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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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The Power of a Grateful–The Blessing of Children

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I am far from the perfect parent. Still God blessed me with three wonderful children, who I appreciate and love more with each passing year. Somehow with no experience, Terry and I managed to raise them. And, They have grown into fine adults in spite of me by the grace of God.

I sometimes have a hard time realizing that I have a son who will be 48 years old in January…I still remember holding him in my arms…and the time he went on a trip with a friend of his and told his friend’s mother he couldn’t buy a T-shirt with his spending money, because I might need it for groceries. Or, a son who will be 47 in April…I can still see the beautiful smile on his infant face…and the time after he had his bicycle stolen that he taught himself to ride a unicycle. Or, a daughter who will be 45 in May…I still remember frantically looking for her when we she was 3 and finding her three blocks away riding another child’s tricycle in their driveway…she could slip away in a nano second. They have blessed me with the gift of grandchildren, with their friendship, and with their spouses…and have stood with Terry and I through some pretty harrowing experiences.

If you are a parent, you may understand that there are things I did, things I said, things I didn’t say or do that I would like to go back and snatch from the record or yell, “Do Over.” There are also memories of moments that somehow with all my imperfections were just right. There are no “do overs” in life, but that is where grace and forgiveness transform even the bad patches. There is no going back to those great moments, except in pictures and the mind. BUT, there is going forward. There are while I have breath still memories to make, love to give, grace to share, and forgiveness to request.

So my children, Mike, Scott and Brandee…I am so grateful for the fullness you have brought to my life and I ask your forgiveness for those times I didn’t measure up as a parent. I pray that you know you have a Father in Heaven who loves you more than your Dad and I do….SO it has to be a lot…cause we love you a lot.

Thank you Lord for entrusting me with these precious lives. I pray you keep them safely in your hand for eternity. Oh, Lord for these lives I am grateful beyond anything I can put into words…although here I am trying anyway.

The Power of a Grateful Heart–The Marriage Factor

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Today I am thankful for my husband Terry. As the old country song goes, “you never gave up on me, when I was giving love up on you.” We could sing that song to each other, if I could carry a tune in a bucket, but the words ring true. There were times when giving up would have been simpler that hanging together, but then we would become just another statistic, planning separate Christmases, and such with our children.

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Today I am thankful for marriage and believe it to be a sacrament, a covenant, a union created by God for man and woman to enjoy each other, to share in the joys and sorrows of life. It is the basis of the family unit. It is an earthly manifestation of a heavenly union between Christ and His Church.

At least that is how it is supposed to be. Is that even possible? Yes and No…don’t you love ambiguity. I have been married once and there have been good times and bad. In traditional wedding vows, you have that better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health exchange. Know what I think?? Most people saying those words are thinking, better, richer and healthy, when they should be preparing to love the other the most when, worse, poorer, and sickly.

Over the years I have attended hundreds of weddings, including my own elopement and vows with my husband of 49 years, Terry. In fact over the past 22 years I have sat and listened to the vows of couples, who looked into each other’s eyes and pledged to love each other forever, while my husband officiated. At none of these weddings did I think “this couple isn’t going to make it.” In fact, like most in attendance I was swept up in the moment, believing nothing could separate them and in the moment renewing my own vows, re-pledging my allegiance, love, and support to my man.

Alas, many have separated and divorced, including our oldest child and his first wife a woman he had known since childhood. No matter what people say about amicable divorces, the process and the outcome are wrenching, even more so when young children are involved. And lest anyone get the idea that only the immediate family, husband, wife, children suffer the agony, as a parent whose child has divorced, no children involved, I beg to differ. The picture offered in Yourdictionary.com of the word “asunder” is of a sledge hammer hitting a watermelon scattering bits and pieces that destroy the whole completely. Even divorces with clear Biblical backing, where non-believer and believer part, or unfaithfulness enters the picture, or one or the other partner is an abuser, even when no one doubts it is unavoidable, even then the shattered union splashes on family, friends, and co-workers.

In the wedding service Terry most often uses couples use vows that come from the book of Ruth. Words Ruth spoke to her mother-in-law, Naomi and not to her husband, but I personally think that sets the perfect tone for marriage vows. A couple unites to become one flesh, but they bring two families together also.

“I will never urge you to leave me or to turn away from following after me. Where you go, I will go. Where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”

imageThese vows are my pledge to my husband. A few years back we purchased each other wedding rings with a portion of that scripture engraved in Hebrew, a visible reminder of the wonder of being One Flesh and a constant renewal of our commitment to each other and to The Lord.

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For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 NASB)

They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10:4-9 NASB)

The Power of a Grateful Heart–The Wonder Factor

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“Why did you stop at a green light?” “Why didn’t you close the personnel door to the garage completely?” “Did you intend to hit that chuck hole straight on?” “You know feeding that dog keeps him hanging around, don’t you?” These are questions from my husband recently to which I have answered, ” To increase your sense of wonder.” as in, “I wonder why she does or doesn’t do things that are completely obvious to me.” Don’t get the wrong idea here. His questions really are questions of wonder or at least puzzlement, not criticism. It works both ways, I wonder why on earth he chooses to put his dirty clothes On the hamper rather than in it? Or, Why do you cover every flat surface with stuff?

After 49 years of marriage we still realize how different we are and yet we both delight in those differences…not that we always have. Exasperating at times, but still the stuff of life that keeps relationships stable, but not dull….as long as you don’t allow yourselves to see those quirks or lapses or plain stupidity (his or mine) to drive a wedge instead of instilling a sense of WONDER! Because sometimes I have discovered that without him forcing me to meet new people or get out of the car and really look at the view, there are a lot of WONDER-Filled things I would have missed.

Wonder in a relationship isn’t always about the quirks that raise your eyebrow or bring on deep sighs and eye rolling…wonder in a relationship is about watching and listening to him as he preaches and knowing God called him to speak his word and a sense of pride that he answered that call even though it has at times brought both of us great pain. Wonder is more than simply amazement, it transcends the human ability to reason. Wonder is about when he wraps his arms around me and says, “I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate you.” and the awe that fills me that God would bless me, little me, with this man. Wonder is realizing he is watching me from across a room, with an expression filled with joy and ok, my feminist readers, don’t take this wrong, but with a look that says, “she is mine! and I am glad she is.” After all these years, he hasn’t figured me out but keeps trying. Wonder is meeting his eyes and sharing a laugh about something no one else in the world would even get.

Wonder is a gift of God and like so many gifts of God, appreciated most before the world does a number on us, before the losses hit home, before bills pile up, and before cynicism rises in us dulling our wonder vision. That is why it is so important to seek wonder even vicariously like on a walk with a small child, who thinks dandelions are beautiful flowers rather that weeds.

Chassity and Owen, Wonderment
Chassity and Owen, Wonderment

All of us have memories of moments of wonder, the birth of my first child, a ground covered with white on Christmas Day, the Grand Canyon, ….Wonder that arouses in even the most calloused among us to the fact that there is something bigger than we are. Wonder is a gift from God that exists as a need within us so that we can worship.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

For as important as wonder is to human relationships, it is exponentially more important to our relationship with God. Without wonder we simply go through the motions of worship, the word fails to move us, witnessing is merely rote recitation of the Roman road or the handiest trac, and the work of God is performed without joy. That is why God gifts us with wonder. That is why we need to unwrap that gift on a daily basis.

Without it our Christian life, our life with Christ can become an exasperating spiral downward filled with duty and drudgery. Without wonder, the sunset becomes simply an indicator that the earth is rotating, the rainbow simply a refraction of light, life loses all color morphing into shades of gray. Worship becomes merely the songs and prayer before the preacher starts preaching and Holy Communion merely wafer and wine or grape juice. Without Wonder there is no power in Worship.

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So I am grateful for Wonder and pray that everyday I can open my Bible, open my heart, open my eyes, my ears, my mouth and be filled with AWE! Make me like a child when I walk my walk each day, so even the weeds look beautiful…at least until I find a way to kill them. Just kidding, NOT. But really wouldn’t it be marvelous to wake up for just one day without cynicism, without dread, without a critical thought…really wake up THANKFUL and Wonder filled. I am working on it and know there is Power in a Grateful Heart and that a part of that is being grateful for Wonder and seeking it.

I heard an exercise on a program, Turning Point by Dr. David Jeremiah that Terry had me listen to this morning and I will share it with you, Read out loud and listen to your voice as you read the following two passages from Scripture:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:1-10, 26-28 NASB)

And then Read:

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9 NIV)

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