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This past June, my husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. To be honest, it feels like we packed everything that is supposed to occur in a lifetime of marriage into these first 25 years! Even my husband said the next twenty-five could stand to be a bit less exciting.

For this post, I decided to share a few things I have learned so far. Maybe you can relate to a few of them…

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  1. The little things matter. Ralph makes me coffee every morning. First thing each day, we sit together in our sun room for an hour and chat, mugs in hand. The occasional day he may leave early, I wake to the aroma of coffee in place of him. When he is away, I miss those morning coffees and joke that it’s a rough day because I had to make my own. Little things strung together make big things. Little things show love and create closer bonds and shared memories. Look for little ways to serve and love your spouse.
  2. The little things don’t matter. Sometimes he leaves the toilet seat up, sometimes I don’t screw the toothpaste cap back on, most times he doesn’t wipe the counter, often I leave clothes on the floor. But these don’t really matter. Instead of nit-picking, most of the time, we choose to bear with one another. It’s easy to get too caught up with insignificant things. Instead, try to focus on the positive aspects of your partner and marriage, choosing to celebrate those instead.
  3. Celebrate each other. Be your spouse’s biggest fan. Encourage them and support them as they stretch for their dreams. Appreciate your differences and realize that they make you a stronger, more well-rounded couple.
  4.  This too shall pass. Whatever you two are facing right now isn’t permanent. The situation, the problem, whatever the challenge is, won’t look the same in a few weeks, months, or years to come. Be patient. There is no quick fix. If you’re both committed to listening, learning, repenting, forgiving, and growing, there’s a greater chance you’ll be okay. It will get better if you both work at it. Which brings me to my next point…
  5. Nothing stays the same. The years march on…quickly. The kids grow up, we grow older. Appreciate each other now. Put each other first – even before your kids and especially before your parents, friends, hobbies, and work. You’re in it for a lifetime, so take time for each other. Laugh together. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll grow old together.
  6. You aren’t perfect. So why expect your partner to be? Sometimes our expectations are too high. We look at their weaknesses and completely overlook our own. We’re impatient and expect that they should be further along by now. Often, our grace barometer needs adjusting, and so does our attitude. You’re their partner for a reason. Together you take steps toward Christ-likeness and encourage each other along your shared journey.
  7. They aren’t God. Obviously. So don’t put your partner in this place in your life. When Ralph and I were newlyweds I recall being frustrated and disappointed that he wasn’t meeting my every need. I soon realized that I’d made the mistake of expecting Ralph to fill God’s shoes. Of course, the shoes were much too big! Don’t expect your partner to meet all your needs. They won’t and they can’t. It’s an unfair position to be in, and you’ll end up sorely disappointed. They can never be your all. They will never complete you. Only God can meet all your needs and provide all your joy and peace. You’ve been gifted with this person to share your life with, but keep God in top priority, not your spouse.
  8. Fight for each other, not with each other. You each came into this marriage with baggage. Help each other carry it and by and by, it will get lighter. You don’t fix each other – that’s God’s job – but you persevere. You courageously face the struggles head-on, dealing with them until they lose and your marriage wins.
  9. Pray with each other. Try to find a time each day to pray together. It keeps you humble and connected. Plus, together you are a powerhouse against the enemy – a formidable force to be reckoned with!
  10. Love. I mean, really love. There is nothing like marriage to make you learn to truly love. It’s hard work. It takes a disciplined effort. Sometimes we prefer not to try. For the most part, we aren’t good at it. Sometimes we want to give up. The popular culture has distorted love. This is what it should look like:

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies.

1 Corinthians 13

Try putting your name in place of love in the above verse. How did you do?

I’d love to hear some things you’ve learned during your years of marriage so far!

May you love deeply and grow even stronger in your marriage! 

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  1. When you looked at the “love list” above, which ones did you feel needed improvement on your end?
  2. Write them on a piece of paper and purposely choose to work on one area each week.
  3. Ask God to help you on a daily basis. He’s the only One who can give you a generous supply of love.

illumelation-nyinabulitwa-crater-lakes-uganda-kibale-top-of-the-world-brosisYou shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. ~ Exodus 20:3-4

Not far into our marriage, I noticed my husband wasn’t making me happy. This was disconcerting because, after all, wasn’t that the reason I married him in the first place? During my teens, I had crafted a list of attributes that my life’s mate needed to have, and my husband met all the criteria – except hair and eye colour! So what happened? Had I made a mistake?

As I thought over the disappointment I felt, it hit me. My expectations were faulty. My husband wasn’t meant to be my “everything”. He wasn’t meant to be my primary source of joy, meet all my needs, and be there for me every waking moment. I was asking him to be something he was never designed to be. I had set him up as God, and he wasn’t equipped for the position. He had become an idol in my life.

Husbands and wives are meant to love, honour and serve one another. The Bible even talks about a husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…(Ephesians 5:25), but this was different. This wasn’t pointing to a lack in my husband, it was pointing to a lack within me. Instead of going to God as the primary source of my joy, peace, security, affirmation, and love, all my hopes were wrapped up in my husband lavishing these on me, and when he didn’t, or more accurately, couldn’t meet my insatiable need for these things, I felt cheated.

It’s not just husbands who are flung into this precipitous position. It may be friends, other family members, or even our children whom we place in these lofty locations.  But they, too, are unable to meet our idealistic thinking of the role they are supposed to play in our lives. I wonder if that’s one reason why there are so many broken relationships in this world. People were never meant to fill the hollow places. The space is too large to fill, the emptiness too vast, the amount of attention required too great.

There is only One who can fill the void: the One who created you with an innate need for Him. And yet, instead of intimacy with God, we look to all sorts of things to fill the emptiness: people, toys, clothes, food, drink, and fleeting fun. But all of these, when put before – or in place of God – are idols. They are temporary, counterfeit imposters attempting to take the place of the real deal. And we wonder why we’re unhappy. Why we’re dissatisfied. Why we feel empty.

Not all things we esteem are bad, but God wants first place in your life. What idols are blocking your view of God? Look at what you spend the majority of your spare time doing, or thinking about, and you might find an idol or two. Do they matter more to you than your relationship with God? If so, confess them, remove them from their pedestal, and put them in their rightful place in your life.

May you put God in first place in your life with no idols before Him.

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  1. Make a list of what matters most to you.
  2. Look over the list and see if anything on it trumps God in your life. If so, make the necessary adjustments to put God first.

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ. ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5

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There was a time where when things broke, we fixed them. I can recall my dad dismantling our broken hair dryer and tinkering with it until its heated airflow was again restored. Once, he even had a car engine – in all its metallic glory – in pieces on our kitchen table!

But we have become a disposable, dollar store society. When something has either broken or lost its purpose, we throw it away. Is it because of the “click” mentality of the internet, the advent of inexpensive Chinese goods, or the plethora of fast food options that we are generally hasty and impatient in our impulsive acquisitions and our ability to take care of them?

This disposable demeanour has spilled over into many aspects of our lives. You see it in the mismanagement of our planet and its resources, in the alarming commodification of human beings and the thriving pornography industry, in the wife who says, “I’ve fallen out of love with you”, or the husband who trades his wife for a newer version. We have grown accustomed to the idea that things, relationships, and even people are dispensable.

But I can’t help wondering whether we might still be equipped with the fortitude to fix. That we still possess the steadfastness needed to put aside our selfish desires, and to put up with some unpleasantness for a time in order to mend what is broken. Could we stop thinking that the next best thing is better and instead stick with – even be satisfied and thankful for – what we have? Could we reach into another’s mess and walk with them for a time rather than turning away? Could we again value and celebrate human life?

I think we can.

I’m not beyond believing that broken can be mended.

Sometimes broken things need to be completely and painstakingly dismantled before they can work again. That’s where it gets messy and many give up. The process of fixing takes too long, appears impossible, is too hard, too painful, and too unpleasant. It’s so much easier to trade it in for something else, or someone else, or to ignore it completely than to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. But whether a broken system, a broken relationship, or a broken life, with the patient love only God provides – and the added steadfastness of Christ – it’s possible for broken things to be restored.

It may take time. It will require patience. It may not look the same once put back together. There may still be cracks or places where the grace glue from the Invisible is still visible, but it will be beautiful in spite of it all. And the beauty won’t merely be in the remaking or the remade, but also in everything else that came as a result.

When things break we learn to:

glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” ~ Romans 5:3-4

And we learn not to give up but instead:

“Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Like the engine my dad restored, let’s be repairers and restorers – using all our God-given tools to patiently mend the broken bits while never giving up.

May you grow in your love of God and the steadfastness of Christ, and may your relationships become perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 

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  1. Is there a broken relationship or person in your life? Look for any ways to be a repairer.
  2. On the verge of giving up? With God’s help, nothing is impossible! Keep your eyes on God and continue in steadfastness!

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