Category Archive: Love

A Tearful Farewell

We said a tearful goodbye Wednesday morning. Our sweet, 14-year old Kelly has recently gone steadily downhill. It hurt to watch her stumble, her legs splay underneath her, her turn away from food, and sleep most of the day.

Don and I have prayed that God would give us wisdom as to when it was time to say goodbye. Several times we’ve thought we were there, but then she’s rallied. And Kelly has never been a complainer, so we watched her eyes, her walk, her food intake, her energy level. Monday we took her to the vet for blood tests. “I’m really not happy with what I see,” Kelly’s kind and competent doctor told us. It was time.

We took our Kelly-girl home for another day and a half to love on her and to say goodbye. En route home I said, “Don, I’d love it if we could take her to the beach one more time. But I know it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” Kelly slept on my shoulder for two hours that night, something I don’t think she’s done since Don and I married, when she retreated to the bottom of the bed.

My sweet number 1 girl

Rain was heavy Tuesday morning, but the sun peeked out about noon. “Let’s go!” Don and I took Kelly and Paige down to the beach, where we strapped Kelly into her doggie stroller. Paigey ran alongside. We walked over a mile in glorious sunshine, a lovely breeze cooling us. Kelly perked up enough to sit up and watch life around her. It was a wonderful time and the sunshine, a gracious gift from the Father to assuage my hurting heart, allowed us to do something special for Kelly on her last day.

This little beauty has brought a lot of joy and laughter to our lives over the almost ten years I’ve had her.

  • She came to me, a good gift from God, when I was alone and lonely. During a time of grief, she gave me a reason to get up every day because she needed me. During cold winter months I often wakened to feel her little body cuddled under the covers against my thigh. She sneaked under without waking me. I never knew how she managed to breathe underneath the blankets, but she did; and I loved waking to her warmth.
  • Kelly’s antics made me laugh. Early in our life together I went straight to my laptop in the morning. Kelly looked at me from across the room. She opened her mouth and chomped her teeth – I hadn’t fed her yet! Message received.
  • She was my buddy and sweet companion, and I took her along whenever I went somewhere dogs were allowed. She sat quietly and unobtrusively at my feet in Bible studies, lunches, and one-on-ones, never disrupting except with her sweet cuteness, happy as long as she was with me. And if I lunched with a girlfriend and left the table to use the restroom, Kelly stayed behind, remaining in one position, her big brown eyes fixed on the door until I returned.
  • She had grit. When Kelly was just a baby, she took on a big dog who broke her jaw. In the last few years, my girl’s tongue hung out to one side of her sweet, crooked mouth. I think her imperfection made her even more beautiful. And when we brought her grandpup, Paigey, to join our family, Kelly definitely let her know who was boss!
  • I acquired Kelly two months after meeting Don. When we began dating, Kelly was always happy to greet him, to sit with us, to go on walks with Don and his gentle German Shepherd, Ginger. I once waved my hand to include Kelly and said to Don, “You know this is a package deal.” He smiled. “Oh, I figured that out a long time ago.”
  • Our precious princess has left us and we miss her. I am so grateful for this good gift God gave me when I needed her more than I knew.

“So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven.” James 1:17a (MSG)

I love you, Kelly girl! Your imprint will always be on my heart.

Have you lost a pet? What did you love about him or her?

 

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Truth … in Love

I was speaking with Mom on the phone. “We had a nice restful weekend, which we really needed.”

“Your next four weekends are all booked?” Her voice lifted at the end of her question, clearly expressing her concern with my lack of planning for rest times.

Communication goes both ways–my speaking, her hearing. Due to an infection, my voice is a bit shaky and sometimes words drop away into nothing. Mom has hearing challenges. Together, we have some mighty interesting, and funny, conversations!

How many times do we misunderstand, either the words or intent, of a conversation? This morning I received an email asking if the writer was being deliberately left out of a communique. I hastened to answer, “absolutely not!” and to explain why only certain individuals received that particular message. It’s so easy to misread others’ intentions. And when that happens, I can get irritated, annoyed, or I can respond with love and patience to clarify.

Don and I drove to the shopping center together the other day. He was going to look for birthday cards at CVS; I for groceries at Nob Hill. As we drove, I asked him a question. I must have been feeling insecure that day because I wanted assurance of his love.

“Yes, sure.”

“Hmmm, a more ringing endorsement than ‘yes, sure’ would be appreciated.”

“My mind’s just not in the same place as yours.”

Oh boy. I could have flipped out. I could have cried. I could have thought he wasn’t attracted to me that day–or ever (you know how our brains sometimes take a statement and make it an impasse …) I’ve done all these things in the past.

Instead, I asked, “What do you mean by that?” Then, sensing his frustration, I continued. “I’m not trying to put you on the spot, honey. I want to understand so my mind doesn’t make your comment something it’s not meant to be.”

Don was thoughtful. “Well, I’m thinking of driving and the heavy traffic. I’m hoping I can find meaningful greeting cards. I’m wondering when I’ll get the rest of the lawn mowed. I’m just not thinking romance right now. But I love you completely.”

Ha! “Got it. OK.”

Such a small example, but so easy to get insecure, uptight, or angry, rather than seeking to understand the other’s point of view! Clarifying helps us to speak the truth in love as we mature in Christ…and in our relationships.

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Eph. 4:15

When’s the last time you experienced miscommunication, and how did you respond? How could you respond better?

Love’s Celebration

I trust in Your unfailing love. Psalm 13:5

I long for love. Don’t you? And I both give and receive it in a variety of ways and depths. I love, and am loved by, my husband; family; close friends; even my dogs.

While LOVE is one in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the same word is used in our culture for everything from admiration or appreciation, to a deep, self-sacrificing behavior.

“I love my husband”

“I love Gayle’s chocolate pie”

“I love the Warriors”

“I love my mother … children … siblings …. friends … pets … that song … these shoes.”

But the love that is above all, and is foundational to all other loves, is the love God has shown us in providing a way, through the Cross of Christ, for us to know Him, to enter an eternal relationship with the Creator of all. I’ve written about other loves … but today I want to celebrate God’s love.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17, NIV)

I once read a story about a man, let’s call him Richard, who was in deep despair, having rejected God in anger. He was staying with a friend who had challenged his guest to submit himself and give his anger and pain to Jesus. While the friend went out for a walk, Richard wrestled with God and finally released his pain to Jesus. He then sat down at the piano and began to play and sing an old hymn he recalled from his childhood. His friend returned to the house to hear his guest’s rich tenor voice, and knew God had met him.

“O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.”

(Lyrics by George Mattheson, who was inspired to write this hymn in 5 minutes during a time of distress.)

There was a very difficult time in my life when I had no strength with which to hold onto God. I was depressed, weak, and despairing. Hope was gone. But I asked Him to hold onto me. II Timothy 2:13 tells us, “And if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” I pray that this song will encourage you to trust in His unfailing love.

   “This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”  (I John 4:10, NLT)

 

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Hairpins and Hope

The dual switchback gave us no visibility to what might be approaching on the one-lane road. What if a local driver comes barreling around that corner? We’re on the cliff side of the road! Much of the drive was enchanting. Every change in elevation exposed different flora and fauna.  Some areas were lush, some covered with red dirt. “Look at this plain,” I said at one point. After climbing mountains and traversing hairpins for miles, the flatland was a lovely surprise. We crossed narrow bridges and stretches where meeting an oncoming car required one of us to pull out or back up, depending on the amount of margin on the side of the constricted road.

Don pulled over at one cliff, where we looked down at the lava rocks below, and spoke at length with the artist recreating the pastel ocean scene. Near Annalise, spread over a rock and colored the same, was a wild pig skin. I didn’t realize it until I saw hooves and a tail … and smelled an odor that was ripe. Some “rite of passage,” according to Annalise.

We drove past a picturesque little broken-down church, heavy tile roof falling in on itself, that was once charming. It sat above cliffs that led down to roaring waves, tumbling waterfalls, and a little village. We’d seen a sign earlier for banana bread so we pulled over at Julia’s tiny green shack.

I stepped up onto the porch behind a young woman who asked about banana bread. “Last loaf,” was the reply.

“Oh no,” I spoke without thinking.

The woman turned to me. “Do you want to split it?” Her husband joined her. “We don’t need to eat the whole thing.”

“Really?” I asked. Really!

I thanked them, and we divided the bread and shared the cost. Waving goodbye, Don and I continued on our journey, enjoying the moist sweetness of the loaf, which almost melted in our mouths.

More hairpin turns. More one-lane passages. More  beauty—orange and yellow-leaved shrubs, magenta flowers atop trees, hot pink bougainvillea, and palm to pine trees. And lava rock, and some small rock slides, and cliffs that plunged into roiling waves below.

And I thought, kind of like life. There’s a great deal of beauty, enjoyment, ongoing blessing as we walk with Christ. At times we need to hear a brother or sister say “You want to share?” … or perhaps we need to offer the shared blessing to others. There is also challenge, and difficulty, and pain, and suffering. Sometimes the road we travel is smooth and lined with blessings of health and love and productive work and hope. At other times the road is dark, the switchbacks prevent us from seeing the next step, and we have to move forward in faith, our hand in the Father’s, knowing He has promised never to leave or forsake us.

Julia’s

I’ve had a few big switchbacks in my life, along with lesser ones. Threats of mutilation while ministering in the ghetto; pain following departure from a work I loved; some health challenges; the losses of a nephew, several dear friends, my father, my first husband. But I’ve also seen the beauty of being carried through those hairpins by a God who loves me and would not let me go; of loving and being loved well by two wonderful men, and by family; of the gift of travel; of the joy of ministering to and encouraging younger women in their faith walks.

And sometimes it’s the hairpin turns, the switchbacks where we can do nothing but pray and trust, that teach us most clearly that our Father is always there, loving, guiding, walking alongside as we navigate  day by day.

So, while there’s no way I want to suffer, I also don’t regret the times my road has been hard. Mixed with the joys, the difficulties remind me to trust and rely on God in both good and bad times. I can’t become an oak of righteousness, rooted and grounded in Him, without His love and pruning and deepening, the same One who promises to give beauty in place of ashes.

The prophet Isaiah recognized his anointing from the Lord …

” … to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:2b-3)

What’s encouraged you during some of the hairpin turns of your life?

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Second Chances – Year Seven!

I wakened to look into my husband’s blue eyes. “Happy anniversary, honey.”

Seven years this week. Seven years with a man I love dearly, who is one of the kindest, most loving people I have known. In honor of him, and in thankfulness for this good gift, I am repeating part of an earlier post.

When God brought this lovely man into my life several years after I was widowed, I didn’t know if I wanted to commit to a new marriage. But Don was patient, consistent, kind. He told me he wouldn’t ask me to marry him until I was ready.  One day he stood by the kitchen sink as we prepared lunch together.

“I will never leave you,” he said. “You may send me away, but I will never walk away from you.”

I kept listening, watching. His love was evident in the ways he respected me, as well as my family members.

During a cruise with a girlfriend, I reviewed a list of qualities that were important to me should I consider remarriage. They described Don. It seemed I heard the Lord say “What are you waiting for?”

Several months later Don and I married in a small, intimate ceremony.

Don gives me flowers and cards, and shows me regularly how much he loves me. But it’s not always the romantic gestures that mean the most, lovely as those are. It’s the daily acts of selfless love that let me know he’s thinking of me and caring about my welfare. Things like …

… starting my car and warming it up when I have an early appointment;
… unloading the dishwasher before I’m awake;
… installing safety handles and smaller steps for my mother;
… supporting and believing in my call to write.

Don and I laugh at little things and enjoy life, whether we’re doing something special or nothing at all. And yes, we sometimes disagree, or have issues to work through. But we’ve also learned something, by losing our first spouses, about not sweating the small stuff and treasuring the time we have together.

double heartSo, husband, I love you on this special day. I love you every day. You complete me. Looking into your deep blue eyes gives me strength, confidence, and joy; and our shared commitment to Christ roots our love in the Rock of Ages.

Happy Anniversary, Don Victor Loewen!

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