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Archive for January, 2009

Yesterday, Steve and I celebrated our 12,298th anniversary by going to Bismarck and dining at the new Olive Garden. a Lot has changed in 34 plus years. We share entrees now as we are both trying to live healthier. We are back to spending many quiet days together after years of 6 children filling our home. I think we cherish the little moments more. Already, Steve has lived longer than his father did and both of us have seen marriages of friends disintegrate.

I calculated the days since our marriage on one of the countdown websites and started Steve’s day off with a card. I am very grateful to share my life with such a man. Neither of us have attained perfection or any semblance thereof, but each of us accept the other and leave room for growth and change. We do silly things together and we are still best friends after all these years.

Love isn’t about me getting everything I want or expect. Love is about sharing the highs and lows. Love watches for ways to make the other person’s life easier or pleasanter. I still remember the conversation with a friend who had recently learned that her husband hated twisted phone cords. When she realized it bothered him, she took the half a second extra to turn the receiver before hanging it up, thus leaving a cord that hung straight. With my spouse, it was rugs.

With 4 children and a dog at that time, keeping the front entry rug was not high on my priority list, but he would grumble quietly to himself and straighten the rug almost every night. My solution was to remove the rug. We were both happier.

I enjoy preparing the coffee pot so all he has to do is push a button when he wakes early to deliver papers. I appreciate the acceptance he has toward my tendency to spread out my stuff around me, a habit he calls “nesting.” He has learned how much milk and sweetener I like in my coffee and we offer to fill the other’s cup when getting up.

We have found many ways to live and play together well. He now does all the cooking while I take care of laundry. That change happened when I went to seminary and we both liked the arrangement. We have found that growing old together has its challenges but is overflowing with blessings. I pray we get many more years together.

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A whirlwind rush to finish The Shack by Wm. Paul Young left me eager to share it with others. A gift rested on my pulpit this Sunday. Two members gave The Shack to me after raving about the book and telling me how it transformed their thinking.

Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, compared this book to the impact John’s Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress had on his generation. He spoke in short hand. This book has the potential to be used by God to wake up the sleepy faith of millions, to challenge the images of God held by the comfortable, to stir up the love of many whose love of God and neighbor has grown cold, and to shed light on dark areas of many hurting souls to bring some healing.

The Shack is a book about relationship.  It truly  is a story “where tragedy confronts eternity.” This book could only have been written by someone who has lived life in all its fullness – all life’s pain and all life’s joy. Within these pages, after becoming attached to the central character, Mack, we meet the Divine through his eyes. His surprise and doubt become our own, his faith and joy stimulate the spark still glowing within each of us.

I am handing my copy to my husband and son and heading out to buy another to give away. I urge you to read it, and if possible, give a copy to someone else.

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I liked my family of origin when I was growing up. I appreciate them even more today. Yes, they can irritate,  or frustrate me when they behave in patterns similar to the irritants of childhood. Amazingly, these same patterns are often the ones that endear them to me. I want them to be mature and handle their problems in new ways, but the very tendency that lands them in problem situations are part of their sweet uniqueness.

They must view me the same way. Why does she always try to fix me? How come she seems to treat my problems as trivial? I hate her attitude of having things all together. Who does she think she is? And yet, there must be good that I bring to the relationship. We still talk together. I try to learn. I try not to continue my patterns that irritate them. I give my best effort as I listen to them and attempt to resist the quick answer.

I know sometimes talking is what helps people process. We don’t need someone else’s answer. We need the answer or process that might work for me. It is okay to hear different solutions but when these solutions are couched in general terms, the hearer can accept or reject the idea without rejecting the relationship.

One of the new ways I see my family today revolves around the wide variety of experiences they have. One owns a small business, another is an artist, a third is a union member, another travels the world regularly, and one holds a wealth of experience in time and history. I learn from each of them and love them more each day.

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“There are dreamers, but not all human beings dream equally. Some are dreamers of the night, who in the dusty recesses of their mind dream and wake in the morning to find it was just vanity. But the Dreamers of the Day are dangerous people because they act their dreams into reality with open eyes to make it possible.” – T.E. Lawrence in Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

All the votes taken last fall whether for or against cannot lessen the historic impact of this day. I confess I am a person of beige skin color and I still clearly remember my fascination my first meeting with a person of color. I was already a teen, which speaks to how widespread the surrounding area was filled with descendants of Norwegian immigrants. I appreciated the richness of sunlight on rugged brown skin compared to my own paleness. The tight kinks of the hair left in our sink satisfied my curiosity about how his hair differed from my straight blond locks. He was my brother’s friend and that was all the credentials he needed to be fully accepted.
I was naive and unaware of racism then. My own children live in a more diverse world than I experienced as a child. Today we saw proof that dreams can become reality, not just daydreams but those dreams which drive us onward despite obstacles and give us courage to stand firm. May God bless the dreams of President Obama even as the dreams of Martin Luther King Jr and all those marchers have been met in part today.

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