Today my husband is 48 years old. I sit here pondering the fact that I met him 35 years ago. He was thirteen and I was twelve. I started thinking of all the things I may wish to write about today to honor him and help to make his birthday special, but nothing seemed just right.
So I prayed.
“God, I want to honor my husband today and write something special for him and share it with my friends. Would you lead me as to what you would have me share today?”
And God answered…..
I think that I was made for Mark and Mark was made for me. Not too long after we were married I did the math in my head: “Wow…Mark was born in the beginning of ’66 and I was born about 9 months later the same year. That’s kind of cool.” So in a way, Mark’s birthday is my own birthday as well.
Around the age of 12-13, we met at school. During Junior High and the beginning of High School, I had Snoopy spiral notebooks in which I wrote my name as Mrs. Anne Birkelo, or “I love Mark.” I will never forget that.
But what I think about the most when I think about Mark and his birthday today is how thankful I am that I am married to a man who truly understands that every single day, we are living out a born-again life in Christ Jesus!
Every single day that we walk this earth is a gift from God. Every day, we are faced with challenges, obstacles, battles of the flesh, heart and mind. And each day, we have to make choices about those things. Every day we must choose, “am I going to follow Jesus and cry out to Him or go my own way?”
Mark chooses to follow Jesus. And not just on his “birthday.”
Today I’d like to share some attributes (and there are many more, I can assure you) that I truly appreciate about my husband. Because of all of these wonderful things that are Mark, I have a leader in my life that I can follow after and who helps me to draw all-the-closer to my One true King, Jesus Christ. I also get to celebrate who Jesus is in and through this wonderful man.
To say I’m blessed by my husband is an understatement. I can’t believe that I get to open the gift of him every day – even on his own birthday!
Boo: Thanks for making every single birthday of yours a reminder of the many blessings the Lord has bestowed upon me and our children because of having you in our life. Thank you for having birthdays and displaying fully and clearly what it is to walk in Christ on a daily basis; drawing closer to Jesus every single day.
DEVOTED: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
Mark it utterly devoted to His relationship with His Savior and all of his priorities from there fall right into place. He holds true, faithful and strong to keeping God first in his life, and then his commitment to me and our three children is right next in line. Mark will give his all to every single thing he is committed to in life. I know I am blessed because of his devotion to his Savior, our marriage and family. The fact that I can stand and say that I know this man would never leave me for another love is beyond a blessing.
HARD-WORKING/PERSEVERING: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12
This man amazes me in this regard. I really do stand in awe at how hard he works. He puts his everything into his work, sticks with it when the going gets beyond rough, and has stamina I don’t think I have ever seen in anyone else my whole life! He used to work too much, but he was able to see that and change his work hours and lifestyle so that he could still work to capacity, but keep his priorities straight. Anyone that has Mark on their team, whether in the workplace, serving at church, or just helping someone move or get things done, has the bulk of the workforce that they need on their side. If there is one trait I wish I had of Mark’s it would probably be the perseverance piece of things. It’s the way that he perseveres through things that I admire. This is the dude who back in the day of the disciples, would have left everything and done anything Jesus asks regardless of physical boundaries. He lives that today. He’s been gifted with an amazing ability to plow through and remain effective, efficient, and committed, with minimal or no complaint along the way. Whoa! To be made of that stuff! I can’t fathom it. He has to work at this, sure. But there’s something in his makeup – something God gifted him with in this that I cannot explain. It’s unreal to me. And oh, how I appreciate this about Mark.
PATIENCE: Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:31
There may be occasional times that Mark loses his patience, but let me assure you, it’s not after having displayed more of it than I’ll possess in my lifetime! This man puts up with a wife who needs to vent… A LOT. He and I balance each other out so well, but to do that, he has to have this never-ending reserve of patience. See, he’s not built that way (like me) at all. He doesn’t need to vent out his thoughts, feelings or angst in order to not “get toxic”. I don’t know how the dude does it, but he just gets that stuff out in some other way or sucks it up without becoming a beast. In turn, while dealing with his own stuff, he patiently listens to me during the times I need to discuss the same issue for the 100th time. I can’t even do this one justice….just take my word for it. The dude is beyond patient!
GENTLE AND MELLOW: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
As hard working and persevering as Mark is, he has an uncanny knack for being very go-with-the-flow about certain things. His overall day-to-day demeanor is very laid back and mellow. I don’t know how a person lives both traits simultaneously – being so hard working and tenacious, yet being laid-back at the same time. The only thing I can say is it truly must be of God. By gentle, I mean he has a pretty gentle spirit. He is certainly not meek and mild (wimpy) by the world’s standards and definitions. But he is quietly under control. “Meek” by the Lord’s definition; that’s Mark. That strength under control? It. Is. Powerful. It makes me feel safe. Yet I know that he will be chill most of the time, rather than exert that power and strength in ways that are demoralizing to us. He lives a lot of the time in the day in and day out moment by moment. I love this about him so very much.
CONFIDENCE/SELF CONTROL: In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Proverbs 14:26
Spinning off of that, is his inner confidence in who he is in Christ Jesus and out of that comes self-control. I can’t say the man never gets angry or loses his temper – he’s not perfect. But I can say that he is certain of who he is in Christ Jesus and he has such confidence about it that it alone is a testimony to others he encounters. Overall, he has far more self-control than most people I have ever met. I think that has to do with the fact that he is patient and the perseverance piece of things. But the bottom line, is that again, these are things I believe God gifted him with – no man gets the real stuff, the God-given stuff that has to do with these traits on his own. Mark is obedient to the Lord, and the fruit of that shows. Clearly.
SERVANT: If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. John 12:26
Mark has a servant’s heart and lives a servant life. I believe he has been given the spiritual gift of giving. The dude will sign up for worthy things, even when he doesn’t want to. I don’t hardly ever see him rest or do things for himself. I do think he needs to recharge more often, but it’s possible it’s not that season in his life (to need that or be less effective without it) just yet. Mark doesn’t sign up for every little thing just to do the whole “I am involved in this and that” stuff. He truly serves. He finds the things that others don’t want to do and he signs up to do that stuff. On top of that, the dude remains faithful to that task. When he feels like he is tired, he still goes. When he wishes he could just stay home, he goes. When no one else wants to show up, he’s there. And here’s the kicker: He does it with joy and without complaint. Unbelievable!
RESPECTFUL: Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17
I can’t quite put into words how rare this trait is these days, especially from a husband to his wife. But Mark is beyond respectful. He truly understands and appreciates what he has in his relationships and life and gives that the respect that it deserves. He respects and loves me for the person that I am in Jesus and the things that make us different. He treats me with kindness and care even when I am not easy to get along with sometimes. He would never say a bad thing about me, his wife, to anyone! And he would not disrespect me or our relationship by acting in impure ways at all. The man is faithful, and to me, that is the ultimate show of respect aside from honoring the person you are with for who Jesus made them to be.
STRONG: The God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. Psalm 18:32-34
This may seem silly, but Mark is probably the strongest man physically that I have ever met. He doesn’t look like a body builder, isn’t 6 feet tall, and doesn’t seem like one of those football players out there at the superbowl, but after having lived with him all these years, I can tell you that man is built for hard work. I have no fear that if anyone ever approached me or our children with the intent to harm us, that Mark could take them down if necessary. Again, I think it’s that power and strength-under-control thing that gives rise to this physical-strength-thing. Truly, I know I am guessing here, but I think Mark is built a lot like Jesus in the flesh might have been. He’s got that calm and gentle spirit, but he is filled with a power that is harnessed perfectly and kept under strict control.
HUMOR: A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. Proverbs 17:22
This one is my favorite. To me, part of having good humor is being able to understand other people’s sense of humor. It’s being strong enough to laugh along with others and be slow to be offended. It’s about being able to let go and have some fun in life. Mark lets me play with him and be silly and understands my strange sense of humor. He plays along. He is funny all by himself and doesn’t even know it. I swear, if God hadn’t given me a husband who had this trait, I’d possibly be dead. Sometimes Mark does or says things that he doesn’t even think are funny, but when I crack up about them, he goes along with me for the ride. As serious and hard working as Mark can be, he fully understands there needs to be fun in life. I think God gave Mark this trait so that we would stay married, and do so happily! Ha Ha!
PRAYER: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
Mark has a TRUE gift regarding prayer! I have watched it emerge and it just continues to blossom. I don’t understand it fully, because it’s not my gift. I pray, but the way Mark prays brings a peace over the room that I can’t explain. Truly, the Holy Spirit just flows out of him when he is praying. I don’t think many folks fully understand what a gift this is. The Lord tells us of the power of prayer and what happens when two or three are gathered together in worship and praying in His name. I never experienced it or understood that until Mark began to be asked to lead prayer in groups a lot. It amazes me. I have been praying about how to write about what I see when this happens, but words so far just fail me. I am so beyond thankful that the Lord has blessed my husband with this gift.
Will you help me to celebrate my husband and his special day today? Would you, dear reader, say a prayer thanking God today for Mark and the way that he lives Jesus out in this world for others to see? Will you pray that he continue to grow and flourish and have great effect on bringing others closer to Christ? This man prays for so many others and does so in such a selfless manner. It is my greatest hope that the best gift of all I could give to Mark this year is to get others to pray for Christ to continue to shine brightly through him.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful and Christ-like Husband, Mark! I love you the MOST!