Tag Archives: love

No Time To Say Goodbye

D04A261E-5434-4A2C-AE9F-71B8C0A188E2He’s gone. Just like that. Suddenly. No suspicion. No warning. No alert. He came home from the office, changed his clothes, cleaned the pool, took the trash to the road. It was a typical day like any other. I left to do some errands and he was fine. When I came home my husband was dead.

I wonder what it was like for him to be here alone, those last few minutes, when breath left his body. I wonder if I could have helped him or saved him somehow if I’d been home instead of wheeling a cart up and down store aisles trying to decide what we’d have for dinner next week. He was my partner in life. We depended on each other and I wasn’t there when he most needed me. And there was no way for either of us to know I needed to be. There was no way for us to know our life together was ending that day.

There was no time to say goodbye.

I don’t know how to process this. It haunts me in the night hours. I can’t stop thinking about it. Maybe I never will. It has changed me. Drastically. Do other’s look and see a sadder version of the same Diane? I‘m not the same. Something has shifted. On the inside, I don’t recognize myself. I‘m a totally different me.

Time flies away. We live like there’s no tomorrow. We plan as if we’ll be here forever. But we won’t. The day finally comes when its over and we move on to eternity.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that. James 4:13-15.

Love like there’s no tomorrow. Do and say the things that need to be said everyday. Don’t live as if this is all there is. Live with eternity in mind, always, because we never know when we’ll have to say goodbye.

Or if we’ll even have that chance.

The Final Vow

IMG_0011The first two promises Mike and I made to one another weren’t always easy to keep. We laughed, cried, fought, rejoiced, struggled, walked together and at times, far apart through “for better, for worse. In sickness and in health.”

Many years ago we stood at an altar and repeated, “Until death do us part.” I was a young, starry eyed, romantic, full of warm, fuzzy dreams of how my life would play out with the guy I loved. Those five words, stated so innocently, so glibly have now come full circle.

“Until death do us part.”

Forty two years later I’m experiencing the final vow. This one I get to keep without Mike by my side. That’s how it usually works. After decades of sloshing through the history of our life, one of us got to go. One got to stay.

“Until death do us part.”

My covenant promises to Michael Connis ended abruptly a few weeks ago. The last vow has been fulfilled. The stark, harsh reality of it has left me reeling, gasping, longing.

But the living of it in between the “I Do” and this parting, I will never regret.

The combining of two bodies, souls and spirits is a most wonderful, difficult thing. If you’re still privileged to be living between the first two vows and the last one – BE. ALL. IN.

Love ferociously. Struggle determinedly. Give it all ya’ got until the final vow comes calling.

In the deep grief of a broken heart and the loneliness of long, sleepless nights there will be a spark of joy in realizing you kept the promises.

And it was worth it!

Matthew 19:6 “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

When Love Isn’t Easy

IMG_0201“How do you do it? That’s hard.” This is the reaction I usually get when people ask me what I do. When told I’m the full time caregiver for my son, Jon, and I can’t leave my house unless someone replaces me, the common response is, “I couldn’t do it.”

What? Of course you could. That’s your child. You’re telling me you wouldn’t do whatever was necessary to take care of your child? Hard or not?

Whoever said love is easy?

Most songs written about love are suspended in the infatuation phase, the dreamy, it’s all about how it makes me feel beginnings or the, this ain’t working and I’m outa’ here endings. Not too many start in the middle, where follow through, determination, faithfulness and plodding reside.

Love can feel scratchy as a tag in the neck of a new shirt or painful as open heart surgery. Love is often messy. Complicated. Gritty. It’s sacrificial action, not just starry eyed feelings. It’s giving up much of yourself without giving up on another. It’s relinquishing your desires for the well being of someone else, even and especially when you get very little in return.

Sometimes it IS just plain hard.

I took Jon back to the sedation dentist the other day. This guy who ignores me half the time and rarely lets me touch him, hugged me long and hard before he went down and out in that chair. He was afraid. Needed reassurance. He held on tight ’cause when life gets tough and scary, he knows who’s there for him. He knows who loves him, who sacrifices for him, who would do whatever it takes to assure his well being.

Yet, I’m aware of a love far greater than mine could ever be.

For God so loved the world that he gave..(John 3:16). This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down His life..(1 John 3:16).

Love nailed Jesus to the cross, not people. His painful, bloody, horrific love, went all in.

..he [Jesus] gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness. He was humble and walked the path of obedience all the way to death—his death on the cross. Philippians 2:7-8

He didn’t choose the easy way. The comfort and sunshine path. The all-about-me road.

This love was hard as nails, thick as blood and strong as death.

How does 1John 3:16 continue? We too, then ought to lay down our lives for others. Ouch! That’s some tough stuff right there! I can’t produce sacrificial love in my own strength. My selfish humanity rebels against such a thing. I need more of Him. His grace. His transformative power. His love in me, poured out to others.

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:5

Real love isn’t easy or cheap. It isn’t free. True love costs everything.

The famous 1960’s song proclaimed, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

Yes. It’s still true. But not more of ours. More of His!

Love Never Fails

IMG_0177I was barely twenty years old when Mike and I married on August 23, 1975. I confess now, though I didn’t think so then, I knew nothing of love. I was ‘in love’, but was unaware of the truth that love was not much in me.

Love was all feeling. All desire. And so much about my personal happiness. Of course, I wanted to please Mike, make him happy and keep our love alive and growing, but I had no clue how the melding of two entirely different souls would forge and shape us. I had no idea the process would continuously be both marvelous and difficult, until our last breath.

Over many years of marriage, I have failed all of love’s definitions.

Every. Single. One. And have often prevailed in love’s opposites.

After all this time, I have yet to perfect even one of these:

Love is patient. Selfishness demands, “Now!”

Love is kind. Selfishness retaliates.

Love does not envy. Selfishness is discontent.

Love does not boast. Selfishness demands recognition and approval.

Love is not arrogant. Selfishness doesn’t admit, “I am wrong.”

Love is not rude. Selfishness must have the last word.

Love does not insist on its own way. Selfishness says, “My way or the highway”.

Love is not irritable. Selfishness has many moods.

Love is not resentful. Selfishness is bitter and accusatory.

Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Selfishness retaliates.

Love rejoices with the truth. Selfishness hides in lies.

Love bears all things. Selfishness says, “I’ve had enough. I’m done!”

Love believes all things. Selfishness cancels faith.

Love hopes all things. Selfishness feasts on distrust and fear.

Love endures all things. Selfishness builds walls of protection.

Love never fails. Selfishness gives up and walks away.

One year followed another and as time moved forward, my selfish heart awakened to the idea that love isn’t all about me. And the perception that I, in my own strength and by my human effort, could love as God loves, completely and unconditionally, is now banished. I desperately need His grace and help here. I am a work in progress. Always.

Forty two years ago, two imperfect people merged to begin a journey of growth and improvement. Iron is sharpening iron and two are still becoming one, as we continue to practice what love should be. I have deep gratitude for my husband who steadfastly forgives and doesn’t give up on me, though my love has often failed.

At this point, I think we understand a bit better, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I pray a year from today, I’ll fail less at this love thing as our Love Never Fails learning continues.


From~1 Corinthians 13:4-8 & 13

 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.” Mark 10:7-8

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

2 AM, Jon and Jesus

When I’m out with Jon until 2AM (or whatever time he decides to party ’til), I see a lot of IMG_0326humanity. It’s true, the dark of night often brings out what is most broken in people.

Last night I stood in line behind a man who’d obviously had too much to drink. He was loud and flirting with all the girls behind the counter. He seemed to be a ‘happy drunk’ at least. He turned around and started spilling words on me. I stood quietly looking at him; silently praying for him.

Then a conversation started that went like this:

Him: “Why are you looking at me like that?”

Me: “Because you’re talking to me and I’m listening?”

Him: “Tell you what I’m going to do, I’m going to pay for your order.”

Me: “Thank you. That’s thoughtful, but not necessary.”

Him: “No, I insist. You know why? Cause I’m a kind hearted guy and my mom always told me what goes around comes around.”

Me: “Well, Amen to that. Your mom is right. Mom’s usually are (I smiled). But those are actually the words of Jesus. He said, ‘What you sow, you reap.’ Same thing.”

Him: Don’t Amen me now. I ain’t going to church on Sunday.

Me: “You should. It would be a great place for you to be. Sit your butt in church instead of on a bar stool.” (I smiled again. So did he.)

Him: “OK, so order. I’m paying.” (He let me move ahead of him in line)

Me: Alright then, I’ll let you. The money you spend on me will be one less beer you buy and you’ll be blessed besides.”

I ordered. He paid. I thanked him. He stayed a few more minutes talking to everyone who came in and waved to me when he left. As I ate my sandwich wrap and drank my tea, I prayed He would be overwhelmed by the love of Father God and his life changed forever.

Jesus told us to go into all the world and spread the Good News and the good news is, we don’t need a platform, audience or microphone to do it. We just need to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as we encounter people out in our world, the places we move through as we do life. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

So what is truth?

One man, Pontus Pilot, asked Jesus this question. The answer was standing right in front of him and like most of us, he didn’t ‘get it.’

Jesus said to him, “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And what is love? “God is love” 1 John 4:8.

He doesn’t just give love, His entire being, nature and character consists of love. Love is who and what He IS.

Share The Truth and The Love with someone today? And ask the Spirit to help you do it, not with an attitude or an ‘I-know-better-than-you’ self righteousness, but in the truth and love of Jesus Christ. It’s fun! And you never know what a planted seed might later produce in someone’s life.

Thanks For Loving Me

Jon was in his room, Mike had gone to bed and the house was quiet. I was in the family room reading a book when my phone’s text notification sounded.

I finished the paragraph I was reading, swiped the lock screen off and hit the message icon.

This text popped up:

??????????

I read it, re-read it. And read it again.

I don’t know what prompted my son to send this or what he was doing when he wrote it.  He’s a new father who is discovering how much a parent loves a child and what that entails.

I also don’t remember reading anything that touches my heart the way this simple, random text does.

The years of pouring into, providing for, caring, loving, hugging, teaching, disciplining, laughing with, crying over, worrying about, not giving in or up; all those hours invested in David, summed up in one eight word sentence.

There are no words to describe the fulfillment and joy it brings.

Those raised in dysfunction, abuse, conflict, abandonment, addiction, fear, neglect, anger or the myriad of other human frailties that cause physical and emotional scars, can change the trajectory for your children.

As imperfect parents we can still decide That stops here, whatever the That is, we can choose to not pass it on to another generation. By God’s power and strength we can be the parent our child needs us to be.

We can change. Be different. Make a difference. Forge a new family legacy constructed of grace, mercy, endurance, and forgiveness.

God set the example. He too says, “Thank you for loving Me like I love my Son.” He passed His love on by sending Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for us, and now “We love Him because He first loved us” (John 4:19).

dave asaDavid, now you understand how much you are loved by us and as a father, I hope you have a greater awareness of how much you are unconditionally loved by your Heavenly Dad. It’s your turn to pay that love forward. All the accolades, money and material goods in the world will never take the place of a love heritage passed to a new generation.

I pray, some quiet evening, years from now, when your season of parenting is over and your children are grown and gone, you receive a text like this one.

This one line text message is what parenting is all about.

This is a no regrets moment.

“Thanks for loving me so I can love!” This is the ultimate reward.

Psalm 127:3-5. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”

Isaiah 54:13 “All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be the peace of your children.”

Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents and parents are the glory of their children.”

That Extra Chromosome. A Letter to Jon

Do you know, Jon, the majority of humans have forty six chromosomes in each cell of their body, a combination of twenty three from both their mother and father?

This mix of DNA creates a brand new and unique person. Also adding to the individuality of a new life, are the blended chromosomal characteristics of many previous generations.

Chromosomes are us! It’s miraculous when you think about it.

Then..Surprise! Once in a while, someone wins the extra chromosome lottery, for a grand total of forty seven.

Someone like you.chromosomes

There are some theories about where that extra chromosome comes from, but no one really knows. According to experts, it didn’t come from me or your father, because we each only have forty six. The greatest scientific minds have yet to figure out this random occurrence. They can’t explain it.

I’m certainly not scientific. I barely passed the brain twisting subjects of biology and chemistry in high school, so if the smart people don’t know, then there’s little hope of accurate theorizing from me. But I’ve wondered about that extra chromosome at times.

Did it fall, like a shooting star, from the sky and right into you? Was it something I ate? Did God put it there? Were you specifically chosen for the purpose of carrying that extra copy of chromosome number twenty one or was it just…umm…a glitch? How does a person end up with an add-on?

It’s rather mystifying, so I don’t think about it too much, because doing so ties my brain in knots. But occasionally I find myself wondering who, what, you would be without it.

You probably wouldn’t be living at home with us and by now would have a wife, kids, two cars, a mortgage and a dog. Believe me when I tell you, you’re not missing much not having bills to pay.

I think you’d still love music and movies, and be funny and sometimes grumpy. Maybe you’d still like quiet surrounding you, be a night owl, enjoy long evenings out and slow eating, savoring each bite of your food.

I bet you’d still be messy, a bit obsessive, and would write notes to the people you care about. You would still believe, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” And your smile would light up your eyes, a room, and this mother’s heart, just like it does now.

We have traveled a long way together, haven’t we? You, me and that extra. What a difference it’s made! It’s been a life changer, a guide and a teacher and we are not the same as we would have been without it.

I don’t pretend to understand that chromosome or how or why it chose you. Maybe it’s divine or just ‘fate’. I can’t say.

But it doesn’t matter, Jon, because you with your added chromosome are gloriously loved. And when it comes to love, chromosomes don’t count. We’re all on a level playing field.

“For God SO loved the world…that whosever..” (John 3:16)

The brightest mind on earth cannot begin to comprehend the how and why of this kind of love.

If every single chromosome, in every single cell, in every single ‘Whosever’ in the world, is SO incredibly, fantastically, marvelously loved by the Creator of it all, maybe the playing field isn’t as level as I think.

You must be extra loved.

At least that’s how I see it.

Lucky you!

Ornery Love -The Secret to a Long Marriage

“Can you believe it’s been forty years?” I asked Mike.us web

“Yes and no.” He answered. “It seems like yesterday and like a long time ago all at the same time.”

“When you’ve been married this long, people wonder what the secret is. People ask me that now? So what do you think it is – the secret to making it?”

My husband said exactly what I’ve been thinking lately, “There’s no big secret. It’s hard work and a lot of showing up and not giving up”

Our son, David, recently wrote a great song to his wife, Clara, for their fourth wedding anniversary titled, “Ornery Love”. You can listen to it here.

The word ornery doesn’t typically have a positive connotation but one definition is, stubborn. I like the idea of using it to describe a long lasting marriage because an obstinate commitment to each other is what it takes to keep a marriage alive and growing in a culture that does everything possible to slaughter it.

I’m thrilled our son and his wife are discovering this early on and hope both sets of parents, his and hers, have modeled ornery love well enough to be certain our kids will take the marriage journey from four anniversaries to forty and beyond, as we are doing now.

We’ve done an incredible amount of ornery loving through our years of togetherness and by a miracle of God’s grace we’ve never quit.

August 23, 1975 – 2015! Happy, Ornery #40 to us.

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Unconditional Love – My Special Education, Lesson #8

Unconditional-loveJon was wandering around the kitchen before I left for Sunday morning service, taking stock of the plate I had prepared him and gathering more food from the pantry and fridge.

When I came home, he was standing next to the dinette table just off the kitchen, and had methodically arranged all his food, dishes, silverware and some treasures from his room on and around a place mat.

He’d barely eaten anything while I was gone which is typical for him. He has to have things arranged a certain way before he feels settled and his obsession will often stretch the process out for hours.

The caregiver left and I started on lunch for Mike and I, warming up leftovers, putting a meal together in about fifteen minutes and setting our places on each side of Jon’s. Our son rarely wants to sit and eat with us but it looked like he was about to settle down and I was hoping the three of us would have lunch together this day.

The unspoken Jon rule is this: he can invade your space at any time, day or night but you take a risk invading his. Sometimes you are received, many times not (read more about that here).

It’s somewhat like the kings in the Old Testament who raised a scepter to show their approval if you entered their presence without being beckoned. If approval was not granted you could quickly be missing your head (see Esther 4:11-16).

As Mike and I took our seats, blessed the food and began eating, the expression on Jon’s face tuned into a scowl. We had invaded his space and he wasn’t happy about it.

“Come on Jon,” I said, “sit down and eat with us. You did a great job setting your place here so let’s have lunch together today.”

It wasn’t happening. He began snatching his things off the table and moving them to the dining room, stomping back and forth from one table to the other until everything was moved. No amount of encouragement or pleading convinced him to stay.

It’s always his choice, never ours.

I’ve learned so much about the father heart of God from Jon through the years. I know what it’s like to feel rejected by your child and I also have a greater understanding of unconditional love.

Jon has days when he barely acknowledges my presence. But regardless of how that makes me feel, I’m aware of his social limitations and I still love him. I will always be here for him, reaching, waiting; doing everything I can to give him the best possible life.

There are many ways I want to show Jon how much I love him that he often doesn’t want or accept, so I have to meet him where he is and on his terms.

As I read the Bible, I see so many illustrations of God’s love for His people. His children.

He longs to be with them. He wants to bless them, rescue them, and shower them with love and mercy. He comes into their situations over and over, making Himself available in their darkest hour; if they would only acknowledge Him and respond to His love.

But they don’t. They turn away and break His heart.

Again. And again. And again.

So God waits.

And He’s still waiting.

Waiting for me and you to acknowledge Him.

Waiting for us to respond to His love.

Waiting for His kids to understand the Cross was the very best He could offer to exchange our wayward and distant heart for His limitless love.

He longs to be with us and waits to be invited.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  (Revelation 3:20)

God will not force Himself into this relationship. It’s on my terms, not His. It’s all about my willingness to open the door, set a place at the table, pull out a chair and invite Him to sit with me.

And it makes His heart very happy when I do. Just like it makes me happy when Jon decides he wants to be with me.

Unconditional love hopes.

“Maybe today will be the day.”

Unconditional love never gives up.

“Not today? OK, then maybe tomorrow?”

Unconditional love reaches.

“Whether you want me or not, I’ll always love you.”

Unconditional love waits.

“I’ll still be here when you return.”

 

Isaiah 49:15 -16 ““Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Jeremiah 3:14 “ You are unfaithful children, but you belong to me. Come home!”

Luke 3:37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

Luke 15:20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”

Still Doing The “I Do”

We were just a couple of crazy kids when we said “I Do”. We thought we knew the meaning but we didn’t have a clue.Us Aug 23, 19750002And here we are, thirty nine years later, still figuring out what all those promises mean.

There’s been plenty of star spangled love and plenty of days when we don’t do the first-Corinthians-chapter-thirteen thing quite so well. But we never quit and are learning the art of forgiving, letting go and how love isn’t always a feeling but a choice.

Showing honor and respect is about putting aside our own selfish desires, shutting our mouth when we want to speak, speaking when we’d rather shut it and allowing for our differences. It’s been tough sometimes, but we’re getting better at it everyday.

Not had much of the richer, at least in great wealth, but precious unseen riches we’ve held; wonderful sons, a roof over head, food in our bellies, so many people in our lives to bless us and to bless. Some things can’t be measured in dollars.

Poorer, yes, we’ve gone without many times through the years. Cut coupons, shopped sales, bought used instead of new (still do:), shared a hot chocolate and a bag of McD’s fries for date night and learned to live on what we have and watch our faithful God provide everything we need.

In sickness, it seems there’s been way more than our fair share, dealing so long with chronic illness and a child with disabilities. But hard times are a teacher and forge us into something better than before. In the midst of all the things we don’t understand we trust in God, our strength.

We’ve seen health in many other ways, in laughter and in joy and how God heals the broken hearted and helps us endure. Patience and compassion, contentment and peace have been our reward.

God has been faithful to us even when we are not. He’s been our anchor in every celebration, joy, failure and heartache, the North Star to which we always turn when we loose our way.

So, Michael Connis, on this thirty ninth anniversary of our happy wedding day, I want to say, if given the choice, I’d do the “I DO” all over again. Thanks for hanging in there on this great adventure of ours.

It isn’t over yet. We’ve come far but there’s still more to see, do and conquer and we’re just getting started!

I did, I Do, and I will…for always.