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Posts Tagged ‘struggles’

Don_Kris_pre_wedding_1987

Don & Kris – night before wedding, 9/25/1987

 

 

Cheesy, sappy blog post warning. If you can’t handle mushy stuff, just pass on reading any further. My 30-day gratitude chart asks me to write about the family member I’m most grateful for. Easy peasy. I love all my family, but when it comes to choosing one I’m most thankful to have in my life, I must write about my husband, my best friend.

We met a little over 30 years ago, when he began as a new staff pastor at my home church. We had mutual friends who wanted to welcome Don into the community, so my roommate invited him and this other pastoral couple over for spaghetti. He made me nervous. He had a dry sense of humor and a quick wit. He was so smart and I was attracted to him immediately. But I was kind of shy (I know, I know – most of you don’t believe me) and he was sooo much older and wiser than any other guy I had dated. Embarrassing detail: I spilled red wax on his yellow sweater when I blew out the candles. Mortifying. As he left the building, following dinner, he threw a snowball back into the doorway…got me right in the face. Yup – it was love.

Don_Kris_goofing_offWe dated three months, got engaged in May, and married in September. Sounds like a perfect romance, right? Not so much. Though we loved each other very much, we came up against a few people who objected to our relationship. The tough time we endured caused us to draw closer to God and to one another. We had a few very wise and trusted people who offered us safe friendships and our wedding on September 26, 1987, was a beautiful autumn afternoon, filled with friends and family.

Since that time, our life together has been filled with amazing adventures, trials and happiness beyond description. As happens in all relationships, we’ve gone through ups and downs, but we’ve always determined to communicate and love each other, no matter what. We’ve taught together, laughed together and cried together. Family_picnic_McCulloughWe have parented two wonderful boys who’ve made us so proud. Don is a dad who loves fiercely; his boys and I are everything to him – and we never doubted it.

Throughout the years, Don has been faithful in his pursuit of God; faithful in relationships with his accountability partners, his friends and with me. For the last year, we’ve been “empty-nesting” and I think doing a very fine job. We enjoy each other so much and there isn’t anyone I would rather spend my time with. He encourages me and my crazy plans. He allows me to be myself…and prods me to be all he knows I can be. He prays for me and with me. He spoils me.

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Don & Kris–straddling the Nebraska/Iowa state line over the Missouri River

Every weeknight he has dinner ready for me when I get home from work. Yes, he is a great cook too. He is a man of God who desperately desires for the Holy Spirit to use him to grow the Kingdom of God. He is his own worst critic, so I take my job of encourager very seriously. 

I asked him this morning, if he knew then what he knows now, would he still marry me? Of course, he said yes. But honestly, neither one of us had any idea that we could love each other more now than we did then. Trials and struggles can tear couples apart or push them together – we’ve always chosen to push through together. Don, I thank God every day for putting you into my life! Here’s to 30 more years.

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David & Tristen’s wedding – May 14, 2016

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In this first day of intentional gratitude, I want to remind you of those unexpected blessings we all receive…and when I say unexpected, I mean, never-in-your-life-thought-this-circumstance-would-turn-out-to-be-a-blessing blessing. Like being unemployed.

If you know my husband and me at all, you know we recently spent six years with no full time job and very little income. It was tough – for my husband, because, you know, men look at having no job as having no meaning in life. He struggled a bit (I’m kidding, he struggled a lot)…and had quite a few conversations with God about the whole thing. But that’s his story to tell.

It was a tough time for our kids because everything they relied on appeared unstable. They weren’t sure where we would live, how we would live, where they would finish high school, and how we were going to pay the bills. Now that I think about it, those were mostly my worries – I’ve never asked what concerned my kids back then…I should probably do that.

Nevertheless, looking back, that whole six year time period was full of God’s blessings. He provided finances for every single obligation (we paid every bill and always on time). Out of the blue, people would stop by the house to give us money saying, “God told us to give this to you today.” God blessed us with the emotional and spiritual support we needed. I read and studied the Word, and prayed on my long walks, crying and begging God to give us something, something to put our hope on…and He never let us down. Don and I had more and deeper conversations. God gave us supernatural health during a time when we had poor insurance coverage, and then provided a way to get better coverage, for the whole family, right before our son started travelling with his band. I could go on and on with story after story…not the time or place.

We learned a lot about ourselves. We learned about humility, and trust, and faith, and grace. We learned that we don’t know very much, but that God knows the beginning and the end. We learned that some people will stick with you, no matter what, expecting nothing in return. We saw God’s hand at work in our kids as He provided funds for college and travelling, when we had nothing. We cried buckets of tears – in frustration and sorrow, rejoicing and thanksgiving.

Am I glad we were without a job for that long? I’m not sure. It was rough. Our Christmas’ were sparse. We ate at home, took no vacations, purchased no new clothes. We had no church to call our own, but we were privileged to help a couple of congregations transition to new pastors. We learned a great deal about what is really important. Family. Real friends. Health. Our own relationship with Jesus, away from ministry.

 

And most of all, we learned God’s promises are true: He will never leave you or forsake you – even if you don’t have a job, even if you are struggling with poor health, even if you are in a difficult circumstance. He is your Rock and your Redeemer. He will turn your mourning into dancing. Ask Him to show you the unexpected blessing of this tough time and watch Him show up. God will never fail you.

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