Joy (Take 2)

I am in a second marriage.  I was widowed in 2005.  In 2015, I married my dearest friend who had been divorced for a few years.  He was also a good friend to my late husband.  We now have a blended family with five kids:  the oldest is 28 and the youngest is 18.  They’ve know each other through the years as they grew up in church together.

Marriage the 2nd time around is familiar and different all at the same time.

I married Terry in 1987.  We were in our late 20’s.  We thought we knew everything.  We did everything together, even grocery shopping.  Having lived on my own for 5 years, it took a bit of adjustment to have someone there all of the time.  But, we adjusted to life together in our little one bedroom apartment.  We learned to love together.  We learned to disagree with each other.  We learned to give up expectations and live for today.  We learned to parent together.  We grew together in our love of family and our love of God.  And then, he was gone.  I mourned the loss of my best friend, my husband, and my dreams for many years.

I’ve never understood when I hear negative comments about marriage.  I was told once after Terry died,  that I was lucky I didn’t have to put up with a man any longer.  (I definitely didn’t agree!)  I’ve listened to comments about the “poor saps” that were getting married soon and how foolish they were.  I couldn’t comprehend “out-growing” my husband and moving on to greener pastures.  How do you out-grow someone with whom you are growing daily?  Couples that lived very separate lives always mystified me.    Terry and I had our own careers.  And, we were sometimes separated due to traveling for work.  But, I talked to him every night regardless of our locations.  While I might enjoy a day or two of being able to “do my own thing”, I counted the days until we were both home together again.  And, I think he did too.   Anytime Terry and I were in the same room, people knew we were together.  He was my husband and I was his wife. I wanted every person around us to know that.  I was proud to be married to him.   Life wasn’t easy.  We struggled with finances and work options.  There were extended family issues that affected our little family.  In later years, there were health issues to consider.  But, we had committed to God and to each other to see it through until the end.  We were together!

I married Tim in 2015.  Being married in our 50’s is an experience.  We both brought our own baggage into our marriage.  We’ve endured the buying, remodeling and selling of a home,  the buying and remodeling of another home, unemployment and the resulting financial problems, legal issues, the start-up our own business, joining a new church and just learning to be married to each other.  We’ve both had to stop filtering every comment and action through our previous life experiences.  I’m still working on my own insecurities and finding my place in our life together and with our children in this new family model.

There are always challenges in blending families.  Regardless of the age of the children in a blended family there are issues.   Jealousy about who likes who better.  Protectiveness of “my mom” or “my dad”.  While we strive to build new family traditions, there is pain as the old traditions are changed or even replaced.  Each child has different expectations for family life.  There have been tears and complaints, hurt feelings and joy since our marriage.   I expect that to continue as we grow together.

I adore being married to Tim.  At the same time, there are times that I still mourn for Terry and the things I miss sharing with him: our son, Zac’s wedding, the birth of Zac’s son, Gracie’s graduation from college and the purchase of her first home,  etc.  I also walk into unknown territory as a step-mom:  Where do I fit?  How involved is too involved?

The joys far out-weigh the trials.  Maybe because I’ve endured the loss of a husband, I truly treasure my time with Tim.  My views haven’t really changed.  I still believe marriage is for a life-time.  I still believe that we are to “become one” in every way. There is no “out-growing” each other.    I still believe in unconditional love.  I believe I have been incredibly blessed to find such a deep and abiding love the 2nd time around.  I still get butterflies when I hear his voice.  I still count the days, the hours and the minutes when we are separated.  To walk into a room holding my husband’s hand, is still one of the greatest thrills for me.  I can find the happiness we all say we want, because of the joy and peace that I have in my marriage today.

I am so glad I was given a chance at joy the second time around.

Valentine’s Day

Some have known great love in life. This day is bittersweet. A time of cherished memories.

Some enjoy great love now. This day is a day to celebrate that blessing.

Some look forward to a great love. This is a day for joy and anticipation.

Let us all take the opportunity to show love to those God places into our paths on this day.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!

Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! But when the time of perfection comes, these partial things will become useless.

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NLT)

The Doll

She was a beautiful doll made of delicate porcelain. Her face was painted with the utmost care. Her dress was taffeta and was edged in delicate french lace. Beautiful red hair fell in delicate ringlets around her shoulders. The utmost care had gone into her creation. She was exquisite, not a blemish of any kind could be seen. The squeals of delight could be heard throughout the house as the little girl opened the box and saw her special gift.

At first, the little girl was careful with her gift. She held the doll carefully and just gazed at her beauty. As the days passed, her excitement began to wane. She was no longer content to just look at the beautiful doll. A tea party was setup for all of the toys with red fruit punch and chocolate chip cookies. In the blink of an eye, the beautiful doll’s dress was smudged with chocolate and stained red from the punch. She was still beautiful, just not quite perfect.

As the days turned to weeks and the weeks into months, the beautiful porcelain doll was hard to recognize. Her once beautiful ringlets were gone, cut-off with the snip of little brother’s scissors. What was left of her hair covered a large crack caused from falling off of the bed one night. The beautiful painted face was now smudged with the remnants of crayon “lipstick” and sharpie “eye-shadow”. Her beautiful dress was in tatters and had been removed so the poor doll was covered only by the blanket wrapped around it. And then one day, in a fit of temper, the once beautiful doll was thrown against the wall and her right leg was broken off at the knee. She was no longer special, no longer perfect. She was soon left in the closet, forgotten by the little girl who had seemed to love her so much.

Years later, the little girl grew into a young woman and had her own little girl. While searching through yesterdays toys, the once beautiful porcelain doll was once again discovered amidst squeals of delight. The doll was carefully held and gazed at once again. The young woman remembered the special doll and wished she had taken better care of it. She took the little doll to an expert in restoring dolls. The doll was cleaned, repaired and dressed in a beautiful new dress. When the young woman once again gazed upon her precious gift, she was amazed to see the beauty had been restored. There were still marks that evidenced the lack of care the doll had received, but she was once again a beautiful and delicate doll. A doll that deserved a special place on the display shelf in the young woman’s home. Never again would the doll be subject to not so gentle hands or be left out in the weather. She was special and to be protected.
———-
Is there a “porcelain doll” in your life? Have you been given a beautiful gift that you abused and cast aside? No matter what we do, God still cares. He is still there. He is the great Restorer.

Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:8-12

Fear

Fear. We all suffer from it. We all deny it. Too often, fear dictates the decisions and choices made throughout life’s journey. Fear may be judged rational or irrational, but it is still fear.

I have a phobia (a PC word for fear) of phones. Not talking on them, but calling others on the phone. I don’t know why. For as long as I can remember, dialing a number to call someone on the phone made my stomach hurt and my hands sweat. I love to talk on the phone. As long as I’m on the receiving end of the call, I can talk for hours. Part of my fear is getting a wrong number. Part of it is disturbing the other person. But, mostly its an irrational fear that the person on the other end is just being polite and doesn’t really want to talk to me and is making bored/annoyed faces on the other end of the line. I’m sure there have been many lost opportunities in relationships because I avoid making those phone calls. This carries over into my life today. I can TEXT anyone. And, I still avoid actual phone calls.

Although it is not often addressed as a fear, most people avoid failure. As I was growing up, I was very careful to only attempt things that I was pretty certain would be a success. I made every band for which I ever auditioned. I didn’t play sports because I didn’t think I would be good enough. I probably missed out on some fun experiences because I didn’t want to fail or look silly.

One big fear that I see in almost everyone is fear of the pain caused by rejection. We all want to be liked. We pursue love and acceptance throughout our lives. The fear of being rejected can inhibit and greatly hinder interactions with others. We build walls to protect ourselves. We may allow others into our sanctuary, but even then we restrict how far they may go. Very few people have ever made it behind my walls. Unfortunately, some of the people I invited to peek behind my walls were not good choices. They left damage in their wake. And, as a result, I’m more guarded than ever.

The only way to avoid being rejected or being hurt or failing is to never allow the opportunity to exist. Life can be incredibly lonely and boring if you do this. Some of the deepest hurts I’ve ever experienced were from the same source as some of my greatest joys. To eliminate the hurt and pain inflicted by others, you often must forego the joy and happiness also. The trade-off isn’t equal and it’s not worth it. I have to conquer my fears. I must move forward and take risks in order to live my life fully. I will not always succeed and fear will still exist, but. . .

I must try!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18