I have been out of town, so didn’t get a chance to keep posting this series.  Here’s another look at our week of celebrating the “ordinary” of our 23-year union.

A portion of our wedding vows came from the book of Ecclesiastes …  “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken”. Our week-long celebration of 23 years of Ordinary proved that we were wise to include this as part of our commitment to each other.

I’m the one who blew our goal of not focusing on our flaws during the Anniversary celebration week.  Driving to visit with friends, a stressful topic arose.  A few minutes into the argument, Mike simply said, “Can we just pray”. I sighed. Nothing irritates pride more than not being the first one to do the right thing, but Mike was correct —  we needed the Third Strand.  All I was doing was tearing at our union with my complaining and fussing.  Inviting Jesus in through prayer, He began to wrap Himself around our rifts, our flaws … after a few minutes we had peace.  We were united … once more a three-stranded cord.

I’ve said that it’s hard to fight when your laughing.  It’s impossible to fight when you’re praying.

We should have learned that prayer trumps bickering long ago.  The girls were barely in elementary school, when during a car ride, something flared up and the whole family was roiled.  Sallie piped up, “Miss Lisa says that when you start to fight with someone you should stop right away and pray … Well …” she waited through our stunned silence, “Are you going to start praying or should I?”  I knew this was the very reason we were working so hard to pay for Christian school, but in the moment, I didn’t like Miss Lisa or the school very much.  Pride works like that.

Of course, since prayer is the component for harmony, turning to it (i.e. turning to God) just doesn’t seem to come easily, especially if “rights” and pride are in the way.  Here are just a few ways we’ve tried to keep it real:

Falling asleep prayers:  It’s hard to finish the day mad or with unfinished business if prayer ends the day.

Beyond us prayers: Life seems smoother when we pray for others as well.  I think of a Christmas when we kept all the cards we received on the table. At dinner each night, we randomly pulled a card from the basket and prayed for that family before we ate.  (We even  prayed for the businesses that send us cards too!)

Road trip prayers: With family across the state and a love of exploring, Mike and I have burned up much car time  talking to the Lord about our family, friends, church, and community … maybe even about YOU.

Crying Out: A friend once lamented, “If only we truly grasped the ability to aid our loved ones through prayer.”  I’ve thought about that often when I feel burdened with struggles that my husband or children go through.  So often I can do NOTHING to help them in such painful challenges.  Nothing … but pray.  Thank God, I can pray.

Just plain thanks: Yes, THANK God, He works through our prayers. I don’t understand it, but He does listen. (Psalms says He answers from heaven … that’s worth thinking about … all of Heaven’s resources available to us.)  As a result, I’ve found that even though hard circumstances seem to have grown more frequent over the years, so have our prayers of thanksgiving.  I think this is connected to our experience as parents. Our girls reduce us to mush when they say thanks for the simplest of things we provide for them. Why wouldn’t God be blessed by our thanks? The key for us is being cognizant, ALERT … God promises He will work ALL things (ALL THINGS) together for good for His own.  Mike and I have had to ask ourselves time and again, how much do we really TRUST this … and in the asking we find ourselves humbled … and thankful.

Marriage forever
This is not Mike and me (yet), but it is a picture of dear friends who, after more than half a century, are still holding on to each other, supporting each other in some of their toughest battles yet. With prayer as our third strand, Mike and I are headed there too.

The trick for me is learning not to be surprised when God answers … or to dismiss an answer.  Recently Mike made repeated trips to the mechanic to fix the quirky noises and intense shaking happening whenever my Subaru traveled faster than 60 mph. Confident it was fixed, I set out alone on a trip across state.  Just over the mountains, the tires made strange thumping noises and there was once again that trembling in the steering wheel. Was something wrong again?  Was it a flat tire? Was it the part that the mechanic said would need to be changed but could wait awhile? My adrenaline fed my heart rate as the fear of standing in 90 degree heat between Ellensburg and Vantage messed with my imagination.

I prayed.  I pulled off at the next rest stop.  Nothing “looked wrong” (if only looking was all it took to determine car maintenance issues).

Back on the road, everything was fine and has been since.  I caught myself thinking, “You made the noises up.  There was no issue to begin with.”  Then it occurred to me, “God had answered my prayer.”  Why wouldn’t He? Too often I point to that which can be explained as the answer to my prayer, even feeling foolish that I panicked in the first place.   I hate that I do that, because God certainly may use practical (natural, explainable) means to help me. And He just may do it the old fashioned, supernatural way. Either way, I’m thankful.

Prayer … stronger than the ring, stronger than the vows, able to leap over the yuckiest of circumstances in a single utterance … Here’s to 23 more years of ordinary, of togetherness, and of prayer!