Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wedding Vow Blues!

When it came to our wedding day, we kind of balked at tradition. I wore a black dress (Hey! I like to wear black and it is slimming, besides, I don’t believe in good or bad luck charms J), so the expectation had already been set that this wedding was going to be different. I started the wedding off by singing in the balcony and followed it up by walking down the aisle on my father’s arm with a microphone in hand still belting out the love song.

We stood at the altar, my soon to be husband and I, ready to commit our lives to one another. My pastor of 20 plus years was poised, ready to bind us together for all our days. I should have seen the sparkle in his eyes as he started the vows. My husband repeated his vows…he promised to have and hold me from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, yada yada yada. You get the idea.

Next up? Yep, it was I. Here is about how it went. Pastor: Darlene repeat after me. I nodded my head and smiled at my almost brand new husband. How exciting! I repeated the above vows and “in sickness and in health, etc. Our pastor continued. Pastor: “I promise to obey…” Huh? I turned my head so fast I nearly got whiplash. Where did that come from? We certainly didn’t practice that at the rehearsal. I was silent. The entire church was silent. I looked at my almost ex-husband and gave his grin an evil smirk and did what any self-respecting woman would do. I crossed every finger and toe I had and painstakingly repeated the last line, with a gleam in my own eye that let both my pastor and my husband know they were both in trouble!

To this day my husband reminds me of my “vows.” I lovingly remind him that I was coerced, tricked and cajoled into saying such treachery…and therefore it does not count! Just the other day my husband “told” me to do something. I smiled at him like the timid, submissive wife I am and told him I was going to do it, not because he told me to, but because it is the right thing to do. He replied, “Then I will pretend you did it because I told you to.”

I really do believe in being submissive to my husband. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. We do have a good laugh about it now and then. On the rare occasion we disagree on something that requires action or a decision I submit to his decision. I believe my husband seeks the will of God for our family and I believe the Bible is clear on the husband being the head of our home. Don’t get me started on obedience though. It and submission are two very different things!

The past two weeks our pastor has been speaking on submission. I don’t know anyone, and I mean anyone who likes to be told what to do. As a whole, the human race is fiercely prideful and self-assured. We like to be right. We like to have things our own way. We let ourselves take offense at anything we consider a slight toward us and our thoughts, opinions and behaviors. As I looked around the congregation at those who were saying “amen” and clapping in approval at the appropriate times, I suppressed a smile because I know the message went against the grain of every person sitting in those hard cold seats! (fyi…on most Sundays the seats are very soft and comfy!)

For the record…I did not clap once nor did I say amen! I admit it. I bristle at the thought of being told what to do. Do I believe the message my pastor preached on those days was heresy? Not at all. He preached the truth. I, along with every other person at church needed to hear those messages. Does it always feel “good” to go against our flesh and walk in the ways our Lord has set for us? No, but it is always worth it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Testosterone and Dave Ramsey

Today we went and test drove a used F150. I admit the truck is nice. I’m going to have to get a ladder to climb into the thing (no running boards), but I tell you what, I felt like the queen of the road up that high. The truck rode nice, well it’s a truck, not a Cadillac, and so nice is relative. Ok, sure, I am a bit jazzed about getting it. Not looking forward to the fuel bills, but am looking forward to having a dependable vehicle. I believe that is a reasonable reaction to buying a big truck. Apparently, it’s not.

There is a word that I really haven’t had to use much; testosterone. I smile when I am chatting with friends about their husbands who fish and hunt (mine doesn’t). I love football (my guy doesn’t), in fact, I can pretty much watch any sport and cheer till I’m hoarse. My man falls asleep. I admit, he does watch alien movies and he congratulates our son when he stops up the…ok, TMI! (So? He’s not perfect!)

My hubby prefers to read and drink a great cup of coffee. I want to issue an apology to all the women out there who have to deal with that T-word. I can now empathize. Here’s what happened.

It was a perfectly normal Sunday morning. We went to church. We had some pizza at Rocky Rococo’s. Our plan for the rest of the afternoon was to kick back, watch a movie and maybe take a nap. Things changed. Things changed quickly.

We are in desperate need of a second vehicle. In order for me to speak at women’s Bible studies or attend other events, I need a vehicle. It has become a necessity. Our goal was to find a good deal, a Dave Ramsey kind of deal.

Here we were, driving home from church when I look across my husband and out his window and see a nice looking black truck with $2900 on the windshield.

Casually, (I really didn’t think I would cause a commotion here) I mentioned “There’s a black truck for sale for $2900.” My husband applied the brakes immediately, turned us around and bee lined for the truck. I’m not sure at this point he had any words. He pulled into the gravel drive, got out of the van, walked through mud and standing water, and stood looking at the sign on the windshield. Remember, he’s still in his church shoes! Later, he told me he thought it was going to say $12,900, not $2,900. Upon seeing the truck was truly advertised for $2900, he proceeded to walk to the passenger side where he memorized the phone number. He did not get out his phone and add it to contacts. He did not write it down. He memorized it.

I should have seen the testosterone kick in at this point. Another “here’s your sign” should have been our son who is in the back seat saying “Can we get the truck? Can we? Please?” I’m inexperienced, what can I say? My husband drove home with a grin plastered on his face.

An hour and a half later we were cruising down the road test driving the big black truck. I could see dollar bills floating in the air behind us. But it sure does feel nice being this high up! At this point, we did hold hands and pray. We really want to be in God’s will. (For the record, I had been praying the whole time, and felt completely at peace) We asked our son to join us in prayer. He closed his eyes and bowed his head and prayed: “God, can we have this truck?” He opened his eyes and said: “He said yes. We can have it.” How reassuring our eight year old has a direct line with our heavenly Father!

We drove around a country block, stopped in a friend’s driveway to check things out, talked about hopefully getting a deal and then proceeded to take the truck back to its owner. We pulled in and my husband (who facilitates Financial Peace University at our church) says to the owner “We have $2500 budgeted, but we can figure it out.”

HUH? Hello???? What happened to Dave? Remember him? Thankfully the owner said “Well, what can you do?” At his point my husband regained some of his senses and asked if we could meet in the middle, say $2700? To which the owner agreed. Tomorrow we pick up our new truck.

At this point in my post I usually have some great Biblical truth to tie in to my story. Today, this is what I have. I could chose to only see the negative side of getting “the big black truck.” Instead, I am choosing to see what I believe God did for us. We drove past the truck only a few hours after the owner put it up for sale. It is at least $2000 below its blue book value and $3500 below its NADA value. We are paying cash, so still no truck payment. I want my husband to be happy. This makes him happy. God loves to give us the desires of our heart. My husband has desired a truck for a long time. Now he has one.

Thank you Lord for blessing my husband, our marriage and our family. We are truly thankful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Man!

My eyes followed the path of my husband’s focus to the obvious cause of his laughter. There was Leia, playing with a centipede. I don’t like bugs. I’m not sure if you got that. I really don’t like bugs. My husband was obviously enjoying the banter between “his” dog and this leggy creature. Ah…yes, even though spring doesn’t officially begin for another week or so, it’s been warm and the insects do not follow our calendar. They are back.

I wanted the bug dead. Dead as a doornail-dead, no longer sucking air-dead, no longer crawling on my floor-dead, yes, I think you’ve got the picture. So, I did what any sane woman would do.

I looked at my husband like he’d lost his mind and reminded him of his husbandly duty. “Hon, get the bug.”

In reply, he calmly told me “Leia is taking care if it.”

Incredulous! “Hon, she’s gonna get bit. Those things bite.”

Amazingly enough he actually said “I don’t like bugs.”

And I care…why? “Hon, you’re the man, get the bug!”

He sighed, got up, smashed the bug, and looked at the bottom of his shoe to show me the evidence. Ewww…but, at least it was dead!

There are certain jobs that fall to our men. I’m not talking about taking out the garbage, or mowing the lawn. I’m talking about the “show me you’re my man” jobs, like “protecting me from the huge woman eating centipede that is over taking my kitchen” kind of jobs! Let’s face it ladies, we like to be taken care of.

I can hear some of you now “What? I don’t need a man to take care of me. I can do it all!” Well, while that may be true, I will bet my whole allowance (how convenient that I don’t get one) that there are times you wish you had someone that loved you enough to protect you from anything and everything he possibly could.

When I am feeling sad, people have let me down, or the world has knocked the wind out me, there is nothing I love better than to crawl into my husband’s arms and be hugged. Somehow everything melts and I feel safe and loved once again. He has a way of making me feel like I am the only person in his world and there is no other place he’d rather be.

It isn’t coincidence that our marriage relationships are so much like Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church. He saw danger and He acted. He willingly gave His life to protect her, He loved her that much. There is nothing, neither in heaven nor hell, which will keep Him and His beloved apart. He crushed the biggest bug ever, the bug of sin and death. The bug that could have kept us from Him, He used His heel and crushed it. It is no more. No longer can we be bitten by that bug. The sting has been taken for us; upon the cross.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Princess Leia vs. Cinderella!

I look into her big brown eyes and melt (this is partly true, she is cute). Her unconditional love for me and my family makes up for all her antics (ok…sure!). Her devotion to my husband is obvious. She can hear our vehicle before it reaches our driveway and she stands at the door, whining, waiting to greet him with wet kisses thus proving her devotion. As a matter of fact, she is his dog. In the evening when we settle in on the loveseat to watch a back episode of Monk, she jumps between us and resumes her spot. Her head on his lap…her butt on mine.

Last week I had a talk with his dog. You need to redeem yourself with something big! I mean, big. Like, lead the police to a child who fell in a well, big or drag someone from a burning building, big. Prove your worth to me!

For the past month, all I have been doing is cleaning up hair. We had a warm spell here in Wisconsin. She decided to rid herself of her winter coat. The problem is, she doesn’t pick up after her self. She leaves all her “clothes” lying everywhere! And I thought picking up after the kids was bad! I feel as if the vacuum cleaner has become my new best friend! I had another heart to heart with her. I thought we had an agreement. Apparently, the agreement was one sided.

Night before last, she was off her chain running around the neighborhood. I have learned that (sometimes to my dismay) she always finds her way home. She can be gone for hours and will suddenly turn up excited and running for the pantry door, thinking she deserves a treat for gracing us with her presence. (I suppose giving her a treat each time only reinforces this behavior!) Well, on this particular night, she was off running and only gone for a short time, definitely not normal. Only after I let her in the house and when my son said “Mom…she smells like poop”, did I realize we have a problem. She got into some kind of mess. There I was at midnight, bathing the dog in our bathtub.

Last night as we all cuddled on the love seat as I talked about Craigs list and putting her on it, my husband jokingly told her she would have to pull several people from a burning building to make up for this one. She cuddled up to me (yes, she actually put her head on my lap) and looked at me with those big brown eyes, pleading with me for unconditional love, not redemption based on works.

This morning I was reading in Romans, specifically Romans chapters 4 and 5. As I was reading it dawned on me that God could require some huge act on my part to qualify for His love, you know, “drag someone from a burning building” kind of big. Romans tells us it is not our works that earns His love but rather His love that paid for our justification. In other words, there is nothing we can do to earn His love. He paid for our sin on the cross. Yes, we endear ourselves to Him by the desire to become more and more like Him. David was favored because he had a heart like God. Jesus showed the ultimate love for us, dying for us. We only need to accept His gift.

I am watching our dog play with our son. I know without a doubt, if push came to shove, she would willingly give her life for us. I remember one time when I was choking and she ran and got our teenage daughter and made her check on me. She was very insistent about it, pulling her and turning her head toward me, over and over. Every time I sneeze, she jumps up so she is face to face with me, making sure I am ok. She has never bit or nipped in anger. She is a very good dog. I guess I do love her.

Well, Princess Leia, I guess you are granted another day to reign and rule in the Shortridge castle. As for me, Cinderella, you will have to excuse me. I have a date with the vacuum cleaner!