Tenth and Fortieth Anniversaries
Ten Years Ago
In 2009 I asked God to help me to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I knew God would answer this prayer because it is according to His will. However I had no idea how He would answer my request, I simply expected to awaken one morning with an increased affection for God and the things of God. However God knew that this would not be what I truly needed. As a songwriter aptly wrote, “He looked beyond my fault and saw my need.”
The divine wheels began to turn and in 2012 I experienced the hardest and best year of my life. I went through pain and deep valleys unlike anything I had ever experienced. During this same time, I began to comprehend that God not only loves me, He likes me. And this deep unchanging love and affection God has for me does not depend on what I do but who I am in Christ.
My world fell apart and God graciously rebuilt it. I am now in the best place I have ever been in my relationship with my Heavenly father, my wife, and my children. To get to where I am now, from where I was when I asked God to help me love Him more, took an immense amount of work. (For more details consider Crisis to Christ.)
When I use the word “work” I am referring to the time, energy, and effort that Sandi and I have invested in our individual relationship with God and then with each other. For me, that involved correcting unbiblical and demeaning ideas about the marriage relationship. I also struggle with accepting the fact that God’s unchanging love for me is not based on what I do but what Jesus has done. The more I am rooted and grounded in grace the greater my capacity to listen to feedback from Sandi, my sons, and my close friends who know me, care about me, and see my glaring blindspots. (Much of my study on God’s love is recorded in Knowing God’s Love.)
I have also had to confront the toxic baggage that I had brought into our relationship. And when my buttons are pushed and I am tempted to react emotionally instead of thoughtful responding I am seeking to let God search my heart and reveal root causes for why I react the way I do.
Instead of forgetting the past, I needed to take a hard look at the scars and wounds that shaped me and made me who I was. Sadly, it wasn’t until I saw how my own stuff was hurting my family, that I was willing to do the work with the help of counselors and other resources. Throughout these difficult times, God faithfully and patiently walked me through this process, which continues to this day.
While we were going through the process of our ongoing internal work, I also began to learn how to communicate with Sandi and hear her heart. My goal now is to understand what she is saying instead of framing my response. I see now that my role is not to fix Sandi, but love her, pray for her, and bear her burdens.
In 2012 our hearts were reconnected while sitting on two rocking chairs at my mother’s home. We were able for maybe the first time to truly hear each other and be authentic. This was such a significant event that we wanted to not lose this heart connection. In order to build on this special time as we moved forward we instituted a weekly “chair chat” to maintain our new ability to hear and understand each other. (More information is available on this topic in Speaking the Truth in Love)
The best word I know to describe my daily time of connecting with my Heavenly Dad is communion. In addition to spending in the Word, He has led me to invest equal time in His presence. This sacred time includes praying, worshiping, listening, and being still. The term communion incorporates all of these elements. As my relationship with God has deepened and expanded so also has my ability to relate and connect with Sandi and our growing family. As I grow in my understanding of grace and taste and experience the love of God, I am enabled to love others as I have been loved.
Forty Years Ago on May 27, Sandi said “I Do”
Earlier this month Sandi and I spent a week in Wyoming drinking in the beauty of the Grand Tetons while celebrating forty years as a couple. This has been a different journey for each of us. Throughout these years we have had incredible support from our sons and their families along with timely encouragement and prayer support from our friends far and near.
We each have done the work He led us to do. I am so grateful that God answered my prayer the way He did. It was not a quick fix, but a deep and life changing work. Most of all, I am thankful for my courageous wife for standing strong and being true to what she knew to be right. Ultimately all glory goes to God for giving us both the strength and commitment to fight the good fight for our marriage. Thanks be to the Triune God for the great things He has done in our individual lives and in our joint life together.
“To Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Free Book and Hymn Downloads for a Limited Time
I had the privilege of speaking to the home educators in Alberta, Canada in April. Since I have difficulty transporting paper books across the border, I had our webmaster post PDFs of my books and Hymns on the Building Faith Families site.
#198-200 Steve Demme on the life of Jacob, Walking with a Limp and Embracing Brokenness
#201 Interview with Joni Eareckson Tada
Speaking Schedule for May/June
I hope to see some of you at a convention. If you can’t come in person, could you tuck in a prayer for God to bless these events? Thank you!
Illinois HomeSchool Convention, May 30-June 2
Virginia HomeSchool Convention, June 6-8
Pennsylvania HomeSchool Convention, June 14-15