Monday, January 14, 2013

Gracious Kindness

We just got back from a wonderful 4 days in Florida for our 25th anniversary. We had good flights, wonderful conversations on the planes…one was with a gentleman who was a Lutheran but is becoming more conservative and possibly reformed in his older years and for one hour he asked questions and my husband was a faithful lecturer. The other was a 36 year old gentleman who was still single and was a very devoted Greek Orthodox. This man too asked many questions and we had a very engaging conversation with him. Our condo room was right on the beach and it was small but clean and neat. The weather was perfect (low 80's during the day and 70 at night)....the beach beautiful...the sunsets were breathtaking. We watched the dolphins while eating our meals on our patio. At night we sat down on the beach and just watched the waves…sometimes talking together…sometimes just sitting silently....marveling at the majesty of God. After the afternoon church service on Sunday we had friends from Grand Rapids over for supper. It was nice to catch up again. After they left we walked out to the beach for one last time and again contemplated the day and sermons and were privileged to even see two shooting stars. My heart gave me only enough trouble to let me know it was there and i needed to be careful but nothing which we needed to get worried about for which we were so thankful.

But this beautiful trip could have been very different. We landed in Tampa about 10:30pm on Wednesday. After gathering our luggage we headed outside the airport to wait for a shuttle to take us to the rental car company. (This time we rented a car off-site because it was cheaper.) The temperature was about 75 degrees and so we didn't mind the 15 minute wait. We sat on a large bench and enjoyed the warmth. There were lots of other shuttle busses coming and going and finally ours arrived. We loaded on our luggage and left the airport. About 7 minutes down the road I suddenly realized my purse was misssing. We quickly informed the driver who turned around as soon as possible. I must say that among other things in my purse, was our debit/credit/gift cards...our good camera...our kindle (his anniversary present to me) cell phone….and my heart medication which I need to carry with me at all times. At first we both felt panic and then I realized the foolishness of that because the outcome of all this was in the Lord's hands. If it was His will we would find it and if not we would spend the next days dealing with the ramifications and with this realization a calm came over my whole body. It was so much easier being resigned to His will than when I was panicking over something I had no control over. Obviously we still prayed that it would be found yet at the same time feeling that whatever happened would be ok.

Those 10 minutes back to the airport seemed like a very long time but finally we arrived about 20 minutes after we had left. The shuttle bus pulled into the area where we had been waiting and between all the people standing around waiting for their busses we could see a large bench, and on that bench all alone, sat my purse. As my husband ran off the bus towards the bench tears of thankfulness and gratitude filled my eyes as again I realized what an underserved mercy and gracious goodness was given to us. The Lord had prepared our hearts to fall in line with whatever His will would be and then He chose to show us His great mercy. This was a humbling start to our trip.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

25 Years

The Lord has blessed my husband and I with 25 years of loving service to one another…of two becoming one and walking in that one path toward a common goal of serving the Lord. I devote this blog post to the person I love most on this earth, my best friend, my husband. I would be lying if I said that the road was always smooth and easy for it is impossible for two sinners to be joined together and sin never to be present. We have fought many battles against self…sin…Satan…and the world and yet we must humbly confess that the Lord has brought us through these all to the place we are now…more deeply in love with each other than ever before.
My dear husband has taught me many valuable lessons through these 25 years and although I am still learning them day by day I want to honor him by sharing just a few of them and showing how these lessons have shaped and molded me into the person I am today.
The first lesson he taught me is to think before I speak. I am a very quick witted person and often can ‘think on my toes’ and have an answer on the tip of my tongue before I think of the consequences of the words I may speak. Over the years we have together counseled countless people and I am often amazed how my husband will take in all what is being said and think for a few minutes before he answers wisely weighing his words. Slowly I am learning this valuable lesson in talking with others.
My husband for the last 25 years has tried to teach me that I don’t need to be a perfectionist about everything. As I glanced back at this sentence I realize that I wrote “tried to teach me” and I’ve decided to leave it that way. This is a very hard lesson for me to learn and I am still in school for this one. But one thing that helps me is to realize that I cannot have a “perfect” house and give of myself as I desire to be of service to others. My longing is to serve others and therefore there are times when my perfectionism doesn’t have a choice. We must be neat and tidy and clean I realize but we also need to be Mary’s and not only Martha’s.
Another valuable lesson (especially in our calling in life) he taught me is to realize that its ok if plans change. I remember those first years in the ministry I would wake up make my list for the day and when it didn’t go that way it would be difficult for me to adjust to. For the most part my lists have gone in the garbage, making it so much easier to change my plans without so much frustration. What also really helps me with this is seeing that all things are ordered by the Lord and His ways are best.
Finally, probably one of the biggest things my husband taught me is to come out of my very thick shell. It has only been through his gentle but firm prodding and pulling that I have become the person I am. Very slowly he is helping me to see, and acknowledge, the talents that the Lord has given me and not to be afraid to use them. Even though this has been the area in which I resisted most I am so grateful to him for not giving up or giving in to me but continually to push me beyond my comfort zone so that I could be more useful in God’s kingdom.
Together we have been through great trials, sicknesses, temptations, sorrows, joys, and yet I am so thankful to be by the side of my dear husband as He serves the Lord and labors in the furthering of His kingdom. When I hear him preach the riches of God Word my heart is full. I feel so blessed to be married to this gentle, godly man of God and I thank God for him.
On this our 25th anniversary I also publicly say to you my dear husband….I Love You…and I pray that we may have another 25 years together, to serve our Lord and Master and labor in His kingdom!