Welcome to Day #2 in the Love & Marriage mini-series!
Danielle is my sweet friend from Arizona. We did not have nearly enough time to go to tea, pour out our hearts, and hang out when I lived there, but we keep up online, from afar. To my delight Danielle recently started a blog; Real Life Real God. I think Danielle was born to write. God has given her a gift to express truth while using real-life analogies; opening her heart, on paper, in a beautiful way; topped with a bow. Danielle was a guest writer for the Isaiah 40 series as well, and I am so glad that she is sharing with us again today.
Since the day we met we have been laughing. I met this wonderful Romanian 17 year old who made me laugh from the start. As a teen, I was in a hard situation, and here was this guy making me laugh. When we did get married we started that off with laughter too. We got married in Bulgaria because it was too expensive in Romania. We found a translator on the street and handed over our 100 dollars to say “I do”. On our way to the courtroom the rain began to fall. We were both drenched and I did not look like a gorgeous bride prepared for her groom. I was wearing a light blue t-shirt and simple skirt. The flower shops were outdoors and so they were closed due to the strong downpour. When we arrived with translator in tow, zero flowers and a wet bride, we wrung out our clothing and our hair and entered the front door. Before us stood a huge black curtain. We were told to walk through. I took Antonius’s arm as he pulled back the curtain. Two huge spotlights popped on and music began to blare. We could not help ourselves… we laughed hard… all the way down the aisle. It was like something out of Vegas and it took us completely off-guard. When we came before the solemn “your honor” we held back waves of laughter. She did indeed look solemn; in a black flowing robe, looking up to the heavens. The translation was rocky too, when we looked at our translator she just said, ”It’s okay, it’s okay.” She only translated the “I do’s”. We kissed and that was the best day and the best memory of my life. We had very little money so we walked in the rain to a Dunkin’ Donuts, Bulgarian style, and shared a hot chocolate and a chocolate cake donut.
Romania park close to where Antonius grew up; photo taken shortly after we were married
Our wedding was a perfect picture of our life together. My wedding was not what I dreamed of as a little girl and sometimes life can turn out like something we never dreamed it would be. We as wives sometimes desire the fairy-tale life. The big house, the great jewelry, the lavish wedding, and trust me our brains can go on and on. While there is nothing wrong with having those things we can find ourselves neglecting other important elements, like contentment and joy. Don’t let things, or the lack of things, destroy the joy in your marriage. Life is not perfect, life can be rocky, and life is not a perfect scenario. The rains of life can downpour at the most inopportune moments; like our wedding day. Life has moments we don’t understand, kind of like our wedding in a foreign language with a so-so translator. The Bible is an entire book about imperfect lives, scenarios, circumstances and trials. Take Abraham (waited for years for a promise), Esther (married a man she didn’t choose then risked her life to save her people), Joseph (was sold as a slave by family) and John (was sent to an island of isolation and experienced many other injustices). I often wonder if they looked up and said, “Uh, God, is this my perfect life?, or did they choose trust and joy as an alternative; resting in God alone, not their circumstances? I am convinced that what got them through was the Lord. I am also convinced that He is what will get us through in marriage and in family as well.
Our 10th Anniversary
In my late 20’s I came to a realization that life is just not perfect. But in this rocky, imperfect life, God gives us a gift that no circumstance can change- joy. Since coming home I have often dreamed of the wedding gown I missed, the invitations I did not get to send out, the cake I did not get to order. Life, in any marriage, may not turn out according to our womanly dreams. But that day was also the best in a bad situation because we sealed it in laughter. Everyday I enjoy the gift of laughter with my husband; this wonderful gift he has given me. Whether we are having a hard week and cutting it close on a tight budget or a great week and we just feel enormously blessed. We have found contentment in the joy of our marriage and of family. When we just cannot go out and buy whatever we want we have found joy in buying a chocolate bar and sharing it, or a old fashion soda in a bottle for 99 cents a piece. We have found you don’t have to have a lot of money and things to be happy and content with one another. We both work hard, we both try and provide and do our best. But when the day is done we are content, we don’t strive to find a way to get more and more, we sit down and enjoy each other; our family, our home. I hope the way our marriage began is the way it ends- with laughter.
In the lean times and the bountiful times, in the joyous times and in the times of trial, I hope we can take this gift and cherish it and use it. It is something I hope we pass on to our kids as well. I hope they see, in their mom and dad, a genuine, not fake, choice to laugh and make the best of life. To make the best with all God has provided.
I was reminded last night how important laughter is to our kids when we went to World Market to get out of the house. This great upbeat dance music came on and Antonius and I could not help ourselves… we started to dance funky-style right there next to the foreign coffees and cookies. “Oh Mom!”, Amara laughed, “I am so glad my mom does this when she hears crazy music… most moms would just keep shopping.” I didn’t know it meant that much to her. Then Titus laughed at dad kickin’ it breakdance style. We walked out laughing that we might show up on a caught-on-camera show! When my kids are grown I hope they say that their mom and dad laughed all the time together, that they loved each other, and that even kissed in the store aisles.
I think laughter is one thing that can kill the stress in a family. The stress of bills, and wants will always be there. The desire for a bigger house and better furniture and, for me, a perfect wedding will always be a taunting factor.
But laughter is a gift, if wielded and used, that can produce great benefits in your marriage and in your family. Find things to laugh about. Are you broke this week? Splurge on something small that you like and just really enjoy it together, even if it is a dollar or two. Don’t complain about what you lack, but choose to find joy in the things you have. Can’t go on vacation? Go to World Market and get your funky beat on. Take a hike and hold hands, laugh at the squirrels running up a tree or just admire a sunset. There are gifts right there that don’t cost us anything. Laughter is a free gift God gives to all his children. Joy springs from contentment, happiness springs from the moment you get things you want. You may find you are building memories that cannot be bought with money. You may find your family laughing and smiling while you and your spouse are kissing in an aisle of merchandise that you can’t afford. Our wedding day was meager, but it has taught me to laugh even when things are lean. To enjoy my spouse even when I don’t have diamonds, vacations or excess. To laugh, to love life, to love my spouse. Don’t get me wrong, we are not constantly laughing and never stressed, that just isn’t true, but by God’s grace we always find a way to let laughter creep back in, and the quicker the better.
Our wedding taught me a lot, It taught me to laugh with my love and to laugh in the not-so-perfect circumstances of life… to enjoy everyday that we have with one another… to not let stress rule, but rather to let laughter rule. Now if you will excuse me I have a dark chocolate, World Market, candy bar to enjoy with my spouse. I also have the promise that God loves us in any circumstances that life brings, and that gives us a reason to sit together and laugh a little. Life doesn’t have to stop laughter. Enjoy one another and make the most of your marriage. I am so glad I could share with all of you that laughter has kept our marriage alive.
By His Grace,
- When is the last time you had a good belly laugh? Laughter really can be great medicine. I need to take a few doses of it myself! What is one thing that stops you from laughing? Ask God to help you in this area- He really does care.
- When is the last time you put down that dishrag and danced with your spouse in the kitchen? Or planted a big one on him in public? Or stopped what you are doing in order to give him your full attention as he tells you a work story? Ask God to help you be a little more carefree and enjoy your spouse more.
- Is there a disappointment in your marriage that you are letting consume you? Lay it at the Lord’s feet and ask Him to help you see the beauty in the ashes and hand over the hurt, once and for all, to His nail-scarred hands.