Shannon here: Jenny McLeod Carlisle shares insight into her real-life romance for better or worse. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy of her latest nonfiction title, To Everything a Season. Deadline: April 3rd, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jenny:
The Tough Part of those Vows
“For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. To love and to cherish, ‘til death do us part.” We are all familiar with these words. For those of us who have been married, they were part of the promises we made before God and lots of invited witnesses.
My wedding took place in the seventies, and our vows were a little different. But the sentiment was the same. We were signing up for the good times and the bad. On that magical day, our thoughts were all focused on the good times. We couldn’t wait for those. We really had no idea about the “poorer”, the “worse” or the “sickness” parts of those vows.
Married before twenty, with no college education, our first jobs didn’t pay very much. Our parents had set an example of working hard, so that part of our life was expected. We didn’t see ourselves as poor, though we were by no means rich. We raised our kids on the pathway from one paycheck to the next, with lots of stops at the grocery store. Looking back, there was quite a contrast with the way we lived years later, when we had finally saved enough money to buy a house, and our jobs enabled us to have enough extra money for some memorable vacations. Yes, “richer” was definitely more fun. Now that we are both retired, we are confident we know how to navigate “poorer” again.
The real test in these vows has been the “in sickness” part. My sweet hubby got the first challenges, when he held my hand through a miscarriage, and then three healthy pregnancies. He was tender, supportive and encouraging. Before ten anniversaries had passed, I had confirmation that the life partner God had chosen for me was the perfect choice.
My husband’s very physical job took a toll on his body, and he needed a very serious spinal surgery around the time our oldest son left for college. The medication he had to take to alleviate pain led to stomach issues. Years later, more spinal surgery confronted him again. Then, after several good years, we both had new issues to deal with. A breast biopsy and hysterectomy for me (thankfully no cancer) and heart, diabetes and vision problems for my husband.
What kept us intact? Only faith, and plenty of prayer. We prayed before leaving the house for doctor visits, or sometimes in the parking lot before going in. We prayed together at night when sleep evaded us. At times, I vividly felt the Holy Spirit helping when I couldn’t put words together in my mind. As Paul said in his letter to the Romans- “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26 KJV.
Strangely, the times when we are on the mend can be challenging, too. It reminds me of the time when our children were reaching their teens and becoming independent. After assisting my husband so much, it is difficult for me to turn him loose to perform tasks like driving or using his woodworking tools on his own. I get nervous and flinch, and he bristles. Closing my eyes for a little prayer saves the day again!
The “for better or worse” times alternate quite often. During the height of the pandemic, when I was working from home, I began to realize that so much togetherness can become annoying when it is 24/7 and 365. We both learned to respect each other’s need for alone times. He hasn’t missed many days with his daily two-mile walk, and I spend 45 minutes pedaling furiously on my stationary bicycle. Alone and healthier. Win-win! I have even learned to balance my Kindle while I ride, so I’ve read some great books during the “quarantine”. Hubby still loves cooking, too, so while we have missed our favorite restaurants, we have enjoyed some terrific recipes. The year of 2020 qualified as better and worse all rolled into one.
No-one told us these vows would be easy. After forty-five years, we wouldn’t change a thing.
About Jenny: Jenny McLeod Carlisle has been writing stories since she learned to hold a pencil. She recently retired from her career in Human Resources for the State of Arkansas. Now, she is ready to dedicate herself to writing fiction, and recently signed as an author with Scrivenings Press. While waiting on her first release date in March of 2022, she exercises her storytelling skills by writing a monthly column for Ouachita Life magazine, a free publication that reaches thousands in the southwest quadrant of Arkansas. Her website, jennycarlisle.com allows more opportunities to reach out to her community of readers. She is a past president of American Christian Fiction Writers – Arkansas Chapter, and also past president of Saline County Preservation, Inc. a group she helped form in an attempt to save a very old house.
Before the pandemic, she enjoyed hosting meetings for Heartfelt Friends, a ministry based on the Second Chapter of Titus that allows older Christian women to become mentors to young wives and mothers. She and her favorite travel buddy, her husband James, love to take day trips around the Natural State, and longer journeys when possible. With three married children and eight grandchildren in three states, there are plenty of opportunities for fun! Learn more & connect: Jenny’s Website
About the book – To Everything a Season: Jenny’s latest non-fiction book is titled “To Everything a Season”. It continues the theme presented in Ecclesiastes Chapter Three reassuring us that God has planned a time for everything under the sun. It reproduces the monthly columns and periodic blogs she wrote during 2020. Everyone’s experience is unique, but Jenny’s thoughts take us through all of the emotions: fear, frustration, desperation, and ultimately faith and hope. Looking back, we can all be proud of the strength we demonstrated, and this book will be a permanent reminder. Without rehashing statistics, it is meant to commemorate and encourage. It reminds us that we are all survivors, by the grace of God.
Along with her first book, “Turn, Turn, Turn” it is available in paperback or Kindle version on Amazon.
Question for Readers: What person or couple has inspired you with the way they handle the tough parts of life?
Come back March 30th for KD Holmberg!