He’s still the one . . .

Today is our 42nd anniversary. Hard to believe where the time has gone, and yet those memories are as sweet as the day they were made.
Comfortable as an old shoe, as peaceful as a lazy summer day, a fit like a hand in a glove, and, since he’s an electrician, he has all the right fuses and splices that create a spark for me. . . . and since he’s a plumber? (You can thank me later for not going there.)
There are times during the day when I am driving around my little town delivering mail and I just can’t wait for the evening when I get to go home and see him. It’s a feeling I can’t describe, even to him! But I know that’s how he felt when I was staying home raising 3 boys and he was out there working 6 days a week to support us. How do I know that? He told me that years ago.
At the beginning of our marriage we determined that divorce would not be an option. Easy words to say when love is rosy and sweet and you haven’t had to deal with bathroom smells, bad breath and cleaning up vomit. But I knew that some safeguards would have to be put in place in order to keep our commitment to each other and, more so, our commitment to the Lord, so I came up with a rule that would remind me that – no matter what – I must always default to the fact that God had chosen this man for me, blessed me with more than I deserved and I will honor Him with my marriage.
Love is easy – but like??? Not so much.
I recognized that, as much as he could irritate me, I must be irritating him, (though I couldn’t see how that was possible since I was simply showing him the RIGHT way to do things, I mean, come on!) But I had to face the facts and I knew I would have to answer to the Lord for my angry moments, holding grudges, and burying fury under the surface – pretending everything was ‘fine’.
Fine. A word ripe with meaning when it falls from the lips of an angry woman.
So, before the bloom fell from the rose, so to speak, we agreed to ALWAYS hold hands when we prayed. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it?? But this involved every meal, church service, wedding, funeral – anytime – anywhere that anyone would be praying within our earshot – those hands would find each other. This was a promise never to be broken. NEVER!
The reasoning behind this? When you are angry with someone, you don’t want to touch them. Touching requires acceptance, forgiveness, and an element of fondness for the other person. We all need touch. It makes us feel accepted as a human being. It’s the reason that shaking hands means something. You’re reaching out of your personal space and into someone else’s, which is outside of our normal behavior.
If I am angry about something, I can maintain my anger, feed it, help it grow and not deal with it, as long as I am not forced to touch the one with whom I’m angry.
You take a mother of 3 who’s had a bad day, something sets her off, and she wants to explode . . . knowing there’s a dinner table where everyone’s going to sit down and HOLD HANDS to pray and suddenly, I’m forced to deal with my anger. Why? Because I’m not going to be the one that breaks the rule. But this means touching and praying! Praying with hidden anger doesn’t work. It doesn’t sit right with a soul who claims to love the Lord, and your love for the Lord breaks down your anger into small chunks that can be swallowed and more easily digested. After all, you’re sitting down at a table full of food, surrounded by a loving husband and 3 beautiful sons that you don’t deserve, and you’re angry about what?? Your bad day would be the fulfillment of some other lonely woman’s dream come true. Get over it!
This has helped me deal honestly with the ‘stuff’ that goes on within my heart – keeping the big picture in mind and not sweating the small stuff of life. And by dealing, I don’t mean burying it deep. I mean dealing with it before the Lord and trusting Him to carry my concerns so that I can be free to live for Him. He hasn’t failed me in 42 years of marriage – I don’t think he’ll start now!
Isaiah 33: 2, 6 says; “He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.”
And  ‘fear of the Lord’ doesn’t mean hide behind a rock to avoid the lighting bolts – it means a respect and awe like a child has for their father. You don’t do the wrong   because you don’t want the punishment he will give when you’ve disobeyed and you can’t bear to see the look of disappointment in his eyes. That kind of fear. Why? Because you know he loves you and you love him.
This kind of love was the base line of our marriage. I love the Lord and He loves me and I don’t want to disappoint Him with my behavior inside my marriage or out in public.
God has been very good to Dane and me. Very good. And especially to me.
I did not deserve such a good man. He is accepting, forgiving, hard working, honest and kind. Generous to a fault, and tenderhearted toward the Lord in all things.
Many years ago, between high school and marriage, I was living alone in an apartment in Delaware and I had a very vivid and strange dream. (Who can explain these things?)
In my dream my inner self, faults and all, were somehow on display in front of all my previous boyfriends from junior high on and they were all asked who would take me. (I assume this meant marriage.) One by one they looked at these faults and struggles that would be ahead in our lives together and they all said no – except Dane. He smiled sweetly and said, “I’ll take her.”
When I woke up, I called his home in Minnesota because I wanted to talk to him. I hadn’t seen him or talked to him for a couple years, but he was gone to Montana for the summer and I missed him. I had no contact with him for another stretch of time, but he found out I had called and reached out to me. The dream had faded by then and I was busy living the life I shouldn’t have been living, so we lost touch again.
Eventually, we did make contact  and he came here to Virginia for a visit, got a job here, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We have worked hard on our marriage, forgiving, giving the other one room to grow, praying for one another, supporting each other, by mostly, enjoying each other. It’s the ‘bar of soap’ theory that I gave my boys. You can hold a bar of soap, but if you squeeze it too tightly, it’ll pop out of your hands. Don’t squeeze or suffocate your beloved. No one (well, other than a narcissist) wants to be worshiped by their spouse. “Oh, honey, you’re so wonderful! I can’t live without you!” gag and  blah, blah, blah. . . . Dane knows I can live without him – but I don’t want to. Mutual respect is the key. Our qualities compliment one another. Where I fail, he picks up the slack and visa-versa. It has never been a competition – it’s two friends on the same team with the same goal in mind which is a successful marriage that honors God.
The ‘work’ part never stops, but the rewards increase over the years and the peaceful, sweetness of long lasting love never wears off – it only grows deeper. I thank God everyday for giving me this man to walk with me through life and love me through the good and bad. . . but it’s been mostly good!

Perfume de plume

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. . .
When Dane and I went back to Minnesota for our 10th high school reunion, I was quite shocked to discover one of my classmates (from grade school on) had changed her first name to Patrice after I left. I felt violated at first, but realized there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I told myself she wanted to be me and felt bad for her not wanting to be herself. There’s just something wrong about someone taking your name.
Names are easily associated with good and bad feelings, like people who, upon hearing their name, make your face light up with joy and happiness. Weird Al has always been someone without guile whose songs/parodies make you laugh. Turns out he is a decent humble guy, too. I have watched several interviews over the years and always feel bad for the interviewer who seems to want to pull something ugly out of him to tarnish his image – to no avail. He’s just a nice guy.
On the other hand, no one looks at their little baby boy and says, “Oh honey – he’s so cute! Let’s call him Adolf Hitler Smith!” At least I think no one would do that??
I do remember hearing about someone local who named their child Harley Davidson – a real conversation starter,eh? There’s the classic “La-ah”.  How do you pronounce that? You’d be told – “Lah – dash – ah” because the dash ain’t silent!!  And a girlfriend of mine who took attendance at a local high school would have to call to ask why ‘so and so’ wasn’t in school today? only to run across a daughter’s name pronounced “Sha – theed”, but spelled Shithead – no, you can’t make this stuff up.
I deal with names everyday and you can imagine that I may make up little ditties to go along with them to tell them apart. I have 13 families with the last name Smith. And yes, one of them named their son ‘John’, can’t imagine what he has to go through on phone orders, or even renting a motel room???, etc. . .
Dane and I have had our share of struggles with name butchering. His can’t be Dane – it must be Dave, Danny, Dean, Dan, or better yet, DIANE.
Mine, being Patrice is always Patricia, or PATRICK, which goes hand in hand with the Diane above.
Our last name, Hamren must be, Harmon, Hammond, Herman, suffice it to say, we are always surprised when someone gets all 3 correct. Dane & Patrice Hamren instead of Patrick and Diane Harmon. (Even my spell check underlines Hamren every time it appears).
The advantage of having an unusual name is – it’s kind of unforgettable. Once stuck in the craw it usually stays there.
My mother and father-in-love liked unusual names. Their 7 children were Craig, Claudia, Dane, Marina, Blair, Erica, and Judd. I continued the tradition With Jarl, Preston and Nelssen – they stick with you! And each of them are as unique as their names.
I realized the value of a good name very early in our marriage and was determined to honor my husband’s family by doing everything possible to make sure our last name was one that brought smiles to people’s faces when they heard it. In essence, a sweet smell, a pleasant fragrance, a perfume de plume.
As we come up on our 42nd wedding anniversary this month, I’d like to think that we have a good name – one that honors the Lord and makes people smile when they hear it – as well as ‘say good things’ about it.
When we’re finished with our work on this earth, I would hope that people would still smile when they hear our name and that it brings good memories and stories of fun and laughter, fireworks and plumbing, singing and 3 fine sons who carry on our name with honor. This is all I ask. To God be the Glory.