50 years

I rarely  watch daytime television. Talk shows hardly keep my interest past the sensationalism.  But every once in a while I’ll fold a large load of clean laundry in front of the TV. One such day I watched as a panel of women interviewed Sally Fields.  Her accomplishments were heralded and her past success was acclaimed as she is obviously quite the icon in Hollywood.  She was surrounded by women who clearly respected, if not adored her.  The question poised to Sally was this: “is there anything that you haven’t accomplished that you wish you could have?” Her answer turned the conversation in a direction that I don’t think anyone on the panel or even  a seasoned  producer could have expected.

“I wish I could have celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary”.

Mild pandemonium broke out.  Half the panel sat dumbly in stunned silence while the others tripped over each other restating all that she had accomplished.  One women even threw in a personal testimonial about how Sally’s accomplishments had paved the way for her personal success. Sally responded to the near hysteria by simply stating that her response was to the question about an accomplishment that she hadn’t achieved. She wished she could have celebrated a 50th wedding anniversary.

This interview happened a number of years ago, but I remember it as clearly as  I watched it yesterday.  Or last week.

In fact – I witnessed a 50th wedding anniversary celebration last weekend.  My folks.

Congrats Mom and Dad

It was a wonderful celebration.   In a brief talk my dad addressed the beauty of what they have.  50 years of memories.  Some good, some hard.  He talked about loosing their four year old daughter and his mother in a car accident during the earlier years of their marriage.  Then a few years later they lost a still born son.  He acknowledged the vast experiences they have had together – including spending most of their adult lives in Africa working with impoverished communities.  Then with tears in his eyes he put his arm around my mom and gave us the kernel of truth as to how their marriage made it.

Reading from his well worn Bible he turned to Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain”

How did they make it to 50 years?  They let the Lord build their house by implementing the principles from the bible. They created a marriage by first building a relationship with God and then making God and his truths the center of their lives and home.

His admonition and testimony was simply this.  Unless we allow the Lord to build in our lives and our homes and our marriages – they won’t work.

His message rings true with my experience.  My husband and I aren’t quite half way to 50 years of marriage yet, but we have experienced the reality of letting the Lord build our house.  We’ve needed to tap into God for his divine love in order to truly understand and experience love.  We’ve also had to relish in God’s forgiveness before we were able to extend forgiveness to each other.

I’m looking forward to my fiftieth wedding anniversary.  I’m anticipating being able to stand in front of my children, grandchildren and great grand children and say the same thing that my folks say. We might even throw a little party and sing the old hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness”.

It won’t be anything that Hollywood would promote and I probably never get any air time on a talk show – but I am working toward a lifelong marriage. I realize that I can’t control how long we will live, but I can work toward making my marriage strong as long as we have each other.  I am trusting in a faithful God who will give my husband and I what we need to be faithful to each other… hopefully for even more that 50 years.

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Making Plans

The bags were packed, the cooler had food. I had been planning this trip for months. As a last minute detail my husband ran the car to the dealership for a quick run over.  I couldn’t believe it when he came back to tell me my trip had to be postponed for a couple of days.

I had my heart set on hitting the highway and I was anticipating a hike in the Canadian Rockies and then arriving at my parent’s place in the Saskatchewan prairies for a family gathering. This was a ‘solo’ trip that was planned for some rest and quiet time with God and my family would join up with me next week. I couldn’t wrap my head around the changed of plans. I’ve never been one to take disappointment well.  The disappointment was actually mind numbing and I couldn’t find motivation to do anything.

So, I did what I have been known to do when overwhelmed.  I took a nap.

A couple of years ago I visited a woman upon the request of a mutual friend.  She had been diagnosed with cancer and was given only three  months to live.

That is life-altering change of plans. Without any premeditated eloquent speech of God’s omniscience  I walked into her home and her life.  What do you say in these types of situations? I just went to meet with her and hear her story. But I was completely caught of guard with what she gave to me. A glimpse of true courage and confidence that comes from a personal relationship with God.

We talked and prayed and if you met this woman you would know that we laughed.  She was not enjoying this stage of life, but she was enjoying the presence and trust of a relationship with her Heavenly Father.

As I left she said something that has always stuck with me whenever I think of making plans.  She said: “The doctors say that I have three months. But Doris, we never know how long we have.  In fact you could die before me!  I’m not wishing this on you, but in reality you could be in an accident on your way home and be in heaven before me.”

I agree with her. I love her perspective. We try to plan our lives, organize our schedules and we do this all with a sense of control.  It is good to be proactive in life, but we must never forget how quickly our plans change.  More important than our schedule is the trust we live in each day that God is in control of our lives.

Proverbs 19:21 “You can make your plans but the LORD’S purpose will prevail.”

As I am writing this I am on my trip. I had a couple of amazing hikes in the mountains and I’ve pitched my tent in a provincial park.  The mosquitoes are the size of tarantulas.  I endured a very cold bucket bath with water from a hand pump. I’ve had time to sit in quiet, listen to some great teaching on 1 Peter from a series on CD and I’ve had a couple of Tim Horton’s coffees along the way. Most importantly I’ve had uninterrupted time with God.

My trip is everything I hoped it would be.  It just started a couple days later as God knew I needed a few more ‘encounters’ before I hit the highway. He gave me the blessing of meeting with some wonderful people.

The delay of my trip is really insignificant to things that other people encounter. But it reminded me once again that in all things, significant or small, God’ plans are the final analysis.  Clinging to him and trusting fully in him is the only sure way to make any sense of this life.

This is how my friend lives… many years since her three-month prognosis. We had coffee together while the car was being fixed.