Today is a milestone....a wonderful milestone! Today is our 27th Wedding Anniversary.
Kim and I met almost 28 years ago. At that time, I was definitely NOT interested in a relationship. I had been in *more* than a couple of bad relationships and decided that men were jerks, some just more so than others. I did, however, think he had the most beautiful brown eyes and wavy black hair that I had ever seen. I definitely thought he was a dreamboat! But, still a guy, which in my mind meant he was always looking to play games and work a plan.
Kim, on the other hand, was wondering why I was rather distant and not the usual female batting her eyelashes at him or trying to get his attention. I think this was a first for him. : )
As we became friends and saw each other frequently at group events, we began to know and understand each other. We talked frequently for hours, occasionally all night long. We once sat in my car in the church parking lot after an evening service, and talked until the sun came up the next morning....still in the car, still in the same parking space, just talking all night long.
We went to movies in groups of our friends, went to have pizza with pals, and waited quite a while before we ever went out on an official *date*.
We were close friends and both worried that dating might really mess that up. He called, we went to a movie and dinner on our own, and when he brought me to my home...we had hot chocolate. When I was walking past him into the kitchen to finish making the hot chocolate (pre microwave days!), he kissed me. WOW! What a kiss!!! If that was what kissing was, I had never really experienced being kissed before. Yes, literally, there were bells and rockets, I was dizzy, and melting on the spot!
I had already realized he wasn't a *typical male*. He was genuine, he had a tender heart, he didn't have polished words and *a plan*. Kim was stronger than any person that I had ever known (or still have ever known)....not in a physical strength way, but in his character, his heart, his caring, his beliefs, and his honesty. Kim's priorities are unwavering and he walked the walk...not just talk.
I fell for him like a ton of bricks. In spite of my best human efforts to be an independent female and charting my own course, he won my heart! And, I haven't regretted it for a single moment.
We have shared our faith, that we feel has kept us centered and on course. We have like priorities. We have shared wonderful times and tragedies, have experienced the birth of our two wonderful children, had good times and hard times. We've had times of plenty and times that things were sparse. We've had arguments and misunderstandings, but always followed that by asking for forgiveness, apologizing from our hearts, and ultimately been brought closer together.
What we have learned over the past 27 years is that each moment is precious and that our time may not be as long as we think. We have learned that selflessness in a marriage guarantees the best for both. When each partner puts the other partner's needs ahead of their own, nobody can lose. (However, if both partners aren't fully in sync with this...one will be the ultimate doormat and the other will constantly take advantage, or it will be a destructive battle of wills if both want to be first...so it must be the priority for both.)We have both stood by each other in times of severe sickness and have loved and valued each other all the more.
We feel confident that the Lord brought us together. I will never be able to express enough thanks to our Heavenly Father for Kim, my most precious earthly blessing. And, I will never be able to thank Kim enough for introducing himself to me, becoming my friend, risking going on a date with me, that first incredible kiss, being a wonderful and outstanding Dad to our children, being with me every day for the past 27 years...laughing with me, forgiving me when I mess up, lovingly steering me back on course when I get confused, for holding me when my heart breaks, for being my very best friend, the best husband I could ever imagine and a man of God.
I love you, Kim...words are not enough...my heart is totally and completely yours!Why?
WARNING...some adult content follows and may be difficult to read. If you choose to read, please read to the end.
I have been asked on occasion *why* my blog is as it is. Why do I pray? Why do I blog about prayers, why am I open about my faith, why do I feel everything is something the Lord would care about? Do I ever consider to think that some may not want my prayers? Why is faith in the Lord such a big part of my life? Don't I think it is judgmental to pray for others or offer to pray? Do I think I am better than others?
I can honestly share with you that these questions crush my heart. However, I can understand them and will do my very best to answer. Please read on and don't stop here...you will learn much more about me and hopefully understand me a bit better. I will be blatantly and painfully open and honest. I am NOT what you probably think and I want you to know that. This will be quite lengthy, but you will understand why as you read on.
I wasn't always a Christian. I wasn't brought up in church. I wasn't the apple of my parent's eyes. I wasn't a cherished child. In fact, I was born as a burden to two very unhappy people. I would hope for a hug or attention from a Dad that would too frequently come home in a drunken stupor, if he came home at all. I would hope for a hug or approval from a mother that would slap or hit rather than be bothered. My parents had terrible fights....physical fights and verbal fights. My sister and I witnessed our father hit our mother so hard that her head went through the sheetrock of the wall of our living room. My father threatened to break my arm, as he held it over his bent leg like a stick, if my mother did not return to the house from the yard. Upon her return, the fight grew to the point of extremes. I was blamed for his abuse. I was too slow to not let him grab my arm.
I received punishment for causing their fighting.
Our mother's daily mantra was *if I had another kid, I'd kill it.* We believed it.
This wasn't an isolated incident. This was our life until my sister and I went to live with our grandparents. I love remembering those days. Being held and rocked by my grandmother. Being teased by my grandfather.
My parents divorced. We returned to live with our mother. She soon remarried. She and our stepfather became very successful in business ... money and material posessions were their goal.
I began physical self harm and painful behaviors by the time I was in 4th grade. Somehow, it provided relief for my anger, my self hatred, and my pain...by inflicting greater pain on myself that I felt I abundantly deserved. I cut myself and stuck needles and pins in my scalp. I hid my behavior and if anything was noticed, it was ignored by adults around me.
They fought and argued. We were blamed. We were beaten when our mother had a bad day or a temper flare, which was often. I was chased down the street by an angry parent wielding scissors, and had a butcher knife held to me with threats of being *gutted*, only to be rescued by another family member.
We all left that home by the time we were 17. All, being my sister and I, my step brother, and my half brother. We left a huge home that was excessive in riches of money and material items, but void of love, caring, respect, or humanity. As we each left, we were told to never expect to return. We were on our own and they were celebrating.
I'm not sharing this to solicit sympathy, it's just fact. I am only sharing this as background for understanding some of my subsequent actions and decisions, not as an excuse, but rather my reasoning, or lack thereof.
At 17, before I graduated highschool, I married the first young man that I had ever dated. I needed an escape from the abuse, although I thought I was *in love* at the time. I successfully jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
Abuse abounded. Neither of us had the maturity, understanding, or teaching to have a healthy or caring relationship. I did have the blessing of going to school. However, before graduation from nursing school, we divorced. I was 20, divorced, an RN...and facing new challenges and trying to cope on my own without direction.
I excelled at my work. I learned quickly and easily and it was *natural* for me. I was an excellent nurse, but I didn't have a clue about my own life. My biological father was slowly dying from alcoholism and diabetes and frequently told me that he needed a *real* daughter. My mother and stepfather continued amassing wealth and fighting, and still blaming me for their every unhappiness. And, I believed them.
I craved acceptance. I wanted to have parents that cared, that protected, that accepted, that knew how to love. I craved male acceptance. I wanted a father, I wanted to be special to someone, I wanted to be acceptable. I tried. I tried way too hard and way too much.
I found myself gladly selling myself short and compromising myself to any degree just to hear someone tell me they cared...knowing that it was a lie. Hearing a lie was better than not hearing any caring words at all.
I was involved in many relationships. Men were plentiful, but respect was non-existent...respect from them, or self respect for myself. They became quickly intimate, and were all empty. There was no caring, maybe occasionally a date or dinner, but rarely. I was craving acceptance and it was marked across my face. I was an easy mark and I tried to convince myself that this was how adult life worked. I tried to convince myself that I was *happy* with *casual* relationships. All the while, I was dying inside. I was running as fast as I could and only moving backward.
As I tired of the lies and the game and hoped for something different soon, I was approached by a colleague. He was different. He wanted a relationship, I thought. He was attentive, caring, always checking on me and taking me out....and, he was married. We spent much time together. I was intensely infatuated and thought *he* was the answer to everything.
In a nutshell, after a year, the relationship ended horribly. The pain I felt became unbearable. And, my guilt at causing pain to others ate at my heart and mind. My death became appealing and the focus of my thoughts...to relieve the pain. I had decided that I wasn't *tough enough* for life. That I didn't fit into the big scheme of things. I felt that even though I didn't know what death was like, it certainly couldn't be any worse than life as I knew it. And, that even though I had one area in which I excelled (my work), I felt I had harmed too many family, friends, and those I cared about most....and that others could much better utilize the oxygen that I breathed.
I was relieved. I had a plan. It was all going to be over. I would no longer be able to be a disappointment to others....or myself. This pain would end. I felt relief.
The day after I had made my decision and had my plan ready to go...all loose ends taken care of, paperwork neatly in order on my kitchen table, and a quick change of beneficiaries on my insurance at work....as I was leaving work, a nurse I did not know but had only been introduced to...approached me and asked me to come to her office for a couple of minutes to discuss a project. I followed her, she closed her office door, turned to me, looked me straight in the eyes and said....*Shelly, I know what's up. Please don't do this. Let me get help for you.*
Now I did not know this person, had never told anyone what I was planning, and had just completed another shift at work. I felt I had everything all wrapped up and that I was secretly and successfully taking care of things. How did she know? Who had figured out my plan? How had this happened?
At this point I had a choice....to deny everything and to continue home. Or, to accept an offer of help. It was up to me.
I was so shocked by her words that I couldn't hide my reaction of *how on earth did you know*. I was angry and also horrified that she had somehow *known*. Then I was totally broken to think that she actually cared enough to say something and take that risk. I basically fell apart in her office and found myself being hospitalized across town in a psych unit later that day.
I was barely 22 and felt I had lived at least 10 terrible lifetimes. I was hospitalized for more than 20 days in a locked unit. I had intense therapy. Some of it was helpful, but most left me feeling that I *couldn't do it*. I couldn't just convince myself I was happy, or cope my way to well-being. They did, however, keep me from harm and give me time to rethink and put things in a better perspective. Upon dismissal, I found my problems were still there, and now I had a huge medical bill to add to them. I felt that at the time of my hospital admission I had reached a bottom so low that I needed to look up to see the bottom...and if I had survived that, maybe I should give it another shot.
I ended the negative and life sucking relationships. I tried to positively *self talk*. I worked, and worked, and worked. I threw myself into my work. And still, the pain, grief and weakness from before were mounting rapidly. The holidays were approaching, and that seemed to make it worse.
Enter, Patti. I had gone to school with Patti. I worked with Patti. She was sweet, kind, and in my mind a bit of a goodie-two-shoes. I hate to admit it, but there were times that I felt sorry for Patti. She went to church all the time. She invited me to, of all things, Christian concerts. What??? She went to Bible studies. Poor little Patti, she sure didn't know how to do anything fun.I would find out I was wrong...totally wrong.
Patti and I worked as nurses together in the same unit. She asked if I would like to ride with her to our work Christmas party. So, I said OK. The day of the work party, as we're getting in Patti's car, she lets me know that she has a stop to make at a friend's house and that it won't take long. She told me that she was going to sing a couple of songs for his party and play her guitar, and then we would continue on to our work party. I said fine. I knew she played guitar and sang and I had nothing better to do...and, after all, she was driving.
We arrived at a home in NW OKC. She gets her guitar from the back and asks me to come inside with her. Well, rather than sitting in the dark in a car by myself, I agreed. We went inside and the rooms were FULL of people. People talking, laughing, having snacks and drinking...apple cider and hot chocolate. What? They were all our in our age range. Lots of young men, lots of young ladies. One of the young men asks everyone to have a seat and he begins talking. Well, it took me about 3 seconds to figure out that he was a *preacher*! Are you kidding me???? He was kind, very talkative, laughing, and encouraging everyone....and then began to talk a bit about being single or alone during the holidays. That got my interest. Then he introduced Patti. She went up front and began to play and sing.
I was sitting on the floor, trying to blend in and not be too obvious that I surely didn't belong in *this* group. And, boy was I going to let Patti have it when we got outside!
Patti sang a song, or two. She has a gentle, clear and very sweet voice. (I could listen to her all day.) Then she started singing another song. She looked at me as she sang. I don't remember the exact words, but they were words of watching a friend that she cared about and that she wanted to share with, but that wouldn't listen. Of the pain that she saw in her friend, of the broken heart she knew was inside, of the hard life that I had known and the longing for someone to care....of selling myself cheaply ... and how could she tell me that all along there was someone that cared. Someone that wouldn't let me down...someone that was more real than the people before me. Someone that didn't care what I had done, was wanting to show me *real*, unconditional love, and let me know I had a father all along. A father that could make wonderful things out of every bad thing, that all things would work for good, that could heal wounds, and restore hearts. She cried as she sang. I'm crying now as I'm typing.
Well, we never made it to our work Christmas party. We spent the evening with the group of what I had previously thought were square, Bible thumping, no fun geeks. I can honestly say I was totally wrong about them. I had never met such nice, fun, and loving friends that cared unconditionally. You could screw up and be forgiven. You weren't expected to be perfect or have impeccable manners. They accepted me and my baggage...and invited me to join in the journey to knowing and walking with our Heavenly Father closer, and helping each other up when we stumble and fall.
Nobody was pretending to be perfect...in fact, we were all totally imperfect. We had all been forgiven mightily. I *was never* and *will never* be perfect. I sure don't expect it of others.
I do wish that you would come to know your Heavenly Father as caring, forgiving, and loving. There is freedom in that. You don't have to *go it alone*.
What I perceived to be a harsh rule book of dos and don'ts, was actually a book of love letters He has sent to His children containing guidelines to protect them, keep them safe, and make the best of their lives and make them complete. Just as a loving parent instructs their child to stay out of the street, to not play with matches, or to not dive into unclear water....so our Father does for us. He wants us to avoid hurt, pain, or injury. He desires for us to have joy and fullness in our hearts. He regards us each as His children, equal in status and importance, equally forgiven, equally loved unconditionally.
So, when I offer to pray for someone, or spend time in prayer...it is certainly not in a *holier than thou* type of thought or stance. It is simply me, running to our Heavenly Father, and spending time communicating with Him...spending time with Him and asking Him to intervene on your behalf, to spare pain, to give you good things, to help you in any situation because, I care. He is able to intervene where I/we cannot. He can cause good to come from bad. He can hold up your heart and make it full in *any* circumstance.
Just as I cannot restore my grandmother's confused mind, heal my husband's deteriorating back or restore his heart to having a normal, healthy valve, nor can I protect my children from all pain, or spare my friends from hurtful things in life, I have a Father I can run to and He will listen. He can do these things. He answers...maybe not immediately, maybe not as we would wish, maybe He wants us to wait, but He does answer. He is faithful and always present. He is capable of doing what we cannot. Our responsibility is to draw closer to Him, allow Him to help us, and allow Him to teach us how to have true love and success.
Will I stop praying? No. Never. Do I feel superior somehow? Absolutely not. I am riddled with flaws and am fully aware of that fact. However, I'm asking Him to help me with those and I'm aksing your forgiveness if I have offended you in any way...and I will continue to try to be better so as not to offend you ever again...although still being very human....well, you see the problem.
You see, I am convinced that God put that nurse in my way the day I intended to give up. I'm also fully convinced that he put Patti with me to eventually *kidnap* me to a Christmas party and to lead me to another kind of life! : )
And, I'm sure that He has blessed my life with Kim, our children, my friends, our farm, .....
I'm not just going on emotion here. I have worked in medical research. I'm familiar with statistics. I attempt to keep up with scientific findings. There is proof to be seen if we look. I could not have *emotionally* produced true joy in my heart by my own doing. Even Kim couldn't do this for me. I could not have had a joyful 27 yr. marriage without the Lord's help. You may have, but certainly not me. And, I can truly say it has been a wonderful 27 years...not without trials and arguments, not without hard times, but also filled with fun, joy, love, commitment, and the blessings of our Heavenly Father...and I wouldn't trade 1 minute of the last 27 years with Kim for all the money in the world, lieterally. Nor, would I trade 1 minute of the almost 28 years of walking with my Heavenly Father for all the material gifts the world has to offer.
Friends, I've pretty much put it all out there today. I'm taking a risk. It's a risk I consider worth taking....because I care. If you choose to think I'm a nut, well, that's OK. I'm just trying to share my heart with you and there are risks in that. I don't want you to see me as something I'm not. I'm a real and flawed human being. I'm certainly in no position to judge anyone, nor do I intend to come across in that manner. I'm hoping that you will just accept me as me...kinda unconditionally. ;)
In closing, my prayer today is that you also have true Joy in your heart through our Heavenly Father. I pray that you accept His offer of unconditional love, cut yourself some slack and forgive yourself and others, accept His forgiveness, and let Him guide you as a loving parent to true joy and completeness and to finding your full potential of becoming the person He would have you be and knowing the life He has for you.
Have a wonderful weekend...
P.S. Knitting Content and regular blogging next time!NIV
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace