Dear to My Heart

coffee, cup, laptop, memeGood morning—it’s Thursday! I hope you’re enjoying a bit of springtime weather if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

Today, I’m contemplating a question: How can you love someone you’ve never seen? Believe in someone you’ve never known?

It happens more often than you might think. Even now, in our modern, gadget-filled, instant news days. In former days, people wrote letters. Lonely hearts out west wrote to ladies back east. Sometimes they fell in love with one another through those letters and they agreed to meet. Sometimes, sight-unseen, they agreed to marry.

Soldiers received letters from girls back home. Girls they’d never seen, or maybe only in pictures. How did they know the pictures were real? How could they trust that the letters were truthful? Yet, some did. Relationships began, marriages happened. Love found a way.

For some of us, it’s mind-boggling. It would involve shutting off a part of our brain in order to accept such a thing. Only a desperate person would try something like that. Well, the world is full of desperate souls. Sometimes, love finds a way.

Consider Patricia MacLachlan’s Sarah, Plain and Tall, that tells the story of a woman who answers an ad for a wife and mother. She left her home in Maine and traveled to the prairie to meet the man she only knew through letters. Words on paper. I know, it’s fiction. But how many times in history did this actually happen? Could a person find love and purpose in such a way?

Farther back, in one of my favorite Bible stories, Abraham sent his servant back to their original home, to find a suitable wife for his son, Isaac. The servant prayed in advance that he would find the right woman, the one God had chosen for Isaac. He prayed that the woman would offer him water, and also, water his camels.

Rebekah appeared. Many of you know this story, so you can easily finish it. She was very young, and of course, beautiful. Her kind heart made her attentive to the servant’s needs. She also offered to water his camels, thus fulfilling the servant’s prayers. He knew this was the one.

She had never seen Isaac, and there were no photographs or portraits in that day. She agreed to leave her family and go to a stranger. Sight unseen.

Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. [Genesis 24:62-67 NIV]

How can someone do that? What if he’d been hideous, dangerous, or worse—boring? It involves trust. How many of those who wrote to strangers and fell in love through letters, agreed to meet, then returned home again, disappointed? I imagine that happened, too. A sweet romance I once read happened just that way, but the lady never made it home. On the way to the train station, she met another stranger and decided to stay for a while. She soon realized he was the reason she’d answered that lonely hearts ad, written all those letters, and made that long journey.

Some are spurred by loneliness and desperation to do what others might think is foolish. They’ll cast aside common sense, or whatever it takes to go and find someone. I know many of you have beautiful stories in your life, of how you met your spouse. Maybe you know of someone in your family who took a chance, did something that may seem foolish, could have been drastic, but found the love of their life.

Disclaimer: In today’s world, meeting someone over the internet is extremely unsafe. Please don’t risk your safety!

If you have one of those beautiful stories, I hope you’ll share it with our readers. Leave it in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with another of my favorite Bible passages, about a sight-unseen love, dear to my heart. I hope you know this one, and if not, I hope you’ll take a chance and trust in someone you’ve never seen.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. [1 Peter 8-9 NIV]

Click to Tweet: Today, I’m contemplating a question: How can you love someone you’ve never seen? Believe in someone you’ve never known?

Advertisements

Stay Out of the Attic, Batgirl

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so excited about spring. But thinking about spring led to thoughts about summer, which led to dread over the inevitable bugs and mosquitoes. Then I remembered seeing bats flying one evening last year.

Creepy? Maybe, but I’m a big fan of bats. In fact—

You may not know this, but I am actually Batgirl. Or at least I was. It was eighth grade, and my schoolmates found out my initials were B.A.T. Batman was a popular TV show at the time (the campy one with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was inevitable. When my classmates realized I was embarrassed, the funny joke became merciless teasing. Every day.

Every. Day.

I soon learned to take it in stride. Made the best of it. Laughed it off. I had an older brother, so I had learned to endure ruthless teasing. He was a world champion at it.

And I was always the new kid. Eleven different schools in twelve years. Yes, eleven.  My dad wasn’t in the service, he was just restless. Other side of the fence, greener grass. You know the story. If not, just ask these cows, they know the struggle well.

So, Batgirl was my claim to fame. Even though those kids were teasing me, for a brief interval, I felt as though I belonged. You see, I secretly longed for attention.

So, I understand when kids go through things, and I know what I’m talking about when I say, pay attention to your children. Listen to them. Encourage them. Be positive. Learn the signs of things like depression, low self esteem, and bullying.

I was a smart kid, but I didn’t know it. Both my parents were products of single-parent homes. Mom’s dad flew the coop. After the divorce, her mother worked long hours as a nurse. My dad’s father was killed when Dad was only two. His mother worked hard just to feed and house her four children. Still, they grew up in poverty. My dad never had a dad.

So, my parents didn’t really know how to give us positive encouragement. They were often too tired from working to care. I don’t fault them, because I know how hard it was. My introverted personality chaffed against all the moving around. Constantly changing schools, having to start all over building friendships, left me scarred. That, and other negatives in my life as a child. I’m not making excuses, just telling the truth. I know how hard it is.

Let’s  talk grades. My attic was in good shape, I had the ability, but I had no encouragement to achieve. If I didn’t know how to do something, if I hadn’t understood the directions, I often left it undone, so homework wasn’t always finished. As a result, my report cards were mediocre at best.

By my senior year in high school, I had found a niche in business courses. My grade average improved to the point where I was no longer totally humiliated. If only I’d done this earlier.

Another thing happened that year. My family started going to church. I followed, and my life changed. Faith strengthened me. I had a greater sense of self-worth and a smile that wouldn’t quit. Take that, Batgirl. I came out of my shell. I had a purpose and a hope for the future.

Bats have a purpose, too. I’m a fan of bats, mainly because they eat mosquitoes. Yes, they can also carry rabies, but so can most of those other critters that inhabit my yard at night. I’m content to see them flitting about the dusky evening sky around my home.

The greatest gift you can give your children is your time. I know that sounds trite, but it’s true. They need to hear things like, “you can do anything you set out to do,” “you’re beautiful,” “you’re important to me.” And not just words, but show them through your actions. Dare I say it? Put your phone down. You can look at that when the children are otherwise occupied. You’ll only have them in your nest for a few years. Make those moments count.


I have an author page on Facebook. If you’d like to keep up with me there (when I remember to post on it) please stop in and “like” the page. I’m careful not to overload it with advertising. And I do occasionally offer free things on there, like books and unwanted advice. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/betty.owens.author/

Click to Tweet: The greatest gift you can give your children is your time.

A Sensitive Nature

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, it’s Thursday morning again! Where I live, warmer weather is trying to displace the frigid remains of winter. I have a feeling we’ll go straight to hot weather, with very little spring.

I was reading an article about how dogs sense things humans can’t. Of course, their excellent hearing helps, and the fact they can smell a cookie from one end of the house to another. But they also pick up on things like earthquakes, approaching storms, and of course, the occasional house fire. dog, rhodesian-ridgeback-2727035_1280

They also alert you to critters passing in the night, which can sometimes be annoying. Reading this article reminded me of a family trait of ours. They said Grandma had a sensitive nature. She seemed to know when something wasn’t right with one of her kids. Apparently, she passed that down to me.

The first time (that I remember) happened when I was nine or ten. My brothers and I were spending the weekend at Grandma’s, or maybe it was spring break. I had an odd feeling, like something bad was going to happen. While helping Grandma with the dishes, I mentioned it.

“Can you know when something bad is gonna happen?”

She didn’t say much, but I could see she was thinking about it. “Sometimes the Lord prompts us to pray.”

Before we’d finished the dishes, a car pulled into the driveway. It was Uncle Bud. He had bad news. My dad had been in a car accident and ended up in the hospital. He would be all right, but Uncle Bud had come to take us home.

I never forgot that feeling. I’ve had it many times over the years. I grew up, married, and gave birth to three sons. We were living on a couple of acres. My three guys were five, three, and two. There was an old pond in the woods next to our back lot. The pond had been let go and was covered with scum. I fretted over it, afraid my boys would wander over there.

Three nights in a row, I had a bad dream. The dream always ended the same way. I couldn’t find the boys, and was frantically looking for them. Then I saw four little bodies floating face down on the pond. I’d wake up, heart racing, and terrified. I kept the boys close, never letting them out of my sight.

After a death in the extended family, my parents attended the funeral. My mother called from there to tell me my cousin’s little boy had drowned in a neighbor’s pool. They’d been able to resuscitate him, but he was in a coma. I immediately thought of the dream. There had been four little boys in the pond. My little cousin was the same age as my middle son.

This has continued through the years. I’ve had a bad feeling, or an intuition that something wasn’t right. Sometimes, I found out what it was, and other times, I never knew. I remembered what Grandma said, “Sometimes, the Lord prompts us to pray.” I used these as unctions to pray for whoever may be in harm’s way.

I’m not always forewarned, but it happens enough to make me think I inherited Grandma’s sensitive nature.

I used this natural wonder in my fantasy-fiction “Jael of Rogan” series. Jael had a much stronger ability to sense when something was coming. Her abilities included greater visual acuity, and she could hear sounds from miles away—a helpful gift when you live all alone in the wilderness and have a strong and wily enemy. For more information on the books, you can click the “books” tab above.

Have you ever experienced anything like this, or known someone who has? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks so much for the gift of your time today!

What the Flat Tire Taught Me

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning friends. Pour yourself a cup of your favorite morning beverage, and join me for “story time.”

They say experience is the best teacher. If so, my dad was a good instructor. He was the type who would toss you in the water to teach you to swim. That’s sometimes referred to as the “sink or swim” technique.

It didn’t work with me. I sank like a stone.

When I was twenty, I worked in the bookkeeping department of a small-town bank. I came out of work one day, to a flat tire on my car. No problem. Dad’s office was nearby, so I went back inside the bank and called him.

When he answered, I said, “My tire’s flat. Can you come and help me?”

Momentary silence. “No can do. You fix it.”

“I don’t know how.”

“It’s time you learned.”

Long pause, filled with heavy breathing (mine). “So, you’re not coming?”

“You don’t need me.”

Okay. Back at my disabled car, I waited. He was only kidding. He would come. He couldn’t really expect me to change a tire. Could he?

Half an hour passed. A big, long, empty half hour.

A lump rose in my throat, and tears gathered as I glanced down at my just above knee-length work skirt, pantyhose, and high heeled shoes. I spread my fingers. Newly manicured nails. No!

Once more, I took in the surrounding downtown area. People walking, cars passing. No Dad.

I stared at the offending tire. Even if I could change the thing, I’d put on a show out here, wrestling with a stupid tire in a not-made-for-auto-repair outfit like the one I had on.

Desperation filled my lungs, replacing the air. Panic cruised through my veins. I sucked in a deep breath and exhaled, chewed my lip and wrung my hands. What to do?

Reality set in. He wasn’t coming. My Dad, who was supposed to look after me and protect me, wasn’t coming. Anger took hurt’s place.

After a deep, cleansing breath, I unlocked the trunk and looked at the spare tire. OK, now what?

Behind me, a car slowed. I turned to see a handsome, young man smiling at me, possibly laughing at me. “You look like you could use some help.”

I decided he was just smiling, not laughing. I detected sympathy. I could work with that. This could be Prince Charming.

I nodded, and may have swiped at a tear. “Flat tire.”

He pulled into a nearby parking space. I waited.

When he joined me, I recognized him as one of the management trainees at the same bank where I worked. “Yep, flat tire.” He rolled up his sleeves. Then he lifted my spare out of the trunk, along with a couple of tools I hadn’t noticed before.

He didn’t turn out to be my prince charming, but he rescued me, all the same. Then he got back  on his white horse and rode away. Actually, it was a silver GTO, if memory serves correctly.

I drove home, feeling pretty good about the way things turned out. Dad was right, I didn’t need him. Maybe I hadn’t actually changed that flat tire, but I’d figured out how to get it done.

When Dad came in from work that night, he smiled at me. “I see you got that tire fixed.”

I nodded. Yes, I had.

“Well, now you know how to do it, don’t you?”

I thought for a minute. Should I tell him what really happened?

He patted my shoulder. “I could’ve come to help you, but I wanted you to learn how to take care of yourself. What if I wasn’t around? What would you do then?”

I smiled. “Thanks, Dad.” I had learned something that day. Being a woman had its advantages. I’d gotten my tire changed without making a spectacle of myself, or breaking a nail.

Years have passed, and so has Dad. And I have to confess, I never told him about my prince charming tire changer.

And so far, I’ve never changed a tire. 🙂

Click to Tweet: They say #experience is the best #teacher. If so, my dad was a good instructor. He was the type who would toss you in the water to teach you to swim. What a Flat Tire Taught Me from @batowens

Grandmotherly Advice

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, it’s Thursday morning! What an eventful week it’s been since last I wrote to you. We’ve endured a wintry onslaught, and lots more rain. It’s still raining, but at least the weather has warmed to a more spring-like temperature.

The approach of Easter has me thinking deeply about the grace of God.

I’m studying the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible, and as I read the final verses of chapter 12, I was reminded of one of my grandmothers.

“And neither will I walk off and leave you. That would be a sin against God! I’m staying right here at my post praying for you and teaching you the good and right way to live.”

My granny, Belle Thomason, prayed over her family. Kind of like counting sheep, she repeated the names of her children and grandchildren, as many as she could remember. Every night, she prayed over all of us, because she considered it a sin not to pray.

Granny’s in the middle!

She felt a call of God on her life to pray for those God had given her. The ones she’d given birth to, those who married into the family, and the ones birthed by her children, then her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She lived to the age of 96. That’s a lot of days, and so many prayers going up.

Did they work? Did God answer? I can remember a lot of tragedies, illnesses, losses. Does that mean God didn’t hear her prayers?

Well, I also remember a lot of good and wonderful things. Years later, generations gone by, if you lined us all up, you’d find a great number of Granny’s children who serve the Lord, and not only serve, but love the Lord with all their hearts.

Don’t give up. Though it seems your prayers are fruitless, and God doesn’t listen. Keep on. Never stop. Begin and end each day with a prayer, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in the long run. You see, Granny was a marathon runner, rather than a sprinter. She’d giggle at that analogy, but it’s true, all the same.

She never gave up on any of her babies, even when they seemed to be headed in the wrong direction.

Dad said Granny was “holiness.” Where they were from, deep in the Bible belt, that meant she went to the Church of God. Full gospel believers. Holy rollers. All I knew, is she wore long-sleeved dresses, mid-calf in length, and never cut her hair. She never wore makeup, either. But she had a deep joy inside that wasn’t troubled by what she saw happening around her.

She pieced and quilted until she couldn’t see anymore, and even then, she still made stitches, though they might not line up perfectly. Many of the family slept under quilts she’d sewn and each one knew, Granny had prayed all the while she worked. Those were prayer quilts.

She wasn’t super spiritual or dour, though. Granny could laugh and tell the occasional joke. She’d lived a life threaded with troubles, but stayed the course.

Her husband was an alcoholic, and he’d been known to sleep around. I’m not sure of the story, because it was never talked about, but they divorced. One of her sons died at an early age when his appendix burst. Another of her sons (my grandfather) died at the hand of his brother-in-law. My grandfather had followed in his daddy’s footsteps. He was an alcoholic. My uncle shot him to stop him from trying to kill my grandma. But that’s another story for another time.

So, you see, Granny’s life was often fraught with troubles. But the prayers never stopped. She didn’t give up. She lived to see most of her family living good lives. The alcoholism that ran deep in their veins lost its hold in my dad’s generation. All four of the children in dad’s family fought a battle with the drink and won. All four died knowing salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

What I’ve learned from all this and hope to pass on to you—my grandmotherly advice—is to never give up. Even when the outlook is bleak. Even when it seems there’s no way out. A prayer whispered into the darkness all those years ago, tugs at my heartstrings now.

Granny loved Jesus, and she passed that love forward to several generations. It’s time for me to take it up and carry it forward. Maybe it’s time for you, too.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]