Category Archives: Marriage

Paradise Found

“Somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must’ve done something good!”

So goes the song in the Sound of Music movie, in which Maria reflects on the undeserved blessing of winning the love of Captain von Trapp. And so goes the song in our hearts as we reflect on the joy of spending a day on this glorious island — how can it be possible that we are allowed to stay here? Surely the Deserving Police ™ will burst into our apartment and haul us back to the airport, stuffing us on the nearest outbound plane, amidst outraged cries in thick islander accents: “You do not deserve to be here! You must go! Close your eyes, it is not proper for you to see our island!”

Don’t get me wrong. We paid good money to be here, thanks in part to the generosity of our parents. But as we soak in the tropical sun, or float in the body-temperature water, we feast our eyes on the cornflower-blue horizon and the many shades of coral-blue in the water as they contrast with the white of the sands. Every few minutes, our minds circle ’round to this question: “How can it be that God has blessed us to be able to see and experience such beauty?”

I didn't know God made this many shades of blue.

Kathy and I have been married twenty years — and they have been some pretty wonderful years. We have some fights and disagreements, but on the whole we have greatly enjoyed growing closer to each other and to our God. As we learned a few years ago, one of the main reasons for marriage is for God to make us holy, as we are continually offered opportunities to serve and love each other, even in adversity.

But we aren’t holy yet, and we feel it keenly, at a place like this. Turks and Caicos should be reserved for those who have arrived at holiness, or at least can see it on a clear day. It just seems wrong for people like us to enjoy a place like this.

The view from our front porch is nearly enough, all by itself.

Yet somehow we are managing, with only the occasional guilty look over our shoulders. We wallowed in bed until 10:45 am this morning, an accomplishment I have almost never achieved since I was in college.

Kathy rolled over and said to me in a muffled voice, “We should really get up.”

“What time is it?” I asked, mustering almost a microgram of interest in the answer.

“It’s about ten a.m.,” she told me. “Shouldn’t we get up?”

“Yeah, any minute,” I assured her, and promptly went back to sleep.

Eventually, we did get up, and I called the Avis office while Kathy went down to the water to make sure it was still there. Our apartment is at ground level, and our front windows look out onto a ‘yard’ of white sand. Beyond that yard is a path through the tall grasses, and some 40 yards from the house is the beach. And what a beach it is! Stretching miles left and right, there’s nothing but turquoise blue water, white sand, and blue sky as far as the eye can see.

The Seabreeze villa (where we are staying) has rooms above and at ground level.

We got our rental car (a stick-shift, but with the wheel on the proper left side) and practiced driving around town on the left side of the road without any major hazards. We found the grocery store and stocked up on food (we plan to cook much of our own food this week) and made it home in one piece. We made lunch and ate on our shaded porch facing the sea.

Spending the afternoon on the beach, Kathy coasted in the water on a float while I read my book in the portable cabana (I’ve been trying to avoid excessive sun, after my skin-cancer diagnosis last winter). We sat and talked in the beach chairs, reading each other snippets from our respective books and reveling in each others’ company.

Because of the strong westward wind, Kathy had to work hard to stay in front of my position on the beach.

By 6:30 pm, we were hungry, so we walked the miles and miles 40 yards back to our villa. Kathy made a salad and a delicious vinaigrette, with some sauteed cauliflower and carrots and chicken breast over her salad. I cooked some smoked pork chop with penne noodles and we both settled in to enjoy our meal in our living room.

It gets pretty hot here, during the day, and our hostess has asked us not to run the air conditioner in the day time, but with the windows open, we get a nice breeze, and it isn’t unbearable. Once the sun went down, we felt free to close up the windows and turn on the A/C — and now we’re quite comfortable, sitting together in the kitchen, side-by-side with our respective laptops.

Our beach is blessedly empty, most of the time -- an unexpected treat from the hand of our God.

We’ll be here 8 nights altogether, and I’m sure the time will slip away more quickly than we can imagine. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy this preview of Paradise.


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Blinded by Love

Kathy’s parents have been visiting us for the past few days, in a whirlwind of shopping and home improvement projects. Staying only five days, they helped Kathy to select, purchase and install new window blinds and curtains in most of the windows on the ground floor of our home, as well as an assortment of other home projects.

It is always fun to have Mamie and Grandad visit us. They usually stay at a local hotel, and we all split our time between our house and the hotel, where the kids love to swim and pillage the continental breakfast. They often invite a couple of kids to spend the night at the hotel, and a festive air surrounds their visit, devoid of work and school responsibilities. If I can, I take off from work at least a day or two while they’re here, and we usually eat out at least one or two nights.

goin' swimming

Some said the pool was too small, those folks can just sit out for a spell.

One of the things I like best about a visit from Kathy’s folks is the effect it has on my heart toward my wife. We’ve been married, now, for nearly 17 years, and life is not always roses and Nutella. I notice in myself a tendency to take my wife for granted, and even sometimes an inclination to view her as an obstacle to my selfish pursuits.

When Kathy’s folks come for a visit, they invariably seek to be a blessing to her in some tangible way. Cindy takes her clothes-shopping, and Bill busies himself repairing and improving our home. They so obviously love and cherish their daughter, striving to please and delight their firstborn and only daughter. I find myself seeing her in a new light, competitively not wanting to be left out.

saying goodbye is hard

It’s never easy saying goodbye. The fog hides our tears.

It is times like this that I remember that Kathy is ‘my’ wife in the sense that she was entrusted to me, not like ‘my car’ or ‘my shoes’ as a possession or piece of property. In good faith, Bill and Cindy gave their blessing to our union, handing her off to me at the altar. I’m sure they had the expectation that I would love, protect and encourage their daughter, that I would promote her spiritual growth, and would lay down my life for her as we raise our family together. I really like being reminded of the promises I made when we were wed, in the presence of God and so many witnesses.

We watched the Fireproof movie last night, recently purchased from Amazon as soon as it became available. At one point in the story, the husband discovers that one of his wife’s co-workers is trying to win her heart. He visits the man in his office, and puts him on notice: “I know what you’re doing,” he challenges, “ … I know you’re trying to win my wife’s heart. I know I’ve made some mistakes, but I still love her, and since I’m married to her, I think that gives me an advantage.”

Kathy’s parents and I are not locked in a competitive struggle for Kathy’s heart, but it is good for me to see the way they love her and to be challenged to ‘take it up a notch’ myself.


I often brag at what a wonderful mother-in-law I have.

Last summer I had the opportunity to take on a side project for an association of physicians based in Switzerland. With Kathy’s gentle prodding encouragement, I finally finished the project and (after a few delays) was generously paid for my work. I told her that, after deducting tithe, expenses and taxes, we would split the money 50/50, to be placed in our ‘Unaccountable’ budget accounts.

At first Kathy was reluctant. “Shouldn’t we spend that money on debt reduction?” she questioned. “Dave Ramsey says that we should put every extra bit of money toward reducing our debt.” We both bowed toward Financial Peace Plaza in Franklin, TN, mecca to Dave Ramsey groupies everywhere.

A wistful longing flickered in her eyes. Sticking to a budget (or even mostly sticking to a budget) these past 10 months has been very hard for both of us.

“You can spend your half on reducing the debt if you like,” I said, ruthlessly. “But I’m spending mine on something fun.”

I buried myself in computer catalogs and began to gleefully spend my half on cool devices that come in foam-padded boxes. Kathy didn’t say a word about how she was going to spend her new riches, and I pondered this in my heart.

david and mamie

When her parents arrived, she leapt into action. “We’re going to Lowes to pick out some window treatments,” she announced on Saturday. Soon she returned with new wooden blinds, curtain rods and a variety of curtains, and the home decorating project began. Cindy contributed some new pillows, and Bill jumped into action installing the blinds and curtain rods, a loving gift of service that consumed much of his remaining visit time. Kathy agonized over each element of the redecorating effort, encouraged and supported by her mom.

At one point, Kathy asked me, “How much do you think I’ve spent on this?” She likes to play these kind of guessing games to gently ease me into shocking expenses. My guess was less than a fourth of what she spent, but I was too cagey to admit it.

When I finally discovered how much it all cost, I opened my mouth.

“What a waste of money,” I thundered. “You could have bought a really nice [insert electronic device here] for that kind of dough,” I wailed.

I closed my mouth on those words before they escaped my lips, grinding them carefully between my teeth and twisting my lips into the semblance of a smile. “How fun,” I squeaked, schooling my face into a positive expression. “Do you like the new blinds and curtains?”

“Aren’t you upset at how much I spent?” Kathy asked me.

“Nope,” I assured her, regaining my composure. “That’s why it is called ‘Kathy’s Unaccountable Money’. You don’t have to give account for it, it is yours to spend, any way you like.”

grandad and sweet rachel

Rachel and Grandad steal a hug.

Warming to my lecture in the presence of my oldest son, I heard myself continue: “People value different things, differently. It is foolish for me to expect that you would want to buy computers or Nutella (although you could’ve bought at least a small jar) – you get your joy from making our home look pretty. I know you’ve waited a long time to do this, and you and the kids are here at home for a good part of every day, if this is how you want to spend your money, then why should I complain?”

I was amazed at the reasonable sound of my own voice. Who was this wise husband, spouting such words with hardly a grimace or twitch?

I checked my heart. Resentment? Nope. As I spoke, the words had become true.

There are things that are the same for everyone; moral standards, for example; if you steal, it is just exactly as bad as when I steal. Our skin color or economic condition have no effect on the morality — sin is sin, no matter who does it. But some things are relative, even between like-minded people, and the way people spend money seems often to fall in this second list. Your ‘wasteful’ expenditures may seem ‘foolish’ or ‘poor stewardship’ to me, yet (assuming the money is not borrowed or stolen) it may really come down to a value judgment. I may deplore your taste, but I am foolish if I try to claim moral high ground over you in a matter of style.

I am especially cognizant of the need not to throw stones as I think about the way I spend my money.

don't go home!!

Another lovely visit (if too short) with Mamie and Grandad.

The curtains and blinds look very sophisticated and pretty, in our living room. I hope that they are pleasing to Kathy’s eye for as long as necessary for her to feel she got ‘good value’ out of them, whatever that means in this context. I figure I’ve already got my money’s worth out of ‘em, if I can only internalize my own teaching. :)


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PowerPoint and Prayer

I spent the evening talking, praying and brushing up on my PowerPoint 2007 skills.

In just about that order.

Tim wears many hats these days – father, programmer, husband, church elder, NOT a day trader, and lately a small group coach. Along with several other men, he helps train, pray and uphold the Bible study leaders at our church. Earlier this week he asked if I would join him this evening to meet with a couple. It was an opportunity to encourage, support and pray for them as they begin a new year of small group Bible study with several other young families.

It also fell on a Thursday night.

Thursday – my weekly homeschool co-op night of panic where I put away our books from the week and gather the lesson plans and assorted materials for my three co-op classes. As an optimist and procrastinator, I usually underestimate how long preparing for these (very different) classes will take me, and delay the work until the last possible moment.

Yep, optimism and procrastination. It’s a beautiful combination, I must tell you.

As I thought about Tim’s request, a picture came to mind of my parents as they spend time counseling and visiting with beloved members of their church. Many times I have called them during the afternoon or evening and caught them on their way to the hospital to meet a new baby or sit with someone who is dying.

Birth and death, it seems at times, greet them equally as part of a pastor’s family.

“With all of you children grown and raising your own families, I can go with your father on his pastoral calls,” my mom has told me over and over. “It is an incredible gift to join him in ministering this way. Even if I am busy, I try to make sure I always say ‘yes’ when he invites me.”

Even if I am busy.

What a godly example! I am constantly humbled by the work of my parents and in-laws as they work for Kingdom of the Lord.

So, I did my best to plan ahead. I worked on my lesson plans Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I printed and copied papers in advance. I enlisted Joshua and Tim’s help in my PowerPoint presentation.

And I joined my husband in a time of fellowship and prayer with another couple. We laughed, talked, and prayed together. I was even treated to a delicious Americano made right in their welcoming kitchen. God is working and, when I am not too busy, He lets me join in His work.

Tim has begun to pray faithfully for these small group leaders. Each evening he gets down on his knees and lifts up these believers; praying for their marriage, their families, and their impact as Bible study leaders in our church. I am convicted by his example, dedication and passion.

Even if I am busy.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:4-6


If you read this, and think of me, I would so appreciate your prayers for our busy Friday. I am fighting a cold of some sort (sore throat) and will be sadly lacking on sleep. I teach three classes during the day, starting at 9 am, and not ending until 2:30 pm.

Thank you!

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Sixteen Candles

No, I’m not referring to a Brat Pack film about unrequited love and a forgotten birthday from the early 80′s. Instead, I’m privileged and delighted to celebrate the 16th anniversary of my wedding to the girl of my dreams.

Kathy and her Dad, minutes before our wedding ceremony
“Daddy, I’m not sure I want to go through with this … “

As we stood in the hallway this afternoon, sneaking a quick smooch, Kathy asked me, “Doesn’t it seem like yesterday, that we were living upstairs from Nancy in our little Stamford apartment?”

It does seem only a few years ago … I remember when it was just the two of us, and we still felt like kids, just pretending to be married people until the real grownups came home and sent us off to our rooms.

Wedding Recessional
Mr. and Mrs. Edgren take their first few steps together …

Time’s relentless current has swept us through the years, and here we are with five children, less energy, a very full and busy life, and just a little more wisdom, than when we started. In all this I have learned one important thing: to give thanks. We have so much to be thankful for, so (as any good parent will agree) I should write a thank-you note.

A Thank-You Note to God

Thank you, dear Jesus, for loving us and for saving us from our sin through your death on the cross. Thank you for adopting us into your family and giving us the Holy Spirit to guide us in joy and righteousness. Thank you for arranging our lives so that we could meet at a time when we were both capable of loving and being loved.

Thank you for protecting us from being too intimate (with others and with each other) before we were married. Thank you for blessing us with good communication skills, and with a good marriage. Thank you for teaching us how to fight gently, and for restraining our speech so we didn’t say things that would hurt each other deeply.

Thank you for giving me the ability to work and earn a good living, and thank you for helping us manage our money. Thank you for blessing us with the courage and desire to raise five children, and for giving us the fertility to conceive them and bring them into the world. Thank you for growing us in maturity and grace, and for helping us to build our faith and our love for you.

Thank you for giving us excellent examples in our parents, of marriages built for the long haul. Thank you for allowing some trouble in our lives, so that we could learn to hope and persevere. Thank you for sixteen great years of life together.

I have some regrets about my life. I wasted some years in high school, fighting spitefully with my parents. I spent nearly a decade getting through college, carelessly losing my scholarship and taking a lot more time to grow up than I should have needed. But I can’t say that I regret any of the years since I found my sweet Kathy — she has filled up my days with fun and joy and purpose and meaning, as we build our family and present it as our offering to our Lord.

Kathy at Crim Dell
They say that if you kiss a girl at the top of this bridge, you’ll be with her forever. Kathy and I took extra care to make sure.

Indeed, candles are a poor metaphor, burning out so quickly and dribbling inedible wax on the cake. Perhaps it would be better to speak of jewels in a crown, one for each year that we have enjoyed, loving and serving each other as unto the Lord. A few months ago we had the chance to honor a couple at our church who had been married some sixty-plus years. As the applause of the congregation washed over the white-haired pair, I quietly resolved, “unless the Lord takes us home, there’s Kathy and I in fifty years.”

These days many think that when marriage gets tough, they are free to walk. Others don’t bother with marriage at all, and some misguided folk even think same-sex relationships should be called ‘marriages’. Kathy and I place a high value on marriage in the sight of God, between a man and a woman, and we continue to honor our vow from that day, sixteen years ago: ‘Til death do us part. My heart still skips a beat when I look at her sometimes … not because she’s still a 21-year-old hottie, but because our love and trust and investment in each other has grown and grown over these years.

Happy Anniversary, Beloved.

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Marriage, Finances and Other Serious Topics

Husbands – love your wives.

Wives – respect your husbands.

How can this teaching be so simple and yet so profound?

Your spouse isn’t wrong, just different. Can you accept that he or she has needs that you don’t share?

These were some of the questions which challenged us this weekend at a Love and Respect video conference hosted by our church. We went as a family. Joshua and Rachel served in the children’s department, the rest of the kids were, um, children IN the children’s department. We brought treats, welcomed people as best we could in our (always late) manner, and helped put away chairs and tables at the end.

it's a little sunny

We did walk away with 3 leftover pizzas so the time obviously wasn’t wasted.

Oh, yes and we also left with a renewed commitment to practice love and respect in our marriage. A reminder that we have have tools available to us in a conflict.

In the afternoon we had a family meeting. Time to talk about finances, budgets, and other exciting topics. Nothing like hitting some of the big issues!

sarah and david

We watched some sermon clips from Pastor Mark at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, listened to several discussions on stewardship with Randy Alcorn, and were challenged by some words from John Piper on the prosperity gospel.

Just your typical afternoon viewing.

We ended the day with the rest of our Pollyanna movie.

How about you? If you have children, do you wrestle over the big issues with them? Do you talk about tithing and stewardship? Do you discuss the problems facing the poverty stricken people in other countries? Do you let them see that marriage takes WORK? Do you let them see you struggle?

purple puppy and pink pal

Tim and I are both spenders, not a saver between us. As our children have gotten older, they participate in our conversations over money, debt and stewardship. They see our weaknesses and faults.

It’s humbling to know they are aware of your flaws.

I hope amidst it all they also see we are striving to grow and follow Jesus.

But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside. Job 22:10-11


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