Monday, February 28, 2011

Our story part two

I was beginning to formulate in my mind what I should be looking for in a mate. The Lord was teaching me through my observations of Steve and Kathy's Christian marriage, and the negative relationship I had experienced with my former boyfriend. I didn't desire only a church attender, but someone who loved the Lord, not just a protector, but someone who would nurture my spiritual life, not merely an escape from my situation at home, but someone with whom to create a home and family. I was also beginning to think that perhaps it wasn't a boy I needed at all, but that the Lord would be all those things for me, and more. I grew closer to Him, and desired a future with Him at the helm. The Lord had brought me to a place where I felt really alone, and it was to Him that I cried, and for Him that I longed.

My life in Lexington was busy. I worked often, and late, sometimes pulling all nighters after my shifts, to complete the projects for my classes at USC. My art history class was incredibly difficult, held in a dark auditorium full of hundreds of students. I never even saw the teacher up close, as I was assigned a seat in the back. She literally spent the entire class time flicking through slide after slide of art, spouting off dates and long Italian names and places, as we all furiously struggled to take impossible notes. The tests might as well have been in Latin for all I knew of the content, and I was struggling to keep my nose above water. My English class was just as impersonal, but the work was easy compared to my high school AP class. Beginning painting was a breeze, as was anthropology, but French was more of a challenge. My first semester was winding down, and I was ready for it to be over.

My job at Pizza Hut was becoming increasingly stressful. The other employees were living lives very different from my own. Although a few of the girls there would meet me at the gym, or chat with me over lunch, and were sometimes receptive when I tried to share my faith, they were a typical party crowd, and they knew I was not interested in participating. They teased me often about my "goody two shoes ways", which didn't really bother me much, but the s*e*x*ual innuendo from the guys did. Most of the males there were much older then me, and some even sought to protect me, but there was one man named Eric that was becoming increasingly bold in his conversation, and invading my personal space. I tried to make it completely clear that I was not interested, but it never deterred him. He was a strong man, very good looking, and used to getting his way. He was also in authority over me as a manager. I never feared for my safety, as I should have, because I was just that naive, but his advances did make me uncomfortable and confused. I wasn't sure how to handle the issue, or who to talk to about it.

The Saturday afternoon shift at the Hut was the slowest, and least desirable, because no customers meant no tips. One particular Saturday afternoon I was getting ahead so I could leave just as soon as my shift ended. I was doing all the necessary responsibilities, filling the salt and pepper, Parmesan and red pepper flake containers between taking orders, and just basically leaving things ready for the busier evening shift. I was totally unsuspecting that my life was about to change.

My co-worker was seating the patrons as I checked the contents at the salad bar. She chose to seat the late lunchers at my station. At the two person booth next to the far window, were two nice looking young men, nicely dressed, smiling and chatting, and studying their menus. 

to be continued

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

UMMMM, I just don't know

So, I am at dinner with my husband and 3 other couples recently right?, and I didn't know any of them very well, and the man at the head of the table says with a question on his lips.


all eyes turn to me

"Is that your hair" he asked, completely and unabashedly serious!

ummmm, I thought, okay, he is foreign, so maybe he doesn't really know what he's saying.

"Yes?" I reply," it is my HAIR", 
I enunciated clearly in hopes that he would realize his faux pas. perhaps he meant, Is that your car outside, I pondered, or is that your wedding ring on your finger, or is that blouse you're wearing from Banana Republic, anything but is that your real hair? Surely he did not mean to ask that? And of course I immediately felt self conscious about my hair, and also thought to myself, If I was going to wear someone else's hair, do you really think I would choose this sad state of affairs?

"Is it your real color?" he then inquired. 
My mind is reeling now, my real hair, my real color??? I am not offended, I make no bones about coloring my hair, I mean, if I didn't I would look like... 75, and that would be fine to look 75 if I wasn't 46. I am all for aging gracefully, but all in good time you know? I am really OK with people knowing that I color my hair, I mean seriously does anyone really expect people to believe that highlights magically appear in the middle of February when evidenced by my pasty white complexion I have obviously not seen the sun for months? Yes, I color MY real hair, well, Darlene does, and I talked it over with God and He "told" me it is OK. And, as my favorite preacher always says, if the barn needs painting.......well, paint it! but, it is a bit strange to be asked these questions at dinner, isn't it, at a table full of virtual strangers, and even more bewildering to be asked by a man. I must share that said man does own a beauty supply shop, so....I don't know, I just don't know.

"Yes" I answered, a bit timidly, and glanced at my ever even tempered and roll with the punches kinda guy and hubby Michael. What next? my eyes asked pleadingly toward my other half. There is a smirk on his kind face that says "we will laugh about this later, and that is the craziest dinner convo question ever, and I like your hair, and please don't explode as I know you are prone to do when people are rude, and I love you." Yes, all in that one little smirk, all that was said, and when you have been married for almost 25 years, you too will hear whole conversations from your spouse with just a glance.

"At the store it is color # 27" the oblivious to all that is the wrong thing to say in American culture man replies candidly. "It is the favorite color of black women" he adds.

ummmm, I just don't know!

Have you ever been asked a weird or awkward question? do share!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our story part one

It was 1983, and I was just 18, and in my first semester as an art major at the University of South Carolina. I was commuting about 40 minutes from home to attend college during the day, and spent most evenings and weekends serving up Delicious pizza at the hut in small town Lexington. I had only been in the south for just over a year, as my father had been transferred the summer before my senior year of high school and my parents and I had made the move from the cold snowy dunes of western Michigan, to the buckle of the bible belt in South Carolina.

It had been a year of complete culture shock as even the "language" seemed foreign at the time. As the "new" girl in a high school where my graduating class had more students then my entire former school had, both Jr. and Sr. high combined, I received a lot of attention. My clothes were different, my hair wasn't as big, I didn't carry a "pocket book", and I talked funny! Everybody said "yes ma'm" or "yes, sir" when addressing any adult, the halls were a chime with "hey" instead of "hi", it was y'all instead of you guys, "pop" became "soda", and when they asked to "hold" my homework, they really meant copy it! I will never forget the first time my new boyfriend asked if he could "carry" me home, and I laughed and said "well,I guess, but that's a long way, don't you think you might get tired?". 

Just a few weeks after graduation my parents chose to separate after more then 30 years of marriage. Because I had been so very self absorbed at this point in my life, the separation had come as a total and complete shock to me. I hadn't even suspected that things were not right between my parents.  All of my siblings were miles away, and the heart break I was feeling over my parents had become overwhelming at times. Just a few months later my heart was broken a second time by the boy I had hoped to one day marry. I had invested most of my senior year to that relationship, and although many people knew me, I had failed to make any real close girlfriends. My parents had always provided a very secure and happy home for me. I was the baby of the family, and had enjoyed the pampering and attention that came with that role. I had never endured any kind of hardship or even real disappointment before, and I now I was feeling very, very, alone.

As a freshman in college, I was being pursued by a few different very nice Christian guys, but I was not particularly interested in any of them. I didn't really hold out much hope that I would ever find the man of my dreams, so I had stopped "looking".

Steve Boyd was my youth pastor at the time, and he and his sweet bride Kathy had taken me under their wings in recent months. They would invite me over to their lovely home to eat, or to play board games. They would often call and check in on me. I am sure from the outside they saw a young girl who was a bit lost, and beat down, and they were just trying to reach out, and minister to their little Yankee friend. They treated me as their equal, and not like a child, and that felt incredibly good. 

Steve had a beautiful green eyed red headed sister, who was barrelling head first into the mission field of China, and they invited me to come to her "going away" festivities. Kathy had confided in me that she and Steve had met this great Christian man named Mike at a real estate project when they had toured some town homes recently, and that they hoped to introduce he and Steve's sister to one another that night. I remember her saying that just because of his demeanor, they suspected, and then asked, if he was a believer. He answered with a hearty YES, and after a few good conversations with him, Kathy said, she and Steve were both convinced that this man Mike, and Steve's pretty sibling (can you believe I can't remember her name?), were made for each other! Their secret plan was to invite the young man to the party, and happily watch the sparks fly, only to seal the deal so that the sister would soon be accompanied in far away asialand by a suitable mate, and they would "mission" together, and surely live happily ever after. They had it ALL figured out how the Lord would take care of the green eyed beauty.

Our small crowd met at a nice darkly lit restaurant in Columbia, with candles at every cloth covered table, and although I don't remember much else about that evening, I do remember that the mystery man never showed up. So the pretty red head flew off into the wild blue yonder alone, to the sound of our humble rendition of "friends" by Michael W. Smith, and I went back to delivering ice cold beverages to hungry pizza eating customers, and finding my way in the enormous sea of USC students, studying "art", with purple haired, classmates with earrings and tattoos, in my perfect Calvin Klein jeans and shoulder pads. 

to be continued

Monday, February 14, 2011

"Our Story" introduction

"I want to marry a man just like Daddy" said my brown eyed 11 year old side kick, from the passenger seat. 

"Well, choose well then" I entreated, "choose well." 

But then as quickly as those words crossed the thresh hold of my lips, came the reminder from my heavenly Father that my love was not chosen, but given, as a gift... in spite of myself.

I have recently read several "love stories" on blogs of younger newly married women. Their romances are fresh, their stories are recent, and their unions, although not usually seasoned by the hard stuff of life just yet, are beautiful. Most of those that I have read, have been surprised by love, and reveal in the words of their stories their gratefulness to God for the gift they have been given. I love to read their stories, and hear the varied ways that God knits families together.

I have not had the opportunity to read any "stories" from older woman, accept for Monica's online match-up, who is not at all old, just no longer considered a newlywed, and inasmuch as I would not yet categorize myself as that just yet....ahem (old I mean)! I do have a story.

My love is not fresh, although it feels new every day, and it is not recent, nearly 28 years young actually, but it is miles deep, and fire tested, and sumptuously seasoned by some relatively hard stuff, and it is indeed exquisitely beautiful.

So today, on this Valentines day I want to thank the Lord for the gift that is my husband, and tell him publicly how very much I do love him, and how grateful that I am for my story, our story.

I love you boyfriend!

And also I thought it fitting that I would write our story out, not because I would ever forget even a tiny morsel of the miracle that it was, but simply because I want to share with you, and with my children, and someday perhaps, with their children, the miracle that is our love.

It is my intention to write "Our Story"  every Monday, until it's completion up to the wedding day, and I hope you will come back and visit. I would also LOVE to take the opportunity to encourage some of my fellow "older" bloggers to share their stories, so come on Char, Audrey, Jolie, Michelle, Hannah, Danielle, Ginger, etc...we would love to hear some of your stories.

Happy Valentines day!