Tuesday, February 5, 2013

30th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 30th Wedding Anniversary!! Wow, I barely remember what my life was without him. What a ride it’s been!! With sooo many more ups then downs!! 30 years, 5 kids, 1 son-in-love and so many amazing memories!! What an AMAZING God we serve for giving us each other. To walk through life with and enjoy the scenery! I’m grateful beyond belief for these 3 decades and I understand God’s love for me even more!!

My husband, who still to this day pursues me like he did when he was trying to win my heart! That’s so important guys - a girl wants to be pursued, always! He has honored me and cherished me and been right by my side and laughed with me and loved me and led me and prayed for me and respected me and served me. What a wonderful example for our children of a righteous and Godly man!! Thank you honey for giving me a life that I wouldn’t trade for ANYBODY’S life in this whole entire world!! I’ve loved you since I was a silly little 12 year old and I’ll love you till I take my last breath (hopefully together like Noah & Ali) – you are my guy, my best friend, my devoted husband, my LOVE!!

Here is a note that Ray read to me after dinner and we together, just the 2 of us – renewed our vows to each other.

I want to start off by saying that the vows that we made 30 years ago have done pretty darn good and we shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Having said that, I also realize that 30 years ago around this time I had absolutely NO idea what I was saying and how it would impact us some 30 year later. It was only after gaining a somewhat working knowledge of the Word of God, that I realize now what the Lord has done. Our lives were knitted together with those vows. With those vows, we have been joined together, with Him, to make us "One" - one couple that is joined to the Lord by those simple vows.  Set up by Him,  to walk beside Him, to be led by Him, and sometimes carried by Him - for the sole purpose of demonstrating His amazing faithfulness & love for us, in us and through us to others. His Grace is how we make 1 year, 10 years, 30 years.

So I asked myself - What did my vows do?  How did just reciting a few words keep us married of 30 years?  Will they keep us another 30?  Will simple words keep 2 people together for years?  If that’s true why do I see so many marriages failing right and left? Why do we see so many couples struggling to keep the vows that they have made? Men and women cheating on each other, throwing their hands up after years of marriage, only to say, "we missed it.”

WHAT IS OUR PART?   What role do we play in this amazing game of life & marriage?  What do we do as an individual, as a couple, to remain in our marriage?  Are the ones that last until
death do us part, just the lucky ones?

Then the Holy Sprit gently reminded me of His Word. “For a man to find life, he must lose his."

That's it!!   That's the Answer in a nutshell. The answer is so simple! Lay down your life. Lay it down. Take no thought of yourself. Take no thoughts of your  wants, your desires, your needs. Lay it down, lay it all down,  just as Christ laid His life down for you.

Only it's not so easy. In fact, not only is it not easy, but it's hard as heck. How do I lay it down? Well after 30 years of marriage this is where I started and this is where I return;  First was a vow to To Christ Jesus, my messiah…
Then to my sweet and caring, incredibly beautiful wife. I VOW…

#1 - I vow to fall in love with Christ all over again and again. To return to my first love, because its out of that love for Him that I can love you.
#2 - I vow to lay my life down for Christ to have. Because I know that when I lay down my life, He will raise US up to a life filled with Him and the plans He has for both of us.
#3-  I vow to give Him my mind.  I know that His thoughts are not mine, but my desire is for them to be. His word says for me to repent; to change the way I think. To think like Him will help me to be able to put you before myself. To put your wants, your desires and needs, before mine. That is my heart.
#4-  I vow to give Him my eyes so that He, in His love for us, will allow me to see things the way you see things. To be a more compassionate man for you. To always see the amazing beautiful woman that I fell in Love with years ago. That is my heart
#5-  I vow to give Him my hands. I want Him to use me to be the best husband I can be for you. I want to be the handy man you need to fix things around our home and at the end of the day to hold you and tell you how special and beautiful you are to me. That's my heart.
#6 -  I vow to give Him my feet. I know He has placed me in your life to be a helper for you. That also includes running errands for you.  Being a servant to you. That is my heart.

My Vow to you, is to Love Abba with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength.  To be the man that you deserve, the man that lays his life down for his wife, just as The Lord did for Is church.

To love you till the end! I love you Teddi, with all my heart. Here’s to another 30+ years!!

*** We are on our 3rd day of our cruise and yesterday we watched the Notebook – me oh my, we both cried and cried! What a love they portrayed! We thought it would be fun today to do a question and answer of the last 30 years. We didn’t know the dates would be so hard to remember. I’m glad we did it because we’ll have it to look back on or our kids can. LOTS and LOTS left out but it’s a thumbnail. Just an afternoon of reminiscing and oh what fun it’s been. Nobody on this earth I enjoy doing nothing with, like Ray!! For most it will bore you and I understand but here’s just a little fun we had before our big night starts tonight!

****Let’s talk about the 1st 5 years.

Me: What was the best thing that happened in the 1st year, in your opinion?

Ray: Not having to take you home anymore. That was #1.
Remember we weren’t really walking with the Lord… Enjoying that tiny mobile home at the hill in Granbury that you made such an awesome home for us.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: I didn’t have to travel back and forth from Granbury to Arlington to see you.

Me: What was the worst thing that happened in the 1st year, in your opinion?

Ray: That you miscarried our 1st baby. That really probably was the single most horrible thing that’s ever happened in our marriage.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: That you had to work and I hated that you had guys that hit on you.

Me: Ok, lets talk about the next 4 years. Good things…

Ray: The 2nd year we really began our walk with the Lord. Found that little church in Granbury that the Lord used to grow us up. You stopped working and you’ve never worked since. Then in 1985 Rachel was born. The excitement of having her and nervous…loved having your Mom there for those 6 weeks. The weekend we celebrated our 3rd anniversary we moved to Corpus with a job transfer. Not the happiest time for you being away from your family. Sisters having babies and you missing out on that. All the dozens of trips you and Rachel made in that station wagon, no cell phone (what was I thinking letting you do that.) Loved being on the beach but it wasn’t home. Got pregnant for Sarah in Corpus and headed back to Arlington in a little rent house. We lasted about 10 mths. away. Transferred back with the same company and stayed about 6 mths in that rent house. Then moved in with your Mom, Jake and Traci. Brought Sarah home to your Mom’s house in July of 1987. And lived there about 1 ½ years. Left there and went to a big apt. with us and the 2 girls. That 2 years was some serious growing up in the Lord for us both. I started to become the man of God that He intended me to be and you grew a ton with women in your life that helped you. Lots of fun times with friends, camping and having a good time with our little family.

Me: Anything else?

Ray: It was a great 1st 5 years. Grew a TON! Had lots of revelations about being a husband. Loved being a Dad.

Me: What were some of the challenges those 1st 5 years?

Ray: Financial challenges, communication challenges, finding time for us brought on challenges.

Me: OK, year 5-10

Ray: Early 1990 I started at AFISCO, where I still am today, wow! Rachel started school at COP and you became pregnant with Hannah in the late Summer of 90’. Brought Hannah home to the apt and when she was 6 weeks old we moved to that awesome farm house in Midlothian. At the end of Rachel’s year of Kindergarten we decided to homeschool. Setup our 1st classroom & got our very 1st computer. 1991 was the year we got our 2nd car. 6 years with 1 car. Quickly after Hannah was born, 5 ½ mths, we were pregnant for Olivia. Just as we decided to homeschool, God gave us another arrow in our quiver. That was a trusting God time that we could do all that He had called us to do… Olivia was born in August 1992. 2 cribs in 1 room was amazing. Those 5 years were awesome – bday parties in the “big patch” – schooling our girls – SPORTS began with Ms. Sarah.

Me: Not so good times in year 5-10? 1988-1993

Ray: You going with Jan to Mississippi and me & Paul watching a total of 9 kids. Me having my appendix rupture while you were gone. That wasn’t a good time. Rachel got bit by that dog and I got bit by brown recluse. You dealing with fear really bad. Not fun at all. Growing of that farm house with 4 little girls that had a bunch of girl stuff. AND 1 bathroom for 5 girls!!! Nightmare! Never getting anywhere on time was a memory.

Me: Year 1993 – 1995 What do you remember…

Ray: Well Olivia was born late 1992 so I was the blessed man of 4 of the cutest and sweet girls. Proud, proud Dad. Our sports with kids started with Rach and Sarah playing on a YMCA team with their cousins and it was my 1st time to coach my kids. Sarah began her years of gymnastics and then softball and basketball. Sarah was a challenge because she climbed everything. Remember the time we found her on the frig? Then at 4 Hannah started softball and Liv right behind her. It was Fall Softball & Summer Softball then Winter Basketball. Also we had all 3 little girls in Gymnastics. Busy, busy sports family! We were homeschooling all 4 by them and loving it! My job was great and kept busy but flexible for you & the kids. Lots of great trips with sports and family vacations. Camping was what we loved to do. Teaching the kids about Jesus was a daily walk. Us teaching childrens church and our marriage was as strong as ever.

Me: Between 93 and 95 what do you remember was the things that kept our marriage happy and alive?

Ray: I was thinking that was a busy time. Busy with church and kids and sports. Our relationship with the Lord was growing, we were taking care of kids and all they did but in that time we began to realize that we must take time for each other. Then is when we really started faithfully having date nights. In all of it we were happy but we missed being alone with each other. 1 of the major things that helped through that time was our ability to laugh. Laugh at each other, with each other and especially at our children. Laughter has always been something we could do for the other. You know you’ve become more funny because of me? (Yes I know)

Me: 1995 to 2003 – were some exciting times, talk about that time.

Ray: Went on our 1st family vacay to Colorado. That was a great trip. Job was great and it was time to leave the 1 bathroom… Started looking for a house and decided to build. That process started in late 1995 and we moved in, in Sept of 1996. Everyone but the babies (Han & Liv) had their own room and your Mom came to live with us, which was awesome. That house was and is a great time for our family. We were spread out and loved the 4 bathrooms.
For the 1st time in our married life we were putting roots down. As soon as the big girls started youth, I started going with them to most everything. You were with the babies and I was with the big girls. Then began our years & years of teenagers allll over our house. Lots & lots & lots of hang outs & parties. Feeding them, ministering to them and loving on them. So much fun!! In 1999 you came to me & said you thought we should have another child. I need to pray but soon after I was in agreement. Brought the kids together and that very fun discussion and voted whether to have another sibling. So we did and in Sept of 2000 we were all blessed by the 1st boy in our family, GRANT! Things slowed down but not much. Our 1st Disney World trip was in 2001. Still homeschooling & still doing sports with Hannah & Olivia. Sarah had moved on by that time and was super involved with youth and the youth band. Rach was involved with youth also and was a vital part by being a leader. Church and cell groups and youth and sports were their life. We were in full time ministry and didn’t even know it. This was exactly what God had called us to do. We were youth Pastors with no pulpit and it was awesome!! We poured out our lives into young people…from that time to this.

Me: OK, 2003 to 2008

Ray:  Rachel & Sarah finished homeschooling in 2003. And in December of 2003 at 16 years old, Sarah started at CFNI. Then a semester later Rachel joined Sarah. Lots of fun times w/ Praise band worship and ALL the young adults that came through our house! Megan came into our life and so many others. Many will be lifelong family members. Sarah went on her 1st mission trip at 16 to India for 3 weeks. That was a challenge to you and I but we did it because of our faith in God with her. The little girls were growing and always close steps behind their big sisters. Then came YFN and the girls leaving for the whole Summer – that was different. Then Rach & Sarah going to the Philippines with Rick & those guys. Also traveled in the states with Rick and also with Kari. 2005 they were done at CFNI. Rach & Sarah both started working. The Summer of 2006 we went to Disney World for the 2nd time. Grant started at Grace Prep in the Fall of 2006. In the Summer of 2007 the big girls went to Israel with friends from Shady Grove. That was when they met Austin – our 1st son in law. Rach was forever changed for her heart for Israel & went back almost every year since. In the beginning of 2007 we started our Home Church and we had that till late 2008. What a great time that was with so many great people. In the Summer of 2008 we travelled all over for 3 weddings. 1st was in Mississippi for Marcie and Zach then I married the Kuehns in Tennessee & the Unraths in Idaho. All in 2008. In May of 2008 Austin came to me and asked if he could pursue Hannah. That began their love story. Fall of 2008 Sarah went to IHOP for 3 months. In August of 2009 I went to Israel with Olivia to see Rachel and see the sights for 2 weeks. In late 2008 Hannah and Olivia were done with homeschool and that ended a HUGE chapter in our lives.

Me: Challenges of that time.

Ray: Making time for each other. Time for each kid. Grant growing to be a young boy that needed me. Boundaries we needed to set but usually didn’t. Financial challenges to keep up with everybody’s wants and needs. Work was good but times were shifting and in late December of 2008 we noticed the economy slowing down.

Me: Ok, 2009-2013 --- Good times and bad!

Ray: I like to call the year of 2009…the year from hell. Financially the year was from hell but in many, many other ways it was a time of seeing God’s faithfulness, over and over again. The economy for my specific industry didn’t see any change from the end of 2008 and progressively got worse as 2009 went on. Banks failed, car manufacturers went out of business and home foreclosures were ridiculous. It was trying and as a family we grew to see what was really important. Over and Over again we saw God take care of our family and we grew as a family. About ½ through the year the economy began to recover and things got much better. Everyone pitched in, we all prayed, cut every corner and made it through. November of 2009 Austin came to me and asked me for Hannah’s hand in marriage - I said yes. They got engaged in January of 2010 in Israel and then began in the wedding planning. Married in November of 2010. It was 1 of the best days for our family and unforgettable. Sarah moved out for a time in 2010 and then moved back. --- 2011 was a travelling year for the girls, Sarah and Meshali went to Belgium, Paris, Amsterdam --  Liv and Rachel went on a 2 week tour of Ireland with Coty. Liv went to California with Hannah & then onto Seattle by herself. Then early 2012 she went with Sarah, Hannah and Meshali to Europe and they visited Belgium, Paris and went to see the Comiskeys in Ireland. We had lots of wonderful family time. Christmas of 2011 we went on the ski trip to Colorado with all 8 of us and it was a trip of a lifetime. Skiing, hot air ballooning, snow mobiling, sleighing and such a wonderful time with us all.  ---In 2012 Rachel went to Amman Jordan for 3 weeks to see Megan and she visited Israel. 2012 began a challenging year of my health. In the 1st 3 mths trying to figure things out. By April found out the results of thyroid and other things that were totally treatable but those months were dark…but we survived and survived it together. Rest of 2012 enjoyed good health and in November I turned the big 5-0 which wasn’t so bad. That is when we went on our 1st cruise and LOVED it! Christmas 2012 was great to still have all the kids at home and 2013 is starting off to be GREAT! Here we are in the middle of the Caribbean, reliving the last amazing 30 years and I can’t help but give so much glory and praise to the Lord. He is the reason for our success in our marriage, our family, us ministering as a family and my work. Thank you Jesus!