Deep Waters

Punxsutawney Area School District swimming pool (where I have water aerobics twice a week and where I learned to swim)

 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. —Isaiah 43:2 NIV

The first couple of times I jumped off the low diving board at the local swimming pool, I landed on the sloped side near the ladder, so I didn’t think it was a problem that I couldn’t swim.

A teenage girl wants to do the things her friends are doing, right? And I was tired of playing it safe in the shallow water while everyone else was having a blast in the deep end of the pool. Back then I didn’t even know how to tread water. The only thing I knew how to do was the dead man’s float.

“How hard could it be?” I thought as I watched the others splashing off the diving board that long ago summer day. All I had to do was hop off the side so I landed on the slope near the ladder. So I swallowed my trepidation and took my place in line.

My strategy worked twice. The third time, however, I plunged into waters above my head.

I don’t remember how many times I bobbed to the surface, panicked and thrashing, my short life passing before my closed eyes. Then strong arms pulled me to safety. As I sat on the concrete beside the crowded pool, gasping and trembling, a lifelong fear was born.

For five decades, deep water terrified me. My kids all learned to swim, no thanks to me. When we went swimming, I stayed in the shallow water. When we went boating, I made sure I had a life vest strapped on tight.

Then my son bought an above-ground pool. Hot summer days found me cooling off in sun-warmed water that only came up to my neck. I learned to tread water and to propel myself beneath the surface. I practiced floating and splashed from one side of the pool to the other. As long as I could touch bottom (and my head was above the water), I was fine.

One long, cold winter, much like this one, I bought a pass for the indoor pool at the local middle school and began swimming lessons. I gave myself a couple of months to swim from one end of the pool to the other.

But I met that goal at the end of my second lesson, swimming on my back, my instructor beside me every stroke of the way.

“You’re doing fine,” she’d say. “Just a little farther.”

And so I kept going—swimming in twelve feet of water—something I didn’t think I’d do for a long time. But I couldn’t have done it without my instructor there beside me, encouraging me, giving me confidence with her presence.

It’s the same way with my swim through life.

When I must navigate deep waters, I’m not alone. My Instructor is beside me, encouraging me, ready to pull me out should I go under. His presence gives me the confidence I need to push on, just a little farther, stroke by stroke, until I finally reach the other side.

 Thank you, Father God, that You never leave me or forsake me—even when I get in over my head. Amen.

 Read and reflect on Isaiah 43:1–7.

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

What Is Love Made Of?

And now I will show you the most excellent way. – 1 Corinthians 12:31b (NIV)

Hubby and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. For some reason, it’s never been an important event on our life calendar.

Oh, I tried to make it an event a few times. One year I cooked up a special dinner: roast beef heart and pink mashed potatoes, a meal we endured only once. A greeting card never seems to say what I want it to say, even when I make the card myself.

Perhaps it’s that what I feel for my husband of forty-five years goes beyond words.

And I think the forty-five years has a lot to do with it.

In the early years, I looked for what I could get in the relationship: companionship, love, support, a listening ear, sympathy. What I got was a man who worked 10- to 12-hour days five days a week, provided firewood, fixed things (an unending job because something always needs fixed), and built me a house. He’s been a good father to our three children—a softy, I always called him. But his softness balanced my harshness.

I’ve never seen him angry—upset a few times, but never angry. Even when I tried to pick a fight, he never took the bait. And he’s always supported me in my dreams. I dedicated my second book to him with these words: “To the man who fixes dinner, washes the dishes and clothes, dusts and vacuums, shops for groceries and puts them away, does the ‘kid runs’—the myriad of daily tasks considered ‘women’s work’—so that I could have the time to write. To the man who told me that he felt God’s will for his life was to free up my time so I could follow God’s call for my life.”

Whether I decided to go to work outside the home or quit the job I had, he’s always supported my decisions.

Although he used to “suggest” ways my cooking could be improved, he always ate everything I’ve made, even when I couldn’t. Proving he told the truth when we were dating when he said, “I was in the service. I can eat anything.”

Now that the nest is empty, we’ve set aside Friday night as our date night. Homemade pizza and a movie. But he rarely makes it through the movie. I hear his soft snores around nine. I don’t even bother waking him up to go to bed. It never works and he doesn’t even remember. I just cover him with a blanket, turn off the TV, turn down the lights and softly kiss him on the forehead. He’ll get to bed eventually.

I used to feel sorry for myself when he neglected to say “I love you” every day. But—don’t tell him this—I’ve come to realize I don’t need to hear it. I see it in everything he does. I hear it shouted from the stack of firewood by the wood stove, from the packages of venison and vegetables and berries in the freezer, from the 1997 Explorer that he fixed and fixed and fixed until we could afford to replace it. The walls of the house he built are his arms around me day and night.

“Saturday’s Valentine’s Day,” I said one night a few years ago as we sat at the supper table.

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

I thought about for a moment. “Nothing, really. I’m such a homebody anymore.”

He smiled and nodded.

“We never did do Valentine’s Day, did we?” I said. “I wonder why.”

We ate in silence for a few minutes. Then it hit me.

“Because with you,” I said, warmth coursing through me, “I have Valentine’s Day every day.”

Dear God, You gave me the perfect life companion. Not a perfect man, but the man perfect for me. Thank you. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 Corinthians 13

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons, © 2018 by Michele T. Huey. All rights reserved.