My Puzzle part. That’s what we’ve always called each other. In fact, it’s inscribed on a signet ring I had made for him before we got married. Our life together often feels like a giant, 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle! We haven’t always known where we fit and we’ve been moved about trying to fit here or there or just fit in….
…..but we’ve always fit together.
We clicked from the instant we met. It didn’t hurt he was super cute, an incredibly gifted musician, smarter than anyone I’ve ever known and funny as the dickens! I knew very quickly he was the one I wanted to marry. And we did, 32 years ago.
We met during our days of musical theatre and we fell in love across the footlights. You can read more about it here. I was onstage and he was in the orchestra pit when I first noticed him. I was starring as Anna opposite Yul Brynner in the Broadway National Tour of The King and I, and we were heading out of Boston. We officially met in Detroit but unofficially on the early morning bus ride to the Boston airport as I handed out blueberry muffins to the cast.
No one gets me like he does. My quirky sense of humor, my obscure musical theatre references, my love of words, food and all things culinary, he gets it. He’s super-smart and I love how he uses big words! We’re grammar nerds with a passion for our family, food, music and the arts. More than anyone I know, he lives and breathes The God Dare, willing to fling it all out and bungee jump right into God’s purposes.
And no one on the planet puts up with me like he does!
- He’s super neat and I’m a certified messy.
- I tend towards self-pity (what he calls my ‘favorite bad feeling’) but he snaps me out of it.
- I procrastinate to the nth degree but he motivates me to get moving.
- And he tolerates my endless planning and list-making.
I spend my quiet time in study and prayer and he spends his a little differently. He lives out what he’s learned each day. He probably can’t quote you chapter and verse but his life is an epistle written and read by men. His motto?
To know and not to do means not really to know.
He knows God and he knows what it means to follow hard after Him and following, really following, is hard.
Mike lives out his relationship with God in the practical day-to-day sphere. He serves everyone equally, he’s always kind, incredibly humble and full to the brim with integrity and honor. When he’s with you he’s fully engaged and you will feel 100% at home after spending any time with him.
He doesn’t know a stranger. Whether you’re a waitress or a CEO, a business icon or a busboy, if you spend time with him he’ll remember your name and make you feel like your BFF’s.
His goal in life, and he says this all the time, is to leave a pleasant fragrance behind, to leave a place better than he found it. To extend the love of Jesus in the small gesture, the everyday kindness, the extra tip, the genuine smile and encouragement or ready prayer.
God has brought him through deep difficulties and in the depths, what I like to call the deeper deeps, he’s learned what it means to follow Christ. He’s grasped what it looks like to really live like a Christian…
- …when it’s to his own hurt…
- …when his only option is to bless…
- …when he could gossip but won’t…
- …when he’s betrayed but loves anyway…
- …when he gives with no expectation of return…
- …when he forgives without question..
- …when he’s the same man on Monday his friends see on Sunday…
Of all the men I’ve ever known he exhibits the heart of the Father in a practical way to all who know him. He’s a Father in the purest sense of the word because he lives well and he loves well. He’s not perfect and is the first to admit it but he illustrates the Fathers’ heart in so many ways, to me, to his daughter and to his grandchildren, the apples of his eye!
He’s taught me endless ways to illustrate the Father’s heart to the world. I’ve narrowed it to ten.
Ten Ways to Show The Father’s Heart
- Pursue integrity. Let this be the defining characteristic of your life. In everything. All the time. Especially when no one is watching.
- Model humility. Be content to be in the background and help other’s shine even when you deserve to be out front.
- Expect and pursue excellence. Hold yourself to a high standard and don’t be satisfied with ‘good enough’. If you’re going to do it, do it well or don’t do it at all.
- Defend and protect. Guard the ones you love with everything you have.
- Be quick to forgive. Be the first one to apologize and forgive. Don’t hold an offense, it only allows bitterness to grow.
- Love unconditionally. With no expectations because it’s the right way to live. It’s the way Christ loves us. It’s the way of grace.
- Instruct in wisdom. You can only do this by pursuing wisdom with your whole heart.
- Live generously. Live the giving life, whether in time, money or hospitality. Maintain a tender heart and delight in filling needs and sharing blessing.
- Speak life. Use words well–they have incredible creative power for good or ill. Use your words to build up and encourage, to draw out other’s biggest dreams.
- Love your spouse well. This speaks volumes to your children and the people watching you and your life. And they are watching. (And he loves me very, very well!)
Maybe it’s because we came to know the Lord later in life but when you’ve lived in the world and believed every lie, when all the edges are gray and torn and you can’t see either color or black or white, coming to God feels like Dorothy landing in Oz. Color suddenly bursts. Black and white are in sharp relief and you find there are no shades of gray and these ten things stand out in sharp contrast to the world around you.
Life comes into focus with brilliant hues everywhere you look.
And these ten things fit together as the puzzle of life takes shape.