Til Death Do Us Part

My Friend DonWhat do you want people to say about you at your memorial service? That’s kind of an uncomfortable question, but I came by it honestly. I recently lost a good friend who was my own age, and way too young to die. He went to sleep one night and didn’t wake up. Frankly, that’s the way we’d all prefer to go, without suffering, but the suddenness rocked me. Any one of us could be diagnosed with a terminal illness, and given six weeks to live. At least then we’d have six weeks to get our affairs in order. HeavenBut what if I go to sleep tonight and wake up in heaven, like Don did? I couldn’t rest until I answered that question.

If I die…wait a minute… we always say that, but we really should say “when I die”. In human history, there is just about a 100% mortality rate with only a few biblical exceptions. CemetarySo let’s be honest and say, “when I die”.  Hopefully it will be at the ripe old age of a hundred, but what if I die unexpectedly? In that moment my wife’s life would be drastically altered. A lifetime of plans would suddenly and completely change. The thought of my wife rifling through my file cabinet, wondering how she would make ends meet, gripped me.Dave Ramsey

So I sat down and wrote a legacy list. You know, the one Dave Ramsey always talks about. We already have our wills in place, but the Legacy List is another tangible way we can say “I love You” from heaven. It’s not romantic, but it is a single sheet of paper that has all the information, account numbers and policy numbers that a grieving spouse would need to carry on without us. On second thought, maybe it is romantic. The list includes location of our wills and healthcare directives, policy and account numbers for: life insurance, investments, short and long term disability, health and long term care insurance.Last Will and Testament It even includes some recommendations on which broker to seek advice from, on how to live on the life insurance and what we have saved. Plus we have to consider that Social Security and pensions change or disappear upon a spouse’s death.

We tend to think:

There will always be time to say the things I want to say to my spouse.

There will always be time to take that trip.

There will always be time to save for retirement.

There will always be time to take a walk, watch a chick flick, or go fishing together.

There will always be time…

Don ServingBut time is an earthbound property; and our time on this earth is like a vapor. Moments like this can be paralyzing or catalyzing. I know myself pretty well, and I know that if I let any time elapse, I’d forget the urgency. There are some important things I need to do today. Then there are other things that I need to do a little bit every day… for my wife, for my children and for others who are important to me.

One of the things I admire most about my friend Don is that he was a man of action. He didn’t just talk about going hunting, he’d plan a trip. He didn’t wait for others to plan events; he would serve others by taking a lead role. Hound DogHe was a real friend and we had a great friendship because he pursued it like a bloodhound. Great relationships don’t just happen, they must be pursued. Thanks Don. Even your death has inspired me to be a better man.Don and I Hunting Success

Visually Generous

JLoI couldn’t believe my eyes. I casually logged onto the internet to check my email and there was JLo‘s bare chest, staring me right in the face. She wasn’t naked. She was at an awards ceremony, posing for photographers in an “outfit” exposing all but the tiniest portion of her breasts, and split all the way down, let’s say… well below her navel. I didn’t click on the link, but I didn’t need to. The image is indelibly in my mind, and there is nothing I can do to remove it.Computer

In the computer world, the solution would be to format the hard drive and start over. In the real world it is not that simple.  Our minds retain those images and drift back to them at the most inopportune times. EraserWe may be tinkering on the car or mowing the lawn, and those images pop back into our mind. I’d like to say that I’m immune, but I’m just like any other guy. I can’t go to the store or watch TV for five minutes without seeing a suggestively dressed woman. I don’t understand all the physiology, but I know that when men see a naked woman, something fires in the pleasure center of the brain. Thus the saying: “Some men are visual…the rest are dead.” Get Out of Jail FreeBut guys, we can’t just say it’s normal, and use it as our get out of jail free card. The bible tells us to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  2 Corinthians 10:5. We can’t stop a bird from landing on our head, but we can prevent it from building a nest.Nest on your Head

Many wives are hurt and frustrated when they see their husbands struggle with the visual assaults. But don’t get mad at your husband for being male. Be a sympathetic ally. You can be his biggest helper in the battle. Many husbands haven’t seen their wife naked since the invention of the walk-in closet. Walk In ClosetThey have no visuals of their own wife’s body that they can muse upon when temptation strikes.

Wives can be a tremendous help to their husbands by simply dressing in front of their husband. When you’re changing clothes, don’t go into the bathroom and close the door; dress where he can see you. You don’t have to do a strip tease and you don’t have to make an event of it, but be visually generous. When you are preparing for bed, do it in front of your husband. Take your time and carry on a conversation. I promise you, he will be attentive. Husband Thinking of his WifeGive your husband some “sanctified images” to remember and think about. Remember, you are the only person in the world whose body he can think about without guilt. Give him plenty of moments to remember, rewind and relive, focused on you. You may be astonished at the results.

Many good-willed husbands and wives have suffered needlessly, because they did not know how to help each other. Amazingly, a willingness to serve our spouse and a few small changes in our dressing habits can infuse health and satisfaction into our marriage in ways we never would have imagined.

I Was Wrong

HeadlinesMisstatements are in bold, 300 font headlines on the front page. But retractions and corrections, if you can find them, are somewhere at the bottom of page C17. We always cry “foul” when a political leader lies or fails to fulfill his promise, but when I make a mistake…not so much. My inaccuracies and misstatements always have “legitimate reasons” and “logical explanations”.Politicians

Why is it that the very faults we decry in public, we practice in our marriage relationships?Fonzie I’d much rather say that I misspoke or you misheard me, than to say I was wr—. Why is it so hard to say I was wr—? OK, I wasn’t exactly right! It’s hard to admit. I’m just like Fonzie in Happy Days, who is too cool for school, but just can’t make himself say those three magic words: I was wrong.

Fig Leaf ThongDavinci Fig LeafThe reason is universal. We are just like Adam and Eve. When we sin we tend to cover up instead of “fessing up”. We hide our dirt when we should come clean. So there we stand in our fig leaf thong, acting as if everything is normal. At first our spouse is confused, then they feel sorry for us, then they just get downright angry. Nobody’s fooling anybody, but why am I the last one to find out?

The bible says that God desires honesty in my inward parts. Psalm 51:6

James says we should confess our trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that we may be healed. How many of us are suffering needlessly when a clean slate is three words away?

The psalmist describes the relief that awaits me when I admit that I am wrong:

Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. ScoreboardFinally, I confessed all my sins you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt  is gone. Psalm 32:2-5 (NLT)

We must have some innate feeling that we need to keep score. A competitive spirit is essential when it comes to striving to win the World Series or the Super Bowl.  But Competition in marriage is an oxymoron, two things that do not belong together like apples and orangutans.Apple and Orangutan Three Legged RaceWe often forget that our spouse is not the opposition, they are not the enemy. We are on the same team. When they win, we win. It is essential that we maintain our team chemistry. And run with endurance the race that is set before us, together.

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.

Water Challenge

Water husband dousing wifeIf you were to dump a bucket of water on your wife’s head, how do you think she’d react? Thousands of people are doing it, and it’s for a good cause.

Ice Bucket challengeYou don’t have to spend much time online to conclude that the world has accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge. Hats off to those who not only soaked themselves to promote greater ALS awareness, but also donated money towards a cure.

Water Soaked and HappySpontaneous soaking has taken the country by storm this summer, but it is nothing new. The drenching deed was prescribed as far back as the first century. Making sure that your wife is deliberately doused, blatantly baptized, sufficiently sopping, fully flooded, whole-heartedly hosed, solidly saturated, intensely inundated, willfully waterlogged, and absolutely awash with water is crucial to a healthy marriage.

If Any Man ThirstsThe original water challenge was laid down to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-26: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,…

Water 5 GallonsBut before you go load up your water cannon, and unleash an ocean of H2O on her, remember, eight glasses a day is better than a  flash flood. You know: precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, there a little. Isa 28:10

I realize that nowadays, liberated women say they can dig their own well. Of course they can, and should. Woman Digging WellBut it’s a husband’s responsibility to make sure his wife is properly moisturized, soaked, and washed in the scriptures. Double dousing is encouraged. Jesus even said that whoever believes in him, out of their innermost being will flow a river of living water. That’s good thing!

DroughtWe’re currently experiencing a drought in California. And no one likes a drought because the countryside is dead, the hills are brown and the grass is dying for lack of rain. That’s why they call California the “Golden State”. (So we’re all doing our part by dumping water on each other while standing on our lawns, so we don’t waste.) But imagine how you’d feel if you hadn’t had a drink since the last rain. Now imagine how you’d look. Eeeewww. Water HosedGuys, you want to have a beautiful wife? Soak her in the word. OK, a squirt here and there, a splash now and then is good. WaterfallBut a down right gully-washer every now and then is what she really needs. Whet her whistle. That’s right, turn on the fire hose. Open the dam; pour it on and pour it out. sb10064151p-001Go ahead and dunk her, spray her, immerse her till she’s sopping wet. Slip N Slide? We’re talking complete hydration. Dump and dab and dip; but don’t drown. How about a downpour every now and then? Why not break out the water wiggle? Now I’m being silly. But hey, you get the point.

Washed in the Water of the WordIt’s high time for a good old fashioned spring rain. Shower your wife with the life-giving, health-sustaining, cool, clean, clear water of the Word. But be careful…she might get you back.

Comic Relief

Marriage can be PUN!  No, that’s not a typo. Some of us need to lighten up a little in our marriages. How often do you laugh with your spouse? Hopefully, you’re chuckling, snickering, guffawing, busting a gut, and belly laughing regularly. Too many couples waste years of their marriage, only “dealing with issues” and struggling over responsibilities. Some couples just need to go out to recess and play together again.Miranda

So, with laughing together in mind, Comic Relief was born.  We hope you enjoy the comics we’ve selected. Plus we’ll be adding more periodically. Now go ahead and laugh out loud!





Happy Wife DiamondVolunteer


A cheerful heart is good medicine Proverbs 17:22





sitting on eggs


pre-naptual agreement

A say in this house


True Love

The Fab FourAll you need is love…. John Lennon wrote to a generation who said “God is dead”. Yeah, yeah, yeah… He’s talkin’ bout my generation. (oops, wrong band) Now John Lennon is dead and God is still alive. Paul McCartney, sporting a few more wrinkles at the ripe old age of seventy two, filled Candlestick Park with Silly Love Songs for its final event. Now, The Stick will go the way of all flesh and be demolished. And what will take its place? Mick JaggerCondos and retail… Shocker!     It seems that one generation passes away, and another generation comes, and there’s nothing new under the sun. (Ecc 1:4 & 9). But there is a higher love than the Beatles sang about. And the living God wants us to experience that love.Crossed heart
The bible tells us husbands to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for her. (Eph 5:25). Guys agree, but still have a hard time with this. Because just about every guy I know, is already doing his best to translate his feelings into action. But what if I told you that love has nothing to do with feelings? InconceivableDon’t get me wrong, I have strong feelings of love for my wife. But true love gives and serves and sacrifices whether or not it has that loving feeling. True love chooses consistently to do what is best for our bride. Inconceivable? Not really. Here’s how we develop that consistency.
We all want to have a glorious bride, without spot or wrinkle (Sorry ladies, I’m doing the best I can with what I have to work with.) Eph 5:27. One way a husband can love his wife is to protect her. I know that sounds chauvinist but male chavanism wasn’t even invented until 1969.Princess Bride I’ve seldom met a woman who would not want their knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet…but I digress. Husbands should protect their wives. Whether from the physical danger of a mugger, or more  subtle dangers such as a “friend’s” ungodly influence or destructive habits, or too much exposure to worldly media.Wrinkled Face Map
Spots are defilement from the outside and wrinkles are an outward sign of inward decay. The antidote to spots and wrinkles is the washing of water of the Word. I told you love isn’t for sissies. The word of God can do what the billion dollar cosmetic industry cannot do.
Just as a disclaimer, this doesn’t mean that a devoted Christian woman will not develop wrinkles. But joy in our lives turns wrinkles into laugh lines.

Man PrayingGuys, let’s face it, we are finite and fallible.
God instructs our wives to follow us, even though we will sometimes make mistakes and fail. If we’re honest, that’s terrifying! Imagine how hard that is for your wife. Remember, God is conforming her into His image, not ours. We lead her to live by His standards, not ours. Our job is to lead her to Him, to trust him and to honor Him with her life. Leading by example works best.
Jesus said Love one another as I have loved you. John 13:14 Jesus has loved us passionately, unconditionally, sacrificially, selflessly, humbly, graciously, continuously. We all want to be successful at being a husband. By making our aim, our goal, our personal commitment to align with Jesus, we will succeed.

The “S” Word

velociraptorThere is no topic more controversial in the scriptures than the topic of biblical submission. The very mention of the word causes hackles to be raised and teeth to be bared. Wives envision themselves in subjection as a slave, to her husband’s every whim. And husbands kind of like the idea of having a slave who has to do anything he orders. I Dream of JeannieBut that’s not biblical submission, and it certainly is NOT what the bible calls husbands and wives to. So put those claws back in their sheath, and let’s talk about what the bible really says.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Ephesians 5:21-25 KJV
First, let’s remind ourselves that in marriage, God takes two lives and makes them into one: the two shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:24) Two Headed CowSince God knows that anything with two heads is a monstrosity,  he assigns different roles to the husband and wife.
Secondly, God does not instruct us to force one another into subjection, but to voluntarily submit ourselves to his plan, and to honor Him by taking our place in his plan. There is a huge difference between servitude and servanthood. Servitude is forced upon us and servanthood is a voluntary act of our own will.
Man serving WomanGod knows that in order to have a satisfying marriage, we need to change from two individuals who live to serve themselves, to a couple who live to serve and satisfy each other.
The apostle Paul implores us to be like our Lord:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Phil 2:5-8
Superman protecting womanMost of us will never need to take a bullet and die for our spouse. But what a privilege to live to serve them.