Friday, February 12, 2016

in true love

These are all words I've written before, but they are all compiled a bit differently.  You'll just have to excuse me.  My brain isn't functioning well enough to come up with original material today!  But I feel it's been too long that I haven't sung the sweet praises of the guy behind what makes this whole "machine" keep working, ticking, keep chugging along.  I honestly wouldn't be encouraged enough to continue on without God's graces and he tries to point me towards that in everything he does.  So - here we go:



I've probably written about it before.  In June 2006, Matt and I vowed before God and our 150 or so guests to love each other "in sickness and in health".  It's funny when you are preparing vows and thinking about them and the seriousness of them, when you read about your promise to love each other whether you're healthy or not, you consider minor illnesses like the flu or cold and you kinda get warm fuzzies thinking about how you'll get to pamper your husband-to-be with some homemade soup and some TLC.   You briefly consider the possibility of cancer or some other serious illness later on - WAY later on, but you're young, so those are fleeting thoughts that skip by without dwelling on the sadness of them but you know you are promising to stay even if that were to come about.

But we NEVER in our preparation for marriage even harbored an inkling of a thought about what would happen to us.  We got pregnant soon after getting married and were so overjoyed.  Our first anniversary came and went and then we were holding our little baby in our arms.  All seemed fine until I got gallstones 5 weeks after birth.  That was the straw that broke the camel's back.  A camel's back we didn't know existed until then.  It was the beginning of a long spiral downward into what we now know is Neurological Lyme Disease and Co-infections.

It was many days of pain, misdiagnosis, miscarriage, another baby, confusion, more misdiagnosis, more miscarriages and ultimately watching my husband watch me wilt before his eyes.  I went from a healthy 135 pounds to a sickly 105 pounds.  I could see the pain in Matt's face when he looked at me helpless.  He WANTED to help me.  He didn't want to run away or run out on our marriage.  That never crossed his mind.  He was so affected with pain FOR me that he would often (and still does) just sigh and say, "I wish there was some way I could take your place."

Finally, 4 years into marriage we got an accurate diagnosis.  While the diagnosis of Lyme&Co isn't grim in the sense that you are sentenced to a slow painful death, it IS grim in the fact that you are sentenced to a slow, painful recovery.  If Matt or I thought this was the easy answer to our years of frustrating misdiagnosed problems, we thought wrong.

The diagnosis came just in time.  I started having partial seizures (which later became much more severe) - something that left me scared and short of breath, just watching my limbs flail and wishing so badly I could just be unconscious (and years later I would be) for them.  Matt would calmly be by my side and talk soothingly in my ear while trying to shield me from the view of our two little ones.  I was embarrassed that he had to see me that way.  Heck, he'd seen me in way more "compromising" positions that should have been embarrassing but weren't.  But I think what embarrassed me about getting so ill was that I had always prided myself on how strong I was, how much endurance I had, how I could (usually) "keep up with the boys".  And here I was not able to move on my own.  I had to have help in the bathroom!  I needed help showering!  And, gasp!, I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair! I mean, it all felt demeaning.


But I'll tell you what, my husband NEVER made me feel demeaned.  He helped me without a second thought, like it was his job.  He's offered help when I was about to heave, picked me up off the bathroom floor and carried the full weight of me, and he's stayed by my side as I convulsed while neither one of us felt comfortable but had no idea what to do otherwise.  He's shoved medicine in my mouth when I otherwise couldn't do it myself.  He's cut up my food because my joints hurt and he offered to feed me when he saw me wilted at the kitchen table before my dinner.  The thing is - it is his job.  He promised it at our wedding. But he has never treated it as a burden.  

It's times like these that I reflect I am just dumbfounded and in awe at what a wonderful God I have, that He brought Matt and I together.  I can truly see His precise hand in the matter, knowing that I'd need this man and his humility and his servanthood in my life.

I'll tell you when I first understood the meaning of love in our marriage - - when my husband lovingly and without hesitation took on all the ugly parts of this disease that have made me physically not beautiful, emotionally not very nice (mean to him), and spiritually downtrodden.   He must truly love me and THAT gives me butterflies as I realize he is imitating our Savior which is just how he was commanded to love me in God's word at our wedding years ago.

 All the reasons I FELL in love with him in the very beginning, happen to be the same reasons I love him today. Let me give you some examples:

-Matt displayed humility and servanthood when we met - Over the course of our marriage this has showed itself very clearly. He never acts better than anyone; he always thinks and talks the best of people; he proactively looks for ways to serve me even when I don't ask; he doesn't complain about the 'burden' I can be since my health has been, let's just face it, AWFUL -  for most of our marriage -- he just tells me more than I could ever ask for, how much he loves me and never regrets marrying me; he never hesitates to admit fault and isn't stubborn about changing to become better for Christ. He is oh-so-patient with his feisty wife and doesn't expect me to be something more or less than I am. He encourages me to be like Christ but loves me even though I'm a sinner. He's brilliant too; he'd get mad if I told you his score on the SAT, but he won't talk about it or rub it in *wink*....really...try asking him - he gets super uncomfortable and you'll never get him to tell you :)

-Matt displayed persistence and diligence when we met - He works so hard, yet effortlessly and he's faithful to his job and hardly complains about it even though the hours can sometimes be late and his previous job was, I believe one of the hardest jobs of all time. He views life through the lens of God's sovereignty; he realizes God has planned our life to be the way it is, so instead of complaining about the seemingly bad things, he just plugs through them, trusting God because He is trustworthy. He learns things quickly and if he NEEDS to learn something, he pays attention so he can get the hang of it fast. He's never scared away from a project just because he doesn't know how to do it. He sets about working with his hands to figure it out. He's very determined (something his daughter has taken after him about!).

-Matt displayed teachability when we met - He is always open to suggestions (and I give them way too frequently) and always willing to change; but he's not a push-over...he'll defend his honor when needed and he'll put me in my place gently whenever I need it (thankfully!). He does care deeply about sin and wants to be holy. He is so trustworthy and honorable and my heart swells with pride when I think about him *flutter flutter flutter* :)

-Matt displayed leadership when we met - He's a good, strong, dependable leader. He doesn't flaunt his 'power' in our marriage. He leads with care and always tries to understand me and come alongside me. He communicates with me and tries to make our marriage a joint commitment, not a one-sided dictatorship. He makes it EASY for me to follow him and trust him because he cares so much about what I think. He doesn't have to, but he has totally earned my respect instead of demanding it.  He's a great daddy too and I know our kids are growing up respecting him as a father and learning from his humble example. I think it will be easy for them to want to know God more because of their Daddy's faith.

-Matt displayed a desire to know Christ more - I love how Matt gets excited about the Bible. He loves the Old Testament stories and often has insight to share with me about how applicable it can be to our lives. He thinks about Christ's words in the New Testament and wants to follow Him. He understands how to interpret the Word of God correctly and in context and how we should apply it to our lives to grow closer to Christ in our walk with him as a couple and as individuals.

-Matt displayed humor and laughter when we first met - I cannot tell you just how fun it is to laugh with Matt. We get the giggles ALL the time. We will laugh until we cry. We find the same things funny (which if you think about it is a real blessing....wouldn't it be awful if he thought some movie that I thought was terrible, was super hilarious?). We enjoy the same silliness that only each other understands and we can make each other laugh at the most rotten times in our lives. He knows how to get me out of a grump-frump by persistently, but not annoyingly, being silly to make me smile. This is a feat no one else can do! He knows how to balance the fine line of teasing me without offending me (too badly at least) :) He encourages me not to think too far ahead and get sad about the future (when sad things are ahead) when we have so many happy blessings right here in front of us.

-Matt displayed spontaneity when we met - He never complains when I come up with some last minute change of plans. He's fun to adventure with and even though the adventures don't always go as planned, it's fun to be along for the ride with HIM. We've gotten lost together so many times and sometimes even though I don't show it in the moment, I secretly enjoy the hilarity of our misadventures.

What a blessing to have a husband who doesn't change with the wind and what a blessing to know JUST what I was getting - no surprises after we said "I do." The only thing I didn't expect when I got married was how much fun it would be to be married to Matt.


I think time flies when you're not having fun too. Icky antibiotics and a routine that just kills ya.  It's not fun for me, but I see love all over and through it.  He care for me so much and I am so blessed that he is my husband.  

When I was on IV last year, he left for work at 7am, but we got up at 6am so that he could administer 2 doses of IV meds.  THAT, folks, is love for a guy who is not a morning person.  And he didn't complain about it at all.  No grumbling or whining or hemming or hawing; I've got a keeper and boy do I thank the Lord for him so very often that he's stuck with me through SICKNESS and health.  He's kept his vows for nearly 10 years of mostly sickness.  We pray this will be the year that health prevails.  But if not and the Lord chooses another path, we'll trust Him with that and do what He bids.

I know that neither Matt nor I are the exact same people we were when we got married ten years ago, but I know that the changes that have happened are GOOD and have brought us closer to the Lord and have deepened our faith and brought us closer to each other. Marriage isn't perfect and isn't always easy but when you follow the Lord and keep Him central in your marriage and try (ever so hard sometimes when your natural inclination just wants the opposite) to put the other first, it can be joyful.

Life is NOT how we dreamed it should be at this stage in our life. Married to each other - each other's best friend, 3 kids. I think we envisioned our lives being more adventurous. I mean, this truly has been some kind of adventure but we thought we'd be adventuring in other ways - across the world together, hiking, traveling, being more involved in our church, being more involved in tuning the hearts of our kids. I know for a fact that when we vowed our vows on our wedding day, that neither one of us expected THIS.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. I Peter 4:12-13

But really we should have been ready for it, not surprised. If we were truly letting God lead our lives we wouldn't have been so taken aback. Even with the good things He's given us. I've always been so surprised by them. How wonderful the good things that God gives us are. We have SO many blessings and each time I was surprised at how good they were, when really? I should have known it would be so wonderful based on WHO He is. Maybe if I had spent more time studying WHO God really is I wouldn't have to remind myself that the good things are more wonderful than we can imagine and the bad things are not out of His control.

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain” - C.S Lewis The Problem of Pain


We don't doubt God's sovereignty over this trial in our lives. Even as bad as it has been and as worse as it's got. We're no longer at the point of feeling shocked at each new physical scary symptom. We're leaning on our Guide knowing that He may keep giving us scary things to deal with and giving us things we don't want to experience. But we know it's not out of His control. He is leading us all the way.
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8

So here are the last few things I have to say about my partner in life that God ordained to spend with me through thick and thin - the things I love about him - the not so serious things - the silly, fun things that wrap this up and make it a bit more lighthearted: 

1) I love how he's taken on the role of "chef" in our family since I've gotten ill and haven't had energy to make dinners.  He's taken it to the extreme and done VERY well with it.  He does own the Julia Child cookbooks and has read them and now understands the whys of how cooking her way works wellHe'll explain to me why I am saying, "These fingerling potatoes are SOOOOOO good!".  He LOVES to cook and come up with delicious food for us each night.  He's a good chef and someday I know he'll go to culinary school. 

2)  I love how he loves our kids.  He wants every little story about them that he misses during the day while he's at work.  He laughs with me at their silliness and will often report to ME when they do something hilarious that I've missed.  

3) I love how he's the best singer of 'Mr. Roboto' that I've ever heard.

4) I love that he can spend hours on a piano bench taking turns playing the piano, guitar, and ukulele.

5) I love how he likes our cat (even though he might deny it to your face...but he likes her and that makes me happy).

6) I love how he makes fun of the music on my playlists, yet he listens to them and sings along.

7) I love how he never ceases to keep me entertained just by being himself.

8) I love that he studies God's Word faithfully.

Happy Valentine's Day, to the one who I know won't abandon me even though I'm quite a mess!