Valentine’s Day With Old Lovers, Bitter Lovers and JESUS Lovers In An Antique Mall

Valentine Teddy Bear Gift Or PresentIt’s a drizzly, dreary day but love is in the air nonetheless. An older couple comes into the antique mall. They spend a long time looking in every booth. The wife examines things, decides, and unfolds vintage linens to scrutinize them while her husband grunts nearby.

“I love old tablecloths!” I say slyly as I watch her ponder over my assortment of linens. To my delight, she chooses two. She pays no heed to her husband who says,

“You have too many of them.” But really, he doesn’t care. She buys them, along with some Corning Ware and Fire King au gratin dishes.

Ah, love. Husbands and wives shopping together.

A bald man comes in with his lovely going gray-haired wife. I’d say they are at least late fifties, most likely in their sixties. They grab a cart and leisurely breeze through the mall. At last, they arrive at the counter and unload their stuff. I begin wrapping while my co-worker tallies up the goods.

“So what brings you here to our mall on Valentine’s Day?” asks my co-worker, C.

“Actually, it’s our anniversary! We took off work and decided to go antiquing,” the wife says, her face glowing. The four of us chat for a while, about Valentine’s Day, antiques, marriage and grandchildren. They bought vintage children’s books from a series called the Honey Bunch Books, first published in the 1920s. The books, they said, were extra special because their last name is Bunch. Mr. and Mrs. Bunch. So their grandchildren are little Bunches. I love it!

While the Bunches make their purchase, a tall fashion-savvy lady with graying hair is combing the booths. She darts up to the counter, asking if we have some kind of canning pressure cooker. We shake our heads, but she scurries on her quest to find something. I am thinking she needs a little pick-me-up on this Valentine’s Day.

She spots something in a case and I run over with the key to help. “Oh, I thought it was a stop-watch. It’s not. It’s some kind of gauge.” I apologize and empathize with her disappointment. Eventually, she finds something. It is some kind of old kitchen sifter.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” C and I say. “Any plans?”

She makes a noise that is the combination of a guffaw, grunt and laugh. She looks at me and says, “Are you married?” And I say ‘yes’.

“Um, well….” she says with bitterness in her face. Then C tells her,

“I was married for 23 years and then he died.”

And I say, “I was married for 23 years and he left. And now I’m married again.”

The tall nicely dressed lady says, “Well, it’s so hard, especially the second time. My sister did it and I feel so sorry for her. It’s NOT good! There’s so much he didn’t REVEAL to her, until they were married. Like he’s impotent. And he’s got a slew of debt from his CHILDREN’S college loans.” She made such an angry face when she said DEBT from his CHILDREN.

A young man comes in looking for a macrame owl. He says his wife wants one for Valentine’s Day. Remember macrame? It was all the rage in the 70s. We don’t have any but I hope he found one in time to surprise her.

A father in his seventies comes in with his adult son. They are regular customers who collect old model trains. So they stop and chat with us. The dad, a widower on a fixed income, starts complaining about his water bill. I sense something about him, but I’m not sure. The conversation escalates about corrupt politicians, unscrupulous real estate investors, and other complaints.

Then the old man says, “But my HOPE is in JESUS CHRIST.” To which I shout a hearty “AMEN!” I knew there was something about him, something in my spirit bearing witness with his.

C does not really have a clue about our discussion from that point on. I fear she is unsaved. She tells me she goes to a Presbyterian church, just like me. But she goes to the kind that ordain women and never mention our sin. C, who is in her late 60s, has a relationship with her boyfriend but no commitment. I am praying for her.

The old man and I share some truth and babble on about today’s apostasy of American churches. I invite the old man and his son to my church because he says he doesn’t know where to go anymore.

A sharply dressed middle-aged black man wanders through the mall, talking loudly on his cell phone. C and I go off to look at her booth. She wants me to help her redecorate it. We get a little too wrapped up in that. It’s almost closing time.

The black man is waiting patiently at the counter. “We’re so sorry,” C says, “You should have rung the bell!”

“Oh that’s just fine,” he says, “It gave me more time to look around at all this great stuff. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in here.”

“Yes indeed,” I say. I see that he selected a very unusual vintage lamp, 10 vinyl records – Peabo Bryson was on top (and it looked like romantic music), and 2 empty ring boxes.

“Oh boy,” I say, “You’ve got Valentine’s evening all set: soft lighting, romantic music and ring boxes!”

“No, no, no,” he said, laughing. “I’m gonna get me some of that Haagen-Dazs ice cream, some DVDs and just relax…” Ah, a single guy. He threw us a hundred dollar bill and change and went his merry way.

We start shutting the lights. It’s closing time. A pretty young black lady comes in before we get a chance to lock up. “We’re closing,” says C.

“I’m just gonna be one minute,” the young lady says. “I want some cigars that my man likes. The 2 for $25 ones.” (Yes, we sell antiques…and cigars.) She wasn’t exactly sure which ones he likes and we have several that are 2 for $25. We help her decide and say,

“Hope he likes them!”

She says, “Me too! Happy Valentine’s Day!”

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” we yell back. We lock the door.

Happy Valentine’s Day to the vintage-lover wife with the grunting but obliging husband. And to the young man and his wife who loves macrame owls. Happy Valentine’s Day to the Bunches who celebrated their anniversary today.  Happy Valentine’s Day to the bitter divorcee. I hope she finds real love some day. I hope the Haagen-Dazs tasted really good to the man who bought the lamp, the vinyl records and the ring boxes. Maybe he’ll present a ring to a lady one day. And I hope that man loved the cigars that his girl rushed in for.

An especially Happy Valentine’s Day to the old widower and his son who know and love the only One who loves them with an Everlasting Love. I hope I see them in church Sunday!

 

 

 

 

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Cruising Toward Valentine’s Day: Resolutions for a Happier Marriage

lovein-the-airIt’s February 8th. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions went?

Hope they are going well. Meanwhile, as we cruise toward Valentine’s Day, why not resolve to enhance your one flesh union?

Disclaimer: My husband and I are not marriage experts. We both failed at it the first time. We are divorced, Reformed and remarried…remember. Here are some things we’ve learned (and are still learning) from this day forward

How can I love thee better? Let me count the ways…

Schedule regular devotions and prayer together. We all know how important this is, but we often neglect doing this as a couple. It is crucial if we want to keep our marriage intact.

Assume the best of him (her). How often do we come to conclusions about our mate before all the facts are in? Ladies, we (well I know I do!) try to read his mind and motivations, then assume the worst. Not good. Stop it.

No dumping. When he calls from work, or comes home from work at the end of the day, don’t dump problems on him. He’s been stressed for 8 hours or more, don’t add to it. Save the problems, discussions, bills for later.

Guard one another’s souls. This would be the opposite of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’. We all struggle with sin. Confess when you’re curt, wrong, or have lost your temper. Ask for forgiveness and mean it. Ask if your honey has slipped, needs prayer, or needs a broom over his head.

Guard your tongue. This is a biggie. And stop that muttering under your breath. It would be good to do repeated studies on the tongue throughout the year. It’s astounding how many bible verses there are on misuse of the tongue! Many of them come from Proverbs, one of the wisdom books. So here is wisdom:

  • He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
  • Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
  • Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
  • Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:1,4).
  • Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:8)
  • For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: (1 Peter 3:10)
  • And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. (James 3:6)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain. (James 1:26)

sources: Scripture to Help Tame My Tongue and Bible Verses About Power of the Tongue

If those verses don’t convince you to be careful with that tongue, there are many more. Continue reading

True Soul Mates and the Uncommon Union of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards

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Soul mates is a phrase I love to hate. I hate it because our culture has warped its true meaning. Poets and writers have expressed the concept. These, I love. What heart does not flutter at this thought?

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.
-Emily Brontë

or this one:

He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.
-Leo Tolstoy

SIGH.

America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet, penned these lines for her soul mate husband, Simon:

My head, my heart, mine Eyes, my life, nay more,
My joy, my Magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I,
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lye?

 

Jonathan and Sarah

If ever there were soul mates they had to be Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. Jonathan Edwards died at age 54 after he was inoculated with smallpox vaccine. He was aware the vaccine did not work and knew he was dying. I was touched to read that Jonathan Edwards, austere preacher of ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’, could also convey this loving message to his wife while on his deathbed:

“Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her that the
uncommon union which has so long subsisted between us has been of such a
nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and submit cheerfully to the will of God.”

The uncommon union. Spiritual. One flesh, bound together in Christ. This is the stuff of true soul mates.

 “…therefore will continue forever”

The bible clearly says there is no marriage in heaven. Yet these true soul mates, since they are knit together in Christ, will forever be one, as we, the bride of Christ, are all One in Him. What a glorious thought. Earthly roles of husband and wife do not continue, but the spiritual oneness does.

Continue reading

No Shades of Grey: Real Love 50 Ways in Old Love Letters

Fifty is a good number. When you’ve been married 50 years, it’s your golden anniversary. The Bible calls every 50th year a Jubilee. Personally, I feel splendid in my 50s. The fabulous 50s. Our culture seems to be obsessed with this number when it comes to destroying marriage and sexual purity. Some may recall when Paul Simon sang about 50 ways to leave your lover. Now there’s 50 shades of grey that sound so depraved it’s hard to fathom anyone would be enticed by it.

An artist’s palette blends black and white to make grey. While it’s useful for making shadows, it is rather dull and forlorn. I don’t like what lurks in shadows. Grey can’t be trusted. Grey is undecided. I prefer absolute distinctions. Wrong or right. Love me, love me not. No in-between. There are no shades of grey in love.

We need a renaissance of real love. Put the electronic devices away. Stop the curt, lazy texting. Look away from the deviant culture of contemporary literature and film. This Valentine’s Day, write a love letter.  What a lost art! Love letters can be tied with ribbon and saved in shoe boxes. They are monuments of heartfelt love and passion. Real love. Once again, we go back to the past to rediscover such relics of love.

Love letterMay I present to you fifty ways to say you love her/him with the following snippets from old love letters? This is an example of real love:

“…the passing of the years does nothing but deepen and intensify my love for you…and yet I see that there is no end to love…there is no lover, anywhere, writing to his girl who is quite as mad about her as I am. ” — Ever yours, Martyn   (Martyn Lloyd-Jones to his wife, Bethan)

Try constructing a letter, on real paper, this Valentine’s Day. Pick up a pen and express unfeigned devoted love to your spouse. (Honey-do lists don’t count.) I know you’re busy this weekend so I’ve pulled out 50 words and/or phrases to inspire you. These were taken from The Christian Lover: The Sweetness of Love and Marriage in the Letters of Believers. Here is a great review of the book by Tim Challies. I highly recommend adding this little treasure to your bookshelf.

  1. deep

    renoir_dance1883
    Renoir: A Dance in the Country, 1883
  2. intense
  3. endless
  4. mad (about you)
  5. ever yours
  6. your letters are more efficacious to cure my headache than all the drugs of the  apothecaries’ shops
  7. delight
  8. loving kindness
  9. I now covet your heart
  10. the prospect of calling you my own
  11. the life of my life is bound up in your love
  12. abound
  13. beauty
  14. unaffected modesty
  15. fire enkindled
  16. burning and increasing ardour
  17. real regard
  18. sincere affection
  19. anxiously await
  20. felicity
  21. temporal blessing
  22. my dearest friend
  23. communicate your thoughts with freedom
  24. invariable affection
  25. pray for me
  26. humble servant
  27. unfeigned friend
  28. honorable esteem of a wife
  29. he loved her soul
  30. constant
  31. often thought of you
  32. most fondness
  33. many comfortable days and weeks and years with you
  34. perfectly happy
  35. I long for
  36. reading…your letters is more to me than any other company or entertainment which books or friends can here afford mevalentine3
  37. remembering you
  38. to be much together
  39. cast myself at your feet
  40. your devoted servant
  41. great pleasure to find you love me so tenderly
  42. let us stir up each other to return sincere and vehement love for all His benefits
  43. ardent desire
  44. genuine piety which eminently adorns your person
  45. spend my life in happy union
  46. dearest of mortals!
  47. I sincerely love you
  48. my sweet love
  49. pleasing painful passion
  50. passions are blind and dangerous leaders, but when they faithfully follow conviction they preserve their proper place and are not amiss…

Note that last one! It was written by Thomas Charles to his intended wife, Sally Jones, in the year 1780. What wisdom. Thomas Charles is also quoted in #6 about Sally’s letters as a cure for his headache. I bet you thought a woman wrote that one!

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and remember to express real love to your spouse using the ancient form of communication known as the love letter.

Red rose on love letter