Marriage is like going bald — there's no parting.
Marriage is like a bank account: you put in, you take out, you lose interest.
Marriage may be compared to a cage: the birds outside despair to get in and those within despair to get out.
The formula for a happy marriage is the same as for living in California; when you find a fault, don't dwell on it.
Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horsepond.
The young girl, who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger. It occurred to him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he assumed, but a voyage on uncharted seas.
"Open your mind and heart-your entire being-to receive My Love in full measure. So many of My children limp through their lives starved for Love, because they haven't learned the art of receiving. This is essentially an act of faith: believing that I love you with boundless, everlasting Love. The art of receiving is also a discipline: training your mind to trust Me, coming close to Me with confidence.
Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. Learn to recognize his deceptive intrusions into your thought. One of his favorite deceptions is to undermine your confidence in My unconditional Love. Fight back against these lies! Do not let them go unchallenged. Resist the devil in My Name and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me, and My Presence will envelop you in Love."
The source of the wisdom and strength He makes so readily available to us is his love. But we need to be open to actively receive that, or we will be left to pitifully attempt to tackle the great challenges of this life (i.e. MARRIAGE) with our own measly strength.
I wrote some considerably ambitious vows to Mike for our wedding day..
"Michael Justin D’Eliso, my Honeypumpkinlover, my manly man, my love.You are my valiant prince, the one whom I delight in and who takes delight in me. You are a man who knows how to love: you love your God, your family, this earth and the people on it, and me. You love with reckless ambition and sincere earnestness, and I am so blessed to be a recipient of that love.
Standing here with this beautiful group of supporters, mentors and encouragers surrounding us, I want to publicly commit myself to you, as your wife, lover, forever best friend, partner, and fellow Child of the King.
I promise to love you first. I will love you by honoring, cherishing, challenging, and preferring you. I promise to be a wife who believes in you and follows you, whether you lead us to the ends of the earth or to a suburban culdesac. I promise to go on adventures with you, support you in your brokenness, and walk with you beyond your comfort zone. I promise to fulfill what God has called me to do as your wife, so that you may walk out his purpose for you to the fullest potential.
Michael Justin D’Eliso, I pray that God would grant me the grace to be a faithful vessel of his love for you, that in our joining together today, we may embark on a journey of further knowledge of his transforming, abundant, unbelievable love."
..but honestly-how the heck am I supposed to fulfill those? They sincerely came from the deepest places of my heart, however that doesn't guarantee they will be fulfilled in the actions of my body, or even come close. I can only hope to implement these promises through the vessel of God's love, which I first must receive in order for it to be an avenue of pouring out and acting in.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love (with your spouse), just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
*italics were my addition
Chipped nail polish,
The only remnants of the forgotten dreams of royalty,
Now captive in the shattered mirror pieces,
Scattered across the floor.
Like the letters on the eviction sign
That determined this fate.
Weathered and soiled and exposed to reveal
Slipping morals and desperate pleas,
Imposing an age far beyond her years
Meant to be caressed and admired, lotioned and pampered
Yet left bare to gather more wounds.
A trace of feigned glamour and haphazard lipstick
Tell more than she can say.
Tell a story of mother’s dreams crushed, beauty distorted, fatal mistakes, ambitions violated, lies believed, realities realized and ideals disregarded.
She tells a story she is not capable of speaking,
Her voice dismissed to whatever might fit on a cardboard sign.
This morning my dad remarked a moment of enlightenment he had earlier as to why my Grandpa and I were so closely bonded: it's just a granddaughter thing. Anyone who has seen my dad within sight of his little "muffin" (my niece Elina) would hastily agree that she is the light of his life. He could be standing the middle of a hailstorm in only his briefs and she would still bring a smile to his face. He noted that there must have been that same connection between my Grandpa and me - a man and his princess of a granddaughter. My Grandpa always called me 'the apple of his eye' which I took to be a slight hyperbole, but I'm discovering he truly loved me that much.
What might actually bring me even more joy than dwelling on the love that we shared is the fact that over this past week I was able to serve him with everything I have. Though it was undoubtedly the hardest week of my life, I will cherish this time tremendously. Because my grandpa was fairly unresponsive over the last few days, he was unable to object to me sitting by his bed for hours, moistening his lips with a sponge, stroking his head, holding his hand, and generally making him as comfortable as possible despite the unpleasant circumstances. I was privileged with the opportunity to love this man through serving him, which ironically was his most prominent way of showing love to others. Our family rallied together in attempt to reciprocate just a small percentage of the tender care Grandpa extended to us over the years. In doing so, we were able to extend the love and grace of Jesus, which brought restoration, dignity, self-worth, identity, and redemption to his life.
In addition to the sweetness of catering to my Grandpa's needs, this week was filled with unforgettable moments of tenderness. Gentle kisses shared between man and wife of 63 years, family stories unearthed from the heart of Steiling tradition, hands held and tears shed and hugs given, blessings whispered, angelic songs sang, family bonded, and love flourished. A specific moment stands out as one I hold most dear from this time: as I was sitting on his bed in the afternoon, he stirred and became fully coherent. I squeezed his hand and told him I was there sitting with him, and I love him dearly, and asked him to just lay and rest while I sat there. He reached toward my shoulder, and I realized I had my curls up in a bun that day. Apparently that just wouldn't do, so I quickly let down my hair and he reached to run his fingers through it. It turns out that my Grandpa sincerely meant it throughout the years when he talked of how he loved my curls. :) I plan to keep my hair long and let my curls flow for as long as they choose to, in honor of this sweet man.
I loved him, respected him, admired him, cherished him, and held him in highest esteem. Now I choose to thank Jesus for taking him home.
However, with a recent average of about one emotional breakdown per week, this characteristic of the former Britni is long gone. My coping mechanism is shifting from a quiet containment of all emotion to a violent, weeping episode of grief, as God is revealing to me a whole new level of his sensitive heart. Each day that I walk through this world, it becomes more and more blaring and apparent that people are tattered and worn. broken. Any time I choose to willingly open my eyes, hopelessness is staring back into my eyes, harshly holding my gaze. What's more, I have discovered a whole new definition to the word hopeless...the woman who has abused her body through prostitution for years and now finds herself with nothing left to offer a man, yet the only people in her life are men who want more...the man who trudges through life with empty pockets and alcohol bottle in hand, only bothering to sober up for his son's basketball games, but debilitating himself to be a father in any other vicinity...the woman who lost her husband and her home, her family has long since abandoned her, and her frail and elderly body can't support a lifestyle of living alone...the child who was robbed of parents at birth due to a fatal disease, and is left to the chance of charity for survival...hopeless.
While walking to the coffee shop where I am sitting now, I passed a young boy being lifted into an ambulance. I observed those passing by, and noted that every person unashamedly gawked and stared as they walked by. We are fascinated by others in pain, in crisis, in trauma. You start telling a gruesome story of a brutal injury or a startling crime and everyone listening sits with rapt attention. Why? I have to assume it is more than just intrigue and curiosity. Humans were made for community and relation. First and foremost, we were created to commune with our God, and secondly to relate to each other. We crave hearing stories that we can cling to and relate to-we yearn to know others who can share in our pain and our joy, our heartache and our success.
So, brothers and sisters, where is this unity that we were so clearly created for? Why are these people suffering in complete hopelessness left to suffer alone? We are all human beings, from the most evil child molester to the most innocent, sweet old woman. We were all created with purpose in mind, all with the purpose of being made into children of God, all with the need for relationship, community, love.
I challenge you now: arm yourself with the penetrating, transforming love of Christ and stand to meet the fierce gaze of hopelessness. Stare it down to the ground and let growth and grace rise in its place.
Romans 12:9-16 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited"