Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten Years!

Tomorrow marks a very special day in the Bliss family.  Ten years ago tomorrow, Sasha and I stood in front of about 200 of our closest friends and family and vowed to have and to hold each other in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, for better or for worse, until death do us part.

After ten years, I can say that we have had times when we have been richer and times when we have been poorer.  We have had time of great health, and times of unbearable sickness.  We have had very good times, and we have had very bad times.  Through it all, she has been there with me, and I have been there with her.  We have remained faithful to each other and we continue to love each other deeply.  

Shortly after we got married, some co-workers told me that my feelings for Sasha would change over time.  That I would abandon my ideal view of marriage once I had some “experience.”  That I would learn, as they had, that giving up on marriage is good; healthy even.  They told me that I would soon learn how it is more important to pursue my own dreams than to give up on my desires for the betterment of my wife.

Indeed this is sadly the case for many couples, and it happens when marriage is all about what it does for me. If the purpose of marriage was to make me happy then I would have given up on it years ago.  Not that I am not happy in my marriage, but like all marriages there are good times and bad times.  Yet, a marriage is not about what I can get, but about what I give to the woman I love.  What I am willing to freely give up for Sasha is a sign of my love for her.  In the Bible, the church is described as the bride of Christ.  Jesus (the "groom") freely gave up his life for us (His "bride").  In doing so, He showed just how much he loves us.  I have not given up my life for anyone yet, and I probably never will.  A very small percentage of people ever die so that someone else can live despite what we read in books and see on movies.  Yet in Sasha, I have found someone worth dying for, and that makes life worth living.

Showing love is not just buying flowers.  It is not just doing the dishes so that your wife can relax after the kids go to bed.  It is not just a romantic night out.  Love is a decision that Sasha and I make every day.  It is a choice to give of ourselves so that we can both be better for it.  It is not a decision we always make perfectly.  Hardly a day goes by when Sasha and I do not step on each other’s emotional toes.  Sometimes we make big mistakes, and really hurt each other.  Yet, daily we make the decision to live for the betterment of our mate.  To give of ourselves so that together we can become something greater.

When you live for yourself you become a black hole of emotion.  Everything is about what makes you happy and what gives you pleasure.  As a result you give very little happiness and pleasure to anyone else.  Little joy comes from you because your life is about pulling happiness in.  If you live such a life, you will find little joy in it, and if you live such a marriage you will find at best misery, and at worst divorce.

When you live to give for others benefit you shine joy like a lighthouse on a dark night.  When you are married to someone who lives for you and if you in turn live for them, your light becomes like a bright star that illumines and warms all who come near you.

That is why our marriage has stood the test of time while so many of our friends have given up.  We believe in something greater than ourselves, and we live for others.  In the end, we have found great enjoyment from our marriage, and learned what it means to love in ways we never knew before.

It is true.  My feelings toward Sasha are not what they were 10 years ago.  Experience has indeed changed how I feel.  My love for her has grown.  It is stronger now than it has ever been.  I cannot imagine what my life would be without her in it.  I could not live without loving her.

I love you Sasha!  It has been a great adventure these past ten years.  Ten down, a lifetime to go!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Test Results

The test went great!  I got a 6, which is the highest grade possible in the Bulgarian system.  This made me quite happy.  I am now a certified A1 Bulgarian speaker.

The school is currently setting up the next course which will hopefully begin a couple weeks from now and get me up to level A2 in a few months.

Thanks for your prayers!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Test Time

Wednesday I finish up my level-one Bulgarian course with a test.  My teacher has no doubt that I will pass as she says that we are already working on material well into the second level, but I would appreciate your prayers anyway.
We spent most of our lesson time today in conversation.  It was good practice, and my teacher was quite encouraging by commenting on how well I spoke.  Yet she never let up on me, and constantly corrected every mistake I made.  At one point I added a Bulgarian ending to a Polish word.  My teacher told me with a smile to "Stop making up words."
Knowing Polish has been a big help in learning Bulgarian, but from time to time it has caused some linguistic interference.  Still, I am much better off coming at Bulgarian already having two languages under my belt.
Thanks for your prayers.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, May 6, 2011


The former name of the city of Sofia was "Serdika."  Translated into English it would be, "Middle."  This was a very good name for the city.  It is in the middle of a large valley, so when you stand on the mountains and look at it, it is literally in the middle.  It was also in the middle of the route from the east to the west.  Rome lies to the west and Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) is in the east.  To travel from one to the other by land would take you through the "Middle."
Sofia remains in the middle even today.  Bulgaria borders a Middle-Eastern country (Turkey) and it is part of the European Union.  It is between two worlds.  It is in the middle.  It is a poorer European country, yet it is still connected to Europe economically through its E.U. membership.  It is in the middle.
The middle continues to be a good description for this city, and even for this country.