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Love, A Beautiful Gift

by Antje Hill  
8/21/2016 / Marriage

I have two love stories to tell. The first is a story of two happy couples that were separated for 25 years. Two passed away. Richard and I were left, 1,100 miles apart, but miles didn't change the outcome. It seems only yesterday that we saw each other again after the passing of our spouses. The years have continued to pass. We are no longer newlyweds. But our desire has been to keep our marriage full of adventure and anticipation. Its interesting how children require nurturing, gardens have to be weeded, jobs require continuing education, homes need repair and pets need attention. However, most times we just expect marriage to thrive or at least survive. But it's easy to get in a rut, even for those who truly love each other. It is a choice to be attentive to life, to keep it interesting, spontaneous and surprising.

Let me tell you an 'interesting', funny and fun experience we made happen. A few years back, my husband picked up my copy of a southern magazine. (I can't believe I am telling this. I asked him never to tell a soul where he took me!) He read about a chicken festival in Georgia. Yes, chicken is the right word. The story unfolded of wild Burmese chickens that were placed in the state as game foul many years ago. The plan was for them to become the perfect prize for hunters, much like pheasant hunting. However, this particular specimen preferred city living to being out in nature. The biggest concentration settled in the little town of Fitzgerald. So each year they have a festival to celebrate the extremely colorful birds that crow from the roof tops, feed on insects around City Hall and drive all the cats crazy, to say nothing of the love/hate relationship with the citizens of the town. The chickens literally stop traffic! Yes, we went and yes, I have pictures to prove it, of me with a big sun bonnet on, holding a rooster, not a Burmese chicken. City ordinances now protect these special birds. If you remember the couples standing in the corn fields on the old television show, Hee-Haw, you get the picture!

As for spontaneous adventures, we love new restaurants, plays at local theaters and musicals in various places. We go searching for pets at animal shelters. We attend baseball games during the spring and summer, a favorite thing for my husband, as I people watch. We love this time together, relaxing, munching hot dogs and popcorn, and yelling at the appropriate time. I take my cues from Richard.

Surprises can shake things up in a marriage and fill your memory banks for the years ahead. I am guilty of pulling a few surprises like sneaking our luggage to the car and pushing Richard in that direction for an overnight getaway. He never knows what to expect, but the surprise element makes it fun! Then there was the time he wanted to surprise me with a new vacuum cleaner. He placed his order, then quietly met the truck at the door when it arrived a few days later. He planned to make me guess the contents of the box. But to Richard's dismay, the name of the vacuum cleaner company was written in huge letters on every side.

Lest you think our marriage is perfect, I hasten to tell you time has taught us a lot about life, especially after losing a spouse. I've learned that focusing on self is not the best option. In fact it is not an option at all if you want a good marriage. It leaves one spouse totally out of the equation. I know now that if I am in a rut, I probably made it and I remind myself of the scripture, "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:2, NKJV)

My husband and I look at life and marriage differently than in younger years. We are hard pressed to call a day 'ordinary', even if there are no plans for excursions, rain is falling and there's nothing exciting to do. Moments are precious. At times, we have to remind ourselves of the gift God has given us: each other. When we get out of sorts, it is a reminder that nothing is perfect this side of heaven. Total dependence on God keeps our marriage sweet and changes us for the better. Claiming God's promises and praying for wisdom makes a difference in our personal life, our marriage and to a world looking for someone with real answers.

What a good God we serve. His love story for us never changes. He is never too busy to hear our prayer for guidance and wisdom and He loves us being totally dependent on Him.

Antje and her husband, Richard, live in MS. She is a columnist for Parents and Kids Magazine. She loves sharing her parenting experiences and helping other see how the years fly and how important it is to make each moment count.

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