Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A miracle of grace

I've experienced God's grace in numerous amazing ways in my life. Tomorrow, my  husband and I celebrate an extended season of grace beyond anything we could ask or deserve.

On November 20, 1994 my husband and I said "I do" in a little church in Fort Smith that we "borrowed" because at the time we were unchurched. I can't even begin to tell you how much grace has been poured out on our lives. Even before I began walking with the Lord, I saw His hand on our marriage.

For over 7300 days of my life, I have woken up next to a man [ok, technically most days I've woken up after him by a couple of hours, but still ... ] ... next to a man whom I have never doubted, for a single moment, loves me deeply and would willingly "take a bullet" (his words) for me.  Even more significant, he does lay down his life for me in countless demonstrations of sacrificial love all the time.

For over 7300 days of my life, I have heard "I love you." More days than not, I've also heard, "You're beautiful."  

For over 7300 days of my life, I've experienced extended grace, and I am oh so grateful.

As a married couple we have experienced grace together for 20 years now. On paper, we shouldn't have made it. We both made mistakes and came to our marriage broken individuals. But over the last 20 years I have learned that grace flows best when it has some nooks and crannies to seep into ... when there are cracks to seal and chipped edges to mend. I'm not perfect, he's not perfect. But we're perfect for each other. And I am inordinately grateful for the partner God has given me. Our marriage, like any, is unique to us. It might look kooky to the outside, but it works. And the main reason is simply ... grace. Unmerited favor. We got it wrong before we got it right, and we still mess up. But we've learned that God's grace is bigger than that and we've learned to let that grace flow to each other. And for that, I am incredibly grateful.

20 years in, we could tell you some things about making a marriage work. Tidbits like carving out date time, being kind to each other, being open and honest, making decisions together, trusting each other's strong points -- all are true and important. But none would get anywhere without the grace of God - and without us extending that grace to each other.

Because of grace, we can love beyond our human ability. We can enter into 1 Corinthians 13 love that is not about emotion or response but about actively seeking each others' good. Because of grace we can choose to forgive. Because of grace we can serve God together and focus on a purpose beyond ourselves. Marriage can have meaning and significance beyond our happiness.

But in God's grace, He has also given us SO much joy. He has given us the emotions that go with love and marriage that is not only significant, but fun!

I do love the husband God has given me. I love that he happily prepares breakfast every morning and gets truly excited when I ask him to fix  "Bob-let" (a special cheesy omelet that takes extra time). I love that he seems to spontaneously know the practical outworking of Scripture while I hash it out with my word study books. I love that his gift of faith overflows to every aspect of life. I love that after 20 years of marriage he still thinks of me as his princess. I love that every. single. day. of our marriage I have felt loved and treasured. I love knowing that he will always be the one to check out the weird noises and that he reminds me constantly to be more security conscious.

I love that as much as he treasures and protects me, he doesn't have me in a "doll house". Just as much as he takes care of me, he also respects and supports my dreams and interests. In fact, he encourages me to pursue things beyond what I would even consider knowing that God has bigger things for me than I would envision for myself ... because I am not a risk-taker and have trouble dreaming big!

I love that he enjoys hearing my many opinions on just about everything, that as much as he teases me about being opinionated he wouldn't have it any other way. I love that he makes sure the newspaper is on the table at breakfast and asks me to tell him things from it. I love that he looks forward to the "Bob list" I keep throughout the day and is disappointed when the busy-ness of life keeps me from jotting things down to share later.

I love that he enjoys hearing the details of my work day and sharing the details of his. I love our traditions and our reading together and our constant interaction in each other's lives. I love that he gets excited to talk to his kids and grandkids and sends me emails with multiple exclamation points about the conversations. I love watching him call around and tell grandkid stories after every visit. I love his pride in the technical skills of his youngest daughter, the servant's heart his son has, and the multitasking talents of his oldest, including her ability to bend people in two at their request (aka personal training).

I love that he never lets "conventional wisdom" hold him back and that he started training for marathons at age 62. I love the look he gets on his face when he talks to someone about Jesus and when he is fundraising for St. Jude. I love his prayers for divine appointments and his unbelievable gift of faith.

I love that he always has my best interests at heart. I love that he had as much fun on our "Little House" vacation this summer as I did. I love that he drove most of the trip and I got to enjoy watching the prairie out the window.

Most of all, I love that this man gets up every morning to spend time with God before he spends time with me. That spiritual leadership has helped me in so many ways.

Our marriage is still a miracle of grace, and I treasure every second.

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