Monday, February 23, 2015


Earl’s arms around me assured me that I was OK. After work the night before I’d gone to his apartment and told him I was going to The Caravan. He said, “If you drink too much call me.”

I didn’t drink too much, and I didn’t have a good time. The usual raucous crowd didn’t draw me in as I sat by myself at the bar nursing a warm Budweiser. Anger seethed through my veins. I had changed. What do I do now?

When I saw Earl the next day, I burst into tears and said, “I wish I had just gone home last night.” He wrapped his arms around me and said, “I love you.” He had spoken those words to me before, but as I calmed down, he looked into my eyes and continued, “Will you marry me?”

“Yes. Yes. Yes!” I wanted to get married right away, but Earl insisted we wait a respectable time. We set the date for December 29, and shopped for my wedding gown and my engagement ring together.

We found my gown at the first bridal shop on our list! White lace covered the simple white gown and formed elbow-length sleeves. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. The “V” neckline lengthened my already long neck. The bodice fit my small chest and the skirt was long enough that I wouldn’t need to have it altered. I turned around and around looking at my reflection in the room of mirrors. I felt like a princess in a fairy tale.

Shopping for my ring happened the same way. I saw exactly what I wanted at the first jewelry counter. “This is it.”

Saturday afternoon, December 29, 1985 my sister, Bobbi, nervously helped me put my gown on and checked my hair and makeup. My friend, Demita, came in and said, “Let’s go upstairs now.” She directed me to the sanctuary entrance. She settled my veil in place before slipping into a back pew.

I nervously peeked into the sanctuary and saw Earl and our pastor, John, standing at the altar. When the Wedding March began, I stepped into the sanctuary. My bouquet shivered and my mind whirled as I made my way to my future husband. I focused on Earl’s blue eyes. How had I missed the love they held for me?

John opened the service by reading 1 Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. We quietly repeated our vows, exchanged our rings, and John said, “Earl you may kiss your bride.” He did so with a grin that matched mine—from ear to ear. John presented us, “Reverend and Mrs. Earl Dickerson.”

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:5-8 NIV).

In Christ,

Please Share

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Date with a Preacher

A year of meals shared and truths told went by, and I hadn’t thought much about our relationship until Earl surprised me at supper one evening, “Would you go out with me?”

“Are you crazy?” All I could think about was how terrible I was. How can he like me?

A month later, he asked again, “Will you go out with me?”

Reluctantly I agreed and on a hot July evening, I sat waiting for Earl in the hospital parking lot because I wouldn’t tell him where I lived. My palms were sweaty and when I saw his baby-blue Thunderbird, I caught my breath. I still couldn’t believe I was going on a date with a preacher. (I’d even had my hair done and was wearing the only dress I owned.)

Getting in his car my voice cracked as I said, “Hi.”


“Where are we going?”

“I made reservations at The 91st Bomb Group restaurant on the Memphis airport flight line.” The restaurant reminded me of one my Uncle Don had taken me to when I was eighteen. After dinner, we sat in the lounge and watched the runway and airplane lights as planes took off and landed.

“Have I told you how much I like flying?”

“Yes, that’s why I brought you here. Doesn’t your uncle fly?”

“Yes, he has a Cherokee 180 now. I remember flying over my hometown as a little girl and seeing Momma waving at me from the sidewalk in front of the Candyland. I guess I’ve loved flying ever since. Uncle Don even let me take the controls a few times when I visited him as an adult.”

We were unusually quiet for us on the trip back to the hospital. Earl parked next to my car, turned and asked, “May I kiss you.”

“No!” I can’t kiss a preacher.

In Christ,

Please Share

 A Piper Cherokee 180

Monday, February 9, 2015

Alone and Lonely

I spent as much time with Kari as I could. I loved her so much but didn’t know how to show it. I didn’t know what to do with her so I took her to McDonalds. 

We shared hamburgers, fries and a soda and she played in the playground.

I saw forlorn dads doing the same with their kids and I felt like a failure.

On one long weekend off, I called my ex-husband, James, to see if I could get Kari.

A woman answered, “Hello.”

“Uh, can I talk to James?”

When he got on the phone I asked, “Can I get Kari for the weekend?”

“She’s at her aunts.”

We didn’t have any relatives in the area, so I asked, “Who is that?”

“I’m married.”

Winter came in cold and blustery. I felt like a dead leaf as I tumbled around the streets of Memphis. Barely functioning, I had called in sick so many times I was about to lose my job. One afternoon I overheard the staff chaplain say “Earl.”

I interrupted, “Is he the Earl who was here before?”

“Yes,” he said.

“How long has he been back?” I demanded.

“About a week.”

“You tell him to get his ass up here right NOW!”

Earl arrived without calling. After “Hello,” he said, “About your message. I wasn’t in the office when John got there so he wrote down what you said and put it on the message board for all the chaplains to see.” (I might have said something about my cowboy boots.)

I hadn’t thought about everyone knowing what I said, or how he would feel. I hesitated then said, “I’m sorry,” and followed with, “Why are you back here?”

“I’m doing a second CPE unit.”

We didn’t hug, or even touch, but started eating supper together again.

As Christmas approached, I made sure Earl knew about the party on our floor. It was on my day off so I took Kari, who had just turned four, with me. When she met Earl, she leaned against his legs and chattered to him to keep his attention focused on her.

The day after I took Kari back to my ex-husband he called, “Who the hell is Earl?”

In Christ,

Please Share.

Photo courtesy of Flickr