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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

us

Twenty years.  That’s how long Mr. Rodeheaver and I have loved each other.  Today is our 17 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more in love.

There were many years where I could not have imagined our marriage being what it is today.  I can say with all honesty and without exaggeration that it is better now than ever before.  This is the result of a faithful God and a faithful husband.

I spent the past week cleaning the house.  School is out – homeschool, that is, where mom is always home but never able to get anything done – and cheer season is over.  Finally, I had time to do all those jobs I never get around to.  Cleaning out drawers, closets and bookshelves, scrubbing floors, baseboards, and walls, and, my personal favorite, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down.

House cleaning is not my favorite job.  There are only two reasons I clean: 1. I can no longer function due to the chaos happening around me 2. My husband told me to.  If it was not for Mr. Rodeheaver’s consistent reminders about doing “my job” I honestly might be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders.”

It is because of my husband’s unwillingness to overlook or ignore sin in my life that I have grown in the areas that are most difficult for me to find success in.  Because he neither fears telling me the truth nor accepts any nonsensical excuses I make that keep me from being better, I have no choice but to grow.  He understands my potential and he accepts nothing less than my best.

Twenty years is a long time to be learning something.  Most would have given up instructing and encouraging me a long time ago.  Love never fails, though.  Tim’s faithfulness to me extends far beyond dinners out and depositing paychecks.  Tim’s faithfulness to me is often found in his consistent correction in the things I figure out how to continuously fail at.  Housecleaning is just one example.  We can also add cooking, planning, spending, and eating, just to name a few.

If I am honest I would have to say I fail a lot in almost every area of my life in some way.  We all do.  Fortunately life is not a competition against anyone besides ourselves.  If I am better today than I was yesterday, that is progress.  It is a reason to celebrate.  It does not mean I won’t regress and fail again tomorrow.  It means I have victory today and I have a faithful voice to correct me again tomorrow, if need be.  I can think of no greater blessing.  Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.

If any one of those elements is missing, I would be hard-pressed to call it faithful love with any amount of confidence.  Things I would call it may be idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  These are what love is not.

Idolatry.  Idolatry worships.  When we make someone an idol, we only encourage and forgive.  Idolatry lacks the ability to instruct and correct appropriately.

Selfishness.  Selfish relationships only do what is best for self – not the other.  They may instruct, encourage, correct, or forgive, but all things are done only in one’s own interests depending on which manipulative action will give them – not the other – the most satisfaction.

Fear.  Fear is not found in true love.  The Bible says,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” One who fears in a relationship will never correct or instruct appropriately.  They may not encourage or forgive, either, depending on what kind of fear they are entertaining.

Resentment.  Resentment is when a person only corrects and instructs but never encourages or forgives.  Resentment is not a characteristic of true love.

Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.  Love is not idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  If I am honest, I would have to say that over the course of our marriage, I have fallen prey to all of these things which are not love at one time or another.  Thankfully, true love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Thankfully, I have a husband who sent this message to me first thing this morning:

text

Love covers a multitude of sins.  We fail but love never does.  Keep loving no matter what else happens.  I will leave you with a few verses from the song we chose as ours in May, 1997 and has been true of our lives:

Better than I was
More than I am
And all of this happened
By taking your hand
And who I am now
Is who I wanted to be
And now that we’re together
I’m stronger than ever, I’m happy and free

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing
Don’t think I can keep it all in
And if you ask me why I’ve changed
All I gotta do is say your sweet name

It’s your love
It just does something to me
It sends a shock right through me
I can’t get enough
And if you wonder
About the spell I’m under
Oh it’s your love

~Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, It’s Your Love, May, 1997

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eggs

I heard part of a sermon on marriage yesterday and something the man said, well, as my oldest daughter would say, “punched me in the face.” The preacher said, “Marriage provides the security to deny independence.”

As I drove on, I heard the concept of self-sufficiency come up three more times in different ways and I really felt that the Lord was pressing this idea upon my heart.

All I could think of was our culture’s obsession with individualism and independence.  Beyonce made a song about it a decade ago and I still cringe every time I hear it.  The message?  I do not need you, man.  I do not need anyone.  I can get it all on my own and I prefer to be that way.  Independence is power and I need nothing else.  Self-sufficiency and independence are not only idols, but gods of the majority in our culture today.

But what is the alternative?

Dependence.  Needing others.  Needing help.  Trusting another person with the deep things as well as the daily.  From finances to feelings, many marriages fall by bowing to the god of independence.  Dependence is not popular, at least not here in pull yourself up by your bootstraps, independent America.

It got me to thinking about not only my own marriage, but the fact that Christ chose the church to be his bride.  He chose marriage as the symbol of his relationship towards his people.  Dependence is a huge part of being a Christian.  Oops. There I go again saying things no one wants to hear.  The truth is that no one can be saved apart from total dependence on the work of Christ.  No one can live in line with the gospel apart from dependence on Christ.

I have two examples stirring in my mind to illustrate these realities: the insecure wife and the overprotective mom.

The Insecure Wife

I have never been a particularly good cook.  I’m not as bad as I used to be but, well, ok I suck at cooking for the most part.  I remember early in our marriage, my husband would often stop at his mom’s house to eat on the way home from work.  One could hardly blame him, and a lot of it was just part of transitioning from being a 19 year old at home to a 19 year old in his own home, but as a new wife it was very discouraging.  Often I would avoid cooking altogether because I did not want to risk rejection over it again.

As time went on and when I did cook, he would come into the kitchen and offer “suggestions.”  I am not sure if that was more or less worse than just not showing up, but it did not make for happy meals.  I would not take his advice because I was proud.  I would not take his advice because I was insecure.  Instead, I would get mad feeling like a failure and wondering why he just could not see my effort.

Now, when he walks into the kitchen and offers help, I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  I am grateful and welcoming his help.  I delegate as much as possible when my husband comes in to give me assistance.  When I place a meal in front of him – even if it is sub-par, he compliments and thanks me.

What changed?

The maturity level changed.  We stopped clinging to the independence and selfish rights we believed we had.  His suggestions transformed from condescension to servant-hood.  My focus changed from duty, obligation, and approval to how I can best please the one I love.

My error with cooking was one of inexperience, insecurity, and ignorance.  There is another way to err on the opposite side of this coin, though.  It is realized in trusting in self as well.  Have you ever seen a helicopter mom?

The Helicopter Mom

This is the overprotective mom who does absolutely everything for her (often only) child.  The child does not fail because mom never allows him to get that far on his own.  She does literally everything in order to “protect” him and create a facade of having a responsible child or, even, husband.

When a woman does this in her family, she frustrates and cripples her children.  She disrespects and emasculates her husband.  When she does this at work or in the church, she exacerbates those around her and they give up trying to contribute.  This woman does not understand that responsibility must be given in order to be learned.

There are many people who never get to maturity regarding dependence.  Both in marriage and in the church, we often get stuck in the “I need help but do not want it” martyrdom camp because of pride or insecurity or both.  We fail to realize that dependence is paramount.  It is never a matter of needing help vs. being able to do things individually as much as it is a matter of reflecting our dependence and need for Christ by recognizing our dependence and need for other people.  It is a rejection of the idol of self-sufficiency and an acceptance of a faith which requires humility.  Humility hears suggestions as help rather than hate or hurt.  This is counter-cultural.  No one is teaching their daughters to depend on a man these days – and perhaps for good reason.  No one is teaching women how to let their children fail for the greater good of learning responsibility anymore.  But the church must not forsake the practice of interdependence and learned responsibility based on cultural norms.

Maturity is often rooted in dependence.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  Dependence is often rooted in maturity.  The world will tell you just the opposite.  When we throw away the idols of insecurity, pride, approval, individualism, and self-centered thinking, our families – both church and home – will thrive.

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groom

To Whom It May Concern:

In May of 1997, I got married.  Most of you know I was married to my husband in June of 2000, but, well, this was my first marriage.  I didn’t tell a lot of people at first because I felt a little shy about it and I wasn’t sure how people would take the news.  I was only 17, after all, and it wasn’t exactly a “normal” marriage.

Nevertheless, I was completely smitten.  He was a man I’d known all my life.  From the time I was a little girl, I’d stare at his picture and marvel at him in wonder.  I wondered how all the good things I’d heard of him could really be true.

Somehow, I believed that they were.

As I grew older we shared many conversations.  I studied him intensely and often looked to him for help and advice.  When I told others about him, sometimes they laughed at me.  They told me his advice was wrong.  They warned me not to get too close to him if I wanted to be happy.  It seemed that no one quite understood how I really felt about this man.

Many people I knew did respect him, though.  They told me he was good and that I should keep talking to him.  They said I should listen to him.  I felt very attracted to him, but I was often scared to do the things he asked of me.

Finally, the day came for us to marry.  I didn’t even know he was going to ask!  I was so surprised when he knelt down and asked me to be his own.  I stood alone as a room full of my teenage peers watched while  tears streamed down my astonished face.

I was whisked away by a friend’s mother and we sat and talked of him for a long while.  I told her how I’d accepted his proposal.  I told her all about why I’d said, “Yes.” I told her how much I loved him and how happy I was to be his bride.

My first love was Jesus Christ.  I have been part of his bride for more than 18 years.  I still love him most.

It seems, however, that our marriage is not recognized in many places anymore.  No one seems to respect our relationship.  I mean, I just want to be allowed to keep loving this one who chose me and whom I chose – for life, for death, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health.  But when I go out in public and speak of him, people get angry.  When I talk about what he forbids me to approve of and celebrate and how I, as his adoring bride must submit out of love, they curse me and call me names.  They say I’m hateful and intolerant.  They even threaten our house and all my brothers and sisters.  They say they will force us to approve of their sin in our own home – that is, the church.  Of course we will not, but it all is just so confusing to me.  I mean, aren’t these the same people who speak all out all the time about “tolerance,” “discrimination,” and being free to choose whomever it is you’d like to love?  But they hate me for the one I choose to love and obey.  Why?

Because my Lord does not agree with them.  His commands conflict with their choices.  Even though we do not agree with them either, we still love them.  We don’t call them names.  We pray for them.  It is because we love them that we tell them the truth.

These ones do not have to agree with me or my Lord, (although I wish they would!) but how can they justify their bigotry towards me in efforts to claim their own?  Who goes on a crusade against hate, intolerance, and discrimination by bringing hate, intolerance, and discrimination?  The double standards of this group are altogether overwhelming.

If they do not recognize my union, that is fine.  If they do not approve, that is fine, too.  But I will not approve of or recognize them at the expense of my own holy matrimony.  To do so would cause my divorce.  How can I divorce my love in exchange for mandated bondage by those who hate him?  I cannot.  I will not.  He never forces me into submission like this group intends for me.  He merely offers his sacrificial life and his true freedom to me.  I’d be a fool to exchange his truth to fit in with them and the lies the Enemy has deceived them with.

The world may not recognize our marriage now, but when its time for our immaculate reception, they will all bow in deference to my King.  My only prayer is that they would come to him before the day of salvation is over and that hour is passed.

I just thought you all should know about my forbidden love story so you could be praying for me and the rest of His bride.  I fear the days to come will prove difficult and many will seek to destroy our marriage.  Let us pray.

Yours Truly,

A little girl who loves Jesus

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kisses

Love is a belligerent emotion.  It does whatsoever it pleases and makes no apologies for its intrusion.  Love ravages its host like a storm and it stays for the duration of life.  Never does love lie dormant.  Never is it quiet.  Always, love makes its presence known.

Love never leaves the heart of its finder and it never, never fails.

For many, these truths are more than enough reason to run from the realness – the recklessness – required for the survival of unmitigated love.  How much easier it is to settle for lust; for fleeting, repeated infatuation; for self-absorbed alone-ness; for something – anything – else.  For that which merely, cheaply, imitates the violence and fury of the giving and taking of unashamed love.  Yes, love is only for the brave and wild at heart.

Surely it is true enough that sacrificial love is risky.  Even more dangerous is to believe that someone else on this earth is loving you back that way.  To know I am deeply loved is quite terrifying at times.  It is to allow another to see the deepest, most vulnerable parts and not run knowing they’ve seen; to trust them with those parts and to know that they love you in spite of it.

Yes.  Love is superior.  It is the prize, the reward, the red rose of all that is good in the world.  Still, love does as it pleases.  Love chooses and then it encroaches.  It occupies.  It resides.  It lives eternally.

While it is certainly not something we happen upon, true, deep, abiding love is something that happens to us.  Love chooses whom it will and we choose to will it welcome.  We do not muster effort to love or be loved.  No.  Love is certainly a gift – perhaps the greatest of all gifts given from above.

If I had to describe love to one who did not know it, could I call it glory?  Truth?  Zeal?  Joy?  Brilliance?   Excitement?  Passion?  Beauty?  Doubtless there are not adjectives enough in the world to rightly depict such a mysterious treasure.

Most of us live and die holding only a very few people in our hands – only a very few with whom we share the gift of true love.  Perhaps it is because love itself is so big and we are so very small.

No matter.  Love found me early.  I married the man love chose at 20.  The beginning of the matter had no less love than the present, 15 years later, yet it has changed.  Like a metamorphosis, new love morphed into redeemed, reconciled, renewed love is very much similar to the start, yet very much different at the same time.  Dare I say, the end of the matter is far better than the beginning.  After years of failing and forgiving, forging and finding, we now know one another more than we know anyone or anything else.  This portion is the kind of love young people dream about when they imagine the bright future spread wide ahead of them.  This portion is what we know when we’ve known Christ as well.  It is, and always has been, about the forging and finding; the failing and forgiving.  These, the very elements that compose the longevity of a condition that is, by virtue of its very nature, long suffering.

Maybe the many who fear the risk and rogue nature of love do not, nor cannot even know what they are missing.  I don’t know, really.  But I do know this: true love is worth any pain, any wait, any obstacle, and all personal costs.  Will it welcome if by God’s greatest grace it comes down to you.

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tree

“I miss the kids.”

Not surprisingly, this is the statement a finally-all-alone mommy and daddy utter most on the ever-elusive tropical island we all dream of visiting.  Ironically, the very first word spoken to me by a local on the US Virgin Islands was “mamita.”  I’m going to hope the denotation – “mommy” – was meant given the context.

Still, St. Thomas is altogether beautiful – a paradise of sorts.  The sun is always out, the weather is always warm, and the water is always clear.

The picture (above) was hanging in the kitchen where we stayed.  There is a little boy and a little girl under a tree.  When we were young, my husband and I would always buy cards with the little boy and girl for one another and say it was us.  If you look closely, you’ll see a man sitting off to the right.  “Who’s the man?”  “Easy.  That’s God.  He’s with us.”

My husband and I went alone and stayed in a small cottage atop one of the ubiquitous steep hills.  Living on Red Hook Mountain for a week had its share of ups and downs if you know what I mean.  We learned quickly that you need to rent a car unless you like walking the Summit three times a day, you need a driver like MacGyver to park it up there, and passengers should just shut their eyes and pray while MacGyver drivers attempt three point turns alongside the cliff.

That said, we absolutely adored the cottage.  The view was magnificent – just like the pictures you see on tv.  Every morning the sunrise woke us up to what felt like our second honeymoon.  From the flower the husband found floating randomly underwater for me to his mispronunciation of St. Croix – St. Crooks, St. Crow, and my personal favorite, St. Croaks, every day was perfect.  Little wonder – we spent most of our time in “Nazareth.”  Of course it was not the Nazareth, but there is absolutely no doubt that my redeemer was there with us.

We spent a lot of time snorkeling and exploring the different beaches.  We saw a lot of unique sea life, corral reefs, and even went out on a sailboat one day.

Taking a trip like this alone with your spouse sends you back – especially when you’ve been together for almost 18 years.  It really just reminded me of when we first met and fell in love.  No cares or worries – just hot summer days and time with one another.

As we stood in line to go through customs in the airport before we left, a man asked where we were from.  He told us he’d gone to seminary in Ambridge, PA and we ended up having a mutual friend.  Before our flights whisked us all back to the snow and cold, this man sat and listened to us, offered great encouragement, and prayed for us right there in the airport.  There is no doubt the Lord sent him to us.  Thank you, Pastor Dana for praying for us.  God answered.

And I couldn’t be more thankful.  I could not be more thankful.  We had an amazing trip.  I have an amazing husband.  We have a very concerned, involved, caring, and amazing God.  We found him walking on the beaches in Nazareth last week and he made sure we knew he was leading us home.

Thank you, Father, for your mercy and grace upon our marriage.  Thank you, husband, for your generosity and sacrifice for me all the time.  Thank you, parents, for taking care of our children, dogs, and home.  Thank you, pastor, for your prayers.  Thank you, St. Thomas, for renewing our love.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

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Continuing on in his instructions to the Ephesian church, Paul makes clear the God-given duties of husbands and wives toward one another.  In short, they are thus: wives, submit; husbands, love.

Knowing that God would not inspire Paul with unimportant things, and that Paul had no need to command what comes natural to us, let us consider carefully what is written to us here.

Wives, submit.  Submission is surrender.  All wives are engaged in a war.  The war is not between we and our spouses.  The war is between our personal preferences, natural tendencies, selfish desires and our obedience.  Our deference is to be to our authority rather than our felt needs.  Because God has made the wives’ authority her husband as well as Christ, the focus meant to drive our every decision is this: Will this please God?  Will this please my husband?  Our duties to Christ are realized in the sacrificial acts of submitting, receiving, and obeying our husbands.

Husbands, love.  God defines this love as sacrifice, giving, and cleansing.  The husband’s sacrificial love actually leads to the progression of his wife’s sanctification.  His duty is to give all of himself solely to her as Christ does for the church, and to “wash” her with the Word of God.  The command indicates that it is the husband’s duty to nurture his wife through selfless love, provision, and teaching.

For both the husband and the wife, these instructions suggest a giving up of selfish interests in order to serve the other.  When both parties cooperate in obeying these things, their marriage becomes a picture of Christ and his bride – the church.

We will be blessed both by God and one another when we commit to honoring his ways rather than our own.  It will probably look something like this:

“The love which God requires from the husband on behalf of his wife will make amends for the subjection which he demands from her to her husband; and the prescribed subjection of the wife will be an abundant return for the love of the husband which God has made her due.”  ~Matthew Henry

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