The Secret to get to 43 Years (#6) …

Whenever my wife and I have had big decisions to make in our marriage we always came up with what we called our “non-negotiables”. These were items that needed to be present for us to go ahead with a decision. Sometimes these non-negotiables helped us not stress over a big decision because one of our non-negotiables was not available in what was being considered. As soon as we realized that then we stopped processing the possibilities and said no. We knew it wasn’t for us. A secret to our lasting 43 years and still growing and loving each other is our number one non-negotiable, that our marriage would be Christ-centered.

No matter what your belief system is you must decide what matters most to you and your spouse. You need to work on your own non-negotiables. Take some time and talk about it together. Some things on your list will be fluid. Some things will change as circumstances in your life change. One dynamic example of things changing is if you have children. Major changes will impact some things on your non-negotiable list. But there should be some things on that list don’t change no matter what. For us the top of the list not changed.

The top of our non-negotiable list is that our marriage will be Christ-centered, that divorce is not an option and that we would be a team. Without these non-negotiable items I am not sure where we would be today. Non-negotiables are not a magic formula, but that are a great foundation. This foundation is what we have built our marriage on and continue to build it today.

What are your non-negotiables?

For us, because the top of our list was that our marriage would be Christ-centered we filter our decisions through the Bible and prayer. This keeps us centered on Christ and keeps our decisions in line with Christ in action and thought. This has made all the difference for us. I would encourage you to consider following this course for your marriage.

We declared from the beginning that divorce would not be an option for us. I realize that making that declaration does not guarantee there will not be a divorce, but because this was one of our non-negotiables we never spent time contemplating it. We both agreed with this declaration. We both had examples of parents who were in it for the long haul. This laid a foundation for us that when there were problems in our relationship we did not consider divorce, instead we worked to resolve our issues.

The other top item on our list was to work as a team. At first, we didn’t really talk about this we just did because it seemed natural and it seemed like the smart way to live. We have been doing it for 43 years and it is still working. This has been true for my time as a teacher and it continues to this day as a pastor. For all the years I have coached, and the three years that she coached, we have worked together. We were a team while raising our children and at each stage of our 43 years we have been a team.

What are your non-negotiables?

It is difficult for me to separate these top items on our non-negotiables. Because we have made our marriage Christ-centered, that has empowered us to not consider divorce and to work as a team. The beauty of our non-negotiables is they have saved us a lot time and worry. There are many things that come to us as options, and most of them we don’t spend time considering because they don’t match our non-negotiables. For each option we start with our non-negotiables, does this line up with our list? If not, then we are done considering it. If it appears to line up with our top items, then we consider it and see it if it matches our other needs. Either way it makes our decisions much easier and less stressful.

What are your non-negotiables?

Here’s hoping that your foundation is solid and that you will be in your relationship for the long haul.

 

Dennis

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Monday Evening Musings …

It is now 5:00 PM as sit down to type this post. Yesterday was a very different day, because I was not at our church. It was a vacation Sunday, but not a day without responsibilities. As for my musings …

-I took a vacation weekend to spend time with our volleyball teams at a summer tournament. It was a fun experience, but it made for a confusing day for me. Not being at church always feels strange and being in a gym added to the strangeness. We had a good day and I am seeing some of the girls make great strides this summer.

-I was gone from church but my wife was there and gave me a great summary of the day.

-The lady who preached for me did a good job. She shared about her new ministry in a nearby town that is reaching a difficult area of that city. I am a big fan of hers and our children will be giving some of their VBS offerings to support her and this new ministry.

-My grandson made it to South Africa over the weekend, but as of this moment his luggage has not made it. That is going to make beginning his college semester a real adventure. Appreciate prayers of this situation.

-It was nice to be out of town for 3 days and my wife was able to be with me for most of it. She came back to where the tournament took place yesterday afternoon and we stayed an extra night. We needed some away time in a different setting. I love this woman. We headed home this afternoon, but for a little while it was just us.

-Our church building is being taken over by decorations for VBS and I love it.

-Last evening, I received an update about a recent prayer request that had me rejoicing and smiling with great joy. I love when people come together and agree in prayer.

 

-This afternoon I went to visit a man from our church that had some setbacks after a recent surgery. It was good to see him, spend some time talking with him and to pray for him. I came away from the visit encouraged.

-We are in the process of lining things up to have the roof on the church and the parsonage replaced very soon. Watching the weather forecast to line up 4 or 5 good days in a row.

-I will be heading to three days of training later this week. I will be learning how to assess church planters and how to encourage them in the process. I am looking forward to this even though I expect it to be an intense time of training.

-Though I wasn’t at church yesterday I did receive the prayer requests that were handed in on our connection cards. I keep them in my Bible and do my best to pray over them each day.

-This past week I took some time to marvel at the opportunities God is giving me to make an impact and have some influence with many people in our community. I am thrilled and humbled as I reflect on these opportunities. I am also filled with an overwhelming realization that I need God to be in control or my impact will have no meaning and my influence will be of no value. This is another reason that I know I need to pray more.

-I have received some encouraging words this past week. Some of them from people who have encouraged me in the past and one of them from someone who stepped out of their comfort zone to encourage me. Just another reminder of how powerful encouraging words can be for all of us.

Here’s hoping you seek to encourage someone this week and that in so doing you will be encouraged yourself.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#5) …

Another secret/factor to getting to 43 years of marriage is wearing the right kind of glasses. Seriously, what kind of glasses you wear has a big impact on your marriage. Think about it, what is the purpose of wearing glasses? To improve your vision. I realize that it is now trendy to wear glasses that have no power to impact your vision. But I am talking about glasses that impact, influence and even change your vision.

Several years ago, my wife and I were in a store and my wife was searching for something. While she was searching I was finding ways to entertain myself and anyone else near me. (For some reason my wife doesn’t always like for me to go shopping with her.) I saw one of those stands holding reader glasses. Those five-dollar type glasses that come in a variety of magnifications. I put on a few pair and was laughing at how goofy I looked. I put on a pair and went to find my wife to show her and get a laugh from her. After the laughs I turned to go put the glasses back and then it happened. I looked at some signs in the store. I took the glasses off and looked at the same signs. I put them back on and realized I could see letters and numbers much clearer with the glasses on. Shortly after this incident I went to an eye doctor and I have been wearing glasses ever since.

I discovered when I got my glasses that my vision had been impaired. Some things that had been blurry became clear and headaches I had learned to endure disappeared. All because I finally was wearing the right glasses.

Whether you physically wear glasses, or contacts, is not the issue to a lasting marriage. What is necessary is for you to have the right vision of your spouse and marriage. You must view your spouse accurately and I believe there should be a definite rose-colored tint to your vision. I don’t believe you should be blind to reality, but you must have a positive view of your spouse, and your marriage, to make it last.

I don’t mean that you should ignore serious issues. Issues of abuse, of anger, of abandonment and more must be addressed, change must take place and outside help is needed.

I am talking about seeing that your spouse is not perfect, focusing on the positive in them and working to improve your own issues. I am talking about not dwelling on what is irritating. Too often I see, and hear, couples complaining about things with their spouse that irritate them, which results in them missing the big picture. They complain about a toilet seat left up and ignore the faithfulness. They gripe about a less than pristine house and ignore the support they are given. They moan about all kinds of things and refuse to look at all the positives and the possibilities in their marriage.

We need to wear the right glasses in our marriage. We need to see clearly and accurately, but we must have a tint that brings our focus to the positives. We need to put on the glasses that remind us of why we were first attracted to our spouse, beyond just looks. Because looks change over time. My hair is much different than on our wedding day. I have much less of it and what I have left is a different color. My body has changed. If our marriage only lasted the length of time the looks stayed the same, we would not have come close to 43 years. For my wife, she must view me with a focus that takes many other things into consideration and I do the same.

My point of all this is that you must see your spouse clearly with focus on the positives. If you wear magnifying glasses that only see the flaws, you and your spouse will be miserable, and your marriage will not last.

What glasses are you wearing in your marriage?

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday had many elements of a typical summer Sunday, as for my musings …

-There was a great spirit during the music and prayer time of worship. Then it felt like it went a little flat early in my message. Fortunately, it seemed that by the end of the message the atmosphere had rebounded some and the finishing music went very well.

-We changed our worship service order slightly yesterday. Maybe that had some impact on the up and down feeling during the service. I like to have the order of our worship changed periodically so that people do not just go through the motions because they know what is coming next. The danger is that people get unsettled by changes, so you must find the right balance for your congregation.

-Our attendance, for what is considered a second consecutive holiday weekend, was reasonable. It was down, but it was reasonable.

-My wife and I went for a walk at one of our local parks that has some lakes and some nice paved walking paths on Saturday. That is significant because my wife was not able to do that last summer. Now, less than 3 months after double knee replacement, she was able to go there and walk. We didn’t measure it exactly, but I am certain that we walked a little over a mile. That is a huge praise.

-My oldest grandson will fly to South Africa later this week to begin his semester of college studies abroad. I admire his desire to serve others and his willingness to be stretched in his studies.

-We begin our Vacation Bible School three weeks from tonight.

-Our weather was much milder this past weekend. It was about 10 degrees cooler and we received some much-needed rain last week.

-Today is my 11th consecutive day of going to our local hospital to serve as chaplain. Normally I serve 1 day a week. But the other 3 chaplains were all gone at the same time for a 2-week period. I agreed to help as much as I could. I have enjoyed getting to minister to some patients for a few days in a row. That is something I don’t normally get to do. However, I am weary and ready for the others to get back. They will cover for me a couple of times in the upcoming weeks.

-This weekend was difficult for me. I heard difficult reports about several situations from around the world and in the lives some people I know personally. I am not sure why some of it hit me as hard as it did this weekend. I spent a lot of time in prayer over the weekend about these situations.

-I have been spending some time working on the message plans for this fall.

-I am enjoying writing the posts about Secrets to get to 43 Years. Each Wednesday for a few weeks I am sharing a key factor, or secret, about getting to 43 years of a growing and loving marriage. In a month my wife and I will celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary.

Here’s hoping that you grow in your relationships and encourage someone else today.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#4) …

Getting to 43 years of marriage, and to have it still be loving and growing takes a lot of work. There is no magic formula and no one secret, but there are some keys and it seems many people are not aware of them. This is my effort to share some key factors, or secrets if you prefer, that have brought my wife and I to where we will be celebrating our 43rd anniversary next month.

Laughter is said to be good medicine, it is also a secret to get to 43. Where there is laughter there are happy and joyful people. Laughter is critical to get to 43, and beyond. There will be plenty of serious and difficult stuff to deal with, so laugh when you can. It could save your marriage.

I am not talking about laughing to hurt someone. I am not talking about one-sided laughter. I am talking about shared and generous laughter. I am talking about laughing and at yourself, laughing with your spouse and being okay with being laughed at on occasion.

Laughter lightens the mood in most situations. It makes you feel better. Laughter is usually contagious. When someone laughs it quite often prompts laughter from those around them. Sometimes the laughter that is created is simply laughing at the way the other person laughs. Which in turn brings more laughter.

Laughing at your spouse’s groaner of a joke, might be something that must be learned, but it can be positive. My wife has a lot of experience at responding to lame jokes and since I am a preacher, she has heard some of them many, many times.

Laughing together draws people together. Laughing together opens you up and creates an environment where it is safe to share thoughts, dreams, fears and hurts with that person. My wife often says when she is leading a group of ladies that she wants to have them share laughter and tears. When that happens, it has been a good group. But the laughter comes first.

If you want to have a marriage that get to 43, and even beyond, then you must laugh. When two people spend as much time together as it requires to have a lasting marriage, there are a lot of reasons to laugh. We do silly things we do dumb things, we get our words twisted, we forget things, and much more. All of these should produce some laughter.

The couple who laughs together seems to last together. There has been a lot of laughter in our 43 years. When our kids and grandkids gather the laughter is amped up several degrees. Each of our three kids by marriage (our in-law kids) learned very early that if they were going to join this family laughter would be required.

So, laugh a little today, or better yet, laugh a lot today. It could add years to your marriage.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a good day. There were some significant moments and some pleasant surprises. As for my musings …

-There were several people who committed to nailing some of their actions to the cross. The actions that they realized are contrary to living in the spirit. This commitment also includes not trying to pull these actions back in the future. Too often we make commitments and then when we struggle we seek to resurrect old habits and hurts.

-We had a reasonable attendance yesterday on what is considered by many a holiday weekend. When the 4th is on a Wednesday it seems that we have two holiday weekends. I was pleasantly surprised with our attendance.

-My grandson received his student visa on Thursday last week. We did a lot of rejoicing when that arrived. Then he (actually his mom) was able to reschedule his return flight and he flew out yesterday. He will be arriving in Africa a few hours after this is posted. Thanks to all who prayed for him and all these details.

-Yesterday I asked the question “Now What?” to the sermon from a week ago, which was the choice to live in the Spirit. We stayed in Galatians 5:16-26. This coming Sunday we are staying in that same passage and looking at keys to seeing the fruit of the Spirit in your daily living.

-It was brutally hot around here over the weekend and the rain that we were supposed to get yesterday missed us. We could use some rain.

-I am doing extra time as Chaplain at the hospital for a couple of weeks. The other 3 Chaplains are all on an out of country trip.

-The class on fatherhood at the prison had some very special moments this past week. Several of the men talked about regrets that have impacted their role as fathers. It was incredible to see, and hear, these guys share in such a vulnerable way. They went to specific things and choices they made. These were things that went beyond what landed them in prison.

-One of the men in our class was baptized over the weekend and he shared that he made that choice with the class.

-We continue to have 20 people, or more, show up each week to work on decorations and props for our upcoming Vacation Bible School.

-In the volleyball summer league this past week my team was missing a couple of starters and played very well. It was a fun night to coach watching some of them rise to the occasion and play so well. We won the match which is great, but the summer league is about more than winning. It is about learning some new things, learning to work together and for my freshman team it is also about playing at the high school level.

-My wife is approaching the 12-week mark since her double knee replacement surgery. She is doing well and was released from all physical therapy.

-In the midst of my grandson getting his visa, rearranging flights and getting him to where he needed to be I missed an important appointment. I only had a few hours warning that I needed to move my appointment to another time. In those hours I was serving as Chaplain and setting up the where and when to get to my grandson to my daughter who would take him to the airport on Sunday. I am sick that I missed the appointment and that I didn’t get a hold of the person I was meeting.

Here’s hoping you don’t miss anything this week.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#3) …

Another key factor/secret to making it to 43 years of marriage is Forgetfulness. Yes, I really mean being forgetful is a must for a lasting and loving marriage.

I don’t mean the I can’t find my keys, where did I park the car, have you seen my glasses or I’m sorry I forgot your birthday type of forgetfulness. Although all of those will happen with increasing frequency with each passing year. I am speaking of deliberate, purposeful and chosen forgetfulness.

Why would anyone choose forgetfulness? Because so many things that happen in a relationship, and especially in a marriage, are not something that should matter in the long term. Therefore, learn the art of forgetfulness for the things that should not matter in the long run. If you don’t learn the art of forgetfulness you will harbor bad feelings and then remind your spouse of these things long after they should be forgotten.

Who was right about the color of bathroom walls in your first apartment doesn’t matter in the long run. Who remembered the name of your first next door neighbor doesn’t matter in the long run. There are other things to forget, such as who said the first harsh word when your discussion turned into something of an argument. There are many things to forget.

Some might call this forgetfulness “letting it go”. That is fine, because you are letting something go and not holding unto it. I use the term forgetfulness because you must make a choice to let it go and the only way to really let it go is to forget it. The difficulty is our natural tendency to remember stuff we should forget and then to think about these things too much. To remember the hurt and forget about the help. To remember the labels and name calling and forget the sacrifice. For a lasting and loving marriage, we must choose to reverse that tendency. We must forget better.

If we don’t learn to forget we will hold onto every hurt and annoyance and then these things will pop up when we are stressed. When they pop up will we throw these past incidents into the current situation and create chaos. We simply cannot remember and recycle every hurt. The result of remembering and recycling the hurts is stress, bitterness, resentment and eventually relationship fatigue.

It is time we learned how to forget better and choose to remember the kindness, the sacrifice, the intent and help of our spouse. If you can learn to forget the small stuff and remember what matters most, you can have a lasting and loving marriage.

One last word on this, forgetting is not pretending it didn’t happen. To forget we deal with hurts that run deep early, so they cannot get rooted in our relationship. We share what hurts then and help each other not do those hurtful things in the future and we recognize that some things are just not that big of a deal.

Here’s hoping you remember the great things about your spouse and forget the annoyances that shouldn’t be a big deal, and that you don’t forget their birthday or your anniversary.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a good day, but a it felt like a letdown from last Sunday, not bad, just a letdown from the previous week. As for my musings …

-Our time of singing in worship went well and the congregation was engaged.

-One of the most encouraging things in worship yesterday was seeing some of our elementary children as they worshipped. We have the children in our worship service for all, or nearly all, of the music part of worship. Then they go to their own children’s church for a bible lesson. During the music it is encouraging to watch, and listen, to the children. They get into the music and they are truly worshipping. They are a great example for the adults of pure and open worship. They are not worried about what anyone else thinks of them and they are not concerned about how they appear. They just worship. It is not unusual for our worship team to be moved to tears as they watch they children.

-Still praying for my grandson’s student visa to arrive.

-It was nice to have some cooler weather for a couple of days this weekend.

-Our attendance was very low yesterday.

-After having family with us last weekend and then having such a good worship service with great attendance, yesterday seemed like a bit of a letdown. However, there was a good spirit and people were engaged right from the beginning of the sermon.

– On Friday I had to take my vehicle to a repair shop. As I was leaving the hospital from my time as Chaplain, something happened to the front end. I had trouble steering and there was a squealing sound that was increasing with each block. Fortunately, the auto repair shop was nearby. When I got out of the vehicle I saw that the front driver’s side wheel was leaning in a lot. I am not a mechanic, but I am pretty sure something broke. Not looking forward to getting the news from the mechanic today. Good news, our other vehicle is running fine.

-Summer conditioning and open gym with the volleyball program has been very good. I am getting to know them much better. I am enjoying it and looking forward to the season this fall.

-Our Vacation Bible School props and decorations are coming along well. We have had a good group of people show up every week to help. I love how VBS is a ministry that involves many people and how they work together and get to know each other better.

-On Wednesday I will have another post in my “A Secret to get to 43 Years”. This will be the third secret/factor shared in this series of how to get to 43 years of marriage. The responses have been good up to this point. I am posting on Wednesdays for this series.

-My wife is continuing to progress from her double knee replacement. We are approaching 11 weeks since the surgery. Now that she realizes it will be 3 to 6 months (leaning toward 6 months) before they feel like her knees, she is feeling better about everything. Yesterday, a lady who had the surgery many years ago told her that it was almost a year before she felt normal. My wife is doing great and doing nearly everything she wants to do, but after a busy day she has to take it easier the next day. Those days are much better than they were a couple weeks ago, but they are reminders that there is progress to be made.

Here’s hoping you make progress this week and encourage someone else to make progress.

 

Dennis

A Secret to get to 43 Years (#2) …

A major secret/factor to get your marriage to 43 is Forgiveness. No relationship can last, let alone grow, without forgiveness. Forgiveness is much easier to write about, or talk about, than it is to live.

 

In a marriage there are many opportunities for forgiveness. There are also many opportunities for bitterness or withholding forgiveness. When we live together, spend a lot of time together and share life together there are a lot of situations that arise that can allow for being offended or hurt. Being offended or hurt demonstrates why forgiveness is critical to a lasting, loving marriage.

Forgiveness is misunderstood. It is not pretending something didn’t happen. It is admitting it happened and that is was harmful, but you are choosing to forgive. It is not saying that what happened is okay. Forgiveness says it wasn’t okay, but my love for you is greater than the hurt. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Depending on the depth of the hurt it may take some time for trust to be restored. Forgiveness is choosing love. Forgiveness is also choosing your relationship over everything else.

We must understand that the need for forgiveness goes both directions. Both of you will need to be forgiven and both of you will need to forgive. Forgiveness is not just for the benefit of the one who caused the hurt. It is also for the one doing the forgiving. If forgiveness is not given, then the one who was hurt will become bitter. Bitterness crushes relationships and will destroy the one who is bitter.

A lasting relationship requires forgiveness.

In our 43 years there has been much forgiveness needed and much forgiveness given. If that were not true we never would have made this long.

I have heard people state that someone who have been forgiven often will begin to take advantage of the forgiving partner. I have found just the opposite to be true. When you love someone, and are committed to them and the marriage, you are devastated when you realize you have hurt them. When they forgive you, you become determined to not do things that need to be forgiven. You remember the look of hurt in your spouse’s eyes and you sense the devastation they feel in their heart and you do not want to cause that again.

Forgiveness is best understood by looking at Jesus Christ and how he forgave.

Forgiveness is something that we must continue to learn as we continue to forgive.

Many people mistakenly think that if they can still remember the hurt then they have not forgiven the other person. We remember hurts and we often have evidence of them in our life. But we must take a cue from physical hurts. I have some scars on my body. I can tell you how I got them and about the hurt when the incident occurred. But now, the scars remind me more of the healing than of the hurt. It is like that with forgiveness. As we continue to heal, as we learn more about forgiveness, our relational scars will begin to remind us of the healing more than the hurt.

Keep forgiving if you want your marriage, and your relationships to last and to grow, it is not optional.

 

Dennis

Monday Morning Musings …

Yesterday was a great day at our church and at our house. As for my musings …

-This weekend 10 or our 16 kids and grandkids were at our house. Our two daughters, both son in laws and 6 of our grandkids. The ones missing were our son, our daughter in law, and 4 of their kids. One of the grandkids who was here was our son’s oldest child. He is with us for a while as I have noted in previous posts. It was great fun. The house was full. There was a lot of movement. There was a lot of laughter and as always, there were a lot of games played. It was a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.

-Our worship service was great yesterday, except for some sound glitches while my son in law Seth was singing. We showed a couple of video’s honoring Dads, one was funny, and one was more serious. There was a good spirit in the entire service. I continued our series on relationships with a message about being an example of hope in our relationships. Our attendance was very good.

-We had a big Father’s Day breakfast at church in place of our Small Group/Sunday School classes. The food was good, and the conversations were lively.

-It was brutally hot this weekend.

-Still praying for my grandson’s Student Visa documents to arrive so that he can get back to his family for a couple of weeks before he travels to South Africa to begin his next semester of college.

-I am loving the praise reports I am receiving from people who are repairing and restoring relationships. This series on relationships seems to have made an impact on many people.

-I am planning on preaching a few messages on joy. I am observing many people who seem to have lost their joy. Or, maybe they don’t realize that they can live with joy.

-I will continue my weekly posts on “A Secret to Get to 43 Years”. Every Wednesday I am posting another secret/factor that has contributed to my wife and I getting ready to celebrate our 43rd wedding anniversary in August.

-Many prayers going up for my friend Christian, and his family, as they arrive in Raleigh, North Carolina to plant a church. Excited for them and praying often for the impact they will have in that community, and beyond.

-Yesterday was the first Father’s Day that I haven’t had my Dad around.

-I am expecting it to be hot in the weight room, and gym, this morning for volleyball conditioning.

-Continuing to pray for many people who are struggling in family relationships. As I rejoice with the praise reports I have received recently, I am aware that there are many people who still need healing in their family.

-Yesterday’s attendance was very encouraging. Even with several out of town visitors, the number of people was encouraging.

-Personally, it was nice to have so much of my family in worship yesterday. We don’t get to do that very often.

-I am wrestling with some great opportunities that have come my way recently. I need to be wiser on how many things I commit to at one time. I am seeking to do a better job of moving more people into these opportunities and becoming their champion rather than trying to do so much myself.

-There were many things that encouraged me this weekend.

Here’s hoping you find encouragement in some unexpected places this week.

 

Dennis