Category Archives: Romantic Remembrances

A Valentine’s Day Romantic Remembrance

A Promise KeptThis Valentine’s Day, I’d like to talk about a man who truly cherished his wife. His name is Robertson McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and later president of Columbia International University. At the age of 58, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the course of the next two decades, Robertson resigned his position and cared for her with such tenderness and affection that it can truly be said that Muriel was a cherished wife. Their story is told in this book, A Promise Kept, which says, “Sharing lessons learned from his own marriage, Robertson McQuilkin shows how weakness generates strength, servanthood births freedom, joy is found in a promise kept. For anyone who has ever loved.”

He writes, “In the summer of ’95 Muriel’s right hand went limp – the first major decline since she lost the ability to stand and feed herself eighteen months before. A little loss, you would think, but I shed a few tears. It’s almost like part of me dies with each of her little deaths. That precious hand, so creative, so loving, so busy for me and everyone else. But it wasn’t just the old memories. That right hand was the last way she had to communicate. She would reach out to hold my hands, pat me on the back when I hugged her, push me away when she didn’t like what I was doing. I missed her hand. Memories, sweet and bittersweet.”

My prayer is that we all  would learn to love as this man did. In our increasingly self-centered culture, it’s such a joy to know of people who devote themselves to God and family, and who love with selfless, tender care. springtime_tulips

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Romantic Remembrances! JoAnn Durgin’s Love Story

I met JoAnn Durgin at the 2011 ACFW Writers’ Conference in St. Louis and adored her warm, enthusiastic spirit! JoAnn is the author of  “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe” available here.

Here’s JoAnn’s Romantic Remembrance:

I met my husband, Jim, on a blind date back in the mid-1980s in Dallas, Texas. Then a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, he’d sworn off blind dates when he’d been set up with a runner-up to Miss Texas (gorgeous, tall, blonde…you get the picture) a couple of weeks before. Mutual friends had invited them both to dinner in their home after which Miss Runner-Up pushed away from the table, thanked them politely and bounced off, saying she had another date. I was dating someone else at the time (an urban cowboy whom I suspected—rightly so—of two-stepping out on me). So, I wasn’t particularly in the mood to date (and specifically told my friends not to fix me up) when we all decided to go to dinner. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that my friend Susan’s boyfriend (now husband), Marshall, went to seminary with Jim. In a sweet revelation, we found out later that both our friends prayed independently for someone to introduce each of us to, and lo and behold, came up with…well, you can guess the rest. We’ve been married 25 years this past September (on Jim’s birthday, no less—you marry a man on his birthday and he won’t forget his anniversary).

Let me backtrack just a moment. How I even met Susan was one of those “God” things. I worked for a large, downtown Dallas law firm. Mind you, this was back in the stone ages before fax machines were in common use (and I don’t believe e-mail was yet a figment in anyone’s imagination), and we used a courier service to ferry things across town. When I’d call Wingtip Couriers, I always adored the lilting voice on the other end of the phone. “This is Susan at Wingtip Couriers. How can I help you?” I’d joined a Bible study group with a friend from my apartment complex. One Saturday morning, I was having breakfast with this friend and a pretty blonde came over to our table and we were introduced. As soon as I heard her lovely voice, I said, “You’re Susan from Wingtip Couriers, aren’t you?” Indeed it was.

My first date with Jim was the Dallas Seminary Spring Banquet, quite an auspicious event. Jim was in the men’s chorus. When he showed up on my doorstep in his midnight blue tux—all 6’2” of tall, dark and handsome—I seriously almost swooned. He was endearing when he tucked me inside his old bomb of a station wagon. I’ll never forget him telling me how he couldn’t find a replacement window for that little triangular piece of glass on the passenger side. “You can scoot closer, if you want,” he said, giving me this shy, sheepish look, “or else the fumes might get to you.” I was in love.

We became fast friends and went out together quite often, but honestly? I wasn’t exactly the type of Christian girl my husband-to-be thought he was seeking. Jim called it the “Seminary mentality,” meaning he wanted a girl like his own dear mother, raised in the faith from the time she was knee-high to a grasshopper. But Jim and I shared a mutual fascination (for lack of a better description) with one another, and continued to go out as “friends” even though there was always something simmering below the surface. We even went out together when we were both dating others. But he told me later that no other girl held the same challenge and appeal, even though they more closely matched his image of that elusive, “perfect” Christian girl.

It all came to a “head” in what I now refer to as our infamous Red Lobster date. It got to the point where Jim decided he needed to know where I stood spiritually (he’d been debating whether to take the step of faith—more like a leap—to date me). That dinner at Red Lobster was truly awful; he challenged my spiritual condition and I stormed away, feeling personally attacked and defensive. I emotionallydistanced myself from him for months. He called and left messages, stopped by the law office, even had flowers delivered, but I didn’twant to see him. Quite simply, I was hurt andembarrassed. But here’s the thing: I knew Jim was right; he saw straight through me. I was living a good, moral life, but I wasn’t living for the Savior. But he could tell I loved the Lord and wanted to learn and grow, and that encouraged him. When Jim went on a musical tour of Europe with the Seminary, he wrote novels on postcards to me (which I literally burned but, in hindsight, wish I’d kept). But the Lord was continuing to work in my heart.

There’s so much more to our story, but suffice it to say, he was soon graduating and leaving Dallas, and I had no plans to leave. So, about three weeks before he was to depart and move back home (Rhode Island) and seek a full-time ministry position, we sat in another restaurant, and decided to try and make a long-distance relationship work. It seemed impossible, but we had optimism and were full of big hopes and dreams. Perhaps more importantly, we had faith that God could work it all out.

Those last weeks were glorious, and I fell hard for my handsome, tall, faithful man. Jim felt the same, but how would this all work? Only a few days before he was to graduate and leave, he told me something I found incredibly hard to believe…but also so precious for my heart. As handsome as he was, as much as he’d dated, Jim had never kissed a girl on the lips. And this is what still stops my heart: Jim told me he always knew the first girl he kissed on the lips would be the girl he married. And so, my friends, on the night before his graduation – with the world at our feet, but with no idea how we’d be together or what would happen (but knew the gracious Lord would orchestrate it all if it was meant to be)—Jim kissed me. On the lips. And it was, as they say…the moment I knew. And so did Jim.

What happened next is yet another story, in yet another string of “God” things that were truly amazing. It’s almost as though you could “see” the hand of God working in our lives, bringing two of his own together as one. In this week of thankfulness—and three children later—I’m so grateful for the many blessings from above which have enriched my life above and beyond what I could ever have imagined.

JoAnn Durgin is the author of the popular Lewis Legacy Series, and her Christmas novella, Meet Me under the Mistletoe (where hero Jake shares Jim’s philosophy on kissing a woman for the first time), from Pelican Group Ventures/White Rose Publishing. She and Jim live in her native southern Indiana after living in California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, and JoAnn is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm. She’d love to hear from you via her website (www.joanndurgin.com) or drop her a line on Facebook.

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More Romantic Remembrances!

Our newest Romantic Remembrance comes from Voni Harris, whose fabulous blog can be found here.

Here’s Voni’s Romantic Remembrance:

Rich and I met at Drake University at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. (I had to go to SOME kind of church to stay on God’s good side, and I worked on-campus on Sundays, but. Intervarsity met mid-week.) I remember being astounded that those people really believed that Bible stuff—to the point of actually living it. Rather shook my easy-believism to the core.

One day Sara Weddington, the attorney for Roe in the abortion case Roe v Wade, came to campus to make a speech, and I was assigned to interview her for my TV journalism class. To complete my report, I needed the name of a particular legal case about abortion, so I ran into the law library for help.

And there was Rich behind the desk. Just getting off work.

Abortion is one of his hot-button topics (he’s against it!), so he volunteered to help me. We began talking, and never stopped.

Soon, I realized two things: Our relationship was getting serious, and I couldn’t just say I was a Christian for Rich’s sake.

Those two things meant one simple thing: I needed to decide once and for all what I really, truly believed about Christ. And that is when I gave my life to Christ to do with as He wishes, and I’ve never looked back. He is God and He is trustworthy and good.

Rich and I drove from Des Moines to Wyoming so that he could meet my parents. While we were there, Mom and Dad took us out to eat at a pretty fancy steak place. Rich looked Dad in the eyes, and said, “I’d like your permission to marry your daughter, Sir.”

My Dad looked up, grinned, shrugged and said, “You’ll have to take that up with her.” Then he simply took another bite of his food.

So, Rich asked me to marry him, and I said, “Of course I will!”

On another note, this same father of mine announced, “Yo, Adrienne!” (from the Rocky movies) when the pastor asked, “Who gives this woman to be wed” during the wedding rehearsal.

Our wedding itself was, frankly, kind of empty. Since his family is from Indiana, and mine was from Wyoming, we met in the middle and had the wedding in Des Moines. Unfortunately, we scheduled it during Drake’s fall break, so very few of our friends were in Des Moines at the time. On the other hand, it meant so very much that so many of our family members were able to drive in. Their love meant a lot, because we knew they were sacrificing family vacations to support us.

I hope that our commitment to each other, through arguments, bad times, good times, celebrations, blah times and all, demonstrates the unconditional love that God has for us.

I hope that people see that Christ is the center of our marriage so much that His love cannot be denied because His love overflows to those He has put into our lives. Most especially our daughter, Leah.

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Romantic Remembrances!

My new feature is called ROMANTIC REMEMBRANCES! Short, sweet real-life stories of romance. My first guest author is (drumroll, please . . . ) Kristy L. Cambron! Kristy writes vintage romance with a heart for Christ . . .  HERE.

She posted this wonderful story there on July 23, 2012:

Stilettos and Stars

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The earth laughs in flowers.” If that’s true, then I believe a woman laughs in a fabulous pair of heels.

We women adore heels.

‘Tis true, my friends. We do. Some of us will wear anything from stilettos to kittens, just as long as we have a little lift when we leave the house for the day. Rain, snow and ice? We’ll grab a sturdy pair of wedges. A pair of jeans and an outdoor concert? For us it’s heels that won’t sink in the grass. Black and white spectators, mustard-yellow satin, bows at the ankles or turquoise with peacock feathered jewels on the top –  we love a pair of unbelievably gorgeous heels and don’t care who knows it.

So you’d think someone that buys into that philosophy could find the right heels for every occasion short of a marathon, right?

It was just dusk, dreamily so, with a soft September wind and cloudless sky that invited us to spend the evening out of doors, like an old friend that had welcomed us home.

My date drove down the gravel driveway to his grandmother’s home and pulled the truck to a stop in the center of a rural dreamworld. It was peaceful, calm. It had a background laden with cricket-song. it had a shining moon overhead and a truly remarkable view of open fields with the occasional firefly floating up from the tall grass. We hopped in his truck bed and sat on a quilt, just gazing up at the marvelous expanse of stars up ahead.

And as if God  whispered my name out there in the quiet, I felt peace…

I’d never seen such a clear night sky. I suppose I’d always lived on the edge of a city and perhaps the sky was hazy because of it? Maybe I’d just never taken the time to really pause and appreciate a sparkling ceiling overhead? Whatever the reason, you’d have thought it odd for an eighteen-year-old girl to find herself so awestruck by a handful of stars overhead, but I was. Clearly I was; all these years later, the memory is still crisp in my mind.

I also realized that my heels didn’t fit the scene in my date’s countryside. I remember slipping them off and tossing them in the truck bed as if they didn’t matter. And it was funny, but in that moment, they didn’t. Instead we sat, the two of us just talking and holding hands, with my feet bare and my heart open to remembering. I memorized the smile on his face and that romantically sweet, oh-so starry sky overhead.

I remember the cadence of the breeze as it patted my face.

I remember the coolness of our night as it knocked on autumn’s door.

I remember falling in love with the clear sky… I remember falling in love with him.

That memory with my someday-to-be husband is still fresh today… I remember it now as the night of Stilettos and Stars.

Have you ever had a moment like that, one so remarkable that your memory has honored it with its own name? That night will always be Stilettos and Stars for me.  It will always remind me of the power of simple, the magic of quiet, and the sweetness of honest beginnings. It stays in my heart. It gives a remembrance of the moments that God steps in and makes a connection with us – when He delights in giving us the desires of our hearts (even if we didn’t really know what we wanted).

If someone had handed me a fast $1000 to do with whatever I wanted, shoe shopping would probably have crossed my mind. I doubt I’d ever have thought of buying a few extra moments under a September sky from some fifteen years ago. But now? Given my choice? I’d pay to be back there again. I’d pay to toss a pair of Jimmy Choo heels in the back of a truck bed like they don’t matter, and appreciate the stars with my husband’s fingers laced with mine.

“He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the stars and count them – if indeed you can count them.’ “

~ Genesis 15:5

I am five-months pregnant and yes, I am still wearing heels. I’m not driving an old pick-up or taking jaunts through the rural field grasses mind you, but I am still enjoying the subtle smile that a pair of heels gives me on a busy weekday morning. And sometimes, just sometimes, I smile when I put on a pair because I remember how unimportant they truly are. They’re pretty, but I want more. I want to remember the starry moments. I remember the glittering sky and my heart’s finding of peace in that place. I remember God making an appearance, His breath and His whisper shielding us in peace, and putting His thumbprint on our lives.

It was a perfect sky. A sweet memory. A spectacular pair of heels that matter not at all. Thank you, God, for those moments born of you.

What are your “Stilettos and Stars” moments with God?

-Kristy L. Cambron

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