Ephesians 5:33b: And the wife should respect her husband.
Respect is his primary need, his deepest desire.

I Put My Followers First

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Don't Know What You Got 'Til Its Gone

It is a beautiful spring morning in sunny Sacramento.  Lawn mowers are roaring to life throughout the neighborhood, joggers are out for their morning runs with their dogs and the neighbors are walking to synagogue.

It is a typical Saturday morning where I live.  Except . . .

. . . except that there is absolutely nothing normal about this morning, our morning, in this house.  We are doing typical spring chores.  We've been cleaning up the dead branches fallen from the mighty oak next door, removing the pine cones that litter the front yard, pulling out weeds, killing saplings and sweeping the patio.  We've borrowed the neighbor's lawn mower and we have cut the lawn out back for the first time this season.  We have laughed and paused in our labors to watch our Basset hound, Celia, sunning on the lawn.



We have even cut back the early spring flowers to make way for the iris and the hydrangea beginning to make their appearance.

All of this is very typical for some but not normal for us.

If you had told either of us a month ago that this would be our activity today we both would have chuckled, embarrassingly, and sarcastically responded, "Yeah.  Sure.  In our dreams."

I know for a fact that Bruce has not mowed a lawn in fifteen years.  When I first met him he wasn't able to even walk on a lawn.  When we came to see this house one year after our wedding he struggled to walk in the yard.  His steps were as a year-old child; tentative, hesitant, wobbly, faltering and unsteady.  At over 200 pounds the thought of him falling to the ground was frightening, terrifying even.    His stroke had left his right side generally unresponsive to his brain.  He can make his leg move to walk but he cannot make it support him to rise to standing after falling.  His right hand is strong but does not respond well.  He cannot use it to leverage his body off the ground.



He cannot use that right hand to clutch the handle of a lawn mower or rely on it to push the mower across the grass.  With as much concentration as he could muster he was eventually able to persuade his right hand to grab the bar so as not to continue just hovering above the task.  He could convince his right leg and foot to move forward while pushing the mower with his left hand but when having to back up, the leg became unruly.  Bruce struggled, focussed and the foot eventually complied.  Soon he was mowing forward and back, round and round, like all the other men on the block.   The process was tediously slow, deliberate and persistent.

I am grateful to God for showing me how important it was for me to stand aside - and continue with my Celia watching, tree trimming, weed pulling, flower cutting, patio sweeping, rose cutting, picture taking and time killing - while Bruce conquered the lawn mowing.


We are celebrating here today.  

Bruce mowed the lawn.



Epilogue:


Bruce and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary on April 15th.  
Also in 2010:
Bruce celebrates his fifteenth year recovering from stroke,  
I celebrate my 3rd year recovering from stroke, and 
Celia, our Basset hound, celebrates her 2nd year recovering from stroke.   


There is nothing typical about this household on this typical Saturday morning in typically sunny Sacramento.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Everything I needed to know about marriage . . .

. . . I learned from my daughter.
I know that sounds absurd to anyone who has not met my daughter and her husband, however, those of you who do know them can fully understand the statement.
I will spare everyone the details but suffice it to say that I was raised in a dysfunctional family and arrived at adulthood with an incredibly warped understanding of the purpose of marriage and family. It surely was a factor that I did not know God at all. Obviously, I was completely unaware that the marriage covenant was ordained by God so that His purposes might be fulfilled.
I know, I know. The wedding vows are replete with references to God “bringing together” and man “not tearing apart” but what was that, really? From my life-is-but-a-fairy-tale perspective the words meant nothing but beautifully poetic language of bygone traditions.
By the time my daughter was planning her wedding, my third marriage was in its death throes. While absolutely thrilled with her choice of a husband, I was frightened because I had never taught her how to be successfully married. I had no idea how to do it myself.
I have hundreds of stories which would substantiate the title of this post but I am choosing the first lesson I ever learned about a Godly marriage from my daughter and her husband.
My first lesson came shortly after my daughter and her new husband returned from their honeymoon. By telephone, my daughter told me that we would no longer have our daily (or twice or thrice daily) phone conversations. Her husband had asked her to limit our phone calls until Sundays after church.    She would comply; “obey” if you will. I was hurt, angry and confused.  I would pay for the calls I offered and she declined.  It was not about the money.  I was persistent.  I was annoying.  I nagged until she humbly explained that she was doing as she was asked out of respect for her husband.  
In retrospect I am so grateful for all that his “mandate” taught me. My daughter learned to turn to her husband (rather than her mother) for counsel. As a new wife she learned to respect her husband’s opinion, to share of herself and to listen until agreement was reached. They learned to discuss every thing. I was jealous, very jealous, when I realized that all of the intimate discussions, the laughter and the joy that I had shared with my daughter were no longer to be mine alone.
I had never witnessed a wife respecting her husband as my daughter respected hers. It was endearing, encouraging and enlightening to watch. It was surprising and unforgettable. 
Now, mind you, it was not that she hung on his every word or conceded to his every opinion. My daughter is a strong woman, of great intelligence, wisdom and insight. My son-in-law is equally intelligent, compassionate and fair.  When my daughter and her husband disagreed they both afforded the other common courtesy, admiration and an obvious mutual respect. When all had been said and all things considered, her husband had the final word.
Does that sound chauvinistic? It was not. When my son-in-law would establish the course of action it was not always for the choice that he favored. He seemed to equitably accept his wife’s counsel and to set course accordingly.
Everything Godly that I needed to learn about marriage was taught to me by the example of my daughter and her husband.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

In The Thicket of My Thought

I woke this morning reviewing the past few weeks of tender mercies, blessings and outright miracles.   I wondered if the word "few" (as in "few days") was an accurate measurement of this latest endeavor.  With a little review I quickly discovered that I had designed my first "respect card" on Friday, February 19, 2010.
 
Hold on for a moment.  I have to go look at the calendar.
 
That was sixteen days ago.  


I am sure that I alone am not capable of such achievement.  For two weeks - it has only been two weeks - I have worked nearly sixteen hour days and my body and mind have been no worse off than when I worked eight.  I have risen from bed early and retired late nearly every one of those days.  The conversation, affection and intimacy in my marriage has been enlivened.  I have spent countless hours conversing with my mother - which are as a frequent refueling of my determination and capacity to continue.   Even my dog has been getting a walk with me nearly every day.  The strength of my body has been restored and my satisfaction has been as a cup spilling over.

As my mind reviewed the past, a poem that has recited itself in my head from time to time over the course of nearly 40 years appeared on my heart.  For much of my life the frequent echoes of this poem  were a mystery and then a taunting or tease that defined the distance I had yet to grow.   Today it sings in my soul as my personal anthem:

GRACE

Though God, God only, can create,
I till and weed, and then I wait,
And in the thicket of my thought
Bloom flowers that I never wrought.
I stand in wonder and behold
Beauty I never sowed unfold,
Visions of faith, insights of love,
Truths that I had no forethought of.
Somehow there is in me yet more
Than I myself might settle for,
A faith that brings perfection out
Past my own powers. I have no doubt
One day all unexpectedly
The rose of Christ shall bloom in me.

James Dillet Freeman


One day - all unexpectedly . . . .

One day was February 19, 2010 and every day since.  I am so grateful, unspeakably grateful for so many things today.


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Can I get an Amen?