Posts tagged wedding

Phil’s proposal took me entirely by surprise. I’d spent the week grieving over losing him, wondering how in the world to pick up the pieces, and finally getting to the point of complete and total surrender.

I knew he loved me. And I didn’t doubt for a minute that I loved him.  But I was powerless to take away the worries that nagged at him— his need

to know for sure... to dissipate all doubt... to have everything perfect.

And so I’d let him go. And in the loosening of my heart’s grip on Phil, I’d discovered a greater joy in Jesus than I’d ever experienced before. I knew He would take care of me and that knowing left me riding on a high of unexplainable peace.

So when Phil called and asked me if I’d go out with him on Friday night I was immediately confused. Why? Hadn’t we dragged this out long enough?  Never in a million years did I suspect he would ask me to marry him.

When Phil came to pick me up, my family started acting extremely strange— smirks and grins and giggles. I was embarrassed and not a little annoyed, suddenly wishing I lived on campus rather than commuting to college across town. Couldn’t they see how hard this was for me?  Closing the door behind us, I let out a sigh of relief.

And that’s when Phil asked me to marry him. Right there on the front porch of my family’s home— the home he was asking me to leave so that I could join my life to his.

I don’t remember more than a few snatches of the words he used, in fact, I’m still not sure I even answered with any sort of clear affirmative.  What I do remember is an overwhelming sense of being loved and the awkwardness of our first kiss that left us both laughing out loud with the joy of it.

Yes, yes, yes!

He wanted me. This man I admired more than any other was telling me that he wanted me forever. I could hardly believe it, and yet I knew without a doubt that this was right, that God was in this, that He had brought us together.

When finally we came down from the high of that moment, the planning began. How long till we could pull together a wedding? Could we do this quick now that we’d decided? Was four months long enough? Was there any reason to wait?

We settled on a July date and got to work. Or at least my mom got to work. I mostly walked around with my head in the clouds and let her do all the details.

But a funny thing happened in all the flurry of planning and doing and dreaming— Phil and I began to argue. We’d never argued before. Not once. Now it seemed that my feelings were hurt all the time and he was frustrated and we spent hours and hours working out what we couldn’t understand. What was wrong with us?

The pre-marriage counseling we got was minimal. Our pastor met with us a couple of times but we were so sure we knew how to do this that we weren’t listening much. There were no personality tests or workbooks to fill in, though I was reading everything I could get my hands on and tucking away a whole list of rules to follow for the perfect marriage.

And all that kissing was keeping us heated up so hot that I’m not sure our brains were registering much anyway. Tension was mounting as we counted down the days one at a time. To my mom’s frustration, we spent more time planning our honeymoon than our wedding!

I was certain we were going to have the Ideal Marriage. Of course we would— Phil was my Ideal Man, after all. And I was reading my way through a stack of books to learn how to be the Ideal Wife.

Clearly we were heading for a crash but just as clearly we couldn’t have seen it.

And that is why I want to write this series. Because we did crash and we didn’t see it coming. And there are things I learned in that crash that no book every mentioned.

Things about conflict and oneness and humility and honesty— about two strong-willed people attempting the impossible task of melding their lives into one without destroying each other in the process.

And perhaps most important, I want to write about why he’s not really your Prince Charming no matter how much you love him. And how I, as a woman, as a wife, could choose to spend the rest of my life honoring and loving him skillfully… or draining him of every ounce of dignity by trying to make him into my Ideal.

But I didn’t know any of that on my wedding day. I just knew I loved this man and I had lived for months in that uneasy fear that if he discovered who I really was he’d change his mind.

When July 15th dawned clear and bright and he stood in front of our church and family and pledged his faithfulness for the rest of forever, I breathed a great sigh of relief. The hard part, I was sure, was behind us. Now my Prince would rush me off into our Happily-Ever-After where we would be… happy forever!

And now, nearly 35 years later I can’t help but laugh… and shudder a little… at my fairytale take on life. I had so much growing up to do, so much learning about real life and real love and real happiness.

So come along with me and learn from the rest of my story. Learn what I wish I’d known then, what I want my girls to know now. Learn from my mistakes and learn from my discoveries. Listen better than I did and you’ll undoubtedly avoid many of my blunders.

Most of all, it is my hope and my prayer that you will discover your real Prince Charming. And he’s not the guy you’ve got your eye on.

He’s the One, the only One, who will make you all-the-way-to-your-bones happy.

And He’s the One who will give you the strength and the will and the wisdom and the skill to love your man well.

To all of my girls, with all of my heart,



Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part Two)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)



Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

1 Peter 1v1-15

1 Peter 4v7-19

1 Peter 5v4-10

2 Peter 1v2-8

2 Peter 3v17-18



From my Heart

Testing for the Task

Naomi said to Ruth,

“Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” Ruth 1v15

God often tests our resolve before He trusts us with an important task. Just look at Abraham: preparing to kill his own son. Or Rebekah: setting aside her own agenda to serve a servant. And David: dutifully trudging back to tend sheep after he’d been proclaimed the next King of Israel.

God was testing Ruth. Would she, when given a chance, go home? Was her commitment to Naomi mere lip service-a preference perhaps-but certainly not enough to carry her into foreign territory?


Is God testing you? Giving you an out? Checking to see if you really mean it?


Will you breathe a sigh of relief like Orpah and turn back - careful to cover your tracks and keep to your comfort zone?

I don’t always like the choice set in front of me. But if I’m honest, I do know it is a choice. And, I dare say, so do you.

And that, my dear friends, is just the way it is…


From my heart,



To which Ruth replied,

“Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her." Ruth 1v17, 18





The Task

(I found this nugget of gold roughly typed on a bit of wrinkled paper in a pocket of my old bathrobe many years ago. I don’t know who wrote it or where it came from, but I know that this is just the way He is!)


Lord, You give me a task

So utterly impossible

So totally beyond comprehension-

The very thought of it

Startles me.

I want to run, hide, escape,


Anything, Lord.

Then You electrify me.

You invade and permeate me.

You penetrate every fiber of me

Until the task is accomplished

By Your own magnificent power.


Then You praise the performance

Your creativity achieved

And You reward me beyond expectation-

As though I had done it

All by myself.



The Headlines

Rachel and Leah

Back at least six centuries before our story takes place, another love story played itself out with all the drama and intrigue of a paperback novel.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, went looking for a wife. He wound up working for his Uncle Laban who happened to have two daughters. Jacob fell head over heals in love with the second daughter, Rachel, but her father denied Jacob’s request to marry her without an exorbitant bride price.

Laban demanded that Jacob work without wages for seven long years before he was granted permission to marry Rebekah. Then, on the eve of the wedding, Laban deceitfully switched brides. After spending the night with his new bride, enjoying all the anticipated delights of physical intimacy, Jacob woke up with the morning light to find not his beloved Rachel, but her sister, Leah!

Having been consummated, the marriage was entirely legal and no amount of protest could alter the fact that Jacob was now married to Leah. However, his situation was not entirely hopeless. The culture in which Laban lived made allowances for polygamy. So Jacob went back to Laban, seething with anger over his deceit, and made another deal with his father-in-law. Jacob would be allowed to take Rachel as his second wife in exchange for another seven years of wage-less labor.

The animosity between Jacob’s two wives was legendary. They competed for everything from conjugal rights to mandrake leaves. Between them, however, they bore and raised a whopping twelve sons who lived to adulthood. Rachel and Leah were considered the matriarchs of the nation of Israel.





Mandrakes are a root of the potato family which grew in the stony ground of the Mediterranean area. They bear yellow fruit about the size of a small tomato. The mandrake fruit was believed to be an aphrodisiac, increasing the eater’s ability to conceive. It may have also had some narcotic qualities.


Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part One)

(Click here to listen to the fifth Ruth teaching)

Ruth 4v1-12

The last scene of our story left us hanging. Would Boaz come through? Would the unnamed mystery man block the hopeful outcome of Ruth and Boaz’s love story?

As Ruth and Naomi wait back home with baited breath, Boaz hurries into town like a man on a mission. With cunning planning, he sets up the scene, using all the powers at his disposal to influence the outcome.

First, he politely petitions the close relative to take a seat and chat a while. Before the conversation is allowed to develop into a contractual dispute, Boaz wisely nabs ten of the leading men of the city to validate the transaction. Only then does Boaz bring up the relative’s opportunity to redeem Elimelech’s land. Just as the unsuspecting man is about to sign on the dotted line, Boaz throws a fast one. “By the way, you’ve got to marry Ruth if you acquire this particular piece of property.” That little piece of information jolts the relative back to earth in a hurry! A wife is the last thing he needs at this point in his life - he hands over his right to purchase the land to Boaz with a sigh of relief.

Somehow everyone comes out satisfied with Boaz’s solution. Naomi gets her money, the relative keeps his freedom, Ruth secures her future, and Boaz, with titillating glee, surrenders his bachelorhood to his bride. Even the onlookers join with our characters to pronounce a blessing on the young couple as they pledge their lives to each other.

This week, we’ll look a little closer at some of the customs of the day whose meaning alludes to us as we read through the story. We’ll delight together in Jesus’ choice of us as His bride, find ourselves further in love with Boaz as he mirrors our Lord to us, and delight in how He sets us up to accomplish more than we ever dreamed. And more than anything else, we’ll be reminded that our God is luring us into relationship with Himself. It is intimacy He is after - that closeness you and I long for with all our hearts.


Revel in His love this week, my dear friend. Be amazed at the grace that saved a wretch like me!



Ruth 4v1-12

The Wedding (Part One)


Verse of the Week




More Words from the Father

1 Thessalonians 1v2-10

Psalm 57

Hebrews 6v9-19

Isaiah 26v3-9

Psalm 51v10



From my Heart 

“But Moses’ Hands Were Heavy…”

Exodus 17v12

Moses was wearing out. His job was overwhelming, impossible, too much for one man to bear. For months now he’d lived with dissatisfied, contentious people. Trying to love them was like embracing a porcupine. He’d felt the sting of their criticism one too many times. Their quarreling and grumbling were finally turning his own heart cold and angry. Right when he felt about ready to explode, the final straw came. A group of foreign invaders chose just that weak moment to attack their seemingly safe camp. A fierce battle ensued. His people turned from tearing each other apart to engaging the enemy in a fight for survival. And now those who had been increasingly critical of Moses were desperately dependent on him to help them win the war.

Have you been there? Do you find yourself faltering? Do you sometimes feel as though your life is on an emotional roller coaster and you are hanging on for dear life? That if you let go of control for one moment you will go hurling into who-knows-where? That the people you most love are the very people who most hurt? That your soul is weakening, and like Moses, your hands are heavy?

The Bible has one answer for your dilemma - one solution to your impending meltdown….


“Be ye steadfast.”


I know that’s the last thing you want to hear right now. What you really want is sympathy, and maybe permission to blast away at those who hound you, to just release all that irritation and let ‘em have it. And they deserve it. I’m sure they do. Just like Moses’ people deserved to be wiped out by the enemy who had snuck in while they were busy lambasting Moses.

But just as God expected more of Moses, He is asking more of you.


Be steadfast.


“Okay, okay, but how?” you ask. “So far, I’ve tried to just knuckle down and grin and bear it, but that hasn’t worked very well. I’ve stuffed all that frustration and plastered a smile on my face, but even I can feel the anger seeping out of my pores. How in the world do I be steadfast?”

As always, the Scriptures are imminently practical, making the impossible possible for even such weaklings as you and I. And, as is often the case, God provides an example of someone who did what He asked and thrived in the process.

In Acts 17, we read a story of a group of “prominent women” who heard the Gospel explained and expounded on by the Apostle Paul. For three weeks, they absorbed his teaching and their hearts embraced the truth. Then their husbands, friends, co-workers, and families drove Paul out of town in a fit of rage. Later, we read his letter to them as he encourages them in their new faith. In his opening lines, Paul praises them for their “steadfastness of hope” (1 Thessalonians 1v3). In Paul’s outpouring of encouragement to these persecuted people, I think we can find some clues as to how they maintained that steadfastness of hope which we long to experience.

First of all, the hope which held them steady was not some kind of Pollyanna prudishness claiming that everything would work out hunky-dory in the end. That kind of hope leads to the opposite of steadfastness as soon as we wake up to the realization that the circumstances and relationships in our lives do not always resolve themselves in our favor. Divorce happens. Children choose their own way. Economies collapse and health is a precarious gift. The hope that held these new believers steady was hope in God. They were able to look beyond the crabbiness of their husbands and the conflicts in their families to find their needs met in His presence. Their world was not stable, but their God was. That’s what got them up in the morning. That’s what kept them strong.


And they knew their purpose.


These women, (okay, there were men in the group too!) knew in their deepest beings that God had a specific purpose for them. A task to accomplish. A role to play in His Kingdom. They were keenly aware of “His choice of you.”  To the Ephesians he wrote of the “good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” These people woke up every day with that energizing realization that they mattered immensely.


Do you?


Are you aware of His choice of you? Are you figuring out His plan to accomplish those tasks custom designed by God for you?

Of course, these women sometimes faltered. Steadfastness does not mean perfection. Sometimes they struggled to see God in their circumstances just like you and I. Sometimes they felt overwhelmed and their footsteps slowed to a crawl. And undoubtedly, there were times when their own chore lists superseded God’s task sheet for their kingdom role. But in those times, these women had a hidden treasure that they had discovered to keep them going when the going got tough. Not only did they hope in God, not only were they keenly aware of their choice by God, these women had something else which kept them steadfast:


They had each other.


We cannot do this alone, my dear sisters. If we try to be strong and independent, always with the got-my-act-together façade firmly in place, we’ll fail. Like Moses who had his friends Hur and Aaron on either side of him holding up his arms when he grew weary, we need intimate relationships with a few other women to help us stay strong. Not the kind of friendships we so often fill our social calendars with; those connections based on common interests or compelling personalities. We need a few friends who will hold us up before the Father when we falter. We need the kind of friends who will interrupt our sad soliloquies, place their hands on our shoulders, and pray that our hearts will align with His. We need the kind of deep friendships that will do whatever they have to do to keep us from segueing into that kind of dreary complacency which characterizes so many women of faith.

Paul saw this in these women when he thanked God for “the love of each one of you toward one another,” which he noted “grows ever stronger.”


These kinds of friendships don’t happen by accident.


They rarely fall in your lap unexpectedly. You and I will have to go after this kind of love with all the determination with which Ruth went after Naomi’s friendship. Naomi wasn’t easy to love by any means. Yet when Ruth needed her the most, she held her up, helped her wait, and kept her heart steadfast.

So, if your hands are growing heavy and your soul weary, don’t give up. Don’t buckle down and “try harder.” Don’t hold all your frustrations in ‘til they threatened to burst. Instead, follow the leading of these women of faith who hoped in God, who delighted in their specific roles in the Kingdom, and who tucked a few close friends around them who would hold them up when their faith faltered.


Hanging on steadfastly with you,


From my heart,






For Sale

The real estate market in Canaan

Putting your house up for sale in ancient Israel was not as simple as it is today. In fact, the house itself wasn’t worth much. The wealth was in the land.

In the days of Joshua, God had instituted a unique system of land management which revolved around individual tribes or extended families. The assigned land belonged to its respective clan forever. When an individual fell on hard times, and needed the cash the land could offer, he could sell it only within his own clan. As if that was not limiting enough, every fifty years, in what was called the year of Jubilee, the land legally reverted back to its original owner. So if someone bought the piece of property two years before the designated year of Jubilee, he had to hand it back free of charge no matter how many improvements he had made to it.

When Boaz declared that Naomi was selling the piece of land which belonged to Elimelech, he was presenting the nearer kinsman with first rights of refusal. Since the land had to be sold within the clan, Boaz was next in line to buy it. The man refused on the grounds that being expected to take care of Ruth along with the land would somehow add unwanted burden to his own estate.

Everyone benefited from this transaction. Boaz acquired the land, and with it, a wife. Naomi was lifted out of dire poverty into independence, living off the proceeds of the sale. Ruth had a husband to provide for her, and the tribe of Judah kept their piece of Bethlehem within their borders.