It’s Never Too Late: Surprised by Love

by Patti Richter

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Song of Solomon 2:4; NKJ

Heart-shaped chocolate boxes abound for Valentine’s Day, and some can be found in senior-living communities, though romantic couples are hard to spot. But one residential center I visited a few years ago was abuzz over a pair of love birds in their 80s.

The couple, Jim and Marion, had avoided public displays of affection, like hand-holding, “since people talk,” Marion said. But they couldn’t hide their joy, especially from those familiar with their pre-courtship behavior: Jim was withdrawn; Marion mostly kept to herself.

Marion, my mother-in-law, said it all began with a game of bridge. She’d lived alone for 25 years and preferred independent activities like exercise, prayer, and Bible reading, but she also enjoyed playing bridge, and she knew her way around the table. “It keeps an old mind sharp,” she explained. Her otherwise limited social life consisted of attending Sunday worship services and providing Christian mentoring to several women.

Providence brought Jim to the bridge table. His wife of 57 years had died unexpectedly only weeks before their planned transition to assisted living. Grief and stage-four pancreatic cancer kept the otherwise sociable man from caring about his new surroundings. The former engineer who once flew helicopters remained holed up in his apartment for nearly a year, surfacing only at dining room hours. Jim’s daughters pleaded with him to get out and meet people, and he finally complied by signing up for bridge.

On a summer day, shortly after Jim rejoined the living, Marion noticed him walking toward the courtyard bench where she sat reading. He seemed glad to see her, saying, “I’d like to learn some tips on the game.” (He later admitted that Marion’s voice and personality delighted him and made him want to spend more time with her.)

Marion’s initial interest in Jim was limited to his soul. She learned he’d faithfully attended church all his life without ever reading the Bible. After she invited him to study the Bible with her, she realized Jim was brilliant. He asked compelling questions that led to meaningful discussions between them. As the weeks passed, his flame of interest in God’s Word became a fire of desire to know God in a personal way. Jim soon fell in love—with Marion, and with Jesus, his Savior.

Marion observed how this naturally kind and compassionate man went out of his way to assist others. She came out of her shell around Jim and realized she’d been lacking in the love department by keeping to herself. And her heart warmed to him.

The depth of love the two began to enjoy surprised and overwhelmed them. Marion, who’d felt unlovable for most of her life, described it as “a gift from God, heavenly, more than I could comprehend.”

By late fall, Jim and Marion hosted their families for dinner in the private room of an Italian restaurant. We all met and interacted awkwardly until Jim rose from his seat, which took a while. In wide-eyed wonder we watched him struggle to pull a ring box from his suit pocket and ask for Marion’s hand.

By Valentine’s Day, the couple’s spring wedding plan took a back seat as Jim’s cancer moved to the front. Their love story would close in the same way it had begun, focused on God’s Word. In the hours before Jim’s peaceful departure, Marion sat beside him reading from Romans:

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at with more than four hundred published articles.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 51DJoiI3ILL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Patti is the co-author of the award-winning Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.

Join the conversation: What’s your favorite love story?

LORD, At This Time Will You…?

by Erica Wiggenhorn @EricaWiggenhorn

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.   Romans 5:5 NIV

The hospital was only eight miles away, but the drive felt endless. The pediatrician’s voice replayed through my head like a taunting nightmare, “Go! Right now! Don’t wait! I’ve called the ER and told them you are on your way!” Our six-week miracle daughter had vomited up her last four meals. Her diapers were dry, and she had begun to grow listless. As we drove, I could see her brown eyes pleading with me in the reflection in the little purple princess mirror that hung from her car seat. Too weak to cry, her eyes pierced through my mama heart knowing she writhed in pain.

I parked the car, and with trembling fingers struggled to unlock her car seat. Finally clutching her tightly to my chest, I ran into the emergency room. I gasped her name to the nurse behind the window, and she immediately buzzed us back. They took Eliana from my arms and carried her out of my sight behind locked doors. My legs gave way and I fell to the floor of hospital hallway, sobbing.

LORD, we waited ten years for our daughter! At this time will You take her from me after just six weeks?

Maybe you’ve asked God that same question, “LORD, at this time will You_______________?” then feared His answer. Or feared not getting an answer. Felt your legs give way and the sobs erupt. Part of life on this planet includes wrestling with questions to which we don’t get the answers we hope, or finding there simply are none to be found.

The early disciples searched for answers. “LORD, at this time will you restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6 ESV).  Would the promised kingdom finally be established now, the one for which they had been eagerly awaiting for three long years?

It had been a roller coaster ride in recent weeks: so much to take in. After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and appearances, there was only uncertainty as they looked ahead. What would happen next? Was it finally time for all of the good and rewards they had been promised?

The problem was, their limited definition of what constituted good was not on track with God’s.

My definition of good on that hospital floor meant holding a healthy baby girl once again.

Look at how Jesus answered his disciples: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” (Acts 1:7-8 ESV).

The disciples were looking for specific circumstances to come to pass. But God had something so much greater for them, so far beyond any specific circumstance. He was promising not so much a present circumstance; but a Presence in all circumstances. They would receive the Holy Spirit. He would provide the power to prevail in every season of unanswered questions.

Right now, much like the disciples, we are living in a season of unanswered questions.

How long will we practice social distancing? Will I lose my job? Will someone I love get sick?

Will life go back to the way we knew it before? Will my future plans for my life still be possible? Will I make it through whatever loss lies ahead?

Jesus offers us the same answer He gave His disciples, “The Father has fixed His plan. He promised power to carry you through. You will be a witness of the power of His presence in your life.”

As the clock on the hospital wall ticked above us, each second feeling like an eternity, I sensed the LORD’s presence draw near. Eventually the nurse reappeared. Eliana needed surgery for pyloric stenosis. The valve between her esophagus and stomach was too small. They would need to surgically enlarge it so she could digest food properly, but after some time, she would regain her strength.

As you and I wait for answers to unfold in all this uncertainty, let’s embrace the power of the Holy Spirit to prevail, rejoicing in His Presence in all of our circumstances.

LORD, At This Time Will You…? – wisdom and faith from @EricaWiggenhorn on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

erica-wiggenhorn-headshot-1About the author: Erica Wiggenhorn is an award winning Bible study author of Unexplainable Jesus and An Unexplainable Life by Moody Publishers. She longs to see people’s lives transformed through the power of the Word of God. You can find out more Unexplainable Jesus: Rediscovering the God You Thought You Knew by [Erica Wiggenhorn]about Erica her ministry at

Step into the streets of Jerusalem and encounter the Jewish Rabbi who turned the world upside down. After rediscovering Jesus from the pages of the book of Luke—or maybe discovering Him for the very first time—you’ll see there is no other plan, goal, ambition, or Person worth following but Jesus.

Join the conversation: What question do you hold in your heart today?