Christmas Companion

A postscript by Andee, John’s Christmas Companion: Yesterday as we I began decorating our house for Christmas I thought of this blog John wrote last year. Again we were engaged in separate tasks – he was putting up lights and I was unpacking decorations, and cleaning dusty corners I don’t usually notice. It was a lot of work, but every once in a while we just stopped and smiled at each other. The work was lightened by Christmas music, and everything Christmas means; but mostly it was lightened because we were together, and actively thankful to God for each other – “the threefold cord that is not quickly broken.”

Marriage Feast

We hardly saw each other all day long, but we were together. It was the Saturday before Christmas, and our house was about to become the converging point for sixteen family members – most of them from out of town. Grocery CartJust the previous day we had hit all the stores for last minute items. We successfully filled a shopping cart with enough food to feed an army and test the shocks on our Toyota. Today’s lists were different. Today I had yards to clean, windows to wash, tile to scrub and furniture to haul to the garage. Couple Working TogetherAndee’s list consisted of food to cook, cards to write, bedding to prepare, and a refrigerator to clean and organize. Today was not one of those days a couple walks hand in hand on a beach. But our hands were busy. Today we went our separate ways to accomplish our shared goal. Some days…

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Your Husband is a Tool

DavidIf you‘ve ever been to Florence Italy, you’ve no doubt seen Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of David. There he stands, the perfect man in all his naked glory…but he did not begin that way. When asked how he accomplished such a masterpiece, Michelangelo simply said “I took a block of marble, and I chipped away anything that wasn’t David.” When we are considering marriage, we are always looking for the perfect mate. We meet someone, we get a glimpse of who God is making them, and it excites us. But spouses don’t come ready-made. The bible says that God will spend a lifetime conforming us into the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29). And when we sign up for marriage, we are signing on to help our spouse become everything God wants them to be.

Look in the Right PlacesNow before we go any farther, Michelangelo did not choose just any random block of marble. He searched for the right quarry, and even built a road to bring back the exact block for David. Singles, this is no place for short cuts. We should be very careful and intentional when choosing our spouse. Choose WiselyLimestone and Pyrite will never have the qualities of marble or granite. They don’t yield to the chisel like marble does.

Tools of the MasterIt is important to make the distinction that God is the artist and we are simply the tool in His hand. It is not our place to try to make our spouse what we want them to be. At the same time, don’t blame your spouse if the chisel feels like it is getting too close to a sensitive area. If God wants to take off a few pounds of something that doesn’t look like Jesus, we will be better for it. The Master doesn’t make mistakes.

Hammer and ChiselIf we are honest with ourselves and with each other, there is a lot in our life that needs to be chipped away. Sin and selfish tendencies keep us from being the person we want to be. The bible tells us to exhort one another daily. (Heb 3:13) How valuable it is to have someone who loves us, someone we can trust to share that goal and help us stay on track.

She Yields to the Master's HandSex and romance, laughter and fun are some of the joys we share along the way as we celebrate our successes, and nurse our wounds, and endure the “growing pains” of life. Having a companion who encourages us makes the process not only bearable, but enjoyable.

On our wedding day we had no idea. We thought we were two finished statues. We stood before the minister and pledged ourselves to serve and love one another, and to help each other through whatever life would bring our way. By daily living out our pledge to one another, we will one day stand before the Lord and hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that’s a life well lived. A masterpiece!Masterpiece

Cancer Scare

Autumn TreeSuddenly, thirty years of marriage seemed like a very short time. Our kids are grown and out of the house, and just last summer we “married off” the last one. We are enjoying our empty nest, and we treasure our time together. With the arrival of autumn, also comes those pesky annual checkups. You know, the ones where they tell you that you need to floss more and you need to eat less or your cholesterol is too high. Man FlossingWe had just celebrated our anniversary when the phone call came.  “We found a lump that we’re concerned about in your mammogram. Can you come see me in the office?”

The next two weeks were a blur of checkups, tests, and runaway emotions. I just wanted to hold my wife close and make it go away, but it wouldn’t go away. Scale Doctors OfficeOur prayer life however, suddenly became very specific and very fervent. I remember thinking how permanent death is; and how we squander our healthy days with squabbles and disagreements over things that don’t even matter. The prospect of living through the golden years without my best friend was unthinkable. The only consolation was to keep reminding ourselves of the things we know about God. That He is for us, and he is gracious, compassionate, powerful, and able to heal. And even if He does not heal, he will give us the grace to walk through this valley together. And He will be with us.

TelephoneWaiting is not my favorite thing to do. After the biopsy, it seemed like forever before the results came back. I carried the phone from room to room in case it rang, I didn’t want to miss it. When the call finally came with the results, the doctor used the word “preliminary”. Preliminary? What do you mean preliminary? But that was not the most important word he used. Rolling Back the CloudsThe word that seemed to split the heavens and roll back the clouds was the word benign. “Benign, benign, benign….that’s good! Benign is good. Benign means our prayers are answered. Benign means no surgery or chemotherapy. Benign means I’m still going to be the baldest one in the family. Benign means our golden years are still golden, and I get to keep my best friend.

I Love You CoupleThe preliminary results were confirmed and reconfirmed and she now has a clean bill of health. Since then we hold each other a lot more. We wake up every morning thankful, and hopeful for the future. The minor irritations of life are suddenly unimportant. And we savor the companionship of marriage.

breast-cancer-ribbonI don’t know why it sometimes takes a tragedy to make us treasure our spouse, but I don’t want to lose the sense of how short life is. Thirty years flew by like a vapor. Lord, help me be intentional with the next thirty. I promise I’ll floss more.

Christmas Companion

We hardly saw each other all day long, but we were together. It was the Saturday before Christmas, and our house was about to become the converging point for sixteen family members – most of them from out of town. Grocery CartJust the previous day we had hit all the stores for last minute items. We successfully filled a shopping cart with enough food to feed an army and test the shocks on our Toyota. Today’s lists were different. Today I had yards to clean, windows to wash, tile to scrub and furniture to haul to the garage. Couple Working TogetherAndee’s list consisted of food to cook, cards to write, bedding to prepare, and a refrigerator to clean and organize. Today was not one of those days a couple walks hand in hand on a beach. But our hands were busy. Today we went our separate ways to accomplish our shared goal. Some days we work together on the same project in the same location. In fact sometimes quarters are so close we call it “small-room dancing”. But other days require us to be in separate locations. This was one of those days.

The bible says: Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. Ecc. 4:9
Woman doing all the WorkThere is nothing greater than working together with our spouse to accomplish a goal. Conversely there is nothing more disheartening than feeling like you are the only one doing all the work. There is no job too daunting, and no task too large, when we know our spouse cares as much as we do; and is moving heaven and earth to help accomplish it.Man doing the housework
As we checked things off our list, we’d offer quick updates as we headed for our next project. “I’m done with the tile and I’m off to work on the yard.”

Today our house is ready for company to arrive. But even more, we are ready to host them, because we’ve been “together” throughout the process.Couple Doing Dishes Together

Chick Flick

Downton Abbey“Marriage is hard work.” I know you’ve heard this phrase before and you may have even uttered it yourself. But just how hard is the work, really? If we’re honest with ourselves, we can spend more energy avoiding the “work” than actually doing it. So, guys, I offer two words that will be an investment in your marriage: Chick Flick. Here’s how you can tell if you’re watching a chick flick. There will be no explosions, no breaking glass, no guns and no blood.

My wife, Andee, likes those British movies about women named Jane: Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, Lost in Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Wives and Daughters, and now, Downton Abbey. But I have a question: Do any of the men in those movies ever work? So I call them movies about men who don’t work. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but I don’t quite understand the guys in these movies. (I say quite because that’s what the British say.)

All those movies seem to have the same storyline:
Just MarriedThey all center on a very wealthy man who doesn’t work, and who can only produce daughters. In each movie, he sits in his study wringing his hands because a distant cousin is going to inherit his wealth when he dies. His cousins seem to produce plenty of sons, all of questionable character. The sons only want to marry rich girls so they won’t have to work…and presumably, they will sit in their study wringing their hands.

Throw in a hysterical scheming mother and a rich, handsome young man who just happens to be single (probably because he can’t communicate his feelings). There’s always a ball where everybody knows how to dance. Then in a “surprising” twist, he falls in love with the plainest daughter and the movie ends with their wedding.Pride and Prejudice wedding
No wonder England is so messed up!

But real life doesn’t end with a wedding. The wedding is only the beginning of a marriage. Chick flicks never show life after the wedding because going to work and doing laundry doesn’t sell movies. Raising children and paying bills aren’t sexy. Yet they are the substance of everyday life. Plus, most of us don’t have a staff of servants to run our estate. So when the kitchen sink springs a leak, “Yours Truly Plumbing Service” gets to repair it. That would be me.Plumber 1
Sometimes, at the end of the day when the work is all done, I’ll watch a chick flick with my wife. It is great for our relationship. It allows us to connect on a level that guys don’t even know we have.

I’m no Colin Firth, but I know how important it is to take an interest in doing things that please my wife. (British movies help by reminding me to communicate so I don’t become like those British actors.)

Letting our spouse choose the movie is a great way that married couples can serve one another, (especially if we don’t complain.) Andee is great at this. Because whenever Friday night rolls around, and I suggest that we watch Band of Brothers or Blackhawk Down, She is quick to agree and starts popping the popcorn. Now that’s connecting!Band of Brothers

A Loaf, a Jug, and Thou

Spa room 1Andee and I recently got away for our anniversary and we got one of those rooms with a spa in the room for a romantic getaway. We stopped at Safeway to pick up some beverages and some bread and cheese and snacks and things to bring to our room. We also have little picnic basket with a coffee maker we take so we can enjoy some GOOD coffee in the morning. It makes for a very relaxing time and we don’t need to leave our room unless we want to. Well, the second day we went back to the store to buy another baguette and a bottle of spring water because the city water made the coffee taste funny. So as we were walking down the aisle of the grocery store, we were laughing and enjoying our time together and Andee said, “How romantic… a loaf, a jug and thou.”
Many couples long for the Good ol’ Days when their relationship was filled with romance. They remember the early years when they shared their dreams for the future. Well here we are in the future, and the families we dreamed about require a lot of our time and energy. Every couple needs occasional islands of “together time” away from the kids and the pressures of everyday life. We all need a get-away every now and then. But even if your “overnighters” are few and far between, plan an afternoon together or even a walk around the block to catch up with each other. This is valuable time to share and evaluate and reiterate that you’re in this together.a loaf, a jug
So there we were, with our loaf and jug, heading toward the check-out stand; smiling, holding hands and feeling very much in love. But when our turn came and the clerk began to ring up our purchases she looked at us, then she looked at our two items and remarked, “How pathetic! Bread and water!”
At that point I realized that perspective makes all the difference!
Some see the cup as half empty. Others see the cup as half full. The Lord wants us to see our marriage like this: My cup runneth over! (Psalm 23:5)
Some couples settle for a marriage that is the equivalent of bread and water, (you know, enough to keep you alive but make you wish you were dead). How many couples would have a more awesome marriage if we would only adjust our perspective? And stop struggling and start snuggling!

Carly Simon wrote in a song: “These are the Good ol’ Days!” Hebrews 3:13 tells us to exhort and encourage one another not to be fooled into ignoring the Lord or to putting off until tomorrow the things we should do today. Do yourself a favor and redeem the time. Make this the year that you invest in your relationship with your spouse. In fact, don’t let today slip away without affirming your love for one another. And go ahead and plan that romantic get-away. You’ll be glad you did.

Nurture and Cherish

BelmontI’ve never seen more nurturing and cherishing than at a car show. No speck of dust is safe. No smudge of grease will escape the watchful eye of the automobile enthusiast. He is meticulous to take care of his “baby.” After all, “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore”. She’s all original, he says proudly, as others admire her with a hint of envy. No expense has been spared, and countless hours have been spent to make her the coveted award winner. She’s the Prize of the show.

Imagine if one car had to last us a life time. How would we care for it? We certainly wouldn’t drive it recklessly. No, we’d nurture and cherish it. We’d wash it every week and wax it once a month. We’d change the oil every 3,000 miles and give it a tune up regularly to keep it in good repair. We’d be easy on the throttle and light on the brakes. When parking in a public lot, we’d take up two spaces so others wouldn’t ding her doors. At home we’d garage her to protect her from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. We’d cruise Main Street to impress people, and show her off in parades. After fifty years the sleek beauty would still purr like a kitten and look like the day she drove off the showroom floor.

What if we cared for our spouse as if they had to last a lifetime? Because…they do.

So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies… For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. Ephesians 5:28 & 29


Imagine for a moment that you are married to your best friend. You share the same dreams and the same goals. You work together as a team, a seamless partnership, hand in glove. You communicate easily with each other. And you can talk about anything. In fact you talk about everything without fear or apprehension. The tone of your conversation is gracious and truthful. Your mate treats you like you’re special. They drop what they are doing when you need help and they assist you gladly. They would always rather spend time with you than anyone else. They think about you often. They call or email during the day just to let you know they are thinking about you. You look forward to going home and being together at the end of the work day. They call to let you know what time to expect them.

Holding Hands

When you walk through the front door they greet you with a smile that says they are glad to be together again. They drop unimportant things, or quickly complete important things, so they can devote their full attention to you. They’re genuinely interested in the events of your day.  They listen to you and encourage you. They have been praying for you since you parted early in the morning. They prepare a meal, or compliment the dinner you’ve been preparing. Or they invite you to eat out and ask your choice of restaurant. If you have children they inquire about progress, or update you on the challenges and victories in the children’s lives. You work together to do dishes and homework and any other tasks, so you can both enjoy the rest of the evening. You engage in meaningful conversation and create times of momentary refuge from phones, computers, and TV. You make it a priority that you both go to bed at the same time so you can have a few moments of pillow talk and prayer. When you reach out to hold your mate, they are attentive and move closer to you. They welcome intimacy and together you enjoy the experience of oneness. You fall asleep in each other’s arms.

Right about now I hope you’re saying to your spouse, “Look Honey, he’s talking about us!” I hope I have given a candid description of your marriage. And as you read these lines, you feel the affirmation of a life well lived and a job well done. I hope you derive a high level of satisfaction from the quality of character that your relationship reflects. And you recognize the work of God in your life and in your marriage. And I hope it challenges you, more and more, to be an excellent marriage partner.

The Marriage Feast is dedicated to encouraging and strengthening marriages.We hope you benefit from these pages.

Winning the Lottery

Lottery TicketsEveryone has dreams of winning the lottery. But why? So we can quit our job and sleep in? So we can play golf all day or play video games in our pajamas? We have dreams of eating the foods we like to eat, wearing the clothes we like. Heck, we wouldn’t even have to wear clothes if we didn’t want to. Some of us even try to make deals with God by offering Him 10% if he’ll make all the arrangements. James says we ask, but we ask amiss that we may consume it on our own pleasures. James 4:3

Imaging hearing a knock at your door and receiving the news that a distant relative has died and left you a hundred million dollars. The only stipulation written in his will for you to keep all that money, is that you must remain happily married to your mate. Pretending to be happy will not be allowed. You must actually maintain a good quality marriage, the kind that when you leave for work each morning, you can’t wait to get home to your spouse. You have so much to talk about. You have plans to make. You have goals and dreams to share and fulfill. You have people to help, and projects to do together. Wouldn’t you make it the priority of your life to nurture your marriage? Wouldn’t you pay attention, study, practice, and do everything possible, if keeping your fortune depended on it?

Well, a rich relative has died and His will is for you to be rich. The apostle Peter tells us that we are heirs together of the grace of life. 1 Peter 3:7 And the way to make sure we get to keep those riches is we must grow to understand our spouse. And through that understanding we can serve them better, and be the right kind of encouragement to them.

At this point some husbands throw up their hands and say “I’ll never understand why my wife is the way she is.” And that may be true. But God wants us to take the time, and spend the energy to understand how different things affect our spouse, and then to use that understanding to help each other through life. This is one of the true riches of marriage.

Is She Hot?

A young man came to my office to ask about weddings. He was in a big hurry to get married. He began telling me about the woman of his dreams whom he had recently met, and asked if I would officiate their wedding. First I congratulated him. Then I asked him a question. In fact, I asked him the most important question when choosing a bride: Is she HOT? I know it sounds carnal. We all know that beauty is only skin deep, but I had to know, because the answer to this question would affect the rest of his life.

Adam lived in a perfect world; the environment was perfect and the climate was perfect. The food was delicious and his work was interesting and challenging. He had a perfect relationship with God. The Garden of Eden was paradise. What more could a man want? HD TV? No. Adam needed someone to share it with. If you’ve ever seen a beautiful sunset, and wished that someone was there to share it with you, then you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully God was not finished with his creation.

And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Gen 2:18) Can you imagine Adam praying PLEASE God, make her pretty. Because we all know how important it is that we marry someone who is attractive to us. Our first indication that Eve was HOT was when God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very good.  (Gen 1:31)

AdamWe also know that she was HOT because there is something in the way Adam uses the word “now”. It is as if there should have been and exclamation point after the word “now” – as if to say FINALLY!

Adam did his best to find vocabulary to express his feelings (typical man). He said:

This is now bone of my bones” – She’s got bones that match my bones.

And flesh of my flesh” – She has beautiful flesh. (I want to touch her.     I want to hold her. I want to love her.)   (Gen. 2:23)

She’s not like all the others. She’s a perfect match for me. We’re a matched pair. She’s my mate!  A perfect fit!Adam and Eve

Do you remember the day you first laid eyes on your mate? The first conversation you had? Sometimes it’s love at first sight. Sometimes it’s a slow revelation. Your thoughts progress from “Could this be the one?” to “This could be the one!” to “I think I may be falling in love.” to “WO-MAN!  I AM in love!!!” The defining moment is exciting and scary and wonderful and perplexing all at the same time.

There is term that gold miners use: “He’s married the vein.” That’s when a prospector is no longer objectively evaluating the minerals to discover whether or not there is gold in the vein. He has crossed a threshold where now every mineral he finds, he interprets as proof of the presence of gold.

But being physically attracted is not the only important criteria for choosing a mate. You sometimes see announcements in the newspaper of couples celebrating 50 years of marriage, and they are often accompanied by a current photograph next to their wedding picture. Fifty years later, none of us will look the same. The apostle Peter emphasizes that it is the person you are inside that is important.

Wives…Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)

Guys, the Lord wants you to have a HOT wife. But when choosing a wife, He wants you to put a premium on finding a wife that is HOT for the things of the Lord.

Look for a wife that loves Jesus more than she loves you. One who is passionate to live for Him even if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain. Then, if and when you fail, she will look to the Lord for direction as to how to respond to you. Don’t settle for a wife that is physically hot, but lukewarm towards the things of the Lord. Ladies, the same goes for you when choosing a husband.

Jesus said to the church of Laodicea, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth. Rev 3:15-1

I don’t recommend that you write this verse on an anniversary card, but I do recommend writing the exhortation on the tablet of your heart to get hot and stay HOT for the things of the Lord. It will make you attractive when you’re young, and will keep you attractive until you celebrate fifty years together and beyond.