Tag Archive: love

Girlfriends

Driving alongside a very low reservoir en route to the Santa Cruz area last Thursday, I thought of the four college girlfriends with whom I would spend the next few days.

Judy, a tall, striking brunette (now stunning white) was one of the popular crowd. She always had an answer for those who teased her, and the boys loved being around her. Fun, full of confidence, her lovely soprano voice added much to both the college choir and small groups.

Shirley, a lovely Canadian whose family had just moved to Fresno, had another beautiful soprano voice and developed deep friendships with her servant’s heart, often using gifts of hospitality she learned at her mother’s side.

MarJean, a beautiful brunette with a soaring soprano, had also lived part-time in Canada. Jeannie was quiet, pursuing art, music, and deepening her walk with God. She, like me, is a writer. She is now also a beautiful white-haired woman.

The four of us sang together, usually three at a time – alternating voices and parts according to the song and our strengths.

I didn’t get to know Marilyn as well during college. A pretty blonde, she fell in love in our freshman year and married Don after our sophomore year. I still remember the “candlelighting” ceremony when Marilyn announced her engagement to the women’s dorm. But how I’ve learned to appreciate her love and care for her family and her gifts of hospitality!

I lived in Canada until my ninth year, when we moved to California. At Fresno Pacific, Shirley, MarJean and I learned our birthdates, all the same year, are within three days of each other – September 25, 26 and 27. Judy, Shirley and MarJean lived mostly off campus, since their families were in Fresno. But the deep conversations we shared about faith, challenges in our lives, the laughter that rang out when we were together, were gifts that have lasted over fifty years now.

We used to think 73 was old. How perceptions change as we grow and learn that the depth of friendship, faith, and laughter continues!

What rich memories we share. Four married men they met at Pacific. I graduated without an “MRS” degree and waited another fourteen years to marry.

But those gifts didn’t stop after graduation.

Our lives continued to intertwine over the years, as we lost husbands to death or divorce. Several have gone through significant physical challenges themselves, or with much-loved family members. We’ve earned a few more wrinkles, some parts replacements, and some changes in hair color.

So this weekend, just after the last of our 73rd birthdays, we gathered at the lovely beach home of one of our number. We laughed, cried together, shopped (note the “Husband Day Care Center” in the Capitola shopping district), and talked nonstop ’til the wee hours both nights we were together. We encouraged each other and enjoyed the long-time friendships which have woven in and out of our lives over these 50-plus years.

So I’ve been thinking about friendship, and its importance in our lives. I’ve had several precious friendships, these and several others, for decades. Newer friends add joy to my life. Friends grace us in many ways.

  • With shared friendship, laughter, and tears through the stages of life–from single to marrieds, to widowed or re-single, to remarriage; children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and great-nieces and nephews.
  • With hearts and ears that listen and don’t try to fix us. Job’s “friends” tried to fix him and God rebuked them (Job 42:7). They could have just sat in the dust and mourned his losses with him without judging him. Shirley was the first person to whom I told the whole story of my first husband’s last day on earth. She listened, voiced sympathetic sounds, but didn’t try to fix me. I felt ‘heard’, and that was precious.
  • With honest feedback and sometimes, correction. “An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.” Prov 24:26 NLT
  • With forgiveness when they’ve seen us at our worst, and encouragement when we’re doing well. “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9, NLT
  • With calls or visits in times of crisis, from marital trouble, to death, illness, or family crises.
  • With the freedom to hang out even when we are numb and disengaged because of our own pain–and to let us be right where we are at the moment.
  • With the support we feel because of their loving friendship.

I’ve been blessed with two terrific husbands. But someone once said that most women will have their girlfriends longer than their husbands. I’ve known these four women longer than either husband!

A writer younger than I saw a group of 50-ish women laughing together, and commented on their obvious bond. In an article in the Huffington PostKari Kubiszyn Kampakis relates that one of the women told her:

   “’Don’t ever lose touch with your girlfriends, sweetheart. The older you get, the more you’ll need them.’

   Kampakis continues: “The women in the elevator that day were spot on. And now when I see a group like them having fun, I realize the laughter is only part of the story, what comes after the complicated grown-up stuff. And while we certainly need the wonderful men in our lives, for they play a crucial role, too, men simply aren’t designed to understand us like one of our own.

   “Sometimes it takes another woman to intuitively recognize what needs to be done — then do it. Or to sense what needs to be said — then say it. Or to take the thoughts and emotions we don’t voice — and know what to make of them.

   “Having great friends is largely a matter of being a great friend … girlfriends matter in good times and bad, laughter and tears, and through the highs and lows that reveal who’s with us for the long haul, and who’s willing to share in our suffering so that one day, when we’re laughing again on the beach, there will be a history that makes the laughter sound richer and stirs the curiosity of anyone in earshot.”

2015 Reunion

The laughter and conversations my girlfriends and I shared this weekend is richer because of the history we’ve walked through together.

What has made your best friendships rich? Are there friends you need to forgive? I’ve had to forgive and be forgiven; and the friendships that have remained are richer for having gone through the fire and persevered.

Friendships. Important? Critical, even?  YES.

“Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.”

Proverbs 18:24

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Ways to Build Your Marriage

How do you build your spouse and invest in your marriage? While this blog is written to men, most of it applies equally to women. I am often wedded to my laptop in the evenings – ok sometimes, especially if Don and I are both checking emails or doing work online. However, when I put the laptop away to focus on him, my choice means as much to Don as his asking if he can pray for me about a specific need.

http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/relationships/4-phrases-every-man-should-tell-his-wife-no-questions-asked.html

One of the most important ways to be an effective mother (or father) is to love one’s spouse. My parents modeled that for me. Would love to hear your thoughts after reading this.

Blessings, and Happy Mother’s Day!

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad's been in heaven twelve years already.

One of my favorite photos of Dad and Mom. Dad’s been in heaven twelve years already.

WEEPING MAY COME …

charles and karen 2 2 4 15Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read my friend’s latest text. “Hours now.” Her husband was at the edge of eternity. And while I rejoiced that Charles would soon be welcomed into Jesus’ loving arms, I hurt.

I hurt for Karen, his beloved wife, who faces a new journey as a widow.

Don and I hurt because we will miss our friend Charles.

And he and I both grieve for the death of our respective first spouses as the pain resurfaces.

It has been a week of sorrow and tears.

Death is the enemy! But it was never part of God’s Plan. We can hate death, hate what it does to separate us from those we love, hate the pain it brings. I. HATE. Death.

But I also have hope…hope that was refreshed as Don and I recently visited Golgotha, the Garden Tomb, and the Mount of Olives where Jesus died and conquered death, and to which He will return. The tomb could not confine Jesus’ broken body to death’s decay. Instead, He, the Master of life and death, ROSE. Because He lives, we too can live–both now and eternally.

Charles has passed from this earth. But Scripture reassures us that he is very much alive in a realm we know by faith, and from the promises of God. I can picture our loving Savior taking our friend in His arms and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23)

When Don and I learned that Charles had passed, we held each other and cried. As we rested together, a precious song filled my mind.

“It is finished, the battle is over,
It is finished, there’ll be no more war.
It is finished, the end of the conflict
It is finished and Jesus is Lord…”

John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” When He came to the village of his friends Mary and Martha, their brother Lazarus had died and been buried. And Jesus cried. He is not removed from our suffering, nor does He leave us to navigate it alone. He has promised NEVER to leave us, NEVER to forsake us.

“When with the ransomed in glory
his face I at last shall see,
’twill be my joy through the ages
to sing of his love for me.” Charles H. Gabriel

I can imagine “our” Charles’ sparkling blue eyes looking around heaven in wonder, his body falling at the feet of Jesus, his tongue proclaiming “My Lord and my God.” I can imagine him thinking, “Oh, Karen, just wait ’til you see Him!”

For Charles, “weeping may (has) endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5).

Karen, and those of us who love both Karen and Charles, will weep. We will grieve. We will miss Charles’ infectious smile, his jokes and gentle laugh, his kind words; but we also know that joy will come in the morning, when we who free-christian-clip-art-.126follow Jesus will join Charles and the many others who have gone before, to joy in Christ’s presence forevermore.

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BE MY VALENTINE

New love, new hope

New love, new hope

“Will you be mine?” Is Valentine’s just one special day a year, or is it a lifestyle?

Having lost one husband, I recognize more than ever how precious my time with my second husband is. None of us has any guarantees of another day, another hour. Husbands, wives, parents working at the World Trade Center September 11th, 2001 didn’t have any idea that morning that it might be their last goodbye to their loved ones. The motorcycle driver killed instantly in a recent accident had no warning that his life, and that of his family, was about to change forever.

When God brought a lovely man into my life several years after being widowed, I didn’t know if I wanted to commit to a new marriage. I was finding my identity as a single woman, exploring new interests, and not sure I wanted to risk the possibility of going through widowhood a second time. But Don was patient, consistent, kind, persistent. He told me he wouldn’t ask me to marry him until I was ready. And he kept loving me. 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.”

Amazing statement. I kept listening, watching. His love didn’t waver. His kindness was evident in the ways he respected me, as well as my family members. I made a list of the qualities I would look for in a man, were I to remarry.

During a cruise to the Mexican Riviera, a girlfriend and I talked and prayed together. One day I pulled out and reviewed the list of qualities I wanted. Don fit every one of them. As I sought the Lord, it seemed I heard Him say “What are you waiting for?”

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

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

… pulling my car out of the garage and warming it up for me when I have an early winter appointment;
… unloading the dishwasher before I’m even awake;
… helping my mother with small things around her house;
… supporting and believing in my call to write.

Don and I work at never parting without seeking each other out to exchange a hug and kiss; we touch base periodically during the day, whether at home or apart. We love our families, our two sweet Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, the beach, and traveling. We laugh at little things and cherish time together, whether we’re doing something special or nothing at all.

double heartSo, my Valentine, I love you on this special day. But I also 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 Valentine’s Day, Don Victor Loewen!

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Burrowing In

Finding her way in

Burrowing in

The puppies were adorable. Three 3-week olds, a girl and two boys, each with a unique marking pattern of red and white. Two were sound asleep, bodies nestled right against each other. I watched as the third crawled around the other two, looking for an entry.

This third puppy, not yet in the huddle, exhibited no hesitation. After finding an opening, he simply pushed his way in between the other two chubby little bodies. He had no insecurity about whether he was welcome, no fear that they didn’t want him. He just nosed his way in until the threesome was complete, bodies intertwined and touching. “Number Three” knew he belonged.

"I belong"

“I belong”*

My husband, Don, makes me feel like that. He falls asleep almost as soon as he climbs into bed. Even though he’s often already sleeping when I finish my evening ablutions and crawl into bed, I know he wants to hold me before we both sleep. I sometimes hesitate to waken him, but he assures me he wants and needs that connection. So I burrow in. I crawl under the covers and nestle into his shoulder, his arm drawing me close. I know I’m wanted. I have no hesitation about sliding over to his side. I belong, and he assures me of that often.

If I felt insecure in his love, I might hesitate – to waken him, to push right into his arms.

Isn’t that like God? He loves us unconditionally. He accepts us completely. He wants us to approach Him without fear, no hesitation, knowing we belong and are always welcome. He wants us to push our way in like that little puppy who wiggled his nose in until he was engulfed between the two other little pups. If we feel insecure in approaching the Father, it’s because of our own fear—perhaps because of unconfessed sin, a sense of unworthiness, or of simply not grasping His complete love for us.

His Word says “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. “ (I John 4:16b-18a, NLT)

We who follow Jesus Christ belong! He wants us to rely on Him, to come to Him with every need. I Peter 5:7 instructs us to “Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” (TLB)

I’m trying to give Him all my cares but my understanding of His love is still a work in progress. Where is yours?

*Different configuration. This time it’s the girl in the middle. But all know they belong.