Now that was an expensive phone call

Now that was an expensive phone call! I just got off the phone with my wife who is on mission in Nairobi, Kenya.

The boys are with Grandma in Kansas, I am with 700+ grade schoolers at camp in Texas, and my wife is on the mission field in Africa.

Literally, the Addis’ are all over the world.

I haven’t been able to talk to my wife since she left on Saturday, and the 6 am phone call this morning was awesome.

Actually, the first call that rattled me out of bed was a series of, “Hello, can you hear me?” statements that were completely unreciprocated. So, frantically, I pulled up SKYPE on the computer and dialed the same number that just called me.

I was pretty sure it was my wife since the caller ID showed about 45 numbers… obviously not a telemarketer.

When I got through, the missionary on the other end said Kathy was there and she’d be very excited to talk… so was I.

Here’s what’s amazing… God has my wife on a mission trip and I have no doubt she is growing, learning and being reshaped by His hand, even as I write these words. But, in the same experience, God is teaching me new things about something completely other.

I have a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in communication, but I learned a whole new lesson on how to talk to my spouse after this early morning phone call which put my education to shame.

Timing – I normally do not appreciate phone calls that double as wake up calls. I remember the slow and steady transition of hotels moving from personal wake up calls to computer calls. I was so thankful, because I didn’t have to be “Christian” when I answered the electronic wake ups. I hate being fake nice, and I’m not good at.

When Kat called this morning though, I stumbled out of bed, tripped over a dozen cords and unashamedly hollered into the phone trying to get my voice to make it to Africa even if the cell phone wouldn’t. My camp roommate Daniel shot me an understanding look, but you could could see he was thinking, “Really? 6 am… really?”

Guess I was his wake up call.

The lesson learned, when you get a chance to connect with your spouse, there is no bad time. Make the most of every opportunity.

Content – When you’ve been married 16 years and have spent nearly everyday of that together, there are so many things you want to say if you don’t talked for days. But, I found myself intentionally leaving out the little irritating things: receipts that need to be put in the checkbook, things that need to be returned to the store, small little schedule changes. I just thought, “These things aren’t even on the radar of important junk, just shut it Addis!”

In fact, I tried to avoid my favorite subject of all times: me. I just wanted to know was she safe, hows the team, you feeling ok, what do you need?

We tend to sweat the small stuff and make it big stuff in marriage. Sure, marriages don’t fall apart over issues like missed items on a grocery list, but when that irritant turns into a disappointment over a mess up on the schedule, which turns into a fight over an ill thought out comment, which leads to a long-term grudge based off of misperceptions… then we have a problem. How much better would it be if we just ignored the small stuff and focused on the big things that really matter.

The lesson learned, when you talk to your spouse focus on the big things and let the little stuff be little stuff.  Keep your conversations focused on the important.

Prayer–  In these days I don’t have many opportunities to speak to Kathy, so I am talking less to her and more about her to my heavenly Father.  I feel more connected to her and intimately with her because I am breathing out prayers for her all the time. And, in our early-morning conversation I needed to know specifically what it was that she needed prayer for…

I’ve been  focusing on her safety, and while I will continue to pray that for her no matter what she suggests, her number one concern was for physical endurance. They’ve been up for hours with no sleep in sight and the whole team is going to need supernatural energy. I would not know that if I  had not asked.

Actually praying for your spouse is really important, too. Right at the end of our conversation when I could tell she was getting ready  to run, I just prayed a 15 second prayer over her. She cried. And, every male reading this knows that when you make your wife cry over good things… you are the man.

The lesson learned, prayer prepares you for deeper level conversation with your spouse and often is that deeper level conversation. Pray for and pray with your spouse if you want to really communicate.

Value– I heard my wife  say it and I  said it at least a dozen times in our short conversation, “It’s so good to hear your voice… I miss you… I love you.” All this while I was sitting there watching my computer screen show Skype minutes tick away and the dollar amount rack up. Our short conversation was no little change, but I refused to try and get off the phone until she said she had to leave.

Who knows the next time she’ll find Internet service in that third world country? Who knows the next time she’ll get to borrow a missionary phone? Who knows how precious these moments are for husband and wife separated by two continents and an ocean?

I held back letting her know how much the phone call was costing not because I didn’t want her to know. I didn’t bring it up because it didn’t matter.  Getting those few minutes of actual talk time was well worth the dollars.  I think too many times in marriage our spouses feel undervalued because we offer our quality and quantity time to other things and people. We often just throw our time scraps in the direction of our spouse, when they should be getting the very best from us.

How many times have we learned valuable family information from somebody outside the family, and simply responded, “That’s news to me”? How many times have we sacrificed the relationship with our spouse to kid’s sporting events, presumptuous friends and church activities, and the job that we don’t even like?

We need to value our spouse and the way that we spell value in marriage and family is T…I…M…E.

The lesson learned, that every conversation with your spouse is precious and you need to guard that time to prove just how precious it is.  Use your time as a tool to communicate the value of the spouse you are talking to.

I am sure there are many other things I should have learned from this conversation, but right after I rolled out of bed to talk with her I had to roll into another “fun-filled” day at camp.

It will be busy, desperately important and a huge focus of my time. But, that will not stop  me from breathing out prayers for my boys and my wife. Reminding me to long for them, and preparing me for the next conversation.

Lord, please let me be a better listener than I am a talker. Help me to communicate the value, the love and intimacy with every conversation. And, please help my wife and all the other missionaries to finally get their bags today. It’s been five days since they’ve had a change of clothes and I’m sure that it’s not helping the mission. I pray You bring their bags to them today as a show of Your compassion and mercy. In Jesus name, amen.

When you get a chance to connect with your spouse, there is no bad time. Make the most of every opportunity.

When you talk to your spouse focus on the big things and let the little stuff be little stuff.  Keep your conversations focused on the important.

Prayer prepares you for deeper level conversation with your spouse, and often is that deeper level conversation. Pray for and pray with your spouse if you want to really communicate.

Every conversation with your spouse is precious and you need to guard that time to prove just how precious it is.  Use your time as a tool to communicate the value to your spouse.

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