Keeping the Promises

Laughter floated in the air as food was prepared and decorations set. Flowers filled the entry ways, overflowed from vases on the mantel, tables and all around our home. Friends and family gathered yesterday to shower my daughter with blessings as she prepares to enter this new season of life and celebrate the upcoming marriage to her fiance. What a joyous time it was. We saw faces we hadn’t seen in years. Some came from far away, others from down the road. My sweet aunt who was married to her love for 74 years was there. Some newly marrieds and some who will be someday came too.

Along with lots of wonderful gifts for her home, our friends and family brought their love and blessings with them. My friend told us a beautiful story and shared some things she wish she’d known as a young bride. Then I prayed for my daughter.

It didn’t take long for me to settle on what to pray for her in her marriage. Her father and I celebrated 23 years of marriage the day before her shower so I was thinking of our story as I was thinking about how to pray.

Twenty three years ago in a small wedding chapel in Tennessee we vowed to love each other.

We promised to love each other when times were good and when they weren’t. To love each other in times of sickness and wellness, during feast or famine, and highs and lows.

We laugh now at the kids we were then because we thought we had it figured out. Now we know we still don’t have it figured out.

But we’re learning. We’re growing together, loving each other, and getting better and better at it. We’re keeping the promises.

We’ve experienced abundant joy and faced tragedy; enjoyed many blessings and walked through painful seasons. And we’ve done it for 23 years.

We’re better because of each other and for each other.

I began the prayer for my daughter with Ephesians 4:32. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

It’s not the typical marriage verse but I know from 23 years that when my husband and I are practicing this, we’re doing well. When we’re not following it, things aren’t as good as they can be.

I prayed for her the same things I ask for myself:

“Father, thank You that we can come to You with confidence and know You hear us. Thank You for our friends and family gathered here to celebrate our daughter’s life. And thank You for the divine gift of marriage.

Father, You promise to give us all we need to do what You’ve called us to do. Draw her near to You. May she look to You for guidance and wisdom as she grows into the woman You’ve called her to be.

You call us to kind actions and words but Your desire is not that we just do kind acts but that our hearts are tender which leads to kindness. God, keep her heart tender. Let her eyes be fixed on You and may she remember Your kindness and extravagant love toward her.

Give her a wholehearted love for You, Father. Because as her love for You grows, so will the love for her husband.”

And we all said, “Amen.”

“Love is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit, reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.”   C.S. Lewis

photo by Markie Pearson Photography

Extravagant

Thanks Again

In a recent Live Like It Matters Challenge I encouraged you to write a thank you. The real kind…. the kind you write out and mail.

Who did you send your note to? I thought of several people I could thank, like teachers that influenced me more than they know. Or past employers. Dale L. Buchanan, Attorney at Law gave me a job when I was a senior in high school. I was a co-op student and left school early every afternoon to work in his office for a few hours. It was a growing, bustling organization and they provided a place for me to learn and gain office work experience.

I thought of my family and friends and parents of friends. Coaches, team members and colleagues and bosses from long ago. Pastors, camp counselors, college classmates, professors, and mentors. And I was thankful. So thankful.

I’ve been encouraged and supported and taught and inspired by so many wonderful people. They’ve given me so much. Some of them know…….but most of them don’t.

A kind word spoken at just the right time. A hug when I felt the most discouraged. A new opportunity. A smile. Another chance. Guidance or advice. Sometimes nothing more than a listening ear. But it mattered. It all mattered.

And that’s why we should thank someone. We all have those people that touched our lives significantly and we hope they know it….we think they know it……but they don’t.

So tell them.

I wrote my thank you to a friend I met a decade or so ago. She recently moved to Houston and I miss our lunch dates. I hope she knows she’s important to me, but just in case…..I wrote her a note. I hope it brought a smile to her face knowing how much of a difference she’s made in my life and the lives of my children.

This challenge made me realize how wonderfully blessed I am and has motivated me to thank others. I urge you to do the same. Take some time to think about the people who have influenced you in some way. And thank them. Face-to-face over lunch, in a note, email, or text. Just thank someone.

I’m going to send a note to a certain big time lawyer that may have forgotten all about a high school senior that worked for him decades ago.

When I originally issued this challenge almost two years ago I’d intended to write the thank you note to Dale L. Buchanan, Attorney at Law but for some reason didn’t follow through. I’m really going to do it this time.

You all hold me to this!

The 2016 Rundown

I look forward to 2017 with even greater anticipation than I did 2016. And 2016 didn’t disappoint. It was a wonderful year of growth and I did a lot of new things. In one of my January posts, titled Rising, I reflected on the amazing things I saw because I made a change and decided to do something new.

Some of the “first evers” for me in 2016:

  • Ate the Paleo Diet for 12 weeks
  • Ran an 8K in May
  • Ran the Spartan Race in Nashville in August
  • Ran a 10K in October

I chose to take on these physical challenges and have learned from all of them. Mostly I learned the importance of training and doing it with others. There’s something special about being part of a group working together toward a tough common goal. I wrote about it in my post Together.

There were more new things for my family in 2016. In February we moved from our home of 13 years into my newly renovated childhood home. Our home is beautiful but there were some adjustments for us. We are no longer in a rural area and it interfered with my morning runs. I lost my running groove…..or so I thought. I just had to embrace the new and wrote about it in Embrace the New.

Throughout the year I continued issuing my Live Like it Matters Challenges but I wrote more than ever about my childhood and the legacy my parents left. Living in my childhood home has brought a flood of memories and it’s been a wonderful gift of healing, new perspective and renewed gratefulness. Some of those posts are Memory, Groundwork, Quitting, and Mama.

We went on our annual trip to the beach with many of our favorite people. It’s a special place and does our hearts good to be there. I highlighted it in my post This Place.

My son moving to Texas last year for a job, then moving to Colorado this year provided a lot of inspiration. His courage to take bold steps into the unknown is fascinating. We visited him in October and it was one of the best trips ever. I wrote several posts as a result of the trip: Possibility and Shine are two of them.

I was finally able to put into words some of the difficulties of 2013, 2014 and part of 2015. I’d start the posts, then stop. Try to start again, but no words. They just wouldn’t come. More times than not, something is worked out within me when I write and I knew I needed to write about these things. At last something broke inside of me and the words came for the first post called Linger. It took months for the other healing posts to happen but I found the words. I’ve received more comments on those posts than others because everyone has experienced loss, grief and heaviness. Those posts are called Gone and The Dark .

We had a great holiday season. We gathered with family and friends several times. On Thanksgiving I ran my 2nd Turkey Trot and significantly improved my time. Our son came home the first week of December so we celebrated Christmas with the extended family early. Christmas gets more and more special with each passing year.

God is good and 2016 has been full of blessings. But what God did within my own heart in 2016 is the most momentous. He has given me a clearer view of what’s important. I want to love extravagantly because that’s the way He loves me.

Now I will let Him teach me how to do it.

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