I Didn’t Recognize You With Your Clothes On!

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One story my husband hates for me to tell – but I get such fun out of telling is the Sunday a visitor showed up at church.

My husband loved to get out of the office and into the community.  He felt just sitting at a desk all week was not the best way to be a help and influence to the community.  Since he is a Pepsi fan (I always said if he needs a blood transfusion they could just use Diet Pepsi instead of blood), he always stopped at the local Casey’s for a soda while he was out visiting.

Stopping two or three times a week at the same Casey’s, he became friends with the cashier and often invited her to come to church.  She always had some reason why she could not come.

Then one day she surprised my husband by showing up for the morning worship.  As my husband greeted her in the foyer, she loudly proclaimed, Pastor Paul, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!

I wish I had a camera with me that day to get a picture of the shocked look on his face.  Then, a second later, a picture of the woman’s face as she realized what her comments sounded like and her face turned all shades of red.

Looking around at the congregation that stood by very puzzled at her statement, she explained what she meant.  “I mean, I always see you in jeans and a t-shirt.  I have never seen you in your suit and tie.”

While my husband hoped that everyone who heard her first statement also heard the second one, I just stood there and laughed and laughed!  I still tease him from time to time that I did not know he made pastoral calls in the nude!

39 years Ago – He Met His “Barbara”

It was in January 39 years ago I walked into a church in Bethalto, Illinois, not knowing that I was about to meet my future husband. As Paul and I remember that special day, we still marvel at how God brought us together. So – once again, I share our story.

“We as a community of friends are gathered here in God’s presence to witness Paul and Barbara’s renewal of commitment to one another and to ask God’s continued blessings on them. Marriage, like our creation as men and women owes its existence to God. It is His will and purpose that a husband and wife should love each other throughout their life. Shall we pray?”

This was how our Pastor began the ceremony when my husband and I renewed our wedding vows on our 25th anniversary. We still love to remember that story.

Here’s the story!

While living in the state of Washington, my husband, Paul, found himself a single father trying to raise two teenagers. Needing support, he returned to his home town to be near family. He was very lonely and began to pray for a Christian wife. Since he was a minister and also loved to sing, he asked God if it would be possible that this wife would also play the piano and be able to work with him in the ministry.

Her name will be Barbara

While praying, he felt impressed in his spirit that God would grant him that request and that his future wife would be named “Barbara.” He was afraid at first to share that thought with anyone as he felt they would think he was crazy. But it was so real to him he needed to reveal it to someone. He finally related that information with a couple at the large church he was attending but no one else.

Four months later I walked into the church with my two young daughters.

While living in Southeast Missouri, my first husband was accidentally killed leaving me with two small daughters to care for. Everything I read about grief told me that I should make no sudden changes or moves for at least a year. However, after a year of trying to make it far from home, I decided to return to Illinois where my family could give me much-needed support. While it was great to be close to my family again, I still carried a heavy load of grief and sorrow. I tried to be strong for my two young daughters, but after a while I realized I did not want to continue living alone. Although I longed to find happiness again, I knew that my daughters’ happiness and safety were more important than my own. If I ever remarried, it would have to be a very special man who would love my daughters as well as me.

I asked God to give me a godly husband who would help me raise my daughters.

One year after moving back to Illinois, I decided to attend the church where my parents were members. When I walked in the foyer, I saw a couple that I recognized. They were friends with my first husband’s parents but I had not seen them in years. They seemed extremely happy to see me, but it was only months later that I found out why my sudden appearance at their church was so exciting to them. They were the couple that Paul had shared his secret with.

After greeting me, they hurried to locate my future husband and tell him, “There she is.”

He had no idea what they meant until they told him the red head that had just walked into the church was named Barbara. Paul told them to not say anything, but if this was the Barbara God had promised, God would work it out. A few weeks later Paul asked me on a date and the rest, as they say, is history.

And a good history it has been. Paul has proven to be a wonderful husband and, even more important, a wonderful father to my two daughters and grandfather to my grandchildren.

Today as we look back at the 39 years we have shared, we are grateful that God answered our prayers. I am no longer a red head, but he loves me anyway. 🙂

Aging With a Laugh

December was not a good month for me. It started off with a terrible head cold. My poor nose suffered from constant blowing.

When the cold was over, I had three to four days that were good – and then I got Covid.

Of course, being a good wife, I shared it with my husband.

After a couple of weeks of misery, we both looked pretty bad. I had cancelled my hair appointment when I got the cold and it was now almost eight weeks since I had a hair cut. I keep my hair very short and usually get a trim every four weeks. So with no makeup and my hair sticking out everywhere, I was not a pretty sight. My husband also was looking ragged with no shave for several days.

Then we heard a joke on TV and it has kept us laughing as we slowly recover from the effects of Covid.

Husband, looking in the mirror: “My arms are like little sticks, my chest is sagging, I can’t see my feet and my face is full of wrinkles.”

Wife: “Well, look on the bright side. Your eyesight is still perfect.”

Today I got my hair cut – and I have promised myself tomorrow I will put on my makeup. My husband has shaved and is looking good again.

Still, we are old and certainly are not the wonderful specimens of youth and beauty we once were. 🙂

But we are grateful to still love one another – even with our perfect eyesight.

From One Addiction to Another

For those of you who have followed my blog for awhile you know how much my husband and I love to play Scrabble. I have referred to it as an addiction.

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

My children say when I die instead of a visitation, they will have a Scrabble tournament. Sounds great to me. Too bad I will not be able to take part in the competition.

However, Scrabble has a rival in our love of games now with a board game we recently discovered.

Ticket to Ride is a board game created by Alan R Moon. The game publisher Days of Wonder first offered this game in 2004. It has grown to be one of the most popular board games in the world selling more than eight million copies all over the world.

The original version shows a map of the USA and southern Canada. Each player has a set of plastic trains and starts out with four cards that show train cars in different colors. When it is your turn you can add more cards to your hand or claim a route on the map. In order to claim a route, you must have enough cards of the same color as the track.

Each time you claim a route you are given points – the longer the route, the more points. This continues until one player has two or less train tokens left. The player with the most points win. To add interest to it, the player with the longest continuous train gets extra points.

The original game was a map of the USA but the game has become so popular that there are multiple versions of the game. You can now play it online, on your iPad or on Xbox. Although the basic concept is the same in each game, there are variations for each game that make it each one unique and keep it interesting.

We currently have:

Original Ticket to Ride (USA and Canada)

Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails (two-sided board with the world on one side and the Great Lakes on the other.) Since we live in Michigan, we love the Great Lakes side.

Our latest addition is Ticket to Ride the Heart of Africa

While this new game does add variety to our game nights and perhaps helps to keep our old age brains working, it is doubtful that it can totally take the place of Scrabble. We have had a long-term love affair with that game. We celebrated reaching 1000 games in 2020 – and while we continue to keep a record of our scores, I doubt we will ever make it to another 1000 games (since I am 74 and my husband is 82.)

If you are looking for a fun board game for yourself or for a Christmas present, I can recommend one of the many different versions of this interesting game.

Friday’s List – Thankfulness

Next week we celebrate Thanksgiving. As I began reflecting on my many blessings and making a list of things to be grateful for, I realized we often mention the “big” ones (which we should) like knowing Jesus Christ or our family. Then I thought how often we just take much for granted without stopping to be grateful. Things that are “small” in and of themselves, but that add so much to our life.

So, here’s my 10 things I am thankful for this year.

  1. The freshly fallen snow outside my patio window.
  2. The birds gathered around the birth bath.
  3. The sound of the children’s laughter playing next door.
  4. The leftover chocolate bar I found in my daughter’s collection of Halloween candy. (Don’t tell her I took it.)
  5. The smell of clean sheets taken from the dryer.
  6. Holding my husband’s hand under the covers as I drift off to sleep.
  7. Finding reruns of the Flip Wilson show on YouTube.
  8. The smell of the apple pie as it comes from the oven.
  9. Texts I get with pictures of great grandchildren who live in other states.
  10. My Amazon package bringing me more coffee from around the world.

As I look at this list I realize it reflects the many “big” blessings for which I am thankful. Eyes that can see, ears that can hear, the ability to taste and smell. Family. Finances enough to be able to have food, entertainment, a home.

How often do I just take those things for granted.

This week my prayer is:

Lord, thank you for my eyesight and the beauty I can see each day; for my hearing and the joy of my family’s voices, the music and the bird’s songs; all my senses that help me experience and enjoy the world you have made. Thank you for being able to get out of bed each morning, dress myself and take care of my needs. Thank you for my every breath that keeps me alive. For the love of family and friends which make life worth living. Thank you for another day of life. One more day to love and be loved. One more day to laugh and maybe even cry. One more day to know You better.

And may my gratitude not be a momentary thing as we approach Thanksgiving, but may I be more aware of all my blessings each and every day. Amen.

Friday’s List – Honoring Our Veterans

In honor of those who have faithfully served our country.

My father who served with the Navy in the Pacific during WW II. My mother was left at home to care for three small children. (I was not born until after the war.)

My first husband who was with the USMC in Vietnam. Wounded while there, he earned the Purple Heart and was given 10% disability for problems from his injuries there. Sadly, when he came home, he was met with protesters who called him “baby killer.” After he was discharged from the USMC, we came home with a USMC sticker on our car. One night in St. Louis we were followed by a car full of young people yelling obscenities at us. It was a scary time. He survived Vietnam and then was killed in an accident working on our car in our front yard. He never lived to see the Vietnam vets finally given some respect. I hate that!

My second husband is a 20-year veteran of the United States Air Force. He served in Thailand, France and Germany overseas and in Texas and California here at home.

My two sons (stepsons but still mine) also served in the USAF. The oldest one was disabled as a result of his time in the service. He was a disabled veteran who died over seven years ago.

The youngest served at the Pentagon while in the USAF.

Laughter and Wisdom from the Queen

Since we just saw England celebrate the 70 years of the reign by Queen Elizabeth II, I thought I would share her comments for my Friday list of laughter and wisdom (even though i am a day late.)

  1. Grief is the price we pay for love.
  2. None of us can slow the passage of time; and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings.
  3. When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.
  4. If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.
  5. It has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of mankind.
  6. Children teach us all a lesson – just as the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.
  7. We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.
  8. Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us have a monopoly on wisdom.
  9. Memories are our second chance at happiness.
  10. The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

  1. Pride always demands that “I’ be in the middle.
  2. Let us pray not for lighter burdens but for stronger backs.
  3. In God’s kingdom there are no undesirables.
  4. By loving the unlovable, you made me lovable….Augustine
  5. Married life: telling your husband something ten times only to have him say “You never told me that.”
  6. You are only as pretty as you treat people.
  7. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.
  8. One day you will wake up and there will be no more time to do the things you wanted to do. Do it now….Paul Coelho
  9. Don’t save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.
  10. Don’t worry that your children are never listening to you. Worry that they are always watching you….Robert Fulghum

A List for Wisdom and Laughter – In Honor of Mothers

I have shared some of the one sentence (or two) quotes that I have found either good for a laugh – or serious reflection.

So – in honor of our mothers, let me share some quotes that I hope will make you laugh – but also appreciate your mother.

Things mother would NEVER say:

  1. “How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?”
  2. “Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too”
  3. “Just leave all the lights on … it makes the house look more cheery”
  4. “Let me smell that shirt — Yeah, it’s good for another week”
  5. “Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day”
  6. “Well, if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”
  7. “The curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”
  8. “I don’t have a tissue with me … just use your sleeve”
  9. “Don’t bother wearing a jacket – the wind-chill is bound to improve.
  10. You don’t want to eat your vegetables – just grab a hand of M&M’s.

My Challenge for 2022

This time last year we hit the 1000 game mark in our ongoing Scrabble contest. It is doubtful that we will ever reach the 2000 game mark, but we still enjoy playing.

This New Year’s Eve found my husband and I tied for number of games won for the year.

Sadly, I must report that he won the game yesterday – so he is the reigning champ for 2021.

But this year is going to be mine!

Happy New Year to my readers!