Archive for Marriage

Footprints in the Soot

Pyrocumulous clouds. I’d never even heard of them until now. In all my Colorado years I never dreamed I’d drive under an enormous column of fiery smoke, watching noon turn to twilight through eyes that watered in the heat. No one in their right minds would drive toward the fire but those who are called to save, or whose children lay in the path of danger, or a couple of in-laws-to-be like Kevin and me. We trusted the heroes battling the flames to keep this only road open; that their knowledge, hard work, and sacrifice would keep us safe.

To my relief the smoke thinned, the sun came back out, and we drove into the high mountain town of Creede. We will have new family here. Their Brooke and our Jesse are marrying in August, and we came to celebrate and get acquainted. The men took off to watch trees explode while we women threw a shower for Brooke. From their lovely garden amid flowers and lace, she opened presents against a backdrop of smoke billowing from fires to the south and west. These women are tough. They laughed when I asked them about shopping at the closest mall; the nearest city is just too far away. Summer here is about two hours long. They take care of each other, and the ones I’ve met trust God to take care of them.

As each shared a moment of marriage advice, I could almost smell the smoke of the fiery trials they’ve lived through. I was a stranger among them. But I know women; women of faith, who have watched as noon turned to twilight when darkness fell on their lives. They are like these women. They show up for each other no matter what. The smoke may be choking them while tears run from their eyes, but they gather and nurture and protect one another. Danger drops them to their knees where they storm the gates of Heaven on their sisters’ behalf. They’ve learned to trust the Hero. His children once lay in the path of danger, and only His sacrifice could make a way to safety. To paraphrase the great hymn: Because He lives, we can face tomorrow. Soot may cling to our skin and smoke to our hair, but we can walk through the flames by stepping in the footprints He left behind. He always leads us into the light.

Monday we drove out of Creede. The fire keeps growing and threatens the town. I am storming the gates of Heaven for a soaking Colorado rain, and for God’s hand of protection and provision to cover these people. I pray for this young couple, my son and daughter-to-be, who are so excited to walk the fiery pathways of marriage together. From where I can see there is no rain in the forecast and no exemption from the hardships life will bring. But I know my greatest triumphs left me covered in soot. I emerged from the fire by stepping into the footprints Jesus left behind. I trust the Hero who keeps me safe.

When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set your ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2b-3a

©2013 Rachel Ophoff, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The Indian Tire World

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven…and…a time to laugh.”- The Teacher (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 NAS)

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”- Victor Borge

The spine of the Rocky Mountains lies between our home on Colorado’s western slope and our son’s apartment in Denver. Thanks to a decided absence of people in this part of the state, Kevin and I can zoom the 175 miles in three hours or less. Though we pass a lot of ski resorts, only one particular exit commands my attention- The Silverthorne Outlet Shops, an oasis of commerce in the wilderness.

My husband is usually amenable to detours, but stopping to spend money on anything but food waves a red flag in the face of his Dutch DNA. Living out here in the land of limited shopping is fine with him. I, on the other hand, can spend several hours comparing styles, fabrics, and fits just to find two new pair of jeans. As we flew past the Silverthorne exit on our last trip to Denver, I casually observed, “On our way back, I’d like to stop here and do some shopping. They have my favorite store in the entire world.”

Keeping his eyes on the road, he cocked his head in my direction, pointing his ear at me for clarification. “The Indian Tire World? What’s that?”

I stared at him in befuddlement before we both cracked up. We just couldn’t stop laughing. After almost twenty-eight years of marriage, one of us is going slightly deaf. One of us is going gray. As for me, I categorically deny any loss of my faculties; as for my hair, only my colorist (coincidentally my husband) knows for sure. We are changing in ways we never thought we would live long enough to see. But our connection in laughter is stronger than ever. The ability to laugh together in this season of our lives is the fruit we enjoy after the painful pruning of our selfish souls.

We will celebrate our anniversary next week. The aspen-gold of the changing leaves is beginning to look as it did the day of our wedding. The sky is deepening to that dazzling blue of autumn, and a familiar chill is settling over the night. While scores of seasons have risen and fallen with comforting familiarity, the metamorphosis of our hearts has been anything but a natural progression. On the contrary, the Lord’s wedding gift to us was not each other. It was the gift of Himself. To this day, neither of us has been able to bestow on the other the blessings we have sought for ourselves until we learned how to receive them from God and pass them along.

We’ve been through a lot in twenty-eight years. The Teacher of Ecclesiastes writes of the times that come to us all. Everyone experiences life’s ups and downs, but married couples must weather (or celebrate) them with the other’s best interest at heart. The wedding vows were barely out of our mouths before real life kicked in and the self-centered desires of our hearts met in battle. We were, and are, fallen human beings. Only by the grace of God have we been able to grow in faith and love for one another. But in all honesty, it was Kevin who knew God better. It was he who held on tighter, and showed me how to love a little less selfishly, one day at a time.

We have seen each other at our best and at our worst. We’ve been broke and flush and devastated and jubilant and selfish and selfless and hungry and thirsty and cold and satisfied and drunk and sober and home and abroad and employed and jobless and elated and dejected and sick and healthy and broken and mended. We’ve snorkeled and skied and hiked and been tossed out of the Vatican’s restroom. (I can explain.) We’ve sobbed and celebrated and worried and trusted and betrayed and renewed and broken and healed. We’ve been young, and now not so young. But oh! the places we’ve been, the things we have done, the lessons we’ve learned, the joy we have found! It’s been well worth the trip. We are still together because we never gave up on each other and never stopped praying. And Jesus never gave up on us.

Today, we’re the Mom and Pop in our own small business, literally back-to-back in an 8′ x 10′ office most of seven days a week. Whether this week’s ink is black or red, we are still learning to pray hard, trust God, give faithfully, and forgive freely. We look forward to Heaven because our daughter waits for us beside Jesus, but we also enjoy watching our son make his way in the world. Together, we treasure the time we left. Yes, we still crank at one another upon occasion, but thankfully we don’t hear everything anymore, so most of the time we can pretend we missed it.

Kevin, you are the Spock to my Kirk and the Chakotay to my Janeway. You are my calm in the storm and the logic to my lunacy. Thanks for getting off the highway at Silverthorne so I can spend all morning buying two pair of jeans. I promise to keep laughing at your jokes. Thanks for loving me, forgiving me, and never leaving me behind. I love you, Dear. Happy Anniversary!

“After God created the world, He made man and woman. Then, to keep the whole thing from collapsing, He invented humor.”– Guillermo Mordillo

Copyright Rachel Ophoff, 2010, Coconut Mountain Communications LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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