Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cindy ♥ Doug, A Marraige Made in Heaven

I've been promising a post about marriage for sometime.  Since I've been thinking A LOT about Doug this week with him working out of town, I thought now would be a good time to go ahead with it.  First, let me say up front, I'm not an expert on marriage, but I am experienced. :)  Doug and I have been married for 22 years.  We have experienced the wonderful seasons where we were on top of the world taking in the views from the highest mountain peaks.  We have also experienced the lowest valleys we could have experienced in a marraige and still came out with the rings on our fingers and the promise in our hearts.  So while I'm not an expert and will never claim to be, I have lived a gamut of experiences in my married life.

♥ Our story ♥
I never tire of telling our love story for it truly is a story of a marriage made in heaven by our One True God.  Doug and I met at church when we were in early elementary school.  I was in first grade.  He was in second grade.  By fourth and fifth grade, we were 'going together' and holding hands under the hymnal or church Bible.  (I don't advocate that for children. :)  However, it truly was innocent.)  We were best of friends.  We talked all the time.  We liked spending time together.  Our sisters were friends.  Our parents were friends.  We went to the same church.  We went to the same school.  We lived down the road from each other.  We rode the same bus.  In other words, we were able to spend a lot of time together.  We knew each other.  If anyone asked me at the early age of 10 or 11 who I was going to marry, I could have instantly told them, "Dougie!"

In middle school, we would 'like' each other off and on.  However, being middle schoolers, we also liked other people, too.  We remained close friends, but we were becoming two very different people.  Then, one awful day in high school I learned that Dougie would be moving to Texas.  I was a freshman, and he was a sophomore at the time.  There was no warning.  They were moving, and there was nothing I could do.  That was a very sad day in my life.

I went on living, of course.  I liked other boys.  I know he liked and dated other girls.  Then, in December on my sixteenth birthday, I was at a BC basketball game with some friends.  One of my best friends came running down the bleachers toward me yelling, "Cindy...Dougie is here.  Doug is looking for you!"  I thought she was just messing with me.  After all, he had moved more than a year before.  Why would he be there? 

I looked up and THERE HE handsome as ever...walking toward me.  I'm sure my heart stopped beating for just a moment.  I'm also sure there was a smile as big as Texas on my face.  What a wonderful birthday present!  Well, we dated for about a month and then, he just disappeared.  I tell him often that he was quite the jerk!  I was so hurt!  My heart was completely broken.  I questioned why God had brought him back into my life (which I truly believed then that he had and I still believe NOW that he had) just to rip him out of it.

Again, life went on.  I dated again.  This time with the determination that D.F. would never hurt me again.  I would give my love to someone else.  I enjoyed the rest of my junior year of high school and began my senior year.  I was working at what was then Otto Drugstore. 

One particular day in September I was working the cash register up front and got a phone call from my sister.  She was at Doug's sister's house.  She said that he wanted me to come there when I got off work.  I said, "NO!"  Later, he called.  He was persistent.  I told him that he had hurt me enough and that I would not come there to see him.  If he wanted to see me, he'd have to come to Shepherdsville.  I told him what time I was leaving work.  He was there waiting when I went to my car. :)  That was September 6, 1987.

We went on our first official date that day.  He wonders why I love Mr. Gatti's so much.  That is part of the reason, I would guess.  We sat at Mr. Gatti's for hours that day.  We talked.  He apologized profusely.  We talked some more.  It was that day, sitting in the party room of Mr. Gatti's all by ourselves, with Doug writing sweet stuff on a helium balloon, that I fell head over heals completely in love with him.  Oh, I already loved him, but that day sealed the deal. 

On March 15 of the next year, Doug proposed.  We had plans to wait 5 years to get married.  I would finish college.  He would finish trade school.  However, we knew we could not wait 5 years.  So, we set the date.  August 5, 1989.  I still laugh when I think about it.  We were just being silly thinking we would wait that long.  We had literally been waiting our whole lives for this.  In May, we went to my parents and told them we couldn't wait a year to be married.  After much discussion, it was decided the date would be changed to August 6 of the same year.  There was ONE stipulation.  I couldn't say the word wedding until high school graduation was over.  (I was graduating valedictorian.  My parents were not going to allow anything to get in the way of me finishing what I had started.  I am very thankful for that.)   I graduated in May, and we planned the wedding in less than 2 months.

As I think back over the story of our life up to that point, I smile...I laugh...I even get a bit teary eyed at times.  When I think of how God orchestrated two separate families...two separate that Doug and I would be placed together for His glory and our good, it amazes me.  You see, none of that story is my doing or Doug's doing.  We couldn't have come up with such an outlandish on again/off again thing if we tried.  I mean, honestly...Doug's family up and moved to TEXAS and then, what I failed to mention above was that while he was visiting friends in Kentucky, his family decided to move back to Kentucky without telling him.  God had to have acted upon my heart to soften it to let Doug back into my life after being hurt.  As humans, we tend to build up scar tissue that isn't easily broken through when we're hurt by someone.  God had to place me on Doug's mind for him to decide he wanted to see me after more than a year of being away.  And to think it all started when we were small children. 

Our lives changed on August 6, 1988.  We were no longer just Cindy and Doug.  We became Mr. and Mrs.!  What a wonderful change!

My insights and thoughts on Christian Marraige:

1.  God has to be first in both of your lives.  This will be evident in so many ways.  Do you go to church together?  Do you pray together?  Do you study or discuss the Word together?  Are you committed to following God's will for your lives?  Are you raising your kids His way?
2.  My husband is second in my life.  I am second in his life.  This is a lesson we want our children to understand completely.  We want them to know that we love them...completely and unconditionally.  However, we want them to know that they cannot come between us a husband and wife.  Kids can be and will be manipulative if you let them be.  Don't allow them to move into the spot where your husband should be.

3.  When you get married, the focus should change from "I" to "WE".  When a couple consistently socializes separately instead of together, trouble is soon to follow.  To get to the point of marriage, what did you do?  You went out together.  Marriage shouldn't change that.  If anything, it should make it better.  The lowest time in our marriage is when we were both going out with friends instead of together.  We invited trouble into our lives by opening a door for Satan to step right into.  Why go to dinner with a friend on a Friday night and leave your spouse at home...especially on a regular basis?  Think about how often you are spending time with other people away from your spouse. 
4.  Friends of the opposite sex is a dangerous and slippery slope to walk.  I'm not talking mutual friends where you and your husband are friends with another couple.  I mean where the wife is friends with another man that her husband is not friends with or vice-versa.  We tend to think that we are super-human and can just be friends and that those friendships will never go where they shouldn't.  I'm here to tell you, friends, that you are lying to yourselves.  Once again, that opens a door for Satan to step right in.
5.  Work to make your marriage the best it can be.  What have you done for your husband today?  What have you done today that says "I love YOU" without using the words?

6.  Learn early to say, "I'm sorry for _____________.  Will you please forgive me?"
7.  Learn how to forgive even when it hurts.
8.  Play together.  Again, what did you do before you got married?  You had fun together.  Why stop?
9.  Hold hands.  :)
10.  View your marriage as a FOREVER promise.  Divorce is not an option.  God is an amazing God that can heal hurts, give peace, calm fears, and in the process SAVE marriages. 

I've often wondered why our story had so many twists and turns before we finally figured out we belonged together.  After 22 years of many highs and some very low lows, I think it's because God knew what we would experience and was preparing us for the times ahead.  He was preparing me for future heartache and for future healing.  He was preparing Dougie for how to be the wonderful godly husband he is today.  God was teaching us about forgiveness and persistence.  You see, God knew that without this we would have given up on our marriage ten years ago.  God knew what we needed, when we needed it.  I'm so thankful for God's provision and protection over our marriage.    How exciting it is to know that my marriage to Dougie is truly God-given, God-ordained, God-orchestrated...absolutely

♥ a marriage made in Heaven! ♥

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Had it not been...

Don't you love when God speaks to you?  Isn't it so exciting to be reading in God's word and feel, KNOW that He is speaking directly to YOU?!  Don't you just get giddy when what you are reading hits home so hard that you know that God put you in that passage on this day so he could whisper sweet things to you?  Our God is so amazing!  He never ceases to amaze me.

This morning, I was continuing my study in Psalms.  (I love Psalms!  Who doesn't?)  Anyway, I'm up to the Psalms of Ascents that were said/sang as the people traveled to Jerusalem and to the temple.  Most of these Psalms are quite short.  Usually, I study 2 to 3 a day because of their length.  However, this morning, Psalm 124, which is only 8 verses, struck me so that I had to stop after reading it several times and share it with you.

It is a "Song of Ascents, of David" that is 8 verses.  It talks about Israel's past. oh my, when we take this and apply it to our lives...when I take it and apply it to MY life...WOW!  Here it is...

Psalm 124

"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side,"
Let Israel now say,
"Had it not been the Lord who was on our side
When men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their anger was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul."

Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Read it again!  Truly I understand this is an account of how the Lord saved the Israelites from destruction.  However, has he not done the same for us as believers?  Does he not do the same for us day after day? 

What if the Lord was not on our side?

I can not imagine living my life without God on my my life.  I can't fathom going through the daily grind without Him.  I certainly can't begin to imagine facing life's biggest challenges...a sister who fought cancer, health issues of parents, raising children and all the issues that go with that, financial problems, tragedies in life that we don't have the answers for.

As David says, "Blessed be the Lord!"  Or thanks be to God for not turning us over to our enemy or giving us over to ourselves.  Our help truly is in the name of the Lord!  Amazing...the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End, the ONE who created EVERYTHING...




Monday, October 4, 2010

There are many times in our lives where there seems to be many more questions than answers. It seems to come in cycles in my life. Things are going well...or at least not bad...and then situations or circumstances seem to mount up all at once until there is a mountain...or even a mountain range...of problems or unanswered questions right in the middle of my path.

When I get to this point, I find myself asking the same questions over and over.  Why is this (fill in the blank with any given circumstance) happening?  Why is my family having to endure yet another hardship?  What have we done to deserve this?  Why?  Why?  Why?  My emotions start to simmer.  Then, they start to bubble a little bit more.  There are times that they get to a boiling point...this doesn't necessarily mean angry...just not controlled.  When I get to this point, I may cry if you look at me or say, "How are you doing?"  Have you ever been there?  Sometimes I think I'm the only one, and then I reason that surely I'm not.

Thankfully, I have someone who loves me unconditionally.
Thankfully, I have someone who knows me better than I know myself.
Thankfully, I have someone who knows my circumstances and
knows what I need before I even utter a word.
Thankfully, I have someone who will listen when I cry out to Him.
Thankfully, I have someone who doesn't turn His back on me...
even when I have these bouts of emotional turmoil.
Thankfully, He gave me a guide to help me through not just the hard days, but everyday.
Thankfully, I have someone who has ALL THE ANSWERS!
During the times when I have more questions than answers and my emotions threaten to control my life, I have my Lord to comfort me and He gave us the Bible as our guide to live by everyday...on the rough days and the great days! 
The Bible is full of words of hope and comfort.  It's full of words of wisdom and reproach.  All of which we need during the times in our life when things aren't going the way we think they should be.  I've been reminded over the last week or so of the importance of reading and meditating on and yes, memorizing scripture as I've studied Psalm 119. 
Psalm119 is 176 verses that tell us over and over that the Word of God is vital for our lives.  (If you have never or haven't lately truely studied it, I'd suggest it.)  There are several familiar verses that many of us memorized as children. 
Psalm 119:11  Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you.

Psalm 119:105  Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

While other verses are not as familiar, their strength is mighty.

Psalm 119:73  Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

Psalm 119: 97-98  O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine.

Psalm 119:136  My eyes shed streams of water, because they do not keep Your law.
(This one jumped out and slapped me in the face this morning.)

I could go on and on.  Just this ONE 'chapter' in the Bible...FULL of ANSWERS...because it tells me I should be searching for my answers in the Word.  That is where all the answers are found.  I am so grateful I have Him.  I can't imagine living one day without Him.  My heart aches when I see people searching for answers in the horoscopes or through a psychic reading.  They will not find the answers there.  Our only hope is in Jesus Christ.

So although I'm going to face problems today and every other day just like anybody else, I'm going to cling to the promise of this worship song...

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand