Thoughts on Marriage {And My Greatest Regret}

Ecclesiastes 4:12

A few months back, my dear blogging friend Sarah asked me to participate in a wonderful series she has over at her place: Wedded Wednesdays. Here are her thoughts on the series:

Wedded Wednesdays arose out of my heart to write candidly and speak honestly about marriage. As a society, we often promote it as the pure wedded bliss or the ultimate unhappy matrimony – two very dangerous extremes. We would serve our friends and communities well to be honest. Marriage can be both difficult and beautiful, both struggle-filled and triumph-filled. We owe it to each other to get real about marriage.

I humbly accepted her invitation to participate, mainly because I couldn’t think of what I would write about and after 14 years of marriage, that bothered me. For I have grown much along this journey of marriage.

We all know the pains that come with growing…

Friends, I’m over at Sarah’s place today sharing an afternoon I had with a soon-to-be bride friend…where I shared my greatest regret in marriage. I’d love to have you stop by. Simply click on the image below!

How about you, friend? What has marriage taught you? Do you have any regrets? I’d love to hear. Feel free to share in comments over at Sarah’s place!

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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The Makes of a Great Dad

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It was one of the first things I said about you. And we weren’t yet dating. I wasn’t taking notes, simply observing from afar the obvious. You with nephews climbing all over you. Joy beaming from your face. The undivided attention you gave. We were only 18 and I knew enough to say it out loud to my roommate.

“He’s going to make a great dad.”

We were only 18 and God knew. As He wove the details in place so intricately. Ensuring we would be at the right place at the right time. He knew. You were going to be the future dad of my very own children.

I’ve spent nearly half of my life now admiring you. Delighting in your sense of humor. Growing with you on our spiritual journey. Learning with you on this road we call life. But nothing has compared to the last 4 years. As my pre-conceived notions have been proven true.

You make a great dad.

And I pray when our boy is 18, he will know. How blessed he is to have had you for a father. That a lot of what he has become is a result of you. I am striving to already help him see the gifts given to us through you. So when he is 18 he can agree.

He has a great dad.

On this day I set aside each week. To share thanks in this space, I want to show you what I see when I look at you. My husband, the love of my life. The father of my sons. This is what I see:

  • You leave your job at the door. Our 4 year-old knows nothing about looming deadlines and government regulations. All he knows is when you walk through that door, he becomes your everything.
  • You work so hard to provide. We never go without. Yet you don’t let that consume you for you realize time is a priceless commodity. And you always make sure your time spent proves where your values are placed.
  • You listen and apply what you have heard. From our son. From me. From God. You hear and you respond. What comfort is found when we know. That when we speak our hearts to you, the words don’t wash off. They permeate and find a safe home.
  • You display what a child of the King looks like. And I see our son soaking it all in. From singing praise to reading devotions and every prayer time in-between. Our son knows who you turn to. He sees the reflection of our Heavenly Father through you.
  • Selfishness is not in your vocabulary. You can’t even see how to possibly be one. All you know how to do is give. And with it, I hope you can say we all receive.

I’m honored to have a front row seat as I watch you in your element. Taking on the role He has given you with such dedication. I could go on and on and I will. Every day. As I thank God for making you a great dad.

How about you, friend? When you look at your dad or the dad of your children, what are you grateful for? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Please, join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Linking with:


April 17th ~ Our Day

Breath escapes me when I see my reflection. It’s my 9-year-old self, playing this day with friends. This was it. The day every girl dreams of at one time or another. And here I was, draped in white satin, laced in pearls, awaiting you.

Questions abound as my inner child grasps for reality. Does he really know what he’s getting into? It feels too good to be true, so isn’t it? Look at me, I’m just a child. Why is He blessing me with you? I don’t deserve this. Does God really love me this much?

Dad accepts my arm proudly as we start our long venture, both trying to match pace. All eyes focused on me and my knees can hardly stand it. It’s your gaze that keeps me upright. Making me want to pick up speed.

The crinkled runner has finally ended. I breathe slow, catching the scent of lilacs held. And as I stand between your parents and mine, waiting to be given away, your pooled eyes reflect I’m not alone. You feel the same way. Never have we known such love.

Oh how He loves us.

Your strong hand encompasses mine, squelching any dangles of doubt. And we dive head first into love. Vowing to walk each other home as long as God allows. Every evening since, we have sealed it the same way: With a kiss.

Nine years later to the day. Your familiar hand surrounds mine once again. And yet it feels different. I look down and see what is holding you back. We learn it becomes difficult to squelch out fear with an IV in the way.

My inner child returns with more questions. Does God really feel we’re ready for this? Am I good enough to be entrusted with such a blessing? Look at me, I’m just a child, laboring to have one of my own. Do I have enough to give? Am I spreading love too thin?

But soon his strong cry encompasses my heart, squelching any dangles of doubt. And you and I dive head first into love again. Praising our Father along the way.

They take our son to the other side of the room and your hand doesn’t want to leave mine. Our eyes meet and we both know. God has blessed us with enough. Never have we known such love.

Oh how He loves us.

I make it easy on you, asking you to go to him. For me. And I witness you welcoming our firstborn. He knows you right away, even the nurses can tell. And me, well I can hardly breathe.

For 13 years now, this has been our day. The day to celebrate our choice to share the road home. God surprised us with a son on the same day 9 years later and we couldn’t agree more. There is no better way to celebrate our love.

Karen Sunde wrote “To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.” And I know it to be true. For I see my home in you. I gain a bigger perspective of heaven in our son’s eyes. And I know we have received but a glimpse of what our second son already knows.

Thank you for holding my hand. Thank you for walking alongside me. Thank you for being the father my sons deserve.

I’ll dive head first with you anytime. For now I know…

Oh how He loves us.

And oh, how I love you.


He Sees Me

Hello friends! Thank you for your grace in me being absent a couple of days. I’m using the 5 Minute Friday challenge today to get back into the swing of things.

This week’s word challenge is:

VIVID

You know the drill by now. No editing. Just typing the thoughts that flow in these 5 minutes. Ready? I’m set. Let’s GO!

~~~~~~~~~~

He sees me. Better than I see myself sometimes and I wonder why he has chosen to love me. His eyes can pierce through any facade I have covered myself with this day, inviting me to peel back the layers and shine brilliantly. Encouraging me to  keep striving. Me — the one he sees so vividly. The one he has chosen to display God’s love and grace to on a daily basis.

And I love him more for it — this husband of mine. I force myself to not look away when I realize he can see me in all my colors as vivid as a Picasso masterpiece. For this is love. This is an example of God’s grace pouring down on me. To me. For me.

And I love him more for it — this husband of mine. He shows me but a glimpse of how my Jehovah sees me. The layers. The contrasts. The flaws I have tried to conceal. They all shine brilliantly in God’s eyes and yet He’s still here. My Savior doesn’t look away. He’s not ashamed of me. For He sees me, His child. He sees my potential, my purpose as vivid and crisp as a full moon spotlighted against the black of night. He sees me. And loves me anyway.

May I not look away. May I humbly accept God’s look of love. His glance of grace. May I accept His offer of forgiveness and not look away. For I want to truly see Him. As vivid as He sees me.

May I not look away.

TIME.

How about you? How do You see Him? I’d love to hear. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Praying with Purpose Applied

My dear friend Barbie at Freshly Brewed Life has committed to sharing a Bible verse every Sunday. A verse that’s been speaking to her. And she’s challenged us to join in. I knew I wanted to take part, but hadn’t decided yet how to proceed until my prayer time this week.

Those that check in from time to time know I’m striving to become my family’s biggest prayer warrior this year. I want to pray for my children with purpose. I want to pray for my spouse, family and friends more intentionally.

One way I’ve striven to be intentional is to pray using scripture.

And I want to share that with you
 How I’m applying verses in my prayer life.
 Every weekend.

Will you join me? Let’s begin!

Have you ever read a Proverbs a day? I grew up with the mentality it was a good practice to include one in your devotional life. There are 31 of them, so there is no reason to say you don’t have anything to read every day.

I haven’t done that in years, but thought I’d start-up again this January.

And in reading Proverbs 2 and 3, I realized these were excellent verses/chapters to use when praying for my spouse. And can I just say, isn’t that the way God works? I wanted to focus on my spouse this week and look what He gives me during my devotional/prayer time:

Proverbs 2:6-11 NLT

6 For the Lord grants wisdom!
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
7 He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
8 He guards the paths of the just
and protects those who are faithful to Him.

 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair,
and you will find the right way to go.
10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
and knowledge will fill you with joy.
11 Wise choices will watch over you.
Understanding will keep you safe.

Father, I can’t thank you enough for blessing me with a spouse who faithfully strives to reflect You in his everyday. Who’s main desire is to be a man of integrity, to provide for his family and guide us through this journey of life. And I know, Lord, that is a daily challenge. Something that needs attention every day as decisions need to be made, deadlines need to be met, others need to be served, provided for, kept safe. What a burden to bear.

Father, please be his shield when he is faced with doors that shouldn’t be opened. Protect his heart, Lord, from things that are not right, just, fair. Shower him with Your wisdom, knowledge, and understanding as he seeks You daily. So he will see the path ahead clearly and confidently and know what decisions need to be made. For in this You will be glorified and my husband will know You deeper. See You more clearly. Find contentment. Purpose. Joy…

How about you? How do you pray for your spouse? I’d love to hear. 

What is weighing heavy on your heart? Can I pray for you? Please feel free to contact me with any prayer requests you have via comments or email. I will respond and pray for you intentionally. 

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

I’m linking this to:

My Legacy of Vibrancy

I do the math over and over in my head. Can that be right? It was sixteen plus years ago?

I remember the day like it was yesterday. Or at the very least last week. The smells, the sounds, the clothes I was wearing, the small talk with my new roommate. I remember it all this day. The day I met the man who would become my husband.

When I think of how far we’ve come in these 16 years, I am blown away.

And I intend to keep it that way.

Twenty-twelve, you will be another year in our memory. Another year resulting in our legacy. What do you say–let’s make you stand out!

So here I am, in what is becoming my favorite reflecting place. Pen in hand, a new journal page awaiting my game plan. My strategy for keeping my marriage more than alive.

No, alive isn’t enough. This year, I’ll strive for vibrant.

And If there’s one thing 2011 taught me, it was this:

That is where I intend to begin. By giving thanks for my husband. A fine strategy plan indeed.

My mind fills with appreciation as I write them down, one by one:

  • Hubby working his schedule around so I can make my appointment.
  • He works so hard and provides so well. I have never gone without.
  • I cannot remember the last time I filled a vehicle with gas. One little gift he gives me on a regular basis.
  • My son’s excitement over each workday end. Each time he comes home becomes a gift given to him. Such joy.

A dozen or more follow with ease before I pause to reflect. I flip through my gifts journal now, remembering my gifts given. And notice my husband’s name laces every page. Yes, I am blessed, God has graced me with a partner worth striving for.

And I intend to make twenty-twelve stand out.

I pray for my husband every day, but God is showing me I can do better. Just like He’s showing me how to improve the prayers for my child. And yes, this will be the year I put both into practice.

I fully intend to become my family’s biggest prayer warrior.

And in the near future, I’ll be sharing with you my strategy.

Yes, this year is going to be vibrant.

How about you? How do you show appreciation for those you love dear? How do you pray over them? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking this post up with:

The Grace Cafe @ Reflections of His Grace

Dancing in the Minefields ~ Music Monday

My husband’s birthday is around Christmas. It’s not on Christmas like my oldest brother’s, but it’s close enough to make an impact. To become easily forgotten or overlooked.

That is something I never want to do to my husband. Forget all he means to me and overlook the impact he has made on my life.

He’s an extraordinary man, friends.
I married up.

When I was thinking about how I wanted to kick off the new year, what I wanted to focus on first, my hubby came to mind. And I hope you don’t mind if I share a bit of that with you.

I stumbled upon this song just over a year ago and it has become one of my favorite love songs. Primarily because it encapsulates marriage with the love of Christ.

Mostly because it’s so honest. Marriage is a hard journey. But worth it.

♪♫ ‘Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down. ♪♫

I could go on and on about this song, but I don’t need to. The lyrics say it all and listening to the song is where your time is best spent.

NOTE: If you’re reading this post in a reader/email format, please click HERE to enjoy the official video. For me.

Without further adieu, here is:

“Dancing in the Minefields” by Andrew Peterson

(and honey? I couldn’t say this better myself — even if I tried.
So…may I have this dance?)

(Love the story of the first verse)

♪♫ Well “I do” are the two most famous last words
The beginning of the end
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin
‘Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found ♪♫

♪♫ And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storms
And this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
(don’t give up on me)

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose loves chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith to the end of all my days
when I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands
Till the shadows disappear
‘Cause He promised not to leave us
And His promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos baby,
I can dance with you  ♪♫

Happy (belated) birthday, friend. Yes, I’m still celebrating you. Thanks for filling up my dance card. For keeps.

How about you? What are some of your favorite love songs? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

Linking up to: