Category Archives: Marriage

The Talent of Marriage

Listen & TalkWhen my wife, Ruth and I married, we assured each other that we were truly committed to our “until death do us part” wedding vow. Specifically, we agreed that divorce is not an option in our marriage. Although it seems to me that this should be an important consideration for any couple preparing to marry, it was crucial for Ruth and I. In part, this was due to the fact that we both have had previous marriages. Additionally, we both came from homes with divorced parents. Having had an up close and intimate experience with the devastation divorce brought us, our parents, our children, our siblings and so many others; we wanted our relationship to have no part in contributing to that.

THE THEFT OF DIVORCE

In addition to the waste that divorce had caused in our own lives, Ruth and I had a growing concern for the ruin throughout our society that has come from divorce. Relevant U.S. statistics* on this include:

  • Annually, there are about 2.1 million marriages and there are about 1 million divorces. The divorces impact more than 1 million children.
  • Each divorce costs our society an estimated $25,000 to $30,000. That means $25 to $30 billion in overall increased cost to our nation.
  • Children in single parent homes are:
    • Seven times more likely to live in poverty.
    • Nine times more likely to drop out of school.
    • More likely to have academic problems, behavior problems, be aggressive, have low self-esteem, feel depressed, and experiment with illegal drugs.
    • 70% more likely to be expelled or suspended from school.
    • Twenty times more likely to be in prison.
    • 25-30% more vulnerable to illness.
  • The negative impact of divorce on business includes:
    • Disrupting the productivity of a worker for up to three years.
    • During the first year following a divorce, the divorced employee loses an average of four weeks work.
    • Lost productivity, due to marriage and relationship difficulties, cost companies an estimated $6 billion.
    • Unhealthy marriages, family problems and divorce are major stressors. Stress related issues cost corporate America $300 billion annually.
    • Unhappily married couples were almost four times more likely to have a partner abusing alcohol. Individuals with alcohol related issues miss work 30% more.
  • Health issues affected by divorce include:
    • Married men live ten years longer than divorced men. Married women live four years longer than divorced women.
    • Divorced men are twice as likely to die of heart disease, stroke, hypertension or cancer; four times as apt to die in accidents; and eight times higher by murder.

* Sources include: U.S. Census Bureau, Marriage Commission Research, NY Institute for American Values, Marriage Savers, President Obama, Choosing Wisely Before You Divorce, A Cry Unheard and The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce.

THE BEST DEFENSE …

In order to under gird our commitment to our “until death do us part”wedding vow, from early on in our marriage we have kept our eyes open for married couples activities and groups that we could join in. Our most significant find, during the first eight years of our marriage, was the Married Couples Fellowship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (CCCM). It’s a wonderful group, headed up by Pastor John Mann and his wife, Rynner. We received far too many blessings through our involvement with this fellowship to recount here. One of our very favorites, though, was getting to go with the group on their annual week-long couples retreats to Kauai. Those retreats almost always coincided with our wedding anniversary. If you’d like to get a better sense of all this and have a good laugh, check out my related article, entitled Kayaking Up The Waialua. Continue reading

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Play Mean but Play Clean

dick-butkus-coverWhat comes to mind for you when you hear the name Dick Butkus? Immediately, I think along the lines of the caption on this Sports Illustrated cover … “Dick Butkus of the Bears – The most feared man in the game (NFL Football)”. No doubt, many others (especially those of my generation) share that same first thought. And, there’s ample justification for that line of thinking. The 6 ft 3 in, 245 lb Butkus, was known as one of the most feared and intimidating linebackers during his nine years as a player for the Chicago Bears.

Next, you may think of Dick Butkus as a celebrity endorser and actor. That’s my next thought too. And, here too, there’s plenty of good reason for thinking that way. The “most feared man in the game” persona of this Pro Football Hall of Fame member has been very effective in promoting brand names, from his Miller Lite commercials with Bubba Smith  to his “I’m sorry, Dick Butkus” spots for FedEx. And, Butkus has had numerous roles on TV and in the movies. He was even the namesake for Rocky’s English Mastiff, in both the Rocky and Rocky II movies.

So, if you met him today, wouldn’t you expect to meet a somewhat older version of the Dick Butkus you’ve come to know about over the years? That is, an imposing figure who still lives in his hometown, Chicago, whose time is mostly spent enjoying the leisure activities of retirement, along with some dabbling in the worlds of sports and entertainment. That’s what I thought when my Wife, Ruth and I had the pleasure of meeting him recently at a MarriageTeam Tailgate Party & Auction. I will say that the qualities I expected to find in his makeup all seemed to be present and undiminished. However, I also got to start becoming acquainted with some dimensions of the man that were a pleasant surprise. One of these is a campaign he started, called Play Clean™. It’s a program that encourages teens to “train hard, eat well, and play with attitude”, instead of resorting to illegal steroids. His willingness to take this stand against steroids caused USA Today to comment that Butkus may have a greater impact on the game in his 60s (now 70s) than he did playing in his 20s. Continue reading

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Stand By Me at the Glassy Sea

Ron CoxRonald Ray Cox, a friend from the time of my birth, passed from life on Earth to life in eternity at about 8:32 a.m. (EST), October 19, 2013. Knowing that, it’s likely for you to think that I’m writing this to honor my friend and to tell you wonderful stories from a relationship that stretched out over nearly 70 years. Though I do want to honor my old friend, since there was a gap in our relationship from the time we finished college until about five months prior to Ron’s passing, when he was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, I don’t have those nearly 70 years’ worth of stories to share. Thankfully, I do have the story to share of how I was blessed in reconnecting with Ron at the end of his life and getting to witness how he and his Wife, Kim, embraced God and each other through their final season together.

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Land Where The Fathers Hide

WHERE’S DAD?

missingparentAccording to my Pastor, “…human relationships – particularly when united in fellowship with God – (are) the foundational building blocks … and the backbone of (our) local communities and culture.” I wholly agree with that and I’ve added to it by saying, “Without that foundation, secular goals – e.g. a thriving and stable economy, affordable quality healthcare, affordable quality education, justice for all, etc. – are unattainable. When communities and culture come apart, so do all things relying on the support of that foundation.

In another recent Teaching (from Matthew 19: 13-15), my Pastor touched on the dramatic deterioration our culture continues to experience with one of these “foundational building blocks”. This aspect of cultural devolution has been labeled “Fatherlessness”. Since this reality has significantly impacted my life, from near the beginning to the present day, raising the topic touches me deeply.

Before delving into this matter, first, I must issue a disclaimer. I am not fatherless in terms of not knowing who my father is nor that he had no presence in my life. Although I didn’t grow up in my Dad’s home, I knew him and I love him dearly. When he died, at the age of 56, I was devastated. With that said, when I was only three years old, he left my mother, making her a single-parent … a term that wasn’t even used in those days … and I, along with my older brother and sister, became what were then known as children of a broken home. Looking back over the decades since that event, I’ve recognized that a male role model and mentor has always been lacking in my life and I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if that void had been filled.

My “broken home” experience began over six decades ago, around 1950 to 1951. In those days, I and my siblings were the only “children of a broken home” that I knew. Sadly, since then, this has worsened exponentially. According to an article entitled Father Absence and the Welfare of Children, by Sara McLanahan:

“Increases in divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing have dramatically altered the family life of American children. Whereas in the early 1960s, nearly 90 percent of all children lived with both of their biological parents until they reached adulthood, today less than half of children grow up with both natural parents. Nearly a third are born to unmarried parents, the majority of whom never live together, and another third are born to married parents who divorce before their child reaches adulthood. To further complicate matters, a substantial number of children are exposed to multiple marital disruptions and multiple father figures.”

WHAT HAPPENED?! Continue reading

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Opposing Views of “Like-Minded” People on “Fair Marriage”

In the debate on legalizing “same-sex marriage”, I’ve encountered instances where, at least on the surface, it has appeared that “like-minded people” have differing views on the topic. Namely, these like-minded people are “People of Faith” and/or “Conservatives”. Here’s what I’ve found in my effort to gain a deeper understanding of these puzzling situations.

Differing Views Among Christians

These have been the cases I’ve found to be most surprising. For me, they’re exemplified by my ongoing dialog with a dear Catholic friend.

Since most would label me as an Evangelical Christian, of course, I have doctrinal differences with my Catholic friend. But, I’m confident that our beliefs match up on fundamentals, including the Holy Trinity and the infallibility of God’s Word. And, I’m just as certain that she is devout in her Catholic faith. Knowing these things and knowing that the Catholic Church’s position on this has been stated as “opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships”, I was bewildered when I noticed her making comments that seemed to imply her support for same-sex marriage, referring to it as “Fair Marriage”. With that, I started exploring the topic with her. Continue reading

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Opposing All But One Man/One Woman Marriage

Redefining Marriage?

For several thousand years, throughout the Earth, marriage has defined a special relationship between one man and one woman. This month, February 2012, Washington State’s House, Senate and Governor enacted legislation to redefine marriage as a special relationship between two people regardless of their gender. These lawmakers took this step, legalizing “same-sex marriage”, without any apparent compulsion to verify whether this action was in line with the views of the majority of their constituents. Although the state office-holders who supported this legislation may attempt to position their stance on this as “acting for the greater good” – i.e. They know what’s best for us even if we don’t know that ourselves – In fact, it’s just one of the most recent examples of a tyrannical ruling class imposing it’s will on the masses.

Having Your Say

Thankfully, there is an Initiative and Referendum Amendment in the Washington State Constitution. As it applies to this “same-sex marriage” legislation, that means there is an automatic stay on enacting the legislation, to allow time for a related petition process, potentially leading to a referendum being placed on a statewide ballot, to provide for registered voters having their say on the matter. Although proponents of this legislation are likely to present this as standing up for the rights of the “LGBT community” versus the antiquated attitudes of the “Religious Right”, this matter goes well beyond those boundaries. I believe all who are determined to see the United States continue as a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”, should support the referendum to reject this legislation.

Standing Up For Liberty

Yes, I’m saying that it’s not just people of faith, who hold the Biblical view of marriage, who should support the referendum to reject this legislation. I believe it should also be supported by those who are ambivalent regarding the definition of marriage and even those who are in favor of “same-sex marriage.” To illustrate my belief, I ask you to simply consider the following question:

When the tyrannical ruling class comes after one group today

and you don’t stand up against them,

who will stand up against them tomorrow,

when they come after your group?

Standing Up For Your Faith

Of course, the passion that the vast majority of Americans of faith have for this surpasses their fervor for liberty, due to their beliefs regarding marriage. The following statement that was included in a recent message from my Pastor, Daniel Gettemy, of Calvary Chapel Vancouver, provides an excellent summary of my related beliefs:

“… the first institution that God created, defined, and established for mankind was Marriage. Marriage was established by God for the development, well-being, and advancement of healthy (spiritually, emotionally, and physically) human relationships. These relationships – particularly when united in fellowship with God – would then be the foundational building blocks for future generations (children/family) and the backbone of local communities and culture. God was quite intentional and specific when He created that first marriage as being between one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve). Because God is both gracious and wise, then we know He wasn’t experimenting with marriage in the beginning – He was defining it!”

My hope, in offering this statement, is to facilitate broader understanding, if not agreement.

What To Expect In Taking Your Stand

A classic approach that you should expect from proponents of the “same-sex marriage” legislation was demonstrated in a message I got from a friend of my youth, who said,

“Gay marriage cannot hurt anyone represented by your Representatives. Gay marriage WILL HELP many who are ALSO represented by your Representatives.”

The above statement from my Pastor should make it clear how I see redefining marriage as being harmful. Furthermore, I don’t see who it helps. In 2009, without redefining marriage, legislation was enacted in Washington State to extend the rights and responsibilities of domestic partners to include the same rights and responsibilities as those extended to married couples. So, when a “same-sex marriage” proponent asks, “When one person in a domestic partnership is ill, shouldn’t they have the same rights as a married person to be visited by their domestic partner?”, understand that they already have that right. These arguments are empty.

And if you don’t agree with the message of the proponents of the “same-sex marriage” legislation, rather than attacking our message, you can expect them to attack the messenger – i.e. me and you. However, this isn’t about any of the personal accusations they will make. It is only about whether the unilateral redefinition of marriage by the tyrannical ruling class should stand.

Additionally, expect that taking your stand will require you to do so for the long-haul. My Wife and I chose to move from California, to make Washington State our home, nearly seven years ago. In 2000, as Registered Voters in California, we supported Proposition 22, an Initiative legally defining marriage as a relationship only between opposite sex couples. It passed easily. However, here we are nearly 12 years later and nothing along those lines has been implemented, as a result of the unendingly insistent actions of the minority represented by the “LGBT community”.

Taking An Appropriate Stance

First, I want to address what not to do. When considering this, the examples I immediately think of are a couple of local “conservative” bloggers known as The Pissants. Like their namesakes, these are beings that thrive in filth and darkness. Like the proponents of the “same-sex marriage” legislation, their primary tactic is to attack the messenger rather than the message. Innuendo and outright lies are their stock-in-trade. And their response to any disagreement is to engage in lengthy tit-for-tat arguments (until, of course, they believe they’ve had the last word), laced with more personal attacks and no constructive dialog.

What I recommend doing is pretty much the opposite of what I described immediately above. Personal attacks are counterproductive. They just harden the position of the opposition and overhearing it is a turnoff to any undecided person who might, otherwise, listen. Just thoughtfully state your views to anyone truly willing to listen. It’s a waste of time to get into lengthy debate with those who want to use the opportunity to personally attack you or to end up believing they had the last word.

An Admonition In Standing Up For Your Faith

Coincidentally, this year’s National Prayer Breakfast took place in Washington D.C. at the same time as Washington State’s legalization of “same-sex marriage” was proceeding. The Keynote Speaker for this event was Eric Metaxas, the author of the current best-selling books BONHOEFFER and AMAZING GRACE, the story of William Wilberforce. I listened to his entire speech and as I did, I was pleased in knowing that President Obama was sitting on the dais and hearing Metaxas’ message. In fact, during his speech, Metaxas gave the President a copy of BONHOEFFER and he committed to reading it. My prayer is that he will do so and that it will work to change his heart. However, in the later part of his presentation, Metaxas delivered a Spiritual message that was aimed right at folks like me and it convicted me deeply. It was an admonition that certainly fits in this discussion for my fellow-Christians and I want to share it with you. I do recommend listening to Metaxas’ entire presentation but I’ve paraphrased his admonition, as follows:

Essentially, Metaxas pointed out that, unlike most around him, Bonhoeffer was able to see the greatest evil of the 20th Century, Nazi Germany’s attempt to exterminate the Jews from Europe. Likewise, he noted that Wilberforce was able to see the wrong of the British slave trade when nearly all of his contemporaries believed it was OK. The answer that Metaxas provides for the question, “How could these men see the truth when others couldn’t?” is: “Because, through His Holy Spirit, Jesus opened their eyes.” With that, Metaxas went on to point out that today, when we find ourselves able to see things like the Biblical view of sexuality or that the unborn are persons, we need to remember that we are commanded by God to love those who do not yet see these things and that without God we would find ourselves on the other side of these issues.

So, beyond my earlier recommendation to “Just thoughtfully state your views to anyone truly willing to listen”, for my fellow-Christians I would add, do so in love and to know that you’re doing so by praying for those who come against you.

Taking Your First Step

In order for a referendum on this matter to be on the statewide ballot this coming November, there must first be a successful petition effort. Petitions are likely to become available in the first week of March. To stay tuned into this, I recommend the Preserve Marriage Washington Website. And, I encourage you to get involved in this effort as soon and as enthusiastically as you can.

Taking A Step Beyond

Supporting the referendum to reject the legislation legalizing “same-sex marriage” in Washington State is Step #1. Step #2 is eliminating the tyrannical ruling class who passed this legislation. So, check the voting record for the State Legislators who have been elected to represent your Legislative District. If they supported this legislation, find out when they’re up for reelection and then find an opponent to vote for whom you believe you can trust to verify whether their actions are in line with the views of the majority of their constituents.

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Kayaking Up the Waialua – An Essential Skill for a Healthy Marriage

A Good Example of the Need

We have quite a few home improvement projects on our “to do” list this summer. Since handyman skills didn’t come to me naturally, we often hire the applicable talent for this sort of work. However, several of the items on this summer’s list involved landscaping and they seemed to mostly require brute strength so I decided to take them on myself.

Of course, my Wife, Ruth and I agreed to a landscaping game plan before I dove in. One of the main landscaping projects was to use red rock to replace the areas of bark chips that make up a significant portion of the ground cover in our front yard. Additionally, to address some issues that have been developing with two of the three mature Ash trees presently within the bark chip covered areas; we planned to set all three apart with decorative rings, replacing the bark chips with organic compost amended with organic fertilizer.

As I said before, this seemed like a project that required more brute strength than skill. Equipped with a 1/2 ton pickup borrowed from one friend and a wheelbarrow borrowed from another friend, I thought I could complete the job in a couple of days. About three days into the work, I found myself in our front yard continuing to rake and shovel away at four or five layers of bark chips … I actually ended up removing about six cubic yards. Meanwhile, for those three days, a cubic yard of red rock had been sitting in the bed of the borrowed pickup, parked in front of our house. Unfortunately, there was no place to put the red rock until I finished with the bark chips removal. Also unfortunately, with the pickup full of red rock, I had no way of hauling away the bark chips. Based on my original plan, I thought the volume of bark chips would be low enough that I could dispose of them via one or two of the city’s semi-weekly yard debris pick-ups. This meant that I needed to find a place to store the bark chips until I did have the ability to haul them away … in other words, I got to move the 6 cubic yards of bark chips twice! And even more unfortunately, removing the multiple layers of bark chips was exposing the upper half of major roots of the Ash trees we were striving to save. This meant that I would need to put down about a cubic yard of compost around the trees before putting down the red rock. But, due to the fact that the borrowed pickup was still filled with red rock, I had no way of hauling in the needed compost.

All this meant that, as I continued working away in our front yard, I was wishing I hadn’t started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to its beginning state. At that point, my thinking was that our front yard might actually end up looking worse, not better and that I could end up killing the trees we were striving to save. Since Ruth sensed my exasperation, on a regular basis, she was coming to me with “just one more idea meant to help.” When she came to me with what (in my mind) was about the “dozenth” of these ideas, she reacted to this resulting in a negative change in my countenance by saying, “Never mind.” I responded by saying, “No, I want to hear your suggestion but I want you to know that it would have been most helpful for me to hear these ideas when we were setting the game plan for this project. At this point, they’re tending to just add to my frustration.” As I said this, I realized, “We’re having another ‘Kayaking Up the Waialua’ experience.”

The “Kayaking Up the Waialua” Experience

Of course, in order for you to understand where this fits in, I need to tell you about our experience “Kayaking Up the Waialua.” This came along with our getting to join in Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa – Married Couples Fellowship’s inaugural Kauai Retreat. Of course, this was something we had planned for well in advance and that we looked forward to for months.

Fittingly, the first day of this week-long retreat was our Anniversary. So, that evening, we got cleaned up and dressed up (Aloha style) to go out for our Anniversary dinner. Our dinner reservation, based on a recommendation, was at Café Hanalei at the Princeville Hotel, on Kauai’s North shore, at sunset. It turned out to be a magnificent recommendation. I’ve been blessed that I’ve seen some pretty fancy hotels, from Hong Kong to Europe. None of them compare to the architecture of the Princeville Hotel’s lobby. The Café Hanalei overlooks Hanalei Bay – the Hanalei that Peter, Paul and Mary were inspired by for “Puff the Magic Dragon”. The view is spectacular. The Café Hanalei is a bit pricey but it’s one of those superb restaurants where the food makes it seem well worth the price. At the end of the meal, the restaurant brought out a dessert we had not ordered. I can’t describe it but it was wonderful and the plate it was served on said, “Happy Anniversary”, in chocolate. Afterwards, we waddled to our car and drove back to our resort for a good night’s rest.

The main reason for me filling you in on that Anniversary dinner was because it was so dramatically different from the following day’s experience, “Kayaking Up the Waialua.” The day started with the two of us going out on the beach to watch the sunrise. Afterwards, we went to a continental breakfast provided by the company the church used to book the trip. We left the breakfast at 9 a.m., so that we could meet the Married Couples Fellowship group on the beach for our first time of praise, worship and Bible study. It was wonderful to get together for praise, worship and Bible study in the midst of such a beautiful part of God’s creation. However, that first time on the beach together was a bit abbreviated because a majority of the couples had signed up for a kayaking trip up the Waialua River. That’s where our challenges started.

Before going on, I need to tell you a little about the sun and me. Suffice it to say, I’m an extremely white guy. When I was a kid, my Mom would make me wear a tee shirt when I went swimming and I’d get sunburned through the shirt. So, that means coating myself thoroughly with sun block before spending any significant time in the Hawaiian sun. You should, also, know that both Ruth and I left home with sinus colds so that was our first bit of discomfort that day. And, we had been up since 3 or 4 in the morning, due to the three-hour time difference between Hawaii and California. Additionally, less than a week before our trip, I’d taken a fall while roller blading and I was suffering from some pain in the left part of my chest and back. I think it was a bruised or cracked rib. Even without all these afflictions, we knew the paddling would be strenuous for us, particularly since we hadn’t been doing much in terms of upper-body exercise. However, Ruth thought we’d be able to pull up to a bank to rest, have a drink and a snack whenever we got a little tired. Otherwise, we thought we’d be able to enjoy the beauty, take some pictures and end up visiting Waialua Falls and the Fern Grotto. Here’s what really happened:

During the worship on the beach, I realized I’d been too liberal with applying sun block to my face because it was getting in my eyes and nearly blinding me. As soon as worship was over, we went to our room so I could use some eye drops. Fortunately, that helped, though it took most of the next hour for my bloodshot eyes to stop smarting. Then we drove to the kayak rental place to learn that we had to load the kayak and equipment on our rental car, drive to the river, assemble the kayak, get it and us into the river and do the trip without any further assistance. We, also, learned that we hadn’t dressed properly. Although we had swimsuits and aqua socks with us, we thought that shorts and tennis shoes would be proper dress for the trip we had in mind. We were wrong. By 10:30 a.m., we were in the river, wet up to our butts, hot and sweaty, covered with sun block, eyes smarting and heads aching. If that sounds like fun, there were no banks to pull up to due to heavy foliage along the banks; there was no opportunity for picture taking due to the need to constantly row against the current and the fact that all you could see was the water and the heavy foliage along the banks. The need to constantly row really tested our upper-body strength, aggravated my chest pain and gave us both blisters in the fleshy area between thumb and forefinger. The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I’m pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright. We eventually came to a fork, with one way going to the falls and the other going to the grotto. Since people coming the other way warned us not to try to go to the falls due to strong currents, we took the fork to the grotto. Actually, we went past the grotto because it wasn’t marked well but we did make our way back to a place where you could tie up and with a lot of effort, get out of the kayak. We then hiked up a muddy hill to see the Fern Grotto, being visited by group after group of Japanese tourists who had come by tour boat. While doing this, we drank a soda and scarfed down a couple of pieces of fried chicken we’d gotten at a Safeway the night before. It was hard for me to believe that this fried chicken was from the same species as the macadamia nut crusted chicken I’d had the previous night at the Café Hanalei. By the way, there are lots of chickens running around loose on Kauai, as a result of Filipino immigrants bringing in fighting cocks. It’s kind of disconcerting to be eating fried chicken with live chickens running around you. You sort of feel like they’re cheering on the bugs that are biting you. The return trip was pretty much a mirror image of the initial leg except that we were going against the wind instead of going against the current. The one thing I did enjoy seeing on the return trip was schools of mullet jumping over waves. However, the waves were from the wake of huge tour boats (carrying those Japanese tourists) that nearly swamped us. It was between 2:30 and 3:00 p.m. when we got out of the river so the whole adventure had lasted about five hours with about four hours of it being in the river. On the way back to the hotel, Ruth and I agreed that we wanted to do nothing but sit still for awhile before getting cleaned up.

Ongoing Application

No doubt, there were several points during our “Kayaking Up the Waialua” experience when we were having wishes similar to the one I had three days into our recent landscaping project – i.e. wishing I hadn’t started this project and that I had a magic wand that would allow me to return our front yard to it’s beginning state. But, we survived our “Kayaking Up the Waialua” experience and at Bible study the next morning, we began to have more appreciation for our experience, realizing that everyone had a challenging experience and that it had strengthened our relationships, as a result.

The lessons learned from our “Kayaking Up the Waialua” experience have served us well over the years. Even when you’re doing your very best to carry out the game plan you put together as a couple, often life just doesn’t go the way you expect. As I noted in the story about our “Kayaking Up the Waialua” experience, “The need for teamwork to keep going straight and to not turn over also provided some interesting testing. I’m pleased to say that we seemed to pass that testing, in as much as, unlike several others, our kayak remained upright.” We passed that test because our commitment to each other is to stick together, caring for and depending on each other, regardless of how real life plays out versus our game plan. And that applies even when it’s very challenging to do so. A good example here is when, in an attempt to help keep us “going straight and to not turn over” in our kayak, one of us decided to provide some uniformity to our rowing through the cadence of calling out “Right, right. Left, left.” but, unfortunately, the cadence being called out was the opposite of the side that person was actually rowing on. Another good example here is when one of us senses exasperation on the part of the other and offers “just one more idea meant to help” but that well-intentioned effort isn’t received gladly. In the first case, we still ended up with a very entertaining story to share about the treasured memory of a trip to Kauai. And, in the second instance, we ended up with the attractive appearance of our front yard causing neighbors to stop by and ask if we were getting ready to sell our home. Moreover, through the lessons learned from our “Kayaking Up the Waialua” experience, as well as from other lessons the Lord has equipped us with to strengthen our relationship, we’ve been blessed with a marriage that is far richer than we ever imagined.

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