life

Wat’d She Say?

I recently suggested that the hub get a hearing aid.

He accused me of mumbling.

“No one else thinks I need a hearing aid,” he said.

“No one else says I mumble,” I countered.

Then I told him a story.

A man, at the doc’s office for a routine checkup, mentioned his concern about his wife’s hearing.

“You can test it yourself,” the doc said.

“When you get home tonight, as soon as you walk through the front door, say ‘Honey, I’m home, what’s for dinner?’ If you get no response move into the next room and try again. If you still don’t get a response keep moving closer until you do.”

So when the man arrived home that evening he came through the front door and said, “Honey, I’m home, what’s for dinner?”

There was no reply.

So he moved into the dining room and said, “Honey, I’m home, what’s for dinner?”

Silence.

He moved into the kitchen, right up behind his wife, who was doing dishes at the sink, and said, “Honey, I’m home, what’s for dinner?”

His wife spun around and said, “For the THIRD TIME, chicken!”

The hub chuckled in a convicted sort of way.

I don’t mumble.

#volume

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life

Kool-aid, a Fiver, 3 Quarters and an Immoral Marriage License.

“Some people are so extra,” my daughter said as I was eating a quick cheese and mustard sandwich on this cold, rainy afternoon.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m reading an article by a pastor who doesn’t think Christians should get marriage licenses.”

“Ho boy.” “What does ‘extra’ mean.”

“It means ‘too much’.”

She sent me the link.

The pastor, I’m sorry to say, is more than too much, he’s mixing himself up some kool-aid.

Case in point, item 5 in his Five Reasons Why Christians Should Not Obtain a State Marriage License:

5. When you marry with a marriage license, you are like a polygamist. From the State’s point of view, when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, but you are also marrying the State.

The most blatant declaration of this fact that I have ever found is a brochure entitled “With This Ring I Thee Wed.” It is found in county courthouses across Ohio where people go to obtain their marriage licenses. It is published by the Ohio State Bar Association. The opening paragraph under the subtitle “Marriage Vows” states, “Actually, when you repeat your marriage vows you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that contract. 1.You; 2. Your husband or wife, as the case may be; and 3. the State of Ohio.”

See, the State and the lawyers know that when you marry with a marriage license, you are not just marrying your spouse, you are marrying the State! You are like a polygamist! You are not just making a vow to your spouse, but you are making a vow to the State and your spouse. You are also giving undue jurisdiction to the State.

Under item 3. he wrote:

As a minister, I cannot in good conscience perform a marriage which would place people under this immoral body of laws. I also cannot marry someone with a marriage license because to do so I have to act as an agent of the State! I would have to sign the marriage license, and I would have to mail it into the State. Given the State’s demand to usurp the place of God and family regarding marriage, and given it’s unbiblical, immoral laws to govern marriage, it would be an act of treason for me to do so.

Coincidentally, just yesterday I was reading How to spot a sociopath – 10 red flags that could save you from being swept under the influence of a charismatic nut job

#lifestylesofthedangerouslydelusional

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love

All In

My daughter went to the library this afternoon to study and ended up writing instead. Thank God because I haven’t written anything for NaBloPoMo today.

So, with no ado at all, it is my pleasure to bring you a guest post, written by my daughter, a chip off her momma’s block:

It was years ago on a retreat that I was first challenged to look at the book of Genesis 3 and what it means for women in an entirely new light. In verse 16, in the aftermath of the encounter with the Serpent, God says to Eve, “Yet your desire will be for your husband, and He will rule over you.” This is part of the curse of mankind, one of the consequences of that original sin. It is often referenced as a Biblical defense for man’s authority over a woman, but maybe, just maybe, the words aren’t so much a command as they are a prophesy, a foretelling of the way things will play out for humanity. God isn’t commanding husbands to rule over their wives or men to rule over women, He’s acknowledging that the downfall of woman is her desire for man, that throughout time and generations her desperation will lead her away from God down paths of destruction. I see it all the time. I hear it in the stories of the women who come in for counseling at the practice where I intern- it’s one of the strongest and most consistent themes there is. We as women are so prone to live out the sometimes implicit sometimes explicit ideal that it is better to have any man than to not have a man at all. We make a lot of bad choices because of it. We put up with a lot of crap because of it. We open ourselves and those around us up to a world of hurt because of it. We end up in horrible situations we refuse to leave because of it. Man rules over us because we let him.

The new perspective on Genesis takes it one step further to the possibility that God didn’t actually banish Eve from the garden. Chapter 3 verse 23 says, “therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken.” Verse 24 continues, “So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned over direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” Never is the woman mentioned. Never is the pronoun “them” used. No, I don’t know for sure that Eve wasn’t banished. Yes, it is possible that God intended for this curse to be all-encompassing and that His inclusion of woman either goes without saying or got lost in translation. But it seems to me that Eve may have had another option. If Eve was not specifically banished from the garden, she could have stayed with God. And if she could have stayed with God, her separation from Him was a choice. What if the only reason Eve left the garden is because she followed Adam out? I realize that Eve’s sin would have necessitated some sort of separation from God, so I’m not fully convinced that this is the way it all went down, but I think it’s a question worth considering because whether Eve left the garden by choice or not, I believe that we as women do have a choice. We have the option to stay with God, to choose him over men. But it won’t be easy.

There’s nothing wrong with men themselves. They are not the problem, here. Men are wonderful and uniquely created; loved by God and meant to reflect His image just as women are loved by God and meant to reflect His image. In fact, we need both man and woman for the full reflection. Man and woman together make up the complete image. God created man and woman for relationship with each other. He loves marriage and He loves family, so not only is there nothing wrong with men themselves, there’s nothing wrong with the desire for romantic relationships with them. A relationship between a man and a woman who are both following after Christ is a beautiful, sacred thing. But there is something undeniably wrong with consciously or subconsciously putting the desire for a man above all else, forsaking all standards for the sake of having someone to love.

This is my task for the present: not doing that exact thing. I hear God asking me over and over again to stay with Him and I want to more than anything, but it’s hard. It’s hard even for me, who constantly witnesses the disappointment that results from “any man is better than no man” mentality. It’s hard for me, who’s more passionate about standards and choosing good men and never settling than I am about a lot of things. I had an incredible man who was following after Jesus, and now I don’t. I thought the memory of my relationship with him would make it easier to not settle. I know what a good thing looks like now. And yet. Yet, I still struggle with the temptation to settle for the sake of companionship. Most men who show interest don’t phase me. But then there are the men who have something attractive about them, something that resonates with me, though they may not follow Jesus or love Him the way I do. These are the “good” men, though they’re not the godly men. They are the men who have me questioning everything, thinking “not having a partner to have my back is hard” and “maybe I’m being too picky anyway” and “perhaps having a companion is better than not having one.” Wait. No. That’s not right.

This is the mental space where I’ve been fighting and have to keep fighting. A “good” man will never be someone who can walk beside me spiritually or be my partner in ministry. He will never be about the same things, or want to live the same kind of life that I do. I will inevitably sacrifice part of who God has created and called me in joining my life with his. I will inevitably abandon some of my precious intimacy with the Lord in following him. Is it better to have a man like this than to not have one at all? I know the answer is no, but whether motivated by a desire for something as simple as a night out and physical chemistry or as big as assurance of a future that includes marriage and family, the temptation these days is to say yes to this kind of man. Sometimes that yes seems pretty harmless, but I can play the tape to the end. Those paths aren’t for me. I won’t let man rule over me. God is asking me over and over to stay with Him. He’s asking me if I trust Him; if He’s enough. He is. He’s more than enough. I just have to remember that.

#loftyideas  #Itaughthereverythingsheknows  #allin

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life

A Mighty Four-Year-Old Fist

She sat, legs outstretched, hair towel-wrapped, back against the wall, on her bed in a rented house in the historic part of town. An old house near the tracks, just barely safe, just barely respectable, just barely far enough away from the drunks in the flophouse. Her out of place sophistication and beauty did not go unnoticed by the beer guzzling neighbors on her right and on her left.

She called her little house the meat in a redneck sandwich. It was a temporary dwelling, until she got back on her feet.

She was on the phone, midway through a dreary conversation, when her daughter appeared beside the bed and took the receiver from her hand.  Clenching her little four-year-old-fist she spoke into the mouthpiece loud and clear:

“I want to know why you don’t live with us anymore!”

There was a pause. She held her breath wondering how he would answer. She wanted to know, too.

His stern reply came through loud enough for her to hear:

“Put your mother back on.”

She was stunned. Stunned by the courage and stunned by the cowardice.

That sweet, gentle, smart little girl with the impressive vocabulary had a question brewing in her little heart that her mom knew nothing about.  It had been over a year since her father left, and she was just now asking it.

Perhaps it took more than a year to muster the courage. Perhaps at two-and-a-half she didn’t know what to ask.  Perhaps she hadn’t noticed, until she was four, that the dads of other kids lived with them, so why didn’t he? Perhaps she had thought he was away for a while and the while had grown too long.

“I’m just as surprised as you are,” she replied after being berated for putting their daughter up to it, “and someday you are going to have to answer her question.”

Courage inspires. Cowardice disappoints.

Sitting on her bed, receiver back in its cradle, she was disappointed.

The only answer she had ever gotten when she had asked the question was, “Marriage isn’t what I thought it was going to be and I don’t want it anymore.”

But in that breath-held moment she hoped he would muster enough courage of his own to give his daughter a gentle, truthful, more specific answer. Or at least a gentle, truthful promise to talk with her about it later, in person, when he wasn’t caught so off-guard.

But he chose angry defensiveness instead. He chose his discomfort over his daughter’s brave, vulnerable, broken, suddenly demanding little heart.

Sitting on her bed, receiver back in it’s cradle, she was inspired, impressed, in awe.

Her little girl was BRAVE.  Her little girl was going to be okay in life. Her little girl had the courage to ask tough questions, to risk anger and disappointment, to speak up. Her little girl had the courage to ask for something more than the status quo.

He never answered his daughter’s question with words, but he answered it.

He answered it in the choice of his second wife, a lovely woman who is kind and nurturing and not the sharpest tool in the box, not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Sometimes she marvels at the fact that he doesn’t appear bothered by the dullness of her bulb.  But, then, she supposes, perhaps that is what he imagined marriage should be.

And (@ANNELAMOTT), if she remembers correctly, his you-know-what was kinda’ small.

 

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family, love

The Epitome of Matrimony

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The Hub: I’m going fishing now.
Me: Come in as soon as it starts to storm.
Hub: Naw, I think I’ll stand in my boat and wave my carbon fiber fishing rods.
Me: Is your premium paid up?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Are your accounts easily accessible?
Hub: Yep.
Me: Who do I call to make sense of them all?
Hub: Tom.
Me: Okay, then, do what you want.

‪#‎it‬sjustawaitinggame

daily prompt

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life

Ripening, Gathering, Harvesting Joys

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It was a tiny bit chilly that morning as I sat on the bench of a picnic table, beside the lake, sipping coffee and watching the early sun glisten off my diamond. I had just awoken for the very first time as someone’s wife and I was surprised, sitting there with coffee in hand, husband out at the end of the dock checking his minnow trap, admiring the pairing of my engagement ring with its wedding band. I was surprised by a feeling of increased social status. Of feeling like being the Mrs. to someone’s Mr. made me a little bit more. More what, I couldn’t quite pinpoint, just felt like more.

Surprised because I had not a smidgen of a thought on any day of the 26 years leading up to that morning that I was less or lacking.

Sitting there, basking in that early morning summer sun, I was looking forward to joining the young marrieds Sunday school class and forging life-long friendships. My then-husband’s parents both grew up in the same Swedish covenant church, married and formed close friendships that lasted their entire lives – even as many of them aged and moved to the same retirement community in Florida.

That’s what I wanted: Friendships laid in our carefree newlywed years and forged as we reared our children together, served shoulder to shoulder, laughed, rejoiced and grieved together through the ups and downs of life.

I was reminded of that long ago morning this morning when I read a quote on Facebook:

Almost everyone finds their early days in a community ideal. It all seems perfect. They feel they are surrounded by saints, heroes, or at the least, most exceptional people who are everything they want to be themselves. And then comes the let-down. The greater their idealization of the community at the start, the greater the disenchantment. If people manage to get through this second period, they come to a third phase—that of realism and of true commitment. They no longer see other members of the community as saints or devils, but as people—each with a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, each growing and each with their own hope. The community is neither heaven nor hell, but planted firmly on earth, and they are ready to walk in it, and with it. They accept the community and the other members as they are; they are confident that together they can grow towards something more beautiful.  —Jean Vanier

I longed for that journey toward something more beautiful.

And then, six years and one two-year old in, my then-husband bailed.

My Sunday school class of no-longer-newlyweds didn’t know how to respond. I tried to stick it out, but back then Baptists shot their wounded, lest anyone mar the happy illusion of happy Christian marriage.

A single friend – who discipled me when I was a new Christian – invited me to attend her church. We taught Sunday school together and my daughter was loved there.  We settled in. But when my single friend moved to Atlanta, a couple of the women pulled me aside and said that the church was geared toward families headed up by COUPLES, not single parents. I’m pretty sure they were worried I might try to steal their husbands. I wasn’t going to steal anyone’s husband. Not only would I not do that, but, as if.

My daughter had started kindergarten by then, so she and I went back to our original church, where she was attending their Christian school. Week after week I went, worshiped and left. No Sunday school, no fellowship, no community, really, just worship and go.

Over the years I’ve bounced back and forth from church to church. Sometimes because I was rejected by the community, sometimes because it didn’t have what I needed. Or what my daughter needed. Or what my new husband and I wanted or needed.

Perhaps if my first husband had stuck it out through the disillusioned second phase of our marriage, I would now be enjoying the deep, enduring, hard-won, life-long friendships I envisioned that first morning of my first marriage.

But maybe not. All these years later I am still loosely connected enough to a few of the women from that first class to know that even they, whose marriages succeeded, are no longer walking in close community together. Many of them have scattered to new church communities.

Blessed be the ties that bind…for now.

I didn’t get to “grow towards something more beautiful” with that little band of young marrieds all those years ago, but I’ve got the hub. And together we are on a journey to enjoy “the deep, hard-won truths of marriage.”

Perhaps the greatest blessing in marriage is that it lasts so long.
The years, like the varying interests of each other,
combine to buttress and enrich each other.
Out of many shared years, one life.
In a series of temporary relationships,
one misses the ripening, gathering, harvesting joys,
the deep, hard-won truths of marriage.
Richard C. Cabot

#longing

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love

Lucky in Love

I limped down the dark stairs toward the kitchen, my eyes full of sleep, a few minutes late for the beagle’s 7 am pill.

The light was on in the library as I stumbled by, the hub called me over. “Go back to bed,” he said.

“Did you give Little One her pill?”

“Yes, I did, I thought you’d want to sleep in. Go back to bed.”

But it was too late. I already smelled the coffee. “No, I’m going to stay up and drink coffee.”

Maybe catch up on a blog or two.

That was almost two hours ago and here I sit, still zombified. Thinking about going into the kitchen to make cinnamon rolls. Hearing the hub in there doing yet another load of dishes. I figure by the end of the day we’ll have all the pots scrubbed and put away, the silver and the wine glasses washed by hand, the dishes I borrowed from my mom packed up, the extra tables and chairs put back in their cupboard in the basement and the coffee urn and the food warmers back in their boxes in the cedar closet.

Three full days of cooking and set-up, one full day of dishes and tear down.

A labor of love.

And speaking of love, I love that guy in the kitchen. My foot loves him, too.

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life

Pills, Poetry & Prose

I think I have been following “A Journey With You – surviving schizophrenia” for about a year now.   I read every post that comes up on my Reader. Not because I have schizophrenia, or because I am caring for someone who has it, not because I am particularly interested in the disease. I read each post because I enjoy well-written words. I read because the author is a lot like me.

We only have a few things in common: We were both social workers when we were young. She worked in Child Protective Services – investigating reports of abuse and neglect and removing children from their homes if necessary.

I worked in Foster Care, supervising the care of the children once they were placed in foster homes, and working with their birth parents toward the goal of reuniting the family, if possible. It was rarely possible.

We are close to the same age.

We both care. She cares more, I think, because she knows more. She is teaching me.

I read her blog for the wonderful slices of her everyday life. My favorites involve her relationship with her husband.

I’ve thought a few times of buying her book, Pills, Poetry & Prose: Life with Schizophrenia (by Rebecca Chamaa). I thought I might add it to my Amazon cart when I do my Christmas shopping.  And then in late October Rebecca posted that she was giving away a copy of it. So I left my blog address in the comment section of her post and I won the drawing!

My husband brought in the mail Saturday and handed me a padded envelope, “Someone from California sent you something.”

“Oh, oh, oh, it’s the book!” I tore open the envelope and pulled it out. I opened the front cover, “Dang it, I should have asked her to sign it.”

Yesterday, before church I read the first eleven pages. When the hub and I returned home from church, I found my daughter reading it.

This morning I sat down with the book and a big mug of hot coffee. Just as the coffee was growing cold, I finished it.

And I learned that we have another thing in common – rejection by a spouse and the pain of divorce.

If I hadn’t been reading her blog, if I didn’t know that she is remarried and has such a wonderful friendship with her husband, such a strong and supportive bond with him, I would not have been able to bear the poem on page 28.

Saturday, when I let Rebecca know that the book arrived, she replied, “Ohhhhh, please let me know how you like it.”

Okay, talented, sweet, wise and wonderful woman, if you are reading this, here’s how I like it:

I only like poetry when it says a lot, with a few concise, masterfully chosen and arranged words. I only like poetry when it is not so obscure that I can’t figure out what the poet is saying.  I like your poetry, Rebecca. I love it.

And I love how you used prose to flesh out the details. I loved the glimpse into your childhood.

On page 45 you wrote, “I am a ghost that only certain people can see.”

One of the best things about your blog and your book is that you are giving shape and form to ghosts; you are stirring understanding and compassion in people like me.

Your book is your story, artfully told, and I love true stories.

I used to show clips of the movie “A Beautiful Mind” when speaking to high school students as an example of true love. I showed them the scene in which Alicia and one of John’s former co-workers were walking and talking, Alicia pushing a stroller. After talking a bit about John’s current condition and limitations, the former co-worker told Alicia that John was a lucky man (to have her). Alicia replied, almost in a whisper, that John was so unlucky (to have the disease).

I showed them the scene in which John’s psychiatrist advised Alicia to leave home for her own safety. Instead, she decided to stay. She kneeled in front of John, who was seated on the edge of their bed, and said, “I need to believe that something extraordinary is possible.”

And the final scene when John, accepting the Nobel Prize, said to Alicia, “I’m only here because of you.”

I don’t know how true to life the movie is, but “Poisonous Thoughts” on pages 52 and 53 reminded me of those scenes.

And it pinpointed why I read A Journey With You – to watch extraordinary love unfold in the big and small of your everyday life.

To watch love and commitment – in sickness and in health – play out in the lives of two ordinary, extraordinary people.

Pills, Poetry & Prose is a collection of poems and essays that tell a beautiful, poignant, hopeful, insightful, scary, honest story. And I am privileged to have read it.

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Food, life

Fluent in Food & Love

The pastor’s sermon that day outlined The 5 Languages of Love by psychologist Gary Chapman.   On the way home from church I asked my then eight-year-old daughter which love language spoke most to her.  Without hesitation she replied “Acts of Service” and “Quality Time”.  I commented that I tend to mostly give Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch because those are the languages that I speak most naturally, but I wanted to remember to speak the languages that best float her boat.

An hour later she was up a tree at the opposite end of our courtyard.  I walked over and asked her if she was ready for lunch.  She started to climb down but I stopped her and said, “Stay there, I’ll bring it to you.”  She jumped down anyway to give me a hug saying,  “You remembered, mom, Acts of Service,” and then she scrambled back to her perch.  As I was walking away she called, “Thanks, mom!” Then she yelled, “Mom, that was a Word of Affirmation, you know, saying thanks.”  I took a few more steps and she called out again, “And, mom, that hug was Physical Touch.”

I came back a few minutes later with a picnic basket.  Her face lit up as she chirped, “You made a whole picnic!  I thought you were just going to bring me a sandwich!”  She pulled out her lunch and then asked, “What’s this?”  I told her I was going to join her.  She patted a branch, smiled and said, “Have a seat.”   After a few bites she asked, “Mom, do you realize that this is Quality Time?”

Later I remembered an assignment she had when she was in kindergarten.  She was to complete the sentence “My mom loves me because…” She had written “because she makes crazy bread with cream cheese for me and plays Hands Down with me.”  I commented that Acts of Service and Quality Time were her love languages even back then.

For the rest of that afternoon and evening she gave me a big smile whenever she saw me.  Right before bed she had a big grin on her face.  I discovered why when I went in to brush my teeth.  On the bathroom mirror was a large soap heart with “Love Ya” written in it.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

An hour ago I was outside checking on my garlic, which, I am thrilled to report, is growing taller by the day.  The hub came out and exclaimed, “It sure is a beautiful day!”  Being fluent in his love language, I immediately translated it to, “Mind if I go fishing?”

So when I said, “Why don’t you go fishing?”  His face lit up.

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He’s been working hard every weekend remodeling our second level.  He’s painted walls and ceilings, replaced moldings, installed hardwoods floors throughout, put shelves in my closet, etc.  His goal today was to get his office and our bedroom put back together.  So he will no longer have to sleep on the family room sofa and I will no longer have to sleep on the living room sofa.  The spare room can wait. He spent all morning moving our desks back into the office, setting the computer back up, etc.

“We can finish the rooms tomorrow after church,”  I said.  “It is supposed to rain tomorrow and the temperature is going to drop back into the 50’s for several days.  Go enjoy sunny and 70 while it lasts.  But first you have to have lunch.”

While he brought his fishing gear up from the basement for the first time since October, I threw fresh basil leaves, walnuts, a few sun-dried tomatoes and a two cloves of garlic into the oskar and gave them a whirl.  Then I added some parm, basil olive oil, salt and pepper and blended it to bits, which I tossed with the leftover gemelli I had in the fridge.  Plum Market had some nice parmigiano reggiano on sale last week so I bought two big hunks.  It’s been all parm all the time ever since.  Lunch prepared in ten minutes flat.

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“This is pretty good,” said the hub as he scooped the last bit from the pan onto his plate.  “It’s the best pasta you’ve ever made.”

That’s what he said last time.  And the time before that.

Wanna’ talk love to the hub?  You really only need two words: fishing and food.

Think I’ll go trim the raspberry bushes and soak up a little vitamin D myself.

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Gratefruit

I don’t charge a fee when I speak.  I usually receive an honorarium anyway, in appreciation, but not always.  When I am asked what an appropriate amount would be I reply, “Just send a thank you note.”

I have a drawer full of them.  The money I’ve been given has been spent.  But the notes are all still there.  They remind me of all the people I’ve met over the years – people God spoke to using my mouth.  People God loves.

I told God early on that I prefer to be paid in fruit.  Several years later, after speaking at a woman’s retreat in Virginia, I was.  Literally.  At the end of the weekend they presented me with a large basket of fruit.  Tucked among the apples and grapes was a large jar of local honey and some locally made peach preserves.

God and I smiled at one another as I received the gift.  I LOVED it!

I relayed that story to a group of women in a Bible study once.  One of the women in the group criticized me for not being grateful for the gift.  She completely missed my point.  Funny how we sometimes listen with prejudiced ears, project our stuff and our preconceived notions onto others.  Fail to ask for clarification.

I just smiled.

In a few weeks the hub and I get to celebrate with a living, breathing peach.  Joe was part of the young adult group that came to our house every other Sunday evening for dinner and Bible study.  He was a brand new believer and a sheer delight.   It was when we rented him our condo for several months that we saw fully what a fine young man he is – full of respect and integrity.  The last time we saw him was two years ago at his college graduation party.

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And now he is getting married.  On May 2 we will drive an hour to attend a couples shower.  And then in June we will head to Traverse City for his wedding.

My happy heart thanks you, Lord, for the privilege of meeting Joe when he was a babe in You.  For keeping the hub and I somewhat connected to him and allowing us to see his growth and all the fruit he will produce in his life.  For the honor of rejoicing with him as he embarks on marriage.  For the wonderful example he has seen in his parents.

We get to be witnesses to young, healthy, hearty, hopeful love.

Thank You, thank You for that.

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