on the Solid Rock.

All is well here.

All is so very well.

 

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When a Man Truly loves a Woman

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A princess gets locked by some villain in a tower. A fair maiden gets carried off as some plunder of war. So many times we see the plot. It is a classic truly, and one I caught a few weeks ago in the movie ” Despicable Me 2.”

“Despicable Me 2” took this classic plot to a whole new level as a macho wrestling villain, his chicken, and army of purple, crazed, all-consuming minions, strap fair maiden “Lucy” to a shark rocket headed straight into the depths of some volcano out at sea. Once-evil villain “Gru” comes rushing into save her with his scientist and adopted daughters, all armed with jelly guns… Quite the creative and imaginative twist on a classic plot for sure.

Watching it with our oldest boys got me thinking about the classic plot of a woman in distress, rescued by a man who is willing to take on any and all opposition and go any height or depth, in order to save the woman he loves.

This is the plot that fascinates and captivates and resonates.

Because deep down,

I believe,

We desire love like that.

Women want to be loved like that.

Men want to love like that.

But how can they?

How can a man today love a woman like that?

He sees no villains, no towers, no purple crazed minions or shark rockets. There are no wars to charge into with sword ( or jelly gun) in hand, no battles to fight, no mountains to climb, no depths to dive into it.

But all to often,

They are there.

They are there, seizing her unexpectedly and trying to bring her down.

Battles of the mind, of the emotions, and the spirit… These are the battles that require the brave.

These are the battles that require a man who is willing to take on any and all opposition and go any height or depth.

When hormones rage,

When the only blood in the fight is the blood filling her menstrual pads,

It takes a man who is willing to take on an army of hormones and stand in the midst of the checkout line with super maxi pads in hand.

When she looks in the mirror and delusions, depression, lies and discouragement try to seize her,

It takes a man who is not willing to see his love carried off into the depths of depression,

Or locked in a tower of fear.

He does not flee the battle but steps in and holds her, and begins to wage war, not with sword and shield (or jelly guns), but with words of truth and words of encouragement.

When sickness plagues her body,

When she is too weak to work,

Or walk,

Or hold their crying child,

It takes a man who is willing to rush in, lead her to the restroom, hold her hair, wash her, feed her, and care for her and the children.

He will not leave post, but he will stay as faithful watchman. And for the true lover, this will be his joy.

For he who fiercely loves a woman’s soul, will fiercely fight.

He will not only provide food on the table.

He will provide food for the spirit and soul.

This kind of love, is not for the faint.

This kind of love is the kind that gets dirty, sweats and bleeds.

This kind of love is the kind that goes the distance.

This kind of love is the kind that refuses to give up.

This kind of love is the love we saw poured out two-thousand plus years ago by a man strapped to a cross,

A man who gave it all,

A man who did not jump ship (or shark rocket), but willingly went down into the deepest depths to conquer them and release the prisoners that were locked in darkness.

This kind of love is true love.

This kind of love is Jesus love.

And oh, when we see it in a man.

It captivates.

It fascinates.

It resonates.

It testifies to our heart,

“That is love.”

 

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