What If? (Post #37)

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“What If?” (Post #37) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

Two young adults from our church passed away just last month.  Both were younger than me.

A premature death is difficult to understand.  A spouse, a close friend, a brother, a mother, a sister, a husband, a father, a child, a grandparent.  If you can read this paragraph, most likely you’ve lost one or more of those loved ones.   And when death claims people when they are young adults, it’s a stark reminder that life IS INDEED fragile.

Believe me, as a widower, I know.

Every untimely death serves to remind me of the question “What if God calls you ‘home’ today?  Are you ready?”   Hebrews 9:27 tells us that each of us WILL die, and then we will face judgment.  So, am I ready for that?  If I knew that next month would be my last month, what would I do differently?

I’ve lost both my parents, all of my grandparents, and most of my aunts and uncles.  But losing my wife, ‘Ruby’, was absolutely devastating.  Just ask any widow or widower.  They’ll agree.  Except for losing a child, there probably isn’t anything worse.

So, other than having your heart right with God, I have just three pieces of advice for all of you that are married, and those of you that plan to marry.  1) Plan ahead.  Talk about what you’d like to happen if you ‘go’ first.  Share your hopes and wishes.  Share how you’d like to be remembered.  Talk finances.  Talk funeral arrangements.  TALK!  Thank the Lord, ‘Ruby’ and I had a couple of months to do that before she passed.  But I’ve met SO many widows and widowers that never had that chance.  So – TALK; now that you DO have the opportunity.

2)  Tell them that you love them!   Who’s “them” you ask?  ANY and EVERY one that you DO love, and even those you DON’T!   In the last couple of months of ‘Ruby’s’ life, I must have told her 200 times that I loved her.  Now I wish I had told her 500 times!  And a million more times in our 38 years of marriage.  And, don’t just stop with your spouse!  Tell everyone else around you!  TELL THEM ALL!  THEN SHOW THEM THAT YOU MEAN IT!  You won’t have the chance when you’re compost.

3)  Stop treating the unimportant stuff of life like it’s important.  I’m no expert, but I would guess that 95% or more of what we worry about . . . and fret over . . . and lose sleep over, I S  U N I M P O R T A N T!  Go read, better yet – MEMORIZE Matthew 6:25-34.  After I lost the love of my life, I THEN EXPERIENCED what IS important.  And unfortunately, many times people never learn that lesson until it’s too late.  Wanna hear my list of what’s important?  I’ll be happy to share my list over a cup of coffee . . . when YOU have the time.

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Heart of Gold (Post #35)

Gold-Panning

“Heart of Gold” (Post #35) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

I’ll never forget panning for gold in Alaska.  What a job.  The process basically consisted of placing muddy muck into a pan and swishing it in a left to right motion under water to cause the gold, which is heavy, to work its way down toward the bottom of your pan. At the same time, the lighter materials are washed away. The process of shaking and swishing is repeated until only the heaviest of materials are left-namely the gold and heaviest black sand.

Most of the time, I swished too hard, and lost all the contents of my pan.  If you are persistent and patient, with a little bit of luck you might find a tiny nugget.  After about 30 minutes of this activity, our whole family put together our findings which amounted to a whopping $30 worth of gold (tiny nuggets the weight & size of my little finger nail).

Many of you who are reading this blog are ‘panning for gold’ using on-line dating services.   I’m not condoning their use, and I certainly am not endorsing any one specific site.

But with any of them, I believe that God and His Will CAN still be the driving force of matchmaking.  But, are there actions you can take to ensure that He IS the driving force?

When I’ve used these sites, there have been times I’ve felt like I was trying to usurp God’s control.  And there certainly were those times when I did, only to my demise.

For example, after being attracted by the gorgeous face and slender figure of the woman pictured, I’d send a message to her.  Many times I did this WITHOUT first scrutinizing their values or faith, or other important criteria (like where they lived).  I’m embarrassed to say that at one time, I had NO limits as to where they lived!  And I ended up ‘falling’ for a woman 3000 miles from my home.  And as a result, I ended up falling flat on my face!

Desperate?   Naah.   Lonely?   Definitely!

SO . . . how do you ensure that God’s Will is ‘swishing your pan’ while you search for a potential match?

First of all, PRAY!

Pray for His will to be the driving force.  Before you enroll in any site, PRAY; before you type any information describing yourself, PRAY; before you correspond with anyone you find attractive, PRAY!  Before you even log on to check potential matches, PRAY!  And pray out loud!  Satan hates that.

I’m embarrassed to admit that there were ‘more times than not’ that I used ‘ABC’ dating service without first praying.  When I do that – mistakenly I AM IN CONTROL.

Secondly, learn to let go. 

How do you ‘let go’?  You say ‘good bye’.  You ‘pull the plug’ on the relationship.  WHEN do you do that . . . before it’s too late!   You do that when you KNOW it’s wrong to pursue her.  When the red flags outnumber Godly qualities.  When you know you’re in the relationship merely for self gratification.  When you know you’re dating her just to look good (like driving a cool sports car).  When you know she doesn’t have the same values as yours.  When you realize your values would be compromised if your relationship continues.

As my friend ‘George’ reminded me, every contact I may have with a woman is a test.  Many of them are thrown at us like a satanic knuckle ball, just to see us fail.  Satan takes great joy in that.  Others I believe God allows in our life to GROW our faith and reliance on Him.  As a test of our obedience to Him.

But as a Christian, I’m convinced that ALL of them have the POTENTIAL for our good, if we let Him have the control.

Oh, by the way . . . don’t stop praying!

Thirdly, do a reality check.

If you can’t say no to another helping of potato chips… if you can’t turn off a raunchy movie … if you can’t discipline yourself with an exercise program …  if you can’t regularly have daily devotions, you might want to ask for special help.  KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES!  KNOW WHAT TEMPTATIONS BREAK YOUR WILL!  KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS!  KNOW THYSELF!!  Then with that important information, make better decisions when using the online ‘ABC’ dating service.

So you made a mistake when choosing to date that last girl.  Analyze why you mistakenly chose them, then learn from that mistake.  Do you think satan DOESN’T know what catches your eye?  Do you think he DOESN’T know your weaknesses?  Enough said.

Did I forget to mention  . . . keep praying!

Fourthly, take off your rose colored glasses!

Is the woman in the ‘ABC’ dating pictures showing cleavage??  Enough to get your attention . . . you know what I’m talking about, men.  Ask yourself  “What’s up with that?”   Is the woman in the pictures laying on a bed??  “What’s up with that?”  Is the woman wearing more makeup than a corpse in a coffin??  Or is the woman showcasing her sexy legs??  “Come on, man!  What’s up with that?”

Or, does she mention NOTHING about her faith in her profile?  Does she admit NO love for your Lord?  Does she blatantly ignore that important requirement?  OPEN YOUR EYES and RECOGNIZE the truth about her.  By their fruit you shall know them.  Pick a bad apple, you’ll get indigestion.

Just in case I may have overlooked telling you . . . pray!

I want to live, I want to give.  I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold.

It’s these expressions I never give that keep me searching for a heart of gold.

And I’m getting old.  Keeps me searching for a heart of gold.

And I’m getting old.    (partial lyrics to ‘Heart of Gold’ by  Neil Young )

The Penile Padlock (Post #34)

Padlock

“The Penile Padlock” (Post #34) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

Years ago, I thought of inventing an odor-control liner for my underwear (containing activated charcoal).  After being in close proximity with the general public, I thought it may come in handy.  After all, I do like onions.  Well, I never DID invent that, and by now, I’m sure someone else has become a millionaire with that idea.

So – now I’m working on the details of my second underwear peripheral, the ‘Penile Padlock’.  Its function?  It would provide control when the male user has little or no control of his passion.

Some of its features would include: compatible with both briefs and boxers; automatic locking feature whenever it senses arousal; and the all important feature – it would be dishwasher safe!

And now to get serious. . .    In my last post (#33), I promised that I would offer suggestions of how you could “control that out-of-control attraction to your date’s body, so you can continue to date them without compromising your beliefs and morality.”  So, here we go.  I have not looked at anyone else’s research on this topic, so these suggestions are solely based on my ‘findings’.  (OK, OK, they’re based on my mistakes!)

1.  First of all, you must have a faith-based morality.  If you have no ethics, and just enjoy being in the ‘used furniture business’, well then, just stop reading this post RIGHT NOW.  My faith-based morality originates from scripture in the Bible.  Sex is to be saved for the marriage bed.   Period.

2.  You need to share those morals with your date.  Now, for heaven’s sake, I’m not suggesting that you do that on the first date.  Well – at least not at the beginning of the first date.  You DON’T walk up to her and say, “Hi there, my name is Henry; I don’t want to have sex with you” all in the same breath.  But when you DO see that she IS worth your investment of heart and soul, you NEED to communicate your desire to save that culminating act of love for marriage; if/when that ever happens for the two of you.

By vocalizing that desire and commitment with her, it’ll accomplish two things: first it should earn her respect for you.  Secondly, the two of you will become a team working together to honor that commitment.

Typically, when I expressed the desire to remain celibate with a woman I was dating,   she automatically became my partner to hold me accountable to that ambition.  When my passions were aroused and I wanted to ‘cross the line’, IF SHE TRULY CARED ABOUT ME AND OUR RELATIONSHIP, she would gently stop me.   My normal reaction to being stopped by a woman would be that of rejection – I’d be upset, put off, frustrated.  You men know exactly what I’m talking about.  But realizing that she did it because she cared about me – and more important, cared about ‘us’, I accepted her ‘brakes’ with grace.

And vice versa.  There were times when she would start to ‘cross the line’.  And then it was my responsibility to put ‘on the brakes’.  And she understood my response.  She wasn’t offended.  When you’re a team – ONE OF YOU should have self control (like a designated driver).  And since you ARE A TEAM working towards the same goal, the odds are pretty good that ONE OF YOU WILL HAVE SELF CONTROL WHEN THE OTHER IS WEAK.  (Especially if both of you are committed to the teachings of scripture.)

If your relationship is what it should be with our Jesus Christ, HE WILL PROVIDE.  Way, WAY back in my adolescent years of dating – and now all the way through these current widower years, I have had help from my Heavenly Father with my commitment to remain celibate.  There were MANY times when ‘out of nowhere’, an interruption like a phone call, text, door bell, clanking heat pipes, or some other unexpected noise or event interrupted an inappropriate session of intimacy.

3.  Don’t put yourself in compromising situations:  plan your dates well; little or no down time.   You’ll both be wondering  “OK, so now what do we do?  Nothing else to do so let’s make out.”  My advice – stay busy.  Fill the time.  OR – go double dating – or dating with a group.  It will help keep you away from too much time alone.

4.   Plan to have devotions together when you’re most vulnerable.  For me, it was late evening when I was at my weakest.  Oh, and make your goodnight’s brief.  Agree to keep those final kisses to 5 seconds or less.

5.  Save your passionate creativity for after the marriage.  I remember doing something special with Hershey’s miniature candy bars.  It was kinky – but it was oh, so much fun.  SAVE IT for your marriage!  Your marriage bed should be anything but routine.  But don’t exhaust your creativity before the marriage.  It will get you in trouble!

6.  Use the weapons/armor that God’s given to you.  If you really wanted be a successful hitter against a Cy Young pitcher, you’d study his pitches, his strategies, and his techniques for getting batters out.  You’d then use all you’ve been taught to beat him.  As a follower of Christ, you’d better be using all of the weapons He makes available for you to fight against Satan (see Ephesians 6); scripture, prayer, worship music, etc.

7.  Share your need for support with an accountability friend or group.  Their prayers for you will make a huge difference.  And knowing that they’re holding you accountable will help you be true to your convictions.

8.  WALK AWAY from the temptress!  FROM the Jezebel spirit!  GET AWAY from the temptation.  Stop tolerating it.

9.  Don’t feed your mind with garbage like x-rated movies or pornography.  All it will do is make you compromise your beliefs.

10.   Avoid the alcohol & other inhibition-lowering ‘stuff’ that’s out there.  Using it will only weaken you by lowering your standards and your morals.

My experience with ‘Ruby’, my wife of 38 years proved to me that God will reward your marriage if you save that ultimate expression of love for marriage.  Without me giving documentation to prove that fact, just trust me on that claim.  There’s no question in my mind.  God will bless you and your future wife if you trust His guideline for that behavior.   For more information on this topic, check out crosswalk.com.

Thanks goes to ‘George’ for the inspiration of this post, and to ‘Elmer’ for the title of this post. 

 

Not Thy Will, But Mine Be Done (Post #32)

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“Not Thy Will, But Mine Be Done” (Post #32) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

 

I don’t know whose DNA I inherited when it comes to personality; my mother’s or my father’s.  For the most part, I think I’m pretty easy to get along with.  I think I’m congenial, pleasant, cooperative, sociable, affable, undemanding, and easy to please.

OK . . . now to be truthful.

More recently, I’m finding that my personality is transforming.  Depending on the situation or depending on the temperament of the person with whom I am interacting, I can be downright arrogant.  I can be ‘type A’, demanding and argumentative.  Please realize that I’m only admitting this to you, a faithful & private reader of my blog. I’d never admit it to a woman that I’m dating.  I’d only show her my congenial side.

To be frank, I have a hard time being submissive.

Where did that originate?  I don’t really remember being that way when married to ‘Ruby’.  I lived to love her.  I lived to please her.  I loved putting her first.  I lived unselfishly.  I loved making her happy.  I considered her feelings and wishes before my own.  And she reciprocated.  After all, isn’t that the basis for a great marriage?

But there’s no ‘Ruby’ now.

And I’m starting to frighten myself.  The longer that I am a single male, the worse I’m getting.  The higher my age-number climbs, the more stubborn I’m becoming.   Is there a ‘point of no return’ when it comes to being a single male (or female)?  If I choose to remain single for an extended period of time, will I become reclusive?  Unsociable?  Content in my cocoon?  I know that healthy grieving takes time . . . but is there a threshold I can exceed where I become UNCOMFORTABLE or UNWILLING to consider dating or remarriage.

The longer that I’m single, the more unwavering I am becoming on certain qualities in a future mate:

a) spiritually healthy

b) attractive

c) in good physical shape

d) articulate

e) intelligent

f) emotionally healthy

g) healthy love of family

h) great sense of humor

Is that too much to ask?  I’ve had that list about a year after ‘Ruby’ died.  But, you know, the longer that I’m single, that ‘must have’ list seems to be growing.  For example; I also have these ‘unwritten’ qualities (until now) that I WANT in my mate:

i) spiritually compatible (our theology should match)

j) I’ve gotta feel a ‘spark’ when I’m with her

k) financially independent

l) musically compatible (sharing similar passions & dispassions)

m) she’s gotta tolerate, and maybe even support my love of sports, nature, music, traveling, and entertainment.

n) politically compatible

o) she’s gotta LOVE being active – no ‘couch potato’ or ‘stay-at-home-hermit’

I’m worrying myself now.  By next month, I may have added 5 more to that list.  And at that rate, by next year, I will have run out of alphabet!  And opportunities!  And patience.  And time.

ON THE VERY FIRST DATE THAT I HAD AFTER ‘RUBY’ DIED (see post #2), my date ‘Alice’ proclaimed, “…most of the single men I know are just happy to remain single.”  WHOA NELLY!  WAS THAT PROPHETIC OR WHAT?!  And now I wonder . . . I don’t know if there is a correlation of that seemingly prophetic statement with the age of men, or their widowed condition, or of the length of their singleness.

But I do know this.  There IS a correlation between God working in my life, and His perfect will for this imperfect male.  That’s all I really need.   Come to think of it, that’s all I really want.

PLEASE NOTE: The title of this post has been intentionally misquoted.  Click here to see the original quotation of Matthew 26:39.

Mysterious Wisteria (Post #27)

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“Mysterious Wisteria”   (Post #27) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

Back about 1989, my late wife ‘Ruby’ and I bought and planted a wisteria.  We had seen the stunning grapelike flowers in pictures, and thought they’d be gorgeous in our yard.  Don’t know what I did wrong, but no blossoms came in the first year; or the second; or the third . . .  We did research and learned how and when to prune it, but still no blossoms.  We read about what and how to fertilize it, but still no blossoms.

About 10 years later, I suggested that we just cut the darn vine down and plant a rose bush instead.  ‘Ruby’ patiently reminded me that we paid a small fortune for it, so I agreed to give it more time.  But in the year 2010 when ‘Ruby’ died, 21 years after it was planted, it still hadn’t bloomed.  And quite honestly, I forgot about it since then.

Until yesterday.

I walked past the overgrown monster-of-a-vine, and did a double take.  What was that purple stuff hanging near the top?   . . .  HOLY COW!!!!   IT WAS A BLOOM.  And looking closer, I counted 11 more blooms!  This mysterious wisteria was FINALLY BLOOMING!  24 YEARS AFTER I HAD PLANTED IT??!!

I wept!  I got to see it blooming, and ‘Ruby’ didn’t.  What I was ready to chop down and throw on the compost pile, finally decided to show its stunning and fragrant beauty.  24 years later!   Incredible!

This minor miracle reminded me of what has been missing in my life.  HOPE.

I’ve been a widower now for t-h-r-e-e long never-ending y-e-a-r-s.   And just when I think God has given up on me, and just when I’m ready to give up on Him – he reminds me that He CAN do the impossible.  His love endures forever.  Forever God is faithful.  Forever God is strong!  Forever God is with us!  Forever, and ever, forever.   

Those of you ‘marathon widowers’ out there who are still grieving 3 years (like me) or longer . . . are you living in a cocoon?  Have you given up hope?  Have you grown content with your emptiness?  Have you become the poster child for the local Lonely Hearts club?   What are we waiting for?

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
    my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
    and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
    to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.      Habakkuk 3

That same ‘Sovereign LORD’ is able to meet my every need.  He knows what (and who) I need, even better than I know!  (Remember, He even knows how many hairs I have on my head!)

If you’re sitting in your living room thinking that Miss Right will ring your doorbell, forget it.  You wanna see God at work?  Then take that step of faith.  Send HER an email!  Send Her that text.  Send Her that card.  That huge ‘Berlin-wall’ you’ve been building CAN COME DOWN – one hammer-blow at a time.

The story is told of a widower who never dated anyone after his spouse passed away.  Instead, he purchased a $100,000 Mercedes Benz SL Roadster.  About 2 days after he bought it, he died.  The undertaker was surprised to learn that the widower’s will specified that he was to be buried in his newest car instead of a coffin.

The day of his funeral arrived, and the gawking crowd pressed around the burial site to see the crane slowly and carefully lower the Benz into the ground, with the grotesque corpse propped awkwardly behind the steering wheel.

As the car finally reached the bottom of the hole, a man in the crowd watching the sight enviously blurted; “Man, that’s livin’!”

You and me . . . we’ve been healing . . . for a long time now.  And the healing process WILL continue until we’re six-feet-under!  I’d rather die with a smile on my face.  And being buried in a Benz won’t ever be the source of that smile.

I’m pressed, but not crushed.  Persecuted, not abandoned.

Struck down, but not destroyed.

I’m blessed beyond the curse, for His promise will endure

And His joy’s gonna be my strength!

Though sorrow may last for the night,

His joy comes in the morning!                       Partial lyrics to ‘Trading My Sorrows’

 

Deal Breakers (Post #23)

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“Deal Breakers”  (Post #23) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

I am not God’s gift to women.

Not even close.

But there have been times when on a date I’ve been repulsed to the point where I want to just yell “WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?”

So – here’s my list of ‘deal breakers’ (situations that make me want to walk away from a relationship).  These probably won’t match yours.  (After all, many of you reading this post are women.)  But when you’re finished reading this list, you ought to think about tweaking your own list.  So – here’s my list – in no particular order.

Deal breaker #1:  Unhealthy.  If they show no self control when eating, when exercising, when using medications – then they’re history.

Deal breaker #2:  Dissimilar Faith.  They’ve got to share the faith that I have.  If it’s our first date, sooner or later the conversation will reveal if she believes as I believe (if you haven’t figured it out yet by my other posts, I’m a Bible believing Christian).  And it really helps if she’s committed and in love with our Lord.  If she’s a pseudo-believer, I should be able to see that very early in our relationship.  And if that’s the case, as is has been with several of my dates, then I’m cuttin’ the ties.

Deal breaker #3:  Undisciplined.  If they have no control over their finances, or if they exhibit no self control with their libido, or if they have poor control of their communication (spoken & written), then I’m hitting the highway.

Deal breaker #4:  Repulsive children.  I once had a pet female mouse, that after giving birth to 5 cuddly pink babies, she ATE THEM!  Guess she knew how they’d turn out when they grew up. I had a date once that should have eaten hers.  The rest of her extended family was absolutely wonderful.  I loved them dearly.  But, the adult kids . . . incorrigible, antagonistic, ungodly, selfish, immature; and that was on a GOOD day!  I guess they didn’t approve of me.  And I certainly was not impressed by them.  A blended relationship (and potential future marriage) is difficult enough without that contention.  Auf Wiedersehen!  Au revoir!

Deal breaker #5:  Motherly.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I think a woman who’s been a mother has an edge in attraction for me over one who’s childless.  Sorry, I’m just being honest here. They have an empathy and compassion for people that is unique to mothers.  But I’m complaining about a woman who wants to treat ME like they’re my mother.  Like giving me advice that they’d give a child.  Sorry. I’m sure some men would like that – but I have too much Scotch-Irish blood in me to tolerate that behavior.  Love me.  Don’t mother me.  Please.

Deal breaker #6:  Perfect.  If a woman can’t admit to a mistake, if she never makes a mistake, if she considers herself flawless, indefectible or impeccable . . . it’s a major turn off for me.  As a dating widower who’s also lost one wife to annulment (read post #6), I’ve learned two invaluable words in the English language (besides “yes, dear”), and they are “I’m sorry.”  If my lady is incapable of saying “I’m sorry”, or believes that she’s perfect, I’ll never measure up to her standards.  And I don’t wanna try.

Deal breaker #7: Untruthful.  One year I helped my date do her income tax return (for those of you in another country, we have to do that every year here in the U.S.A.  We have to tell the government how much money we made in the previous year – and then send it in!  Just kidding.)   I was stunned by the lack of honesty she exhibited when telling Uncle Sam how much money she earned.  I knew the truth – but she wasn’t about to reveal it on her income tax return.  Now if a woman lies to the government, would ya think she’d ever be less than truthful to others?  Ah – h – h, yeah.  And over time, she WAS less than truthful to herself . . . AND me.  Time for me to take a hike.

Each of the above deal breakers were actually observed with women that I’ve dated.  Did I HEED the ‘writing on the wall’ when the deal breaker occurred?  Not always.

Wish I had.

I wear glasses, but my hindsight is 20/20.  Learn from my mistakes.  Please! 

Field of Dreams (Post #20)

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“Field of Dreams”   (Post #20) Lessons Learned by a Dating Widower

As I look over a field of newly germinated corn that my friend and I planted, I see some plants that are taller than the rest.  Closer examination reveals that they have broader leaves and are deeper green in color.  Hm-m-m.  Yet, all the seeds planted in this 45 acre field were the same variety and from the same seed company and planted on the same day.  Hm-m-m!  When I look closer, I realize that the soil color of this section is slightly different, and that these plants are growing in a lower section of the field.

Same seeds.  Different results.  My only conclusion can be that the taller ones must be getting richer nutrients.

As I look over a field of single available women, some just seem to be ‘taller than the rest’.  Closer examination reveals that they have a stronger faith.  Their roots seem to be thicker and totally immersed in the rich Word of God.

This observation takes me back to my childhood days.  I was raised by a Bible-believing mother and father.  And in the process, my mom frequently reminded me and my siblings of the verse from II Corinthians 6:14

          Do not be yoked together with unbelievers…

There was a reason why she pounded that into my skull.  You see, as a young lady, she actually made that mistake.   She married dad, and dad’s set of beliefs were completely different than mom’s.  Through much prayer on her part, and through the efforts of a dynamic evangelist, dad changed.  He turned his life over Jesus Christ and made a complete turn-around, all before I was born.  Thank God.

Oh, back to ‘lessons learned’.

I remember the year I began dating ‘Ruby’ (my wife of 38 years).  It was 1970.  I remember calling mom from college, and excitedly telling her that I was starting to date this fantastic girl.  Mom wasn’t impressed.  She curtly responded “well . . . does she go to ____________” (name of our church denomination).  To which I responded “No, mom.  But she is the strongest Bible-believing Christian girl I know.”

Mom’s response?               Silence.

Now that’s saying something!  Cause mom always had something to say about anything.  But her silence loudly affirmed my selection of ‘Ruby’.

And, today, 50+ years later, I can still hear mom’s voice reminding me to not be “unequally yoked with an unbeliever.”  Even as a 62-year-old mature male (OK, OK – strike the ‘mature’ part).  The same advice MUST apply no matter my age; no matter when I am dating or looking to marry.

My mistakes you ask?

1) I’ve dated women who were NOT Bible-believing Christian women.

WHAT I LEARNED: not a smart decision

2) I’ve dated women who were ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’  They claimed they believed as I did, but their actions proved otherwise

WHAT I LEARNED: it took some time for me to observe this, and even more time for me to admit this ‘red flag’, but when I was honest with myself, I realized I had to move to a different part of the ‘field’

3) I’ve dated women who WERE Bible-believing Christians, but their roots were thin, or they only ‘lived’ their select and favorite sections of the Bible.

WHAT I LEARNED: Just like a corn stalk which is robbed of nutrients, the ‘fruit’ of this type of woman would be scrawny.  Our marriage would be contentious and would not bear the ‘fruit’ God had intended.

Just as April 11, 2013’s devotional in ‘Our Daily Bread’ reminds me, God will never ‘throw in the towel’ on me.  He’ll never turn His back on my needs.  And although I may have been living in some lean years since my wife’s passing, He promises to “restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”  (Joel 2:25)  I’m counting on it, Lord!