Love is Saying You're Sorry

Monday, June 28, 2010

I attended a wedding on Friday. Gordon and Heather are members of the writer's critique group I belong to, so I got to watch their friendship blossom into love and engagement and, finally, marriage. But "finally" isn't the right word, because marriage is a new beginning rather than an end.

Although I don't consider myself an expert on marriage, I have been married for 31 years, so that's a good start. (The picture is Roland and me in 1979. How we've changed since then!) I've learned a few things in that time, so I'm passing on some words of wisdom to Heather and Gordon and all the other married couples out there.

First, be realistic. Marriage isn't nirvana. Even the best marriages have times when the spouses don't like each other much. (Yes, mine too.) Marriage requires hard work and compromise, but it's worth it.

How many of you remember the movie Love Story from the late 60s or early 70s? It's most famous line was, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." I completely disagree. We all disappoint each other at times, and the strongest marriages have two partners who are willing to say both "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you."

Second, remember that marriage is a partnership. That doesn't mean losing your individual identities, but it does mean working together to satisfy each other's needs.

There is one more key ingredient--and the main one. Roland and I are both committed to God, and He guides our lives and our marriage.

So here's my advice to Gordon and Heather. Put God at the center of your marriage and keep Him there.

And don't hesitate to say, "I'm sorry."

Dreams Take Work

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sleeping in the dorm. Eating in the dining hall. Walking across campus to attend class.

My college days? Well, that too. But I'm talking about a writers' conference I attended earlier this month.

The Write-to-Publish Conference is held annually at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. (I don't want anyone to confuse it with Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Write-to-Publish is held at the one that Billy Graham actually attended.) It is a four-day Christian conference that offers multiple opportunities for writers to improve their craft and make contact with editors and agents.

What did I get out of it? New friends. The joy that comes from worshiping with other Christian writers. Lots of good information on marketing my book and expanding my speaking ministry. The opportunity to submit my novel to a publishing house that doesn't take unsolicited submissions. Another lead for my children's book. (And yes, I submitted both the novel and the children's book two days after returning home.)

I try to attend one major writers' conference a year. This year is an exception: I'll be attending two. That's because I had already planned to attend Write-to-Publish when I discovered that American Christian Fiction Writers is holding its annual conference in my backyard this year. Or maybe not quite my backyard, but 2 and 1/2 driving hours away isn't bad. So I'll be going there in September.

Many of you don't see yourselves as writers, but all of you have dreams. We all benefit from time away to develop our skills and re-energize those dreams, whatever they may be.

So take some time to follow yours.

A Perfect Day

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the shores of Lake Michigan, a buttercup cocks its head and listens to the whispering wind.

High on the Indiana dunes, dry sand skips merrily along, looking for a place to rest.

The flag at the Munster Town Hall lifts halfway and stays there.

At Wrigley Field, the wind nudges a ball into the bleachers. Then the camera pulls back and shows white sails showcased against blue water.

And at the Hammond Marina, I am getting ready to join them.

Flinging the rope off the post, I give Freizeit her freedom. She backs out of her berth and heads for the marina entrance.

Freizeit means "free time" in German, and she is built for enjoyment. Sleek and white with dark green accents, she is rigged with one mast and two sails.

After we clear the marina entrance, Roland turns the bow into the wind. I raise the main sail and cleat it off, then raise the head sail.

"Let's go toward Chicago," Roland says as he turns off the engine and lets the wind take over.

We relax in our seats, soaking in the silence. Well, not complete silence. We hear a gentle "plash" as the waves caress the boat, and a soft "whoo" as the wind plays among the sails.

I watch contentedly as the Museum of Science and Industry grows larger and then smaller and the Chicago skyline becomes more pronounced.

All too soon, Roland glances at his watch and says, "We'd better head back now." Working in perfect harmony with the boat, we swing 180 degrees. Then we settle into our seats and let the wind take us home.

The azure water laps against the side of the boat, and the sun smiles down on us.

Soon the marina looms ahead. Roland turns the bow into the wind, and I take the sails down.

As we pull into our berth to tie up, the wind dies.

The camera panning the lake near Wrigley Field shows sails flapping. But the baseball fans are on their way home after a Cubs win.

The flag at the Munster Town Hall hangs limp.

High on the Indiana dunes, the grains of sand settle to rest.

And on the shores of Lake Michigan, the buttercup straightens its head.

The wind has retired at the end of a perfect day.

My Hero

Monday, June 7, 2010

My father would have been 100 on June 2nd.

Daddy married later in life, and I was only nine when I started telling my friends that my father was half a century old. (Yes, that gives you enough information to calculate my current age.) Daddy was 73 when he became a grandfather and a few months shy of 89 when he died.

The picture shows Daddy with his first grandchild (my daughter, Caroline), and it is one of the few pictures that shows him smiling. But this one is closer to real life, because Daddy smiled and laughed a lot.

My father was scholarly and strict and he watched every penny. He was also the kindest and most generous man I know.

Daddy valued education. He dropped out of high school but eventually worked his way through college and seminary. He also made sure that his children had the means to go to college. In fact, his example inspired each of us to get at least one postgraduate degree.

Growing up, I didn't appreciate Daddy enough. Yes, I loved and respected him, but I sometimes wished that he was rich, indulgent, and anything but a minister. Looking back, I can see how much he sacrificed for his family and what a rich legacy he left us, but I didn't see it at the time.

Do you appreciate your father the way you should? If he is still around, make sure you honor him this Father's Day (June 20).