My Funny Valentine

We’ve been married 31 years, known each other a lot longer than that. I’d say I know my husband pretty well.

A card. And probably candy or flowers. That’s what I expected.

What did I get? A box of artisan chocolates (pretty to “ooh” and “ahh” at, before they’re scarfed down). And a card that plain made me laugh out loud. A big honkin’ purple fold-out design of a roller coaster, one that enthusiastically plays the “The 1812 Overture.”

Best of all, the message scribbled on it: “You and me . . . It’s the most fun I’ve ever had. . . I praise God He put you in the seat beside me . . . You make the ride worthwhile. Love, Al.”

I feel the same way, honey. . . there have been lots of ups and downs . . . but I’m so glad you’re there to squeeze my hand and reassure me when things get scary. I love you.

Lookin’ up,

Sislyn

Mace

“Be kind and compassionate one to another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Eph. 4:32

With her office door ajar, Lindy Mitchell typed.  She heard a door close and then several stray notes escape a guitar being removed from its case.

My goodness, she didn’t know Mace was home.  She heard the strumming of a few tentative chords.  Typing stopped altogether, and she rolled her office chair over for a better view.

The afternoon sun threw a golden glow upon their well-worn living room furnishings, where Mace had one foot propped on the threadbare ottoman, the instrument crooked under his arm.

His face, all serious now, was bent near the guitar.  His intense blue-green eyes shut to the world.  Graceful fingers stretched into the chords of a familiar song, and he began to sing softly. Lindy’s heart warmed to the rhythmic guitar and the rise and fall of his lyrical voice:

In the morning, when I rise—

In the morning, when I rise—

In the morning, when I rise—

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus—

You can have all this world,

But give me Jesus.

He slipped into the next verse, and she found herself humming along.

When I am alone—

Oh, when I am alone—

When I am alone—

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus—

You can have all this world,

But give me Jesus.

His eyes opened, met her gaze, and he motioned for her to join him on the couch.  She came next to him, trying to match her shaky soprano to his mellow tenor.

When I come to die—

Yes, when I come to die—

When I come to die—

Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus—

You can have all this world,

But give me Jesus.

Lindy paused, watching Mace’s face.  They sang together through the end of the tag ending:

You can have all this world, you can have all this world,

You can have all this world,

But give me Jesus.(***)

His sure fingers found the resolving chords.  He turned to her, his eyes caught in a smile.  “Hey, that sounded pretty good.  You and I could do it as a duet next Sunday.  Whatcha say?”

“You should do it as a solo, Mace.  That‘s what would sound really good.”

He laughed.  “You always say that.  I wish you could hear yourself as I do, Lin.  Besides, you ought to know by now I wouldn’t let you get up there and sing unprepared.  We’d work it out so you were totally comfortable with it.”   He pulled the guitar strap off.

“I know, I know,” she said, wavering.  “Just let me think about it, okay?”

Another chuckle.  “Sure.  If and when you’re ready, we’ll do it.”

She hated disappointing him.  But he was the trained voice, not her.  The one for whom getting up in front of a crowd and singing his heart out was no problem, whatsoever.  For her?  Whenever she sang in public, her voice quivered.  And she hated the way her knees always turned to Jell-o.

Mace leaned back.  His right hand teased the cowlick at the top of her head.  “How’d your meeting go with Julia today?”

“Fine.”  She thought a moment.  “No, better than that.  It was great.”

“Wow, that’s a resounding endorsement.  What was it about?”

“Julia told me all about the upcoming ladies’ Bible study at Beal Street.  It’s to be based on Titus Two, you know those verses that say ‘older women teach the younger women.’  But she’s taking it a step further.  She wants the younger women also to contribute from time to time, so it will be a learning experience between the generations.”

“With Julia as the teacher?  I imagine she’d be awesome. You know she’s been teaching Sunday School for years.”

“Julia said she’d teach when needed but would really be more like a facilitator.  I have to tell you, Mace, at first I thought she was asking me to teach the thing.  The thought of that scared me to half to death, till she let me know she wanted me there only as a member of the study and not to teach.”

He stroked her neck.  “But you love to teach.  It’s one of your gifts.”

“Yeah, but we both know that it’s children I feel comfortable with.  Standing in front of a bunch of ladies. . . ooooh.”  She shivered.

“God has a way of stretching our comfort zones, Belinda T. Mitchell, don’t forget that. Think of all the people in the Bible God asked to go beyond what they thought they were capable of.  He always equips followers to accomplish the tasks He gives.  Same principle applies today.”

She threw a pillow at him.  “Thanks for the sermonette, Brother Mace.  I’ll keep it in mind.”

He caught it, grinning. “Anytime.  Glad I could help.”  His hopeful eyes traveled to their adjoining kitchen.  “What are we having for dinner?  I worked straight through lunch today and am starving.”

She knew there was something at the back of her mind she’d been meaning to do!  With the lunch at Julia’s house and playing catch-up on her work this afternoon, she’d completely blanked out about dinner.

“Sorry, hon.  I hadn’t given much thought to it.”  She scrunched her face.  “I think there’s a frozen pizza in the back of the freezer.”

Mace raised his eyebrows, then let them slide.

Rats, now I’ve disappointed him about dinner too—what a terrible wife I am.   I should do better than this.

She was transported immediately to Edith Mitchell’s cheery kitchen, which she knew at this very moment would be filled with tantalizing smells and promises of home-cooked food for her father-in-law Hank.  Her Southern belle mother-in-law always made it look so easy!  And worst of all, this level of culinary competency was what Mace grew up with, came to expect.  A hot, nourishing meal to welcome him home at the end of each and every day.

Again, she resolved to do better.  Somehow.  “Honey, I’m so sorry,” she said.  “Really I am.  I don’t know where the time went.”

“Fortunately, I do know that there are places where a person can purchase a meal.  I believe they’re called restaurants.”  He brightened.  “Hey, I know we didn’t plan for it, but why don’t I take you out?  We could try that new Mexican place.”

As she looked at the dark curls framing his handsome face, her heart flooded with love for her husband.  Sweet, generous Mace.  How did she ever deserve someone like him?  Thank You, Lord.  She really would have to manage that meal-planning thing more efficiently in the future.

She leaned over and kissed him.  “Two meals in one day without ever having to turn on the stove?  I’ll give you a big ‘amen’ on that.”

***“Give Me Jesus”, Song and Lyrics by Fernando Ortega.