I was reminded recently about a cruise Dave and I took. It was the first Cruise we went on alone — without the kids — without my parents (we cruised with them around Hawaii in 2010) — through the Caribbean, at the end of March 2012.
At the time, Dave and I weren’t in a happy place. With all the crazy going on in our lives, we were finding it hard to be the proverbial “shiny, happy people” we normally are. We weren’t able to properly grieve Dave’s dad’s death (Aug 17/11) due to all the stress his estranged wife was putting us through and the demands on us from work, the pressure was mounting. We both felt like we were drowning. Our shoulders couldn’t hold much more, we were doing all we could just to survive.
One of our good friends came by our home on a surprise visit to check in on us. We’d been on his mind that morning. As we talked and shared with him what we were going through, he told us we needed to take some time off, in fact, he told us to leave that week… for a month. He’d step in at the church to help with the preaching while we were away.
I have to admit, it took me a while to warm up to the idea. As our dear friend was talking, my mind was racing with all the things I’d need to do before we left, let alone find someone at the last minute to watch all four of our children! That’s no small task.
As much as I protested… I knew we needed to reconnect with each other. To remember why we got married in the first place. To focus on us, as husband and wife, not just as mom and dad, and definitely more than the pastor and his wife.
It took me a few days at sea to be able to relax and enjoy the moment, to stop worrying and looking for things to argue about (all I wanted to do was squabble). To enjoy the man God gave me in 1996.
If we’re not a strong team, our family won’t be as strong. Our unity also affects our church community.
In years gone by, our marriage always pulled the short stick. Those in our lives we consider our mentors recognized that. We’re so grateful they “ordered” us to take a much-needed Sabbatical in the spring of 2012. Since then, they’ve allotted we take 5 weeks of vacation time away from the church (minimum – personal time, not ministry conferences or leadership getaways) if we can. We aim to take 2-3 weeks of vacation with our children each year and we do our very best to make sure we take some of that time for the two of us!
They say, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” so we’ve spent the last couple of years purposefully strengthening that chain. If we just let life happen, it will devour our relationship. We have to carve out time for each other. We have to schedule dates. We have to say no more often to things that distract us. Day by day we’re climbing out from the depths of grief – from loss, from disappointment, and from rejection. Bit by bit, keeping our hearts in check, we’re gaining ground.
When you invest in Love – nothing can hold you back!
No matter what we say, what we believe, and what we do, we’re bankrupt without love.
If I had one piece of advice to give to you it would be this… invest in love. We are nothing without it.
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8