Tag Archives: relationships


I was robbed! When I found the man of my dreams, I envisioned a marriage proposal for the ages – with hearts and flowers, violins softly playing in the background as candles lit the scene. The fellow on his knees, professing his unending love for me, complete with a gorgeous wedding ring. We’d end the evening close to one another, two hearts beating as one, while we sipped sweet champagne and ate decadent chocolate covered strawberries.

wedding 041616001Mine was the polar opposite. Richard and I were in the midst of an argument, so that night I almost didn’t let him into my apartment. I certainly didn’t expect a proposal, so when it came, I doubted his sincerity. There were no candles, no soft dreamy music, not even a flower – much less a ring. I didn’t believe Richard was serious until he called a friend who was mostly negative about our relationship to break the news of our engagement. Instead of champagne and strawberries, we celebrated with pie at Baker’s Square. Richard didn’t even get down on one knee until I requested that. Not a romantic proposal at all!

It isn’t how a man proposes that is romantic, rather how he tenderly lays his life down for his wife. Romance is how a man willingly lets his beloved bore a hole deep into his heart, so that his heart is forever seared by her. It sounds painful and in a way true love is. It will make you suffer because it grows only through service and faithfulness. For 25 years of marriage, Richard has been down on one knee.

Love isn’t about hearts and flowers, but about a mutual laying down one’s agenda for the other. Both husband and wife relinquish their own desires in order to strengthen another. Love is not passion; it becomes passionate only through sacrifice.

Dancing in the moonlight on a rainy beach is splendid, but true romance is about the tough task of taking two lives and molding them into one stronger than its distinct parts. It is about commitment that grows deeply sacred while fixing toilets, staying up all night in order to avoid going to bed angry and enjoying the mundane days simply because they include each other. The good, the bad and all the things in between are challenging, yet both husband and wife do them voluntarily for the sake of love.

Romantic men and women know how to treat their beloved with dedication, devotion and surrender. The courage to so only comes through the strength of Christ. While I may be disappointed about the proposal, I am ecstatic I have a man whose love is based on Christ’s.

Love is more than a feeling. Real romance is heartfelt sacrifice. And it is the only way two lives grow deeper in time, more firmly rooted in love with each passing moment.

Feeling Loved

12671938_1692397524375728_1108885668533029989_oAs a child, entering my parish church’s hushed silence always made me feel insignificant. The building seemed to swallow me whole. A long center aisle, extended stained glass windows and huge crucifix hanging behind the altar made the stillness seem sacred, but didn’t make God feel approachable. Growing up Catholic, I’ve always felt God is strong, powerful and caring, yet there were nagging questions in the back of my mind. “God, do You love me? Simple, sinful me? Do You love me enough to use Your power in my life? Or do I have to be perfect in order for that to happen?”

I believed the priest when he said, “God loves us. God cares about our lives. God wants to be close to us.” But whenever I replaced the us in any of those sentences with me, well let’s just say the effort fell flat. I deeply desired maturity and intimacy with Him, yet I haven’t always been able to feel His love for me, just me alone and not as part of greater humanity.

Understanding God is strong is not the same thing as feeling His love. Believing He is powerful is not the same thing as feeling His love. Knowing God cares is not the same thing as feeling His love. The question remained: “God, do you really love simple, sinful me?” A cold shiver ran down my back whenever I imagined the answer coming back no.

If I forced myself, I could get myself to admit God loved me as an individual. Yet love was something I learned couldn’t be forced. I left Catholicism thinking I would never be worthy. That I was too messed up; it would be impossible for God to love me.

When you feel unloved by God, passively thinking about His love will do you no good. You have to do something. You have to decide to live it – to track love down by opening yourself up to being loved by your Creator. God doesn’t want us to earn His love. He doesn’t want us to beg for it. He doesn’t ask us to change so we can be loved by Him.

He pursued me even when I turned my back on Him. He consistently asked me to simply turn towards His love. It wasn’t in a building where I found God’s love. When I started to seek, He seemed to be everywhere. Watching the sunsets, red and golden. In green hues of the grass in my backyard. Under the cool shade of the trees during hot summers. Via a smile on a stranger’s face. Over a cup of tea with a friend as we shared our secrets.

He taught me my worth isn’t what the world says it is or isn’t. God finds us completely worthy just as we are. He doesn’t love us any less because we will always be a hot mess. He pursues us, every single one of us, with a relentless love. I began to realize just how deeply His heart beats for me. In order to feel His love, I had to release the idea I was unloveable.

Where you find God is as unique as you are. But remember, God’s love is never not available. It is always seeking you, forever looking for you. And even if you travel down the darkest roads, God is there right beside you extending His love for you to grab onto. God wants to passionately woo you for the rest of your days.

There are times I seek out the stillness of a Catholic church, times when I long to see the sun streaking through the stained glass windows, times when the stillness is exactly what my soul needs. I no longer feel insignificant, though. For I have learned the astonishing, breathtaking, exquisite truth that I, simple, sinful me, am the one who God loves.

A Christmas Day Change

From the time we were married 25 years ago, Richard and I have enjoyed celebrating Christmas with his family. On Christmas Day, we’d load up the car with gifts, food and treats and head over to his sister’s house.  With no children of our own, it was exhilarating to see the holiday through the eyes of our young nephews and niece. It was magical, delightful and filled with gleeful anticipation. As they grew older, the season still held beautiful festivities, but instead of visions of sugar plums dancing in wee little heads, we created new memories. More mature, maybe more solemn, but moments in time still etched into the deepest corners of our hearts.

Change is like that. Sometimes it is welcome, expected, natural. You wouldn’t want the same presents under the tree you asked for at five when you were twenty-five, would you? But then change can also be harder, a bit pushier and very unnatural, like a diet or trying to quit smoking. And what if the change isn’t your idea, like a layoff at work or a bad medical report? Hardly anyone is interested in that!

This Christmas ushers in a huge personal change. For the first time since I married Richard, we won’t be going to his sister’s cozy house in Illinois to enjoy time with family and friends. Instead we’ll be celebrating our first California Christmas as a couple. As excited as I am to be together in our new home state, there is also a touch of fear. Will our holiday be as rich on our own? Will this allow us to create some meaningful new traditions? Or will we miss the loud boisterous unwrapping of the presents and the constant stream of conversation around the dinner table?

Nativity 12225115But then I remember words written in the book of Matthew that literally changed the world. The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God with us. Matthew 1:22-23

For the first time ever, God would dwell on earth, coming to be with His people. What a drastic change! For over six hundred of years, God had been silent. The earth yearned for His arrival. And then during those early morning hours on the day Jesus was born, everything about the world was transformed.  God would be with us like He had never been before.

Which turns my anxiousness about a new way of celebrating Christmas into a question: Does God allow change in our lives so we experience His presence in a new way? More than anything else, I want God beside me. And it seems one of times when I feel God the closest is when changed is forced on me.

Emotions always run high around this holiday. Maybe this is the first time you can’t be with the person you love on Christmas. Or maybe you’ve set your holiday expectations so high, the reality of Christmas morning will pale by comparison. Maybe the change is blissful – you are rejoicing in news you never expected to hear. Whether good or bad news, this new, uncomfortable territory will always hold the promise of God’s all-caring presence.

With His birth, Jesus changed the world from hopeless to hope-filled. With His presence, He moves our heartaches towards His grace. We may long for something we honestly think is the very best outcome for us. However if we willingly wait for His resolution, we find Him giving us gifts that bless the ever-changing landscape of our lives. Christmas says we all need change and God is willing to carry every single one of us back to heaven.

If you fear an uncomfortable change right now, take heart in knowing His glory in the highest runs down to meet us who are at our lowest. And if the change is new, exciting and welcome, thank Him for creating that transformation. Christmas is, at its heart, God remaking us.

On the first Christmas night, God overcame the world’s suffering by laying aside His power and becoming a helpless baby. Throughout His life, He demonstrated how to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, seek peace and grant forgiveness. He quietly laid Himself down so that there might be the best change ever in this world – peace on earth and good will towards men!

Merry Christmas!