Category Archives: Marriage

What Does Love Look Like?

Jodi Dunlap Detrick ca 1972 croppedThe pretty girl with the long brown hair to complement her beautiful eyes first caught my eye, but soon captured my heart. She lit up every room she entered with her bright smile, vivacious personality, and ability to make every person feel like they were welcome and noticed. Her genuine concern for and interest in other people endeared her even more to me.

Our shared values and goals in life forged a bond that wasn’t just physical attraction or emotional feelings or intellectual stimulation, although it was all of those. Fundamentally, our bond was spiritual. The title of a song at our wedding described our commitment: “Each for the other, and both for the Lord.”

On this Valentine’s Day four decades later, I would suggest that our spiritual bond has been the most sustaining component of our relationship over the years, and it has shown me what love looks like. “What does love look like?” is perhaps life’s most persistent question. Here is what I believe:

Love is colorful. When you love, you see in vivid color, not “fifty shades of grey.” Love is light, and it dispels darkness, making the colors pop. When viewed through the eyes of love, even the dark and shady corridors of life lead us to experience rainbow moments when the light of our love and God’s love penetrates the darkness. What a joy to discover nuggets of gold revealed in the shadows and silver linings in the thunder clouds! The clouds change with the winds, and knowing that, we believe in the blue sky principle: they always follow the rain, and the rain brings flowers and growth because:

First flowering plum blossom 2-14-15Love is beauty. Not the kind of beauty that wins contests, but the beauty of acceptance and forgiveness when you have disappointed your beloved for the umpteenth time. Love is the beauty of presence when the “for better or worse” vow seems to have landed decidedly, at least for a season, on the worst side. Love is the beauty of knowing that regardless of whether we are richer or poorer, sickly or healthy, we are together. Believing that together we are better, despite our circumstances, is the glue that holds our love and marriage together. Love is the secret formula that makes every wrinkle and grey hair that comes with age more beautiful in the eyes of our beloved. And that is a beautiful thought that puts a smile on my face because we also know that:

Love is laughter. After forty years together, we share an entire secret volume of funny experiences and laughing out loud moments that rival any comedy routine. Learning to laugh and dish out our hoarded reserve of joy during the moments when life is not funny, when our plates are full of worry or sorrow—that is nourishment for the heart and soul. Love means not taking yourself too seriously, and learning to laugh out loud, both together and separately, knowing that “this, too shall pass.” And tomorrow, or maybe a year from now, our tears will be gone, and we will laugh again and realize that our greatest fears never materialized because:

Love is hope. The pictures love paints, filled with color, beauty, and laughter, provide vision for a brighter future–the hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and next year will be better than this one. Growing up on the farm, my family were “next year” people. No matter if the crops failed us this year, “next year” dad always said, would be better. It was that optimism that kept my mother and father together on a farm for more than 63 years, keeping their vows, “until death do us part.” A hopeful vision inspires optimism beyond our own ability to manipulate or manage circumstances because:

Love is faith in someone bigger than us. Love looks like having the faith and patience necessary to move the impossible mountain in our path, even if that means removing it one slow shovelful at a time. It is believing that regardless of the odds against us, with God our odds are better. It is believing that no matter how many oppose us, with God we form a majority coalition. Love looks like spending time together on our knees so we can walk the distance. It means facing a crisis with a Friend who is closer than any human could ever be. Love is faith that God is bigger than any problem we face. And love means believing that God is love, and catching a glimpse of His face every time we see someone exhibiting God’s love toward others.

What does love look like? I love the Apostle Paul’s description:

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”   –1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

So on this Valentine’s Day, when I ask, “What does love look like?” the answer is found in the face of my sweetheart, the most Jesus-Hearted Woman I know. Jodi Detrick, thank you for being the same bubbly girl I first fell in love with so many years ago. It is a joy to journey through life with you. I love you with all my heart.

Perspective: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

What's Wrong With This Picture“Wow, look at Mt. Rainier this morning, what a magnificent view! Can’t you see it?”  From my perspective sitting in a window seat of a 767 flying at about 25,000 feet, it looked like I could almost reach out and touch Washington state’s highest peak. Just after sunrise, the view was spectacular.

“No, I can’t see a thing,” replied the attractive woman sitting next to me, who happened to be my wife, Jodi.

“Well move over a little closer to me, now can you see it?”

“Still can’t see a thing,” Jodi replied. By then we had flown further east and left Mt. Rainier behind.

“Well, you should have seen it—simply amazing!”

“Sure,” Jodi replied, sounding somewhat unconvinced and perhaps a little chagrined that I had interrupted her nap and occupied the window seat. At that hour of the morning, I could understand why she didn’t share my enthusiasm for something she could not see.

Perspective. It all depends upon your point of view. From where you are sitting you see one thing, and you see it clearly, perhaps with a great deal of certainty. But the person sitting right next to you might see a different picture. Maybe something entirely different. Or maybe they see nothing at all.

This can be frustrating, and lead to disagreements. I am convinced that a lot of the conflict we experience in life stems from the tension of differing perspectives. People with diverse points of view may not see eye to eye. That’s why we need to learn to listen and ask questions, so we can sense what others see and maybe understand them a little better. Instead, we are often too quick to try and tell how things look from our point of view, and grow increasingly frustrated if they can’t seem to view things our way or immediately agree with our perspective.

The photo above was taken from an airplane. What’s wrong with the picture? Well, you probably notice that the blue sky is above the clouds, something you could only see from a perspective about six miles above terra firma. From where most of us are usually standing on planet earth, the view below would be cloudy and dark, much different from the view above the clouds.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could always see what is happening above the clouds? It would not only change our perspective, it would probably change our attitude. And really, isn’t that what faith is all about? Standing on the ground on a dark and rainy day, we may project the darkness and dreariness that we see. But above those dripping clouds, the sun is shining. We know that. Yet we see no evidence of it at the moment. Maybe that is why the writer of Hebrews said, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  (Hebrews 11:1)

Perspective. That is the difference between faith and unbelief. Between a life attitude ruled by the view from ground zero and a life attitude ruled by believing the sun is shining above the clouds. And you really should have seen that view of Mt. Rainier. Well, I did take a picture, so you can!

Aerial View Mt Rainier - Don Detrick c 2013

And by the way, if you would like a different perspective on what it means to follow Jesus Christ, my new book, Growing Disciples Organically: The Jesus Method of Spiritual Formation is now available in tree or e-form at the following links:

http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Disciples-Organically-Spiritual-Formation/dp/1937756815/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368201234&sr=1-1&keywords=growing+disciples+organically

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/growing-disciples-organically-don-detrick/1113026834?ean=9781937756819

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/product?item_no=756819&product_redirect=1&Ntt=756819&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

Happy Valentine’s Day to My Gorgeous Girl

Jodi Dunlap Detrick ca 1972 cropped

Jodi Dunlap Detrick ca 1972 – age 15
Photo by Don Detrick – age 17

When I first met the gorgeous girl
She was only fifteen.
Her waist length enchanting brown hair
Falling straight down her back with no curl.

I thought it was quite sensational
That a pretty, intelligent girl
Who was very conversational
Would want to talk to me.
But she did.

If she had said,
“Marry me and your wildest dreams
Will all come true”
I would have believed her.

She didn’t say it,
But I did, and they did.

Life has brought some wild moments,
But the calm within life’s fort
Is the gorgeous girl I married.
Her lovely hair now colored and short.

And together through the years
With laughter’s joy and sorrow’s tears
Our dreams have evolved
Over time more defined.
They became less wild
And more refined.

She made my dreams come true
This gracious woman who said “I do.”
The proof is in our children
Three lives, distinctly set apart.
But each a true reflection
Of their mother’s loving heart.

(c)2010 Don Detrick –  First written for Jodi on Mother’s Day 2010