The Story Of Us — The Non-Proposal

Continuation of “This Is Us: Carolyn and Jay”

The Non-Proposal

Jay said he was gun shy of marriage because he had witnessed the traumatic breakup of some of his friends’ marriages.

I was terrified of marriage, having had an unsuccessful marriage before.  I never wanted to be married again.  Jay knew marriage was a delicate issue.

So, over the course of two years, he first said a sentence with

“If I ever got married …”

Time passed.  Then one day, he said,

“When I get married …”

Time passed.  Then one day, he said,

“If we ever got married …”

Time passed.  And then the day came when he said,

“When we get married …”

Since I had grown accustomed to all the other versions, this one almost slid by me.  And then I realized what he had just said.

With a kind of a deer in the headlight look, I said, “I didn’t know we were getting married.”

He almost looked puzzled.  Then he said, “Well, I thought we would!”

I was frozen or at least I thought I wanted to be.  All the “todays” of being with him had been the highlight of my life.  But would all that change … would he change … if I was “just a wife” instead of the girlfriend, who could run away if she felt insecure?

And yet, the very real possibility that he would move on with someone else, who was more secure, frightened me.  I pictured my world without him.  Him driving away with no hope of return.  The smell of his aftershave eventually gone.  No phone calls.  No more smiles or laughs or snuggling or …

In a rush of words, I said, “Of course, we will.  Let’s pick a date and I’ll throw something together.”

He said, “Well, I want to get you a ring. I’ve got one picked out at the store.”  Now that was truly amazing.  Jay had never been one to plan … and yet he had dared to dream that he would be able to buy the ring and put it on my finger.

But there was one more hurdle to get over before I would wear that ring.  We went to the store for me to see it and get it sized.

I had what I can only describe as a “post traumatic stress panic attack.”  I thought of how horribly all had crashed and burned in that first marriage.

My hands started shaking.  I threw the ring on the counter and said, “I’m sorry.  I love you, but I can’t do this.”  I then ran from the store.

He found me crying in the parking lot.  He didn’t say anything.  He just held me.

Eventually I spoke.

“If we get married, will you still be you?  Will I still be me?  Will we be us?  Can I trust you?  Can I trust me not to want to run away?”

He said, “That’s easy.  The answer to all those questions is yes.”

I said, “Why do you want to marry me?”

He said, ” I found the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with.  That’s you.  And I’m hoping you will want to spend the rest of your life with me.”

I said, “So is this a proposal?”

He laughed.  “Well, before we get married, I would like to get you a ring.  But I’m hungry now.  Wanna go to McDonalds and try for it again tomorrow?”

And so we did … go to McDonalds.

And we did … go back the next day and get a ring.

And we did … start planning a wedding for September 25, 1977.

And what a wacky wedding it was!

Lesson

Cinderella was a little off balanced without her slipper … but she knew she had found her prince … and he knew not to give up on making her his bride.

Be The Light!

God’s First Act of creation was separating the light from the darkness.

He saw the light was good.

He did not want His People to be in the dark.  But He wanted them to know darkness so they could appreciate how good the light was.

So He left a perpetual reminder.  There was night, but it would always be followed by day.

And down through history, God has always brought The Light into the deepest darkness.

When the children of Israel were traveling, He lit their way with a fire by night.

When He gave Abraham The Promise that included us, He showed him stars, little bits of light peeking through the darkness.

God sent Jesus, Who brought Life and Light to an ever darkening world.

In Him was Life and that Life was The Light for all.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:4-5

This world has much darkness.  But the darkness will not overcome it.  

Jesus The Light of The World is here.  We do not have to wait for Christmas to light a “Christ candle” and seek warmth or revelation from its glow.

No!  God saw a world full of light that comes every day.  He has lit the flame within each of us.  If your flame is dimming, reach up and let Him re-light it.

And then turn to your neighbor and light their candle.  The interesting thing is you will not be giving up your light.  Your own space will be even brighter from the light of all around you!

 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am The Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have The Light of Life!”

John 8:12

You are the light of the world … let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14 and 16

The Story Of Us — Buying A Parkway

Continuation of Carolyn and Jay Story

Buying a Parkway
So Jay moved to Etown for two years. I got my own apartment in Lexington. I got a car.

I dated other people, but no one could ever touch that place in my heart that Jay did. He was the only one I didn’t want to leave at the end of an evening.

He was the only one who could prompt such giddy, ecstatic joy when I saw him … and such emptiness when he left.

And on the other end of the Parkway? Well, Jay’s mother told me some years later that “from the time Jay first said the name, ‘Carolyn’, we never heard him say any other girl’s name!” And she said, “We didn’t know if he would stay. As soon as he got back from Lexington, he’d start talking about going back!”

And so began a long distance courtship. I frequently went to Etown and Jay frequently came to Lexington. The Bluegrass Parkway was a toll road with toll to be paid at three places along the way.

We felt we bought a good chunk of the road and some small piece of it should have our names on it!

But something subtly happened as one “today” joined with another “today.” We were cautious about commitment, but other people saw us as committed to each other … and bit by bit we began to see ourselves in the same picture. (Yep, people took selfies in the 70s, just not on cell phones!)

The Story Of Us — Apartment Sharing

The continuation to the Carolyn and Jay story:

The Arrangement
In the mid 70s, I was living in an “efficiency apartment” with a roommate. Every time she had a date, I either took a long walk (I had no car.) or I sat in the bathtub and read.

I was grateful to have housing, but the arrangement got old quickly. Jay lived down the street. After we had our interesting meeting, we would talk, as I made my walks out on the street. (And yeah — I’ll admit I tried to take my walks when I could see him arriving home from work.)

After hearing my sad story of hoping to have enough money soon to get a place of my own, he made a generous offer.

He worked for an ambulance service as an EMT. He worked 24 hours on and 48 hours off. He offered me his apartment for the 24 hours he was at work. He said nothing about the time he would be home.

I took the generous offer. However, God was about to deal with refining both of us. In a world that had gone out of control for me, I spent a lot of time organizing the small world I had left. Jay, it turned out, was “unstructured!” One look at his habitat … and I almost went back to the bathtub at my roommate’s apartment.

But Jay was so generous, I stayed for the 24 he worked … and often hung around while he slept when he came home. I learned not to wake him up. (Notice hand sign in one of the photos!).

And I learned not to try to organize his stuff. (He said it was organized!)

And when he was awake, he cooked for me before I took my “go bag” and went back up the street.

Then we talked for hours on the phone.

Then the day came when he broke the news … and broke my heart. There had been no promises, so none broken. Everything had been for “today.” And now it was turning into tomorrow. Jay announced he was moving to Etown.

I thought “it”, whatever “it” was, was over.

Lessons:
Enjoy each moment.

Don’t try to write the story. Live the story, as it comes.

Sometimes when you think your carriage has turned into a pumpkin again, it turns out the prince really likes pumpkins and comes looking for them.

It ain’t over until it’s over … and sometimes it ain’t over!

The Story Of Us — First Meeting

September 25 is our anniversary.  In the next few postings, I would like to share some lessons learned from this wild and wacky journey called marriage.

The Meeting

She was on a locked psychiatric unit.  He was delivering pizza.  Now for the rest of the story …

I was a nurse on a locked psychiatric unit.  My co-worker and I were hungry.  She said, “I know this guy who lives down the street from me.  If he’s home, he might go get us a pizza.”

That guy was Jay.  He was home.  He had mercy on us and got us a pizza.  The first time we saw each other was through the thick glass of the door to the psych unit.

I really was looking more at the pizza than him.  But after a few minutes conversation, he asked my friend and me if we’d like to go out for a drink after we got off work.

We agreed.  And thus began the love story of Carolyn and Jay.  (Don’t worry — this isn’t going to be sappy, mushy, all hearts and flowers stuff.)

Lesson:  When God brings Love into your life, He will do it creatively.  He is The Creator!

Sometimes you think you are hungry for something when actually you are hungry for something else.

No act of kindness and mercy is ever wasted.

No friendship is ever forgotten.  We cherish Jane Pappas, the friend who brought us together.

And we smile at the name our daughter gave to our interesting meeting — Love at First Slice!

I Can Only Imagine!

I have an active imagination.  It has been a real plus to me as a writer.

However it is difficult to turn off my imagination.  I frequently rewrite stories on tv.  

It drives my husband crazy that I comment on the story lines.  I recognize stories that are “going nowhere,” are “not believable,” “repetitious,” “disjointed,” etc.

I always have ideas about what would make a more interesting story.

Unfortunately my out of control imagination extends to life.  When God writes the story, I know I should recognize He is The Master Writer.  However, there are times when I would like to re-write what He seems to have written.

However, there is one who is worse than me in imaging a different ending from what God has written.  Satan.

And he can’t keep his mouth shut about it.  He constantly intrudes into our thoughts and whispers, “You know this isn’t the way it should be.  You can do better than God.  Let me show you how it’s done.”

He tempts us into his world of imagination.  We may be temporarily exhilarated by the climb upwards before we realize we are on a roller coaster ride.

The drop downward will be terrifying.  Someone said it all when they said “worry is imagination gone wrong.”

Worry turns into anxiety and nightmares that last all day.  We imagine gloom and doom and stories that end with “and then they crashed and burned.”

What can we do?  Paul told us.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exults itself against The Knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

We have flesh and bones, but victory and defeat are carried out in our minds.

Satan gets to us through strongholds.  He knows our weak spots and he will hit us there again and again.

We need to be smarter than he is and know where our weak spots are.  We need to meet him at the door, where he will try to come in.

We need to know in advance what God says.  We need to have Knowledge of God.  If the thought we have does not line up with God’s Word, we need to capture that thought and eliminate it.

How do we eliminate it?  Reject it.  But never leave a vacuum for satan to try to fill with something else.  Fill that space with The Word of God.

Quote His Word again and again.  Say it out loud.  Be prepared for the next battle.  

Use your imagination to reflect on what God is preparing for you.  But remember that whatever you imagine, God is going to top it!

“Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His Power that is at work within us, to Him be Glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

One In The Spirit

We live in a country where we are blessed with the freedom to communicate with each other.

There are a myriad of ways for us to share our opinions.  Social media is one.  I enjoy social media.

It allows me to share pictures and my observations of life.  I enjoy seeing and hearing from others.

But sometimes social media turns into a debate show that escalates into open war.  When a back and forth thread goes on and on, I want to figuratively yell, “Take it outside!”

In this time of stress throughout planet earth, most everyone is suffering in some way.  

Some are continuing to quietly live their lives in faith and hope.  They are doing their best to be Jesus” Hands extended.

Others are spending their time, labeling and blaming others for their misery.  Worse than that, some are thinking of ways to punish those they believe are traitors.

Even some Christians have been taken in by satan’s tactics of “divide and conquer.”  

When we become convinced our opinion is the only correct one, we lose the ability to see life from someone else’s vantage point.

When we can’t  be friends or even stay in the same group with someone who thinks differently from us, we have closed the door to any Christian witness.

Jesus’ Disciples were different from each other.  Peter and Paul nipped at each other’s heels.  Jesus attracted people who were decidedly diverse.

Yet we don’t hear of their squabbles.  We don’t read of how they pushed their own views over those of others in the group. We don’t hear of them shunning each other.

Jesus’ Followers lived in a time of social unrest, slavery, warring nations and disease. And yet they remained together.  How did they do it?

Their eyes were on Jesus, not each other.  His Message became their message.  They were willing to decrease so Jesus could increase inside them.  They no longer feared death.  They only wanted to give Life to others.

They all joined together constantly in prayer.

Acts 1:14

And after a time of being together, with their focus on Jesus, The Holy Spirit descended in Power!

If we used the communication tools The Lord has given us as a means to stay connected in prayer for our world, how different things would be.

What a precious time of preparation for His Holy Spirit to come.  The Holy Spirit is The Spirit of Truth!

Let us not be the people of The Tower of Babel.  Let us be the people who will be found together in one heart, mind and Spirit.  

Jesus prayed that it would be so.

“My Prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.

May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.  I have given them The Glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are One —

I in them and You in Me —so that they may be brought to complete unity. 

Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.”

John 17:20-23

Fear Not!

Is there anything you fear? 

I grew up in a neighborhood where everyone felt safe.  Well, almost everyone it seemed … except me.  I was what my mother called a “scaredy cat.”

I hated darkness and I was always convinced there were monsters out there.  My mother tried to reassure me and sweetly told me I was “goofy.”

She was right.  Nothing bad ever happened … until … while visiting my parents during my adult years, out of nowhere what I feared happened. 

While we were peacefully sleeping, a matter of feet away, our neighbor was brutally murdered.  I, like everyone else, was shaken to the core.  

That pivotal event set off a chain of anxieties rooted in the knowledge that sometimes what one fears might actually happen.

There were other events in life that were devastating.  Medical crises that we hoped would never happen did happen.

When something we fear happens, satan has an inroad into our minds and spirits.  We start believing if we think of something, it is sure to happen.

The more things happen that we fear, the stronger is our preoccupation with evil overtaking us.  

So what are we to do?  God never intended for us to live in fear.  The Bible is full of His Words of “do not fear.”  

If we are to reject fear, we must start with one simple Truth.  Ironically it is the very truth most of us fear.  We cannot control anything.  

Jesus did not sugarcoat The Truth.

“In this world you will have trouble.”

John 16:33

He said to expect it.  Sometimes it will be trouble we anticipated.  Sometimes it will be totally unexpected.

In spite of that, Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow.”

Matthew 6:34

In Matthew 6, He goes into great detail describing God’s care of His Creation.  He assures God will take care of us in our troubles.

After Jesus gave the bad news that there would be troubles in this world, He gave the good news.  

“But take heart! I have overcome the world!”

John 16:33

John said,

“There is no fear in Love. But Perfect Love drives out fear!”

1 John 4:18

Perfect Love happens when we trust The One Who controls everything.  

When we are in the midst of trouble, we can fully acknowledge we do not understand and we do not know what is going to happen.

But when we do not know, we can trust God Who does know.  All we have to know is He is present and He is God.

When we do not know what to do, we can trust God has The Ultimate Plan.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Wherever we are headed, He will be with us always.

Matthew 28:20

“When you pass through the waters,

    I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

    they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

    you will not be burned;

    the flames will not set you ablaze.”

Isaiah 43:2

“Peace I leave with you; My Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

John 14:27

Here is the link to Mercy Me’s powerful song about trusting God in troubled times.

The Look Of Love

 I have had many looks in my life.

I have been a variety of sizes from fat to thin.

I have had a variety of hair styles from long hair to very short hair and everything in between.

I had curly all over frizzy hair to my naturally straight hair.  

Long ago I pigtails and pony tails before graduating to berets, bobby pins and hair bands.  

I once would have never gone anywhere without my curling iron, electric rollers and hair spray.

I enjoyed covering the budding gray with hair dye and particularly enjoyed high lights.

One day I discovered the joys of short hair, the wash and go look.  I felt a new level of liberation!

Then the pandemic came along.  I was never seeing anyone but close family.  So I decided to be a little daring and see how much of my hair was really gray.  

It turned out I had quite a bit of the natural me left that had not flourished yet as gray.  So I gave up the hair dye.  Another level of liberation!

I used to wear makeup.  What started as a teenage desire to cover up my skin’s hormone surges turned into a creative outlet.

I enjoyed creating different “me”s.  I was one of those people who didn’t want to go out the door without my makeup on.

Then after having allergic reactions to various products, I became daring enough to go into the world “face naked.”  Again, I felt liberated!

After a childhood of progressive “ coke bottle” glasses, I graduated to contact lens as a teen.  I wore those for years and again hid from the world if I had to wear glasses.

Then I developed dry eyes and had to give up the contacts.  I was back to glasses until cataract surgery freed me again.  I had a blessed reprieve until retinal surgery caused a return to glasses (at least not as thick this time).

I was fortunate to have advanced pretty far into the aging scene before I developed wrinkles.  At first I was horrified.  This was visible proof of aging.😱

However, over time I have again become liberated to see my wrinkles as “achievement badges.”  I earned them and I own them!

Today I looked at pictures Jay took of me with Gideon, our grandson.  I realized when I looked at myself, I no longer had the desire to photoshop.

When I looked at me, I just saw a blessed grandma soaking up all The Love I could hold from a precious baby boy.

Maybe that is what life is all about … just giving and receiving Love and letting our face show it as it is.  

For now Gideon does not know the history of me.  He just sees Grandma and the joy in his face always makes me smile! 😍

When Is Enough Enough?

When is enough enough?  

The Bible leads off with a demonstration of one of the most powerful weapons satan has.   Deprivation.  Adam and Eve had it all and yet satan was able to convince them they needed more.  

Satan tempts us to believe we need more than what we have.  He assures us God has not provided and will not provide.

Much of our lives are spent wanting more.  We are taught from an early age to keep getting more … more toys, more education, more skills … more recognition, more approval … more love.

We are taught to compete against each other.  We feel deprived when we don’t win.

We look at what others have and if we don’t have it, we feel deprived.  Satan is quick to change longing into envy.

We are hungry.  Satan quickly steps in and offers a tray of what looks like delicious choices.  He whispers, “These are just appetizers.  Wait til you get to the main course.  And the desert … it’s heavenly!”

Many of us already discovered eating at satan’s “fine dining” was not fine at all.  We ended up broke and sick with our lives a mess, and we still wanted something we thought we did not have.  

In actuality, we have exactly what we need.  God our Creator lives inside us and He is The Source of everything in the universe.

Psalm 23:1 has various translations.  I really like these two.

The Lord is my shepherd; I have everything I need.

Good News Translation

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

King James Version 

When we realize we have everything we need in God, then we can make a choice not to want more.  I shall not want.

If we are supposed to just know we already have everything in God, is it wrong to want more?

Feeling a need is not wrong, but what we do with the feeling makes all the difference.

Before you try to satisfy that hunger on your own, talk to God.  Thank Him that He gives you everything you need.  Ask Him to show you what you need to do.

Paul said it well when he said,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

And The Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Peace to you.  The Lord is your Shepherd.  He will give you everything you need!

(Thank you to Lynn Moser, who posted her thought for today at the very time I was writing my blog post.  Picture credit to her!)