Fabric of Friendships

Viola after Perry

The fabric of friendships is a cotton broadcloth. Common, everyday, down to earth folks that you can sip a cup of coffee or iced tea with and forget what hour you started. But when the carafe runs empty it might be a clue to go back home.

The reason I think of cotton broadcloth as the fabric of friendships is that is so common. Common like the fabric of a chair cushion. One of my coffee friends made this cushion for me “to order.” Useful, practical and easy to wash if I should spill my coffee on it. No chair cushion is made of silk, or wool dress-pant material. While some soft fleeze might be nice, it’s just not practical. Coffee friendships are the every day type. People that help us see the usual as wothy, healthy, and we walk away with value in them and in ourselves.

Coffee cup cozy friends are hard to come by. This day and age people do such different types of lifestyles that finding the next door neighbor that becomes a life long friend is rare. When I think of this couple across the alley from us as we grew up, I wonder at the different viewpoints each of us as a family had of them.

All those years it was always ‘Perry and Vi.’ They never had any children. Viola suffered a cow kick as a youngster and that injury with it’s lasting scar tissue left her barren. They loved in a “boundaries” sort of way. The whole town seemed to understand them as salt of the earth, steady, loyal and honest people.

My mom always had the deepest respect for them. And she taught us that just because the couple demanded respect of their property by the neighborhood children, did not mean we should fear this couple. Perry’s lawn was immaculately clean. While this signaled the lack of children in their home, we were always welcome to sip lemonade on the back swing with them.

Fear was not part of my memory of this couple. Their love for each other seemed to radiate out ward to all of the “coffee” drop ins that were welcomed at their home. Many of these guests came from the church fellowship. this church ws on the corner across the street from their house.

Perry was the church custodian. I remember all of the boards that Perry was on besides church, with his work at the local farmers coop elevator also. And the funniest thing about his return home from all of his work was the way he cut the engine before coasting into the alley beside his back door. It was like a ball player sliding into home base. That sound still echoes in my head as the tires make the pebbles of gravel crackle underneath a silent engine.

Knowing that Viola was her name never stopped us from calling her just Vi. We knew tha they both came from rather large families, because the story time over lemonade, tea, or just a glass of water was endless. I always felt like I could not get enough of the past with them. From the humor to the sad, everything always had the same conclusion.

“The Lord has bee so good to us.”

Sometimes I remember questioning how they could say that with all the losses that they experienced.

Late after Perry’s death, I convinced my husband to stop by Vi’s house and see if she was home. Her face was radiant with recognition and her lips were full with God’s praise. She shared things like their favorite chairs in the living room. Their spot for Bible reading. Their times of prayer for those in the basket of Christmas cards. There was never a complaining tone or a hint of sadness as she praised God for all the good years she and Perry had together. The last Christmas letters that were hand written from her still had the same conclusion…

“The Lord has been so good to us.”

There is a verse in Psalms that seems to fit Vi and Perry’s confession of faith the most. I think of the Psalms as natural as breathing to them. Psalm 34 seems to me the one that I saw them live. “…The Lord’s praise shall be continually in my mouth…let us praise His name together… (8) Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him.”

While we wait for winter to finish it’s fury, maybe my complaining can take a vacation for the expectation of spring. The Lord has been good to us, we have jsut enough. The hot chocolate with marsh-mellows tastes good. I will trust Him as I continue to remember these beautiful people God has put in my path since childhood.

Strings of the Heart

When love plays it’s song

Love stories can be pretty sappy …

So if you aren’t a believer in things that make the heart sing then this post is not for you.

Being the parents of daughters can be a heart wrenching, night watching , prayer vigilante experience. When the day comes that some young man calls for a supper date with Dad or a breakfast outing, well, it makes mom both excited and nervous.

A few years ago we had the joy of adding a ‘son’ to our family when our oldest daughter was tearfully marched down the aisle on her fathers arm. The joy on those two young faces as they swept out of the sanctuary some forty minutes later was oblivious to the pain of a sister saying goodbye to her playmate. And now another joy has come. That sister who felt so abandoned by the other is now experiencing her own incredible joy.

‘That boy ‘ called for a breakfast date with her father… and so we are blessed now with the hope of another ‘son’ to add to our family. The funny part is that this second daughter time, my heart is not aching for a sister left behind, so to speak. My mother’s heart is not torn by ones joy and another’s sadness. This time I able to feel the full joy of my daughter being engaged. Her excitement over God’s design to their love story is so contagious. And yes, Dad is now able to be excited about another son.

Years ago Dad would often be heard saying- “Girls are nice.” And now he gets to add and “son in laws are pretty nice too.”

The funniest thing in the whole evening of the proposal might was… watching her dad, his son in law and the nervous young man decorating the ‘proposal sight.’ The phone call from the soon to be fiancée with a desperate “I could use a little support here” plea was responded to with laughter and the tender love of a father. Watching the mean get into their romantic” nature was so sweet. I nearly cried just watching them prepare for this special moment.

Strings of the heart…

Both of my daughter’s play stringed instruments, so when I think of the old saying “love plays on the strings of the heart” I often wonder how it sounds. Yet I know from my own experience, it’s not really a song as it is a feeling. Then it’s not just a feeling, it’s a choice. Tugging on the strings of the heart, love pulls people together like the invisible force of magnetism. How this happens is such a mystery. Hearts do not really have strings, do they?

Yet maybe… Because three days back at work, my first daughter could hardly handle the way her heart was being tugged at by her beautiful baby girl. “Stay home” was the song that it was playing. Stay home with your baby girl and enjoy these growing up years. Indeed… She listened to the song and is now staying home with her lovely baby.

The burning flame…

Our daughter’s fiancée was so thoughtful in every detail. From the candles, to the roses, to the symphony tickets on the table, he provided an atmosphere that reflected his heart. Love is like that. Later in the evening, much later as the event happened after the scavenger hunt he sent her on, I took time to read “their verse” from the Song of songs.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Loves flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.” –The Song of Solomon‬ ‭8:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬. http://bible.com/59/sng.8.6.esv

Of course, my old brain came up with a bunch of old country western “burning flame” songs to meditate on as I fell asleep. The Lord’s love as a burning flame is not something my soul settled on until later.

The first of the Ten Commandments uses the phrase ‘”God is a jealous god.” Jealousy is something I always thought of as bad. When it applies to the negative actions of the spurned lover to his betrayed one, yes, there are often some very bad actions that follow the jealous heart. But what about the positive jealous of love that insists on serving the needs of the loved one first?

Now, this is a completely new thought to the idea of jealous love. Perhaps it really fits best into the passage from I Corinthians 13 verse five —

“Love is not rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”

This is a completely different way of thinking about jealous love. Love for another that demands a focus on the one we choose to love. Insists on the abandonment of selfish wants and desires and consistently desires the best for the ones we love.


I am so thankful that after 28 years of knowing my sweet husband, I can honestly say that the love we share is one of jealous, fierce, burning love that will last until the grave. I hope that like my elderly friend who lost her dear one of 69 years, our love for each other will last past the grave. And be just as strong as when the candle was first lit so many years earlier.

My prayer for my daughters and sons is that same burning flame. Strong and sure, jealous and fierce, never ending flame.