The Magical World of Couples

Today I am thinking about couples and remembering that I was a couple for a few short months.

I used to watch couples. I saw them after church talking together deciding where they would go to eat or offering an invitation for Friday night. I saw them in restaurants sitting together. I watched them, as they walked down the street holding hands. I listened to couples, in whose home I was a guest, as they talked quietly after retiring or first thing in the morning. I never knew what they talked about, but I imagined they were planning their day or discussing their children or talking about bills. It didn’t matter what. It just seemed so sweet and intimate.

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Even when I was totally contented with my life, I always thought it would be wonderful to be a couple – to be part of that intimate, sharing relationship – to be the most important person in the world to someone.

 

 

Yes, even when life is good, I believe there is a certain undefined, perhaps seldom acknowledged loneliness that nibbles away at the edges of one’s existence surfacing occasionally bringing just a bit of sadness. Then it is buried again under the busyness of life.

After seventy-seven years, I was ushered into that magical world. I remember the first time I was truly aware of this important transition. Cecil and I went to a Luau, when we were on our honeymoon. We were in the middle of hundreds of couples and we were part of them.

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No one said, “Oh, look! Fayrene is a couple now.” I was the only one feeling as I did. Cecil wasn’t even aware of it. After all, he had been a couple for fifty-seven years. He was used to it, but not I. I was so enamored of the whole thing.

 

When an old acquaintance of mine met Cecil and discovered that we were engaged, she said, “We need to get together. We need each other.”

I couldn’t help but think that in more than thirty years of acquaintance we had never “needed” to get together before. But I didn’t hold it against her. I was actually thrilled and more than anxious to “get together.” And we did.

At the end of that fun evening, my friend said, “I am kicking myself wondering why I didn’t really get to know you all those years ago.” I wondered too.

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After Cecil died I wondered about a lot of things. What happens when you are no longer a couple? During my husband’s illness, the phone rang off the hook. I remember thinking that I hated Alexander Graham Bell. Couples came bringing food and encouragement and stayed to visit and pray.

Then the phone stopped ringing and the people stopped coming. I was no longer a couple, but I liked being part of that scene. Do other couples know that? And, of course, I wondered whether or not my longtime acquaintance, my new friend, would still “need” to get together.

I am a widow now, something I never wanted to be, something I never planned to be.

However, though it was not my plan, it must certainly be part of God’s plan for my life. So, I am single again. Before Cecil appeared, I was an expert at being single. I could go most places and do most things on my own, without fear. But, I am no longer the same single woman I was.

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Something has changed. I do what I need to do, what I am expected to do, but somehow my self-confidence has suffered. I’m not sure where I belong. Going alone to social events is difficult. Recently, at a church dinner, I asked a woman, if could sit at her table.

“Oh, no,” she said. “There are only couples at this table.”

“I used to belong there,” I thought.

I feel a little hesitant in writing this blog. However, I have been made super aware of the many lonely people among us.

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1 Peter 4: 8 – 11, (The Message) “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless – cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words let it be God’s word; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything – encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!

Let’s not leave anyone out. Let’s spread the sunshine, “God’s bright presence.”

Partner vs. Boss

Driving along with the beautiful blue Pacific far below, we were captivated by the lush scenery. The clear sparkling waterfalls gamboled down the mountain side and the Flame trees were a riot of color. Even the intermittent rain showers seemed to add a richness to our surroundings.
We had stopped at a roadside stand to buy fresh coconut candy and macadamia nuts, so we were well provisioned for our drive to the north shore of the Island of Maui. In mid February, it was colder and windier than we had anticipated, but we were in honeymoon mode, so nothing could make us unhappy.

winding roadBeing with Cecil was never boring. There was always something to talk about or laugh at. I don’t remember the gist of our conversation that morning, but it was often interrupted as we exclaimed over the glorious sights. At some point during all of this, Cecil did make a statement that I do remember.

I am sure it was appropriate to the conversation, but still it gave me pause.He said, “I am your boss, you know!”
My boss! I hadn’t had a boss since I left my mama’s house. Oh, I was accountable to God, to my denominational leaders, sometimes I was accountable to a local pastor or a very close friend. But a boss?

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That word holds a negative connotation for me. It implies that someone is giving me directions looking over my shoulder making sure I do everything perfectly without fail. If not, there are consequences.
I am a “self starter.” If there is work to be done, I just do it.

 

No one needs to crack the whip.
I thought a moment.

Then I said, “Sweetheart, I don’t need a boss. I need a partner.

chair (1)Now I know what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:22-24. Wives are counseled to be subject to their husbands in everything. My friends will never believe this, but I really don’t have a problem with that as long as a little common sense is exercised. In fact, I wanted Cecil to be in charge. In particular, I wanted him to be the spiritual head of our home.

I had enjoyed enough independence to last three lifetimes. I was tired of making all the decisions, and trying to solve all the problems. I was tired of worrying about the car, and I was tired of changing light bulbs.

lightbulbI was almost certain I didn’t need a boss. You know, we never talked about it again. We were real partners in everything. We were friends.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 12, (The Message)
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there is no one to help, tough!

Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.

By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst…”
I loved being a partner. I loved being a couple. If you have a spouse, cherish him. Cherish her.

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Perhaps your partner is gone, or maybe you have always been alone, as I was for many years. Let me tell you. You can live an abundant, joyful, fulfilled life with Christ by your side. He is you partner.

 

He will pick you up, when you fall. He will be your co-worker, your protection, and He will warm your heart with His great love. Years ago we sang a simple chorus. “He’s all I need. He’s all I need. Jesus is all I need.” And He is!
One more thing, don’t forget that He is a God of surprises. You never know what will happen, when the SUN COMES UP TOMORROW.

The Courtship Dance

One morning, while I was putting breakfast together, Cecil called, “Come, Hurry!”  I joined him at the dining room window.   Looking out on the back yard I saw the most amazing sight.  Four or five fairly large male blackbirds stood in a circle with their tails fanned out.  They were dancing.  To the right and to the left they circled their heads held high and their steps precise.  There was no music, but it seemed they were keeping time to an unheard melody.

“What in the world are they doing?”  I asked turning to Cecil.

“They are courting,” he whispered.  “Look at the fence.”

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There on top of the block wall was a plain little female bird black with brown markings.    Nothing apparent marked her as beautiful or special or desirable.  And yet, five handsome males were seeking her favor and working very hard at it.  This courting dance continued for some minutes until the little female made her choice by some unobservable signal.  Then one of the dancing birds broke rhythm, flew to the top of the wall, and soared away with the plain little female; his new mate.

WOW, every girl’s dream!  Think of five guys vying for your attention at the same time.

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When I was still a missionary living in Belgium, periodically, I received news from my church denomination.  Sometimes there were sad notices about some preacher’s wife, who had died.  Though I insisted that I had long since forgotten about romance and marriage, I couldn’t help thinking about this or that preacher, who was no longer attached.  He was the right age, and I had always wanted a preacher.  Maybe, just maybe, I could get home in time to snag him.  After all, if the birds can choose, why couldn’t I?  It didn’t take long to find out that men get married again before the body is cold.  So, I put my dream back in storage and went on with my life.

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Then there was Cecil.  When he declared his love for me, it scared me to death.  I didn’t love him.  Sometimes I didn’t even like him.  Surprisingly, he understood.  He was willing to move slowly.  He courted me.  I love that word.  It is sort of archaic, but then so am I.  Courting is a much nicer word than dating.  It harkens back to a sweeter time, a more peaceful, kinder, slower time.  Its main purpose is to give the couple time to get acquainted, and sometimes in some cultures, it lasts for years.  I guess I’m grateful it doesn’t last so long for me.

Truth is I didn’t really know Cecil.  Though I had been acquainted with him for more than twenty years, it was a surface kind of relationship.  So he courted me.  He wooed me.  He drew me closer and closer to him.  Courtship by long distance is not necessarily what I would have chosen, but perhaps after all, it was the best way.  For, we were not distracted by things or people or the physical presence of each other.  Night after night we talked and talked about any and everything.  We prayed together and sang together.  He was always a gentleman careful of my feelings.  I fell in love with this man on the telephone.

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I can’t help but compare Cecil’s courtship to the working of the Holy Spirit in my life.  As a child, He courted me, wooed me; He drew me to Jesus.  And He is still courting me drawing me into God’s presence like a moth to a flame.  Remember courtship is the time to get acquainted.  We must never feel that we have arrived, that we know all we need to know, that we are as close to Him as we need to be.  For, there is yet an abundance in Him that we have never experienced.

Hosea 2:14-15, “Therefore I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  There she will sing as in the days of her youth…”

That is God’s promise to you as you listen to His alluring voice.  He will speak tenderly to you.  He will renew your hope, and you will sing again.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

The Marriage Supper

 

Walking into that reception hall on Cecil’s arm was the funnest thing I had ever done in all of life. I felt like my face would split wide open, if my smile were any wider. Cecil was pumping his fist into the air, as though he had just won a great victory. Our guests were standing, laughing, crying, and clapping.

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I’ve been to lots of celebrations, but this one topped them all. It was an afternoon of pure fun. Cecil even insisted on doing the garter thing as old as we were. All the men who waited to catch the garter were white haired and happily married.

The remembering of that day is bitter sweet, but I am now looking forward with anticipation to another wedding celebration, where there is no possibility of sadness attached.

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The Apostle John wrote these words in Revelation 19:7 – 9 “Let us celebrate, let us rejoiceajjujvvjuujjjj8, let us give Him glory! The marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. She was given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen.

The linen is the righteousness of the Saints. The angel said to me, “Write this: ‘Blessed are those invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.’”

wedding I have been invited to Jesus’ wedding celebration. How about that? Not only am I an invited guest, I am His bride, as are all those who have genuinely loved Him. I became His bride many years ago. I was united with Him when He became my Savior. I don’t understand the mystery of all this, but I know that it is true.

John said, “…His wife has made herself ready.” I remember preparing for my wedding that Saturday morning. The long hot shower. The lotions and perfumes. Applying my makeup flawlessly. No hair out of place. Everything had to be perfect for my bridegroom.

wedding 3Now I am making myself ready for this wedding feast with Jesus where my union with Him will finally be complete. I must purify myself laying aside everything that would mar my relationship with my bridegroom.

I will be given a bridal gown of bright and shining linen, pure, without spot or wrinkle. The linen is symbolic of the righteousness of God, whereby I have been made righteous. When I slipped on that lovely Ivory gown, the day I married Cecil, I felt gorgeous. Suddenly, it seemed as though everything was new. Standing there in the bride’s room with my beautifully clad bridesmaids around me, I looked in the mirror and exclaimed, “Look! I’m a bride!” It was a fairy tale moment.

However, there is nothing imaginary or pretend about Jesus’ wedding supper, to which you and I are invited. I will sit at the table with my heavenly bridegroom surrounded by a vast multitude from every tribe and tongue and nation, from every age since the foundation of the world.

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Eloquent preachers have attempted to describe this magnificent occasion speaking of sitting down to feast with the Apostles Peter and Paul, and the Patriarchs Abraham and Moses. I am convinced that it will not matter who I am sitting beside. There will be no rubber necking trying to spot some Biblical celebrity, for all eyes will be fixed upon Him, Jesus our Lord and Savior, the author and finisher of our faith, our heavenly Bridegroom.

Oh! How we shall celebrate. Can you imagine the sound of that mass choir made up of everyone who has ever believed on Christ as Savior? It will be the sound of a mighty cataract of water, the sound of rolling thunder. Together we will sing His praises.

“Hallelujah!

The Master reigns,

our God, the Sovereign-Strong.

Let us celebrate, let us rejoice.

Let us give Him glory!

The marriage of the Lamb has come;

His wife has made herself ready.”

A new day will have dawned! We will no longer need the sun and the moon for light. All that darkness that you have endured in this life will be no more. Jesus, Himself, will be our SONSHINE!

“Hallelujah!The Master reigns, our God, the Sovereign-Strong.Let us celebrate, let us rejoice. Let us give Him glory!The marriage of the Lamb has come; His wife has made herself ready.”

 

 

 

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

Before his illness, Cecil and I cuddled together on the sofa each evening after dinner. He loved to hear tales about my days in the ministry. One night I wept, as I shared a hurtful experience. Tender hearted Cecil wept with me wetting my neck and shoulder with his tears.

little girl Holding me close, he whispered, “You are so precious.”

Those sweet words turned everything inside me to mush, but at the same time I had an awful urge to laugh right out loud. No one, whom I could remember, had ever called me precious – sassy maybe, feisty, opinionated, pushy, perhaps even pretty or smart, but precious? Never! Oh, I know I was precious to my Mom and Dad, at least I hope I was, but they didn’t use that word.

I knew the word, though, even when I was little. When I was five and six years old, my pastor used to let me sing in the Sunday evening service. But by the time he was ready for me, I had already taken off my shoes in preparation for a nap. He always called me “Little Sister Clark.” So, “Little Sister Clark” padded barefoot up to the platform and sang. My favorite vintsong was “Jewels.”

Little children, little children,

Who love their Redeemer.

Are His jewels, PRECIOUS jewels.

His loved and His own.

In Sunday school, we also sang “…red and yellow, black and white. They are PRECIOUS in His sight. Jesus loves the little children…”

I knew the word. I understood that I was precious, whatever that meant. I figured it must be good, because Jesus loved me and I belonged to Him.

I finally found out that precious means something of value or high price, something highly esteemed or cherished, or something excessively refined or costly.

vintage girl 1We speak of precious metals, precious gems, and works of art by the Masters. The Hope Diamond is valued at $350,000,000.00, the 3,106 carat Cullinan Diamond at $400.000.000.00. It has been suggested that the country of France sell off the Mona Lisa, said to be worth $787,000,000.00, in order to pay their national debt.

It is not unusual for people to pay millions for some artifact to hang on a wall or display in a glass front case. To these people things are precious and money is not an issue.

However, there is something or someone far more precious than paintings and jewels. Cecil was right. I am precious! You are precious!

The Mona Lisa was created by the master painter, Leonardo de Vinci.

You were created by the Master of all masters, God Himself. He, who spoke the worlds into existence, formed you with his own hands. What a sculptor!

If the Mona Lisa is valued at $787,000,000.00, think of your value to the heart of God.

vintA precious thing is esteemed or cherished, and so also are you. In Zephaniah 3:17, we read, “He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” Did you know, you make the heart of God glad? I, of all people, make the heart of God glad. Think of that!

Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord takes pleasure in His people.” Just as you would stand before the Mona Lisa or the Hope diamond and admire the beauty and perfection, so God looks upon you and me, His creation, and He says, (Genesis 2:31) “What I did is good!” He takes pleasure in His work.

Now, I must not forget. A precious thing may also be extremely costly. In Matthew 13:45-46 we read of a merchant, who sold all he possessed in order to buy one beautiful pearl. But that’s nothing!

Think of what God did. He paid the ultimate price. He gave His only Son, Jesus, and Jesus gave His life to buy you back from sin and make you a member of His own family.

You are God’s most costly possession. You are of great value. You are highly esteemed. You are cherished, and God has paid a great ransom for you. You are a child of the King.

This wondrous truth ought to make you walk taller. There ought to be a lilt to your laughter, a twinkle in your eye, and a spring in your step.

All the lies the enemy has told you are just that. Lies! You are of value. You are special. You are going to make it, and God loves you!

retro phoneLook up! Morning has dawned, the sun is shining, and God is singing because of you!

 

 

 

 

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow…

Two weeks ago I had never thought of blogging nor did I see a need for it.  I wondered how in the world one could sit in front of his computer all day, when there are so many more exciting and demanding things to do. Now here I am, in front of my computer writing my first blog, and I believe it is God ordained.

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By way of introduction, I am that seventy-seven year old first time bride recently turned eighty. It has been almost three years since my Cecil died – years of pain and sorrow and bewilderment and lots of whys. However, my strong faith in a God who does not fail, a faith developed over three-quarters of a century, has brought me up and out of the pit of despair. It is “tomorrow” and the sun has come out. My tears have been spent, and I have touched again that stream of divine joy, which, for a time, was obscured by the darkness.

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I am ready to remember and celebrate the good and sweet things that defined my brief time with Cecil.

Right now I am remembering in particular that Cecil CHOSE me.   With all my wrinkles, arthritic knees and my pace maker, still he chose me.

Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I’m not bad looking, when I’m fully clothed. In fact, Cecil used to say, “You clean up quite well.” You should know, however, that I am not about to run a marathon or win a bathing beauty contest. Cecil just chose me as I was.

Remember when we were kids choosing teams for kick ball or some other game. We jumped up and down, waving our arms, and yelling at the team captains, “Choose me! Choose me!   We all wanted to be the first one chosen.

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My adopted grand niece used to say, “Mommy, Mommy tell me about how you choosed me, when you went to the hospital and said, ‘I want that baby, the one with the black eyes and the curly hair.’ Tell me Mommy, tell me how you choosed me.”

 

To be chosen is a wondrous thing that marks us for favor or special privilege.   We all long for that kind of affirmation to one degree or another. We all long to be special to someone.

Cecil could have had a harem of women had he wanted, and if he could have stayed ahead of the law. When he was alone those years, he sometimes wandered into a restaurant on Sunday, and invariably, someone would call, “Cecil, come eat with us.” There they were – a table full of lovely, white haired ladies, some of them still beautiful and well turned out. He never refused the invitation.

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In fact, he loved it. He was like a rooster in a hen house. I am positive that any one of those women would have been delighted at his attention. Now that I think of it, did he just wander in?

 

BUT HE CHOSE ME! It was a defining moment in my life, a life changing moment. Someone loved me, someone wanted me.

The beauty of all this is that long before Cecil ever appeared on the horizon, I had already been chosen by another.

In Ephesians 1:4, we are told that God chose us and loved us before time began, before the foundations of the world were laid. The passage goes on to tell us He determined to adopt us and make us His sons and daughters. Our adoption included our redemption and forgiveness of sin. Our Father took great pleasure in making these plans for an abundant life.

It is amazing to know that before I ever came to be, I existed in the heart and mind of God. He knit me together or embroidered me in my mother’s womb, and He had detailed plans for my life before I breathed my first breath.

girl and dog

 

He chose me and He has chosen you! You are His favored child.

 

 

I don’t know where are you today? Have you, figuratively, crawled back into bed and pulled the covers over your head? Perhaps the doctor has delivered a hopeless diagnosis. Your marriage is in trouble. Your kids are running wild. The money has dried up. And God doesn’t hear you anymore. You feel totally alone and unloved.

Listen to me. YOU ARE HIGHLY FAVORED! If you call Jesus Savior, it is because He has Chosen you.

Yes, the night comes. Sooner or later it comes for all of us. But night is always followed by the morning, and with the morning comes the joy.

God has a plan for every moment of your life. Walk with Him. He will be your load star leading you up and out of the darkness.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

The sun will come out tomorrow...