Monday, February 28, 2011

Speaking of Love #28

The last day of the month!  Usually I have no regrets when the end of February rolls around; full speed ahead into March - and spring!  But this year, I find the end of this month a little bittersweet because it's my last day to do my Speaking of Love theme.  I know I could continue it, but I also know that it took up a significant chunk of time during this past month--time that perhaps would be put to better use if I designated it for something else in March.  Something like getting on top of my email inbox again!  So tonight, for the last time, here is a love quote...


Life is short and we never have enough time for gladdening the hearts of those who travel the way with us.  O, be swift to love!  Make haste to be kind.
~ Henri F. Amiel


...and a love letter.  Actually, what I want to share tonight is some snippets from emails that Jeff has sent to me during the past few years.  He still occasionally writes a "real" love letter with pen and paper; but much more often, he jots a quick email that's full of love.  I cherish his words delivered in that fashion just as much as the ones written on the fanciest paper with the most elegant handwriting.  Just to know that he thinks of me...and loves me...  It is enough.  My heart is content.


~ January 22, 2008 (ten days after Tobin's birth)
I hope you have a good day.  I love you, and I know that you have a lot on your plate...but I don't know anyone who could do, or does do, a better job with our boys!


~ July 5, 2008 (written while in Israel)
I miss you too much... I love you so much... please tell the boys I miss them and wish I could be in two places at one time... I am looking forward to the refreshing time together again...


~ October 18, 2008
This email coupon is good for two hours of labor, redeemable once a week for the rest of life:
ideas of labor...
dishes, vacuuming, painting, yard work, laundry!, whatever.
Why?  Because I love you.
This coupon comes with no complaining attached, but a little forewarning is appreciated!  :)
Yaquir 


~ March 12, 2009
Hello there, blue eyed girl,
I just want you to know that I miss you this week...somehow it seems busy, and I don't feel super connected. Yet, I want you to know I am passionately in love with you.  You are my best friend, and the only one I want to spend my whole life with.
I love you,
Jeff


~ March 20, 2009
In my departure this morning...I wanted to kiss you and say I love you...but you were sleeping so deeply I thought it best to let you be.  I do love you, and I hope and pray that the Lord can help me to grow into the kind of husband and father you deserve!


~ February 10, 2010
I love you so much.  Davene, you are incredible...such a great mother, teacher, wife, friend, worker, and Christian.


~ January 3, 2011
That photo of you that Misty took...you look extremely beautiful...your smile, your hair, everything!  I am one fortunate man!

In our bedroom, on the wall above Jeff's closet, hangs a sign that says, "Real love stories never have endings."  Tis true; and I'm so grateful that even though this month is ending, I'll continue to Speak of Love with and for my beloved.  Because one month just isn't enough...  ;-)

Before and After {the Haircut}

Despite the old adage about the shoemaker's children, Jeff is actually pretty good about keeping up with the boys' haircuts.  In our current rotation of Josiah having breakfast out with Jeff on the first Wednesday of the month, David on the second, and Tobin on the third, it has been working well to include a stop at the bank for a lollipop and a stop at the barbershop for a haircut in those special outings.  That takes care of the three oldest boys, but what about Shav?  

I'm not sure exactly how long it had been since he had a haircut, but it had been long enough ago to produce this head of hair on this boy.
With today's current hairstyles for boys, that may not seem the least bit long to you...
...but believe me, for our boys who almost always sport nicely-trimmed styles, it was quite shaggy.
There was even hair over his ears!
A
veritable
mop,
I
tell
you!  ;-)

Time for action:  last Wednesday, Jeff took Shav with him to the barbershop and returned him looking like this...
...a little off the top...
...some off the sides...
...a neat line around the ears and neck.
The master barber did a masterful job, and the boy--who was never lacking in the handsome department--now ranks high in the neat department, too.  :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Speaking of Love #27



It is love in old age, no longer blind, that is true love.  For love's highest intensity doesn't necessarily mean its highest quality...
Passersby commonly see little beauty in the embrace of young lovers on a park bench, but the understanding smile of an old wife to her husband is one of the loveliest things in the world.
~ Booth Tarkington
(I absolutely love this quote!  I've appreciated each of the ones I've shared this month; that's why I chose them!  :)  But this one - wow!  I think it's really good.)

On April 25, 2008, Jeff gave me this card...
...and the funny thing about it is that it was designed by a man named Jeffrey Fisher.  No, not my Jeffrey Fisher, but another one.  How appropriate!  :)
More precious to me than anything the other Jeffrey Fisher did to this card was what my Jeff did and the words of love he wrote.
My sweetest Davene - 

I awoke this morning appreciating you - yearning for more time with you - a desire to be selfishly alone with you.  O how God has blessed us with family, friends, and provision...yet, always hungering with more.  The magic of being content evades me as I thirst for "deeper," "richer," more intimate time with you.  I love you, dear woman, and I am so grateful for your spirit, your companionship, your faithfulness, and your love.

This card was written by a guy with my name...kind of funny!

I love you,
Jeffrey

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Speaking Of Love #25 & 26

Our new neighbors came over for dinner last evening, which was great but left me extra tired.  10:00 PM found me asleep on the couch instead of in my usual spot with my laptop.  So tonight is catch-up night (and if Josiah and David were here, they would chime in with "and tomorrow is mustard night!").  :)


Nightfall
I need so much the quiet of your love
After the day's loud strife;
I need your calm all other things above
After the stress of life.
I crave the haven that in your dear heart lies,
After all toil is done,
I need the star shine of your heavenly eyes,
After the day's great sun.
~ Charles Hanson Towne


Familiar acts are beautiful through love.
~ Percy Shelley


As I was growing up, I watched as my parents gave each other cards for all the important occasions:  birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine's Days, etc.  The cards were beautiful, and the words both lovely and loving.  But as I got older and went through a period of "Love Must Be Wordy," I was astonished that they signed the cards so simply.  "Love, Harold," my dad might write; or "Your Barbara," from my mother.  Where were the lines and pages of breathless words of adoration that the giver of the card penned in addition to the preprinted words of the card?   I knew my parents loved each other; their healthy marriage never failed to be a rock-solid foundation for our family life.  But why were they so spartan in how they signed their cards?

This goes along with what I wrote in this post a few days ago, and I'll try to not repeat everything I wrote there; but in essence, now I get it.  When a man and a woman have expressed faithful, sincere love to each other for many years, maybe they get to graduate from the "Love Must Be Wordy" club to the "Love Can Be Simple" one.  I think that's what happened to my parents; and although I still always write a little extra "sweet nothing" in cards I give to Jeff, I think that might be happening to me, too.  

I can only speak about Jeff and I; but I can see, as I look in the rear-view mirror of life, that much of the abundance of written love that we expressed to each other in the early days of our relationship was caused by two things:  
1. the geographic distance between us and the way that caused so much longing to well up in our souls, 
and
2. (to be frank) the issues with trust (rather, lack of trust) and insecurity that we battled through on our way to creating a stable marriage.  
I suppose the other factor was simply that we were young and headily in love, and there was so much to feel and so much to say.   *Sigh*...young love is so emotional...*sigh again*.  :)

A memory pops into my head:  sitting in the Chula Vista Boys and Girls Club, listening to Martin Bentley preach about marriage.  As Martin preached about the different seasons and stages of marriage, I remember listening and agreeing but not being able to imagine anything other than the newlywed stage.  Jeff and I had a lengthy newlywed stage; in fact, in my opinion, it lasted until Josiah was born, exactly five years and six days after our wedding.  (As an aside, I also remember being jolted out of the newlywed stage when we returned from Israel, eight years after our wedding.  When we left San Diego for Israel, we were still a fairly young couple with a very small, easy-to-take-with-us child, who jetted around town in a Honda Accord.  When we returned two and a half years later, we had two children, had discovered that our mobility had taken a nosedive, and bought a minivan.  Any thoughts I still had about being a young newlywed vanished as soon as we strapped two carseats into that minivan!)  

But back to the point, when Martin spoke about the depth and richness and maturity of love that was possible between two people who had been married for a long(er) amount of time, when he said that it was perhaps a better kind of love even though the butterflies that were so prevalent in the early stage of a relationship rarely showed up later on, I'm sure my head was nodding yes while my heart was still in the fog.  Now, not only does my head nod yes, but my heart does, too.  

Even if I could, I wouldn't trade this golden stage of marriage for any of the glitzy romance of courtship (and I realize that Jeff and I have only been married for 13 years, and that hardly qualifies me to speak about long-lasting marriage, but we're on our way to it!).  The security that comes from years of being together, the inexpressible comfort of knowing and being known, the memories that unite, the joy of discovering something new in the other person's character, the butterflies that do still show up ;-) - all of these are precious beyond my ability to describe.  And so, if Jeff's pen doesn't pour forth such long, ardent love letters as it used to do when we were dating and engaged, so be it.  I'm OK with that.  Really and truly, I am.  The love that he lives is more valuable than the love that he writes.  

Let me balance all of that out by saying this:  I'm a huge believer in the idea of love languages, and it is probably quite obvious by all that I've written here that my number one love language is not words of affirmation.  Surprise!  :)   I'm sure that a woman who did rank that in the top spot might perceive things very differently than what I've described; and likewise, of course, a man whose most important love language was words of affirmation wouldn't write as I did.  But here's where one of the best marriage "secrets" comes into play:  KNOW YOUR SPOUSE.  Talk to him, ask him questions about what makes him feel loved, study him, memorize everything you can about him...and then, DO IT.  Whatever it takes, whatever he needs, whatever form of love fills his tank, do it, say it, make it happen.  If that means long, sappy handwritten letters on beautiful stationary, don't let anything stop you from writing them.  Not even some spilled words found in some obscure corner of the blogosphere.  ;-)

Well!  That was a rather long introduction to the love letters I wanted to share tonight!  I guess I was still mulling over Anne's question about whether Jeff still writes such flowery, passionate, eloquent, amazing love letters, and I discovered that her query brought up a flurry of thoughts for me.  And what do I do with my thought-flurries?  Process them by writing them on my blog, of course!

Without further ado...because goodness, we've had enough ado already!...here is the card Jeff gave me for our third anniversary--June 7, 2000.  Back when, you know, we were still newlyweds and still used copious amounts of words to describe our love for each other.  ;-)
The message on the card itself was very nice, and I'm sure he looked at all the cards in the anniversary section before he chose this one.  Wait.  What's that?  You mean, he didn't?  You're saying only women do that?  You really think this was the first card he picked up?  Well, I declare, men really must be from Mars.  ;-)

Some unknown Hallmark writer did a good job because the card said this:

(when I opened the front cover)
Lately it seems we never
have enough time together.
Between the demands of work and home,
there's not a lot of time or energy
left over for just us.
Today, on our anniversary,
I want you to know
that no matter how busy
life may get,
you're always a part
of everything I am
and everything I do.

(when I turned the page)
You're a wonderful woman,
and our relationship
gives me the strength
and confidence
to be my very best.
And it gives me the love
and emotional support
that get me through
every hectic day.
I can't imagine
life without you.

(on the next page...yeah, it was a long card)
So although some days
we may be too busy
to spend much time together,
I want you to know
that you are at the heart
of everything in my life.


I Love You
Happy Anniversary

(signed, with ardor despite its brevity, I'm sure)
I do love you!
Jeffrey
But then...  ;-)

When the pages were unfolded to reveal the big blank white space in the center of the card, I discovered this:
He wrote:

My beautiful Lady -

This card seemed appropriate for our current schedules.  I do hope in our "new life" [serving in the ministry together, rather than him working as a barber and me working as a piano teacher] we will find ourselves closer than ever and with more time to create pleasant memories together.

In many ways it has been a "quick" three years, due, I am sure, to our happiness together.  Thank you for bringing that happiness to our marriage.  You have demonstrated great patience and longsuffering with all my shortcomings.  I feel unworthy of the wife and the life that God has given me.  I certainly feel privileged, favored, and spoiled.

Davene, I love you so much and am excited to spend many more decades with you at my side.  I comfort in the dreams of raising children together some day...and even seeing our grandchildren.  Life is such an awesome gift.  I love you more than my own self and hope to mature more in that love so that you may feel as blessed to have me as I do to have you!  [Oh, I do, believe me!] :)

Happy 3rd anniversary!

I love you, Happy!

Jeffrey

One last thing to include in this verbose post:  an undated letter from Jeff that must have been written around the same time period as that anniversary card--maybe a little later.
I love you, my Princess!

Thank you for being you.  Often, when I think of you, if you are gone, I miss you and I fall in love all over again.  You are my best friend, my lover, my thrift store companion, my bed buddy, my warmth, my joy, my heartbeat, my dinner mate, and my ministry companion.  God is so great in His infinite foreknowledge!  He demonstrates this clearly to us in our first meeting, the softening of family hearts, our awesome wedding, our faith, your talent, and my schooling.  And now this!  Ministers for Christ!  It is rather astounding!

Thanks, Davene, For Being Mine - 

Forever and Faithfully Yours,
Jeffrey

And I'm forever and faithfully his, too.  ;-)

The Watcher

If Shav is very tired when I put him in his crib, he will lie down quietly while I tuck his blanket under his chin.  More commonly these days, however, he'll immediately stand up, watch me every second until I blow him a kiss and wave goodbye and shut the door behind me, and then he'll go to the window by his crib and look outside.  He watches everything that happens:  the new neighbors going into their house, the pine tree blowing in the strangely-warm-for-February breeze, the cars and trucks going by on the road, Grandpa and Grandma loading things in their pickup to take to recycling.

One afternoon I was spreading ashes from our woodstove onto our front lawn, and I looked up at his room.  I saw his cheerful face peeking out at me through the blinds.  
He even waved at me.  :)
My sweet baby, you are always watching something.  So alert and bright, your beautiful blue eyes don't seem to miss a thing until they finally close in sleep.  But did you know that often, so often, I am watching you?

Friday, February 25, 2011

You're Right!

The friends who commented on this post yesterday had no problem at all identifying the correct answer:  of course, it was a typewriter!  Even more though, they really made me laugh - Miriam with her imaginative portrayal of Jeff's old-fashioned courting of me, Julie with her tale of carbon paper (just a mention of that really takes me back), etc.  What fun!

In the video from yesterday, Tobin was the one who was typing.  My dad had given the typewriter to my boys a few years back; and each of the older ones, in turn, had delighted in pushing the buttons and making the clickety-clack.  It had been a while since we had gotten it out though, but yesterday afternoon during quiet time, Tobin discovered it hiding under his bed, and he excitedly asked if we could get it out.  I said yes, AFTER quiet time.  :)

He was so funny.  Every so often, the keys would get jammed, and the Return button would get pushed, and the whole thing would bang around and make a terrible racket.  He would jump in alarm--every single time--and then after we got the jam taken care of, he would tell me that he was "cared"--his version of "scared."  But not scared enough to stop typing!
video
Free entertainment for all!  :)
video
Yesterday evening, even Shav got in on the excitement.  With the typewriter off, we didn't have to worry too much about him pinching his fingers or otherwise injuring himself.  He was having a grand time; see that look of intense concentration of his face, especially in the way he's keeping his mouth?  :)
video
Also in the video:  Kevin the Painter playing Uno with Josiah and David, Grandma reading Corduroy to Tobin, and Grandpa and Daddy watching everything.  Just another evening in the Fisher household.  ;-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Speaking of Love #24



My true-love hath my heart,
and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given;
I hold his dear,
and mine he cannot miss,
There never was a better bargain driven.
~ Sidney


On Sept. 7, 1999, Jeff wrote me this short & sweet letter on special paper with rose petals and other organic material pressed into it...
My dearest Happy,

I just wanted you to know how happy I am to be married to you (these 27 months!).  I love you so much, and I am amazed at the sacrificial love you constantly demonstrate to me in the acts of service you do.  I am grateful, Schmo.

I hope your day was filled with beauty.  Mine was beautiful in its thoughts of you!

I love you!

Jeffrey

Even short letters can contain a huge amount of love.  ;-)

Do You Know What This Sound Is?

This video is all black.
This video is only 11 seconds long.
This video is of a sound that I wanted to preserve, 
a sound from days of yesteryear, 
a sound that my boys wouldn't be familiar with except for the generosity of their grandpa 
who happened to have an extra one of these lying around in his office.
Please excuse the fussy sounds of Shav in the background; 
those are not what I was trying to capture!
I think around the 9 second mark, it becomes obvious what I'm making a video of.
Do you know what it is?  ;-)
video

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Speaking of Love #23

No, I don't understand my husband's theory of relativity, but I know my husband and I know he can be trusted.
~ Elsa Einstein
(This was a quote I'd never heard before, but I just love it!  The simple trust of a husband is a beautiful thing for a wife to possess.)

For the remaining days of this month, I want to share some of the love letters Jeff has given me during the years of our marriage.  It's difficult to leave so many wonderful letters from before our wedding unshared; but perhaps at another time in another forum, I'll be able to include those.  Recently I had been thinking of sharing letters from our married years anyway, but dear Anne's question (about whether Jeff is still so romantic) in her comment on this post  prompted me even more to dig out some gems from a husband to his wife.

Before I share a love letter tonight, I'll try to answer Anne's question briefly.  

Yes and no.

Was that brief enough?  ;-)

I'm no good at being concise; there's always so much I want to say about every topic imaginable!  And especially a topic as important and complex as this one - well, I could run on and on with my words.  But let me get started with this tonight, and perhaps I'll continue more in future posts.

First, even though Jeff is still gifted with his tongue and his pen and is an eloquent communicator, he does not often write me love letters.  Why?  Because he doesn't need to.  We live with each other after all, and nearly every day we have some time to talk and connect and get a feel for what the other one is going through.  Is it more romantic to be separated by distance during engagement and pour strong emotions into lovely letters?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But no doubt about it, I'd rather--oh, so much rather--have my man here with me, where I can tell with a glance when he's downcast and he knows without words that something is bothering me and we can sit together and express our hearts and fill each other's love tanks...even if it is in a more unromantic way.

These are some of the ways we show love these days:  
~ when he gets home from work and I've got supper ready and I'm hungry and the family is waiting, but he's got his mind set on fiddling around with an old TV he brought home from work so he can see if it will connect to the DVD player so the boys can watch movies, and he asks for a few more minutes, but I want him to stop what he's doing right now so we can eat...I've learned to bite my tongue (I was hungry after all so why not chew on a tongue?)  :)  and stop the exasperated words from coming forth...I've also learned to not huff around and display with my body language a sour, selfish attitude...that's love...this was, by the way, an exact situation I struggled with a few days ago; and it wasn't easy!  :)
~ yesterday morning, I was feeling blah; and as Jeff and I crossed paths in the get-breakfast-for-the-kids-and-build-up-the-fire-and-do-the-regular-morning-stuff routine, he sensed that something was bothering me...I shrugged him off, but he followed me up the steps on my way to take a shower to ask me what was wrong...that's love...I didn't know what to say, so I really didn't say anything...but during my shower, I realized how unfair that was, and I determined to find a moment to communicate with him before he left for work so that he wouldn't be wondering all day what was wrong with me and whether he had done something to upset me...I still didn't know how to put my feelings in words very well, but I tried my best to think of a succinct way of letting him know what I was struggling with--and most importantly, that he hadn't done anything wrong and I wasn't unhappy with him...before I could even get the words out though, he said, "I've got a block of free time this afternoon with no haircuts scheduled; if you can find someone to watch the kids, do you want to meet me for a lunch date?"...that's love

Is it incredibly romantic?  The stuff of Hollywood movies and Hallmark cards?  The kind of thing that makes hearers be awestruck?  Not at all.  But it is love--deep, abiding love built on mutual admiration and respect and caring.  At this stage of life, it is so rich and rewarding and comfortable (in the best possible way) to be loved like that.

So much more begs to be said about this, of course; but for tonight, I'll simply continue by sharing an undated letter that Jeff wrote me, probably in the fall of 1998--or maybe 1999?--I'm really drawing a blank.  

Jeff wrote the letter on a card graced with Renoir's famous painting "El columpio."  Look it up on Google Images, and you'll see one of my favorite Renoir paintings.  (Not that I'm any kind of expert when it comes to art, because I'm really an ignoramus.  My only claim to knowledge comes from the fact that my father-in-law was a professional artist.  That should count for something, right?)  :)

Inside the card he wrote this letter...
Hey there, Lover Girl - 

It's been some time now since I've written you a letter so I thought today a good day!

I just want you to know how much I appreciate you - all your continual acts of service...laundry, cooking, cleaning, lunches, etc, etc.  You are an inspiration to me.

I am proud to be your husband - proud of the way you serve God's people with the beauty of your voice, the power of your fingers, [with a piano keyboard and music notes drawn beside the text], and the way you always are willing to lend a helping hand.

I am really going to miss you during Christmas...it won't be the same without you.  But we can get a tree after Canada and have the "spirit" before you go - maybe exchange a few gifts before and after!  That'll be fun.

Well, I am missing you here at work today - thank you in advance for the great host you are and will be tonight - I sure pray Steve and his wife become disciples of Christ.

I love you most of all.  :)

Jeffrey

And on the back of the card, he added:

Today, I am in the mood to be a parent.  I know you'll make a terrific mother one day!

Well, if that isn't romantic, I don't know what is!!  :)

I Shall Be Random

~ 1 ~
We have neighbors!  Our nice, new, northern neighbors moved into the house vacated by my parents who, by their move across the parking lot into my dad's old office, have now become our northwest neighbors.  The family that moved in is actually the family that lived there before my parents moved into that house (and my parents moved into that because Jeff and I and the two sons we had at the time were returning from Israel, and my parents had offered to sell us the big house and move into the smaller one...I had always imagined that it might work the other way--that we would live in the little gray house until we could find a larger house in the area--but my parents' generous offer was welcomed by us, and it's turned out splendidly for all of us).  Anyway, when Dad and Mom moved into the gray house, Alex and Ana and their family moved into a home that was the parsonage for a church just down the road from us; none of the church staff needed that house, so it was available to rent.  A few years later, we and my parents started attending that church (and my parents are still members there), and my dad kept in touch with Alex sporadically through the years, enough so that when Alex heard Dad and Mom were moving into the reconverted office, he expressed interest in moving back out to the gray house when it became available again.  Turns out that a new pastor at that church is in need of a place to live so he will end up living in the parsonage that Alex and family just vacated.  A classic case of perfect timing (a.k.a. God working out all the details)!

~ 2 ~
My boys like to remind me of how, one day when we were reading the Bible together at the beginning of our homeschool day, I tried to read the account of Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac; but as I read, I started crying so much that I couldn't even finish and Josiah had to read the rest.  I'm not sure I'll ever live that one down.  I'm also not sure that I'll ever be able to read that story without tears filling my eyes and threatening to spill and a large lump blocking my throat.  

That's not the only story in the Bible that gets me.  Joseph's reunion with his family is another one that, no matter how much I try to strengthen my resolve not to get emotional, I never can make it through without experiencing that familiar tightening of my throat, and I start to blink rapidly to hold back the tears.  Last night, inspired by my friend Margie and her appreciation of Walter Wangerin's books, I was reading The Book of God.  I was glad that all the boys were tucked in for the night and even Jeff was asleep on the couch so that no one could see the actual tears that were rolling down my cheeks as I read about Joseph.

As I'm getting older, I'm finding it easier to relate to the Biblical characters as real people and to connect with the strong emotions behind many of the events recorded in the Bible.  If I'm this connected to emotions when I'm 34, how will I be when I'm 54 or 84?  Maybe by then, all I'll have to do is pick up the Bible, and the tears will start flowing.  :)

~ 3 ~
David could never be accused of lacking imagination.  No, not when he holds out his nibbled-on PopTart and says, "Look, Mom, it's Oklahoma!"
Or when he runs his finger through his salad dressing to draw out a "nose" and exclaims, "I've made Pinnochio!"
And then comes his famous question:  "Will you take a picture?"  :)

~ 4 ~
Five days ago, it was 72 degrees outside.  That's why, in the first picture in this post, David was barefoot as he raced pell-mell down the hill to greet our new neighbors.  That taste of spring didn't last long, however, and yesterday we were back to this...
...a little bit of snow on top of the freezing rain that fell and coated everything. 
Ice made this bare brown stalk (below) look like, in my opinion, a bony chicken foot.
It transformed this patio table into a frozen cascading waterfall.
It made this green picnic table look like the open mouth of a large-toothed crocodile.
And it made this weed (yes, this same weed that I keep photographing) finally bow its head under so much weight and lie gently on the ground.  I think it looks like a strand of rock candy, and I'm seized with a mighty craving whenever I look at this picture!

~ 5 ~
Have you heard the one about Joel Northrup?  He forfeited a chance to win a state wrestling championship because he wouldn't, "as a matter of conscience and [his] faith," wrestle a girl. And to that, I say:  
Good for you, Joel!  I commend you for your actions and sacrifice and respectful manner in which you communicated your decision.  Thanks for being a young man that holds up the kind of standard that I hope my own four young men will hold to as well.  In my book, you're a star.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Speaking of Love #21 & 22

February is marching on, and I am falling behind.  But tonight, I'll get caught up--on this blog theme at least.  Too bad I can't say the same for my laundry!

Here are two humorous quotes to lighten things up:

An archaeologist is the best husband a woman could have.  The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
~ Agatha Christie
(I sure am glad Jeff likes archaeology!)

Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots.
~ Hoosier Farmer

As this month is nearing an end, I'm left with the thought of "But I have so many other letters from Jeff that I'd like to post!"  Well, I won't mourn just yet; I still have some more days to fill with these remembrances from Memory Lane.

Here's one from about two months before our wedding, when he was working in a barbershop in Coronado, California, and was living in the townhouse, right on the bay in Imperial Beach, that would be our first home.

4 Apr 97
Friday

Hello, my love,

I hope you are well.  I am okay.  I got my car back, and I went to Mexico and got one of the frames for my dad's painting (the one you like).  I also got a frame for the work Christopher got us ("I am my beloved's, my beloved is mine") and a frame for a photo of me from Israel.  Then I went to the grocery store and bought stuff like spaghetti, soup, bread, etc.  I hate spending money sometimes.  [Some things never change--hee hee!] 

Attitudes on the job have been a bit touchy - it is hard to keep peace with such emotional people.  I know I am emotional with you, but not with everyone - I certainly do my best not to take it to work with me...

I got 3 letters from you today, one on wrapping paper :), one depressing :(, and one other.  Thank you for writing me.  I am sorry about your depressed day.  You know, I have a zit on my forehead right now, can't hide it, and guys aren't supposed to wear make-up.  :)  Oh well, life is not contingent on outward beauty.

Davene, I do love you, I miss your laughter and company, I long to spend time teaching each other from the Bible.

A little more than an hour and work will be through - I think I will make that spaghetti tonight - it is what I am craving.  I need to run over my bills, too, and make sure they are still current with this move and all.  I might slip by Kim's to check mail there, too.

...

I am sorry this letter has been a little gloomy.  I fasted all day so far...not really on purpose...no food or water since last night...sometimes I do that.  I just get so busy I don't stop to take care of my body.

Thank you so much for the phone call - you have such a way of changing my day.  I love you.  It's  9:20, and I am just sitting down to some spaghetti I made for myself - I used your pan, and now I drink milk out of your Precious Moments cup and spaghetti off your plate...I miss you so much.  Even though I am not a big Parmesan cheese fan, I put some on my spaghetti because it's what you'd do.  I love you, Davene, and in many ways I want to be just like you.  :)

I figured out something I need:  a strainer!  I've been using lids and the cheese grater!  :)

Well, I did the dishes - quick and easy with just me.

I love you, 
Goodnight...
Jeffrey

The second one for tonight was written about a week before our wedding, and this letter did not have a gloomy tone at all!  :)

30 May 97
Friday

Shalom, Happy!

I slept in this morning and am feeling much better.  I went to Outback Steakhouse to pick up gift certificates, but they are closed until 4 pm.  So I will slip by there tomorrow after work.

I am very happy today.  Why?  I can't tell you all of why.  Part is because I will see you this Wednesday!  We will be getting married in a week!  And I am happy 'cause it's all true - our love, our commitment, it's unbelievably true!  :)  But at this moment I am especially happy because I found a small inexpensive surprise for you.  :)  This will be a surprise you'll never forget!  And you'll be shocked to get.  Actually, I'm so excited, it's hard for me to keep from telling you!  It's delicate though, and I am wondering how to take it with me, carry it on?  or put it in my baggage?  Hmm.  I would be devastated if I couldn't get it to you.  I looked all over San Diego for it - some places knew about it but couldn't tell me where to get it.  But today!  I found someone who said he thought he might have one at his house - and I will call him tomorrow to make sure...he seemed pretty sure...and if so...I will buy it off him tomorrow and pick it up.  Mysterious, aren't I?  You want a hint?  Sorry!  

O Baby, life seems like it can only get better as these next few days approach!  I am so happy you will be my wife.  You are my life, wife!  :)  (silly rhyme)

Anyway, it's after 2 pm and time for me to set up for work.  I'm feeling even better and I did not take any Benadryl or aspirin today [he was recovering from a HORRIBLE sunburn].  Thanks for caring for me.  I love you so much!

I can't wait for the rest of my life!

You are wonderful!
...beautiful!
...dazzling!

I love you!

Jeffrey

Wondering what the surprise was?  It was some pomelos.  Some day I'll write more about pomelos and their significance, and maybe then you'll understand why Jeff's gift was so special.  :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Contemplating

It helps, when putting yet another load of darks into the washing machine or stretching a clean mattress pad on a child's bed or putting away sparkling glasses from the dishwasher, to keep the mind occupied, too; that way, the boredom and repetition don't threaten my peace and joy.  Hands that are busy with menial tasks benefit from a mind that is busy with lofty thoughts.

Here is what I've been contemplating today:

Never worry about numbers.  Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.
~ Mother Teresa

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
~ Helen Keller

Some weeks ago, as I was reading Genesis 11, I came across this verse:
Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
To be honest, my natural inclination is to strive to make a name for myself.  Even the good that I desire to do gets corrupted by my selfish, prideful motives.  When I read the above verse, I wrote in the margin of my Bible, "Am I humble enough to not make a name for myself, to be forgotten except by God?"  

Weeks later, I'm still asking myself that--hoping the answer is "yes," but knowing acutely that too often it is not.  Today, as I leave my desk to go scrub stubborn rice grains off a dish and toss wet laundry into the dryer and sweep the porch of its wood dust and replace scattered toys in their appropriate containers, I'll seek to help those nearest me by accomplishing small, yet great and noble tasks, while not puffing myself up to think that I am the one who is great and noble, but remembering instead that I do what I do in the sight of the One Who Is Truly Great and Noble.

Help!  This is no easy task!  :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Speaking Of Love #20



There is a comfort in the strength of love; t'will make a thing endurable which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.
~ William Wordsworth


This evening as I reached into my box of love letters from Jeff, my hand drew forth this letter which I'm going to share; but when I read it for the first time, I almost talked myself out of posting it.  (By the way, it's not as if I have a well-organized master plan for what letters I'll share; it really comes down to looking at the dates on the outside of the envelopes and then randomly choosing one based on what month I'm looking at.  I pull it out of the box, take the letter from the envelope, unfold the paper, and start to read.  Almost always, that is the letter that I post for that night, so it's not as if I chose these particular letters because they were somehow the best or because they expressed the highlights of our relationship.  They are just the "normal" letters.)  

Those who know me well know that I strive to live life as an open book (my reason can be found here, in John 3:19-21), but this particular letter felt even more raw than normal, and I almost held back.  Maybe it felt raw because even though it was written 14 years ago, I relate so closely to the struggles expressed within, particularly where it concerns the church.  But, raw or not, here it is, in all its messy realness:

16 Feb 97
Sunday

Well, my dearest fiancĂ©e - 


Here it is, time to say goodbye again.  Against my will, I am getting used to it:  bursts of joy in a short visit, then back to work and worldly concerns.  I long for it to be different.  I love you, Davene.  I know just as I am anxious to devote myself back to my "normal" schedule and study of the Word, you too are probably ready to apply yourself to your last semester, recitals, choirs, etc.  How will you adapt to such a massive change of pace in your life after moving here?  I trust merely because I know I met you in Israel:  a very unusual environment for you and you adapted quite well.  I love you.


Thank you for letting me go "way out" this Valentine's.  [I don't remember everything he bought me, but I do know it was a lot.  If my memory is correct, this was also the holiday for which he arranged a special candlelight dinner on the beach for us.  So romantic!]  It's uncontrollable for me.  I find myself possessed by you and building the moments in my mind continually for the short times we see each other.  Thank you for sharing this time with me.  Thank you for making me confident of your love and sure of your faithfulness.  Now if I can just hold on, be strong, and strengthen my faith, it all will be well.  I am starving spiritually, Davene.  I am anxious for this time the next few weeks just to search out and draw nigh to God.  I feel distant from Him.  I've been angry and not even identifying it.  Angry that He has left His church, His bride, in such ragged clothing.  She is wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  But He left her alone so long, with His Comforter, of course...but so many people only slightly move in His Spirit... I want to know Him, as a man his espoused.  I yearn for a better relationship with Jesus.


I do want you to come in May.  If you don't, I will certainly do all I can to visit you.  The time away is too much and it scares me tremendously.  I need you; I love you.  I know your love; thank you.


Thank you for the best Valentine's ever.  I hope your flight goes well - ask if they have cranberry juice to drink for me!


Goodbye, my Happy,
Jeffrey

Recipe Box - Russian Tea

Our beautiful warm weather that surprised us here in February has given way to cooler temps and high winds.  Oh, the winds!  There's a wildfire burning west of here, and the wind has pushed the smoke all over this area.  When I went outside yesterday morning, the smell of smoke was strong; but now it's even strong inside the house.  After a few days last week of being eager to enjoy the great outdoors, I am content once again to cozy up inside my home with a cup of something warm.

Besides hot chocolate, the other hot beverage I grew up drinking was this wonderful spiced tea, Russian Tea.  I'm not at all sure why it's named that.  When we lived in Israel and had "real" Russian friends (as an aside, about one in five Israelis is from Russia), I asked them about this tea -- was it familiar to them?   The answer was a resounding "no."  Not only would it have been nearly impossible for them to make it because of the unavailability of certain ingredients (like Tang and instant tea) in Russia, but also it didn't even remind them of anything they would have had there.  So the name remains a mystery.

The directions are not mysterious, however, nor difficult.  All you have to do is combine:
1 c. Tang
1/2 c. instant tea
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves

Mix well, and store powder in a tightly sealed container.  When in need of something tasty and soothing to drink, mix about 4 teaspoons of powder with your cup of hot water--more or less, to taste.  I tend to like mine strong.  :)

Here's a secret that's a little embarrassing:  I also like to eat the powder plain, poured into the palm of my hand to be licked up or eaten straight from the spoon.  Weird, I know, but aren't we all a little strange?  Some of us just do a better job of hiding our quirks, while some of us hit the "Publish Post" button and give all our readers an opportunity to think how bizarre we are.  ;-)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Speaking of Love #19



If you have it [love], you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have.
~ Sir James M. Barrie


After I returned to the East Coast from my California trip over Christmas break, Jeff wrote this:

8 Jan 97
Wednesday

O my love...

You are gone and my heart cannot believe it just yet...Is it true?  O Davene, thank you so much for coming.  While cleaning the house, I've been listening to the recital tape you made me - thank you very much.  You sound great - who is the singer?  I love you!!!

Thank you for the card...now I count the days until Valentine's.  I looked through the paper today at places in Imperial Beach - there is a lot available.  2 bedroom apartments as low as 450- and 2 bedroom condos as low as 650-  We will have to look together - maybe in February??  

...

I also went to the barber college...  Frank suggested his church, Shadow Mountain, in El Cajon.  It's a mega church with over a thousand people, but an orchestra, etc.  I will go just to give it a try...maybe I could take Kim with me next Sunday night they have a service at 6 pm.  Wherever you and I go to church at last, I am confident we will both like it.  :)

The songs you added to the end of the tape are all great - I think your music ability has got my taste all figured out!  :)

...

Well, my love, I know there were a few letters waiting left over back there from me to you, but I will still try to hurry and get this one off to you...time to buy stamps again!

O Davene, you are the greatest!  I do love thee!

Yaquir

On a separate sheet of paper, which was a page torn off of a page-a-day Scripture verse calendar, he wrote this:

O my Happy,

As another day passes, all my surroundings remind me of you... I love you, Davene.  You are my sunshine, my sweetheart, my best friend, my confidence, my joy...so many things - thank you.  I hope doing the invitations goes well for you today, I'll be thinking of you at work.  I am sorry you won't be getting any mail while you are in Virginia [because he was sending all his letters to my college in Pennsylvania because I would soon be returning there].

I love you, Davene!

Jeffrey

When February Feels Like Spring

A year ago, our world looked like this:  snow and icicles, gorgeous but cold.  This year, we've had some unusually mild days here in February; and although I absolutely loved last winter's abundance of snow, I'm not complaining about yesterday's 72 degree weather.  :)  

On Wednesday of this week, Jeff had taken the boys to the dollar store because David had saved up some money that was burning a hole in his pocket.  While there, Jeff saw two kites for a dollar, so he got them, knowing that even if a kite ended up in a tree or suffered a devastating crash landing, it wouldn't be such a great loss.  :)  When he got home, out tromped Jeff, Josiah, David, and Tobin, who were soon joined by two of the neighbor girls, to the front lawn to try their hand at kite-flying.  They achieved marginal success, and it was enough to give Tobin his first chance to go fly a kite.  (I can hear the song from Mary Poppins now...)

I love this picture: the sun on his face, the way he looks so big and grown-up, his look of happy concentration.
 What am I saying?  I love this boy!  He's the element that makes the picture look good!
 Can you see the kite up in the sky?
 Because of Jeff's frequent instructions to Tobin to "back up! back up!", no kites became entangled in trees.
 Old Glory returned safely to earth...
...to fly again another day.  Maybe when, again, February feels like spring.