Baseball and Words

If your family is like ours, stories come out of the woodwork when we gather together. This weekend we visited with Jerry’s family – his sister, brother and lots of extended family and friends. There are always a few golden oldie stories that you can count on being retold, here is one.

Jerry and his brother are baseball fans. In fact, as I write this they are on their way to a game. Jerry roots for the Detroit Tigers. Eric for the Cleveland Indians. Many softball-1354947_1920years ago tickets for the Indians games in Ohio were hard to get. Instead Eric bought tickets for the Indians away games in Oakland since we were living nearby.

Jerry and Eric offered me a ticket to join them. Not being as fanatical about baseball as they are, I chose to go only to the last day game of the stand. The guys were at the stadium the previous night for a game that went into extra innings –  lots of them (see how technical my baseball knowledge is?). So many extra innings that the game had to be called around 1 am. It was announced that the game would be finished as a double header with the next day’s game.

The brothers said they were two of about 200 fans left in the stadium when they exited in the wee hours to come home. Didn’t I say these guys are die-hard fans? Don’t even get me started on what they did when Cal Ripken was celebrated for showing up to work for 2,632 days.

Anyway, after the guys got some sleep the three of us headed down to the stadium. We watched the conclusion of the previous game and then moved into the new game. At the end of the first inning Eric looked at Jerry and said, “she has already kids-2782718_1920spoken more words in this one inning than we spoke in 13 innings last night!”

 

Good thing they love me, and I can laugh at myself. They still invite me to join them for baseball games, but more often than not I encourage them to go and enjoy their (quiet) time together.

Can you laugh at yourself?  It’s one of the best things Jerry and I do in our marriage. Do you have a favorite story that comes up when your family gets together?  I’d love to hear it!chalkboard-620316_1920

 

Rumors

Once upon a time, though this is a true story, I facilitated an informal support group of wives married to men with disabilities. Most of the ladies were older than me, most had little exposure to disability prior to their husband’s accident or illness. None of them chose to marry someone with a disability. Each month I listened to their stories and concerns and realized my life with Jerry was easy compared to theirs.  I held back from sharing too deeply from my life because it seemed to pale in comparison to what these ladies shared. They needed a safe place to be able to vent and talk freely.

After a few months I decided enough trust had been built and it was time for me to takehands-2374246_1920 the plunge with them. Jerry and I had recently been through a rough period – nothing earth shattering, but still, unpleasant. At our next meeting I shared some of that with the ladies. They expressed relief to know I/we were like them. I felt like our group had bonded on a deeper level.

Later that week I got a phone call from one of the husbands. After sharing the initial pleasantries he expressed his sorrow  to hear about the difficulties Jerry and I were having. He never thought we’d be on the verge of divorce like this.

WHAT?  I had no idea what he was talking about.

Then he went on to say that his wife had told him about the conflict Jerry and I had and he just hoped we would not split up. After all we were the first couple living with disability in marriage they had ever met.

My first inclination was to say, “Do you have any idea the things your wife has said about you?” Thankfully God held my tongue on that one. Next I wanted to ask to speak with his wife to see if she understood confidentiality. But God said this was not the time.

Instead I assured him that we had weathered a little storm, like every marriage encounters. We were not planning to split, and had never entertained that thought. I thanked him for his prayers and welcomed him to continue to intercede for us.

I learned a few lessons from this experience:

  1.  Groups want and need their leaders to be real. Even if the leader’s life is different than that of the others, authenticity from the start matters. Leaders though, need to  balance being open while also learning with whom and what we are safe to share.
  2. Marriage is hard. Every marriage goes through difficult spots. Don’t be surprised or alarmed when someone you thought “has it all together” shares that they don’t. We are all broken people in need of a Savior.
  3. Unless it persists, there is no need to fight back against the rumors, let them die.  Love one another, take the matter to God, and pray for the other people involved.

family colorful groupWe all need people who will accept us as we are, share real life with one another and encourage honesty and growth in our marriages.  Where do you find that support in your marriage?  If you don’t have someone, pray about finding that support, whether as a couple or individuals.

Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1 NIV

 

The Glass and Moving

Someday I will tally the actual amount of time that Jerry and I have lived alone since we were married, but for now I estimate it is about three years out of 23.  We have had family, friends, and people in need live with us. Those experiences taught us a lot about ourselves, how we view our possessions and what is important to us.

The last eighteen months, we feel like we’ve had a different kind of companion sharing think-2177839_1920our home and lives. Change. We changed ministries with which we serve. That change affected some of our relationships. Our budget was modified as was the way we spend our time. And now we are on the cusp of the biggest transition, moving to a new home in a new state.

Reflecting over these months, I think the biggest thing I have learned is to appreciate the way we each perceive life. Whether the proverbial glass is half full or half empty.

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In our marriage, one of us sees the glass as at least half full, in fact often it is near overflowing with positive expectations. The other one of us, on a good day, sees the glass as nearly empty. More often saying, “There’s a glass? How come no one told me there is a glass?!”

Sometimes we try to temper the other’s view or pull them across the midline to our own perspective. Sometimes we wonder how on earth the other could possibly survive living life through that lens. From where I sit today though I am thankful for these differences.

One of us would have had us moving sooner, but without a solid plan in place. At times “half empty” would throw out a time frame that made “half full” wonder if the other really wanted this move.

Each time our glasses came into conflict we learned to take the opportunity to sit down, listen to what the other was saying and more clearly articulate our own perspective. The result – our communication has improved, we find ourselves operating off the same page more often and enjoying the journey of figuring it out together.

Besides, as someone recently shared with us the best news is that each glass is refillable!

share-2482016_1920So how about you?  How full or empty is your glass?  Do you and your spouse share the same perspective?

In His Words

I am glad you stopped by Marriage Monday.  You are in for a treat – my first guest 15726321_10211085608476976_7999075850110647644_nblogger.  And he is none other than my own husband, Jerry.  You’ve heard plenty about him from me, now hear from him directly.  I am sure you’ll understand more why I love him so.  Thanks Jer for sharing your heart and wisdom here.  

Awhile back, Joan was remarking about Ephesians 5:21-33.  She focused on verse 22 that encourages wives to submit to their husbands. Joan felt it was unfair that she had to submit twice, first to God and then to me.

The passage does talk about wives submitting to their husbands. And we are all admonished to submit to God. In a sense, she is being asked to submit twice.

I suggested she continue reading down to verse 25.  Here we read, “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”  I reminded Joan that while she had to submit twice, I had to DIE!  I emphasized the word die in the most dramatic fashion I could at the time.
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I believe that as husbands are called to die. Perhaps physically, but more likely to my own agenda, to my desires, to my career path even, to my calendar.  We are called to live our relationship with God as the top priority and our relationship with our wives a very close second.  This means that my wife’s growth and well-being are more important than my agenda, my career, my desires.

I am not trying to be a martyr here. But I do want to say that in a world that is self-absorbed, we are called to be other absorbed.  For husbands that is how we are called to love our wives.

I’d like to say that because of my disability and the fact that I use a power wheelchair and Joan has chosen to care for many of my physical needs, that I get a pass from dying to myself. But I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.  I’d like to be super successful at my career, run a flourishing business on the side, blog, speak, teach. . . seriously I have thought about all of these things.  Not only would that be vanity, but it would not be putting my wife first.  I’ve had to die to some of my ambitions to make the time to love my wife and minister to her.  It is not easy.  It is a death I am called to choose daily.

question-2309042_1920So, my brothers who are reading this — what is God asking you to die to in order to serve your wife in Jesus’ name?

The Clash of Our Love Languages

We had had a couple of long months. Preparation for one of our largest ministry events of the year took much of my emotional strength. Jerry was representing the ministry at a significant conference in Washington DC that same weekend. At home, my mother was in her ninth year of living with us. She did not need physical care from me, but looked forward to us being home to talk with her and offer companionship. I wanted that too, but didn’t always have the bandwidth to offer.

And so it was, that we woke up early Sunday morning, the day after I spent all day ministering to a large group of ladies. Jerry got home late from DC that same day. Mom was leaving to travel with my sister. I saw Mom off and crawled back in bed. Almost immediately the tears began to flow. It did not take long for them to become full body sobs.

Jerry, still lying in bed, gently asked me what was going on, did I know? I don’t recall what I said right then, but he held me as I wept. The truth was, I was done. I had given all empty-glass-3299156_1920my social, emotional, mental, physical and even spiritual reserves and I was empty. I had no reserve to help myself or anyone else.

With a deep level of compassion, and probably a little fear and trepidation on his part, Jerry calmly said, “It will be ok sweetheart, we’ll get through this together.”

That was the final straw! The last tiny piece of my emotional dam broke loose and I cried, not in my most loving wife tone, “Sure it will – easy for you to say because you know I will eventually get up and get you dressed, but who is going to take care of me?”

While Jerry wanted to assure me he would, he knew this was not the right time to offer those words, so he remained quiet.  Later he told me he thought, “Oh crap, she’s right!”

This was not a failure to communicate, but, a classic love language clash.  Words of encouragement do not translate into acts of service.

A short time later I rose long enough to get Jerry up and dressed. He asked what I wanted for lunch. I made it clear that I did not care, he could figure it out. I rolled back over to cry and sleep some more.

Jerry put on his coat and went out the door to get in his van to forage for food.  Having just returned from DC the driver’s seat was still in the van, meaning he could not drive.  Because of their late arrival home Jerry told his friend who drove that he did not have to change the seat out because I could do that in the morning. This was that morning, and my loving husband was not about to come back in to ask me to do that.

He checked his wallet again, and did not have enough cash to order food in by delivery. Considering the options, Jerry started to roll up town to a Wawa, knowing he could get both cash and food there.  (If you are not familiar with Wawa, it would be worth your while to go on their website and plan a vacation to a state that is blessed to have them).

Being a wise, experienced husband, he filled the bags as full as he could carry with a variety of sandwiches, salty treats, sweet surprises and anything else he thought I might like. Then he rolled home, and cautiously entered our room. I was oblivious to how long he was gone; a good hour to hour and a half.

Almost as if he were approaching a den of lions (which I am sure is how he felt with the way I had reacted so far) he sort of tossed the bags of food to me and told me I should have any or all of it that I wanted. If there was anything left he would eat that or figure another plan.

snacks-2199659_1920I believe protein, salt and sweet have never tasted as good as they did that day.

Jerry tried his best to love me, by holding me and offering soothing words of comfort. That did not speak love to me as clearly as I needed to hear it then. The time and energy he put in to serving me by gathering food, spoke volumes to me of his love.

We now look back on that day and laugh, though at the time there was little to find humorous. In hindsight, I was burned out. I had given to the point of having nothing left to care for myself.  Jerry’s care for me was the start of healing.

We learned a lot that day. In the weeks that followed we made some changes. No longer would we leave the driver’s seat in the van, it needed to be always ready for Jerry to drive. We made sure he had the neighbor’s phone number in his cell phone so he could reach out for help. We established a certain level of cash we would always keep on hand in the house just in case we had a need for an emergency delivery. Finally, we became note-415143_1920more aware of my needs and the cues when I needed a break. Jerry will point out when he thinks I need to take a day or two to spend some time on me.

What was one of the hardest and lowest days of our marriage, became one of the best.

Do you know what your love language is? What about your spouse’s language?  You can learn more about love languages here.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/gary-chapman/

How has knowing each of your love languages impacted your marriage?

“Let Me Help You,” he said

Jerry and I are alike in so many ways, but love languages is not one of them. His is words of affirmation. I, according to my husband, am multi-lingual. Depending on the valentine-614515_1920day, mood and circumstances I may need some time spent together, a hug, or to have him join me on an errand or two. That makes it difficult for him to know which language to try first at any given time. We recalled one of those times recently and found ourselves chuckling.

I had a rough day and knew I was in a foul mood. I was learning to deal with this before the fallout affected others around me. I told Jerry that I just had a lousy day, and I was going to take a hot bubble bath and try to regain my focus. Even as I said that I was fighting back tears, knowing I had no coping skills left.

I gathered my things and made my way across the house. Jerry stopped me to say he wanted to help me. He shared what he thought would make me laugh. It didn’t. I tried to lightly smirk to acknowledge I heard him. That was not the response he was going for. So he tried again . . . and again . . . and again.

bath-water-915589_1920Finally I looked at him with eyes brimming with tears and said, “please, can I just go take a bath? I am trying to be proactive dealing with my craziness.”

That’s when he realized his love language of words, especially comedic words, was not working. He started laughing his “I can’t believe I just did that” laugh and I gratefully headed to the hot bubbly water.

An hour later I came out refreshed, relaxed, and ready to appreciate the way my husband was loving me.

One would hope we learned from that experience. We did. But we still make mistakes. Come back next week as we share a clash of our love languages that created a whole new way to do life at our home.

Please tell me we are not alone . . . do you have a love language story to tell?  I’d love to hear it.

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Does Easter Matter on Monday?

Holy Week was last week. Easter was yesterday. Today life returns to normal. Or does it?

passion-3111247_1920If the reality of Easter means anything it means change. The One who conquered death rose to new life. By doing so he changed the course of history, and each of our lives.

Maybe the details of daily life have not changed (schedules, care routines, appointments, responsibilities, etc.). But how I live and experience those minutes and hours each day better be impacted by the resurrection, or it was in vain.

Yes, there are still going to be mornings I don’t feel like getting up first to prepare for Jerry to get up. There will still be days when I just don’t want to pick up one more thing that has been dropped. Times of having our plans changed at the last minute because his body unexpectedly changed course will still happen.

If the message of Holy Week, culminating in Easter, means anything then I will whine less when waking early to serve my husband. I will smile when there is one more thing pexels-photo-424517.jpegto lift off the floor. I will exude grace when helping Jerry adjust to his body’s request and while calling the friends with whom we had plans.

This weekend I read Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. I was struck by the way Kara (who was living through chemotherapy and then hospice care while writing this book with her friend), talked about “Big Love” and the “hards.” She endeavored to leave her family and friends knowing that even through the hard and difficult times of life we can share big love and make a difference. She knew she could only do that because of Christ in her.

share-2482016_1920Does your faith make a difference in your daily life? If it does would you share an example so we can all be encouraged? If you are not sure your faith does make a difference, don’t despair. We all hit those low points sometime. That’s the beauty of grace, you can start again right now. I’d love to hear your comments too – we want to keep it real here at Marriage Mondays!