Five years of marriage…And grateful to be alive

HONEYMOON Dawn

Looking back my Michael and I realize our decision to elope after 47 days {and when we recently calculated it added up to a mere 80 waking hours in each other’s company} was the CRAZIEST BESTEST thing either one of us has ever done. But we were crazy. We risked EVERYTHING on one last chance at love.

And by the grace of God…we won! In five days we will celebrate five years of marriage.

By love and by choice we have woven our hearts together in an unbreakable bond as two lives became one. And we’ve had a ton of fun on this breathtaking journey, too. Moments of laughter and lovemaking and sharing dreams and making plans, and traveling near and far, and writing and always changing, growing and healing, becoming more godly.

While not all the days in all those years were wedded bliss we are convinced beyond the shadow of any doubt that our match was indeed made in heaven. For God knew that we were the ones that together would stand strong against all odds and form a sustainable, loving marriage so unlike former relationships and, we are sorry to say, marriages that crashed and burned.

So we celebrate His kindness to us as we celebrate our “magic five year marker” when the odds that a couple will remain together suddenly shift upward, according to Maggie Scarf, author of The Remarriage Blueprint. 

From the day we met high over the river on the Walkway Over the Hudson it was him for me and me for him and our Father for us both.  Pure grace this gift of each other in the second half after many losses. And we cannot thank God enough for His faithfulness, patience, and unending love. But in order to get where we are today we needed to grow up.

But God.

We crawled on our bellies some days, but once we truly madly deeply committed our hearts, souls, minds and strength to loving and obeying God, we began to walk. He took us both by the hand and we turned a corner on our individual selfishness to more deeply sacrifice for the other. Together we began becoming a true son and true daughter of God in a way neither of us had experienced in our earlier years of following God.

Yet there were days we stumbled and one or both of us wondered just what we had done in marrying the other. Days when we wore dirty diapers and fussed and fumed from too many pieces of the past jabbing at our hearts. Sometimes we fought and cried and stormed out the door and walked for miles or ate one too many chocolate chip cookies. 

STEEPLE

But no matter what, we repeated the mantra that the only option for our marriage is success.

And somehow we always found our way back to each other where the doors of our hearts reopened and words of love and forgiveness flowed. Pressing in to find the other in that way reserved only for partners who are married, we helped each other heal. We brushed ourselves off and got back up onto the high road. Clinging to scripture for guidance, we studied, and more importantly put into practice, the commands of Christ. We desired to be good for Goodness sake and in the process began discovering the glory and the gift that is marriage.

All along the way, no matter the times that challenged us, we kept falling more in love with each other, putting a greater value than ever on our relationship, growing in our respect for each other. We even conceived a DIY marriage mentoring technique which helped us greatly in fostering healthy communication and conflict resolution. It worked so well that we continue the process even without having any dire, negative needs.

And how we love this adventure of us.

ALBUM Walkway 5th

Yet on June 2, after a splendid day celebrating the fifth anniversary of our first date, reenacting how we met on the Walkway like we always do, Michael gave me a gift unlike any I have ever received. He gave me back my life for I started choking at dinner and he had to perform the Heimlich maneuver three times before I could breathe. We spent the next four hours in the ER where it was determined nothing was broken or bleeding but my rib cartilage was badly bruised and would take six weeks to recover. OUCH!

ALBUM ER

SK ER

And in these weeks of being quiet and still and mostly at home, I drew inward to my Father. Reflecting on His kindness to me and Michael. I remember thinking at the time that I couldn’t leave Michael on our First Date Anniversary because he would be so terribly sad on what had always been such a special and happy day.

I’ve pondered the meaning of it all with a quiet gratitude, reflecting on what God has done in our life and marriage together. Wondering where we are headed in the next five years, God willing. But I wasn’t ready to write about it or share the story until today.

Not able to do my normal routines — sitting at the computer for hours was too painful — I turned my attention to fulfilling Michael’s wish for a First Five Memory Album. While putting five years of love and life into one scrapbook was a huge undertaking, the finished pages are proof of God’s incredible, indescribable love for us. It is the story of us, what we’ve done, where we’ve been and how far we have come. How God has patiently helped us. And what He may do in and through us in the future only God knows. Thank You, Father.

DSC08695

So for now we’re heading back to where we began and became one, consummating our love on the “Quiet Cape” in Massachusetts. For so many reasons we couldn’t be more excited or grateful or eagerly anticipate our future together. 

I think I’ll go start packing…

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Love that never fails…

IMG_7378

In a deep, dark wood

a wild rose blooms

unseen,

unfurling skyward

as petals fall

softly, softly

to a bed of needles

piercing.

Fragile in its fullness

fading it is

simply

made to be

what it is.

A rose

no matter the name

for its heartbeat

synchs and rises

with the sun.

And beauty rises

from ashes

blown by wind

as morning star

breathes life

again and again

with no end.

Until it becomes

what is yet unknown

though known

and seen as

ancient of days

summons

beauty forth.

Every rose dearly beloved

through the thorns,

Perfect

making imperfect

perfect in love

that never fails

though petals like teardrops

spill into the river flowing…

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Be your husband’s cheerleader not his critic…13 tips to help you change and grow

CAMPUS

Chances are that sometimes you’re not real happy with your husband.

Husbands — and wives — are highly imperfect beings that are prone to disappoint those they love over the course of a lifetime together. Yet these same imperfect dusty humans are amazingly wonderful men and women desperately in need of unconditional love and acceptance .

And marriage is supposed to be a safe place
where partners find solace from the harsh realities of life.

While there is a place for respectful, loving correction when it is truly needed — not just when you think you know what your husband should do or be — don’t jump on him with critical comments that display your impatience or displeasure when he drags in at the end of a long day, weary from the world’s battlefield where he may already feel attacked or deficient.

No man wants to keep coming home to that night after dreary night.  In a long ago far away lifetime, I was a wife on the road to becoming an ex-wife who often complained and sought perfection more readily than offering praise for jobs well done, with acceptance, love, grace, gratitude and prayers to the Heart that changes hearts.

And I learned the hard way — through the devastating loss of divorce with all its consequences that reach decades into the future — that being a husband’s critic is not the way to win his heart or secure a lasting, happy marriage.

But God.

And other chances.

So humbly I share what I have learned in my brokenness hoping these words touch a needy, willful heart with wisdom, healing, guidance and a warning: change your negative wifely behaviors now because your husband just might decide one day that he’s done with your grumbling and moaning and seek a new life with another woman.

CROSS

  • Commit to change beginning with your own heart. Mine was sorely hurting from an origin littered with alcoholism, violence and fear. And those wounds left big holes in my woman’s heart that translated into pain so deep I tried to fill the void with demands of perfectionism from another human being who was wounded in his own way. Foolishly I thought that I was the only one who could keep me safe and well cared for. When your grow up shattered you learn how to survive which is not the same as learning how to live a life of love.
  • Tell someone your story. Don’t keep secrets. Stop hiding behind a pretty mask that makes it look like you have it all together. You don’t. Your control camouflages your deep seated fear. And fear is a powerful motivator very often in the wrong way. So let go. Open up. Share your heart and your hurts. You don’t have to pretend that you are strong and know everything.
  • Forgive those who have hurt you. Easier said than done, yet very doable by relying on God’s grace and love and forgiveness of you. It is humbling to accurately access our own heart in light of God’s word and realize you need Him in order to be whole and to carve out a life, a marriage, a family, a calling worth having.
  • Ask your husband to forgive you. And you may have a list a mile long of all his infractions, and many of them may be real, but you can only change you. Be the one to go first. It won’t kill you, I promise. But it is a step to slaying your selfish pride. As honestly and humbly as you can, go to your precious husband who is a gift from God and repent. Tell him you are sorry for being so constantly critical. Let him know you purpose to do all in your ability to change from his harshest critic into his sweetest cheerleader! {AND PLEASE don’t be confused or feel condemned by my words if you are in an ABUSIVE MARRIAGE. If you are, GET OUT NOW and seek help. Read my experiences within an abusive relationship here.}
  • Find a supportive group of women who seek to improve their marriages, maybe at your church or online. Or perhaps share your struggles with a trusted mentor who has been where you are. {Sheila Kimball Mentoring offers a free mini-mentoring session. Click now for details.} And don’t discount the need and value of speaking with a professional counselor.
  • Pray to God who loves you best of all. Whose plans for you are Yes and Amen! Ask Him to forgive you. Ask Him for help. Believe He loves you like crazy. Read through the Gospels of Christ and follow the example of Jesus in learning to love and obey God, and love and be kind to others, most importantly your husband. Read through the Psalms to soothe your soul. Remember that God will never let you go. He may allow you to suffer the consequences of your lesser choices, but even when you do, please trust that the lessons come from His heart of love for you. Your are absolutely precious in God’s sight and of great worth.

CHERRY TREE

As you take baby steps towards becoming the wife of your husband’s dreams, keep surrendering even though you stumble. Get up and try again. Add positive practices into your marriage to brighten your husband’s life, perhaps open his heart to you and/or God, and hopefully make your marriage better.

  • Smile. Not only may smiling physiologically make your brain happier, it represents a loving, open, accepting attitude. A smile is inviting. A frown makes a husband, who is very likely battling his own inner demons, want to move away from you.
  • Let your tone of voice be soft and endearing.  Choose to ditch the critical speak and think and find a way to say the same thing in a gentle, uplifting way. Even when you need to say something uncomfortable to your man there is a way to approach the topic that is less threatening to his masculine mindset. Serve him up a good sandwich.
  • Be interested in his work and his hobbies. Don’t pooh-pooh his efforts on the work front or deride what gives him pleasure in his off hours. Make it your intent to see the value in what he values.  And your husband will be a happier camper, more open to meeting and fulfilling your needs, when he feels accepted by you. So bring him blessings everyday, not curses.
  • Love his family. You don’t have to like all of them, but they are his blood and that means something. Respect his relationships that were formed before you came into his life. Be kind, be gracious, be hospitable. Don’t try to isolate him from the people he loves. His heart is big enough for you and them.
  • Be his affectionate, loving playmate. Recognize that lovemaking is not a curse, but a gift that a husband and wife share freely, joyfully. Invite God into your marriage bed. Seek help if you have difficulty in this area because it is vital to a strong, healthy marriage.
  • Pray, pray, pray for your husband. Pray all the time, in every way, and know that Father is listening and is at work in your husband.
  • Let your husband know he’s your heroOften! No matter the circumstances your lives may be experiencing.

Then breathe. You are woman, but you don’t have to roar. 

Be kind! Be his wife and helper, not his fixer. Be a valiant prayer warrior who knows that wedded bliss will not materialize by warring against your man with criticisms and complaints.

Be his number one fan and cheer him on to the greatness locked inside him…

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Your negativity and fear is killing your happy marriage…

OLD HOUSE

Have you ever considered that the way you think, feel and speak may be draining the life from your marriage?

Perhaps not because you persist in a destructive cycle, refusing to acknowledge the damage you inflict on your spouse with nearly every word you utter, choices you make and fear-filled control that you exert to the very detriment of your mate’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. And to your’s, too, for if you are honest with yourself, how happy are you, really?

However, there is hope for you to change if you want to. And therein lies the pivotal question for you to ponder as you think about your life, your marriage, and the future.

Do you want to change?

  • And let go of the past that keeps you bound, staying stuck in your own brand of misery?
  • Continue going round in cycles getting nowhere, repeating the mistakes of your past or unhealthy ways of relating that you learned as a child from parents whose habits, shortcomings, and pain adversely impacted you?
  • Or will you choose to live your life differently, beginning even now as you read these words, and reap the amazing, abundant gifts that God has for you and your marriage?

Please know that God is on your side in all of this.

He is not condemning you for your negativity and fear, or unforgiveness towards those who hurt you in your past. He will not punish you. Rather He is encouraging you to step out of your self-imposed darkness, stop hurting others, and come into the light where you will find love and healing for your wounded soul as you recognize, possibly for the first time, your incredible worth and beauty in God’s eyes.

BRIDGE

You are amazingly made and wonderful.

Endowed with certain gifts and talents with which to fulfill your purpose and give back to humanity, making your corner of the world a better, safer, more loving place. Yet it begins with you and then your nearest neighbor, which for married folk is that man or women you have vowed your life to.

You promised to love and comfort him, honor and keep her, and forsaking all others, remain faithful to him all your days.

You vowed to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health so long as you both shall live.

And your marriage was designed as a gift,
not a jail sentence, yet your negativity holds your spouse prisoner!

In the beginning, when the stars in your eyes were shining brilliantly they obliterated the flaws of humanity in your dearly beloved, making  it easier to dream, hope, trust, be positive, have faith in him or her and the marriage.

But then life started bearing down hard with too many demands — both external and self-imposed expectations. And your frustrations, unfulfilled dreams, stress, physical exhaustion, left little time for nourishing your marriage, draining it of joy. Maybe then your old companion Negativity — first cousin to fear whose twin is control — reared up ugly, lashing out at length with heated diatribes against the one person in all the world who loves you most of all, and the person you promised to love.

THIS IS LOVE

And this is love…

Love is patient and kind. It looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive, neither anxious to impress nor cherishing inflated ideas of its own importance.

Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. Love shares the joy of those who live by the truth.

Love never fails.

Yet perhaps you cannot love because
you do not realize how much you are loved.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt…
Jeremiah 31:3-4

Are you willing to drop the hard shield
you have erected around your heart because of all your hurts?

  • Will you choose to begin retraining your brain to think hope-filled positive thoughts that you can learn to believe and thereby alter your behaviors?
  • Can you reach out of your darkness and humbly share the truth about your struggles?
  • Will you ask for help before it is too late?

KIDS

For if you refuse, then you will continue down a dark road that can kill your marriage and strangle your spouse’s very soul, not to mention your children, grandchildren, and others watching you.

Take courage and find hope as you turn towards all that is love and light and life…

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Saturday’s Word…Your past does not dictate your heritage…Psalm 16

DAFFODILS

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

I like to peruse different translations because it adds depth and texture to the meaning of scripture. While I’ve shared the English Standard Version above, I was captivated by the New American Standard’s verse six:

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.

And I asked myself if mine — all that which I have acquired from my predecessors — is beautiful to me with its alcoholism, abuse of various kinds, adulteries, divorce and loss?

In and of themselves these things are ugly, horrifying, destructive. But when we take our broken past and surrender the rubble and the shards to the Artist a transformation occurs, a redesign of the awful into something lovely, worth being grateful for and passing on.

A new legacy scripted in love, awash in light.

Wherever we have come from, no matter the pain of our past or how un-pretty our choices have been, we can find assurance in God who makes all things not only possible, but new.

Jesus gifts us with a sparkling heritage once we open our heart to Him.

So take courage, and I will too, in knowing that all our sharp and tarnished pieces that we secret away in the attic of our mind, those awful things stuffed into dusty boxes marked Do Not Open, those nasty unspeakable memories that resurface as nightmares, negativity and negligent and destructive behaviors in marriage and relationships, can and must be revealed and released.

Into light bathed golden by love where our great Tekton crafts all of it into something resonant with newborn glory and freedom…

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