The Start Of A Journey

About two months ago we embarked on a new journey. Although, I got ticket for this ride when I was by myself, it became apparent rather quickly that this would be a trip for two. A journey or a trip usually implies something new and exciting. Although we are experiencing something new, it’s not necessarily exciting.

There’s no better place to start other than the beginning. So here it goes:

I just recently had my first physical in at least 13 years! Yeah, yeah I know. This in spite of the fact that there’s a strong history of prostate cancer in my family. Well, the same evening of my physical and blood work, I received a call from the doctor’s office advising me that I would need to call to schedule an appointment “to go over the blood work.” That’s never a good sign.

Well, I called the next day, which happened to be a Saturday, and was told I could walk in. I was told that my PSA was elevated. For those of you that don’t know, the PSA stands for “prostate- specific antigen.” which is a protein produced by both cancerous and non cancerous cells in the prostate. There is normally a small amount of this protein in the blood, so the PSA blood test is a screening tool for possible prostate cancer.

Back to my PSA. It was 16 ng/mL. To put this in perspective, a range of 0-2.5 ng/mL is considered a safe zone. This however, can vary a little by age. Anything over 4-5 ng/mL will most likely be followed by a discussion with a medical provider. So obviously there was cause for concern. Was my father’s history of prostate cancer making its fateful appointment with me? I was told that an appointment would be made for me with a urologist. After an initial visit and a repeat PSA blood test, my value was still high, 14 ng/mL. Now came the moment of truth: “We’ll have to do a biopsy.” Each stop on this ride became a little more serious and a little more surreal.

If you’re a man between the ages of 40-50, please get a physical and a simple PSA blood test.

To be continued…

Loving In The Storm

Why me? This is usually the question we ask ourselves in the midst of a trial, an obstacle or a difficult situation. What if we started asking, why not me? Would anything change? Would it make a difference? Would we be better equipped to face a life storm?

I don’ know. Maybe. But those times of doubt, fear and anxiety will still be present. Yes, they will. However, by focusing on God’s word and His promises in and during a storm, by focusing on what can be learned, by focusing how to stay strong and positive and by focusing on the love of a spouse and/or friends, our mindset will be more positive, which will give us strength to fight battles.

You ask how I know? Because I’m in the eye of a storm right now! And although I’ve had moments of despair, fear, anxiety and doubt, three things have helped and continue to comfort and strengthen me:

1. God’s word on which I meditate daily

2. The love, strength and support of my wife (and my kids)

3. The prayers, messages from friends and talks with friends and people who have been down this road

What follows over the next several weeks is a description of the life storm that we find ourselves in at this moment. It is my battle with prostate cancer. More correctly stated, “our battle.” Because I do not fight alone but with the Lord by my side and as “won” with my beautiful, loving wife. My hope and prayer is that this would serve as, first of all, a testimony to God’s grace. Second, an example of how the love, sacrifice and support of a spouse can give strength and courage. And finally, as a resource to men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The fact that I love my wife may be evident by anyone who reads my blog. But that our love has grown even deeper in the midst of this storm is a blessing that I never saw coming! I love how she has made me stronger, how she has encouraged me in my low times, and how her fervent prayers have reminded me that “greater is he that is in me than the one who is is in the world.”

Men between 40-50 years old, if you get nothing else from this, please understand how important it is to have yearly physicals and have blood drawn for PSA level. It could save your life. Remember, your family needs you. Therefore, show them your love by taking care of yourself.

Love Built To Last

Recently I had a situation which left me surprised, speechless and stunned. I may share particulars of this issue at a later date. My natural tendency was to stop, breathe and process what was going on.

To do this, I had to withdraw so that I could gather all my thoughts. However, in the midst of organizing my thoughts, I was slipping into reclusiveness. Unbeknownst to me, I was at the same time pushing away the one person who wanted to be with me, cheer for and support me.

But my bride of 23 years would not allow me to withdraw, be quiet or remain lost in my thoughts. Nope! She took me by the hands and told me, “we are in this together, I want to know your thoughts and feelings. You can’t shut me out!” At that moment I realized that she would not compromise or back down. I was reminded of her deep love for me. I was reminded that because we are “won” my thoughts, feelings, fears and tears are also hers.

Yes, I was reminded of the fact that our “woness” does not work in isolation. I was reminded one more time of what our love means:

Lasting

Not Ordinary

Vital

Empathetic

Thanks honey!!

Understanding Differences Between Men and Women

So this past Mother’s Day, I tried to do more stuff around the house so that that my wife, and mother of our kids, could just relax. While my wife enjoyed her cards, flowers and lunch, she also had arranged her empty Clinique products on the bathroom counter for full display. “I don’t ask much, just for some observation,” she said as she swept her right hand as to uncover a prize.

At that moment, I felt like I was three days late for the prom! So I went into “fix it mode,” because that’s what men do, right? I told her that I would get new products but she told me not to bother, that she would do it.

This incident portrays a stark difference between men and women: women want men to notice things they need whereas men want to be told what women want or need.

A woman’s desire would be for her husband to be observant and proactive in both noticing and fulfilling some wants. This lets the woman know that she is being thought of. Unfortunately, most men aren’t wired this way. Most men would be happy to fill a need once they are asked.

Knowing and understanding these differences is of vital importance in a marriage. It prevents misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations and disappointments. It is also important to be able to discuss these differences with grace, patience and without setting ultimatums. This allows for healthy communication and may also help each person to be more sensitive to each other’s needs.

So how did this play out? Well, she never did go to get her Clinique products. So I assured her that I would take care of it and I did! Now she’s all set…and I’ll try to be more intentional on being observant.

Encouraging Love

I wanted to share a story about encouragement in our marriage. But what does this word mean? What does it entail? Well the dictionary definition of encouragement is “the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope.”

Well, as an example of this I’ll share our experience over the past year or so. Recently, my wife changed her work hours to where she has Fridays off. She also has engaged in personal development, which I think is great! In addition to this, I am two years into opening a business.

Now marriage is hard enough without adding some stressors and twists. But when we decided to push forward with these changes we also made a decision to support and encourage each other. How did we do this? By giving each other space when needed, telling each other we believed in one another, picking up the slack for each other, just being attentive and by praying for each other. The more we did this for each other, the stronger became our intimacy, confidence and prayer life.

So as we found, again, a little encouragement went a long way in the long term investment of our marriage.

What are some ways you encourage your spouse?

Thursday Marriage Tip

Actively looking for ways in which to serve your spouse will strengthen your relationship because it will make your eyes habitually more sensitive for opportunities to serve.

Strengthening Our Marriages

There is virtually nothing in life that a person can do without practice to become proficient. Whether it’s something as simple as reading to something as complex as playing a musical instrument, excellence requires practice.

A marriage is no different in that it also requires a level of dedication to continually practice key areas that are the backbone of the love in marriage: trust, intimacy, respect, grace and perseverance.

As a couple grows in trust, they’ll also build intimacy. And the more respect a a couple has for one another the more likely it is that they’ll extend grace to one another. Furthermore, growth in these areas, will not only strengthen a marriage, but it will also help couples be able to overcome difficult times.

What do you do to strengthen your marriage?

Thursday Marriage Tip

Husbands, tell your wife daily that you love her. This will make her feel special and wanted. Wives, tell your husband you appreciate him.  This will make him feel appreciated and accomplished.

I Make This Vow

Last weekend , as my wife and I attended a wedding, I started reflecting on the topic of marriage vows in relation to God’s covenant with His children.

In the Bible, God made covenants with Noah, Abraham and Moses, to name a few. In each of these covenants, God made different promises which also required a certain response or conduct from His people. In other words, the covenants were an agreement in which God promised that He would deliver on specific blessings and in return, asked for faith, obedience and a commitment.

God makes the same kind of contracts with us today as couples look at each other’s eyes and embark on the path to “woness.” He put up the blood of His Son Jesus as collateral for our sins and in return only asks that we live a life of obedience. And as it relates to marriage specifically, God expects much from both husband and wife in the marriage relationship. In fact, in 1 Peter 3:7, after Peter laid out how a husband should care for and treat his wife, he added “so that you’re prayers are not hindered.”

Therefore my friends, it’s important to understand that the marriage vows are not only a promise that a couple makes to each other, but also a contract between that couple and God. And the exciting fact about this is that God longs to pour His blessings on a faithful marriage!

Perfection Does Not Exist Here

We’ve been told before that “it seems like you guys have the perfect marriage.”

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Here are four examples of why our marriage is not without flaws.

Perfection

Neither of us are perfect therefore, our marriage is not perfect. Both of us brought our own baggage when we became “won.” And we each had our own way of dealing with our baggage. We had to each become programmed to live as “won” instead of two. Although this takes time, perfection is never really attained, since we ourselves don’t become perfect.

Grace

Although we all like to be shown grace, when it comes to others we tend to push for justice. This can also be the case in our marriages. There have been times where grace has eluded us (I won’t say who) which has lead to “spirited” conversations. I wish I could say that we soon came to our senses, but that hasn’t always been the case. We have however, been able to recover from those situations rather unscathed.

Patience

Yes, patience is a virtue, but occasionally it’s in short supply. I will admit, I’m probably the biggest offender of this. Whether it’s waking up on the “wrong side” of the bed or a bad day at work, some things can make us more irritable. This is when one us has to remind the other, without sarcasm, to exercise patience.

Pride

Pride can rear its ugly head in many situations. Most of all, when we want the other person to be the first to say “I’m sorry.” I have been guilty of that in the past, as I’ve documented in a previous post: https://twobecomingwon.com/2015/12/27/my-longest-night/. Pride has no place in a relationship and overtime it only destroys. The commitment has to be made to think of the other person first before ourselves.

So although our marriage is definitely far from perfect, my wife and I have made a commitment to fight for our “woness.” Perfection is not an attainable goal for two imperfect people, but commitment and determination are traits necessary for every marriage!