Your stories: walking through separation and divorce. Part 2

UNIVERSITY PRESS

This is Part 2 in a series on separation and divorce among Christians. All these stories include editing and parts of a bigger picture. We’d be wise to know that what works for some families may or may not work for others but my hope is that God will use these posts in some small way. Maybe we gain a deeper understanding of just how hard this journey is for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe it causes others to take a long serious pause before taking the next step in pursuing a separation or divorce. And perhaps it helps some give new thought to how they are handling their own current situation. 

Today’s story comes from a Christian man who has also walked through divorce in the recent years. 

Don’t divorce, especially if you don’t have biblical grounds. You have no idea how bad it will be for you and for your kids, and the negative consequences will never go away for your kids — not least that they’ll never again have an easy holiday, birthday, graduation, wedding, birth, or anything else. If you don’t have biblical grounds, it’s pure selfishness — you’re putting yourself ahead of God, your kids, and anyone else who knows you and observes your life.

If the divorce has to happen (which, in our no-fault legal system, is the case if your spouse chooses, regardless of your wishes), making the best of it for your kids is simple, though it may not be easy: just act like an adult who’s familiar with the Golden Rule. Unless a fight is for the benefit of the kids, let it go. It’s not a game you’re trying to win over your spouse. There aren’t any rewards for getting your way. You’re not proving anything. Grow up.

Never put the kids in the middle of any issue. They hate it, and you’re stressing them. Don’t communicate through your kids — communicate directly.

Don’t rush into a remarriage (goes double if the remarriage requires relocation a long distance away). Take all the troubles that are inherent in divorce and multiply them by 10 (or 100, if/when the second marriage starts to crumble, as it will do something like 75% of the time).

Don’t bad mouth your ex. You may succeed in alienating them from your ex, but then what have you accomplished? Even the secular course for divorcing parents that was mandatory in our county’s court system stressed this. The effect can be cumulative, with delayed results.

Tell your kids about the divorce together, agreeing in advance what you’re going to say to them. Doesn’t have to be dishonest, but it does have to be together. Doing it any other way is completely unfair to the other spouse and automatically puts the kids in the middle.

Leave new boyfriends/girlfriends out of things (especially the kids’ events) for as long as possible — preferably until there’s a ring involved.

Do joint celebrations of the kids’ achievements, like graduations, parties, etc. 

DivorceCare is a good program and helps with multiple issues, including bitterness and doing what’s best for the kids.”

Father, give guidance to the families that are walking through separation and divorce. It’s your grace and love that doesn’t leave them alone in this process. You do not withhold your love even though you hate divorce. For the couples using bitter words towards each other and holding kids as leverage I ask in  your Name to put a divine guard over their mouth. To open their eyes to what you want to help purge and renew. Give hope to the ones who think “things will never change”. Remind them that you are a God of miracles and the impossible. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

The next article is from a woman who says,from her experience, that divorce is harder than the death of a spouse – she has experienced both. 

Hey guys….I know this is a hard series. Hard to read and hard to write honestly. I’m ready to move on to some funny and light hearted stuff. But I know God has put this on my heart and as hard as it is I want to push through. 

 

Ministry hurts

I’m heavy hearted with the conversations I’ve had with ministry families whose families are falling apart. Families who on the outside seem like everything is wonderful and fine. But on the inside they are crumbling.

Ministry can suck the life out of an individual and it can wipe out a family all while satan sits back with arms crossed shaking his head in accomplished approval. I know he’s at the root of it. Tearing families apart who are striving to follow Jesus while leading others.

It’s a fierce battle. One that must be intentionally fought daily. With the Word. With prayer. With forgiveness. With grace.

There are many approaches to ministry and we must be careful in casting judgement on others when they do things differently. But this we can know – God never calls a man or woman with a family to put a church or ministry over his family. God designed the family and calls a man to lead his home. Even pastors. Especially pastors. If a ministry leader is gone the majority of the week – missing dinners at home, missing kids games, important events and clueless about his/her children’s lives and clueless to his wife’s needs they are sadly missing the mark. Sometimes we equate God with ministry. “God is first” and so ministry is the same thing as God so I’m justified in putting my family after the ministry because God called me to the ministry. And this is where families start to crumble. Men and women who think the ministry depends on them solely. It’s a scary slippery slope and before they know it they have lost their family to the ministry.

So how can we as ministry families protect against this?

A great book is Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins when Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley. Not just for the pastor or ministry leader but anyone struggling with balancing work and family. And don’t we all? My pastor husband read this ten years ago and it had a foundational influence on him. It laid the groundwork for how he approaches ministry and family. Randy fights hard – I think it will always be an intentional struggle – to keep his family a priority. He has no idea how much we, as his family, appreciate it. I try to communicate to him how much but I don’t think he’ll ever truly understand just how much it means to me that he fights for his family time. When I say “fight” I mean he leaves work undone at the office so he can eat dinner with his family. I mean he misses an occasional meeting because he’s on a family trip. He actually takes his day off. And so on. And the fact that we have a very supportive church for these things is huge. Of course he said it up front before we ever came to our church this was his philosophy of ministry and family so they knew what they were getting when they got Randy as a pastor. He was and is a pastor who is a family man. And that’s a gift to his family and his church.

Including kids in ministry but not forcing them. And not holding labels over their head.

Randy includes our kids in ministry activities but doesn’t force them. Hospital visits, praying for people, etc. are optional. Never a “you’re a pastor’s kid so you need to…….” Church people will put that kind of pressure on the kids. Ministry parents don’t need to. And surprisingly they are open and willing to come along and even pray over people at times. And that warms my heart. Of course there are times when these things are not optional and there are times when they’d rather stay home and watch TV. Not saying we’re always primed and ready for ministry. Ha! Nope, not what I’m saying here. But we are careful not to hold “you’re a preacher’s kid so you……” over their heads. They don’t need that.

Letting your kids see how awesome ministry is.

Not only involving our kids in ministry but pointing out the beautiful things in ministry is helpful in keeping a ministry family loving and serving God in their context. If they hear us saying, “Did you see how God worked here……and look how God provided here……and how cool that your Youth Pastor took time to take you here……..” It’s not manipulation. It’s helping our kids see the hand of God at work in their church. Our kids need us to do that sometimes for them. And soon enough we can teach them how to look for and observe the hand of God at work in the ministry they’re involved in.

Pray. Pray. And pray some more. 

Ministry family, know this one thing: satan wants your family to fail. He wants any Christian family to fall apart but he really wants the pastor’s family to crumble because of the overall fall out. A ministry family is no more important than a Christian family. I pray I’m not coming across that way in this post. But there’s a target on your family, dear ministry family. Pray every day. Don’t live in fear. But pray every single day for God’s glory to be revealed through your family.

 

 

 

 

 

Our first pastoral retreat

We’ve never been on a Pastoral retreat weekend before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really a neat time of praying, planning, vision casting, laughing and sharing with the church pastoral staff and a couple training in ministry.

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A family in our church opened up their lake home for us to stay for the weekend with our families. The men went up early on Friday and the wives and kids came up Friday night and we stayed through Sunday afternoon.

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The kids had a blast on Saturday afternoon because it warmed up enough for them to play outside. A huge help was having a young married couple in our church watch the kids while we had our sessions on Saturday. There were six kids in all ranging from ages 2 – 14 so it was loud at times but it worked and we wanted the families to be together.

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At meal breaks we all pitched in and grabbed our food. I have to brag on my man because he did the food planning and buying for this retreat. And he did so good. Good with the amount of food, choices, etc.

We are blessed to be among a pastoral staff who genuinely love God with all their hearts. They love their families and they love the work of the church and what God has called them to.

Ministry is a heavy weight. It’s heavy because you are loving and leading people through incredibly joyous times and also through incredibly painful times. It’s heavy because there are huge decisions to be made that can shape and direct the course of the church. Much prayer and seeking God goes into it and honestly that can be quite draining at times. There are unique burdens and responsibilites that come with it but there are amazingly rich joys and rewards. It is an honor and gift to be called into ministry. We don’t take it lightly. This weekend we were able to seek God on matters, talk with each other and pray together about the things we love most.  And we wait in expectation to see what all God has in store for our church community the next 12-18 months. We even planned out 10 years loosely knowing God has the complete right and control to trump every single thing on the “planned agenda”. It is his work not ours.

Friends, please pray for your pastor’s and their families. I can’t tell you how much it thrills my heart when someone comes up to me and tells me, “I am praying for your family. I know marriage is hard and I’m praying for your marriage and your family.” Ladies, don’t ever take it offensively when someone says they’re praying for your marriage or think in your head, “OMGosh why does she think my marriage is in need of prayer?!! I need to give off a better impression of a stronger marriage.”  No, not at all. The truth is we all stand in desperate need of prayer for our marriages, in our parenting, in our family needs. And your pastor’s home is no different. Cover them in prayer as you cover your own family in prayer.

 

 

 

 

In sickness and in health

 

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And the thought that keeps running through my mind this 22nd Anniversary is the vow that we made before God and man to love each other in sickness and in health. There’s a natural assumption that the “in sickness” will come later in life with the exception of general minor sickness along the way.

I don’t consider myself to be a “sickly” person by any means but when I do have physical issues they seem to come in massive waves. Surgeries that go longer and end up causing complications requiring more surgery, fluke accidents, emergency surgery, etc. It seems I’m on a ten year cycle at this point of major health stuff going all wonky.

And bless my man’s heart. When we found out I had major endometriosis and would not be able to have biological children he never once said a negative word to me. He didn’t walk from the marriage or hold it over my head. Instead he loved me and cared for me tenderly.

When I had a serious intestinal blockage and had to have emergency surgery he held the puke bucket for me and didn’t tell me to be quiet when I was dry heaving louder than a burly man lifting 900 lbs. We laugh about it now – he was wheeling me down a corridor of glass walls with crowds walking both directions and I’m being so loud and it’s just so disgusting. He never tried to hide me in a corner or pass me off to a nurse. He just took it all in stride.

Or the time I had a gall bladder attack at 2am and had to go to the ER. I refused to let Randy call anyone from church to keep Mitchell who was a toddler at the time because I was afraid of coming back home from the ER and them saying “Oh, she just needed to pass gas. She’s fine.” No way – we’re not having that kind of news spread around the church prayer line. So Randy watched Mitchell climb in the back seat of the van in his pj’s for hours while I was in the ER getting checked out and eventually checked in for surgery. I realize how selfish that was now but at the time I couldn’t get past it.

And then there’s been these last three months as I have recovered from a leg injury requiring surgery and a very long recovery. There were nights when we first got home that I was so struck with fear that I felt like I was going to die. Classic panic attack is what it was I guess. Randy, who was sleeping on a pallet on the floor, would sit in a chair and watch me breathe because I felt more secure if he was watching me. WEIRD, I know! I genuinely thank God this only happened a few times and hasn’t returned since. A horrible feeling. Randy knew I was struggling so as exhausted and worn to a frazzle as he was, he sat and watched me sleep, knowing I was fine.

This is what love in sickness looks like for us. I’ve not had the opportunity to care for Randy in such a way at this point in our 22 years of marriage and I thank God for that. But I do pray that God will give me the strength to love Randy in sickness as well as he has loved me. The day will come and I want to be there for him as he has for me.

In the meantime I love my man in health. Oh how I love him.

Happy Anniversary my love. Thank you for taking your vows seriously.

 

 

When you don’t feel all Proverbs 31’ish

For these reasons and more I have never written my name in the margin of Proverbs 31:

1) I caught Sunday lunch on fire this past Sunday. My husband blew it out.

2) I added these to a pork roast recipe because I thought they were the same thing as dried onions. But they’re not. Fried and Dried are not the same thing.

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3) My husband has worn underwear  socks inside out because I was not up while it was still dark washing or darning new ones for him. And for the record the only “darn” I know about is the word you say when you really want to say something else. Ahem.

4) Our daughter wears mismatched socks almost every single day….not due to a trend thing.

Oh I could go on but I’ll leave it at that and make my point. Because there is only 8,464 more things I could add to this list it made something that happened last week even more special to me.

On one of our Proverbs readings last week we all read Proverbs 31. The family is scattered in the living room and we’re all reading our verses. I read and kept silently saying to myself, “Dangit I gotta work on that!” Or “That is so not me but I would like for it to be.” And so on.

We usually just read and pray and head out the door. But this morning was different. Randy began reading Proverbs 31 out loud and he would stop and make some comments about me in between. He would say, “Mom takes care of the poor – how does she do that?” The kids took part and together they built me up and pointed out areas that I was like the Proverbs 31 woman and I was in awe. In shock more like. It’s not that I think I’m a lame chick wallowing in self pity. I just don’t think of myself  in terms of Proverbs 31. I want to get there but I’m not yet. So to hear my man and my kids affirm me in this was so very moving. They prayed over me and thanked God for me and my heart melted in a puddle. I will never forget that moment.

And that night for dinner?

We had the best meal we’ve had in a long time.

The house?

Was immaculate.

The hubs underwear and socks?

Clorox clean!

Kids clothes?

Washed, ironed, folded and put away neatly completely with matching socks for the girly girl.

And even if I haven’t felt Proverbs 31’ish before I am starting to strive for it more intentionally.

I am a blessed woman of God – not because of what I do or don’t do but because of His grace for me through it all.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and kristin.

Embrace the strangeness!

Okay, you do not need to agree or leave any sassy comments but I’m realizing and owning that we are a strange family. Really, we are. A few examples might include and I wish were limited to the following…..

In our family we’re just sick enough to occassionally turn the iconic red “you’re special” plate into a weapon. If you’re an adult and you get the red plate at your place setting then you know you’ve either been a horses hiney or you did something really stupid. Instead of the plate meaning “you’re special” for me and Randy it subtly means, “I’m not going to but I really  want to break this plate over your head right now.” And yes, we know that’s just strange.

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I got the red plate this week for doing something really stupid. It involved wasting a ton of black ink printing off what I thought was a document but instead was a picture. Bad experience altogether. What makes it worse is that I was so proud of myself for learning how to print from my cell phone and even bragged to the entire family while I made one click from one room while the printer started up in another. Little did I know the page would be soaking wet with wasted ink. Yeah, so I got to eat off the red special plate. The kids are always confused by one of us getting the red plate when its not our birthday. But Randy and I laugh under our breath as the other eats crow off the “you’re special plate”. We do it in good humor and fun so no judging okay?

Another strange thing we do as a family is teach our dog commands to nonsensical words. She goes to her crate at night when we say, “Go to jail, Dooley.” She runs to her cozy little space and curls up in a ball. Probably dreaming of a human owner that would use words in the right context.

I’m not sure if this counts as strange or not but our family howls with our dog. Okay, just saying that out loud assures me it’s strange. But it’s the closest thing we get to being “that musical pastor’s family” that stands up on stage and performs so beautifully. In fact I will leave you with a taste of the strangeness here:

Okay, so just step into your own weirdness and enjoy it. Life’s too short to be normal. In the words of my daughter who put it so succinctly, “what is normal anyways?

Exactly.

Enjoy your weekend!

50 Shades of Grey okay “as long as…”

I wasn’t going to go there because it seems like the entire world is but I finally gave it up and decided to say a few words about 50 Shades of Grey. I’ve read enough articles and comments from Christian men and women defending 50 Shades that I had to speak out on my own tiny platform.

I know many people are disgusted by 50 Shades and there are articles declaring why it’s so wrong and all that. I get that. But there is also a side being presented that says it’s okay “as long as …”

And it smacks all to well of the little situation in the Garden of Eden when a slippery little snake in the garden rationalized the very thing God warned against. God set up boundaries to protect Adam and Eve but Satan, in the form of a serpent, lied and said the opposite. He said that doing what God said not to do would actually help them. They listened and they ate from the tree God forbade. And that is where our struggle with sin began. And we will fight it until the day we die. Or we won’t fight it and we’ll believe the lies that rationalize our sin. Lies that if acted on will always have devastating  consequences.

I admit I’ve only relied on summaries and movie reviews to know what the book and movie 50 Shades of Grey contains. One survey showed that 92% of people agree that 50 Shades is pornographic. I think we’re safe to say that most people are not trying to say it’s a clean movie. Even actress Dakota Johnson playing Anastasia Steele (main character in the movie) admitted in an interview that she hoped her childhood friends wouldn’t see the movie. And then she laughed it off saying she was kidding. But you could hear the underlying shame masked in flippancy.

What some Christians are saying is that it’s okay to watch 50 Shades of Grey and other sexually explicit movies involving nudity “as long as…”

*You only envision your husband/your wife. Fantasy is okay as long as you replace yourselves in the scene.

*It’s okay to watch and read about steamy sexual scenes as long as you know it’s wrong outside the context of marriage and covenant in your heart to not have sex outside of marriage.

*It’s okay to watch 50 Shades and other pornographic material as long as it will enhance your own love life with your husband.

*It’s probably not the greatest idea to watch the movie but as long as it will help get the spark back in our love life then we’ll just go out of town and watch it and not tell anyone. We know it will help us and that’s all matters.

I’m concerned about the excusing of sexual sin among the Christian community. Lust is a sin and we cannot watch or read about nudity and sex without it taking us to a place we don’t belong in our hearts. God created us with a sexual desire and in it’s proper place it is an amazing and beautiful union between two people in a covenant relationship. God designed it and He blesses it. And even if your marriage is going through a season where your sex life needs to be spiced up – watching porn together is not the right way to get there. It violates God’s boundaries of protection for us. There will be many voices out in our world rationalizing this type of entertainment and “therapy” for us but we will do our marriages well to stay far from it.

Instead, how about a Christ-centered approach to spicing things up in our marriages. A few resources that might be helpful:

A Celebration of Sex by Douglas E. Rosenau.

Intended for Pleasure by Ed Wheat, MD and Gaye Wheat

Crazy Good Sex  by Dr. Les. Parrot

 

Family is a gift

We had the best week with our families last week! We got to meet new family members (sweet little Lily and her big sister Addie) and spend time with family that we don’t get to see often. It was really such a wonderful visit.

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We could not wait to hold Lily!

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And what would a trip to Atlanta be without a Krispy Kreme run? Thanks to Randy’s Dad we enjoyed one or five… or maybe twenty four? Speaking of 24…..did you see the final episode last Monday? We got sucked in again. (wow, that was quite ADD-ish of me to switch from donuts to TV all in one breath)

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Girls night in – pajama party….did nails, had popcorn and watched Princess Diaries. That’s my sister-in-law on the left, my sister next to her and then Sophie and then my Mom on the right. Love ALL those girls so much.

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And there’s nothing like riding your bike barefoot in the rain around your Grandmother’s neighborhood! I honestly think this was one of her favorite things of the week.

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While we were there we celebrated 21 years of marriage! Randy and I had a special night out and went to one of our favorite places to eat – Stoney River. Then we drove around and reminisced about our dating years which took place right in that area. We drove by the church where we grew up and got married in. Our friend, Alan Chambers, has a tradition with his wife on their anniversary of having their picture taken on the steps of the church they were married in. I LOVE that idea. But for us it would be a picture on the steps of a bank since the church got torn down a while back. So sad.

What I appreciated so much about this trip was that my brother and sister took some special time with our kids and did some fun things with them. My brother showed Mitchell all of my Dad’s guns and how to load and shoot, etc. Mitchell loved this. Then he took them to the park and let them ride their bikes. My sister took the kids to the creek and let them play and hang out at her house. Mitchell caught a baby snake and he watched Dr. Who with it in a jar right next to him. Hog heaven for that boy. It traveled back with us – all six hours. NOT hog heaven for me.

We had a great visit with our families. My Mom is my hero because of her strength and selflessness. She is struggling with COPD and is on oxygen at nights and during the day when she walks or stands for more than 15 minutes. This has been a huge adjustment for her the last two months. We are praying this is temporary and she’ll be able to come off the oxygen soon during the day. I would love your prayers for her as well. She’s a mover and shaker and can’t usually be slowed down but I see how this last bought with pneumonia has affected her stamina. Still, with all this, she never really stopped going. I hope I have that much strength when I’m her age which I won’t state since she would spank the living life out of me.

P.S. I’m addicted to Candy Crush! I thought I was all smarty pants for making it to level 14 until I found out both my Sister-in-Laws are like in the hundreds level! One of them helped me get out of the whopping 22nd level and on to level 23. Whoo-hoo! And that music that goes with it…..oh my word…..bang my head against a wall! I turn the sound off but then end up missing calls because I forget to turn it back on.  Yeah, I’m totally gaming ya’ll! Ha! Ha!

 

 

 

The power of a Mom’s willingness to let go

It’s almost Mother’s Day and naturally our thoughts turn towards our own Mothers, Mother-in-laws and our children. In a card I told my Mom that the more I realize how hard motherhood is the more I appreciate her. And I’ve always appreciated and loved my Mom but more now than ever.

I also appreciate my Mother-in-law. It’s not that I haven’t always loved and appreciated her but the older I get the more I seem to understand.

I’m aware that many Mothers/in-laws use manipulation and guilt to bring their children back home for visits or to get what they want. They get in the middle of their son or daughter’s business creating a tight hold that suffocates.

I count it a blessing that my Mom and Mother-in-law have never done this. They’ve respected us and valued our relationship with each other from our first year of marriage giving us the space our marriage and family has needed as an individual family unit but at the same time supporting and loving us as family. We’ll always be their kids and they will always be our Moms. But the day you get married is the day that relationship changes in a good kind of way. There is a natural and God-desgined shift that takes place. And a Mom who values this is a Mom who lovingly lets go. I have a feeling I will struggle with this as I do in letting go of little things in my kids lives. I desire to grow in this area of Motherhood and follow in the steps of both my Mom and my Mother-in-law.

I will never forget hearing my Mom say to me and Randy before we got married, “You are not welcomed back home without your spouse.” She didn’t mean in the case of a weekend or summer visit where one of us couldn’t come. She meant, “You are tying the knot before God and man and should troubles arise in your marriage you won’t have the option to leave and think you have a place back home to run to. You have a new home and commitment before God.” Um yeah, that’ll make you be sure you’re marrying the right person. Ha! I knew what she meant and I also knew she was serious as a heart attack.

Marriage that first year is always fun and interesting. I didn’t know how to balance a checkbook, cook dinner or grocery shop on a budget. While my Mother-in-law visited us in our tiny apartment she observed me thaw and entire bag of frozen chicken breasts, pull out four pieces and put the rest of the bag of chicken back in the freezer. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to thaw and refreeze and I’d been doing it for months. It took making mistakes and learning from my Mom and MIL those first few years. And still I’ll call with a question every now and then because we’ll always need our Mom’s. Always. Even when they’ve given enough space and distance for you to create your own healthy, imperfect, little home.

Today I’m thankful for two Mom’s who gave both me and Randy the gift of distance and space to create our own family. Who loved us closely and nurtured us in our childhood homes and then sent us off independently. I am a blessed daughter and daughter-in-law. I hope to give the same gift to our children.

 

How I met my husband

It was in the seventh grade when my family started attending a new church. It wasn’t long after that I found myself riding on “Big Bertha”, the church bus, and sitting alone because I didn’t know anyone on that youth group outing. About 30 minutes into the ride a cute boy came up to me. I didn’t know his name. All I knew was that he was the preacher’s kid.

He grabbed a coke out of the cooler, opened it and while holding it over my head said, in the most nah na nah na boo boo way, “I’ll pour this on your head.”

And honestly, as hard as it might be to believe, I was just an innocent bystander this time. I didn’t bring it on or do anything to deserve this threat. Nuthin, I say. After a few back and forth exchanges I ended with,  “I dare you to!”

And guess what?

He did! He poured coke on my head and that’s how we first met.

It would be just like me to meet my first and only love on a bus called Big Bertha while being enticed with an ice cold coke poured over my head.

From that little escapade began a love hate relationship where Randy and I were always cutting up and making fun of each other. We cut up, laughed, played hide and go seek and never ever admitted to anyone that we were falling in love.

I’ll never forget our first date in the eighth grade at the church Valentine’s banquet. Randy didn’t have his license so his Dad drove us. All three of us sitting in the front seat of the car together. I was so nervous. Not only was this my first date but I was having to sit next to the preacher of our church. We managed just fine though because his Dad is very warm and easy to talk to.

My favorite part of the banquet was where the speaker ended with prayer. It was my favorite part of the night because he told us to hold hands with the person next to us during prayer. YES!!!! Holding hands on our first date. My Mom was going to kill me but I could blame it on the preacher. Our hands were ringing wet with sweat when he finished praying. Oh the days of being nervous when you’re around your love.

After 20 years of marriage the nervous part comes when you bring in the shopping bags and he asks how much you spent. That’s when the palms start sweating and the heart begins to beat out of your chest. Ha!

Our second date was in the the ninth grade at the church Valentine’s banquet and then we started double dating. We dated just the two of us our Junior and Senior year in high school. Our dates were really fun. Randy always paid for me. He always opened my door and was such a gentleman. We laughed and talked for hours on our dates.

We dated all through high school and when we went off to college we decided we wanted each other to date other people. We both knew we would date other people and were okay with it. Except that we got to college and only wanted to be with each other. We would spend hours together after classes and Randy would have to draw maps to show me how to get back to my dorm since I was and still am directionally impaired.

We dated all through college and got engaged our Junior year and got married after we graduated our Senior year.

Our dating years were awesome. We never broke up but we never felt suffocated by each other either. We took time to be with our friends and our friends were with us a lot as well and we liked that. It wasn’t perfect of course but overall we had a really good dating relationship. I think the best thing we had going was that we remained friends for so long and didn’t feel threatened when we had other guy or girl friends.

Now almost eighteen years, two children, heavier bodies and a few weathered storms later we are still in love with each other. We don’t exactly sit under shade trees and flirt with each other and collect blades of grass dreaming of our future like we once used to. But our love has grown with the changes we’ve experienced. When life was a bowl of wedgies we leaned on God and each other. And I hope that as we get old and start to wear purple one day, dress alike and eat vegetables at 4pm to avoid indigestion, that our love will be even deeper than it is now. And who knows, maybe we’ll even go back to collecting blades of grass under a shade tree dreaming of our future in heaven. Shoot, I might even pour a coke on his head in my old age because I love my man and he loves me.