Susan Jane King

Thriving with Jesus in life's ongoing challenges

Reflections From My 30th Wedding Anniversary

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David and I on our wedding day, December 15, 1984. I never realized on that day how much more I would come to love, respect, and appreciate my husband.

My husband David and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary this month. I am amazed and grateful to have made a home with this wonderful man for 3 decades, while learning so many important truths in the process. I wrote about some of these lessons in my book OPTIMISM FOR AUTISM, in a chapter entitled, “Navigating the Marriage Waters.” I believe these lessons hold true for any kind of relationship, but especially for marriage.

Appreciate Your Differences

David and I are very different. He is extremely athletic, and I am, well . . . not. I was always the last one picked for kickball in grade school. If adults played that game, I still would be chosen last. A born leader, David blazes trails and inspires people wherever he goes. He serves on several boards and committees, which value his foresight and wisdom. I, however, am content sipping on a cup of tea while talking with a friend, reading a good book, or writing.

David sees the big picture and plans for the future. I take care of the day-to-day details. David plays the guitar and sings beautifully. I have been told singing is not my gift . . . by my giggling children when I try to sing the high notes. I, however, love to pour over my Bible and teach a weekly adult Sunday School class about the treasures in God’s Word. David doesn’t like to sit still to do all that studying.

Our personalities differ, too. David is passionate, strong, and direct. He seeks to get results, to get things done. I’m sensitive and extremely tender-hearted. My feelings get wounded easily, and I hurt quickly for others.

We often viewed our differences as flaws instead of unique attributes chosen by God. The Bible says each person on earth is God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10); that means every one of us is uniquely crafted by the Lord. He wisely and lovingly chooses and gives us our personalities, temperaments, abilities, physical traits, strengths, and weaknesses. He weaves all those features together to create one-of-a-kind individuals, who carry and represent His attributes on earth. We are made in His image (Genesis 1:26), and the Lord says His designs are meant to fulfill His special purposes (Ephesians 2:10). Even in marriage.

Over the years, David and I realized how our unique personalities, gifts, and traits added to our marriage and family in unique and vital ways. We brought our abilities together under the Lord’s direction, chose to appreciate them, and allowed the Lord to use them as He intended through our marriage.

Realize Your Combined Strength

Like a beautiful tapestry, the threads of our individual lives can come together in a marriage and create a beautiful work of art that would not have existed without the intertwining strands. In the process, the Lord can display a stronger picture of Himself through the combined lives of husband and wife. Ultimately, the tapestry becomes one stunning picture of Jesus, versus a bunch of individual threads. Growing and becoming one in marriage takes time and commitment, and the Lord helps in the process.

Over the years, David and I have come to respect what each of us brings to our marriage. The Lord has done great things through our being together—much more than could have been accomplished separately. We are stronger collectively than we are individually.

The Bible says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, NASB). In marriage, Jesus is the third strand, the main cord that keeps the marriage together and strong. It’s our job as husband and wife to wrap our individual cords around Him. He actively works to help the marriage not only survive, but also thrive.

Honor the Lord Together

The Lord has taught us that marriage is not about what we can get, but about what we can give—to our spouse, and especially to God, by cooperating with Him in what He is trying to accomplish in and through our union.

Being married is like sailing a ship. Sometimes the waters are smooth and calm, and other times, you are fighting huge waves and gale-force winds. Either way, the goal is to navigate together and allow Jesus to captain the ship. He has a goal, a purpose for every marriage—that the marriage would reflect and honor Him.

The Lord designed marriage to reflect to the world the relationship between Christ and the church, those He loves dearly (Ephesians 5:31-32). Since marriage is supposed to represent how Christ and the church relate to one another, He has a vested interest in making marriage all it can be, a vehicle of love and respect for the world to see.

Whenever David and I have conflicts, the best solution is always to go to the Lord about it. He knows the best course to take. I remember the time He told me to stop expecting David to be Jesus . . . I was putting too many unrealistic expectations on him and needed to show him some grace instead. I also remember when David humbly approached me and said the Lord had instructed him to treat me more gently, and he was going to try to do so. Only the Lord is able to look straight into the heart of issues and give the perfect advice and direction. Jesus doesn’t come to take sides in marriage conflicts. He comes to take over.

As David and I grew in our marriage, the Lord ultimately arranged circumstances so that we got baptized together on our 12th anniversary: December 15, 1996. I felt as if the Lord was telling us then, as He is today, “Okay. Just remember: We are in this together.”

So here we are, 18 years past that baptismal date, and 30 years since we first made our marriage vows. I look back and think how quickly the time has passed. It makes me long all the more to honor Jesus and share His love with the precious people He has placed in my life. By His grace, I can do that . . . and so can you.

Question:  How have you seen the hand of Jesus at work in your marriage or other relationships? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Merry Christmas!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH LOVE FROM THE KINGS!

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

—Isaiah 9:6, NKJV

 

We hope this Christmas season fills you with awe and wonder at God’s indescribable gift of His Son Jesus to all mankind (John 3:16). May the love, grace, and peace of God warm your hearts during the holiday season.

Katie and Curt (Morgan), Sarah, Susan, David, Emily and Patrick King

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Facing Our Giants

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Our “guest blogger” Patrick King

Sometimes, God uses us to teach our children something, and other times, He uses our children to teach us. I experienced the latter this week as my son Patrick wrote an essay for his Old Testament class. The students were supposed to write and speak to the class about something from the course that had impressed them or impacted their lives. The name of the essay was to be called, “This I Believe,” patterned after a popular radio program (Visit http://thisibelieve.org/essays/listen/classic/ ).

As Patrick shared with me his ideas for his essay, I knew the Lord was doing something powerful. I got his permission to share his “This I Believe” essay with you. May you be encouraged, as this mama was!

From our “guest blogger” Patrick King:

We all face giants in life.

In the Bible, a young man named David goes to face a giant named Goliath, who was a champion warrior for the Philistines. Archeological evidence proves that the Philistines had expanded way beyond their traditional borders during this time and were invading Israel, David’s homeland.  It was a big deal that David went to fight this giant. Goliath was intimidating. He was 9 feet, 9 inches tall and had armor that weighed 125 pounds. Even David’s king and Israel’s army were terrified of the giant.

David was just a youth; yet, the Bible tells us, “David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine.” He used a smooth stone and a quick flick of his sling to knock down the giant, after which he cut off his head.

When giants come along in life, we have to decide if we are going to face them or choose to run away from them.

I have had to face my own giant for 21 years. The name of my giant is autism. I was diagnosed with this developmental disorder when I was 5 years old. This giant taunts me like Goliath taunted David. It tells me I can’t do things, that I am not able. It interferes with my sensory processing and my fine motor skills. It confuses the way I interpret social interactions. Through a variety of specialists, this autism giant told my family I was mentally retarded, autistic, and might never speak.

Like David, my parents and I decided to face this giant head on and not retreat in fear. I went to years of therapies to get help, and I refused to give up. I learned to communicate through pictures for a long time, and I eventually learned to talk. I worked hard in school and got academic scholarships to college. I became a swimming champion in high school and got an athletic scholarship to college. I have become both a speaker and a singer. I go around and speak publicly, encouraging others to overcome their challenges. I wrote a book with my mom called “Optimism for Autism,” which is an Amazon bestseller.

David and I both had the same reason for victory. We chose to face our giants knowing God was with us. David said to Goliath “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands . . . that all of the Earth may know that there is a God in Israel.”

I believe the giants we face in life give us the greatest opportunity for personal growth and victory. The giants give us the chance to overcome our fears and experience the power and grace of God. Giants allow us to see what God can do in the midst of our challenges.

Question:  How is the Lord helping you as you face the giants in your life? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website:  susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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Navigating Change

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We can be sailing along smoothly in life, when the sudden winds of change come crashing down upon us. I was made even more aware of that truth in the past few weeks as my son Patrick found out that his much admired college swim coach was leaving that position. He also had learned a few months prior that his mentor and friend, his college voice professor, would be retiring after spring semester. These admirable men have trained, encouraged, and matured my son over the past three years. They will be missed.

People come into and step out of our circle of daily influence. We miss their smiles, laughter, wisdom, and kindness. Especially at the holidays, we can be reminded of how things change. Some of the familiar faces are no longer with us, and it makes us sad.

It’s okay to be sad. Those feelings remind us that we have had relationships that have blessed us. Grief and sadness result from great love and appreciation. We know the value and worth of those lives that have touched ours.

In the midst of it all, we can navigate change in life by remembering:

Change brings new opportunities.

My daughter Emily and I were talking just yesterday about how nervous she was when we dropped her off at college for the first time seven years ago. She didn’t know a soul on campus and already missed her high school friends. Yet, these many years later, she can look back and realize some of her closest friendships were forged during those college days. It’s a comfort to remember that now because she will begin graduate school in the fall and once again leave dear friends and move to a new city.

Emily and I talked about the new opportunities that await her in Raleigh, NC. If she hadn’t embraced the changes that accompanied college, then she never would have met some of her dearest friends—and they never would have met her. The same holds true for graduate school. I know this particular part of her life will usher in new relationships that will bless her. At the same time, I know what a blessing Emily is to all her friends. Some people in Raleigh are going to be extremely grateful that she came into their lives.

The Lord tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). We can embrace change, knowing the Lord is working out His perfect plans for us, and others.

Some things never change.

Even though my son might not see his swim coach or his voice professor as frequently in the future, their influence on his life still remains. More than the skills they taught and the abilities they refined, these men shaped the character and heart of my son. Those imprints will remain long past the days when these individuals turn in their office keys. So it is with others who have touched our lives, and whose lives we have touched.  The Lord gifts us with this precious circle of influence . . . we bless and are blessed by those who enter our circle. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, NIV).

This cycle never ends. I heard an old saying once, “The only thing you can count on in life is that things will change.” That may be true, but an additional truth behind that statement is that the Lord is the One orchestrating those changes for our good, for the benefit of others (there are people out there who need you!), and for His eternal purposes.

And we can count on something else in the midst of all the alterations in life: Jesus never changes.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). The One who gave His life for you will continue to love, accompany, and guide you until you see Him face to face in heaven. Jesus lives forever (Hebrews 7:23), and He navigates us through the winds of change to our forever home with Him.

Question: How has the Lord seen you through some of the changes in your life? Comment at the link below.

Visit Susan’s website: susanjaneking.com

Susan Jane King

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