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Christy Catherine Marshall

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February 21, 2006

This week’s topic for the Carnival of Beauty is “Friendship,” hosted by Michele of Chasing Contentment. I’m having such a great time reflecting on these topics — I think about ideas while I’m going about my daily routines. It’s amazing what inspiration comes to my mind while I’m washing dishes, which is why my handy dandy notebook has wrinkled pages from soapsud-induced mad scribbling. (Does anyone else feel like you’ll die if you don’t write something down?)

So while I was thinking about friendship, sweet Blair at Scribblings by Blair tapped me for a Valentine meme about marriage. The question was, “What’s one thing you’ve learned about marriage that you could pass along to others?” I started writing about my parents — because most of what I know about marriage comes from observing them my whole life — but then I thought — Hey! This topic ties in great with friendship. So I saved my answer for this Carnival.

Being married to your best friend is one of the greatest gifts life has to offer. I thank God every day for this gift in my home now. But I also had this modeled for me growing up. My mom and dad are the best of friends. My mom brags about my dad all the time, and he brags about her. This is what I’ve observed makes a happy marriage.

Next month, my parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. They’ve spent four decades of life together. I love hearing them tell stories of how they met, dated, and spent their early years of marriage. My dad was in the Air Force, and I was born on an Air Force base in Kansas City, Missouri. We moved around a few times, so I was a toddler in Texas a while before we moved to Georgia. (Just wanted y’all Texas friends to know that.)

Over the years, my parents’ friendship has deepened and weathered the storms that life sends through. They took the calling seriously to raise three children and make sure we were in church every Sunday. No matter how busy we were, Mom always had us sit down together for supper, and I enjoyed watching my parents interact with each other — like friends — and talk and laugh about their day. The TV was never on while we ate — and everybody pitched into the conversation. (Even when I was a snooty-hooty teenager and dinner interrupted my busy agenda of phone calls and fashion planning.)

So, to answer Blair’s meme, marriage is all about friendship — first of all in having a friendship with God though Jesus Christ so you have the perfect role model for relationships — and second of all, it’s a lifelong friendship that grows and changes and is an adventure.

I’m still learning about this, which is why I love reading women’s blogs who describe their happy marriages. To double the blessings of my life, God gave me a husband whose parents also celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary last year. So, they should be the ones writing about marriage! I’m still the quiet observer, writing things down with my soapy dishpan hands.

How do you stay friends with someone for an entire lifetime? Here’s what I see. Marriage is a living thing, like a plant, that grows and needs constant attention. We were reading a book with our kids the other day about seeds, and it showed one of those giant Redwood trees in California. The last line of the book said something like, “Can you believe this tall tree used to be a seed?”

On our wedding day, we’re like a seed, planted into the ground. Then through years of growth toward the “Son,” we become like a tree. (Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a LIGHT for my path.”). Our roots should be deep enough so we’ll weather various storms that pass through.

How do we cultivate that seed? From watching my parents, I’d say:

#1 Surround each other with love and grace, the same way God gives it to you.
#2 Work on your sense of humor — laugh about the crazy things life deals at you! Have a lot of inside jokes that only your family knows about.
#3 Keep finding creative ways to celebrate the happy events — and tell stories about them over and over.

I could write a ton more — but I know you’ve got more blogs to click into — so I’ll just say this: if you’re a parent, the best gift you can ever give your children is to cultivate the seed of marriage and show them what a lifelong friendship looks like. It’s more important than anything else. I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me four decades of love, laughter, and celebration worth writing about!

P.S. If you don’t have a friendship like this as a role model, you can learn so much from great books! The Bible is #1. But I highly recommend The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. And if you feel like a pioneer in this parenting gig, I just finished reading Mary DeMuth’s inspiring book, Building the Christian Family You Never Had — it’s a wonderful resource!

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