Category Archives: marriage to my best friend

forever and a day

It could have been yesterday.

Hot …. humid… a day scorched around it’s edges by a punishing almost-summer sun.  It was a long hot day and I was so lonely.    I remember that well.

The weight of my twenty years hung heavy around my shoulders. Only two months of space separated me from the dirt and dysfunction of a disastrous and abusive 3-year relationship.

Even then I recognized how close I came to becoming a statistic.

Finally on my own with a place to call home—or at least where I could turn the key in a lock without fear,  I was just beginning to detox from all those years of lying… and laying with a proverbial devil. By this time, I was experiencing something close to the emotional “DT’s”— anxiety, uncertainty and doubt plagued my waking hours and strangely quiet moments.

Chaos… is bad and yet strangely comforting in it’s predictability. To those unfamiliar with it,  sometimes silence feels deadly.    It did that night.

 

Although we spoke to one another regularly, I felt so far from God. It was as if I was making a collect call to Him every time… hoping He’d accept and always surprised when He did.    He was still very near to me though. How near would take me many, many more years to discover and still more years to embrace.

I had a long way to go to before I’d discover who God really is and at this point in my life I’d long forgotten who I was. Maybe I’d never known at all. It was time to find out.

By the time I’d gathered up enough courage to pack up my 70 Dodge Dart and drive away from hell,  I knew only that life *could* be better and I was allowed to start over.

 

But that night, I was tired. The deep kind of tired that comes from fighting to get to the other side. The kind of tired that almost makes you forget what you were fighting for.. give up and halfway wonder if it might have been better to stay in “Egypt”…..

And lonely.

forever and a day

All those years of forced-chosen-forced isolation not only left me with little self-respect but, no real friends. One or two hung about the fringes of my life and maybe one would actually answer the phone on a night like this.     Maybe.

One ring.
Two….. three…
On the fourth an unfamiliar voice chirps:

“Widespread Panic Hotline!
We are open for your requests now!!”

HUH?!?!  Checking the number…yes… it was correct and I hear my friend laughing in the background as this crazy…. happy person proceeds to draw me into conversation.

I can’t remember he said.   I just remember how he said it.

He was…. funny.
Stupid funny.
Kind.
A complete stranger and yet…  not.

My friend got on the line and I heard the words “party”, “come”, “tonight” and before I knew it, I was hanging up to get ready to drive somewhere I’d never been before. Taking another wild chance, on my own.

Funny how your mind works because I was intrigued and excited and scared out of my wits all at the same time. The freedom I felt was intoxicating and yet foreign and  I had to keep telling myself that this was “normal”… people socialize all the time.. yes, it was good to go.

Stepping out the door into the hazy gray softness of twilight, the heat of the day still radiating from the pavement,  I clearly remember  glancing at the sky and catching sight of the moon—round and full of promise.

Suddenly, I felt like that moon:
fat and hopeful,
bright and courageous.
FULL.

The Honey Moon

And God as my witness, I looked straight into the face of that laughing moon and I knew it.
I felt it…. and  I said it out loud:

“Tonight I will meet the man I’m going to marry.”
I meant it.
And I did.
June 16, 1989.
Twenty five years ago today.

Five months later we’d stand together before a JP and a handful of family and friends and swear we’d do whatever it was we were supposed to do from that point on…. forever.

Like we knew what forever meant!  Lawd….. at that moment, forever was the furthest thing from our minds and yet, when it was all over, there we were— married and our forever had begun.

You know, some people think forever is a long time…. as if it’s a long way off or someplace you get to eventually  or achieve.   I disagree.

Forever is actually…. always…  right now.  It’s always today and each day the choice is made to keep on going within it.

Today, June 16, 2014  is  a piece of my forever….what we like to call our “Little Anniversary”, the anniversary of the day we met. It means more than the day we married.

For both of us, it was a life altering moment.

For me in particular,  it was a shot in the dark… aiming at a minuscule glimmer of hope on the horizon. A moment of near-blind faith and trusting in what little I knew of God to be true…that good was still possible…and still out there somewhere,   for me.

Trusting I had not been abandoned without hope.

 

And people…. I KNOW…. the struggle is real.

I don’t care where you come from or how long you’ve known each other or were engaged, I’m convinced that no two people come to this place without a lot of wreckage in their wake.  There’s a lot of necessary casting off and taking on. There’s a lot of death and dying to self along the way…and many, many moments of resurrection.

I’m humbled by the realization that there was a time in our recent history when we came
—> this<— close to losing it all and not making it to this day.

When the deep wounds of our pasts would find their way to the surfaces of our individual lives and threatened to poison and kill our marriage.
When there was nothing left to do but slice ourselves open and deal with it all.
When all we could do is  trust and allow God to cleanse,  purify and heal these hurt places in us once and for all.

Painful stuff.

Hard and yet so necessary….

and so beautiful.

Long Term Marriage

Twenty-five years… of coming  so close to becoming a statistic.… and choosing  instead to  listen beyond the noise of the waves crashing on the breakers and fight our way out into the calm of wide-open seas.

Only because we did…. with God’s help…. can we celebrate the gift of our lives together — every day that’s passed between then and now and every day we’ll share from this day forward … forever.

Because forever isn’t far away…. it’s  today.  

Because maybe you need to hear this:  there’s still hope. Keep fighting for it.

It’s worth the struggle…and today, it’s what I know.

I am blessed and grateful beyond measure.

fighting the good fight,Lorretta signature

a rebel with a cause

Five  random facts about Lorretta that you may not care to know:

1) Lilacs are my favorite flower. I’ll take a fist-full of lilacs over a dozen roses any day.

2) My middle name is Lynn…making me, yes…. “Lorretta Lynn”. My mother hoped I’d be the next Country & Western star. She tried naming my baby sister “Tammy Wynette” but …thankfully, no.

3) I skipped kindergarten, becoming the only 5-year old in first grade and sealing my fate for social awkwardness for the remainder of my school career and… possibly for  life!

4) I come ridiculously undone in the presence of Jelly-Belly jellybeans.
It’s not pretty people; all social courtesies go out the door. #donottouchmyjellybellies

Finally…

5) I have a warrior spirit.  I am a fighter….and a bit of a rebel…  with a cause.

a rebel with a cause

I almost joined the Air Force right out of high school and seriously considered the Peace Corps as well. Neither happened and I don’t quite remember why but in my heart, I knew it wasn’t a good fit.

I was right.

By God’s grace, I married instead and for many reasons, I  see how that decision has been used to hone my rough edges and temper this Warrior Spirit within me.

 

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My husband has a warrior spirit too. I oughta know; he’s fought for me.

This is the guy who wanted to be a war photographer.  Back in his photojournalism days, he loved being in the middle of that breaking news story or on the edges of that raging wildfire. He did join the Air Force and for a time, that experience took us on many little adventures.

This is a drawing from the journal we kept when the Air Guard moved us to Reno:

Reno or BUST 2

As you can see, it was quite the adventure, and the adventures just keep coming!

Nearly twenty-five years of marriage and the raising of three children have served to purge a great deal of selfishness and immaturity from us, leaving behind a friendship forged and tempered in the merciful fires of God’s testing.

It hasn’t been easy. It hasn’t always been great, but it’s good and getting good-er all the time.

So why am I telling you all this?

 

Well, many years ago….yes, many, MANY years ago…God began to speak into our lives and gave us a vision. It was then that our walk with Him got real. We started seeking hard and praying together and in the midst of a very large move-of-God project, we heard HIS call to missions.
Unmistakably.
We got all excited. Hubby quit his job. We started our own video production company with a media missions emphasis and knew deep in our hearts we’d be on the field telling God stories in no time .
And we weren’t going to do weddings because only lame film companies do weddings. We were media missionaries and we were gonna do important God-work.

 

Which meant…. weddings. Lots of weddings.
And humbling. Lots of humbling.
And pain. Loss. Uncertainty. Fear.
Bad choices and  bounced checks.

 

Feeling….thinking, ” Were we wrong? Did we misunderstand God?” No, we didn’t misunderstand God but obviously… we needed some schoolin’… and some time.

 

MANY years.
It took every one of those bless-ed  years to learn what God’s call to missions is  not. To learn how to serve Christ alone, leaning on God alone.

To learn how to serve with a Spirit of humility, working hard at whatever God brought our way. Weddings, volunteer projects and short-term missions with (and outside of) our church, cultivating in us a sensitive heart for God’s people everywhere.

We’ve had to learn to do it joyfully, often thanklessly and with complete humility and integrity. We’ve had to learn how to fail, repent and rise and walk again.

Most of all, we’ve had to learn to trust in the Spirit’s leading and God’s timing–to hear his voice, and to take our eyes off our selves and OFF THE CALL (yes, off the call) and keep them fixed on Jesus and letting the ministry of the Gospel apply to our own lives first.

 

 Sounds easy, right?
A bunch of years people.
Apparently we rank up there with Moses and Joseph at the top of the class in the School of Hard Knocks and Great Love.

 

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the spiritual life
So we come to today with humble hearts. Because God is sorta “graduating” us to the next step. There’s more to this story (always!) than I can relate to you here and now but I’m grateful to announce that we
are going to to the field.

We are not moving …yet, no. But there’s a wonderful project I need to tell you all about, done through an agency I’ll tell you more about, working with partners and fellowships already in place and seeking to meet the needs of people all around the world.

It’s BIG.
It’s BEAUTIFUL
It’s so very GOD.

 

So with our 15-year old son we’re headed to Kenya and Swaziland! We’ll be gone most of July visiting and encouraging partners in the field as we seek to tell the stories of the lives being touched through Baptist Global Response and their hospice bucket project.

 

Hospice buckets….for the dying...from old age and terminal diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS is taking lives by the thousands every day in these countries. Swaziland alone is on track for EXTINCTION (no lie) if  something doesn’t change.

 

So we’re going to tell the stories of what’s being done to help and of the Great Healer and Hope behind it all.  We’re going to help connect people in need with people who care.

Can I be honest?  I’m rightly terrified.  For all the reasons I could be and should be, I go in fear. But my awe and trust in God is far greater. All I have to do is look back at what He’s done and see how He’s patiently prepared us for this moment.  Fourteen years.

And if God thinks we’re ready, who am I to argue?!
But we need you. We need other warriors.

Prayer warriors who will join us in praying for wisdom and discernment, for provision and protection as God sees fit.

We need prayers for our strength as we travel to places we’ve never been, and for our hearts as we seek to hear God’s story through the lives being touched by this project and changed by Him.
Then prayers to do His work and tell these stories well.
We’ll need prayers to discern what God’s next steps might be.
Join us?

 

open road of prayer

 

I hope so.

In the meantime….nothing’s changed. Not really. I’ll just be hammering away and telling the stories of our very real God, very real and present in my very real life today. And I’ll be telling you more about this adventure along the way.

And weddings….if you know someone getting married, we’ll gladly come!  After all, it’s where Jesus began His work as well.   Let’s celebrate!

 

In Christ alone,Lorretta signature

the view from my broken marriage

It’s Holy Week.

A week of remembering the moments surrounding the single-most important person and event in all of human history:   Jesus.  

Life. Death. Burial. Resurrection.

A week to remember the everything before and after and to rejoice that we can now live from the center of  “It is finished!”

the view from my broken marriage

Yesterday, my youngest and I occupied a pew in the little Episcopal church here in town for the first of five services our community will host this week. Today we’ll be at the Methodist church. It’s one of the many things I’ve come to love about this small country town. One week out of the year we gather in one another’s churches before God, united in the Spirit to worship our Lord and Savior; Jesus. How beautiful is the body of Christ.

 In the brief moments before the service began, I recalled this time from years before and was filled with so much peace and joy for the life in Christ I have today. Because I was remembering how just a few short years ago, I sat in a pew alone, sin sick and heart damaged by so much pain and confusion.

 Everything I thought I knew about all I thought I could depend on was falling apart and crumbling beneath my feet. I was lost amidst my own shattered illusions of what it means to be a minister of the Gospel, a woman, a wife, mother, sister and friend.

I’d come face to face with my own empty definitions, which somehow had become detached or maybe had never been truly attached to their meaning in Christ. I was a lost sheep in crisis and didn’t know if I’d ever find my way back home.

I didn’t know where home could be found and mine……… was falling apart.
Two decades of denial had taken their toll and I could no longer hold back my overwhelming dissatisfaction with the temple prostitute I had become. Angry. Fearful. Frustrated. People pleaser. Need meeter.

 Years of inattention to details, false starts and unkept promises on both sides of my marriage added more and more kindling to the pile of dead wood smoldering  inside of me and before I knew it,

this girl was about to self-combust and burn herself to the ground.

 Of course, the enemy wasted no time… slipping in the well-placed attentions of others under the guise of tending to my neglected intellectual, emotional and spiritual needs. Needs I’d forgotten I had; deeper places and pieces of me I’d set aside early in my marriage thinking I’d get to them later…things all too soon forgotten until I couldn’t forget any more. The 2 Timothy “weak-willed woman”?      That was me.

I was ripe for the picking and I had no clue.

My marriage was in shambles.

Can I just say that? Yes we are both sold out followers of Christ and yes, our marriage was in trouble.

 Honestly, we were both doing the best we could with what little we understood all those years . We’d both come from homes decimated by sin and divorce. Simply staying together would have been enough to do it better than our parents had before. But that wasn’t enough and we knew it. We loved each other and we needed help. But how?

 You know I’ve written an awful lot about mentoring and accountability. It’s because God has used these relationships to change my life and marriage.

God has used other men to minister to my husband helping him to stand firm and walk the walk and other women have counseled me and loved me back from the brink of disaster. It’s scriptural (see James 5:13-20) and it’s necessary.        Do it. 

God's real help******************************

Divorce was not an option but marriage the way we’d been doing it for 20 years wasn’t either. 

We loved God. We loved each other.

However, my husband didn’t know how or where to lead,  I didn’t know who or how to follow and after 20 years, we were getting nowhere fast. The fight was on. We fought like we’d never fought before.  Something had to change; through the prayers of others and constant humbling,  something did:

We got broken.
More broken than our marriage.

Somewhere in the middle of all the battles we stopped fighting…. each other and started to realize we were actually fighting for something far greater, and it was really worth the fight. We also realized we weren’t fighting alone. So we kept fighting for it and kept talking and listening even when it hurt.

I had to find the courage introduce my husband to the woman he actually married (once I found her again myself)  and he had to find the courage to accept and encourage me here.

I had to learn how to communicate my needs respectfully and to encourage and spur him on to greatness in Christ –trusting God to do the work in His life, and he had to learn how to listen CARE-FULLY and not finish my sentences. Ha!

He’s learning how to lead…and where; through and to Christ.
I’m learning how to follow in all the same ways.
We’re both learning to trust and share the load of leading and following under God’s direction.

We hope we get to grow old together with the emphasis on the GROW in the midst of the old.

We are partners.
We are friends.
We are warriors.

Marriage as Co-creation************************** 

It’s Holy week; the time when we remember the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who is so very real, active and alive in the world today;

I know.

 Because this is the very real life, death and resurrection story He’s made of my broken marriage.  It’s still broken but we’ve decided to keep it that way.

 Because God is teaching us both to do whatever it takes to stay broken ourselves before the Lord and this marriage…this broken marriage… is our testimony and offering to Him; broken and made whole again by God

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Dear reader,  I don’t know where you are today but if you are anywhere near where I once was, I want to offer you this testimony of hope; healing IS possible.

Maybe you or someone you know is struggling in this place today or from where you stand, disaster is on the horizon.

Fight!

Remember! It is FINISHED! Jesus is risen for you and for your marriage today.

And know this: you do not fight alone. I’d love to pray for you and hear your heart.

Broken and Mended,Lorretta signature