The Lab

As you manipulate data in your Head,
Pressing through your Heart,
It’s Communicated through your Hands
I think,
As I experience each chapter,
Line by line,
I silently thank God for each article and each book,
Prayed a quick blessing over each author,
Knowing that you read with me in mind,
Turning each page slowly,
Ready,
Highlighter in hand,
Preparing to encounter me,
I exhale,
Knowing you didn’t skim,
Or read the cliff notes,
I experience your meticulous notes,
Each mastered the flash cards,
The aced sample pop quiz,
All in preparation for the final exam,
But this is no essay,
heartIt’s is a lab,
Where you will test your hypothesis,
Utilizing all collected data,
There will be no multiple choice,
Only a singular voices,
Made from two chords,
That have become one,
Now on one accord,
Writing a first person narrative,
You use the lab with efficiency,
Following most safety rules,
Careful to hold the magnifying glass with two hands,
One on the neck,
The other on the base,
Increasing the magnification,
Exploring the smallest intriguing details,
That create one harmony,
Yes,
You replied,
I do we responded,
Your vocal chords now,
Quietly hum like a Hammond,
With a slight tremble,
I am amazed at the data you’ve compiled,
Simple yet complete,
I am privy to your knowledge,
As your are you from my wisdom,
Your latest text book,
I am studied,
Turned like the pages,
Of an award winning novel,
My love a dissertation,
A compilation of four years of studying you,
Learning you,
Loving you,
Holding you,
Our love now a masterful manuscript,
Written from the hand of the divine,
Now transferred in the simple holding of hands,
As we walk,
Fingers locked to symbolize the oneness we have together.

Happy Valentines Day

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The Rain Came

Each weekend at VUU, you would sit in my arms and as ask me to tell you a story. ¬†I know it doesn’t happen much anymore, but today, I publicly give you a story to celebrate 18 years of marriage. ¬†Don’t worry, the interpretation will follow ūüôā
Discouraged,
A King went to a private place
To silence the noise,
He was experiencing a drought
That brought a kingdom to its knees,
For days and weeks, nothing would sprout,
And the things that broke through
would wither away,
Decades of hard work would waste away,
As the kingdoms treasures began to wither away, IMG_0207
As the vibrant king slowly began to decay,
His crown too big for his head,
Once a perfect fit,
Now sat around his neck
Certainly headed for his waist,
What once crowned his head,
Would eventually adorn his hips,
As the praise from his heart,
Dissipated from his lips,
He bowed low,
With his head between his knees,
Crying out for rain,
The ground wet with his tears,
His shirt damp from his tarry,
His knees blistered from the weight of his temple,
His face smooth from the ground,
As though foundation had been gently applied,
His voice bore out the ground,
As he screamed for change,
His voice grew weary,
As his praise began to fade,
But his faith gave him the power,
And with determination,
He cried out
Until his screams were too low for human ears,
But his passionate plea brought forth his reality.
Rising from his knees,
He looked towards the heavens,
Reaching his hands up
As if to grasp what was his,
He walked away from his praying grounds,
Certain that death was waiting,
As the sun warmed his face,
A voice warmed his heart.
The melodious sounds of rain
Glimmered through the noise,
Creating silence through a quiet still voice.
Its tone customized to his mind,
Brought dew to his grounds,
And a smile to his face,
He captured each word,
Hydrating his fields,
Softening the ground,
He tilled his soil,
Collecting each word as droplets for his harvest,
Seeds were planted on each row,
As he gained confidence
That the dew was the sign of the coming rain,
A loud clap of laughter broke forth,
Sending a shower of rain into his life
That would bear much fruit,
Returning life to the kingdom,
Rehydrating the king,
Making him alive again.

 

Story Key:  Use this to interpret the story.
Your whisper is my Dew. Your Voice is my Rain. Your Laugh is my Storm.
The Kingdom is my mind.  My Voice was my Prayers. The Grounds my Brain.  The Noise were the Voices that Once Existed.

Making the Right Choice(s)… (17 Years Of Wedlock)

17 years ago, we stood before God, Family and Community and took an oath to love one another. Both young, we could only imagine what the future would hold for ourselves as no longer individuals, but as a unit that would be forced to accomplish our dreams together. Though there were many questions, one thing was for sure; we knew that Marrying Each Other was the Right Choice!.

Though many would imagine 17 years as a struggle, challenge or an eternity, it has been tightly seemed woven cloth of moments of both joy and pain. Tightly, in that each moment has pulled at the seems, but the bond of friendship along with the covenant taken like a Chinese Finger a grip, has tightened and restricted each other from coming apart in tough moments.

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As we sat listening to the accounts of a man headed towards marriage number 3, we were both caught up in the accounts not of the 2nd and then future 3rd, but if the first wife. He spoke of this great woman, awesome mother and great spouse she had been, and with his head low said, “I messed that one up!” (And took a swig of Corona), and hence the title of this blog! He made the right choice, but they are no longer together because he did not continue to make the right choices.
Staying together requires making the right choices!

There will come times in a marriage when love isn’t enough. Individuals must cease to exist and one must be the result through sacrifice and mutual submission. Though in Love, you can find yourself in a disagreement about the next step or move. Disagreement are tense moments that steal joy and overshadow the love that exist because logic and personal desires move to the forefront.

This past February, we were forced to make a choice. To date, our current choices, though tough, kept us together, but this choice was the biggest choice to date, with so much at stake. Both of us pulled from our love for one another, searching for ways to compromise and bend our own desires into something that would keep our home united. We sat in the driveway, pouring out our hearts to one another, our fears, our hopes, both agreeing to choose each other and to seek God for peace in whatever was decided.

It was the first time either of us had to envision life without the other, a vision that we both rejected. An image unimaginable! A distorted reality with an unhappy present and a tattered future. We both knew what was being asked, and though not in agreement, agreed to be agreeable and to find happiness though one would be unhappy. Though many spend time talking about submission, more often than not, the conversation is about sacrifice, of ones will for the other and towards the greater good.

As time goes bye, we forget what is the best thing. We get busy focusing on the outward and obtaining more and we forget the basics. At the core of happiness, the covenant through Christ is surrounded by our choice see each other through Him, and continue to make choices each day to choose each other.

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble (The Fight for Oneness)

Over the years, we have watched classic fights on pay-per-view.  Gladiators and valiant warriors square off in the ring in an awesome display of heart and skill in a fight to claim the belt and wear the praise of onlookers, reaching boxing immortality.  As impressive as these fights are, we present in this blog a fight that flies under the radar, but is one that must be highlighted to appreciate.   It too requires heart and skill, and involves valiant warriors; that being the fight to remain married.  untitled (6)Each day brings a new set of circumstances that test the partnership, requiring each person to make a decision to remain in the covenant they took on their special day.

During the fight, the combatant must remain focused on the training and the instructions from the corner, as well as the feelings and fears second.

The first fight is the fight of oneness.¬† God instructed that man and woman in marriage become one flesh.¬† Highlighted in the passage are two words, “will” and “one”.¬† In this, we are made aware that a key fight will be the fight to become one.¬† Because both have thought, ideas and feelings, the journey towards oneness is a long road that includes many stops for forgiveness, restoration prayer.¬† Earlier, we highlighted the need to pull closer¬† as the couple grow as opposed to allowing things to pull each person apart, but in marriage, couples have to do more than pull close, they have to become one!¬† Becoming one is an erasing of self by both, and emerging as one, beyond close in such a way that there is no way to identify that two ever existed.

In Grad School, we were honored by the comments of a classmate, which asked us if we were “brother and sister”.¬†¬† When we identified ourselves as husband and wife and he declared that we were so one, that we were “becoming identical”.¬† In his tradition, he declared that as a couple becomes one it is as though they have come from the same wound.¬† As we still have our family traits genetically, his quote highlights even what our Lord says in that were becoming one flesh; impossible for those watching to see one without the other even if the other was not present.¬† Interestingly enough, at this time, we had dated for 4 years, but were only 1.5 years in to our marriage, thus time is important, but does not always identify that couples have become one.¬† In our experience, we have encountered many that have spent years together, however, were further from oneness than they were when they first began the journey.¬† Relationship like the stock market must be continually invested into when they are down as well as when they are up.¬† One must know that highs and low will come, but must maintain the investments early will provide a great yield as the investment matures.

Oneness requires planning, and is deeper than the physical unions most depend on to unify and honor solidify the bonds of marriage.  Though this is a part of oneness, couples that are not able to become one in other areas will only share a moment where the come together, but will not become one, remaining lives that are apart intersecting at points, but never headed in the same direction.  When this is considered oneness, one reduces oneness to a one night stand, and is will find separation easy and the future destination of the relationship.

We continue to work on oneness through intense communication.  Communication is about time, and requires honesty and transparency delivered by a seasoned tongue.  Too often couples communicate, but use unbridled tongues to address one another, leaving the relationship in pieces as opposed to creating oneness.  When oneness exists, couples look forward to talking, which is sharing, which is a part of the intimacy that yields oneness.  Much like couples plan and arrange moments to unite physically, couples must sync their schedules to share verbally. When done right, each person will look forward to this moment almost as much as the physical moment.

Bringing the visions into oneness requires both to ask not what is the vision for each, but the vision for us.¬† This requires a love that exist beyond physical, but presses into Agape and Philia.¬†¬† As we continue to face life’s battles, we are assured of one thing (outside of our faith); that being we are on the same team, and not each others enemy.¬† We both desire to see each other reach life’s pinnacle, but have identified that the pinnacle can only be reached and enjoyed with the other present.

 (Mark 10:8)

Question:  Are you fighting each other or are you fighting to become one?

Fighting Fair

It can be said that marriage is a series of rounds fought by combatants, managed by corners, monitored by a referee and viewed by an audience.  Each factor add have a different affect on each combatant, sometimes bringing about the best in each, and other times, arousing the worst in each.  Though all pieces should lead to a fair bout, too often we have found that the pieces lead to points deducted.Referee inspecting Hollifields bite from Tyson

Each day; the two are placed in a ring to exchange thoughts, ideas, plans and procedures on how to approach life and the direction of the family.  Each decision requires each participant to weigh options, using skills and strategies to emerge from each round.  A sad reality of many marriages, is the misunderstanding of the fight, and the opponent.  Where as both individuals are in the ring, they are on the same team fighting as a unit, not as combatants.

In the ring, one challenge that often strains the relationship is: 1.  A Battle of Wills.  The battle of wills refers to the desires, goals and plans of each fighter.  Keep in mind, there are three in the ring; the man, the woman, and the adversary.  In the effort to win, the man and woman must fight as a unit, realizing that there are many plans of a man that seem right, but only one way that of the Lord will succeed.  Each partner must determine to not accomplish their wills, but submit to the will and plan provided by their corner (Yes, the Lord!).  It is the couple that can stay focused on the instructions from the corner that will eventually emerge victorious.

The second portion of strain is: 2.  Submission.  Submission is a major part of a successful relationship.  Each person must choose to place themselves last and the other as first; seeking to serve and not to be served.  Submission requires each person, not just the woman, to deny oneself, determined to keep the peace, while following the image of Christ to victory.  It one part is not submissive to the other, then success is unlikely because the same body will be following two plans.

Another challenge to a peaceful relationship is:  3. Goal of the Fight Vs Family.  Often in a fight, combatants become so keyed in on a victory that they loose sight of the goal of the fight.  The goal of each fight is to win the bout, but many fighters loose the fight fighting wild and free, forgetting the rules and the game plan seeking a Knock Out.  Many marriages have been destroyed from one to two words that were placed so perfect that the fight was stopped even without the count from the referee.  The goal of every fight is to win the spiritual war and to advance the family.  Combatants must remember that the team (family) is at stake each time they enter the ring.  Each time one punches below the belt or acts without considering the team, their reckless behavior inflicts wounds upon ones self that often end careers and empties corners.

One other key factor is: 4.  Ignore the Crowd.  Ignoring the crowd is key in that it is louder than the corner, but not always wiser.  Often combatants find themselves fighting a fight that is directed by those who have either never fought, or not been victorious.  Taking said advice can leave one with their hand raised in victory, but their head hung in defeat and other times, their chest stuck out in pride, but parallel to the ceiling in defeat.  Hearing boxers punch themselves out of a fight seems impossible, but the crown can force a fighter to exert so much energy in one round that it is unable to fight in the ones to come.

In this, we find the need to:  5. Listen to the Referee.  In the divine marriage, the referee is the Holy Spirit who holds each fighter accountable to the rules given by through the Word.  During the fights, one must submit to one another and yield to the Holy Spirit who seeks to make sure each punch thrown is within the rules given.  Opponents are allowed to fight, but are not allowed to destroy and or take the life of another.  The referee makes sure that even in the heat of the moment, mercy is present and lives are preserved.  Life is still precious even in a fight, and must be placed above the ego and above the emotional state of those fighting.

Lastly, we must: 6.  Listen to the Corner.  The corner is important because it helps with the game plan, with helps each fighter avoid confusion and emerge victorious.  As the fight ensues, the battle within can cause one to loose a fight that they should win.  The corner brings wisdom to each fight that will allow the combatants to adjust to the game plan of the adversary.  Because they watch from the side, they are able to break down the strategy and formulate a strategy that will allow for success.  In addition, the corner is able to reveal to the fighter how each person (hand) can be used to win.  There are times when the jab is the key to victory and times the hook is just what the doctor ordered.  The corners job is to make sure that the fight is balanced, that defense is used, and that each partner is able to be used in the most effective way to achieve victory for the team!

Time has shown that it is not always the strongest fighter that wins, but the one who is the wisest and most skillful in their approach to the fight.  If marriages are to survive, we must find the ability to not only love like God loves, but use the wisdom provided by His Word to govern our affairs in such a way that we are constantly building on the foundation of love that exist.

Maturing Like a Fine Wine

One of the beauties of marriage and friendship is the maturing process.  Over the years, we all can find humor and encouragement, measuring the progress and journey of our friends and spouses.  The individual journey is impressive, but so to is the journey of the pair.

We draw lines in the sand as immature youth, learning and experiencing life day to day. ¬†When Johnny & Quinita first started talking in 1993, she advised him that she wouldn’t fight for him. ¬† She continued by telling him that He needed to handle the females around him; because that was his job. ¬†Johnny stated in 1993, that he would never stay in a marriage if his wife ever cheated on him. ¬†Though these both were wise statements in 1993 of a budding relationships, they would both be considered unwise if applied to a 20 year relationship with 16 years of marriage. ¬†

Oddly enough, there are many 20 years in, still holding to statements made in their youth, daring the other to knock the stick off their shoulder or to step across the line they have drawn in the sand.  As couples increase in years, the must increase in maturity releasing themselves from the immature knee-jerk responses of the past, erasing the line in the sand, replacing it with a drafting table to draw up and sign treaties.116591-dmn%20-%20wine%20glass%20evans%202011-thumb-820x1024-116590

After 20 years in relationship, 16 years of marriage, and five girlies, she admits that she would fight for her husband and her family.¬† The fight in her is relative to the¬† investment & the return on investment. ¬†Quinita said, “because I know the love of the past and promise of the future” as to why her perspective has changed towards the relationship.¬† Johnny says, “our marriage has been sealed not just by God, but by the commitment we have shown to the vows we took.”¬†¬† His perspective has change too because of the investment, the return on investments and in addition the commitment to the covenant both have lived out.¬†

Knowing these things, we can compare a marriage to a wine.¬† When looking into the process, one discovers the difference between wine and juice is fermentation process.¬† When a relationship is new, it has not broken down, been exposed to the elements and lacks time.¬† A new¬†relationship¬†is in its original stage; sweet.¬† The joy of the beverage is found in the newness of the squeeze, how pure, and how close it is to the¬†taste of its original source.¬† It is served to all, because to consume it does not require maturity nor in-depth wisdom.¬† It is merely child’s play.¬† As a relationship grows, it is broken down from its original state, which can yield a sour¬†and¬†bitter taste, requiring things to be added¬†to bring out the sweetness every situation.

We must continue to focus on our marriages and relationships, understanding that the process must be handled and supervised, following principles to inspire and encourage growth.  Though there will be bitter and sweet, when properly monitored, the results will be a fine wine that is beautiful to behold, gentle to the nose, with the smooth to the tongue.  Simply put, a great marriage is intoxicating.

Growing Together; Growing Apart Pt. 2

Relationship are either nurtured for growth or neglected and wither away.  What makes for a successful relationship and how does one avoid having many hanging stems for friendships with few blooms?untitled (5)

Though the phrases “growing together” and “growing apart” are most often associated with marriages or in dating relationships, it is also germane to our friendship.¬† Our friendships require a nurturing and a washing, much like our romantic relationships.¬† For this blog, we have chosen to use the formula:

{  T (time) /D (distance) }  x  E (effort) = G (growth)

The parenthesis of the equation is key to any healthy friendship.¬† Friendships require nurturing through an investment of personal time.¬† Personal is attached to Time because Corporate Time and Personal Time are both investments but yield a different product.¬†¬†Time is important to relationships¬†because it helps to build and solidify¬†the relationship, giving opportunities for support and to build layers of trust.¬† The time is divided by distance to inform us of the affects distance can have on a relationship and the requirements of ones investment; thus¬†we find, the greater the¬†distance, the greater the¬†investment of time.¬† This¬†investment does not have to be done in person, rather can be the¬† efforts of one person to maintain contact via technology (ex. phones, letters, social media…).¬† These mediums¬†keep friends informed about ones life, keeping them connected, thus lessening the effects¬†that distance has on the¬†relationship.

Lastly, effort.¬† Effort is times the parenthesis, because of its ability to accelerate growth.¬† We have heard the saying, “its the thought that counts” that is applied towards gift giving and receiving.¬† This remains true, not only because of the investment of ones financial resources, but includes the investment of ones time, heightened by the effort one put forth to obtain what was shared.¬† As believers, we speak of our Lord in these terms, when we say “we will not offer up to God that which cost us nothing”.¬† This goes far deeper than the shallow waters of financial resources, but measures the heart of the¬†one making the sacrifice.¬† People appreciate the efforts of those around them.¬† The knowledge that one considered the other, placing their needs above their own, ear marking time in their schedule to reach out to maintain contact aids in¬†closing the gap.

Having said all of this, it is amazing how many¬†friendships are lost a midst the sea of selfish¬†thoughts like, “I called last time” or “I planned the last get together”.¬†¬†It is odd, but a reality that has caused many¬†straight stems to begin the sagging and withering process.¬† Friendship should be the result of both individuals efforts, but in spaces and spells, one will has to maintain the friendship, knowing that the effort might be one-sided, but is still mutually beneficial.¬†¬†Because the relationships are mutually beneficial, they are always worth the effort to maintain growth, because¬†the pain of growing apart far out weighs the pain of being the one that makes the effort to contact the other.

If you have a relationship that is withering; growing apart, review your actions based upon the above equation and make the investment to revive the relationship.  You can choose today with your actions to grow together or to grow apart.