an Heirloom Marriage
by pamela spurling
I pray as we sit here at the kitchen table, that what I
share with you today will be a blessing to you and a blessing in your home---I pray it will maybe even
change the way you look at your marriage and perhaps it will never be the same again.
So... Your Marriage is an Heirloom. An heirloom that, depending
on its value, will be passed down for generations... I think most times, women don't have any idea the value of what
they have in their hand and that it is quite possibly one day going to
be an heirloom: a treasure passed on to someone else. Think of all
the things you love that once belonged to someone else... things that
at the time, probably had little monetary or sentimental value to
the owner. Think of treasures from your grandmother or mother...
things you highly value that they may have once considered of little
worth. Think of the things you now own and use... things your children
may one day treasure: things that you now give little thought to
using each day...things that you, for the most part, take for granted. Marriage is sort of like this sometimes. Here we have what the
LORD calls a mystery... the mystery of the two becoming one flesh...
the mystery that is likened to Christ and the church. A man leaves
his father and mother to be joined unto his wife, and they two shall
be one flesh. A mystery... a gift: two people: one flesh.
Have you ever considered the treasure you have in your hand? O,
you may not see it as a treasure today... in fact, you may think your marriage merits little attention and is really of little worth.
That may be how it is...or that may be how you see it today. Consider
for a moment how it would be if you were to see it and treat it as an heirloom. What if you were to treat it as a precious crocheted covering or an embroidered cloth... each thread carefully
stitched in place, each knot tied with precision, the cloth itself handled
with diligent care. You know, as people go through their lives, they often don't
consider the things they are collecting to be "heirlooms." In
fact some things we collect, we may not even consider valuable until someone
remarks at the beauty or worth of the item. And then suddenly that old thing become like a priceless gem. Some things are only valuable
because of their condition or age... not because of their original value or usefulness. Some items may not originally appraise at a very high value but given a few years the increase in valuation is
Think of what folks are willing to pay for antique furniture that
is overly worn, chipped, and marred. Notice how much people prize
this type of furniture that they try to emulate depression era or old furniture by roughing up, "antiquing," denting, sanding
around the handles and knobs, gouging the tops and sides---doing things in
*one* day on a counterfeit that took *decades* of wear and use on the heirloom piece.
But what if you treated your marriage as an heirloom... What if you handled it with care... what if you tended to it as a gardener attends to prized roses... what if you tended to it as a mother to her newborn or as a jeweler polishes the gems... what
if you protected it as a crossing guard protects the little children in
the walk... what if you watched over it as one watches over a sick child... or if you invested in it as some invest time in
perfecting a skill... or invest money... or if you protected it as one who
protects from harm...or what if you cherished it as one cherishes the
wedding kiss... prized photographs... fine gold... flawless gems.
Your marriage is an heirloom... and its condition is dependent
largely on how you care for, nurture, guard and protect it. I am mindful today that I am writing to some whose marriages are on shaky
ground, whose foundations are cracked and whose walls have been
compromised... it is with this in mind that I share from my heart that even a marriage of this condition can still become a treasured heirloom. Think back on that prized antique furniture... whose value
increased by the stresses sustained in its lifetime. Even when a piece such
as this is "restored," some of the fractures and scars
remain... much like stresses in marriages that God has healed and restored. It's often the mended stresses that are the strongest and add the
deepest meaning and value to the antique---likewise to a marriage. God is still on the Throne and He specializes in restorative
work---nothing escapes His gaze and nothing is too difficult for Him.
Patching and mending...
We have a quilt... it's not particularly beautiful or attractive.
My husband has had this woolen hand-pieced quilt for many years.
Early in our marriage, I knew he loved this quilt but I didn't yet
understand the depth of his love for both the quilt and the great
grandmother who made it. I didn't know his great grandmother and so with time, in hearing of her love for the LORD and her great faith, I have
learned to value this quilt. Something I would like to note to wives is
that we often don't realize the hurt we cause and the damage we do to
the heart of our husband when we reject their possessions or treat
them carelessly. I am very sorry now for the many times I neglected or discounted the value of some of my husband's treasures. A wise
wife will never make disparaging comments about her husband's
cherished possessions. So, over the years the old quilt has needed
mending... and sadly, I have neglected it until the need was obvious.
Instead of patching and mending it right away, instead of being careful with
and watchful over one of *his* favorite possessions, years would go
by and the seams would ravel and some of the stuffing would come
out... all because I didn't value it and tend to it sooner.
Marriage is like this... unless we are attuned to protecting and tending to our marriages, they will become like this heirloom
quilt... it shows its age, it shows its neglect, it shows it worn spots,
it shows where it lost its stuffing, and it shows where its raveled. Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be
You may not have the tangible heirloom quilt in your hand... but
you have in your hand the quilt of your marriage... and like freshly
sewn blocks in a quilt... things for you may have gone along neatly
fitting together for years: piece by piece, square by square, block by
block. Your stitches may have started out straight and even...
possessing all the qualities of a remarkable heirloom quilt and then with time,
the stitching may have become careless and uneven. You may now have
in your hand that same quilt that you had so carefully begun
stitching... and it now shows evidence of the tears and worn spots, places
that needed mending, places where careless use or misuse caused holes
and even rips, a spot or two where the stuffing was pulled out and
nothing was added back in its place, or other places where the stuffing
was put back in and the whole area was retied. You may look around at other quilts and compare the quality and be dissatisfied with the value or quality of your own. Oh how we need to refrain from
doing this... this can be so damaging. Instead, we need to be about the business of attending to our own... an heirloom quilt is unique because of the special design of the Master and the love invested
in its making.
You may have, in the heirloom quilt of your marriage, places
where the patches are brighter and sturdier than the original fabric, the
thread used in the mending--- stronger and more vivid. These are the
places of greatest value to you in the quilt... stronger than the
original pieces. You may have places where the ties are stronger than the original ties, you may have a new backing...new binding. You may
run your fingers over the quilt and feel the smooth and the rough patches... some of the ties tied into bows and some tight
knots... some of the stitches: straight and smooth, others loose and
Whatever the case, were you to look at the quilt of your marriage
as a priceless heirloom, would you do the patching and mending? Would
you tend to it with attentive care? Part of my thinking is prompted by watching the blooming of Josh
and Kimberly's marriage... and of watching our son Daniel and his
wife Tara's marriage. I think of the many ways in which their
marriages are like a vast canvas---clean and white, and with everyday a
brush stroke adds colour and dimension to their "someday an
heirloom marriage." As I have walked through their homes I smile as I
see them building their lives... adding things, experiences, joys and sorrows that are all becoming part of the quilt of their
marriage. The trials and testings that come their way will either
strengthen or weaken the fabric of their marriage. I'm blessed to watch the development of these priceless heirlooms. I get sort of weepy sometimes when I see them and others... the quilt blocks coming together so neatly and so sweetly... as I know there will surely
be days ahead---those necessary experiences that will test the
strength and construction of their quilt... that will add or detract from
the value of their heirloom. Then, I look at our own marriage... I
see the beautiful hues, the pinks and the blues, the bright spots and
the deep black etchings... the patching, the mended tears and tight knots... all the events of our marriage that make it into an heirloom...an heirloom that I treasure today---an heirloom I
desire to be treasured and remembered by our children long after we are
I think of the times I have neglected the patching... much like
Wes's woolen quilt originally carefully made by his great grandmother.
I think of the times when my carelessness and my haste made for
injury and foolish rips in the fabric of the quilt of our marriage. I
think of the times when I neglected to be sensitive and the seams
raveled and the rebinding and mending was painful. I think of the times
when the pressure was tremendous and both of us had to work diligently
to reinforce the stressed spots. I recall times when I didn't feel
like adding the extra fabric to reinforce the blocks... even though I
knew exactly what was needed and the LORD was supplying all the
"material" and "thread" to mend the tear. Even sadder, I look back
and see that I sometimes have rejected the pieces my husband was offering to
patch up the tear... and I rejected them in pride: thinking I knew a
better way. How foolish it is to not accept the love... to not forgive
and move on.
"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish
plucketh it down with her hands." Proverbs 14.1
And so... a "someday an heirloom marriage" requires
that I be diligent to know the condition of the quilt... and I must be more than
willing to make the first stitch in the needed repair... instead of
waiting for my husband to make the first stitch. I need to be daily
valuing each additional block... and carefully piecing what God is
providing. I need to watch my actions and the things I allow... I need to
guard from the damaging words and negligence that destroys the
foundation of this heirloom. I need to preserve the treasure and not let carelessness destroy or compromise depreciate the value of this precious heirloom.
Someday an heirloom marriage.
When our children look back on the story of our marriage... I
hope they'll see the quilt of our marriage hemmed in prayer, the seams stitched with faith, the old pieces we both brought and offered
to each other that were fitted together and formed each block of the quilt... that they'll see a marriage built on the secure
foundation of faith in the LORD stitched with some sorrow and tied with
gladness... all the bright spots to highlight the joys and the dark spots for depth and clarity to punctuate the grief and to frame the
forgiveness and the faith. I pray they'll see it all and praise the LORD for
His goodness and His merciful kindness... all the while knowing that without Jesus at the center... the quilt blocks would have
separated all frayed and raveled, the pieces would have had no purpose or value... and there'd be no heirloom at all.
So, for today and all the days ahead I pray that you will add to
the value of your "someday an heirloom marriage" trusting
the LORD for all the pieces... stitched with faith in Him... and treasuring your husband as a gift from the LORD.
© ~ pamela spurling ~The Welcome Home ~ 2000 ~