Tag Archive | God-wink

The Emotional Jackpot

Mom 8th grade graduation

Mom’s 8th grade graduation picture. Mom is at far right.

As I was thinking about what to write in my blog this week, I picked up my mom’s little black book again. This is the little hardcover “Memorandum Book” that Stella Lillesand, my mom’s Sunday School teacher, had given her in 1921, when Mom was 13 years old. Mom had used this book to write down Bible verses as she memorized them starting on October 2, 1921 and ending on August 5, 1923.

Her first entry was “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) Her last entry was “But thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:57)

I decided to look up any verse she might have memorized the last week in January, this week almost 100 years ago. On January 29, 1922 she wrote, “A friend loveth at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) When I read that, I thought I’d hit the emotional jackpot. My best friend, Mim, and I have celebrated the week between January 24 and February 1 for the last 27 years.

Moms Memorandum Book - Jan 29 1922

January 29, 1922 – Bottom of left page

The last week in January of 1973 I met Mim at a small group Bible Study in Chicago. I had just accepted a position as an editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia and I needed to find an apartment, move into it, and be ready to start my new job in three days. I was staying with my friend, June, while I looked for an apartment, and I’d gone with June to her church Bible Study.

After the Bible Study, Mim walked across the room to talk with June and to meet me. When Mim found out I was under pressure to find an apartment and move in three days, she invited me to stay with her in her apartment until I found a place of my own – regardless of how long that might take. On February 1 of this year, we will have lived together 43 years. I never did find a place of my own.

M-M Lounging in our first apartment cropped

Mim and me in our first apartment in Chicago – 1973

By the time Mim and I had lived together 16 years our friendship had deepened and our lives had become quite intertwined. When a close friend of ours died without a will, we realized we should have wills and power of attorney documents drawn up for ourselves. We asked our Lutheran pastor if he would be a witness to the signing of our wills. He said he would be happy to do that, but also suggested that we might want to have a Blessing Ceremony for the church to bless our loving relationship and our lifetime commitment to each other. Both Mim and I thought that was a great idea, and on January 24, 1989 our pastor and a few close friends gathered in our home for our Blessing Ceremony.

BC-1 MM Steve

A picture from our Blessing Ceremony – 1989

Just two and a half years ago, on September 15, 2013, we added one more date to our list of anniversaries to celebrate – the day we were legally married.

All three of these dates are very significant to us. Being legally married conveyed the same rights and privileges to us that all other legally married couples have. That’s a huge relief from a practical standpoint. The Blessing Ceremony is when God and the church blessed our commitment to love and cherish each other for the rest of our lives. The day Mim and I met each other and Mim offered me her friendship, along with a place to stay, marked the beginning of a loving friendship that was surely a precious gift from God.

M-M Close-up - cropped

Our Wedding Picture – 2013

I think God put a pretty bow on this gift, perhaps a “God-wink,” by letting me discover that the Bible verse my mom memorized the last week in January of 1922 was “A friend loveth at all times.” God gave me the gift of a very special best friend 43 years ago, a friend who loves me at all times, just as God intends for us.

A friend loves at all times - cropped

The Price of Kindness and Gas

Christmas Mountain Village in Wisconsin Dells

Christmas Mountain Village in Wisconsin Dells

About noon on Friday I left Christmas Mountain in Wisconsin Dells to drive home for the weekend. I’ll return today (Monday) for three more days of my 10-day writing retreat. I’d made the reservations for this writing retreat a couple months ago. Since then a few things have come up for the weekend that required me to go back home. Fortunately, the drive is only a little over an hour. But on Friday, it was closer to two hours.

After I’d been on the road about twenty minutes my cellphone rang. It was Mim. She wanted to know if I remembered where I had put the music for “Mary Had a Baby.” One of my reasons for going home for the weekend was to play the piano to accompany Mim. She was going to sing “Mary Had a Baby” for a Scandinavian Christmas Hymn Sing at East Koshkonong Lutheran Church on Saturday afternoon. (“East” is one of two churches where I’m half-time organist.) I told Mim where I thought the music should be, but it wasn’t there. I suggested a few other places she could look – but the music wasn’t in any of those places either. Finally I thought, maybe I had taken it to Christmas Mountain with me to practice on my keyboard. I decided to take the next exit off I-90. I pulled into a McDonald’s parking lot to check my briefcase in the back seat of my car, just to be sure the music wasn’t there, before driving back to Christmas Mountain to look for it in the timeshare condo I was using for ten days.

As I got out of my car a man, probably in his thirties, walked up to me. He said he hated to ask, but he didn’t have quite enough gas to get where he was going. Could I give him a dollar or two to help him buy more gas.

US Currency - small bills 2The situation took me by surprise. When I lived in Chicago and worked in the Loop, people on the street asked me for money almost every day. I usually ignored the requests. Back then I rationalized that giving generously to churches and social service agencies instead would help more people. Today, I’m not so sure I made the right decision about that. I wasn’t being kind to the person in need right in front of me.

I moved to Wisconsin twenty years ago, and a stranger asking me for money here is a rare occurrence. On Friday, the guy sounded sincere. He was driving an old white Chevy with plenty of rust. There were a couple other men waiting inside his car. Maybe I was being conned, but I really didn’t think I was. I pulled out my wallet to see what I had – a twenty, a couple tens, a five, and several ones. I gave him the five. He was very appreciative, said “Thank you, Ma’am” several times, flashed a big smile, and walked back to his car.

A beautiful arrangement of "Mary Had a Baby" is in this songbook.

This is the lost (and found) songbook. A beautiful arrangement of “Mary Had a Baby” is in it.

I went back to looking for “Mary Had a Baby” in the back seat of my car. The music wasn’t in my briefcase, so I got back on I-90, headed toward the Dells instead of home. A few minutes later Mim called again. She had found the music. It had been mixed in with the non-Christmas music on the shelf. So, I took the next exit to get headed back home again.

As I was driving, I thought about this little incident. Maybe it was meant to be that I should meet that guy and give him a few bucks. I was feeling good about that rather than being upset by the roundabout route I was taking to get home. But then I thought, how much gas can the poor guy buy with the measly five dollar bill I gave him. Why didn’t I give him the twenty so he could buy almost half a tank?  Why wasn’t I more generous? That bothered me.

Then my thoughts turned to wondering why this whole incident happened. Sure, Mim needed to find the music, and the guy needed gas money. But I also needed to learn more about being generous to someone in need. I must listen a little more closely to what the need is before I figure out how I can help.

I’m glad God’s still trying to teach me lessons!

 

Christmas Cookies 2ON ANOTHER NOTE: Next Sunday, December 16, 2012, is the last hymn sing currently scheduled at Whispering Winds. We’ll sing lots of Christmas carols, eat lots of Christmas cookies, and simply enjoy having a good time together. Everyone is welcome. It’s free. Just show up at 3:00 Sunday afternoon prepared to have a good time. Whispering Winds Retreat Haven, 201 Highland Road, Cambridge, Wisconsin. Call me at 608-212-6197, or email me at MarianKorth&Gmail.com if you have any questions.

Whispering Winds Retreat Haven - 201 Highland Road, Cambridge, Wisconsin

Whispering Winds Retreat Haven – 201 Highland Road, Cambridge, Wisconsin

Listening for God in New Ways

Mim, June, and Marian enjoying a picnic and Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Ravinia in the summer of 1973.

In January of 1973, almost 40 years ago, a friend of mine, June Autry, called me with a job tip. That phone call was a gift from God. The job tip led me to a job that lasted only two years, but the phone call initiated a series of events that changed my life forever.

The day after I received the phone call, I drove to Chicago to interview for the job that June had called me about – editorial researcher for The World Book Encyclopedia. I was offered the job, and I stayed with June and her husband Arden for a couple days to look for an apartment and to plan my move to Chicago. One evening I went with June and Arden to a neighborhood Bible Study. That’s where I met Mim. When she heard that I was planning to move to Chicago, she invited me to stay with her until I found an apartment. Going on 40 years, and I still haven’t found my own apartment!

Why am I thinking back to something that happened so long ago? A couple reasons. First, I’m reading a very interesting book by Ann E. Aswegan, Awakening to the Song of Your Self: Revelations by Day, Dreams by Night. Aswegan is a registered nurse and an expert in dreams. The first 14 chapters of her book are about how your subconscious tries to communicate with your conscious self while you are awake. The last 14 chapters are about how your subconscious tries to communicate with you through dreams. Aswegan’s book is very helpful to me in gaining a better understanding of how God can communicate with us through premonitions and coincidences (“by day”) as well as through dreams (“by night”). Each chapter introduces a concept, provides lots of examples – often stories of her clients’ or her own experiences, and ends with several questions to help apply what you’re learning to your own experiences.

The first chapter, “Embarking on an Inner Journey: Finding the Paths That Lead Within,” included the following questions (among others): Describe the people you value and write a few lines about what each one means to you. What do you associate with each one? What feelings do they generate within you? What do they mirror about you?

That was a fun exercise! I made myself stop writing about the people I value after I’d written short paragraphs about eight of my friends and family. (I could have continued for a long time, but I wanted to get back to reading the book. I’ll continue that writing exercise later.) Number one on my list was Mim. That’s partly why I’m thinking about 39½ years ago when I met her.

The other reason is that Mim turned 65 yesterday. When we first met, she was just beginning her career as a registered nurse, working at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. Now we’re starting to talk about retirement – maybe in 5 or 10 years… We’ve lived most of our lives together.

Isn’t it amazing what June’s phone call about a job tip led to?

To quote from my favorite devotional book again, Jesus says:

I speak to you continually: through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures. There is no limit to the variety of ways I can communicate with you. Your part is to be attentive to My messages, in whatever form they come… [Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, published by Thomas Nelson, p. 216]

Whether it’s a phone call from a friend, an amazing coincidence, a dream, an odd feeling, a scripture reading, a favorite song, a goldfinch singing while perched on a purple thistle, a persistent memory – however God wants to communicate with me, I’m doing my best to listen. With Ann Aswegan’s book, along with Sarah Young’s devotional, I think my hearing is getting a little better.

One last note. Speaking of ways God talks to us, Ken Lund will be leading a retreat at Whispering Winds from 9am to 4pm on Saturday, August 18. The title of the retreat is “Formational Scripture Reading: From Information to Transformation.” Here’s a link to more information about the retreat:   http://whisperingwindsretreathaven.com/publicretreats.html. (You’ll need to scroll down the page to get to this retreat.) Please feel free to call me at 608-212-6197 with questions or to register.

God’s Love Made Visible

[Copied from first blog. Originally posted December 19, 2011.]

I experienced another God-wink last week. It was Thursday afternoon and I was in the county jail to play the piano for the women’s worship service. There were nine of us sitting in a circle in the chapel – the chaplain, myself, and seven inmates. After we read the Scriptures for the day, we went around the circle, each woman telling us what today’s readings meant to her, or sharing whatever else was on her mind.

When it was my turn, I talked about the wonderful Christmas Carol Sing-along we had had at Whispering Winds the previous Sunday afternoon. I described what it was like to have a group of 21 people gathered together at our retreat house, singing Christmas carols for a couple hours, and enjoying the anticipation of once again celebrating the birth of the Christ Child and God’s love for us.

One of the women asked me several questions about what Whispering Winds is like, and then asked me if I knew about another retreat center not far from Madison. At first I said no, that I didn’t. But then, as she described it, I realized she was talking about my niece’s home. My niece and her husband have a remodeled farmhouse and a large beautifully landscaped yard that they use for various church groups and youth camping events. My niece and her husband are foster parents and have adopted three of the children they have cared for. One of them is this woman’s son. All nine of us sitting around the circle were amazed at this God-wink – the what a small world it is discovery.

This woman has been in and out of jail several times over the past ten years. When she saw how lovingly my niece and her husband cared for children in their home, and when she learned that they were willing to adopt her son, she made one of the toughest decisions of her life. She decided to forfeit her parental rights so that her son could become their son. She knew that she would not be able to care for him for the next year or two while she served time in prison. She loved her son so much that she wanted what would be best for him, even if it meant sacrificing her parental rights.

She asked me to be sure to tell my niece that we met, and to let them know how thankful she is that they have adopted her son, and that they are letting her still be involved in his life. She is hoping to be able to send them all a Christmas card this week.

When I talked with my niece about this God-wink she said God’s ability to put pieces together is truly amazing. She said that they have been praying for God’s protection for her. She has a wonderful heart, but keeps getting pulled back into trouble, despite her best intentions.

We are now in the fourth week of Advent. The theme for this week is love. Can you imagine a love so great that a mother would give up her parental rights for the good of the child? Or, can you imagine a God who loves us so much that He gave His Son for us? As the Bible says, Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love. [I Corinthians 13:13 NRSV]

Once again, God’s love is made visible in jail.

4 comments (0 new) | Add a New Comment
1. Mardelle Burrowes | December 19, 2011 at 10:39 AM EST [ delete ]

Oh my, what a beautiful connection you made! I love God winks.

2. Joan Gunderman | December 19, 2011 at 11:13 AM EST [ delete ]

What a wonderful wink! We’ve had similar feelings as your niece about Adam’s and Mary’s birth parents. Such courage it took to make the decisions they did. And such a perfect illustration for this week of Advent. Thanks, Marian. — JG

3. Bonita L. Fredel | December 20, 2011 at 12:17 AM EST [ delete ]

Perhaps there are times when people live in prisons not made of blocks and bars but conditions and circumstances. I certainly feel that way at times. That is when I really rejoice about receiving a God wink. It warms my spirt and frees me to love.

4. RuthAnn | December 20, 2011 at 01:23 AM EST [ delete ]

Marian, your words always give my heart a lift. What a blessed ministry you have.