Friday, February 26, 2016

Talking Love With Nancy Shew Bolton



Ah, love! Such a topic!

For me, I had a close, loving family growing up, but we hit some rough times when my siblings and I were all teenagers in the 1960’s, and the closeness often became strained and rocky, especially with our Dad who felt pretty overwhelmed with his outspoken, stubborn children. How I longed for the uncomplicated days when we were smaller!

 I’d always gotten along well with boys, and often preferred their company. But due to a childhood trauma, as I grew older, I was wary of any romantic relationships, and figured I’d never marry since the whole dating process appeared pretty scary to me. Though I perceived interest from various boys during high school, I kept a friendly distance, protecting myself from the titanic hurts I watched my siblings suffer as they navigated through their dating years.

Then, in my junior year, when I was seventeen, I became re-acquainted with a boy who’d once lived next door to us years back, and who I’d hardly seen in recent years. He had soulful, dark blue eyes, and a marvelous, quirky sense of humor which captivated me. He didn’t show any of the annoying romantic attention that always made me wary, and I delighted in humorous bantering with him, and sharing comic observations about everything. He was such fun to talk to.

Somehow, he snuck through my giant defenses, and I found myself fascinated at the thought of getting to know him as more than a friend. Though I resisted it once I realized he was becoming romantic toward me, it grew more difficult to push away the strong feelings I had for him. To his credit, he waited and maintained our friendship while the attraction deepened. When I finally opened the door to my heart, he rushed in and though we’ve had our rough times, now five sons and 40 plus years later, he still makes me laugh and is my other half.

We also shared our spiritual journey toward new birth in Christ in our twenties, and God has been a huge part of our ongoing relationship. I am well and truly blessed with love, and children and we even have two grandchildren now. We’ve never had a regular sort of life, but I’m comfortable being rather an oddball, and so is my husband, who first taught me to embrace my eccentricities, and enjoy them, just as he’s always enjoyed his and mine.  God makes all kinds of quirky folks, and I’m so happy to share my life with my husband John, though honestly sometimes he drives me nuts!!! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Check out Nancy’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…




A Work in Progress
“Love is kind…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

There’s something cooking outside the kitchen…. 


They’ve worked together for two years, but that’s all they have in common. Like oil and water, they just don’t mix. Julie thinks he’s a shallow flirt, Mark thinks she’s a cold fish. Despite their mutual dislike, they’ve carved out a civil work relationship at the restaurant. But after each of their inner worlds suffer a jolt; the careful, polite kitchen routine becomes a stew of conflicting emotions. Things are about to get interesting.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Talking Love With Julie B. Cosgrove

Sibling Love


I guess most sisters bicker as they grow up. We have a tendency to be a tad jealous of each other. “How come she gets to…” and later, “Why do all my boyfriends notice her?” Even later, “Why doesn’t my husband treat me like hers treats her?” or “”Why are her kids so well-behaved?”
My sister and I are six years apart so by the time I entered my teens she was married. I felt a deep loss and for a long time I felt the odd person out. She and my brother’s wife were closer in age, so they bonded. They always huddled at family events. I felt the pangs of exclusion like the wimpy little kid slumped on the sideline bench whose muscles would never fill out his uniform.
Until my husband died suddenly in the shower getting ready for work. Though five hours away, my sister dropped her life and rushed to my aid. She boarded her animals at the vets, packed a bag and drove to my door. I honestly cannot tell you how long she stayed with me. Certainly until after the funeral five days later. Having lost her husband a year previously, she guided my numbed mind and aching heart through the planning, the visitations and the arrangements as I sniveled for days on in overwhelmed by it all.
When I sold the house and moved to a one bedroom apartment, all I could afford at the time, she returned. We spent hours rubbing masking tape onto the floors mapping out where furniture would go and plotting what I could bring and what I should leave behind for the estate sale. She then monitored the estate sale like an award winning  car salesman, raking in the bucks so I could afford the moving company.
My brother, an attorney, drove in to handle all the legal affairs pro bono without blinking an eye. All I had to do was show up at the courthouse and swear my husband to be deceased—by far my highest hurdle. Declaring him legally dead before a magistrate made it real, too real. My brother stood by my side as my knees quaked. His even-toned professionalism became my boulder. I watched, wide-eyed and tear-blinked as he handed off paper after paper to the court clerk. Documents all identified by letters and numbers which I never understood. 
Growing up, my brother seemed a phantom. Eleven years older than me, he was a teenager locked in his world by the time I could toddle. Then came the college years away. When I was in third grade, he walked down the aisle. After that, he moved away, had a child of his own and built a life. Eventually I did the same. For decades we acknowledged each other like shadows at family gatherings. But that day at the courthouse, he became flesh and bone to me.
God purposes good from tragedy. My husband’s passing brought me closer to my siblings and showed me what family-bound love is all about. Five years later, we are able to communicate at a deeper level, share our feelings openly, and be there for each other through this rollercoaster called life. Now, that’s true love— a love akin to no other on earth.

Check out Julie’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…



Greener Grasses
“Love does not envy…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Twin sisters, Erin and Ellen, covet each other’s lives and husbands. Their festered envy has not only kept them at arm’s length for almost two decades, it has placed both on a precipice of divorce— something they’d never admit to each other. 

Yet after two weeks together with their spouses, as they sort through their mother’s belongings following her funeral, they discover the flaws in their sibling’s “grass-greener” lives. But will that revelation help each sister appreciate her own husband and lifestyle as truly according to God’s plan? Or is it too late for a change of heart? 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Gay N. Lewis - A Whirlwind Relationship




At the age of seventeen, my boyfriend presented me with an engagement ring. I said yes and then wondered what I’d done.

My fiancé was good-looking, charming, and he cared for me, but our goals were different. The man I’d promised to marry planned life as a farmer. Can you imagine me as a farmer’s wife? I grew up in the city, had never even planted a pot of ivy, and possessed no idea about country life.

And to top that off, at the age of eight, I’d surrendered for God’s service. I presumed I’d teach children Bible stories in a distant country in South America. After all, I was studying Spanish.

To say I had second thoughts about marriage to this nice guy is an understatement. Our ideas were totally incompatible. I guess when I said yes I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

I finally decided it would be kinder to undo this tragedy in the early stages rather than continue in a relationship destined for failure. Three months later, on a Saturday night, I gave him the ring back. He reluctantly accepted it and said to me, “You’re gonna get your feet wet.”

As I tried to sleep the night of our heartbreaking parting, I thought about his odd remark. I’d never heard the expression before, but I had an idea what he meant. The thought came to me that my feet had been in hot water when I’d accepted his proposal. I’d just dried them off when I returned the ring.

The next morning dawned warm for early March in Texas. After church, I spent the afternoon washing cars for a high school fundraiser. The project kept my mind off the sadness dwelling in my spirit. During a lull between vehicles, I inspected my appearance and gave a rueful smile. My feet were literally wet, and so was the rest of me. I was a dirty mess, but I don’t think that was the kind of prognostication my former fiancé had meant.

As I finished hosing down the last car, a friend and her mom came by. I declined their invitation to attend a new church, but they talked me into it and waited for me to change clothes. The three of us strode late into the service. The small, crowded sanctuary left no room for us to sit together, so we split up.

A handsome young man with black, wavy hair and sparkling brown eyes led the music.

At the end of the service, he slipped out the back door and managed to be the first one to greet me as I left the sanctuary. The guy must have sprinted—he appeared faster than Texas tornado. We exchanged names and spoke a few minutes, and then I left.
Intuition told me he’d call on Wednesday night. And he did. We made a date to go bowling the coming Saturday night. 

The evening was fun, and in between my falling down once or twice and throwing my ball into the gutter rather than down the alley, I discovered he planned to enter the ministry.

He walked me to the door as our date ended. He kissed me goodnight and then said, “I’m in love with you, and I’m going to marry you.”

Whaaat? Was he kidding? Seriously?

I’d just ended a relationship and had no intention of jumping into another one. This guy didn’t know me, and he loves me? What kind of nut could he be?

Before long, I learned. This man is a fast mover, makes speedy decisions, and is seldom wrong with his discernment. 

Our relationship moved along at a rapid pace, and I discovered we shared the same goals.

He was in college, worked full time, gave twenty hours a week to the church, and somehow managed to find time for me. Before long, a church in Oklahoma invited him to become their pastor. He accepted the invitation, and then drove back to Texas. We met for lunch the day he returned. He proposed marriage—presented me with a ring. I felt comfortable accepting this one, but I wanted to wait before we said the vows. I’d just graduated high school and wanted to attend college for at least one semester. During those few months, I could plan a wedding.

“Oh no, you can’t do that—no time. I told the church I was bringing a wife in three weeks. We have to marry now.”

Whaaat? Was he kidding again? Seriously?

After I gulped back my shock, I responded. “I can’t marry you right now. My mom is in the hospital.”

His reply? “We can have the ceremony there.”

My fiancé drove to the hospital to visit with mom. She was extremely ill, and we weren’t supposed to upset her. She surprised me by accepting the news well, but she asked the young preacher how much money he would be making.
“Fifteen dollars a week.” Came the reply.

Mom almost fell from the bed. “Fifty dollars a week? You can’t live on that.”

Uh oh. She’d misunderstood the amount. My sweetheart merely nodded and said, “The Lord will provide for us.”

Six months after we met, we had a small ceremony in the chapel at the Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas. We said vows on a Thursday night and packed our few belongings on Friday. We drove to Oklahoma on Saturday, and Paul preached his first sermon on Sunday morning.

Our meeting and wedding sounds fictional, doesn’t it? But it is a true story.  I tell it often when I speak to groups. Maybe I’ll include it in a book in the near future. 

My sweetheart isn’t the most romantic guy in the world, but he is kind, caring, thoughtful, and funny. The first time I saw the Dallas skyline lighted up against the black sky as we drove in from rural Oklahoma, I cried.

My new husband said, “If I’d known lights would make you this happy, I would have fastened a string of them in the back yard.”

Three daughters, and four grandchildren later, we find we think alike—even finish each other’s thoughts.

The Lord, Paul Lewis, family and friends are the loves of my life. I’m thankful that God graciously prevented me from making a mistake with a nice guy—but he was the wrong one for me. God was kind to me, and I didn’t get my feet wet. God gave me the husband He’d intended for me all along.  I just had no idea a whirlwind came with him.

And here’s the thing, this man of mine still moves faster than I do. Somewhere over the years, I’ve adapted to his swifter pace. On the other hand, he’s slowed down a bit so I can keep up.


Check out Gay’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…


 Clue into Kindness
“Love is kind…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Georgia loves her husband, Alan. She shows him kindness with actions and words, but Alan responds in a heartless, selfish way. In order to be respected by people, he believes he must have a perfect wife—so he criticizes Georgia at every opportunity—even tells her she’s fat! Alan’s best friend, Ken, and his wife, Jana, reassure Georgia that she is still the gorgeous beauty queen she was during her college days. Who will Georgia believe—her friends or the mysterious stranger who comes into her life?


Circumstances bring a change to Alan’s attitudes. But is it too late to save this marriage?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Old Maid, Do-Si-Do, and the Bottomless Cup of Love Anita Klumpers



  
By the time I was twenty-five my mother had given up on the hope that I would marry. She bought me pots and pans and Pfaltzgraf and flatware because, she reasoned, even single women need to live. And, Lord willing, I wouldn’t live with her and Daddy forever.

Dad wasn’t too concerned. After all, he hadn’t married Mom till he was in his early 40’s. And if God didn’t want me to wed, then I could follow in Cousin Angie’s footsteps and be a missionary in Africa.

The idea of a single life filled me with dread. Please, please, PLEASE God, don’t be equipping me to remain unmarried. I developed crushes. Friends tried setting me up with their relatives. I went out dancing with friends. To bars. After all, I was a nice Christian lady at a bar. Why couldn’t there be nice Christian guys there too? Maybe there were. I never met one.

A few months shy of my 27th birthday I decided I was tired of looking for potential mates. Although not at the point of picking up books on how to enjoy the gift of singleness, I figured it might be time to focus on my relationship with God. So, along with several wonderful single girlfriends I went to a spiritual winter retreat for young adults from a dozen churches across our state. Did I mention I’d determined not to check out every eligible young man also in attendance?

I meant it. So when I took note of a devastatingly handsome man with dark eyes and a dimpled chin sitting across the room, it wasn’t his good looks that got my attention. Arms crossed, looking bored, he was the only one sitting out the square dance mixer. In gracious and generous Christian-girl fashion I thought ‘Jerk,’ and went back to dancing my little size 9’s off and trying to remember my allemande left from my do-si-do right.

Later that night, after devotions, a group of us played cards. A game I didn’t know, called euchre. I’m a dab hand at Old Maid but this one had me flummoxed, and a group of generous friends tag-teamed trying to teach me to play. It was hilarious. Really hilarious.

Later that night a group of us went into town for coffee. The dark-eyed square-dance-boycotter came too. He sat across from me and told me he got a kick out of watching me laugh over euchre. He flirted just enough to make me feel interesting but not so much as to make himself look insincere or lecherous.

We went our separate ways after that weekend and didn’t meet up till early summer. It took him till late summer to ask me out and in the meantime one of my major crushes from the previous few years, a Christian marathon runner and photographer I’d met at work, finally returned my interest and began asking me out. After I lectured God about his timing I realized maybe He knew what He was doing. I had to make a decision between two attractive men (my daydream back in the days before I realized it would be painful) and I chose the right one.

Wouldn’t my story make a fine romance movie? Sort of an ‘At Long Last Love’ type of life? But now, three sons, four grandsons and countless prayers and tears and rejoicings later, I realize that my entire life has been filled with love.

From birth, before my birth, my parents loved me, and continued until their last breath on earth. Aunts and uncles and cousins by the dozens meant extended love and the kind of safety net children long for but don’t always enjoy. Then there is my family in Christ. Brothers and sisters more than the sands on the shore, and wherever there are God’s children there is my family, and we love each other. We don’t always play well together, but the love is there.

My friends—oh, my friends! When I bemoan my limited practical skills and meager dose of common sense I remember my glorious friendships with some of the most godly, delightful, gracious, fault-overlooking women as can be found. I would rather have my friends than an artist’s eye, a singer’s silver tongue, or an athlete’s supple limbs.

On all this abundance of love God set a gem of a husband. He is as attractive, open, and affirming as when I first met him, and he still refuses to dance. Those three sons love me in spite of a plethora of faults and mistakes and my little grandsons still give me smooches in public.

Do I know I have been gifted far and above anything I could think or ask, much less deserve? You bet. But what if God had not seen fit to give me a husband, children, grandbabies? What if my parents had been cold, negligent, absent, and I didn’t have some sort of strange ability to find wonderful friends? Would I be any less blessed? No. Not a bit.

God loves me. God has loved me before I knew what love was. If I had never known human love, God’s love would be beyond the heights and depths and breadths of what I think I need. Jesus prayed for me the night before His death and prays for me today and the Spirit intercedes for me with sighs too deep for words and the Father’s love is vast beyond all measure. What wondrous love is this?!

Family, friends, husband and children have all hemmed me in love, and the love that comes from God is greater than these.


Check out Anita’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…



Hounded
“Love is patient…” 1 Corinthians: 13:4

Elise Amberson’s husbands always die before she can get the marriage momentum going. At least this last one left her with lots of money. Now she can hang out with her dogs, avoid men, and try to keep off God’s radar.

But her dogs are behaving oddly, a pesky pastor can’t keep his hands off her soul, and God is backing her into a corner.

It’s all more than a rich, beautiful young woman should have to bear. But when someone begins targeting Elise, she’ll have to figure out why before she becomes the late Widow Amberson.


Available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/1nIiqWm.