As you know, yesterday was Mother’s Day. It was an emotional time for me. My heart melts at the thought of my own dear mom, a great woman now gone from earth for nearly 40 years. Though decades have passed since her untimely death when I was just 9 years old, her influence on me remains steady and sure. My mother was a strong but very gentle lady. If I close my eyes, I can still hear her voice and feel the softness of her hand in mine.
Ask a hundred people, “How do you make a great banana split?” and they’d probably list the same core ingredients—vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry ice cream nestled between the two halves of a banana, drizzled with chocolate syrup, crushed pineapple, whipped cream and topped off with one or more maraschino cherries. Depending on personal preference, some might lobby for a few spoons of wet walnut topping.
Ask a hundred people who loved to cook, “How do you make a great Alfredo sauce?” and I imagine their recipes would easily be boiled down to four or five core ingredients—sweet butter, heavy cream, shredded parmesan cheese, and a pinch of white pepper and garlic salt.
During our Christmas vacation, Jean and I packed the suitcases, planned the route, and piled into the minivan. Anticipation filled the air as the kids were strapped into their car seats like astronauts preparing for liftoff. With the house buttoned up, the mail stopped for a week, and a prayer for safety shared, off we went on a thousand mile journey to Jean’s parents’ home in Los Angeles.
Everything was going smoothly for a couple of hours .
Back in 1985, when I was still single, I had an interesting experience during a church service. In the middle of his sermon, the pastor stopped preaching, walked right up to me and said, “I have a word from the Lord for you. I believe God has your mate picked out for you, and she’s going to have a heart for the things of God. She’ll be your crown.”
Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback.
Jean and I love to camp with our boys. Last week we pitched our tent, hiked, played ball, cooked dinner in the fire pit, and then hit the sack for what was to be a restful night. After all, we had perfect sleeping weather—the kind of Rocky Mountain cool air that produces a refreshingly deep rest. One problem. A rather hungry black bear decided to hunt around for a midnight snack just one campsite over from our tent.
I’m in Washington, D.C. for a series of meetings this week as well as to participate in the National Day of Prayer. Tomorrow’s activities include brunch at White House which is a real honor. My wife Jean and the boys are with me and, with an eye on the National Day of Prayer, I can’t help but reflect and give thanks to the Lord for the joy that my family brings me.
One of the things I love about my wife, for example, is her incredible nurturing heart.
Last year my family was living in a community just around the corner from Focus on the Family. I remember one particular evening Jean needed to go shopping after dinner. I offered to hang out with the boys while she ran errands. I should point out it was already dark by the time Jean backed the minivan out of the driveway . . . right into our neighbor’s car across the street.
Jean wasn’t distracted or in a hurry.
I’ve met a number of genuine tough guys in my life. Back in sixth grade, for example, I met Chuck Norris – yes, the Chuck Norris who battled Bruce Lee in the Way of the Dragon. Chuck was a special guest in our karate class taught by my homeroom teacher, Mr. Fried – a serious tough guy in his own right. Mr. Fried was both a fifth degree black belt instructor and a reserve deputy sheriff who just happened to be a personal friend of Chuck Norris.
The other day I was talking with a close friend about his marriage. I’ll call him Dave. I knew he and his wife had been experiencing some rough sailing this summer. When I asked how things were going now, Dave reflected, “Honestly, Jim, there are days when I pray, ‘Lord, take me or take her–but one of us has to go.”
He added, “I even told God that I’m driving around without my seatbelt to make it easier for You if You want to take me!” Anyone who has been married longer than five minutes knows marriage is hard work.