How to Make it Last and Want More

Today is my 29th wedding anniversary with this stud! 1467249_680706705273939_814228079_n

As I started to create the socially-networked-morally -imposed-mandatory-sappy anniversary post, I was halted. Halted by my thoughts in reflecting what the past 29 years of life has been as this dude’s wife, partner, soulmate. Let me tell you, a LOT of history has gone down between the two of us since he showed up on my back porch wearing tube socks, high topped chucks and his practice shorts from football. That was 1979, so you know how much farmer-thigh that boy was shining!

Big Daddy, or TK as he was known back then, had been my crush for several months. I was 14 he was 16. To have him show up in all of his farm boy/football playing glory, uninvited, nearly gave me heart failure. My mom on the other hand who said, “No dating until you are 16!” had her wits about her and invited him into the kitchen. He asked her if he could give me a ride to a mutual friends swimming party. SHE SAID YES!! Oh my goodness what my dear sweet mama got started….

Fast forward to our wedding day on November 7, 1987 at a country church in the area where we reside, Paradise Prairie, and you would find what you see at most weddings. We had flowers, we had a wedding party, we had family, we had friends, we had tears, we had laughter, but most importantly we had JESUS. Our ceremony cemented our journey through life together as believers. Little did we know then, what kind of jubilations and heartbreaks lay ahead on our journey. Little did we know then what it meant to walk as man and woman in matrimony with a third party. The tie that binds. 

In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 it is stated: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

That third strand? That’s Jesus. Two together are necessary for many things, but without that third party, the author of marriage, we could quickly have raveled apart during many times of trials over the years. Praise God we didn’t! Folks, we are simply not good enough, strong enough or wise enough on our own accord to go it alone without that third party.

Fast forward 29 years: Marriage for me has been interesting, joyful, boring, fun, exhausting, exhilarating, effortless, seemingly impossible, rewarding, adventuresome, frustrating, and blessed, which means our marriage has been NORMAL. What has blessed us as TEAM of lovers, friends, pals, buddies, partners, parents, and soulmates is that we have recognized from the get go, the necessity to rely on Christ as the third party in our relationship. He is the third strand of the chord, the super-glue to our family, that is woven together with our commitment to each other throughout our sacred bond. Yes SACRED.

You see, not only when you recognize the sacredness of your union with your spouse will you begin to see each other as God sees you, but you will understand and have empathy for one another during the trying times. You will find it easier to forgive during the hurtful times. You will dig deeper and hold on during the storms.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.

Looking back: We’ve weathered a lot of storms the past 29 years. We’ve both battled pride, selfishness and just trying to juggle it all during today’s demanding schedules of our time. However, we have overcome them all, because of prayer, faith, commitment and a loyalty to each other that is intense, passionate and forever. Those battles were the easy things.

The hard things were the scary things. The unknowns of the outcome of a child’s illness or injury, the overwhelming burden of tending to ailing and dying loved ones, the loss of a close family member, the loss of a parent. Those are the things that love can’t fix. Those are the things that loyalty can’t resolve. Those are the things that happen, regardless of your station of faith, your efforts at righteousness, or how many prayers you’ve prayed. Those scary things are the times when you do the only thing you can do:

Galatians 6:2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

Colossians 3:14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Those scary storms for us, as husband and wife have been the most difficult. Not difficult in that our marriage suffered or that we were driven apart because of them. No, just the opposite. Those tsunamis and hurricanes of brokeness, no matter how painful, were weathered because during those trials, Jesus twisted our chord of broken hearts and souls tighter together with the strength of his third strand. He battened down the hatch with his anchoring strength and love.

Psalm 42:6O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 

Hebrews 6:18 18 Thus by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be strongly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and steadfast. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain..

In our 29 years, we have seen God’s mercy many times as we were called out in the deep. He met us there. We have rejoiced and praised at his healing and delivering power, and we have felt God’s comfort and have felt his heart celebrate and mourn with ours.

This year: What a year. What a year in our marriage. What a year in the story of our family. What a year in the steadfast hope we have in Christ to heal, to mend, to propel us forward as a couple and as a family for HIS GLORY. What a year we’ve had going deeper still.

This year, We celebrated three graduations of our sons’, high school, college and law school. We celebrated the passing of a bar exam for one, the passing of an insurance licensing for another, and a family mission project that has become a community global outreach. 13350327_10206544898368595_3882100619789037879_o13679991_1198231856899941_5044768953333435076_oLiterally in the midst of those celebrations, we have also mourned. The loss of the two patriarch’s of our family, both of our dad’s within two weeks of each other, and then the loss of a dear cousin, all unexpectedly, sent us reeling. Our sons lost both of their grandpas. Our mothers are both widows. Our siblings are fatherless. My grandma is sonless.

In addition to the emotional burden of love for our family, the business of cleaning up “business” after loss is difficult, time consuming and leaves little room for fully grieving as we are called to do. Understanding the role each of us plays in our family dynamics when tragedy hits on both sides has been monumental. Selfishness has played no role in our grieving and healing. We have fully lifted up, picked up, held on, wiped away tears and bolstered each other during difficult times. We’ve encouraged the other to grieve. We’ve encouraged each other to celebrate.

 Ecclesiastes3: 1 There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—
      2A time to give birth and a time to die;
            A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
      3A time to kill and a time to heal;
            A time to tear down and a time to build up.
      4A time to weep and a time to laugh;
            A time to mourn and a time to dance.4

The business of a loved one’s “business” after death can leave a family torn apart, ransacked and in disarray. Without God’s grace, and a heed for his timing, we would fail each other. We would fail our families. We would fail Christ. That third strand woven through our story is invaluable, undeserved and very necessary. We cherish these times of more time spent with our families. This is the blessing that is sometimes hidden during the pangs of loss. Time.

1 Timothy 5:4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

We’ve come from good stock. We have plenty to gladly repay.

Why has our marriage been worth all of the effort, the good times and the sad? Why am I ready to do this for 29 more years? Of course I’m crazy about my man! However truly I value this revelation granted upon my reflection of our story: Our sacred union of marriage is not just for us. As a matter of fact, it’s for them. It is for our family and it is for our offspring. It’s the dynamic in which God chooses our relationships to do works in. It’s the institution that ultimately mirrors his relationship with his children, the church body.

Romans 12:10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Our homes are our first mission fields. They should be a safe haven of HIS truths. Personally, we have failed at times to reflect the image in the “marriage mirror” that God has put before us in our home at times. On occasion we have grumbled. On occasion we displayed intolerance instead of acceptance. Sometimes we were selfish, prideful, or inconsiderate. Sometimes we failed. However, as the years have went on, our testimony of faith has been refined, polished and tried by fire. His steadfastness to forgiving our sinful nature and being our living Redeemer is evident to those that know our story. His steadfastness to being the anchor of our union has been relentless. Marriage is a gift to us. But it’s not something we unwrapped and put in a display case. It’s an evolving, growing, changing story of love and passion for each other, for our family and for our God. It’s a source of fruit that is to bear a plentiful harvest for the Glory of God. It’s an work in progress. It’s not a commodity to take out of play when it gets difficult or when scary things happen.

Most importantly of all to me, we have witnessed the results of our Christ-centered marriage on our sons during this year. During their heartbreak of losing a Papa and a Granddaddy, and seeing their parents and grandma’s grieve, they have battled like the warriors they were born to be. They have accomplished some of the most difficult of things. They are coming in to their purpose filled existence with the knowledge and example of how a sacred union withstands deep pain and should celebrate jubilant blessings and tend to the circle of family God has blessed them with. They have witnessed us welcome God’s compassion. They have seen us broken, at our most vulnerable, yet they have to have seen us accept God’s peace. They have held us as we have sobbed a guttural cry while they themselves have been mourning, yet they have to have noticed God’s blanket of comfort over us. Oh how we cherish HIS comfort. We know where our help comes from. Our son’s have to KNOW it now too.

So, since this all began with my initial intent of posting a sappy Facebook post about celebrating my 29 years with my hottie Toddy with little thought and reflection, it seems as if the Holy Ghost has once again had a lesson for me to learn and share.

11224436_10205270402747001_2177048928276950437_oI pray you acknowledge the THIRD STRAND in your marriage. I pray you understand the potential impact of the efforts of your sacred union on your children, family and others. I pray if you don’t have a Big Daddy or a Queen of your heart to walk through your story of life with, that God reveals his chosen one to you soon.

Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5-6 

Rising by Lifting, 13084161_941273904621_1531913689_n
Jana Kaye Kuhnert, author and speaker at RisebyLifting.com

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Big Daddy and I did good work!  Samuel Kuhnert, Amanda & Charlie Kuhnert, Tucker Kuhnert, Jana Kaye Kuhnert, Todd Kuhnert AKA Big Daddy