She's Got A Way About Her

Today I’ve been married to my girlfriend for 21 years. Sometime around 1 p.m., we’ll starting working on our 22nd year together. Last year, I made a Sergeant Pepper’s reference. But that was last year. So in the interest of something different, I’ve opted to list 21 ways she’s still “got a way about her” (that’s a Billy Joel reference, for those of you keeping score).

She’s Got A Way About Her

1.       Melissa loves the Lord.

2.       She makes me smile.

3.       She’s surprising.

4.       She loves gardens and the outdoors…and has spent 21 years trying to get me to do the same. I love that she hasn’t stopped.

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Whatever Happened to Marriage

What ever happened to marriage?

I’ve been thinking a little lately about marriage. Maybe its because my son is engaged to a wonderful young woman. Maybe its because I work with a bunch of smart twenty-somethings. But lately, I’ve noticed a trend.

I’m the black sheep. Or worse: a dying breed.

Most of the people I know are divorced. Most of the singles I know have a view of marriage that is one part fear and one part abhorrence that they might have to give up anything – last names, finances, property, nights out, whatever. Marriage is that thing someone does when they want to be miserable. Love is that thing that you hope happens but you’re really suspicious of. Commitment is that thing that if you formalize becomes the beginning of the end.

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It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Seargent Pepper Told the Band to Play

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary.

I married at a beautiful 21 year old girl when I was just 19 and we are still married today. In Hollywood years, we're the equivalent of Methuselah. I've spent more than half my life hitched.

As I look back and reflect, I realize how incredibly blessed I am. I dated a lot of girls and had a completely different version of the "girl I'm going to marry" in my imagination at that time. I think I was aiming for combination of Julie Andrews and the girl from that "Cherry Pie" video...but in a Christian version.

What I wound up with was surprising and beyond my wildest imagination.

I married a girl who twenty years later still surprises and interests me. I married someone with whom we don't need kids or context to talk.  (We know everything there is to know about the other person, and still enjoy each other's company). I married a beautiful girl who loves me. She's gives me unparalleled support, encouragement, and patience.

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One Flesh: Committing For Life

Seven years ago, my wife and I were struggling. Things were dark and getting darker. The dance we had created during the first ten years of our relationship was no longer working.

            Things were magnified by the fact that we had just begun our life as missionaries in Australia. Ministry was thriving. Everyone was counting on us. That was part of the problem.

            That's when my wife hit me with one of the hardest, yet most life giving statements I have ever heard. It is in large part what saved our marriage. Karie said this, “You are my soul mate. You are the man I have committed my life to, I’m just not sure I can live with you.” And with that, Karie began to pack her and Lily our two-year-old for home.

A Distinctly Christian Marriage

It’s almost June, the month where Bridal magazines fly off the shelf and thousands will show up on our shores, a few friends in tow to have their long dreamed of wedding on the beach in.

I could make a lot of money just by performing wedding ceremonies for these people. After all, I live near the major tourist destination on Kauai and the inherent romantic beauty of the place begs to be enfolded into vows.

In fact, in the twenty years I have been performing weddings (that, I ask no fee for I might add) I have only done two inside of a church building, all the rest were on the beach or in some lush outside location.

To get into the economic gush all I would need to do is to make sure that I was on the list of the hotels and wedding planners, set a “price of paradise” going rate and ba-boom! my kid’s college tuitions would be paid for.

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Where To Find Grace In Marriage

Anna and I have been reading John Piper’s recent book on marriage, entitled This Momentary Marriage.  The premise of the book is simple:  that marriage is the doing of God and is meant to be the display of God.

Piper looks to two amazing descriptions of marriage in the Scriptures to develop this thesis.  The first is in Matthew 19, where Jesus reaches back to quote and explain the first statement about marriage in Genesis 2.

“[Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’  So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’” (Matthew 19:4-6, emphasis added).

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Cracked Fairytales, Divorce, and the Holy Bible

Even that hideous ogre in Shrek finds love. With no instruction manual except for a donkey-as-therapist and the twists of fate, the guy still manages to create his own fairytale.

Some Christians aren’t so lucky.

Like many children’s picture books, our American marriage myths are often more about pretty illustrations than straight talk. Christian marriages take the folklore even further, promising mythical wedding-night pay-offs in exchange for chastity, or automatic monogamy that comes free with pastor’s signature on the marriage license. But the tales of love often betray us, leaving authentic followers of Christ with a cynicism they weren’t expecting.

The real question is not whether marriages are in trouble (they are). The more important question is whether the Bible’s principles are trustworthy enough to still hold up under the cynical weight of all those broken, banged-up, and unfixable fairytales.  The best answer is not the easy one that we learned at Junior High Camp (God said it, I believe it, that settles it), but the answer that still holds true when the prince has left the story. 

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A Case for Marriage

I’d like to spend a few words building the case for marriage, because this institution, like all institutions (it seems) is increasingly regarded with both suspicion and cynicism by younger generations.   For this reason an increasing number (of both Christ followers and the general populace) are forsaking marriage, choosing instead to simply live together.

I understand the cynicism, but disagree with conclusion.  The cynicism makes sense because people are looking for something more substantive than some sort of ‘legally binding’ arrangement.  If that’s all a couple has, and they stay together for propriety, or reputation, perhaps even ‘for the children’, then they enflame the notion that marriage is meaningless.  After all, when a couple stands before God and their friends to make a vow, they don’t promise to live together; they promise to love each other through all the seasons life – and let me tell you, the latter is much harder than the former.

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The Thick of Pain

 

In church a few weeks ago, my pastor talked about what happens when a person dies within a Jewish community.  The friends and family of those left behind travel to the grieving’s house and simply sit with them.  They don’t make pat comments, they don’t swoop in and try to fix everything, and they don’t come in armed with an array of distractions.  They respect their grief and just sit in silence.  

 

Earlier today, I was watching the movie “Sunshine Cleaning” - a story about two sisters that form a bio-hazard clean up business, cleaning up the messes often left behind when people die.  In one poignant scene, they arrive at a house and find the frazzled widow waiting to give them the house keys.  Amy Adams’ character senses the grief of this old stranger and offers to simply sit with her. She reaches over and clasps the old woman’s hand - just as I imagine occurs in those grieving Jewish homes.  

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How To Survive My* Divorce

Step 1:  Trust God.

 

Immediately, I fell on my knees, sought Him, and went back to church.  My sense of failure sent me there -- love, forgiveness, and restoration kept me there.

 

Step 2:  Find community.

 

Family support was key, as was friend support.  Stepping into community with fierce protectors, of me and my marriage, kept me strong.  And fighting.

 

Step 3:  Remain hopeful.  

 

I remained hopeful, first for our reconciliation.  Then, for my own restoration.

 

Step 4:  Be honest.

 

There was a period of time early on where I couldn’t share what was going on at home.  But hiding that anguish never felt healthy.  I needed to discuss how I felt to get to a new level of honesty about me, about us.

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