Getting Back to the Basics of Marriage

I purchased a book for my 8th grade daughter, The Good Book for Kids, by Lisa Bergren.  Lisa creatively writes God’s story from Genesis to Revelation using the Bible, discussion, and modern-day stories.  Naturally, the book begins with Genesis, Chapter 1–In the beginning

I pondered the Adam and Eve story.  Mind you, I’ve heard that story many times throughout my life and even had the felt board rendition as a child. Lisa’s first chapter only discussed creation, not the fall of man.  In this concentrated focus, I imagined my marriage as God created. I began to see my husband as created by God, in His image. We all can list the many “views” or “thoughts” we have about our marriage partner.  Yet, when I go back to the garden, I can see through a different lens.

I see a man who, since the beginning of time, longs to work, provide, love, play, and connect. Through these desires, he struggles with brokenness and stumbles. He is guided by God in his God story, and I have been partnered with him in a covenant relationship to journey life. He is broken. I am broken. Together we put pieces together through the power of the Holy Spirit to love and glorify God. There will be no time this side of heaven that your spouse will meet all of your expectations.

So, how do we live?

I believe the answer is in the story of chapter 3 of Genesis (Chapter 2 of my book).

  1. “Did God really say…..”

When you start to rationalize breaking your wedding vows to please your whims or question the sanctity of marriage, then it’s time to take a deep breath and seek God’s love and wisdom. I can lose my religion over the smallest of irritants, so I’m not judging with this statement.  It’s a daily reminder that my marriage is Holy and precious, and, yes, God really did say this…

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage should be honored by all…

2.  The serpent denied the truth. “You will not die…”

When we begin to build walls, contempt, or apathy in our relationship, the marriage slowly “dies”.  Death is evident in our world, and the marriage only works when both are praying and on guard.

“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” – Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV)

3.  Trusting God versus wondering if He is a killjoy.

Eve thought God was holding out on her–there must be something about this fruit that will make me happy, and God is holding out on me. In our marriage, we can get pretty frustrated or bored. The grass on the other side of the fence still needs mowing, tending to, and, believe me, the lawn you admire or desire has weeds and dog poop, too. From a distance, that other marriage looks so perfect. Turn your eyes to your marriage (or lawn), and get to work. God’s promises are not to burden or to restrict, but to give you freedom and joy. When I look beyond and compare, I’m always frustrated and anxious. When I turn my heart towards home, I can see my reality of goodness, areas to work on, and joy.

“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and a wife.” – Dave Willis

If you are married, pray that God will help you go back to the garden and remember that your spouse is made the in the image of God. Remember this is a spiritual lens–God’s love and affection, brokenness, and mercy.  Be on guard to reject faulty thinking and deception about marriage and relationships. Be quick to claim good things for your marriage and to do the work.

If you are single, build on your relationship with God utilizing these concepts and verses.  When you are drawn to God and His love, you are able to pour into the lives of others and make a difference in the world around you. Oh, how the world needs Godly men and women to show the love of Christ!

 

Your Table Is Enough

This post will be simple in nature. The simplicity of community and friendship has been forgotten in our busy world. It’s not that we don’t practice hospitality, we’ve lost touch of the deeper “why” behind connection.  We are drawn to celebrate, invite, connect, and even the introvert will find their way towards  a human connection.  A book I’m reading caused serious attention to the “why”.  The Turquoise Table by Kristin Schell is a woman’s journey towards fellowship and love in her community.

Having read the first chapter, I visited a group of friends in the home of a new mom–baby number three, a beautiful boy. We had lunch as the children played, and I held the sweet bundle of preciousness in my arms. I find complete joy in holding a sleeping baby while wrestling with eating with one hand. I go back to my days of motherhood and smile.

Our conversation was a cacophony of the season of life we are in and talking it out. In the talking it out you realize that others have been there and offer empathy, a laugh, and suggestions. Later that week, I took heed to a suggestion which ultimately connected me with a family member in a positive way. Honestly, I drove away wondering why I had shared, but then God showed up later with the “why”.  I love when that happens.  Don’t you?

Visiting another friend to drop of materials for work, I left with the promise of a sofa and chair for my oldest daughter.  They were getting new  furniture, and her old became my daughter’s new. Baby clothes passed down, a hug from a friend and tears because you miss them, reassuring, connecting around the table…..

I suppose these things go on every day, and you may wonder why I’m writing about the simplicity of the day-to-day, but my heart is aching for acceptance. Are you so busy and frazzled that you wonder if you connect enough? What if I told you, without knowing you, that I believe you are doing your very best, and it is pretty dang awesome!

I’m so tired of thinking that if I don’t do ______________ then I haven’t tried hard enough. 

I beseech you to accept your table, and, if you judge others, please stop. Let them know their table is enough.

I read books and convince myself that I must do more. If I read a book about solitude and rest, I rearrange the calendar for alone time.  Reading a book on connection causes me to reflect on what more can I do.  God quietly shared with me, “It is enough”.   My enough caused me to see my life in the now, in this moment. In this moment, my home is quiet and I”m enjoying my time in solitude .  Little by little the day will creep in and all will change.  Today, God, You have given me my daily bread.

Mother Teresa  said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.”

You don’t need to do more.  You need to remember.  God will cause us to “go away to a quiet place and rest”, and He will also show you opportunities to connect and to find peace.  Just before the call for a quiet rest, they were pretty busy connecting to the point they forgot to eat.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

My connections are specific to His story for me. Do not try to become the author from the book you are reading, your neighbor, or your coworker’s Pinterest life.  Your cup of coffee at Starbucks with a friend is just as wonderful as a fine dining experience for a crowd in your home.

Your smile, your touch, your quiet presence are all a part of  the amazing “why”.  Through the course of your day at work, home, and play you can notice and remember, or you can think about the next thing and disconnect.  My personal favorite, begrudge the moment because, well,  it or they are annoying.  See  the moment differently–through the eyes of love. Walk in the attitude that your table is enough, because God’s love is working it all out.

I want to close with a beautiful story about Ludmilla.  A powerful story about a woman living out her life through love and connection despite the many challenges she has faced in her lifetime.

 

 

Pergola Paradise (on a budget)

When we first moved into our home, we were thrilled to see wisteria growing in the backyard. We would always admire the beauty and the smell, and we tried so many times to grow wisteria in the past, but we were never successful. We had some work done in the backyard and had to move the wisteria to put in a patio, but we replanted after the project.  Thankfully, the wisteria survived.

In fact, each year we would have to cut the branches back because the vine would grow exponentially! We dreamed of the vine growing over a beautiful pergola, and we would say, “One day, we will have a pergola.”  For years we researched, planned, and dreamed, but other projects always seemed to take precedence.  Last weekend, we made the dream happen!

1. Scope out the space where you desire to build a pergola.

We researched purchasing kits that matched our area/size but found they were expensive–out of our budget. When you go on home improvement store websites they offer standard sizes.  Our patio did not meet the standards that typical pergolas came in.  We wanted a size that met our needs and desires. With this in mind, you have a choice. You can order the kit, or you can “do it yourself”.

2.  Once you decide to “do it yourself”, look at various pergola options and decide on your design based on what will fill your space.

For example, do you want a free standing pergola, or do you want to attach one end to the house?  You have to consider windows and space. Do you want to paint it, or do you like the color of wood? We typed in the words “pergola design” in Google and visited many websites.

3. Create a materials list based on size and design.

From post to post, our pergola is a bit over 12′ x 13′. The supports and rafters are longer. We used treated wood, most of it from Home Depot. You can simply write down your materials list or even create a spreadsheet with item counts and costs so you can budget your job. Creating a list will make things easier when ordering materials.

We used 6″ x 6 ” posts, 2″ x 8″ supports, 2″ x 6″ rafters, and 2″ x 4″ slats. For the angled bracing, we used 4″ x 6″ boards.  Don’t forget the hardware. We used half-inch diameter carriage bolts, half-inch lag (hex) screws, and many of the carriage bolts were 10 inches in length to go through the larger posts and supports. We used the lag screws (5 inch) for the 2 x 8’s that ran the longer length of the pergola in areas where we could not through bolt. To set rafters in place, we used TimberLOK screws that went completely through the span of the rafter into the supports.  We used 3 1/2 inch deck screws to fasten the slats to the rafters.

When considering materials, and even the building process, it is much like building a deck.

Posts, supports, Rafters,  Slates, Angled Bracing

4. You can save some time by ordering your materials online at your local home improvement store.

It may be helpful to visit the store ahead of time to see what materials they have on hand and to get an idea of what your materials look like. You can also write down item numbers (or take pics of the tags), to use for placing your online order later.

5. If you do not have a suitable truck to transport  the materials, you may want to consider renting a trailer. We rented a 12 foot trailer from U-Haul for around 40 dollars for a half day.  Our son-in-law had the truck with a hitch to pull it. Your situation may be different depending on the size of your truck bed, or the length of the boards you are carrying. We had some 16′ foot boards and a 6′ truck bed.

6. The Build !

The first thing we did was to frame up two posts, the support beams, and angled supports to create an arch.  We did two of these. Fasten the posts and supports together with deck screws first, stand them up (with a friend or two), and check that the supports are level. You may want to check throughout the project to make sure that everything is level and plumb.

We then used 2 by 4’s to make temporary X-bracing. This allowed our arches to be supported and stand up while we added the additional support beams, rafters, angled bracing, and slats.

X-bracing

 

It took three FULL days, two strong men, and the ladies to help with support of posts, holding ladders, retrieving hardware, cleaning up, cooking, and most importantly having fun along the way….

The last drilling of the nail…..

Adelaide turned 1!

Beautiful Sam is having her first baby! We enjoyed a baby shower lunch.

Let’s paint something for the pergola!

The next morning I got up early to enjoy the pergola paradise and Bible study.

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