The first meeting…
The first date…
The look on his face when she told him that they were going to have a baby…
The first meeting…
The first date…
The look on his face when she told him that they were going to have a baby…
It was hard to believe that
this was the same man she
married. They had started
off so strong. They were told
that they were too young to
get married but they believed
that they were ready. Their
love was strong enough to
weather any storms that
would appear on the
horizon. Or so she thought.
Then the honeymoon was
over and the troubles began.
First there were little dis-
agreements here and there
then they evolved into
bitter quarrels which ended
in stony silence. They made
up after a while but the
damage had been done.
The love they once felt
for each other no longer
inhabited their hearts.
It was time to call it
quits. The love had gone
and bitterness had taken
There was no hope of reconciliation.
Divorce was the only course
of action. How she hated to
admit that everyone was
right. The signs had been
there before they got married
but she had ignored them.
Now, she was paying dearly
for her mistake.
She filed for the divorce.
How she hated divorce.
It was like a stain upon
her life. At age twenty-five,
she was a divorced woman.
How sad. How degrading.
She was the first member
in her family to be divorced
a distinction she would have
gladly not have borne.
Now she must return to the
single life. Single life as a
divorced woman. What a
frightening thought. She
packed her bags and stood
on the threshold, the open
door leading to a life, a future
without him. She would
face what was out there
and this time, she would let
wisdom guide her.
Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom – Proverbs 4:7
“Happy anniversary, my Darling,” he said as he handed her the beautiful bouquet of flowers. “Forty years ago, you turned my life upside down when you moved into my neighborhood. And it took a few years before I plucked up the courage to ask you out on a date. Thank you for not saying no and for the happiest years of my life.” He pulled her to his side and kissed her on the temple.
Joanne smiled as she inhaled the sweet fragrance of the roses. “These are lovely,” she said. “Thank you for being such a wonderful husband.”
Tears came to her eyes as she thought of how amazing he had been when they found out that she couldn’t have children. It had devastated her because she had longed to be a mother and she knew that he would have made a terrific father. For years they had tried and then she had learned that they would never have children. It was a very bitter pill to swallow and for months she was depressed but Martin was always there, loving her and trying to help her through those though times.
During the moments of despair, she lashed out at God, asking Him why He would deny her the joy of being a mother. Friends encouraged her to looking into adopting a child but she didn’t want to consider it. And Martin assured her that she was more than enough for him and tried to encourage her to go away on trips with him and get involved in activities to take her mind off of things. He was so devoted to her that sometimes she felt ashamed of how she was so fixated on not being able to have children that she might be neglecting him.
One day she was turning the pages of her Bible, not sure what to read. It had been a while since she had even opened it. And her eyes fell on the chapter one of the first book of Samuel. She began to read it. She could identify with Hannah. She remembered those times when she couldn’t eat and was always in tears. And all Martin could do was try to comfort her as best as he could. It must have been so hard for him. The words, But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the LORD had closed her womb. Martin loved her even though she couldn’t give him children. Her barrenness hadn’t diminished his love at all, in fact it had grown stronger. Her friends remarked on how he treated her like a queen.
And Elkanah’s words to Hannah cut Joanne to the quick. “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” Wasn’t Martin better to her than the children she wished she could have? He was there and they were not. God had blessed her with an incredible man whose happiness was wrapped up in her and the life they could have together. She felt ashamed and she cried out to God, asking Him to forgive her for being so selfish and for her anger and bitterness toward Him.
That night when Martin came home, she asked him to forgive her and he, of course, assured her that there was nothing to forgive. He took her in his arms and held her close for a long time. That night was the turning point in her life. She decided that she would focus on her marriage and nothing else.
Forty years later and they were still going strong. There were still moments when she wondered what would have happened if her life had turned out like Hannah’s. Hannah had prayed to God and He had opened her womb and blessed her with seven children. Joanne had prayed for Him to do the same miraculous thing for her but it didn’t happen. God had blessed her with a lasting, strong and healthy marriage and tonight she was going to celebrate.
“Are you ready?” Martin asked.
She nodded. “Yes. I’m ready to celebrate forty years of being married to an incredible man.” Yes. There was much to celebrate. And she had God to thank for that.
“What offense did I commit, Mother?” Catherine demanded. “All I did was
turn down Mr. Nivens’ proposal of marriage.”
They were sitting outside the hotel facing the sea. The family was vacationing
at their favorite seaside resort for part of the summer. It was there that
Mr. Nivens had proposed to Catherine and she politely refused him. Upset,
he left and her mother, upon hearing the news took her outside where they
could have some privacy.
The sun was setting and it was pleasant evening. Ships sailed
in the distance, people were on the beach, enjoying the last
few moments of sunshine.
However, Catherine was not out there to enjoy the view or bask
in the fresh air mingled with the briny smell of the seashore. She
was there to explain to her mother why she had rejected Mr. Nivens.
She sat down beside her mother who was casting her a censorious look.
“What offense did you commit? You turned down John Nivens. A fine,
“Mother, I do not love him. He’s old enough to be my father and he’s
a bit of a bore–”
“A bore?” Her mother was incredulous. “Why I find Mr. Nivens to be a
very amiable man. And to think you turned him down. With his wealth
you would have been well provided for. You have thrown a perfectly
good future away.”
“Mother, I could not in good conscience consent to marry Mr. Nivens when
I did not love him. Besides, my heart belongs to someone else.”
“What?” her mother was aghast. “Who is he?”
“The solicitor?” The older woman was beside herself now with indignation.
“You turned down Mr. Nivens for a man who is below your station?”
“Even if I were not in love with James, I would still have refused Mr. Nivens.”
“Has your Mr. Fenmore proposed?”
Catherine lifted her head, her eyes flashed in defiance. “No, he has not.”
Her mother shook her head in disbelief. “You turned down Mr. Nivens who
chose you when he could have chosen any number of fine young ladies for
a man who has not even proposed to you. How could you be so foolish,
Catherine. I always thought you were a sensible girl but you are letting
your feelings rule your good sense. You have no future with Mr. Fenmore.
You would have been better off with Mr. Nivens. Perhaps, it isn’t too late
to appeal to him. Perhaps he will forgive your reckless behavior and reconsider.
I shall write a telegram to him and—”
Catherine jumped to her feet, her face flushed with anger. “Mother, you shall
do no such thing. I will not marry Mr. Nivens even if he were the last man
on the earth. I would rather die an old spinster than subject myself to a life
of unhappiness with a man I do not love.”
Her mother took out her handkerchief and dabbed her eyes. “Very well then,”
she said. “Suit yourself. I will say nothing more on the subject. But I must say
you behaved very badly toward poor Mr. Nivens. Yes, very badly indeed.”
“If putting one’s happiness above another’s constitutes bad behavior in your
estimation, then I am guilty. As for James. I cannot determine if he will ask
me to marry but I will admit that I hope he does. I love him, Mother, and
I would count myself very fortunate to have such a man for a husband.”
Her mother got up and stalked over to the chair which faced the beach
and sat down rather heavily. She sat with her back to Catherine gazing
stonily out at the sea.
“Excuse me, Mother.”
There was no response. Shrugging, Catherine turned and walked away.
No matter what happened between James and her, she had stood up to
her mother and secured her own happiness by not settling. And contrary to
what her mother had said, she had used good judgment and reason to
make her decision. She was convinced that she would not have made
Mr. Nivens any happier than he would have made her. She had
spared them both future unhappiness. And that accomplishment alone
was well worth the ire of her mother.
Natalie stood on the deck watching the Mediterranean Sea. It was a beautiful morning and it was the first day at sea. She was on her second honeymoon. For twenty-five years she was married to her first husband, Richard, a truly wonderful man. They had started out as friends and then their relationship developed into something they hadn’t expected but felt was a blessing.
Together they raised two remarkable kids—Josh and Annie. Those years with Richard were the happiest for her. So, it was devastating when he died. It was so sudden. He was on his way home from the office when he collided with another vehicle which ran a red light. The other driver escaped with scrapes and scratches but Richard’s injuries were severe. He died at the hospital. It was her faith and the consolation of family and friends that got Natalie through those horrific years after Richard was gone.
In time the pain grew less and she was able to think of Richard without breaking down. She slowly began adjust to life without him. Her kids now grown encouraged her to go out and enjoy herself. She attended dinner parties, operas, ballets, concerts and even went on a cruise with a group of single friends. It was on that cruise where she met Mark. He was travelling with some friends too. They shared the same dinner table and while the others went off either to the casino or to watch the live entertainment, she opted to go to the deck where she stood, enjoying the cool night air. He joined her. They spoke and she found that she enjoyed his company though she couldn’t get past the fact that he was much younger than her. Still, he was really nice and she was so relaxed around him. They spent a lot of time together and when the cruise was over, they exchanged phone numbers, promising to keep in touch.
Life returned to its old routine when she returned home but the highlight of her evenings was speaking to Mark on the phone for hours. They made plans to see each other over the summer. She introduced him to her family and they seemed to like him although her mother didn’t seem too pleased. She didn’t know exactly when it happened but she knew that she had fallen in love with Mark. One night when they were sitting on the sofa, having tea, Mark confessed that her. He asked her to marry him and she accepted but after he left, she worried about her family’s reaction.
She waited until they were at her mother’s house to make the announcement. You could have heard a pin drop. Her news had knocked them all for a loop. It was some time before someone said something. Josh spoke up. “I can’t say that I am happy that you are marrying a man in my age group but I won’t stand in your way.”
Annie hugged her and said, “Yes, Mom. You deserve to be happy again. And I don’t see why it’s okay for a man to marry a woman much younger than him but a woman can’t marry a younger man.” She said that for her grand-mother’s benefit.
Natalie looked at her mother whose expression was thunderous. “How could you seriously be thinking of marrying a man half your age?” she demanded.
Natalie drew a deep breath. “I didn’t plan to fall in love with a man younger than me but it happened. Like you, I had a problem with our age difference in the beginning but I remembered that father was considerably older than you and yet, you were so happy together. Mother, I am sorry that you don’t approve but God has given me another chance at happiness and I am going to take it. We haven’t decided on a wedding date as yet but I will let you know as soon as we do.”
Her mother pursed her lips. “Well, don’t expect me to be there,” she said.
And true to her word, she didn’t attend the wedding. Nor did Mark’s parents which came as no surprise to her. Still, she had hoped they make an appearance for their son’s sake. She met them once when she was invited to dinner at their home in Long Island but that meeting didn’t go well. They raised the same objections as her mother. Mark’s mother had remarked that Natalie was a lot older than she expected.
It was a beautiful and simple wedding with some family and friends in attendance. Her son gave her away and her daughter was the bridesmaid. It was a day she would always remember. And here she was now, basking in the joy she didn’t imagine she would experience again. She had twice been blessed with two great men and she was thankful to God who had been her Anchor during those dark moments. He had brought Mark into her life.
Mark. He must be awake by now and wondering where she was. She turned away from the rail and walked back to their cabin with its scenic view of the ocean, her steps quickening in anticipation.
She stood on the pier watching the boats come and go. She was once like an unmoored boat, drifting out into the currents of life because she had no anchor to hold her like the boats fastened to the dock. It began when her parents were killed in a car accident and she had to live with her aunt and uncle.
Life with her aunt was terrible. Her uncle was nice–he treated her with kindness but her aunt was a miserable woman. She kept saying to her, “You are your father’s daughter. You are just like him. No good. He was a good for nothing lout, a drunk and a cheat. I don’t know why my sister ever married him.”
Day in a day out she said bad things about her Dad and her. It got to the point where she stayed out late just to avoid going back to that house. Her aunt thought that she was out drinking and partying with her friends and threatened to kick her out. “I will not have that sort of behavior in my house,” she fumed. It was no point telling her aunt that she hadn’t been doing any of those things. The truth she had spent hours in the library until it closed and then she had gone to the pier to look at the boats and the flickering lights. It was her favorite place. She and her Dad used to go there.
She didn’t say anything in her defense but went on the laptop in the study and started searching for an apartment to rent. Her uncle helped her to find a place and she gladly moved out. She was relieved to be away from her aunt who was a Christian. Her uncle wasn’t one. If Christians were any thing like her aunt, she wanted nothing to do with them.
Of course things didn’t get any better after she moved out. She struggled to get by. She had to do a lot of things for herself–such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills, etc. Working part-time while studying was a great challenge. Going out with friends during the week was out of the question now. She went out with them on Saturday nights but she got tired of going to nightclubs and bars and meeting guys who had only one thing on their minds.
After she graduated, she got a job at a publishing company and life was improving. She was no longer struggling. She made new friends. It was at a barbecue at one of these friends’ home where she met Jim. Jim was a funny, handsome and easy-going guy. They hit it off right away. They spent most of the afternoon and evening together. He drove her home and they arranged to go out for a bit to eat the following evening. They started to see each other on a regular basis.
When Jim first told her that he was a Christian, she couldn’t believe it because he was the complete opposite of her aunt. One evening he invited her to go to church with him on Saturday. At first she was hesitant but then he persuaded her and she went. The moment she set foot in the church, she was amazed at how warm and friendly the people were. Jim’s parents were there too and he introduced her to them. They invited both of them to have lunch with them after church. She spent a very pleasant afternoon with the family. Like her, Jim was an only child. He and his parents were very close. As he drove her home, he told her that they liked her very much.
Jim studied the Bible with her and she went to church with him very week. Then one Saturday morning, she got baptized. Her uncle went but her aunt didn’t. When she heard that it was a Seventh-day Adventist church, she refused to go saying, “Adventists aren’t real Christians. They are a cult.”
She smiled now as walked along the pier. It was here where Jim proposed to her. It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon. They had just had dinner and had come here afterwards. As they walked slowly along the pier, he suddenly went in front of her and got down on one knee and popped the question. With a happy laugh and tears in her eyes she said, “Yes!” He sprang to his feet and hugged her. For the rest of the night she was walking on cloud nine.
She called her uncle and asked him to give her away. As they drove to the church, he looked at her and said, “I wish your parents were here to see what a beautiful young woman you have become, especially your Dad. He was a good man, Amanda. He adored you. And he was good to your mother. It’s just that things got rough for him and he coped with it the only way he felt he could. You are your father’s daughter and don’t let anyone make you ashamed of that.”
She smiled at him through the tears and squeezed his hand. “Thanks, Uncle Bob.” Yes, she wished her Dad were there that day to walk her down the aisle.
Now she stood there on the pier, anchored in her faith and in her marriage. Yes, she was like one of the boats fastened securely to the dock.
A wedding farce, that’s what it was.
She sat there with a smile plastered
as her uncle told his tired jokes before
toasting to her happiness. After fumbling
with the microphone, and saying “Testing, Testing”,
her father recited the lyric for “A Song for My Daughter”
which made her cry. She cringed as her mother told every
body about the very embarrassing scrapes she got into
when she was a child.
Her sister got up there and remarked,
“Brian, I don’t know how you got my
sister to marry you. She always said that
she would never get married. She told me
once that….The bride’s mother signaled to
the DJ and her sister’s voice was drowned
out. Thanks, Mom.
Brian held out his hand and they went
on to the dance floor for their first dance.
Aside from the shameless way her friends
were prowling after the eligible men,
her aunt’s incessant chatter and the no
so subtle looks the bartender gave her,
it was a pleasant evening. She leaned
her head on Brian’s shoulder and smiled.
Tonight was the first night of many nights