“I Like a Challenge!”

I don’t recall the disagreement, but I’d had enough. “I’m not staying where I’m not wanted!” I shouted at my new husband.

In a flurry of anger, I set out in the dead of winter, marching down Algoma Blvd toward the college campus. It was Sunday … I was pregnant … and I had no clue where I was going.

Though a student at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh, I suddenly recalled the campus was all but shut down for the weekend. My family had moved out of state two weeks after Jim and I married. But wait … the Neuman Center would be open. Yup. That’s where I’d go. Never back to that man!

But I didn’t know my husband.

A few blocks later, a car pulled over, and the passenger window rolled down. “Hey, lady,” a guy inside said, “ya wanna ride?”

Who did he think he was fooling? I knew that voice. And that car. I stuck my nose in the air and marched on.

The car pulled away. A block later, it was back with a repeat performance. I gave Jim a repeat performance of my own. Though I’ll admit I was disappointed when he and the car disappeared again. And didn’t return.

Well, I’m probably better off without him. Though I wish … oh, what difference did it make what I wished. I’d had two chances and blew them.

Now nearing the campus, I approached a corner with neatly trimmed bushes edging the property. Out popped Jim with welcoming arms and a big grin.

I collapsed into laughter, and he took my hand. “Let’s go home, Beauty.”

If you’re thinking Jim had his hands full with me, you’re right. Down through the years, my faithful husband had other occasions to rescue the day with humor.

Oh, and in case you’re tempted to feel sorry for him, don’t bother. I once told him I felt sorry for him. He was indignant. “I like a challenge!” he insisted.

All right then, sweetheart.

PLEASE SHARE: Do you have a humorous story to tell on yourself?

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Don’t Quit!

Only a month after our wedding, Jim and I faced each other in the living room of our tiny apartment. Sadly, we admitted we’d made the biggest mistake of our lives.

How could it be, when we had started out loving each other so very much?

I swallowed hard and looked to my strong, handsome husband. “What do we do now?”

He thought for a moment, and then quietly delivered his conviction. “We stick it out.”

God must have been proud of us for making our momentous decision. I know, years later, we remained glad we did. Yes, we faced struggles and disagreements through our 47 years of marriage, but we also enjoyed the rewards of choosing to love. Of learning to be patient, kind, and forgiving–no small fete! Of growing deeper in love while wrestling with every challenge that came our way.

Our family also grew–two sons, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild who are very dear to us. We experienced the love and fun and kindness of extended family on both sides. What a rich, full life we would’ve forfeited if we had decided to quit, rather than “stick it out.”

God says, “Love never fails.” ~ I Corinthians 13:8 (The Holy Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, 1984). Meaning, love chooses not to end.

Your Turn: Please share your own particular circumstances where you’ve been glad you chose not to quit.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just want to wish you all a …

How blessed we are today to remember the mothers in our life …

For those who have loved and nurtured us–whether a mother who is still with you or one who has passed as mine did last year, a grandmother who gave that extra measure of loving care, a mother-in-law who has loved and cared for you as a beloved daughter, or another woman in your life who has loved and inspired you.

 

Living in Daily Love

Living in daily love (1 Corinthians 13) is one of my top goals in life. So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite things to do is tune in to Curt Landry’s “Power Points.”

His 30 second online teaching sessions help to keep me centered in my daily walk with our Lord Jesus. His perspective as a Messianic Jew adds such  a wonderful element, and he ends his nuggets of truth from God’s Word with a prayer for his listeners.

You will find him by tuning in at http://www.curtlandry.com/power-points-curt-landry/. Be blessed!

The Incredible Power of Memory

Today I walked in the rain, sheltered by my big black umbrella and enjoying a brief time with the Lord in my corner of his creation. My walk took me a half-mile down our country road to Lake Winnebago.

I smiled as I discovered deep blue violets and graceful wild geraniums growing along the roadside. During the months of May in my childhood, I picked bouquets of these pretty blossoms and other wildflowers to delight my mother. Those were sweet times.

Today birds whistling, trilling, and chirruping with all their hearts presented a great symphony that filled the morning air. Again I smiled, recalling all the springtime mornings I awakened to their joyous songs.

Memory is a powerful tool. That’s probably why God invites us to remember those times when he has answered our prayers and helped us. Why bother to remember? Because such memories cheer and encourage us. They help us hang on when life becomes difficult. They remind us that God is good. He deeply loves us and has filled his Word with wonderful promises of all he delights in doing for us.

Has God answered a prayer dear to your heart? Remember and be encouraged. Has God restored your health or the health of someone you love? Remember and be filled with thanksgiving. Has God given you the wisdom or strength to overcome an obstacle in your life? Remember and sing his praises. Keep a treasury of your memories of God’s goodness. It will encourage you to trust him today and in the days to come.

Focus: “I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts” ~ Psalm 77:11-12, New Living Translation.

How about you? What memories of God’s goodness do you hold dear to your heart?

(This blog post adapted from a May 2001 piece published by Together in Faith in my ten-year column, Love with Shoes On.)

Freedom from Prison

“How can you ask me to do that?” Alison wiped the tears from her face. “You know all the ugly things he’s done.”

Yes, Debra knew what her brother-in-law had done before, during, and since their nasty divorce. She also knew how much it hurt when someone who should love you turned on you in hatred. Hadn’t her own daughter hurt her more than any parent should be asked to endure?

“But that’s not the point–” she began.

“Oh, I get it. You want me to say, ‘I forgive you, Leo. It’s all right. It wasn’t your fault.”

“Not at all.” How could Debra help her dear sister understand? Oh, yes. “Alison, remember the story Jesus told about the king who forgave his manager who embezzled a million dollars from him? Do you remember how that same manager then refused to forgive someone who owed him very little?”

Alison nodded, but from her glowering expression, Debra  had the feeling her sister knew where this was going and didn’t like it. She continued anyway, “Later the king discovered his manger refused to forgive a neighbor’s debt and threw his manager in prison.”

Debra looked into her sister’s red-rimmed eyes. “Alison, unforgiveness is a prison.”

Alison crossed her arms. “So you want me to let him get away with all the terrible things he’s done–all the terrible things he still does every chance he gets.”

“I want you to put all that in God’s hands where it belongs. The important thing is for you–all of us–to trust God to know what is best.” Debra took took her sister’s hands. “Alison, when we choose to forgive, we get our lives back. We are free! No more tormenting prison of self-pity and hatred. You want that, don’t you? Then start right now by forgiving Leo for each thing you remember that still hurts you.”

“Forgiving him won’t stop him.”

“No,” Debra said.”But as long as you keep forgiving, you stay free and give God room to work in your heart and his. Alison, let God handle Leo.”

Debra was right. Forgiving another’s wrongs doesn’t make the person right. It simply says, “I cancel the debt you owe me–love, money, respect, or anything else–and put the matter in God’s hands.” Jesus gave us our one sure way out of the painful prison of unforgiveness.

Focus: “Forgive whatever grievances you may have … forgive as the Lord forgave you” ~ Colossians 3:13, New International Version.

How about you? What do you think of Jesus’ method of freeing yourself from the prison of unforgiveness? How has it worked for you or someone you know?

 

 

God’s Care in Frightening Circumstances

As soon as my husband left for his out-of-town seminar, I hopped in my car to shop for Mom’s birthday gift. Five miles up the road, my little red Saab accelerated on its own. I pressed the brakes. It slowed, but the moment I let up, my car shot ahead with a vengeance!

All thoughts of shopping fled as I headed straight for the garage that serviced our cars. Closed.

“What now, Lord?”

A desire to head home gripped me. I wrestled  with my runaway car for two miles before pulling into a Volvo sales lot. Turning off the ignition, I rested my head against the steering wheel and wept. Safe for the moment, I was still three miles from home and no closer to solving my problem. “What should I do, Lord?”

A tall man in a spotless white jumpsuit appeared at the passenger side door. “Can I help you?”

He listened to my story. “Bring it into the garage. I’ll take a look.”

I glanced at my purse, sure that what little money I had with me was about to disappear.

He looked under the hood and sprayed a “sticky valve.” With a smile, he told me the trouble would disappear by the time I reached home. “No charge,” he insisted.

My nerves had begun to settle as I arrived at the next intersection. Two cars pulled up behind me while I waited for a white semi with “Student Driver” splashed in red along its side. It turned onto our road. Too late I saw the danger!

Amid a series of deafening hisses, its back tires rolled toward my front bumper. Frantic, I fumbled to jam my car in reverse–without success. As the huge tires pressed against my bumper, I screamed for God’s help. “Jesus!” The truck stopped and fell silent.

I reached home in a sorry state of nerves. Collapsing  on the living room floor, I wept. “Lord, why did you let this happen to me? Why didn’t you take care of me?”

I did, child. You’re home and you’re safe. His gentle words soothed my heart.

God doesn’t always spare us life’s frightening circumstances. But whatever we face, if we trust and obey him, we come to know the blessing of his shield of love.

Focus: “You bless the godly man, O Lord; you protect him with your shield of love” ~ Psalm 5:12, New Living Translation.

How about you? Can you recall a time when God saved you in the midst of a frightening circumstance? Please share.