A Diamond Anniversary

A diamond anniversary. The diamond is the hardest substance found in nature. The ancient Greeks called the gemstone adamas, using the same word they used for any unbreakable or indestructible substance, or anything unmovable. In time, adamas gave us the word adamant meaning “firmly fixed or decided”. 

img_3448

When Tom and Louise were married on August 13, 1957, they said their vows. They vowed to remain together until death do us part, through good times and bad, sickness and in health, and in poverty or wealth. On that wedding day, over 60 years ago, they never imagined how their vows would be played out in their God love story, but we are all here today to witness and honor their unbreakable, firmly fixed, and decided marriage commitment.

God’s word tells us to

“Honor marriage above all else…” that

“A man who has found a wife has found a good thing”, and that a

“Woman who has a husband who loves her as Christ loves the church is blessed”.

My dad singing Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder by Ray Price to my mom:

Mom and dad, we want to say, thank you for every time you maybe wanted to leave you stayed. You are adamant about your marriage commitment.  One of our favorite stories is from Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth. She said to the first lady, Barbara Bush, 

 In 2006 Barbara noted that Ruth had once been asked whether, as a Christian, she had ever contemplated divorce. Barbara explained, “Her answer, was, ‘Divorce? No. Murder? Yes.'” Added Barbara, “I could understand that.” (The full article on Ruth from TIME magazine is a great read: http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1633197,00.html)

We idolize the Billys and Ruths of the world but please remember this—all marriages struggle but it’s the couple that remains together that truly symbolizes the diamond. 

billyandruth

Ruth and Billy Graham

20767807_10213600457790014_1063080739064999310_n

A diamond is found “in the rough”. It’s the couple who recognizes the potential of this unpolished “rock” and is willing to work hard to create the beauty of the diamond.

img_3520-1img_3512-1img_3444

The original, raw, state, with work and time, becomes a high-quality jewel–a diamond. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we love a diamond engagement ring.  It’s the promise of things to come if we truly honor our marriage commitment. The Jewish faith believes wholeheartedly that marriage is a covenant in which we learn how to become more like God–Holy. No other institution created by God gives you the platform to grow in forgiveness, long suffering,  mercy, patience, and humility.  Your marriage can be the very representation of God’s glory and love! 

Thank you for honoring God in your marriage and showing us a marriage built on God’s love and grace.

Thank you for endless support, love, and prayers that are the reasons we are here today and can honor you.

(Photos in this slide show are from professional photographer, Chrissy Fukushima: http://simplewildlove.pass.us/lloyd60th/)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

img_3468

Tom and Louise Lloyd your marriage –your unbreakable, diamond marriage is a testimony to all of us. Thank you, and we love you.

Your precious grand-children and great-grandchildren honor you and learn from you.

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. Psalm 78:4

Ray Price, Beauty Lies in the Eye of the Beholder:

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!

 

You are annoying

It’s been awhile since we purchased our book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. After many months we are on chapter 12.  Did you know that you are annoying and your spouse has the ability to help you grow? You know the pattern.  You do that thing you do, your spouse gently calls you out on it, you call your sibling or best friend to confirm that he/she overreacted, and you are validated that it’s not you that has the issue.

The example Gary gave was a personal one. He had an opportunity to run ten miles in a beautiful area while visiting his son. His obsession over running became the focal point of conversations and the agenda setting.  His wife gently reminded him that his priority needed compromising to fit the group. He accepted the sound reminder and engaged with the family.  He eventually had the free time to run in the end.

Being a woman of faith, I appreciated the reference of Jesus never being compulsive, he served in the moment. My husband and I were asked by the study to list our three annoying habits. We shared, agreed (we know this after 28 years of marriage), and laughed.  Most annoyances truly arise from feelings of inconvenience. Your actions, lack of action, or comment altered my plans or thoughts. How annoyed Jesus must have been but switched gears and served or spoke up.  A mature marriage will serve and sometimes speak up.  When your loved one speaks up, listen and take to heart their advice. No other place can you grow in character and strength than within your marriage. Don’t get defensive or angry–listen.  Your friend may agree with you that your spouse overreacted, but you are not married to them. Let’s be real, too. Maybe you do overreact. It’s all in the delivery. It’s the millionth time they are doing that thing that they do, but it’s your joy to gently remind and guide them into a better way.

Take joy in striving to please the one you love most and change. Find one area of growth and take action to do something different.  Learn to love within your spouse’s idiosyncrasies and think about the strength that lies within the weakness.

I may be task oriented which supports the to do list, but thank you for reminding me to enjoy the now. Can you take something from the list? I need help.

Peace to all marriages who continuously strive for better marriages. If you are single, remember your current relationships with loved ones and friends are fertile ground for a future marriage.  I’ve thought often about the practices of what I’m learning in this book and how I can apply them with work and family relationships. Who could use more grace and better communication on the job?

 

 

 

Redeeming Love (Again)

I was travelling to work one morning.  Nothing really happened per se, but I was frustrated.

Again.

I highlight the word “again” because that was the frustration.  I started praying and asking God questions that centered on why some things never change, and, try as we might, here we are doing it again. He gently reminded me in the prayer time that small, incremental changes are good enough, and that maybe my expectations were unrealistic.  In further discussion with my “positivity partner”, Kim, she discussed a sermon from Joyce Meyer.

“Things don’t happen to us; They happen for us.”

Saturday rolls around and my husband and I pick up the book, Cherish, by Gary Thomas. I needed to focus even if my attitude had not caught up with what I know to be true. Wouldn’t you know the chapter was entitled, “This is how your spouse stumbles”. We literally asked each other, “Do we really want to read this chapter?” After a discussion, we decided that God’s timing is best, and we rolled with it.

Cherishing means being patient with your spouse’s sin. We hysterically laughed at the story of “lost keys” in the chapter.  Gary had been running late for work, and he was in a desperate search for his keys.  After a few attempts, his wife, all snug in the warm bed, asks, “What’s wrong?” He begins to explain that he can’t find his keys, and she immediately apologizes and says, “Oh, I used them last night.  They are in my purse.” To make matters worse, when she got up to help, they could not find her purse. I’m sorry, but I’m laughing right now, all by myself, writing this.

THIS IS MY LIFE.

Again.

Gary made it a point to cherish his wife by not reminding her of her absent-mindedness or blaming her.

From lost keys to hurtful words said to addictions, Gary’s message is one of consistent grace and forgiveness with accountability.

We need to accept the fact that our spouse will stumble.  In fact, he encourages us to own it and say, “This is how my spouse stumbles.” Of course when we say this about our spouse it’s hard, but we have the expectation to experience grace for ourselves. I talked about the years my loving husband has supported my very, tender heart in matters that I can’t control.  He has listened, hugged, given me space, and prayed for me. He shared his thoughts and offered gratitude for my years of grace for his stumble area.

To cherish your spouse means to know the dark corners but to still love, cherish, and move toward them.

Holiness, according to the Bible, is often best demonstrated by how patient we are with the lack of holiness in others. Oh, Gary, why did you have to write that? I stopped my husband from reading by saying, “That’s hard for me.”  I don’t think I’m alone in this, but I’m telling you that I’m at an all new level with this in my season of life.  I got the sassy attitude to prove it, and the quick come backs.

Again.

Not to be too hard on myself, I recognize the need for a little humor, but the lost key story, as we both agreed, had the potential to be war in my house.

I loved how Gary reminded us about the “presence behind the problem”.  The very fact your spouse is present with you, loving you, walking this life with you is a cherished gift! Since when did you think your life would be perfection in your marriage?  Did you really marry Prince Charming, and are you Cinderella? My husband snores and this can be quite maddening when sleep eludes me, but the very fact he IS snoring means he is with me snuggled in the bed. I may tear up and need reassurance, but the very fact I’m sniffling (again), means he has me to hold, kiss, and cherish.

Lastly, give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. He or she really did not wake up with a written plan to make your life miserable. They stumble.  They have their quirks and idiosyncrasies that rub you the wrong way, but that has been them, probably from the first day you met them, at least in part.  The example Gary gave was an unfortunate husband admiring a beautiful woman in front of his very pregnant wife.  Another time in this chapter for Parish and I to laugh. “What was he thinking?!”, I yelled.  Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means we ask that question in a nice way.  “Tell me what happened from your perspective?” No lectures, but a question and an open heart and mind.  Remember the tone and attitude matter.

So here we go again remembering this in our marriage, parenting, work relationships, and friendships.

“We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2

I told Parish, “It’s like a field of sunflowers with a few bumble bees flying around. We can enjoy the beauty of the field and all its majesty, or we can live in fear that one of the bumble bees is going to hurt us and complain or not experience the beauty.”

Marriage has a few bumble bees, and, yes, we might get stung, but the beauty and majesty is worth it.

The next time your spouse stumbles, or any relationship causes you to stumble, remember it is not happening to you but for you to grow in holiness and righteousness. This is our redeeming love. As I was reminded while watching “Call the Midwife” and texting my friend, Lisa, who had seen the episode. Yes, until we see Jesus face to face, every day is a day to experience His redeeming love.

Call The Midwife

A serious post deserves a humorous ending. Celebrate the relationships that are still “there”.

Cherish.

Again.

WORSHIP SONG

A Church Hill Experience

Parish and I love to try new things. Give us a small town, a unique store, or a restaurant that serves food we’ve never tasted, and we are in our zone. As a couple, the experiences have brought years of fond memories, and individually, we’ve satisfied our love for adventure. How do you define adventure? If it’s skydiving and swimming with the sharks, then maybe our definition of fun will not appeal to you, but if you are looking for a lovely evening out in Church Hill, we’ve got you covered. Come walk with us.

Church Hill, due east of downtown, above Shockoe Valley, where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech at St. John’s Church, which is apparently the highest spot in the city. (http://wtvr.com/2012/07/05/holmberg-which-are-the-seven-hills-of-richmond/)

We parked our car on a side street next to The Alamo BBQ on 2202 Jefferson Avenue in Richmond.

We started our walking journey here because of the smell.  Close your eyes and think of the wonderful, sweet and smoky smell of barbecue roasting on a smoker.

Combine that with a friendly walk-up window and outdoor picnic area on a breezy, sunny afternoon and, well, you are in paradise. The charm is the simplicity and the crowd.

alamo-9

You have Church Hill wannabes (us), all cultures and ages, and small children with their families, along with date night folks all dressed up. We shared a barbecue sandwich that had the perfect combination of smoke and sweet.  The cold slaw had just enough mayo and vinegar–not too runny, or tangy.  We resisted that temptation to try to the cornbread because we had reservations at Metzger’s Bar and Butchery further down the street.

Picnic area for larger groups

We left the Alamo and headed directly up Jefferson street to Union Market on 2306 Jefferson Ave. Along the way, we experienced the revitalization of the old charm.  Homes were experiencing a makeover for new families to move in. You could tell that the new was only created to keep the charm of the building. I love when you witness builders trying to keep the historical aspect of a building while also making sure the building is livable.

We noticed that most of the homes displayed their address similar to this style

Look at this beautiful day!

We did not realize that Union Market was an actual market along with a wonderful deli and eatery. They catered to the cyclist and dog owner. You had a place for your bike, a hitching post for your dog on a leash, or water bowls and treats for your pet as you sat on the patio.

As we ordered another small appetizer, we walked out onto the patio to music playing and lazy, Saturday afternoon folks gathering to socialize or read books.

As we sat admiring the beautiful color of the crepe myrtle in the sun, watching people, and talking about our future, we saw the large family from The Alamo restaurant walking back to their home. I could not resist the two-year-old little boy with red hair on daddy’s shoulders. What a cutie.

We had a 5:00 reservation for Metzger’s Bar and Butchery, so we loaded walking directions on our phone and started the short, but wonderful walk to our dinner date.

Along the way, we met retired couples relaxing on their decks, a man playing with his dog in the front yard, and beautiful, spring flowers. Many of the homes were historical with the information plaque on the building. What we noticed most was the people–the smiles, the waves, and the sense of community. In fact, across from Metzger’s is a church that seemed to be a part of serving the community, along with a family resource center.

We got to the restaurant 5 minutes early and sat outside waiting for it to open.

Clovers in Church Hill are HUGE!

The menu in Metzger’s is authentic and true to its name– German food only. If you want pizza and hamburgers, this is not your restaurant.  Try something new! We ordered the basket of homemade bread which included pretzel bread, sea salt crackers, Old Bay biscuit, and a nutty-type bread.  They were all homemade and warm with delicious butter.

Parish ordered the roasted chicken, and I ordered the pork chops. We were too busy chowing down, we forgot to take pictures! The serving size was plentiful and seasoned to perfection!

We were glad we had to walk back to the car after our wonderful dining experience. If you make a reservation at 5:00, right when they open, you’ll be in a quiet atmosphere.  As we were eating, the restaurant started to fill up. I enjoyed the lively mother-daughter conversations, the date-night couples, and the neighborhood locals.  You could see the staff waving to folks from the windows as they walked by the restaurant.

On our walk back to the car we figured out a short cut through an alley.

I loved this tree!

We started our journey around 3:30 in the afternoon.  We recommend making a reservation for Metzger’s because the restaurant is small.  We were able to stop at the points of interest and walk to the restaurant during the 3:30-5:00-time frame.  You can adjust your time to accommodate your desire to stay longer at a certain spot.  Of course, if you desire to stay out late, you could venture into Shockoe Bottom, Cary Town, Byrd Theater, or other areas of interest in Richmond.

Let us know if you venture out! We’d love to hear from you.

Parish and Anna

Don’t Quit

In most areas of our lives we can decide to move on or quit. If a job, friendship, or hairstylist is not working out, you can look elsewhere without serious consequences. Marriage is different. We face so many challenges and unexpected seasons in which we live out our vows of “for better or for worse”.  When the worse happens we stick it out knowing on the other side we will see God’s glory, provision, and faithfulness.

Gary Thomas’ book Cherish calls our attention to the word cherish versus infatuation. Cherishing your spouse means that even when things get ugly, I’m not giving up on us.  Infatuation is the kind of love with conditions and expectations so high that you are living in a fantasy world. Cherish means that I truly believe that you are the only one who can walk this journey with me, and I will treat you as such.

It’s easy to quit on someone who is not living up to your expectations. The question becomes are your expectations realistic, and are you in constant pursuit to call out the negative in your spouse? Every day I could pick a fight with my imperfect mate. They are, after all, human–imperfect and sinful beings.

“Without struggle, marriage is like melodrama.  If God allowed infatuation to remain, how many of us would do the day-to-day work to achieve intimacy?” Gary Thomas

You’ve seen them. Newlyweds or dating couples. It’s only a matter of time when disappointment and possible contempt sets in and the work begins.  Just on the other side of infatuation is cherish, and so many couples are unwilling to climb the mountain and experience cherish. They quit. It’s hard work.  It’s sacrifice.  It’s a battlefield.

Your marriage legacy goes beyond the toothpaste cap or toilet seat. It’s your God story for a generation not yet born.  As Parish and I read the chapter “Don’t Quit”, we looked around our living room. Parish smiled and said, “Anna, look around this room.  Our legacy and memories are many…..” He began to talk about Patty our cactus, the family tree that Valentina and Grandma Louise drew, the rocking chair from my great-grandfather that he refinished for Victoria’s birth over 27 years ago, the coffee table that belonged to my grandmother, the lanterns we use on snowy nights as we walk and marvel, the cast iron dog I grew up with and sits on our hearth…

Of course these are just material examples of our love, but they are reminders to us of a love that God has been working on for years. His hand in our love story.

There is no other love story like yours. Your God, love story is a shining example to the world of mercy, cherish, and the power of sticking it out even when by all accounts you could have thrown in the towel.

I encourage you to stop and look around your home. If the objects in your home could talk, what memories would they share? I encourage you to be crazy hopeful (my friend’s expression) about your future, and to celebrate the good things in your spouse. I encourage you to purchase the book Cherish by Gary Thomas and read it together as a couple. Take your time with it.  Parish and I have been reading the book for two months, and we are on chapter 7.

If you feel like quitting, remember cherish and seek the help your marriage deserves.

I dedicate this post to my parents who will celebrate their 60th, diamond anniversary in August 2017. They are not quitters; they cherish.

My husband and I sang this song as a duet at weddings in the 80s. I hope you will listen to this song for the meaning and be spurred on in your love story. Try not to be critical of the 80’s music, but be motivated by the words. 🙂

Love is NOT all you need (Sorry Beatles)

Yesterday we talked about clinging to what is good.  This morning through a series of readings in my devotional time and a text from my oldest daughter to watch a video on Millenials, I’m bursting to share. I’ve been married for almost 28 years come this February 4. When we said our vows in our 20s, I really don’t think we had a clue how words like to cherish, to honor, in good times and bad, sickness and in health, and for better or for worse would play out in our years to come.  We were in love, and “love is all you need”, according to The Beatles.

I was reminded of how habits form when my husband and I tackled taking down the Christmas tree and decorations for the season.  After almost 27 years, you would think we would be more considerate. It’s not a knock-down drag out fight, but we have our ways– a comment here, a jab there, selective hearing, and eye rolling commences.  It’s so ridiculous, and we end up laughing at each other and promise that in the years to come we will be different.

Our brains are wired for habit forming.  Most habits are good. If you desire to become an accomplished pianist, the daily habit of practicing creates an expert. A growth mindset has become the new area of focus in education and psychology. We have put into words what we know through experience–old habits die hard, and new habits take concentrated practice. Patience.

Patience.

Most of us want what Gary Thomas calls a “watch marriage”. I want to put you on my arm as needed, and when I look at you on my wrist, I want you to fulfill the purpose or role. If you don’t, I’m frustrated or angry. I can quickly put you on the nightstand and walk away. Too harsh? Maybe.  There is some validity to the metaphor.  Love is great, but do we truly cherish our spouse?

Husbands and wives often treat each other according to whatever roles they expect from each other. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and try to look reasonably attractive while you’re doing it, and everything will be fine.” Gary Thomas

Cherish means to hold something dear and to delight in them. We can love out of obligation and duty, but do you cherish each other? If you are single, think of these words. Our culture supports the practice of going to school, finding a career, dating, getting married, having children, and buying the house.  You can be so tied up in the practice you are blindsided by the commitment you are truly making to the person standing next to you speaking vows.  To cherish someone and to build a meaningful marriage takes time, sacrifice, and something deeper than the giddy feeling when you hold hands.

My oldest daughter sent me this video talk on Millenials. I believe it’s spot on, but even at 50 something, because I use technology at a high level, I’m guilty. You must watch this–

God knew we would be a people of instant gratification. Jesus told us that if you want growth or fruit you must

hear the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patient endurance. — Luke 8:15 NRSV

There is that word again with another word added to it…..

patient endurance…..

charliebrownugh

Maybe it would help if you understood that God delights in you–He cherishes you.  We all know God has to love us even when we mess up, but have you ever pictured God cherishing you? He has your picture on his refrigerator and calls you up just to say, “Hey– I miss you.  Let’s do lunch.”  He wants to spend time with you no matter how good you’ve played out your role that day. He adores you.

For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Talk about patient endurance. Thank you, Jesus.

Here is a love dare for you.

  • Examine your responses and actions to your spouse and ask if you cherish them.  If you are single, ask the same question about those who are closest to you in your life right now. How do you express this commitment to cherish?
  • What is one action you can take to change an old habit? Your brain can change, but it takes patient endurance.
  • Spend time with the One who perfectly cherishes you.
  • Take a hiatus from technology, and dare yourself to delete some social apps.

For the creative spirit:

  • Download the app Flipagram. Create a video with pictures of you, your spouse, and some of the blessings from your marriage. Choose a song that represents your love for the background music.  You will have to download the song to your music library and select the song once you are done with uploading pictures. If you do this, CONSIDER SHARING WITH ME!  I’D LOVE TO CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE WITH YOU!

Here is my Flipagram of Parish and me–ENJOY! Each picture has a special memory that we cherish…..

https://flipagram.com/f/122AqRouOeI

  • Write a poem, letter, or create a picture collage.
  • Understand Growth Mindset by reading this fabulous article that also gives you a fun challenge. (click on the words “this fabulous article”)
  • Read this post together and talk it out.
  • Buy Gary Thomas’ book and be committed to doing the Bible study together as a couple:

The Art of Cherishing Your Spouse (GREAT video in this article about the book Cherish, by Gary Thomas)

http://www.faithgateway.com/art-cherishing-spouse/?utm_source=devosdaily&utm_campaign=devosdaily20170109&utm_medium=email#.WHOdEvkrLIU

cherish-meme-delight-768x768

Gary Thomas