Do Me a Favor

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Yogurt and Gasoline

What does a full tank of gas and yogurt that tastes like Boston Crèam Pie have in common?

They both put a spark in my honey’s eye! 

My Honey
David never, ever liked yogurt until Yoplait came out with wonderful flavors that don’t taste like yogurt at all.  We’re now both hooked on flavors like Apple Turnover, Red Velvet Cake, Cinnamon Roll and Triple Berry Torte.

But when I come in from the grocery store with Boston Cream Pie Yogurt, his smile is extra big.  He knows that I don’t eat that particular flavor, so I bought it just for him.

However, his smile is practically non-existent when he uses my car and finds the gas tank in desperate want.  My idea of needing to fill up is when the little reminder light has been on for a few days.  Definition of the word “few”:  Being more than one but indefinitely small in number.  (It’s the indefinitely part that we argue about).

In my defense, I point out that I don’t drive very far anymore, to which he replies, “You won’t be going anywhere with an empty tank of gas.”  I hate it when he’s right.  So I try to always have at least half a tank to cut down on the disapproving frowns.

These are little things, but I do them because I love David and he loves me.  And he does little things for me, too.  It’s all part of having a relationship with him.

‘Course, relationships are very complex.  Taken by itself, being thoughtful is sort of a small thing.

But that’s what makes it so simple, and that’s what makes it so profound. 

To meet a simple need in the midst of a multifaceted relationship is to touch the other in a very deep place.  It is enormously gratifying to be dear enough to someone who will show the depth of their love by doing this just for you.

And if this is true of connections between human beings, how much greater is it when God Himself meets a simple need of ours?

I just love it when He does that…

Friday, March 15, 2013

What I Know About Marriage

I’ve been married a l-o-o-o-n-g time.  I’ve been married my entire life minus 18 years.

I look back on who I was when David and I got married, and sometimes I laugh out loud remembering the things I thought  and what I said.  I must have been a royal pain in the keester.  I’m surprised anyone from that era will even speak to me today.

Fortunately, I’ve changed quite a bit.  It’s hard to relate Carol at 18 to Carol at 61.  I’m all grown up now; past growing up, really.  I’m entering the elderly department.  New expectations.

The new expectations are from others.  I know I look my age, so there’s no doubt of the phase of life I’m in.  I’m recovering from knee replacement, so I know that I look kinda pathetic taking one stair at a time and being very careful about it. 

One of my biggest fears is falling.  Carol at 18 or even Carol at 55 didn’t have that fear.  It goes with the elderly department, which, in my mind, is always accessed by elevator.

You don’t realize how long hallways can be and how daunting stairs appear until you somehow can’t manage to traverse them.

Growing old means lots of changes.  I wonder how many couples stay together because it’s just not worth the trouble of parting?  I always told David that if we ever got a divorce, he was getting the kids!  We joke that that was the only thing keeping us together, and now we’re staying because of the cats.

When I was 18 and David was 20, we repeated the marriage vows with no comprehension whatsoever of what they meant or how we were going to live them out.

When we reached our 25th anniversary, we renewed our vows, this time knowing what they meant.

Or at least I thought so.

Seven years ago, my world collapsed.  David was diagnosed with severe congestive heart failure, with the real possibility that his heart would suddenly stop.  He was a workaholic who had retired the year before so he could run a business of lawn care, stump grinding, odd jobs, part-time at a hardware store.  He loved it, being his own boss, doing what he enjoyed. 

But on that day in February 2006, his world collapsed, too.  He had no idea that he had heart problems.  He is blessed in that he has few symptoms.  On paper, he was a wreck, but in person, he looked fine.

So now we find ourselves living with this illness and around this illness and through this illness.  It defines us in many ways.  We have to work around it a lot.  Our dreams have changed and will continue to change as we face each crisis as it comes.

If we renewed our vows now after 42 years of marriage, would I know what they meant?  Would I realize what I was getting myself into?  Would I even bother to voice them if I thought I wasn’t going to follow through and do them?

My answer:  I would know better what they meant, but I wouldn’t believe that I knew them completely.  I was full of pride early on because I thought I was in control.  Even at the 25-year mark, I thought I could manipulate any situation to fit our needs.

That’s almost laugh-out-loud funny.  What a fool I was!  Pride goeth before a fall, and I learned that the hard way.

David and I have stayed together all these years because we love and respect each other, and we have fought hard at times to keep our marriage afloat.  People can’t go through these life altering events without being changed. 

That’s what the vows possess.  Even as we change, it’s their power that stays with us.  God uses that power to sustain us, “us” meaning both, not one at a time, but us together.

So be it for a l-o-o-o-n-g time…

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wow! What a Friend!

We are taught that we should talk to God as if he were a friend.  Some prefer to talk to Jesus, some to the Holy Spirit.  Doesn't matter.

I thought about that friend aspect of it and how I talk with my friends.  It's just not the same.  We are told in the Bible to ask, to be persistent in our prayers, to pray continuously, etc.  So how do I do all those things?

I started talking to God just like I was talking to a friend.  One on one.  Just He and me.  It was awkward.  I was used to just stating my wants, trying to listen for a response, lifting up names and situations throughout the day.  But talking to him like I talk to another person?  Wasn't happening.

So I prayed.  I really wanted to have God as my friend in addition to my Savior.  I started paying attention to how I talk to my friends, what things I said and how I said them.  Then I talked to God like that but with the same requests.

At first, I felt ridiculous.  Why was I reciting the same things over and over?  I wouldn't do that with a human friend who may or may not remember what I've told them; why should I do that with the God of the universe?  Surely he could remember the details of why I want blessings on friends and family.

I wanted to stop this experiment in prayer because I felt silly doing it.  Yet I was compelled to stick with it a little longer.  I felt the Holy Spirit had something for me just around the next corner, if I would only give it another chance.

What I found was the best understanding of prayer I have ever had.  When I just couldn't force myself to repeatedly repeat my cares, I found myself going past the just-asking point.  I started talking to God about the whole situation, not just what I thought should happen or just saying "Your will be done."  I talked with him about the history of these things, what had worked and what hadn't.  This part was not a repeat of earlier prayers.  I felt like it was more like how I would talk in a two-way conversation.

But God doesn't care if I repeat.  Like a good friend who has heard this story many times, He patiently listens and sends love to me through my soul.  As I talk to him, I receive His thoughts on the matter, things I would never have thought of on my own.  I go deeper into the request, finding new layers I didn't know existed, even with old, old stories that have twisted and turned through the years.

I believe that every time I post on my blogs, every time I present a program at church or at the local city jail, there is someone who needs to hear it.  Sometimes I suspect that person is me.  So I offer this to you just in case God has picked you this time.