Celebrating What God Has Begun

I celebrate the love you have found
Honor the marriage you will build
Support through prayer the hard work God has just begun

I pray that Christ will be the center of your marriage
May you seek His wisdom and strength
As you walk on the path He has set before you

May your marriage mirror God’s perfect design
A wife who honors and respects her husband as unto the Lord
A husband who loves his wife as Christ so loved the church

May you be unwavering in your commitment
Fervent in prayer and guard your hearts
Delight each day in the wonderful gift God has given

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
June 4, 2010

For Alyssa & Daniel

Leftover Love

Theirs was a leftover kind of love
Surely it didn’t start out that way
But before they knew it
All they had left at the end of the day
Was bits and pieces
Scraps from their day

The morning comes early
Goodness knows there is never enough sleep
One rises more easily
The other has a slow wake-up call
An extra cup of coffee
Helps them to keep running on empty

Soon they are off and running
Going their separate ways
There may be a text message
To say I love you
A phone call in the middle of the day
Just to check in

Their jobs are most demanding
Of time, energy and attention
Their very best is given each day
To a company of relative strangers
Of course there is shopping and errands
Necessary to run their household so efficiently

When they arrive home
There is much work that still needs to be done
Lawns to be mowed
Bills that must be paid
Cleaning and laundry
And a meal to prepare

They sit down at the table
Hold hands and say a grace
Both are so tired from their day
Conversation may not ensue
Sometimes they wonder
What’s it all for

Activities abound
Responsibilities call
Bible study, worship and prayer
Serving the body of Christ
It’s all good and yet…
With each demand…there’s a little less to give one another

A sense of accomplishment is never felt
For there are walls left unpainted
Boxes still unpacked
A garden that needs tending
Poems left unwritten
Books yet to be read

At the end of the day
Both fall into bed
With nothing left to give
Exhaustion lures one to sleep
The other reads to quiet the mind
Until a welcome sleep finally comes

In the middle of the night
They awaken ever so briefly
Look over at the one
To whom they pledged their life and love
And wonder…how can our marriage survive
On leftover love

Susan Bunts Wachtel
August 14, 2009

While I know our situation is not unique…we are finding it a challenge with the demands and necessities of life to find the time to spend together as husband and wife.

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Letter to My Niece…Betrothed

When I received the good news today that my niece is engaged to be married…I started thinking about all the things I’ve learned over the past year. The lessons are many from falling in love, to being engaged, planning a wedding, going on a honeymoon, starting a life together, packing, moving and buying a home to name a few.

So that I might pass along some of the things I’ve learned, remember where I came from and how far the Lord has brought me…I thought I’d write to my precious niece as she begins a new adventure in her life.

Our circumstances are much different in many ways. My niece is young and will soon be starting college. I on the other hand was 49 years old when I got engaged after many years of being single. But there are challenges both of us will face and nuggets of gold that we will find along the way. I don’t want to waste what I’ve learned through hard lessons or forget God’s faithfulness.

There is so much to tell…I hardly know where to begin. But I think I’ll start at the most important and critical element to brave any marriage. That is to make sure that as a Christian you are equally yoked with a fellow Christian. It makes all the difference in the world. At this point…I can’t even imagine what it would be like to marry an unbeliever.

I can’t tell you how often I thank God for the prayers He said no to. Those times when my heart went pitter patter and I prayed that this one might be the one I would marry, but God said “No”. Thank You Lord…for Your “No’s!

Marriage…as good as it is…is a whole lot of work. More than you can ever imagine. On occasion…I’ll have people ask me if it’s been hard being married after being single for 49 years. My answer and my husband’s answer is a loud resounding “Yes”!

Marriage is wonderful…and I thank God daily for my husband. But I’ve got to tell you…I’m glad I didn’t know just how much work it was going to be…otherwise I might have gotten cold feet. But I’m glad I was relatively ignorant because if I had waited too long I would have missed seeing God at work in our marriage and in changing and conforming both of us in to the man and woman He desires. Marriage is just one of the tools God may use to change us.

Because marriage is a lot hard work, that never ends, in the middle of deep, heartfelt emotions…you need to make sure that you are marrying a man of godly character. That godliness and character, needs to come from a man who loves the Lord, knows and seeks God. One who knows he gives an account to God for how he acts, what he says and even what he thinks in the inward part of his soul.

You need a man with whom you can pray…both together and individually. Someone who will be faithful to lift you up in prayer. Someone who has a tender heart for God and who yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t care if you are marrying one of the kindest, nicest men that you know. At the end of the day…you are marrying a human being. One, who just like you, is sinful and carries the baggage, pain and hurts that life throws at us. Those scars come out when we are tired, hungry, angry, hurt, lonely, insecure and prideful to name a few.

As husband and wife we see each other at our best and worst…and everything in between. We see each other without our game face on. It’s not long before you start to see the inward person that the world really doesn’t see.

I married a man who is one of the kindest, most humble and gentle men that I know. Yet I didn’t marry Jesus. But thankfully I did married a man who loves Jesus Christ and is growing in his relationship with the Lord. Likewise…my husband didn’t get a guarantee when he ask me to be his bride…that everyday would be a breeze. There are day I’m sure it feels more like he married a category 5 hurricane named Susan.

But the one thing that we do have is Jesus Christ at the center of our marriage. That means that we both have Jesus Christ within us. That God is at work in each of us conforming us into the likeness of His Son. We have the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, guides and directs our steps as we yield to Him.

We both know God’s word and what He says about marriage. We hunger and thirst for the word of God which He uses to cleanse us and grow us as individuals and as a couple.

That only holds true if you are both believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Even then…you are going to have your bad times. The times when you are exhausted beyond measure and so tired that you don’t even want to try anymore. That’s where prayer comes in.

God is so amazing and so faithful to answer our prayers. It’s amazing to see God at work in our relationship…as He works in both of us, helping us to yield to His will and plan.

As Christians…we have the firm foundation of God’s word. It’s unchanging and the Bible is the ultimate source of authority in our lives. We have our church and fellow believers who hold us accountable, who pray for us and encourage us in our marriage. We receive godly council from friends and family and from various ministries who share what God says in His word about marriage, family and relationships.

Marriage…I wouldn’t want to begin it or keep it without Jesus Christ at the center of our marriage. I wouldn’t want to be in a marriage with someone with whom I can’t share the most important thing in my life…my God and my relationship with Him.

Dear one…I pray that you too will have a marriage build on the solid, firm foundation of Jesus Christ. May He keep you and uphold you all your days. May your marriage be a reflection of Jesus Christ and His glory and love for and His bride, the church.

Love…Aunt Susan

July 7, 2009

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A Delicate Subject

Dare I touch on a delicate subject? One of which I am far from being an expert? A topic that will make some people feel uncomfortable and maybe even blush…or laugh?

Well laugh they might…but yes of course I will broach the subject of sex. I bring a different perspective. That of being a single Christian woman who has chosen to do things God’s way…and not follow the ways of the world, nor her own wisdom or be motivated solely based on my feelings

I wish I could say that I always approached it like that…but I didn’t. Thank you Lord for Your forgiveness, restoration and love. Thank You Lord for Your wisdom…contained in the best Owner’s Manual…The Bible!

I have not been left to follow my own wisdom…or navigate the path filled with the pitfalls of this world all alone. Instead, praise God…I can know what God would have me do…and how I can live my life in a way that is pleasing to Him. How I can live my life once I get married in a way that is pleasing to God and my husband. To be the wife and help mate that God has called me to be. To be the wife that my husband deserves.

Sometimes I don’t know how to respond to the “knowing laughs” or suggestive comments that come from those around us that assume that my fiancé and I are engaging in pre-marital sex or living together outside of marriage.

When and where it’s appropriate…I do make it clear that we are conducting this relationship according to how God would have us live. But sometimes…I’m not sure how to answer the person who gives raises their eye brows and teases me when I say how tired I am. Or what do I say to the waitress who comments how “hot” our table is because we are holding hands across the table? I don’t want to draw the fire of “the lady doth protest too much” comments if I try and dispute what they say.

I find it shocking when some of those comments come from fellow Christians. If not an expectation, there is at least a resignation that “everyone’s doing it” inherent in the looks, smiles and comments that have been coming my way. Even at times from those in the Christian community.

I find it very depressing and sad when a Christian fails to see sin as sin. When they take it in stride or worse yet…even laugh about.

But I must tell you…that as my wedding day approaches I am more excited everyday at the prospects of being married to Chris.

Where exactly is the excitement and expectation on “what’s to come” from someone whose living with their fiancé? Where is the delight in discovering one another for those who choose to partake before they are committed to one another before God and man? Especially for the Christian who is “living in sin”…there is an inherent guilt and conflict that’s going on inside.

But in doing things God’s way…there is excitement, joy and peace. I’m comfortable in knowing I’m not sinning before and against God. I’m not compromising and being a hypocrite before man. I’m not being poor witness of the Gospel message that I say I believe.

I see the fruits of standing by the power of God and living in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Best yet…I get to see if I really, truly believe what I have professed to believe for lo these many years. Yet when I feel weak and vulnerable…I can turn to my Savior Jesus Christ who can enable me to follow Him.

When I find myself tempted…I find encouragement to live right before God as I listen to my beloved former Pastor Chuck Obremski…a godly man, husband and father…whose marriage I greatly admired. In his series on Marriage & Family, Chuck shared wisdom and counsel from God’s word. He and his lovely wife Linda left a shining example of a godly marriage.

Even though I prayed to God for many years that I would be married…I never dared to dream that I would find a godly man who love the Lord. Who has committed his life and seeks God’s will and plan in his life and in our marriage.

It is with joy and excitement I look forward to our wedding day and life together as husband and wife.

“So, what are you doing on Saturday?”

“So, what are you doing on Saturday?”, Chris asked.

Trust me…if I had known what was following that question…I’d have wrapped up my answer right quick and said, “Not much, why…what did you want to do?”

But instead I was blissfully ignorant as to what Chris wanted to do. So I droned on and on that I needed to go to Washington Mutual to take proof that my mother had died…and get their help wrapping up her affairs. While it’s been one month since she died…there are still a lot of details to work out.

But Chris waited patiently until I stopped talking. I’m not even sure what happened next…if I asked him what he wanted to do…or if he just said it. I guess I should have suspected something because this was the second day in a row that Chris asked about Saturday.

Chris volunteered, “Well…I had something in mind that I’d like us to do.”

I’m thinking maybe it’s the hot air balloon ride that he talked about recently. Maybe he’s made arrangements for us to go out to celebrate our third month anniversary. Three months…but I keep looking at the calendar and I’m certain…it must be three years…or has it been ten or twenty years? Surely we can’t have only known each other for only three months now could we?

“I’d like for us to go shopping for an engagement ring.” When Chris saw the quizzical look on my face…he realized he needed to explain further. “Susan Harriett Bunts, will you be my bride?”

Holy smokes…this is something I’ve been waiting for, for my entire life. Something I’ve dreamed about…but never really let myself believe would happen…just in case God had a different plan. But those words had actually been spoken…and not on some movie screen…and it wasn’t someone recounting their wonderful engagement story. But instead Chris Wachtel was actually proposing to me! Holy Mackanole!!! Imagine that. Wow God…You truly are the best Matchmaker. Wow!

I’m sure my jaw dropped open and just plain stayed there. That is in between the “Wows” and the “Are you’re serious?” Finally when I realized…that Chris wasn’t just yanking my chain…I figured that I’d better seal the deal with an emphatic, “Yes”! “Yes Chris, I’d love to marry you. I love you so much!”

I’m not sure how many times I said “Wow” or how many times I asked if Chris if he was serious before I realized…this is the real deal. This man…whom I have come to love so deeply in so short a time…has actually asked me to marry him. And I said, “Yes!”

I cautioned Chris that this is going to be for life…till death do us part. He’s got two options to get out of our marriage…death or the rapture. I feel like I’ve won the lottery…got the grand prize. I reminded Chris that my flaws far out weigh any good attributes…but that didn’t seem to act as a deterrent. Instead he felt the same certitude that I do about him. This is the right thing and the right time.

We are so excited to see what God is going to do in and through us. We both want to have God at the center of our relationship and use it to bring Him praise, glory and honor.

Chris and I are very much aware of what a miracle God has already done in bringing us together. Two broken people…so unworthy. Unworthy of God, His salvation and unworthy of each other and the love we have for one another. But we serve a big God. One who is bigger still. Our problems, flaws, hurts, pain and the baggage that we will both bring to our marriage…are out shadowed by our God.

To the many people who I shamelessly and repeatedly asked to pray that God would bring me a husband…I thank you. You are many…because while I was ready to accept God’s will…I didn’t want to get to heaven only to find out that I didn’t have it because I didn’t ask for it.

To Michael Paddison…the man that God used to bring Chris and me together…we are eternally grateful. Thank goodness that you had eyes to see that which we could not see. You were right.

While we don’t have a date set yet…and the details we will need to work out are plentiful…I don’t want to miss the marriage because of the engagement period or wedding. I am so looking forward to our marriage Chris and the road we will take to get there…and the path God will lead us on.

Chris…you are the love of my life. I don’t want to miss one day without you.

Thank You Jesus!

Fiancée, engaged, married, wedding, wife…those are some words I never expected to hear associated with me. Thank you Chris for making my life long dream come true. I’m glad that dream is coming true with you.

The Desires of My Heart

Even as I reflect on the as yet unfulfilled desires of my heart to be married…I am reminded that God has placed that desire deep within my heart. He did not place that desire within me to be cruel and never see it come to fruition…but instead to fulfill it with a godly man who will be a suitable mate to a godly Christian woman.

In the past I allowed my desire for marriage to override anything remotely resembling commonsense much less obedience to God and His expressed will for a Christian woman to marry a godly Christian man.

Even though I regret the years I wasted seeking to fulfill those desires my own way…instead of God’s way…I do have a better idea of what characteristics and personality I would like in a husband.

In a discussion with my friend Ruth about my desire to marry she inquired if I would make sure when that time comes that I would allow her and my other Christian friends to meet and give their approval and blessing. I eagerly agreed that indeed I would be most grateful for that godly council from wise Christian friends. Because my own judgment in the past has a very poor track record I absolutely need and desire that double check…insuring that any man I marry is of God’s choosing.

When I look back…on those men that once caught my eye and made my heart go pitter patter…I know without a doubt that most wouldn’t even pass muster. They would be disqualified from the get go. Rather than a strong godly Christian man who would be the spiritual head of my home…I’ve sought men who at best darken the door of church on Christmas and Easter…and some not at all.

A man who seeks God through daily reading and study of His word, one who prays daily…without ceasing, one who seeks friendship with fellow Christian men so they can spur each other on to the high calling of Christ Jesus, one who is mature in the love of his wife and family…that is what I desire. One who aims for 1 Corinthian 13 kind of love. While not perfect…daily striving to be a man after God’s own heart.

As I’ve grown in my Christian walk…and have seen examples of what a good Christian marriage is…that is what I desire…and that is what God calls me to and desires for me. There is no room in the life a Christian woman for man who does not know Christ. A wise Christian woman does not seek marriage with a man that has a weak and ineffective Christian walk.

Seeing that godly example where the husband is truly the head of home…where he loves his wife as Christ loves the church…is now my standard. Not some settled for standard based out of desperation. Seeing the right example of what God meant for marriage has spoiled me for a lesser, cheaper imitation.

Now it may seem as if I can kiss any chance of getting married goodbye with those high standards…but to those who say that…I say…you don’t know my God. Ultimately…it will happen if it’s His will. If not…at least my desires are conformed to what He desires for me. There’s no better place to be than that now is there?

My God is a God of miracles. He created the world by merely speaking a word. He parted the Red Sea…protecting His people and killing those who sought to destroy them. My God held the sun still in the sky so His people might win the battle. My God pursues a relationship with those who love Him with all their heart, mind soul and strength. My God devised a plan to save all those that would believe in His Son who paid the price for their sin. My God is a God of mercy and grace poured out in abundance. My God takes a band of defeated discouraged disciples into men who would not back down and willingly go to their death in order to preach the Gospel to a lost an dying world. My God enables His people to walk on water…and soar on wings like eagles. Nothing, no nothing is impossible with my God. Amen…so be it…preach it sister!