Categories
Anniversary Faith Forgiveness Love Marriage Missions

A Bit of Crazy

Every July I turn into a hopeless romantic and this year a bit more so as we are celebrating 35 years of marriage on the 21st of July. I would say that’s a bit of a milestone, it might even be a date-night worthy event. The problem is our choice of places to go for a date night here are limited so we will likely celebrate later on this year when we travel.

As missionaries, we are obliged to travel from time to time to report to supporting churches and individuals as well as hopefully meet new contacts. It’s during times like these that we fit in those much-needed moments to devote to one another and family that we don’t have opportunity to see unless we are traveling. I realize most of the popular books on marriage and family decry our life’s rhythm – but it is what we have learned to live with and work around and somehow God has given us grace and we have lasted 35 years.

When I look back on our early history, I’m sure that we weren’t a likely couple. In fact, we were a pretty unlikely couple and our relationship must have initially surprised many. The thing that brought us, and has kept us, together was simply our desire to make it for the long haul and be in the will of God at the same time. We’ve held on when we didn’t feel like holding on, we’ve forgiven one another, we’ve raised a family together, we’ve seen more in our lifetime together than I ever thought possible. As the children are now almost all grown (one 11 year old remains at home), we find ourselves closer to one another than in our early years. Our combined and common history has created a bond that is difficult to explain and can only really be understood by others who have walked their own journies of commitment in marriage.

This weekend we are hosting a special marriage ceremony for couples in our church in Bujumubura who have not been able, for one reason or another, to be married. Most of the time, these reasons have more to do with finance than anything – having the ability to host a big party has pressured many couples to forego a marriage ceremony. While we agree weddings should be a reason for celebrating, weddings are only a one-day event and their cost shouldn’t prevent couples from living in God’s order. Marriage is supposed to last for a lifetime, not just a day. After counseling and working with these couples, we decided to host a simple but beautiful ceremony at the church for these dear people who only want to get their lives and families in order. As it turns out, the church has shown up and individuals have donated time, money, and decorations for the celebration set to take place tomorrow afternoon. The excitement is brewing and my heart is fluttering for them all – what a great day lies ahead of us!

While the decor is going to be simple, it reminds me of our day so many years ago and the high hopes we had when we stood at the altar. My mother insisted on a friend of hers playing the traditional wedding march and it was almost painful walking the aisle to the tune – it was so badly done. Looking back, I’m happy I let my mom have her way. Letting mom have her way that day was one of my first lessons in learning what was and wasn’t important. The walk up the aisle had nothing to do with the music – it had everything to do with the person waiting for me at the end who was about to commit to living with all of the craziness I was about to unload on him! That my mother had joy that day, in that moment when the keys didn’t sound totally right, was more important than having it done my way.

My way and his way have given way to what has become our way. We have developed our own way of living and serving and loving one another and it has taken a lifetime to get to this point. I suppose the lesson learned from the years behind us for those looking ahead, for those who have a lifetime yet to live, is to chase the dream of love in your marriage year after year. There comes a point in the gift of love that God gives us in our marriages that is worth the wait, that is worth the fight, that is worth every bit of crazy.

I’m so glad we hung on.

Happy anniversary month Jamie, I love you. Let’s chase the dream for another 35 years and beyond.

IMG_2934

___________________________

I couldn’t believe that I found this song online! It was sung at our wedding on July 21, 1984. #feelingnostalgic #the80s 

Categories
Anniversary Choices Church planting Distractions Goodbye Journey

Settling

IMG_0381

Two years ago this month, I found myself standing in the Blantyre, Malawi airport, with my husband and daughter waiting for our luggage. It was hot and sweat poured from my husband’s forehead as he lifted our bags, all 13 of them, one by one onto luggage carts. Once we passed through customs, we walked towards the exit through the downward sloping surface that lead to the exit. I knew we were headed for complications as the cart picked up pace and we struggled to slow it down. It didn’t take much, just a small bump on the surface of the walkway, for the suitcases to be sent cascading down in front of us.

This was my welcome to Blantyre!

We are church planters, you see, and the “job description” (for a lack of better words) requires us to move once we have established a church and prepared the pastor sufficiently to take the riegns from us.

By nature, I’m not one who has a need to collect things. I imagine God prepared me long before I knew I would be a church planter. Moving to Blantyre required me to, as many moves before had, to pare down my belongings to an odd mixture of suitcases and foot lockers and duffle bag or two. Mixed among the necessary items such as my extra contact lenses, 4 plastic plates, a small set of cutlery, and shoes, was a jumble of a few non-necessary as well as necessary items: pictures of our family, a few keepsakes from other nations where we had served, and important documents (marriage license, diplomas and degrees, our youngest daughter’s adoption decree, etc.). As I unpacked all of the necessary and unnecessary things, I felt tears roll down my cheeks as I felt the familiar sting of having to leave one place and start all over again.

Hebrews 13:14 ESV“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”

As we live life, it’s easy to get distracted by our surroundings and need to conform to the “norms” of society around us that we work so hard to attain. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with settling into a place, as long as the place you have settled into doesn’t cause you to settle for less – less than what God has planned for you.

What are we looking for? Where are we going? With all of the effort we put into settling into life and making ourselves as comfortable as we can, is it possible that we have forgotten that this life isn’t the end of it all?

I live in Blantyre, Malawi today. I’m sure the day will come that God will send me to another city and I will once again have to go through the uncomfortable process of lifting up the stakes of my “tent” and move on. As uncomfortable as the process has been and surely will be, there is not a city on this earth where I will finally rest as I will when I enter that Heavenly City and really put my roots down.

Micah 2:10 ESV“Arise and depart, for, this, is not the place of rest.”

Categories
Anniversary Choices Church planting Inconvenience Missions

13 Bags

Today I’m connecting with our podcast Africa & Beyond and talk about traveling with 13 bags. Can you relate? Enjoy!

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-d6kxt-8ab38c

www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-d6kxt-8ab38c

Categories
Anniversary Love Marriage Missions

The Dance at Shoprite in Blantyre

thumb_IMG_0083_1024

This past Friday was like any other day this year even though it was our anniversary. Yes, it was a special day but life went on as usual. We had just come from an amazing week away visiting and ministering in our church in Lusaka, Zambia. Just getting to Lusaka from our home in Blantyre, Malawi takes two days so you can imagine how travel-weary we were by the time we got home.

Two days earlier, on our return trip, we picked up a dear friend who is visiting with us for a couple of weeks. She is a special family friend, more like a family member, who we haven’t seen for some years and meeting up with her was wonderful. We chatted all the way home, revisiting old memories and making new ones.

Pulling into the driveway at the end of our journey my mind filled with all the things that needed to be done: the laundry needing washing, the kitchen needed stocking, dinner needed cooking, and life needed to carry on. Then, just two days after getting home, we marked our 33rd wedding anniversary with a smile and a kiss. My husband Jamie looked at me saying, “We need to go out.” I knew he meant well and loved him more for it but because he preaches every weekend I said, “It’s Friday, you always prepare for the weekend on Friday.” Maybe we will find another day to celebrate, I mused.

The day was going to be busy as the next day (Saturday) I was to lead our first ladies’ meeting at the church. Our church is young and the first of any kind of meeting is special. As I went over the plans for the meeting I realized we still needed a few supplies from the store – yes, I have a penchant for forgetting. When I write lists, I forget where I place those as well so I’m in a never-ending cycle of trying to remember what exactly I forgot.

We decided since we would be out for prayer at church, we would stop at the store to pick up the few items needed for Saturday’s meeting. In the back of my mind I was remembering our own special day; no one else thought Friday was special but it was to me. Only once can a couple celebrate 33 years of marriage so I tried to find a card at small stationary shop while my husband was at the bank. I hurried looking through the dismal selection of cards and glanced out the store’s window, hoping he wouldn’t catch me only to see his smiling face in full view. I couldn’t even get a card to surprise him with and chastised myself for waiting too long to find one, for in Malawi finding an appropriate card of any kind is no easy task.

Feeling a bit sheepish, I exited the shop and hugged him saying, “Sorry, there wasn’t a card.” Then, some love song began to play on the loudspeaker. I really don’t remember what song it was but I put my arms around Jamie’s broad shoulders and said, “Dance with me.” This was particularly out of character for me since I don’t know anything about dancing – but he smiled and complied. For a few brief moments the world was ours and my favorite anniversary memory was created. Jamie smiling, arms entwined as we swayed to some silly song. I guess a few people wondered what we were doing but I really didn’t care. Lifelong love deserves some moments of its own and for me one of those moments happened in front of the Shoprite at the Chichiri shopping center in Blantyre.

Life is a special dance of moments that God has graced us with to enjoy. While our anniversary passed without great observation as far as a night out is concerned, the moments we danced together were a gift whose value was far greater than any dinner we might have had in the best restaurant in the world.

The music is playing, life is happening, it may seem ordinary, but God is waiting. Take His hand and dance.

___________________________________