Category Archives: Marriage and Family

Love And Honor

Enhanced Rainbow by Barb Ver Sluis--Public Domain Pictures

Then he said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Revelation 19:9a (NKJV)

Today would have been Charles’ and my 36th wedding anniversary. While a difficult day in many ways, it is also a day for great rejoicing. Charles dwells in the presence of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, joining in worship to One Who is Worthy of all praise. How can I possibly grieve for long knowing that?

I have much to be grateful for–35 years loved by a man who diligently sought the Lord, loved His Word, and faithfully served Him to the best of his ability. Charles would have been the first to tell you how far he fell short of Christ’s perfect example on any given day, and yet he influenced many lives with the truth of the gospel.

So, today I honor you Charles, for who you were, for your hopes and dreams, and for all who were changed because you poured your heart and soul into their lives. You were deeply loved by far more than you knew.

I know I would never be the woman I am today had it not been for your love, your support, and unshakeable faith in me.

I am grateful for each and every day God so graciously allowed us.

You are profoundly missed by so many. . .

 

 

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

1 + 1 = 1

 

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“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

God not only graciously blessed me with a daughter, He has added to me a son.

Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Blake Jackson
May 24, 2014

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26

 

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This Quieter Love

Hydrangeas“Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God… “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”

This quote from C.S. Lewis is one of my favorites for all the profound wisdom contained in a few short sentences. C. S. Lewis’ writing is like that–the farther in you go, the deeper it gets–layer after layer.

Before I married, like most young ladies, I had a head full of “romantic mush” where men and marriage were concerned. Most aspects of the actual marriage experience were nothing like I imagined or had read about. Good thing. . . it was far better.

I was fortunate to have had examples of good marriages in my formative years. My parents and both sets of grandparents had strong, loving marriages of long duration. My father’s love and respect for my mother was always evident (as was hers for him). He spoke with great regard of her intellect, courage, faith, and character. My mother and father modeled for me, every day of their married lives, the concept of sacrificial love. Even after almost thirty-five years of marriage, it was clear to everyone who knew them just how much they loved and respected each other. His care for her, and her concern for his well-being during the final months of her life, remain a vivid memory of the expression and power of that love.

The way they lived out their marriage is one of the most precious gifts my parents ever gave to me. Their fidelity to one another through the years God gave them together, is a heritage that should not be forgotten or taken lightly. It is a heritage that I am passionate about passing down to my daughter.

Any successful marriage is a miracle in and of itself. In a world where more and more people choose to cohabit, marriage has become somewhat of an outdated concept. For those who do choose to marry, the success rate is often rather disappointing. It is not uncommon, when people find out how long I was married, to look at me as if I was some kind of “freak of nature,” and then to ask me how I could ever stay married to the same man for so long without getting bored or tired of him.

I wish that I could say I always come back with exceptionally brilliant answers to that question, but I don’t. The simple truth is, it is not because I was a particularly exemplary wife or because I am extraordinarily beautiful, or witty, or intelligent, or unselfish, or even talented. God blessed me by choosing a man who He knew would be best for me. When I went with His choice, the rest was much easier. The remainder is a result of the grace of God and our deliberate choice to keep the covenant of our marriage vows, no matter what challenges we faced. God blessed that committment with a deep, quiet, and enduring love.

After twelve years of marriage, God blessed us with a child. Many friends and family were quite generous with their advice about what experiences lay ahead of us as parents. They were quick to tell us our views of parenting would never work and we would “find out how it really is when you have one of your own.” They were wrong. I can honestly say there was only one aspect of motherhood which surprised me. I was not expecting the intensity and power of the love which swept over me as I held that little red-headed bundle. I finally understood what people were talking about when they spoke about the ferocious love of a mother.

I will always be a mother, but my years as an active parent have come to an end. My daughter has grown into a fine young woman who is wise and capable beyond her twenty-three years. No mother could be more pleased with the fruit that is evident in her life as a result of the character that God has been developing in her.

Every mother has hopes and desires for her children and I am no different. Hannah is now making decisions that will affect the rest of her life. From my perspective, she is well able to make them. She has a heart for the things of God and is committed to walking in His ways and into His call. My hopes and desires for her are quite simple: that she continues to grow in her walk with the Lord, that her life be filled with love and laughter, and that God gives to her a young man who is worthy to share that life. I pray that he will be a young man who will complement her strengths with those of his own; that he will love the Lord and serve Him with all his heart; that he will be spiritually mature, possess integrity, a godly character, and share her heart for the Kingdom; that he will love her, honor her, cherish her, and laugh with her; that he will find endless delight in the many facets of all God has created her to be; and that he will be faithful to honor their marriage covenant for all the years of their life together.

It has occurred to me that what I really want for my daughter is what God so graciously gave to me: a man just like her father.

I would not want her to settle for anything less.

‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one fleshso then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  Mark 10:7-9 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved

How To Make God Laugh

Forest By George Hodan--Public Domain Pictures

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”― Woody Allen

This past Friday, I closed escrow on my house. It was a bittersweet day. While I will not miss the monthly financial drain, it was the final good-bye to the life I lived there with my husband, Charles. I loved that house. After twenty-eight moves in thirty-five years of married life, we bought it believing it would be our last. We had plans, we had dreams, and spent the past five wonderful years there. Our house was filled with peace, love, and laughter–and it was difficult to say good-bye to all it represented. But God’s plans don’t always coincide with our own, as I have recently been reminded.

I had lunch with my daughter, Hannah, on Saturday. We were talking about the sale of the house and how much the house had meant to both of us. I asked her if she realized the closing of the house was five months to the day from when her father died–she had not. To be fair, I hadn’t either, until the Lord reminded me of it on the flight back home from St. Louis. I am not entirely sure of the significance of God’s timing, but I know there is no such thing as coincidence in the life of any Christian. And while I do not know much of Biblical numerics, “coincidentally,” the number five means, “grace and God’s goodness.”

This discussion led to remembering a conversation Hannah and I had the day of Charles’ funeral. I had gotten up very early that morning, not having slept too well the night before. As I was drinking my second cup of coffee and talking to God about the strength I knew I was going to need that day, He said something to me I was not expecting: “You will remarry.” I have to confess I was not entirely amused with His timing on that piece of information.

A few hours later, Hannah came down for breakfast and as she was pouring herself a bowl of cereal, an odd look came across her face. She turned to me and asked, “Mom, do you think you would ever remarry?” My first thoughts ran something along the line of, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, I haven’t even had the funeral yet!” However, I answered her, “Not today,” at which point, we both laughed and shed a few tears.

It wasn’t until Saturday’s lunch, she told me she had wanted to ask that question a couple of days before the funeral–God had spoken to her about it. Obviously, God restrained her from asking the question until I was ready to hear it and He had spoken to me about it.

I do not understand the many mysteries of God or His always perfect timing. I can only say that I trust Him and am extremely grateful He didn’t speak to me that day as He did to some of His servants in the Old Testament:

♦He told Hosea to marry a prostitute (that must have gone over well with Mom and Dad!). “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.'”  Hosea 1:2 (NKJV)

♦He told Isaiah to go naked for three years (now there’s a visual you probably don’t want!). “At the same time the Lord spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, ‘Go, and remove the sackcloth from your body, and take your sandals off your feet.’ And he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the Lord said, ‘Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia,  so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.'” Isaiah 20:2-4 (NKJV)

♦He told Ezekiel to bake his bread over cow dung (that would never make it to The Food Network as an up and coming culinary trend!). “Then He said to me, “See, I am giving you cow dung instead of human waste, and you shall prepare your bread over it.” Ezekiel 4:15 (NKJV)

All in all, I feel myself quite fortunate. Who knows what God could have required in this next chapter of my life?

So, I have no idea what is in store for me, but if God has His Hand in it, it’s bound to be good.

And that’s shoutin’ ground. . .

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson

All rights reserved

Happy Birthday, My Daughter

hannah-ava-hill-photography

“And she said, ‘O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.’ So they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1:26-28 (NKJV)

Today marks my daughter’s twenty-third birthday. No mother could rejoice more over the godly woman she has become. Watching Hannah grow in the Lord, dedicate her life to His purposes, and commit herself wholeheartedly to His plans for her life is a treasure without price.

Happy birthday, my beautiful daughter.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

The Portion Of My Inheritance

cljThis past Saturday evening, God unexpectedly called home my best friend and husband of 35 years. Hannah and I have been greatly blessed with so many who have prayed for us and are overwhelmed (and humbled) by the love and support we have known since Saturday evening. We have sensed God’s presence, comfort, and His great peace. There is no greater blessing than that and knowing our separation from Charles is only temporary. The reunion will be eternal.

Thank you to all who loved him as we did. He left an everlasting legacy in our hearts.

In Christ,

Susan

Psalm 16 (NKJV)

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope. 
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

A Good Marriage

Swords--PhotobucketAnd He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6 (NKJV)

Tomorrow marks our 35th wedding anniversary. God, in His infinite wisdom, joined me in covenant to a man of exceptional value; a man whose passion for the Lord drew me into friendship; a man of tremendous generosity; a man of integrity and moral character; a man of steadfast heart, faithfulness, and loyalty; a man who would say:

“I would rather be God’s servant than man’s king.”

It is this man who I have been privileged to walk through life with. It is this man who I owe so much to. It is this man who I thank God for every day. Celebrate with me as I rejoice in the provision of God, Who loved me and gave to me an incredible gift.

Below are just a few of my favorite quotes about marriage. I include one from my daughter, Hannah. Obviously, she has learned from watching her father to wait for a man of quality–God’s choice, first and foremost.

“Boys are like chocolate. So, skip the Hershey kisses, and wait for the Ghiradelli.”–Hannah L. Johnson

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Knowledge can last, principles can last, habits can last; but feelings come and go… But, of course, ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. Love in this second sense — love as distinct from “being in love” — is not merely a feeling. It is a deep unity, maintained by the will and deliberately strengthened by habit; reinforced by (in Christian marriage) the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God… “Being in love” first moved them to promise fidelity: this quieter love enables them to keep the promise. It is on this love that the engine of marriage is run: being in love was the explosion that started it.”–C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”

“As long as a marriage is founded on a good solid incompatibility, that marriage has a fair chance of continuing to be a happy marriage, and even a romance.” –G.K. Chesterton in the “Incompatibility in Marriage”

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.” — Martin Luther

“A good marriage is like an algebra equation with two variables. You have to define “x” in terms of “y” and vice versa; the one in relation to another. It is said that you have to be a “whole” person before you can be with another, but this too is vanity. No one is whole. Thus, the two shall become one flesh; each variable defined by the other in an equation written by the greatest Mathematician.”–Lee Marshall

Copyright © 2013 by Susan E. Johnson
All rights reserved