Across the Miles
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A year ago my husband, Bob, accepted a contract position half a continent from our home in Dallas. Mind you, we were grateful. Bob had been unemployed for a year, and our savings were exhausted. We'd been praying for a job, just not one that would keep him away for six months.
During his unemployment we'd connected in a way we hadn't in a long time. Like many couples we had to work to keep our lives in touch—and didn't always succeed. With the leisure of flexible time, Bob and I talked like we were newlyweds. But I feared that with his absence we'd revert to our old communication habits. After all, how well can you sustain closeness over a cell phone across 1,800 miles?
Pretty well, actually. But it took planning. First we committed to talk every morning and evening. Bob set the call times since he was in the earlier time zone. Next we purchased hands-free headsets and upgraded to a phone plan with unlimited "in-network" minutes. That was all fine. But what would we talk about—besides the daily routine—to stay connected?
More than just talk
One habit we'd developed while Bob was home was couple devotions. It took only a few minutes, and then we started our day. Why not continue that?
We bought an extra copy of our devotional Bible, so we could both read from the same page. Then we decided that I'd read the devotional and Bob would read the Bible verses. That kept both of us engaged. We'd briefly discuss the questions and pray together.
As the months rolled by, we enjoyed the devotionals so much, we decided to add another dimension: we'd read books aloud. Reading facilitated sharing. Each book served as a springboard. We picked books we were both interested in. Some were deep, stretching our thinking and spiritual growth. Some were just fun. We read books about our shared pastimes and about topics that we'd like to introduce to each other. Then we'd discuss what we liked or thought about the different characters or topics.
It worked because the important thing was our discussion and interaction. Both of us learned a lot about each other—what made us laugh, what was difficult for us to accept, and what was a new concept.
Some days we read only for a few minutes, sometimes longer. But it gave us something in common.
We discovered reading aloud led to other joint adventures. We started to memorize Scripture and incorporate that into our morning devotions. Reciting verses to and with each other makes it much easier, since we said the verses simultaneously. This gave us a new picture of Scripture. The epistles, particularly, were letters, and meant to be read aloud to the local church. In closing 1 Thessalonians (5:27), Paul urged the elders to read his letter to everyone: "I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers."
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