Shannon here: Jenny McLeod Carlisle shares how she met her husband, along with a chance to win her nonfiction title, Turn, Turn, Turn plus one of my titles and a bonus novel. Three books for one winner. Answer the question or comment at the end of any post dated Aug 14 – 17 to enter the drawing. Deadline: Aug 25th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Jenny:
As the Spark Turns into “Home Fires”
The covered walkway outside the main hallway of the small high school was a popular gathering place for the kids in the Bryant High School band, and some of their friends. My sister and I were new, having just arrived from another state. The little group took us right in, and we enjoyed the daily ritual of huddling up in all sorts of weather, laughing and talking just before that all important first bell.
One of the senior guys was a former member of the high school band, and was still a big part of this group. They called him “Carlisle”, and it struck me that people in Arkansas had strange tastes in boy’s names, but one day he must have said something that prompted one of the girls to use her best “Mama” voice to trot out his full name. “James Russell Carlisle.” Oh, okay.
There was not a lot of “pairing up” in this group. We just enjoyed each other’s company. But, Carlisle, the tall, very slender, dark haired guy had a sense of humor that set him apart. In the middle of the day, when we gathered at the same door to enter after lunch, he would walk me in, and always say the same thing.
“What’s your next class?”
“Shorthand” was my reply.
He would pull his right arm up a little, and stretch the left one down, and say “Don’t end up looking like this!” Then, his big long blue-jean covered legs would take him down the hall, and leave me smiling.
At the end of the year, as we approached the big events that marked our graduation, our concerns shifted to having a date for the prom. One of his best friends was a girl who by that time was also one of my best friends. She did some behind the scenes persuading, and James asked me to be his date. And the rest, as they say is history.
We dated for that whole summer, and knew that we were meant to be. I met his family, he met mine, and we still just really enjoyed being together. In fact, our favorite day was Sunday. We both had jobs, and he even worked on Saturdays. But on Sunday, we could spend the whole day together. Worship services at 10:30, lunch and gathering with his family up in the Perry county hills, another worship service, and getting me home by curfew. One long, glorious date. Of course, we also spent time with those school friends at times, went to movies, drove up and down the main drag of town in his very cool Dodge Challenger, and had a standing order at the local pizza parlor.
He proposed one moonlit night on the banks of a creek with an ancient iron bridge, and as the little diamond sparkled, I knew that my future was secure. This was my prince charming. For real, and for always.
People have asked me what our secret is. How did we make it work so well when we married so young? I think it comes down to the fact that he had been raised with a perfect example of how married couples were supposed to treat each other. I did not have that example, but I was determined that I was only going to marry once. The bible verse that comes to mind is the mantra that kept his parents married for sixty years, and has worked for us for forty-two. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Romans 12:10 KJV
We shared a similar philosophy in child rearing too. The interests and activities of the kids were very important, but they were not the decision makers in the family. They knew we would try our best to make them happy, but the whole family would have to be considered. We were very involved with them, and we all share wonderful memories of scouts, band, and church activities. We didn’t have lots of money with which to spoil them, but they all stayed busy and happy, and have turned out very well.
So, now that the initial spark of love has matured, how do we keep the home fires burning? The answer is simple. We still prefer one another. There is no one else I would rather spend time with. We are traveling buddies, and try to spend as much time together as possible. We each have our own interests, but he has attended theater performances and writing conferences with me, and I have become his woodworking assistant, and a proud member of the Bronco Road Warriors, watching football games next to him at home in our living room, and even on the road at “away” games. We are great travel companions, with him handling the long-distance driving, and me taking that chore in a big city with him in the navigator’s seat.
We have learned a lot of lessons about what is important. Quite literally when we travel, lessons about carrying the right bags with the right items, and also when making choices about how we spend our valuable time. The important thing is we communicate about every decision, and get things settled in our own unique way. And we still love being together. Whether on a cruise ship, in a fancy restaurant, or in a hospital room. Preferring one another. It keeps that fire burning. With God’s help, it will continue to blaze joyfully for years to come.
About Jenny: Jenny McLeod Carlisle has been writing stories since she learned to hold a pencil. She is a member and former president of the American Christian Fiction Writers- Arkansas Chapter, and has attended and won contests at the Ozark Writer’s Conference, Called to Write Conference and Central Arkansas Writer’s Conference. She is a popular columnist for Ouachita Life magazine. A career state of Arkansas employee, she is has been married for 41 years, and is the happy mom to three and Granny to six in three different states.
About the book – Turn, Turn, Turn: First published as monthly columns in Ouachita Life magazine, these short, easy to read stories are intended to entertain and encourage. Part biography, part social commentary, all from the perspective of a happy Baby Boomer from Arkansas. If you are old enough to remember the Byrds song by the same title, you will identify. If not, gain some insight into the viewpoint of your elders!
Question for Readers: Have you ever been the new kid at school? How did it go?
Come back Aug 21st for Alexa Verde!