I have been thinking and praying about what it means to live UNSHAKEN, I can’t help but marvel at how God has come through for us this past year, which has been one of the most challenging in our 37 years of marriage. It is common for couples to have at least one very strenuous season of life and this year has been our turn. Bill’s folks are 87 and are showing signs of aging physically, emotionally and socially. Bill also discovered an unfortunate trend in his family. It turns out that couples in his heritage tend to break relationship with their parents shortly after they get married. Bill and his brother, however, came to Christ as high school students and were the first of their family to follow Jesus. Part of God’s work has been to maintain a relationship with his folks guided by appropriate boundaries and deliberate interactions. The result today is my wonderful husband has chosen to be the main caregiver (we are the only ones who live in So Cal where mom and dad reside). It is inconvenient, however, since we live 3 hours from them! After making this trip too many times, we decided to relocate to protect Bill’s health and better care for his folks. It sounded very simple. We would sell our home, downsize significantly and move nearer. But the sale of our beautiful San Diego home was been an eleven month rollercoaster ride of offers that have fallen through for one reason or another. We have both wrestled with the stress, dealt with the disappointment and pursued a partnership rather than blame each other. We know that many couples fracture their relationship during these seasons of high stress and we wanted to use this time of life to grow closer and more in love.
Steadfast – When we focused on being RELIABLE, trust would be built and doors of opportunity were opened. While we waited to see what God WOULD DO for our future we CONTINUED TO DO what we knew was his will, which included writing books and blogs, articles and advice for social media. Here is a note we received on our Facebook page:
Hello from Costa Rica
My name is J…. a young boy who has read your book, I’m 20, and I want to thank you for sharing with us that important information about the Waffles and Spaghettis. As a testimony, I didn’t grew up with my father, and it was difficult for me to understand how to be a real man and why I have to take my role and responsibility on the relationship. I was frustrated because my girlfriend was doing things that I couldn’t understand. I was feeling dumb, but one wise pastor who came from USA to my church was talking about your book, so I did it. I’ve read it and my whole life has changed. I admire you guys, all what you do and how God uses your knowledge to bless people like me. I love my girlfriend so much. Thanks to you I can understand her better and we are hoping to get marriage in the next 2 years.
Knowledgeable – We made it our goal to become a little WISER each day so we could make sound plans that would render positive results.
Over these difficult few years, I began a new quiet time tradition of what I call “Creative Biblical Expressions” or others call Bible Art Journaling. I dig into a passage, then draw out its meaning in my journal or Journaling Bible. This new spiritual rhythm has helped me relax and recharge, as well as memorize the verse and meditate on how to best apply it to my life. In my Bible is a bookmark with this quote: ”It is never too late to become your best self” – George Eliot. (Maybe pick up a copy of the men’s or women’s Simple Skills book to help become your “very best self.”)
Intentional – As we chose to be PROACTIVE, we stopped waiting for life to happen and became more active in creating the future we dreamed of.
Each Monday morning, Bill and I have a “marriage meeting” and we use our “weekly worksheet” to set goals, an action plan and pray. This “meeting of the minds” has kept us closer and unified in a season where circumstances could have pulled us apart.
Likable – We made a priority of being RELATIONAL. We deliberately practiced relationship skills we share with others to form healthy friendships, work relationships, dating/ marriage partnerships and a strong family.
Because of our priority of trying to live out the golden rule of “Treat others the same way you would like to be treated”. (Luke 6:31 NASB) Many people have extended their prayers, support and practical help. In addition, mixed in the mountain of responsibility has been a little fun. For example, to celebrate the release of our “anniversary” expanded and updated edition of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti this year we are doing our own version of a foodie show as we visit Waffles places and Spaghetti restaurants in each city we visit—often eating with friends and having iron sharpens irons conversations over the meal. (If you have a great breakfast cafe or a wonderful pasta place in your city, email us and if we are in your area and we decide to go, we might just invite you along! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Lively – Maintaining HEALTHY habits of exercise and disciplined eating has given us the energy, drive, and power to live out dreams.
Bill and I workout together most days. We also look for fun active dates like a beach walk, biking, hiking, kayaking, or paddle boarding. There are MANY benefits to physical exercise: releases happy endorphins to lift the mood, keeps you heart healthy, and it even raises the libido (important for the authors of Red Hot Monogamy).
Effective – We have always enjoyed being PRODUCTIVE because it provides the tools to move dreams into reality and deliver tangible fruit for hard work.
I have enjoyed being an editor, then writer, for a new Bible study to be released with Harvest House in 2017. “Discovering Hope in the Psalms” is co-authored by our long-time friend, Jean E Jones and a favorite artist, Karla Dornacher. A powerful verse that has given us hope is Psalms 73: 26, “My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my life and my portion forever.” If you look up the definitions of key words, one could read this as: My body and inner person may perish, Elohim (the God above all gods) will be my sure STONE MOUNTAIN, my SOLID ROCK, of my inner person and my territory (my reward and my victorious booty) through all eternity.
Bill has enjoyed writing a series of Relationship Bible Blogs for believe.com. A favorite one that not just encouraged the audience, but Bill too is: How To Recognize God’s Blessings In Your Family History.
Decisive – When we chose to be DECISIVE, life seemed easier, emotions calmer, and efforts more efficient in living out our goals
We have used every single one of the many “decision-making” tools and tips in Simple Skills, including the Rubber-Band method (to decide to stay or go) and the Eisenhower Grid (to decide priorities and when to schedule them) .
One solid decision we have made is to keep making time for our “far flung” family. Yes, we are there for mom and dad, but our hearts are lifted as we travel to spend time with our three leader sons, their godly wives, and our 4 fun grandkids. Each time we are with them, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness to us as a family—and focusing on God’s faithfulness helps us all live UNSHAKEN.
Join us on the journey as we all become more SKILLED. Praying God will help you and your family live unshaken too!
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalms 16:8)
Pam and Bill