Thursday, January 29, 2004

Larry's love story  

Last week I shared Rey's love story. After my request to hear others, I received the following from Larry Lovering.

It began when I was twelve, living in Colorado Springs. I was a scrawny and brainy kid, two deadly attributes in the company of cretins with less intelligence than a bucket of Jell-O. I took refuge often with the youth group at First Methodist Church, a very large church in the Springs. They had a heart for God, and their youth programs were well attended. I was in Boy Scouts at that church as well.

One Sunday night, there was a youth service in the gym, and communion was served, potato chips and coca-cola serving as host substitutes. I thought a lot about God and how Jesus lived and died; and that night I gave my life to him. Two months later I was on a plane bound back to Massachusetts as another of my father's marriages was crumbling. It was his third.

The ensuing years put me in different churches but not for sanctification, but for a place to go. The Congregational churches of New England are watered-down ghosts of their Puritan beginnings. I didn't feel like I was backsliding, in fact I didn't really know what that was. But I felt safe there, knowing that God was watching.

High school, and I finally faced up to the demons that dogged me by punching one in the nose after school. I never had a problem with bullies again. And I kept on being a good kid in the face of everything that peer groups can throw. I graduated, went to college briefly, then to work.

At 22, I found a Baptist church near where I lived and began attending, full time now. I began to see what God's plans were for me, and that he was with me all those years. Well, I didn't really realize that until, well, that comes later in the story. As I sat in a singles class for Sunday School, I was introduced to a list-making help to discern a mate. I wasn't too interested in being married at that time, but I thought carefully about my list and resolved not to become unequally-yoked. I worked, went to church, worked again until I was 25.

I met Joann in one of my stores. She was playing a record in the stereo department, a record that I heard from across the store. It wasn't an ordinary song, though. It was Stravinsky's Firebird, played with electronic instruments. There was a style to the performance I recognized, and I thought that my friend Billy and me were the only ones in the Western World who had Isao Tomita's records. I asked Joann whose record it was, and it was hers. Now there were three that knew Tomita.

She was very attractive, and I decided to ask her out before I left for the day. She gave me her number, and for the next three weeks I dialed that number, getting no response. Finally, I did get through, and we set up our first date for September 6, 1980. We spent that day until almost midnight in Boston, and it was very close to the end of the date when I found out she was a believer, which made my heart jump. I was respectful, always, and kissed her on the cheek leaving her that night, with a promise that I'd call her back. I did, the next day, and the next day, and the next…

Our second date was at a church picnic, her church, but we wandered away for most of the time and talked. Our third date was dinner at my house, and I prepared a home made Italian feast, a specialty of mine. To set the stage for this, I thought she was French, ok? Well, she comes up the stairs and says, "You have a nerve, cooking Italian for an Italian." Fortunately she liked my cooking, a lot.

Six weeks later, I proposed to Joann, and she accepted. Five months later we married, on her birthday. And for twenty years, our marriage was one with the Lord, a storybook almost every day, and when the day wasn't so, the night was. We couldn't have children, so we adopted an infant boy ten years after we married. And though our relationship got a little rocky at times, God was still at the head and in control. Even when we found out she had ovarian cancer.

The world didn't stop then, only slowed down a lot. I went with Joann to each of her chemo sessions, and stayed with her every night in her hospital room. We hoped and prayed for a miracle. She lived for four and a half years after that, and for most of those years we traveled and made the most of our lives. She died, at home, in August 2001.

Joann's testimony lived on, spreading her Gospel message about trust and hope, and peace in Him through our web site. It is amazing to me, but two people that I know of, came to know the Lord as their Savior after reading the web site. And my life, cut apart as it was, is slowly regaining life because of God and His promises to me. We knew after our first date that we would be together, and many years later, after she died, I found her list, the one she used to see if I met her "standards." Number 3 on the list was, "would like to cook for me once in a while." I did, for almost two years after we were married, as she arrived home later than I did from work. But of course, that isn't the reason our marriage was so successful. It was God being the head of our marriage.

After reading Larry's story, I downloaded Isao Tomita's rendition of The Pachelbel Canon from the iTunes Music Store (which introduced me to a fascinating artist and also taught me the proper spelling of Pachelbel). Larry recommends the album Snowflakes Are Dancing (featuring the music of DeBussy) for newcomers to his music. Larry runs the Web site, where he offers information on a variety of fascinating topics and also publishes a blog. At the site, you can also read about Joann's ordeal with cancer (in her own words) and how she handled it through faith with the loving support of her husband.

Please continue sending me love stories. I love to read them, and I love sharing them even more.