Thursday, November 10, 2011


So we've been looking at old photos and feeling a bit nostalgic lately, remembering dear friends and forgotten stories. Which brings me to today's post.

Steve and I married just weeks after he graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. We lived a few months in a duplex in Murfreesboro, before shipping out to Virginia and our new life in the Marine Corps. Wedding, honeymoon, a short visit in West Tennessee with family, and then, finally, we drove a few hours east to our very first home together.

420 West Bell Street. We rented one half of a very old house that had been sort of divided into a duplex. Mr. Woods, the 90+ year-old man who owned the house - and who shared it with us - lived in one side, and we occupied the other. On our side of the house, we had a living room (which we were never able to use because it was so heavily infested with fleas from Mr. Woods decrepit cat, Tom), a bedroom, and an enclosed back porch that had been converted into a kitchen just big enough for two people. We all shared the one bathroom in the house.

Steve moved into the duplex about a month before graduation so that he could begin cleaning, painting, flea-bombing, and making other badly-needed repairs. Let's just say that old Mr. Woods was way past the day of household maintenance, and things were in pretty bad shape! Still, the house was quaint, the rent was cheap, the neighborhood was old and established, and we had awesome next door neighbors.

Sadly, Mr. Woods died right before Steve and I married. His daughter Linda, who inherited the property, graciously agreed to let us continue renting. Actually, she worked out a sweet deal for us...instead of writing her a check each month for X amount of dollars, we agreed to put that much into the house each month in paint and materials. We would help her get the house ready to put on the market before we left for Virginia later that summer.

Two weeks after our wedding, Steve and I drove "home" to 420 Bell Street on a Sunday afternoon. Monday morning, Steve left for work at the city engineer's office, and I busied myself with the task of settling into our new abode. Cleaning, unpacking boxes, figuring out where to put stuff...a grungy kind of day.

Mid-morning, I heard a loud knock at the front door. Climbing over boxes and slapping fleas, I finally reached the door to find a lady holding a large bouquet of flowers. "Yes? Can I help you?"

"I have a delivery here for Mrs. Kendall." The woman held the flowers out toward me.

"Oh, there must be some mistake," I replied. "There's no one at this house by that name."

The woman pulled out a slip of paper with delivery instructions written on it. "Well, it says right here - 420 West Bell Street. This is 420 West Bell Street, isn't it?"

"Yes, ma'am, you've got the right address, but there's been some mistake." My brained whirred, trying to unravel the mystery. "Oh, you know what, the lady who owns this house...her name is Linda...Linda...Oh, I can't remember her last name. It's not Mrs. Woods, but I don't think it's Mrs. Kendall either."

Finally, the befuddled delivery lady turned and walked with the beautiful flowers back down the sidewalk to her car. Me, I closed the front door and headed back to work, still trying to think of Linda's last name. Mrs. Woods? Mrs. Stone? Wait a minute! I raced to the front of the house and bolted across the porch. "Wait! Wait!" I waved frantically as the delivery lady began pulling away from the curb. I ran over to her lowered window. "Hey! Those flowers are for ME! I'm Mrs. Kendall!"

After I'd worked so hard to persuade the delivery lady that no Mrs. Kendall lived at that address, it took a little effort to convince her I really was the intended recipient of the bouquet. "They're from my husband," I explained. "We just got married..." Steve had sent the flowers to brighten my first, very grubby day in Murfreesboro, while he was away at work. But, silly me, I'd forgotten that I had a new name!

Kind of like, sometimes still, when I forget that I have another new name, the name of my Eternal Husband. In the grunge and toil of life, sometimes I think He's "out there, somewhere" - like Steve was at work that day - and maybe He's not really thinking about me, or maybe it doesn't occur to Him that I'm tired and nasty and swatting fleas.

But He does care, and He is thinking about me. And when it seems that I have almost forgotten that I am His, He sends a "bouquet" - maybe in the Scripture I read today, or in the prayer of a friend, or in the beauty of the farm during a quiet walk. A message of tender, passionate, devoted love.

Steve was thinking of me that Monday morning. "Lots of love! - Steve"

And Jesus is thinking of me today. "To my beloved bride!"

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