Two in the Shadows

The summer is waning. The light is different now on sunny days here in Southeastern Wisconsin Wisconsin. It has the feel of September, even if it’s still August.  The air has been cool and crisp. Absolutely lovely.

After dinner,, Tom and I  have gotten in the pattern this summer of taking walks. Our youngest, Emily, rides ahead on her scooter or bike, and we talk a bit while we stroll the neighborhood. The walks aren’t always long.   We have a short route and a longer route we take when so inclined.

I see us in our lengthening shadows, the two of us. I like holding Tom’s hand.  It’s a feeling of being safe and loved.  I tell Tom what’s going on in my world, and he tells me what’s on his mind. I save up small tidbits from the day to tell him about when he gets home. Nothing usually big, but something I know he’ll appreciate.  We don’t usually talk about anything political. Things are so vile in our country that it pollutes our time together to even discuss it.

Our home has a small porch.   We’ve made good use of it since moving here. It’s big enough for a couple of chairs, and we sit and watch the world go by after our walks.  The scene is peaceful. We don’t always need to chat. Companionable silence is a beautiful thing where we can hear the wind chimes in the Magnolia tree and watch the birds.

Soon the leaves will be turning colors, and the air will have a nip in it. I will miss our times on the porch. We recently replaced our love seat at home with a new one. It is exceedingly comfortable. When evenings “draw in” as they used to say, we will sit there for our chats with a log on the fire. The weather changes, but the need to reconnect  at the end of the day does not.

I can’t stand TV or even DVD movies. Tom and I have never been able to connect over that. My hearing troubles long ago shut down that kind of thing, even with good hearing aids.  Articulation gets lost. One thing this does is give us time to just talk and be together without the intrusion of media.  No distraction.

I know that marriage counselors have various strategies for couples  who have relationship troubles.   Many lose that feeling of connectedness with the various pressures exerted on families today, and they don’t even realize it is happening. Tom and I have raised (almost) six children together, and have been through many a difficult season in our lives Some years, it  has felt like it was raining crises. But one thing I highly recommend is just sitting and talking. Listening and being listened to in kindness.  Our loved ones all face battles, external and internal. Every one of us does. A lot of therapists would be put out of business if couples could learn the value of talking and listening, without judgment or impatience. It has a healing effect like  no other.

The country and world increasingly look like a violent insane asylum. Whatever comes, I know that those evening walks with Tom will always be embedded in my heart. Feeling his warm hand holding mine, seeing our shadows together, watching our little girl, her legs growing longer all the time, riding ahead on her scooter.

These times can’t be recovered. We pass this way, we spend each day only once. Every hour is precious.  Every walk.

 

 

 

 

 

Where Love is Found

It’s not in Valentine’s Day bouquets and chocolates that true love can be seen and felt, as nice as those things are.

It’s in the dear voice in the hospital room when a scary diagnosis comes. “It’s OK. We’re in this together.”

Love is in the extended hug at the end of a long day when a tired husband comes in from the cold, having toiled so that wife and child can have what they need.

It’s found in the man who carries the laundry baskets up the stairs for a wife who struggles physically.

It’s in the clean laundry a husband finds in his drawer and the meals prepared, however simple.

Love is there in forgiveness when an apology comes from one or the other.

It is in the warm hand that covers a cold one when life’s tragedies seem overwhelming.

Love is in the eye contact where a smile is never far away.

It is in the ear of the listening spouse who may have heard the same story many times, but doesn’t say so, because he knows something lies underneath the telling of it.

Love lies in deep understanding of where a spouse is coming from, even when they are at their worst.

It is real love that patches up hurt places, that listens, that protects and defends. It’s real love that builds up the other, that looks through kindly eyes, that supports, that is loyal and steadfast.

This is what young adults, especially, need to know in this tragic, broken world of fakery and fraud in counterfeit love and marriage.

When you remove all the contemporary wedding frippery and glitter, all the Instagram filtered glam of the Big Day, you will have either a foretaste of hell or a glimpse of heaven.

It takes two who are committed, by God’s grace and with his help, to walk through life together with the goal of bringing a little heaven down, whether it be in a hospital room, a little cottage or a castle. It can still be done.

“And standing there…Jane knew that she had found the best. Marriage was not a thing of luxury and soft living, of flaming moments of wild emotion. It was a thing of hardness shared, of spirit meeting spirit of dream matching dream.” ~ The Dim Lantern by Temple Bailey

“…Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ~ Corinthians 13:!3

Caring Hand on Senior Hand

Women, Sex and True Power

An article recently detailed the thinking of men refusing to commit to marriage. A more depressing look at the world of relationships today would be hard to find. With the loss of a sense of what real manhood actually is, there is another problem that was evident from the comments by men. Their thinking could be summarized this way: Marriage is nothing but liability for men. We don’t need it to have sex. There’s no point for us.

In our shame-free hook-up culture, women complaining about men not proposing really is irrational. When you are giving your body up without any requirement of a man’s marriage commitment beforehand, it isn’t surprising that you’re being used for pleasure alone. If you don’t require that a man get to know you, appreciate the totality of you, honor you, and respect you with his vows to be faithful, you’re going to attract exactly the kind of man who uses you up and then moves on.

What’s called progress for women is the exact opposite. What’s called “equality”, supposedly a good thing, only leads to the devaluing and degrading of women. Women think they are earning more respect, but the opposite is true. Women are used more by men now than they ever have been. They become nothing but warm bodies that exist for a man’s pleasure without the respect of a marriage commitment and the accompanying protections of that union.

Additionally, women, by demanding abortion rights, have played right into the hands of user men. They personally delivered no consequence, free use sexually of females to the guys. If free use of their body means a baby is conceived, the child can be killed for a price at a local clinic. Even fatherhood can be wiped out for a little cash.   It’s no-complication fun for men when women abandon their true power and make it so easy.

Yes, it is worse now for women than ever. The women wearing vagina hats this last weekend, screaming obscenities and bashing men have helped create the whole apocalyptic social scene we see where children’s lives are snuffed out in the womb, men scoff at the concept of any kind of commitment as they openly use females for sexual gratification, and women live in a constant state of unhappiness and rage at men. Epic failure on all fronts.

There is another world for women who respect themselves and know that they have real power when they protect and reserve their sexuality for a man who values them enough to honor them with a life commitment. There is another, very different world for women who refuse to accept the lies of the female radicals who have done more to destroy happiness than anyone else. They recognize the utter bankruptcy of those “women’s leaders” who build their cause on the frail bones of children killed in the womb. Wise women embrace and defend life at all stages and know that radical feminism is built on a foundation of total selfishness. No happiness is ever built that way.

One male in the article I read expressed these words. “A man with any smarts avoids marriage like the plague.” In reality, real manhood starts with the assuming of responsibility, the willingness to commit, and the wisdom to find a woman of the same mindset.

God bless the remnant of young men and women who see the tragedy of the social landscape today and choose to do things in wisdom. The fear and honor of the LORD is where this wisdom begins. God’s ways are the ways of peace and contentment. Those who reject that way of peace inherit the wind.

weddingrings

Hello, Again

My husband is a professional trumpet player and for 21 years, he has called from intermissions at orchestra concerts, ballets and shows he’s playing at night to help support our family. I look at the clock and know right when the phone will go off and I’ll hear his voice.   “Hi, Ing…”

He Gathered the Pieces

Twenty-one years ago, I was getting ready to marry Tom (on the 30th!) . Our lives have taken many twists and turns with six children, many joys and some big losses. The simplest way to express what my husband has meant to me is found in these words below. For some reason I will never understand, Tom valued my “scattered pieces”, and he picked them up, more than once, and glued them back together. I owe the man my life.  I carry a photo of Tom in my wallet and every time I buy groceries or need ID, I see his face, and I am thankful for him. Every day that goes by, I see God’s kindness to me in providing this man, who loved me when other people in my life that I loved  just walked away. Thank you, Tom, for loving the broken pieces like Jesus.

faithfulfriend

Only One Face

I first posted this in April of 2011, and with Valentine’s Day around the corner, it says what I would like to say about love.

I was leaving a concert last Friday night when I was stuck in a big crush of people trying to leave the building. Hundreds of people surrounded me coming down the stairs and pouring out of the doors onto the avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

All of them were strangers I was unlikely to see again. It was a sea of faces, and I did not recognize any. It’s a melancholy feeling being surrounded by people, all of whom have someone with them and you don’t.

As I descended the stairs I kept looking around me for one familiar face, but there wasn’t one. I was pressed forward into the crowd towards the street, carried away by the strangers around me.

Just as I reached the doors, a man grabbed me on the shoulder, and I turned around, startled. He was wearing a tux, and his eyes were smiling. In his left hand was a trumpet case. My Tom.

I grabbed his arm, and we made our way down the busy downtown street to the parking garage. On the way home, I thought about all the millions who have ever lived and all the billions alive today, and how among all those people, there is only one man’s face I look for. That’s the thing about love. Nobody else will do. No other face can light up your heart but one.

In that brief moment, I was reminded again of what a miracle real love is in this world that has so much hatred and so much pain in it. It isn’t something to take for granted, and if you have it in your life, do all you can to nurture and protect it. Thank God for that one and only person who loves you–the one and only face you look for in a crowd.

Truth

Time is the first thing mentioned. Without time spent together, you can’t even know who your spouse is as a person. Treat them like a utility? You can do that, but what you have isn’t a marriage at all then. Also, not dissolving the legal contract in court doesn’t mean you have a marriage either.  You can be as divorced in spirit as is humanly possible and still leave the paper intact and be praised for being “married” umpteen years.  Sad truth.

marriage

An Anniversary Photo

We’re in the throes of moving, with one house on the market while another is being readied for move-in. It’s that stage when chaos reigns! Lord willing, we will be past this stage soon. In the midst of the move, Tom and I took an evening off on the 30th to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We tried out a restaurant we hadn’t been to before, and we enjoyed it greatly.

As we pack up our home of nine years, so many memories come to mind. This is where children left home, with the last son off to college again in the fall. This is where we brought our delightful surprise baby, Emmy, home almost six years ago. Birthday parties, anniversary parties and so many celebrations took place here. This is where Will got his start practicing the organ in the basement and he and his dad have filled the walls with music. Much joy, some sadness, but lots of love.

It isn’t the walls that make a home. It’s the people who make it a joyful or tragic place. Tom has given all of us a beautiful life, and together, Tom and I are a team . we give full credit to God’s grace for carrying us through.

Every home is temporary on this planet, including the home we have in our bodies. Our souls are forever. Packing up things for Goodwill or give-away, I was thinking again of how yesterday’s happy purchase is today’s discard as we outgrow and no longer need things. Our heavenly home is forever, where nothing will fade, and nobody will age, and where all sadness will be wiped away forever. Thanks be to God for his gift of Jesus Christ through whom we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal.

Now, back to packing!

TomIngAnniversary

Twenty Years

TomWEDDINGPICThere are lists all over the place online such as, 10 Things to Always Do in Your Marriage, Five Things Never to Say To Your Spouse, 20 Ways to Affair Proof Your Marriage, and so forth. Good articles and lists can be good thought provokers . That isn’t what this post is.

It will be 20 years on June 30 since I married Tom. I’m writing this early, as I am in the middle of a move (our next big adventure), and I won’t be able to six days from now. Looking backward, I don’t have great prose, lofty advice or a smug account of how we’ve made it this far. God’s love and grace is the only explanation.

I knew the first time I laid eyes on Tom that he was a fine man. It’s one of those instinctive things I can’t explain. I’ve heard people describe love at first sight. Yes, there is such a thing. On this 20th anniversary, the only thing that has changed is that I love him more. It’s because of him that I know God’s love is a real thing. I see it in him every day in how he loves me and our children.  Constant, faithful, kind and decent to the core. That’s who Tom is.

Coming back from a walk the other night, we admired the birch tree he planted a few years ago in the front of our home. It’s thriving.  In each home we have lived at through the years, Tom has left something living behind. At one house, it was shrubbery. At three others, he has planted birch trees. He grows things and fixes things.  One of the first things he ever did for me as a single parent before we were married was to repair a broken leg on a chair. What’s broken he restores with careful hands.

We’ve gone through a lot in 20 years, weathered a lot of storms. Sometimes he leans on me, sometimes, (most of the time), I lean on him. Sometimes we lean into each other to keep from falling over.  That’s what  a life’s partner is all about. Just two people, walking through everything together, and looking up to realize a lifetime has gone by.

(The photo on this post is one I kept on my dresser through the months before we were engaged and then married. My favorite snapshot of the man who changed my life.)

A Surprise on Heartbreak Hill

hillIt was so warm this week that Tom and I went out after he returned home and took our first real walk of the season. The last little dirty piles of snow from the bitterly cold winter had melted, and the late afternoon air was filled with the promise of spring.

Conversation with Tom is one of my life’s chief pleasures, and we get so deep in discussion at times that I forget where we are walking. There is a big hill that leads to our home, and last summer when Em and I did our three-mile walk several times a week, that hill was a killer at the end. (It always makes me smile to think that my sister, who is two years younger, tosses off marathons and half-marathons, while I congratulate myself on walking for a mile or two.)

My sister has mentioned the last stretch of the Boston Marathon that she has run several times. It’s called “Heartbreak Hill.” Well, my Heartbreak Hill is the one that leads to our house. But as Tom and I were walking earlier this week, I stopped suddenly and realized we were halfway up my Heartbreak Hill without me noticing it. When I am not with Tom, that hill seems enormous, exhausting and so hard to climb when I am tired.  However, when I was with the man I love, the hill faded away as we walked slowly up, deep in conversation.

It occurred to me that this is what love does. It halves the burdens. It makes the difficulties in life easier to face and the hills less daunting. Real love from a good man brings out the strength inside that you didn’t realize was there. Real love doesn’t deplete what is inside another, it bolsters what already exists, however small.

Love doesn’t take away the hills, but it stays with you on the climb, urging you on–not by badgering or hectoring or demanding, but by quietly being there, by listening and showing you how strong you really are.

As Tom and I approach our 20th anniversary this June and I reflect on what comprises a good marriage, I only have to think of that late afternoon walk up the big hill with my best friend, and how I looked back and realized how very far we had come.