Saturday, April 17, 2004

Marriage links for the week  

When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we had to work with a pretty limited budget. When she told me that the flowers were going to cost upwards around $1,000, I sighed and said, "We don't really need flowers, do we?" I can't remember anything else that happened that day. Jim at Snooze Button Dreams has a similar story. (hat tip: Adrian Warnock)

Dr. Warnock called attention to the Jollyblogger blog this week. There, David Wayne (a Presbyterian pastor in Maryland) is doing a good job discussing Christian topics in an accessible way. His recent post Marriage and the Myth of True Love is excellent reading.

Toni has an intriguing post about ecclesiastical headgear for women and how it relates to issues of submission.

Blake's daughter has a message for everyone over at Statedog.

A story in the Washington Post talks about sociologist Ann Swidler's view of marriage. A few good quotes:

 

A while back I posted a picture of me as a South Park character. Earlier this week my geek friend Nick alerted me to the existence of a site where you can create your own superhero. Here's what I would look like if I had superpowers:

Before any of my friends chime in with how this doesn't look anything like me, let me just confess that I don't have wings, my muscles are not quite that defined, my feet are much smaller than that, and my trench coat is actually green. On the other hand, I am thin, I have short brown hair and an angular jaw, I wear glasses, and I often smirk with the left corner of my mouth.

Friday, April 16, 2004

His and Hers VII  

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week's question is:

What is something your spouse has taught you?

Mrs. Happy's response

When I first considered this question, I was thinking mostly in terms of life lessons, or even practical skills that I've learned from Curt since we've been married. I thought long and hard about it for a few days, and this morning it came to me in a half-sleep while Curt was stroking my hair and telling me how beautiful I am: He taught me how I need to be treated. When I was younger, fantasizing about my future husband, I thought I had pretty high standards. This man would have to be cute, intelligent, funny, considerate, affectionate, etc., but I never quite envisioned how exactly he should make me feel, nor did I recognize it when it actually occurred during our happy "just friends" phase. Curt treated me like a queen. He would always put my needs before his, and I could count on him for anything and everything. He showered me with compliments, affection, and affirmation. I could go on and on about all the ways that he exceeded all my expectations, but I couldn't possibly do them justice. The bottom line is that since those very first moments of our friendship, I have felt increasingly more beautiful and more precious than in any other time of my life. I never would have known I could feel this way had Curt not taught me that it is possible.

Curt's response

Short answer: My wife taught me how to be a husband.

Longer answer: My wife taught me how to love a wife and, specifically, how to love her. Before we got married, I was afraid I would be a terrible husband. I didn't even know how to begin taking care of someone, or even whether "taking care" was part of my job. I just knew that I wanted to build a life with one particular woman. In the months leading up to our wedding, we went through eight weeks of pre-marital counseling and spent as much time together as we could. During that time, she communicated how I made her feel in various situations, sometimes good and sometimes not-so-good. I learned to avoid making her feel bad and, more importantly, how to purposefully make her feel loved. I'm still learning, and it's my favorite lesson ever.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Divorce and the Christian  

I recently had a conversation with some friends about biblical issues concerning divorce—if and when it is acceptable, whether God condones remarriage, whether a divorced man should be allowed to serve in the church as a deacon or elder, etc. A lot of interesting things came out of that conversation. More interesting still was a post on Dr. Warnock's blog that I read shortly thereafter. In it, he quotes from a book by Jay Adams concerning the biblical principles involved when two married Christians decide that they can no longer live together. Mr. Adams is of the opinion that churches should excommunicate someone who refuses to be reconciled to their spouse:

"Let us say that a husband who is a professing Christian refuses to be reconciled to his wife. Perhaps he has even left her. Reconciliation has been attempted by the wife. If she continues to insist upon reconciliation (according to Matthew 18), but fails in her attempts at private confrontation, she must take one or two others from the church and confront her husband. Suppose she does and that he also refuses to hear them. In that case she is required to submit the problem officially to the church, which ultimately may be forced, by his adamant refusal to be reconciled, to excommunicate him for contumacy. Excommunication, Christ says, changes his status to that of a heathen and a publican, i.e., someone outside of the church (Matthew 18:17). Now he must be treated "as a heathen and a publican." That means, for instance, that after reasonable attempts to reconcile him to the church and to his wife, he may be taken to court (I Corinthians 6: 1–8 forbids brethren to go to law against one another) to sue for a divorce (only, of course, if the excommunicated one deserts his partner)."

That's harsher than anything on this subject that I've ever heard taught in a church. But if you're so inclined, go read the whole post and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Priorities  

My wife works in a therapeutic environment. Every morning, the staff gathers for a team meeting that always concludes with a sharing of feelings. During this time, each person lets everyone else know how they're feeling and makes a request for any specific support they might need throughout the day. Recently, one of the staff took a week-long vacation, during which she stayed home with her three children who had a five-day break from school. The day she returned to work, she told everyone what a hectic, chaotic week she had just experienced. She said, "But when I walked into this building and I saw how beautiful and tidy everything is, heard the soothing music playing, and smelled the scent of the aroma therapy machine, I said to myself, 'Ah…I'm finally home again.'" The rest of the staff, with the exception of my wife, nodded their heads and muttered their assent.

When Mrs. Happy came home that day, she told me about her coworker's sentiment with incredulity, and of the others' reactions with a shock that bordered on horror. When your place of work provides a haven from your home, she said, your home is seriously screwed up. I have to agree. I'm afraid, though, that it's all too common.

There's probably a technical psychological/sociological explanation for this, but I know that when people feel unloved and/or powerless at home they sometimes compensate by throwing all their energy into work. When a man feels ineffective as a husband and father, he often dedicates himself to being an excellent employee. His job becomes the most important thing in his life. I thought that phenomenon was specific to men, but in light of my wife's experience with her coworkers, I guess not.

The irony, I think, is that someone with a strong family makes a better employee—happier, healthier, more content, more sympathetic, and having a better perspective on things. When priorities are in order—God, family, country, job—life is just so much better.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

RLTB™  

I took the day off of work today. My days off tend to be busier than my days working. Real life trumps blogging today.

Here is this week's His and Hers question, which my wife and I will each answer on Friday:

What is something your spouse has taught you?

Monday, April 12, 2004

Easter music  

According to the book 101 Hymn Stories, from which you can read an excerpt online, a Swedish preacher named Carl Boberg wrote a poem titled O Sotre Gud in 1886. From the Hymn Stories site:

"His inspiration for this text is said to have come from a visit to a beautiful country estate on the southeast coast of Sweden. He was suddenly caught in a midday thunderstorm with awe-inspiring moments of flashing violence, followed by a clear brilliant sun. Soon afterwards he heard the calm, sweet songs of the birds in nearby trees. The experience prompted the pastor to fall to his knees in humble adoration of his mighty God. He penned his exaltation in a nine-stanza poem beginning with the Swedish words O Store Gud, nar jag den varld beskader."

Those words, translated as literally as possible while maintaining a semblance of verbal rhythm, mean Oh mighty God, when I behold the wonder. Boberg presumably published the poem in a periodical that he edited. Years later, he heard his poem being sung to the tune of a traditional Swedish song. The song was later translated into German, then into Russian.

Two English missionaries learned the Russian version while working in the Ukraine. They saw the song affect believers and non-believers alike in powerful ways. Their later travels in the majestic mountains of Sub-Carpathian Russia made them want to share their experiences and the song with their English-speaking friends and congregations, so they wrote new English words inspired by the song and by their awe of God's handiwork. While not a literal translation, it expressed the same deep reverence for God's power and the grandeur of His creation.

They wrote two verses dealing mainly with nature and one verse of praise for His gift of salvation. After the second world war, a fourth verse was added to express hope for eternity. Two words in the modern version of the hymn were changed at some point: works changed to worlds and mighty became rolling. Now it is one of the great hymns of faith, praise, devotion, and adoration. I struggle to sing it without crying. For me, it was the centerpiece of the music in my church's Easter service yesterday.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed,

CHORUS:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin;

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And now you know…the rest of the story.………good day!