Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love that Lasts

Recently, I saw a post asking whether people believe in "romantic love." The comments below the post were surprising and saddening in nature.  A great many people seemed to hope that such a thing as romantic love might exist, but they hadn't found it yet. Some were so jaded from past relationships that they doubted it was even possible.

All around me, I see relationships in "crash and burn" mode. Perhaps they survived for a few years, maybe even a decade or two together, but ultimately, more and more marriages are taking a fatal nosedive.

What causes this tragic epidemic of casualties, especially among Christian couples - those who claim to know the source of true love? I suspect there are many reasons that could be cited, and many complicated variations of those reasons. Sometimes there are very real problems that eat away at a marriage until it cannot survive. Whatever the reasons, so much heartache and destruction trails in the wake of a ruined marriage. Broken hearts, broken children, broken lives, and so much baggage - can it be avoided?

I believe it can. I have only been married for 17 years at this point, and I definitely do not claim to be an expert on marriage. However, in that time, I have learned some very important lessons about love that lasts.

1. Before you say, "I do," be absolutely certain that God is leading you together.
I cannot begin to tell of the marriages that have struggled from the outset because two people rushed into marriage blinded by passion that overruled their common sense and everyone else's objections. Marriage is a lifetime decision, not something to be lightly entered into, then discarded when it becomes inconvenient or uninteresting.  If you are married already, then God's will is for you to stay in that marriage unless you are in real, physical danger. I won't say anything more about that now,  but perhaps I will address it at a later date.

2.  Accept your spouse for who they are.  Too many people enter a relationship with the ulterior motive of "fixing" the other person's real or imagined faults. If you love them, you will not try to manipulate them into conforming into someone they are not. You wouldn't appreciate that, so why do you think they would? Love is not two perfect people falling in love - it is two imperfect people trying their hardest to love one another.

3.  Cultivate a sense of humor. 
Let's face it - marriage can be tough. Situations arise on a regular basis that can stress us out and cause us to snap at one another. Instead, take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to find the humor in the situation. Perhaps it will, at the time, seem a little like "gallows humor," but learning to laugh instead of cry, scream, or blame can make a huge difference. This works best if you are laughing together, not at the other person. It takes some work at first to see things in a humorous light, but after a while, it becomes second nature.

4.  Be faithful. 
I shouldn't have to say this, but there it is. So many people destroy their marriage by neglecting this basic rule.  Perhaps they never intend to, but a word here, a look there, an inappropriate text or two, and soon the seeds of an affair, either emotional or physical, are sown.  Guard your marriage closely.  The pasture is not greener on the other side of the fence.

5.  Love deeply and unreservedly.
If God has blessed you with a marriage partner, He has given you a special ministry. Only you can complete that other person. Your job is to be the most loving, supportive spouse that you can be. Don't let little things drive a wedge between you, and never go to bed angry. You are not guaranteed tomorrow, and lavishing your love on your spouse will ensure that you have no regrets.

6.  Pray for one another.
It is the greatest thing you can do for your spouse. You, better than any other person, know their strengths, weaknesses, struggles, trials, blessings, and fears. It is also impossible to stay angry with someone while intervening for them before the throne of grace.

7Walk in the Spirit.
So much pain and heartache could be avoided if we just followed this rule for life. Things said and done in the heat of a moment can chip away at your love and the foundation of your marriage. Offenses are taken up and held closely, grievances (many of which begin as simple misunderstandings) are taken out, petted, and fed with bitterness until they reach epic proportions.  All of these destructive behaviors are an evidence of failure to walk in the Spirit.

Perhaps this is a bit simplistic,  and not at all exhaustive in nature, but following these basic rules will give you a love that lasts for years.

Happy Valentine's Day! Here's to many happily ever afters!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Long Drives

Many of you may wonder what life on the road is like. Perhaps, in your mind, it is romanticized as being one great road trip after another, filled with adventure, unusual sights, and scenic by-ways.

While it can be very exciting at times (usually not for the reason you might think), and we do get the opportunity to see things along the way, most of the time it is just a long day in the truck.
Three kids sit in the back, and the youngest, loudest, wiggliest one sits in the front between Paul and me.

The drives like today's of over 800 miles, can physically exhaust everyone. Aching backs and necks, cramped legs, and slightly stale recycled air tend to either induce a state of lethargy or incite homicidal tendencies in our children. 

The drives are broken up by infrequent stops for food and/or fuel (think every 300 miles). All bathroom needs must be taken care of during these stops, and pity the child who drinks too much at lunch!

My own space is dominated by my projects - usually some kind of yarn, needles, and patterns in a bag by my feet. Phone charger cords snake around my ankles, and my water bottle is usually close at hand. During daylight hours, I work on my current project, or sometimes doze off in the warm sunshine, usually to be awakened by hysterical laughter from the back seat, or a particularly rough stretch of highway.  After darkness falls, I tend to gravitate to my tech - the ever present cell phone or my traveling library (I am soooo thankful for my Kindle Paperwhite). I have spent many hours reading while on the road.

There is generally some kind of music going throughout the day. Today we listened to streaming radio via Classic FM out of London. Lots of lovely music, and the funniest British ads!  Sometimes we pick favorites, where each person calls out a song and we listen to their choice.  This evening we listened to the entire Messiah, singing at the top of our lungs as we drove down the road. At other times, we practice music for our meetings or sing for our own enjoyment.

Before you ask, no, the children are not always content and sweet in the vehicle. On rare occasions, we have imposed mandatory silence upon them for their own health and safety. However, that is the exception rather than the rule, thank goodness.

Conversation ranges from trivia to theology, music to technology, and everything in between.  My kids ask the most interesting questions at times, and their insights and perspectives can be quite surprising!  Sometimes everyone sleeps (except Paul, of course, since he is driving).

As I write this, we are driving into our hometown. Familiar sights are a blessing, and a sign that we are almost at the end of our journey. Happiness is knowing that at the end of a long day, I can still climb into my own bed!

Just a small glimpse into the day-to-day life of the evangelist and his family. It's a good life, and despite the occasional difficulty and discomfort,  we love it, and wouldn't change a thing!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Back from the Busy

Okay, to be honest, I was going to say back from the dead, but that was a bit of an exaggeration.  I've actually just been too busy to blog.  Something in my life had to go, and I chose, among other things, blogging. I missed it - the regular sharing of my daily life and the somewhat meandering ramblings of my thoughts.

Not that anything has actually changed as far as the pace of my life or the busyness of my schedule - I just decided it was time to pick up the proverbial pen and start writing again. At this point, I don't know how often I will be sharing (so don't get your hopes up too high), but I will make a concerted effort to write regularly.

What's been going on in the several years since my last post? Thousands of miles traveled, oodles of school papers finished, about a zillion yards of yarn turned into fun and beautiful things, hilarious adventures, family struggles, ministry blessings, exciting mission trips, new friends, old friends, laughter, memories, and even a few boring days, too.

God has blessed us so abundantly,  and I almost feel guilty about not sharing it with all of you for so long. But I digress.

I have kept up with things a bit more on Instagram  and you can see everything you've missed by following me there @rvmamacrow.

So, here's to new beginnings. I hope you will follow along for the everyday adventure that I call my life!