Short-Cuts or Straight Paths?

July 9, 2010 at 5:21 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living, Submission, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A guest post by Abigail’s dear mother, Marcia

Our caravan consisted of the largest U-Haul available, a pick up pulling a trailer, three other well-packed vehicles, and 7 people.  Estimated loading, departure, arrival times—every detail—had been carefully, thoughtfully planned by my orderly husband. Included in the glove compartment of each vehicle were printed directions to the final destination of that vehicle in case of accidental separation.  The plan:  upon arrival at the new town, the moving van and pick up would take their cargo to the new house.  As leader of the other three vehicles, I was to proceed to a friends’ house where we would all spend the night.  We all understood the plan.

Six hours later, as we neared the exit where the caravan was to separate, I remembered another way I had been taken by the realtor.  A brief wrestling with my thoughts and I decided, “Yes, I’ll take it!  It’s a better way- a short cut!”  Brushing off noble attempts by others in the caravan to convince me to turn right, I confidently turned left.  After all, I knew the short cut.  Obediently, the two other vehicles slowly followed their confident leader.  Within minutes my confidence began to falter. “Surely I should have come to the short cut by now,” I thought.  As I passed the city limit sign for the upcoming town the truth began to haunt me.  In the darkness I had clearly missed my turn. My only choice now was a third road… the long way.  Eight miles of very dark, unfamiliar, and dangerously windy blacktop for one foolish leader and her trusting followers.  A shameful and repentant wife awaited her husband’s return that night.

What was I thinking?  Why did I second guess the plan?  How could my way have been better than the well-planned and communicated, previously tested one of my husband?

The spiritual lesson is so obvious and simple: Follow the directions carefully laid out for me by my loving heavenly Father in His Word.  I cannot simple hit the rewind button and re-tape my daily decisions.  Trusting Him means following His plan the first time…without question, without regret.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5,6

Tonight, two and a half years later, I took my husband for a drive…back to the place where I made that rash and prideful decision.  This time I turned the right way and properly followed his old plan to the original destination.  Of course, it wasn’t quite the same, yet in a small way it eased my aching conscience.  My husband, along for a nice ride, had long since forgiven and forgotten my offense.

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Ending Is Beginning

December 29, 2009 at 6:42 pm (Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

Yesterday, my Mom and I crept in late to the funeral of a woman we had never met. Actually, she was the mother-in-law of a friend, and we had come to show support to the family. In front of us a lady folded a handkerchief around her finger and dabbed at her eyes.

Several months ago, Marlene’s Doctor had told her she had the silent killer: cancer. He gave her only a few months to live, without treatment. “It’s okay,” she said. “It’s right.” Without a complaint, she accepted from the Lord that He was calling her home and refused any treatment. She was ready to go. “Herman the Vermin,” she named her enemy—cancer—and she looked to Jesus for certain release. On Christmas Day, at her son’s home, Marlene shed her earthly body and went to be with Jesus.

I looked at this woman’s beautiful paintings and wood-burnings, listened to the stories others shared, watched the slideshow of her life and listened to the notes she had written in her Bible. A hunger, a thirst for the Lord. A longing to be with Him. Even as an older widow, the preacher recounted how she had enthusiastically wanted to be part of an evangelistic team. In a letter she’d left in her Bible, she had expressed that she didn’t know how much longer she had, but she wanted to serve—the Lord and others.

As I listened, I struggled to understand. Why did the Lord allow this woman who loved Him to linger so long between this world and that better one? Why the dark cloud of certain doom? Why the struggle for her family as they watched her fading away? Perhaps, her attitude in suffering brought the glory back to the Lord. As the glory departed from her earthly temple, the glory of God shone more brightly to those left behind. Everyone I mentioned her name to had one thing to say: “Miss Marlene was a godly woman.”

Miss Marlene spent her life learning that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

How fitting. As one year draws to a close, we find we are beginning another. As Miss Marlene’s life ended, we are reminded that it is not an end—but a beginning. In life, with Christ, ending is always a beginning. Life with Christ begins with an end—an end of living for self and sin, of being enslaved to that which would destroy us. The end of every day brings us to the beginning of another—with new mercies and new grace. And when we come to the end of life, we discover that we are only beginning—to live. The end of the world marks the beginning of Christ’s eternal reign. Every fairy-tale finishes with the words “The End” but in God’s eternal story, “The End” marks the beginning.

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Telemarketers and Cultural Studies

October 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm (Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

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Am I “unemployed”? I think to myself as the telemarketer rambles off her list of options to describe my situation.

“Are you working full time, part time, retired, or unemployed?” she asks.

Hmm…Well, I guess I could say I work full time, but that wouldn’t be what she means.

“Uh…unemployed,” I answer.

I suppose if we had caller ID I could avoid answering these questions altogether. But since we don’t, I’ll have a little fun musing over these uninvited interactions.

The phone rings. I answer. A man on the other end of the line politely asks if this is the “female head of the house”. I say “yes” while thinking, “I’m not the head of this household, my husband is. And I’m happy about that. You can call me the lady of the house and my husband the head–I won’t be offended!”

This is not to make a big deal over words or labels. I just think it’s interesting how careful our society is to assume that you might be a feminist and you might be easily offended. Hooray for political correctness!

I know being a stay-at-home wife and mother is not the norm these days, I just find it interesting that hardly anyone worries about offending people like me. Maybe stay-at-home moms are in general too busy and too fulfilled to be easily offended???

I did get a rather refreshing phone call the other day:

“Are you working full time, part time, retired, unemployed, or a homemaker?”

>Smile<

“I’m a homemaker.”

laurens-sig

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Monkeys, Apples, and Diapers, Oh My!

October 15, 2009 at 11:51 am (Announcements, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

Well, I think it’s about time I posted something.  So here’s what’s been going on in this Scott home (and hopefully this will give you an idea of why I haven’t posted much lately!!!).

Elijah is 2  1/2 months old now!  The sweet little boy is growing strong!  🙂  We had a “reunion” with our birthing class last weekend since all of the babies have been born now (Elijah being the youngest).  One of the other moms made onesies with each baby’s name on it!  So cute!  Gives me ideas…

Elijah is the youngest, so he's on the end!

Elijah is the youngest, so he's on the end!

With Papa

With Papa

With Momma

With Momma

We had a bit of excitement yesterday.  I did tons of laundry and the drier sounded horrible.  Nathaniel said we shouldn’t run another load through it until he had a chance to look at it and fix it.  But at the time that decision was made, a load of diapers was already going in the washer!  So, we improvised…

Living Room Clothes Line!

Living Room Clothes Line

I had another little oddity yesterday…I finally decided to do some baking, making Dutch Apple Bread since we had some apples to use up.  Well, here’s what I wrote on my Facebook status:

Well, the apple bread flopped. Or should I say slopped? It tested done, but that was only because instead of being “too wet” in the middle, it was nothing but wet! I need to check that oven temperature…Anyway, I scooped the batter off …of the kitchen table and back into the bread shell that I put back into the loaf pan–and back into the oven it all goes! We’ll see if it’s salvageable.

It was indeed salvageable, but it didn’t look so pretty.  We ate almost half of it last night anyway!  We didn’t slice it though–it would have fallen apart if we did!

Yum.

Yum.

And here’s a picture of our little monkey today.  🙂

IMG_4246

Grace and Peace!

laurens-sig

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Someday

March 5, 2009 at 10:55 am (Articles, Attitudes, Family, Friends & Ministry, Godly Living, Singleness, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

someday

I was sixteen years old when my Grandma took me driving and told me I needed to be more aggressive. Five years have passed and this weekend found me pondering her words as I navigated Kansas City to visit her. She’s eighty-two and as far back as I can remember she’s been running a hundred miles and hour serving other people. She spent most of her younger days in a cult one step removed from Mormonism, but she met the Lord not long before my birth. A short time later, she lost her husband. She’s been a widow as long as I’ve been living.

At sixteen or twenty-one, it’s easy to rush forward, hurrying toward the next thing, dreamily planning the future. Marriage, children. How many of us look beyond marriage to a time of being single again? We think of our wedding day as signifying the day in which we have finally arrived, the day when our life is fulfilled. For those newly married brides, a baby is the next thing—the completion to fulfilled life.

When that dream ends, what comes next? When the nest is empty and we’re back to sleeping in a twin bed, then what?

I watch my grandma with pride and amazement. She lives simply, but always busily. She went to a ladies Bible study at a retirement home and took cupcakes and fruit salad. I’m willing to guess that most of the ladies present were younger than she is. She’s held more dying people than I can count, pouring love and tenderness into their last days. She’s sent parts of her carefully stewarded retirement overseas for the spread of the gospel. She studies God’s word and shares it with everyone she can find. She’s helped out young mothers. She eats lunch once a week with a troubled little elementary school girl. She keeps tabs on a destitute nephew. Prays daily for her large family: some know the Lord and some don’t. Offers smiles, encouragement and even rebukes to those she comes into contact with. Shares Jesus when she can.

From the other room I heard her answer the phone when a neighbor lady, another widow, called. After a few minutes, she gently said, “I’d rather not talk about other people like that. It doesn’t really do anyone any good.”

She’s about to have her knee replaced. “That’s just what happens when you get old and your body wears out,” she shrugged. “And I have to make an appointment to get my batteries checked,” she joked about her pacemaker. No bitterness. She laughs easily, teases lovingly and trusts the Lord in everything.

I think of my grandma and I think of Paul’s requirements to Timothy for widows “indeed.” The wife of one man, a reputation for good works, brought up children, shown hospitality, served the saints, assisted those in distress and devoted herself to every good work. His greatest warning was that they be wary of becoming gossips. When he wrote to Titus he said that older women should be teachers of what is good—to the younger women.

It’s natural for young women to think and dream and plan for marriage, to strive to become godly wives and mothers, to look forward to that time. But being a godly wife and mother is not the end in itself. Being a wife and mother is not what fulfills a woman. Even a pagan can be a wife and mother. Serving the Lord, being obedient to Him, loving Him and serving His people—that’s what fulfills a woman, in whatever circumstances she finds herself.

My mind goes back two thousand years to another widow who lived her life serving the Lord. Anna, the daughter of Phanuel grew up in Israel and married, but her happily ever after ended seven years later with the death of her husband. Being a widow in Israel was especially difficult, yet Anna spent her days in the temple, serving the Lord with fasting and prayers, waiting for the Messiah. Then one day, when Anna was eighty-four, a young woman entered the temple with her husband and newborn son and Anna knew that the Lord had finally sent redemption. When I look into my grandma’s smiling eyes, I think I might know what Anna looked like.

Sisters, your whole life will be filled with someday. Someday you will likely be sixteen and driving. Someday you will likely marry. Someday you will likely have a baby. Someday your children will likely grow up and fly away. And then someday, someday you will likely be a widow. Through each someday the Lord wants you to recognize today—this is the day the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it.

For twenty-one years I’ve lived as a single woman on one side of marriage. For twenty-one years my grandma has lived as a single woman on the other side of marriage. The call to both of us is the same—serve the Lord.

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From Germany, With Love

January 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm (Attitudes, Vignettes) (, , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

from-germanyHer name is Heidi.

She was born near the Rhine, in crumbling Germany. As a young woman, she met and married an American soldier during the occupation after World War II and left her land and her people to follow her husband to the States. That was in 1968. Over forty years ago.

She was bundled in an earth-tone sweater, sporting a knit stocking cap and well-worn sweat-pants when I first laid eyes on her. Dust and muck surrounded her, but she glowed like a new bride. There in the tight quarters of an Arkansas trailer home, early in the morning, with dirty dishes on the table and little boys’ toys on the floor, she glowed with a joy that warmed me deep inside my too-big coveralls.

My younger brother, Josiah and I, have been handling the morning milking for a neighbor. His foreign-exchange wife has been back in Russia for several months trying to iron out the paperwork to become an American citizen, leaving him to manage his school-teaching job with college classes and caring for two little boys and a farm. Amid the chaos and stress of his life stepped his mother, Heidi. To help keep the family afloat while his wife is gone.

The first day I walked into the house and met Heidi, I read Jesus in her eyes. In fact, I could hardly see past Jesus, to actually evaluate her features—simple and honest, well-worn with smiling creases around her eyes and mouth. Her smile flashed like the morning sunshine. Her eyes sparkled with warmth behind her glasses as she filled a bucket with warm soapy water and sent me on my way up the hill to the milking shed. Maxine and Moo-Moo grumbled along behind me, nearly stepping on my mudboots.

Back in the house as we filtered the milk and Josiah tampered with an out-of-order lawn mower, Heidi began to ask about my family and tell about hers. She spoke of the Lord with the same familiarity as she spoke of her husband (whom she missed terribly while away from him every week). She shared how she’d worked with mentally handicapped folks. “They are so precious,” she added, her ready smile lighting her face.

For several weeks now I’ve seen Heidi every weekday, first thing in the morning. I grumble my way into my faded, blue coveralls and rubber mud boots and snag the keys to the pick-up. Milking cuts into my morning—half an hour first thing, gone, just like that. But as soon as I walk through that trailer-home doorway my grumbling melts away as Heidi appears, smiling, welcoming and thanking me in her slightly choppy English. As if I were doing some great thing, when it is she who is sacrificing her entire week to help her son and family. And every day she bids me good-bye and Got bless and tells me she loves me.

And she means it. She’s the most straight-forward, honest person I’ve ever met. She can tell us bluntly what she does and doesn’t like, while softening it with her kind smile and a few words. “I don’t mean to be pushy, but here’s why…”

I think, were I to really step back and cast a critical eye over this aging German woman, I’d describe a plain, grey-haired woman, worn by life and love and work. When I think of Heidi, I smile and think “beautiful!”

Decked out in my floppy felt hat, dirty coveralls and smelly mudboots, I’m hardly the picture of fashion. Dressed in her worn sweater and faded pants, peering at me from behind her glasses, she’s little better. Neither of us cares. And again the Lord has reinforced to me His perception of beauty. I don’t want to be eternally youthful—stunning and flawless. Someday I hope I too will be an aging woman, worn by life and love and work, with smile creases around my mouth and eyes, with roughened hands and graying hair from giving myself for others. And I hope that when that day comes, I will be the kind of woman who radiates the love and joy of Jesus. Someday, I want to be like Heidi.

For now, I’ll take joy in milking that smelly cow.

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Teeth and Eternity

December 17, 2008 at 2:06 pm (Vignettes) (, , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

teeth-and-eternityHer name was Ellen. She was about fifty-five years old.  I will never forget the Saturday morning, over a year ago, that she arrived at the dental clinic to have teeth pulled and met a man she already loved.

Every year, Dr. Don opens up his dental clinic for a “Free Day” as a way of saying thank you to Jesus. Following in the way of the Master, he reaches out to the “sick” on a physical level in order to meet their spiritual needs. While each patient waits to be worked on, a believer is able to come into the room and share the gospel with them.

That Saturday I was privileged to be a gospel sharer.

She was very nearly missed. The morning was almost over, and after having to wait outside for hours, and barely getting in to be worked on, she was waiting quietly in a dental chair. I’d been told everyone in the rooms on that side of the building had already been talked with, but one of the guys came to find me, whispering, “There’s a lady in here who doesn’t have a goodie bag. Do you want to talk to her?”

Meagan and I had no trouble striking up a conversation with her. She was having all the teeth on one side pulled. She considered herself a Baptist. To her, Jesus was her best friend. “He got me here today,” she said, smiling shyly. “I pray to Him all the time.”

I began to probe for divinity. “Why do you pray to Him? Normally, you know, we pray to someone who is divine—a God.”

Confusion clouded her eyes. “I don’t know.”

Did she consider herself a good person? “I try to be.” Can we take a look at some of God’s laws to see if that’s true? “Okay.” Her mild blue eyes were riveted on me as I elicited from her confessions that she was a lying, thieving blasphemer, fallen short of God’s glory.

“If he judges you, will you be innocent or guilty?”

Without hesitation, she answered, “Guilty.” Her concern etched deeply into the lines across her forehead and around her eyes. When I offered hope, her heart reached eagerly for it.

I began to tell her about Jesus—the God who became a man, who became our intercessor with an angry and Holy God. I shared how He came to earth, born of a virgin, born under the Law so that He might redeem those under the Law. How in that hour on the cross, an innocent substitute, He cried out, forsaken by God, bearing the sins of the whole world. I explained how God heard His plea on our behalf and raised Him. “This is why we pray to Jesus,” I finished. Her eyes never left my face. I asked if she knew how to become right with God through Jesus.

“Tell me.”
“Repent, put your faith is Jesus’ ability to save you and tell Him you want to follow Him. Do you want to do that?”

No doubt. No hesitation. “Yes.”

My heart dropped out the bottom and I blinked. I’d gotten this far before, even had willing listeners, but when I’d asked that question I’d always heard an excuse. “Later” or “I’ll be okay” or “Let me think about it.”

I swallowed, trying to digest a three-letter word. “You do?”  What in the world was I supposed to do next?

“Yes.” She answered again.

What followed was the most beautiful prayer I have heard: stripped of pretense or poetry, she poured out her plea for salvation from the penalty and the power of sin, sang her praise to her Merciful Mediator and owned Him as her Lord. Before she finished, I was on my knees at her side, holding her hand and crying with her, praising the Lord for her salvation. When I stood up, the light of Jesus shone from her eyes.

“Hug me,” she begged.

“I will!”

I handed her the “goodie bag” we’d prepared—the one my friend had noticed she didn’t have yet. I showed her the Bible and found the gospel of John, marked it for her and gave her a highlighter. She held it open, ready to dive in to discover this Savior who had brought her to a dental clinic in Russellville, so that He could save her soul.

“Do you want me to stay and read with you?” I asked.

“No!” was her quick reply. “There’s other people out there! Go tell them!”

Actually, she was the last patient that day to hear the gospel. After the group of gospel sharers finished praying in the waiting room, they asked to be introduced to their new sister.

When we came back into the room, we found her bent over her Bible, blue highlighter in hand and evidence of its use on the pages. She smiled up at me, “It’s good so far.”

In that moment, Ellen was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen.

The book of Psalms says that God “will beautify the afflicted with salvation.”

As we left the clinic that day, we were all awed by the work of the Lord.  Realize, my friends, that Meagan’s and my part in this drama was very little. The Lord had prepared Ellen’s heart for His good news. We were like the farmer who sowed seed and went to bed and the seed sprouted and grew, but he knew not the way. The Lord is preparing the fields—they are ripe for harvest.  Since I’ve moved to the Bible belt, I’ve become increasingly aware of the emptiness of religion.  I can hardly believe how many “churched” people that I’ve been able to talk with have never even heard the gospel.  Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send workers into His fields—beseech Him to send you.

I’ve found the Way of the Master to be a great aid in random evangelism.  They have tracts that can be left for others to find, as some of my shy friends have done, or tracts that simply open up the way for a conversation.  Or you can make your own!  When I visited Lauren for my 18th birthday we created a “survey” and made our own tracts with an outline of the gospel.  The angel announced to the shepherds that the good news is for everyone–and the shepherds went home praising God and telling everyone they met of the Savior God had sent.  Good news is for sharing!

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True Religion

August 19, 2008 at 10:17 am (A Slice of Life, Vignettes) (, , , )

When Nathaniel went to Tulsa last summer to “prepare a place” for me to join him when we were married, he moved in next door to a woman named Evelyn who had lost her husband of 57 years just one week earlier.  Nathaniel was able to help her and pray with her during that first month or so of grieving.  She took him in as if he were her own son. 

 

Once we were married and I joined Nathaniel in our new home, I got to know Evelyn, and she quickly adopted me as well.  Being a new wife in a new city knowing only one family within 100 miles, this lovely widow and I became fast friends.  We’d go for walks on our street, clip coupons and go on lunch dates every once in a while, or just sit in her living room and watch the birds fly around outside.  God’s timing in placing us next door to Evelyn was amazing—she had just lost her husband, and I had just gained mine.  She treasured my joy and excitement being newly married, and I had the opportunity to learn from her experience.  We encouraged each other in the Lord.

 

Hanging out with a 78 year-old was new territory for me.  At college I spent most of my days surrounded by people my age.  I’d been thinking about the verse in James that says “True and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this:  to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  I realized that most of my Christian life had been focused on avoiding the stains of the world, and that I’d pretty nearly neglected the part about caring for those in need. I suppose God decided it was time for me to learn to love—to catch a glimpse of what it’s like to practice true religion—so He put me next door to a needy widow!  It amazed me how much it meant to her that I would come and visit her every few days.  On more than one occasion I got to hold her hand while she cried.  She would repeatedly tell me that the Lord Jesus was the only one keeping her going since her husband died.  And she told me she didn’t know where she’d be without friends like Nathaniel and I.  Indeed, I’d been missing out on real joy and real love when I was in college just doing my thing, having good, clean fun with my Christian friends.  God has taught me so much through Evelyn. 

 

Eight months or so after I’d gotten to know Evelyn, her health took a turn for the worse.  She couldn’t manage her home by herself, and so her family moved her to a nursing home, where she’s been for about 4 months now.  When she got into the nursing home, she was capable of dressing and feeding and cleaning herself.  She was perfectly autonomous—she only needed supervision so that someone could help her in case she fell.  I’ve continued to visit her frequently, and it’s been a great blessing.  But it’s also been hard to see.  She has gradually lost all the abilities she had when she moved in to the nursing home.  Her eyesight is failing, she can no longer walk nor feed nor dress herself.  She has trusted in Jesus all this time, and has had a remarkably cheerful attitude.  There are times she’s prayed for me and brought tears to my eyes.  But physically, she’s slowly slipping away. 

 

I was out of town last week and had promised to bring her crayons and some coloring and puzzle books.  I only wish I’d gotten them to her sooner—last week she could have used them.  Today she tried, and it was a struggle.  She lacks the strength and dexterity needed to color or write.  I fed her oatmeal this morning, as well as held her glass of milk up to her face so that she could sip it through the straw.  I thought to myself that this must be good practice for whenever I have children one day.  Sadly, this is what happens as we grow old.  We’re humbled to the point of needing people to care for our most basic needs since we can no longer do it ourselves.  We end up as helpless as a baby—and most end up about as cranky.  Evelyn has been a good example in all of this by keeping her hope fixed on Christ, trusting in Him no matter how hard things get, no matter how much her body aches.  She longs to go home to her Savior and see her husband again.  She’s been gloomy lately, but never without hope.  And the time I spend with her is precious. 

 

Evelyn considers me her best friend.  I can’t express what that means to me.  She says I’m the best friend she’s ever had.  I’m a foolish, distracted little girl with a severe lack of initiative, but God has stretched me in this past year to be faithful in a few things—faithful to my husband and to making a pleasant home for him, and to this beautiful widow and to making her final stretch toward home a more pleasant one.  I can regretfully say I have been ignorant of true love and true religion up until this past year—godly living is so much more than avoiding sin.  But I rejoice that God has put Evelyn in my life, to show me what it’s like to be a faithful friend in any season of life, being a help to the helpless, and to finally practice and experience what my God calls “true religion”.  Soli Deo Gloria!

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Destruction over Dinner

August 2, 2008 at 1:56 pm (Vignettes) (, , , , , )

I couldn’t help cringing. I’d just met them both—he, full of charisma and energy, her, like damp smoke, sucking the joy out of the atmosphere. He introduced her by her first name and offered me shotgun, next to her as she drove. I assumed she was his wife. “Oh,” she said, hearing my name, “I have a three-year-old named Abby.” Not “we have a three-year-old” even though he was sitting right there. She wore no “token of unending love”—no ring. Odd, I thought to myself, and tried to push it to the back of my mind with the rest of the garbage needing hauled out. She’s probably just been cleaning or working out or something, I tried to excuse her slovenly appearance and dirty hair. Everyone looks terrible sometimes. She’s only going out to dinner with her husband and a couple of ladies.

We headed into the restaurant and he hung back a little, talking to us, letting her go first. Well, okay, business is business. He can talk to her any time. When he finally stood next to her, there was no temptation to touch—as much personal space as I’d expect from any guy near me. He’d said he’d been married four years. Hardly long enough for a marriage to go stale.

Her tongue proved sharper than a needle filled with a lethal injection. It seemed to me she smiled only when she told the story of a triumph over him. Of the dog he didn’t like but she insisted on keeping. How the dog slept with her—she mentioned several times. Not “us.” Her. How she needed to buy this or that. He tried to object, but she made it clear she’d be buying what she wanted. Then she told him she had an interview for a part-time job. Told him just like I’d tell a friend I hadn’t talked to in a week or two, as if he didn’t know. He didn’t seem to. “I’d rather you didn’t drive very far,” he said, softly. “They’ll pay my gas so it doesn’t matter,” she retorted. “Be sure you ask them to pay IRS amounts,” he said. “I’d hate to see you getting ripped off.” “I’ll just write it off in my taxes either way,” she answered, brusquely. “Just be sure you’re actually making money,” he laughed a little, awkwardly. “That’s kind of the point of a job.” “Well, thank you for letting me know,” she smarted hotly. “It’s not like I have a degree in finance or anything. I sure never realized that was the point of a job.” I laughed nervously and shoveled in another bite of salad. The conversation shifted to issues at hand—pornography and addictions and the ways they can ruin marriages. “Some of those guys have issues,” another person commented. “Well,” interposed his wife, “My husband’s sure got some issues of his own.” Toss that out there with pornography and addictions. He’s got issues. Then she added for good measure, “He’s certainly not the man I married.”

I nearly choked on a tomato. He most certainly is the man she married. Perhaps not the man she thought she was marrying. I doubt she looked too much like his wedding day bride, either. Or behaved much like the breathless girlfriend to whom he knelt and proposed. Nobody made her say “yes.” Here she sat, hinting that “if only I’d known.” She pointed to the sharp logo on his crisp polo shirt. “I want one of those,” she demanded. “One that says ‘volunteer’.” He smiled slightly, “We don’t have any. Maybe I can get you one that says ‘staff wife’.” Her groan echoed across the restaurant. “I don’t want a ‘staff wife’ shirt. I’m sick and tired of everyone always knowing me as your wife.” “So, what are you going to do today?” he asked, trying to lighten the conversation. “Oh, I don’t know,” she shrugged. “Maybe wash some dishes.” “Washing dishes would be nice,” he nodded. “Oh, of course,” she turned to us. “That’s because it’s his job. I hate washing dishes so I decided to mow the lawn instead. He does the dishes.” She proceeded to tell us how the lawnmower was a worthless piece of junk.

Restlessly I flipped open my cell phone to check the time. Meals don’t usually drag by like this, sitting across from a woman who seems bound and determined to trample across every inch of the word “respect”, strip her husband of the last vestiges of manliness and drag him by his hair through the dirt. All accomplished in an hour’s time. Was she even aware of the devastation she was causing? Did she intend to offer such a distinct first impression? Did she realize that in destroying her husband’s image she was destroying her own protection? Her own confidence? Her own security? Her own image? In her smug satisfaction at having embarrassed her husband, having bested him, she seemed completely clueless, like she didn’t even realize she had completely destroyed his chances of ever being her knight in shining armor, in her mind or his—or mine.

And I’d only just met them.

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