Waiting Practice – Part 3



When I think about how many opportunities I/we have to practice waiting over the course of my/our lifetimes I cannot help but think we all must need it a great deal more than we wish or would ever want to count.


From the time we are born we learn we must wait for our mother to feed us, pick us up, change our diapers, bring us a toy, and more. Over and over again we are required to learn to delay gratification for something we want or need. Sometimes it is because it requires someone else. Sometimes it requires something of us that we don’t have or cannot acquire – at least not when we really want it.


This lifetime exercise reminds us repeatedly that no matter what our season of life or how independent we may think we are that we are dependent on others more often that we might wish. We are also dependent on God for provision and protection from a lengthy list of forces of nature, evil, illness, and more as we journey from life to death.


After all this practicing how well we handle waiting should be a skill we excel at, but for most of us that is not so much the case. Red traffic lights and heavy traffic when we are driving from one place to another can easily confirm that. Waiting in this season of a pandemic can remind us of that as well.


We inherently don’t like anything or anyone else to be in control of us and that seems to be innate.


Waiting practice has the potential to produce endurance in us and as we read through the Bible, we see that endurance is one of the characteristics evident in the stories of those we most revere. One of the things we discover is what Paul says will result from suffering and endurance that comes from waiting:


“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)


These words point to the value of waiting practice.


God is interested in our character more than our convenience.


He also recognizes what character will produce in us – hope.


You may wonder how we get to hope from suffering, endurance, and character. I think the answer in part is that we learn to trust God over time and with much practice and learn that He is good even in the midst of suffering and seasons where we must endure hard things.


When I began this three-part series, I shared part of my story about waiting practice and that it had resulted in lessons that shaped the rest of my life and marriage. You might be wondering what some of those might be.


We certainly learned God was good and protected us over and over again and provided for us when life handed us a path neither of us would have chosen. We also learned to value life and time together as something that is never a guarantee and to keep short accounts with one another over things that were not really a big deal when everything was taken into account.


Those lessons and others impacted our choices of how we spent time and allocated money in our budget. They shaped how often we spoke words of love to each other and offered kindnesses when there was no special occasion.


When military service was over, waiting practice didn’t stop, but I think we both learned to chafe less often except for those traffic tie-ups none of us ever get used to or delays later in visiting children and grandchildren hundreds of miles away


Do we get impatient? Yes, but it doesn’t last as long as it once did because waiting practice has taught us to sift out more of what is important as we journey through life.


This pandemic with all its challenges, concerns, fears, and losses will not last forever, but what we learn during waiting practice until it ends, or we can move about freely will be a gift that we can grow from that will last a lifetime.




Waiting Practice – Part 2

Photo by Aleksejs Bergmanis from Pexels


The drive on the California freeways was harrowing as I tried to control the tears of goodbye and the ache in my heart as my stomach churned with “morning sickness.” To think my husband had not been allowed to take me to the airport, turn in the rental car, and see me safely board to fly home seemed like an unbearable burden. My emotions were ragged, and my weak faith hidden from me on the trek.


Nothing about growing up on a small farm in Ohio had prepared me for anything that was happening – not flying, not driving on freeways, not handling rental cars.


But that wasn’t what was handed to me.


After arriving home, I started the agonizing process of adjusting to living under my parents’ roof again. They were gracious and protective and there was no other place to be with a baby on the way and alone, but I had spent time living independently and I was different as I came back.


My husband would be in training in California for nearly a month and each day he would call on the phone and we would talk (often with long pauses) as I insisted, they really could not assign him to duty overseas when I was pregnant. I was so young and despite knowing history had required that of other couples many times over, my emotions were in charge and that was not of concern to me.


That last call near the end of February was the hardest. We knew it would be the last one and we couldn’t find enough words to describe how our hearts were crushed. Neither of us wanted to say goodbye because it sounded too final, too fatal, so we agreed we would use the Spanish word, hasta luego , meaning “until then.”


Our long-distance bill for those short weeks totaled a whopping $200 and back then that was unheard of. The phone company called to see if we wanted an extension to pay for it.


What lay ahead was 13 long months of uncertainty during which my husband would face danger and I would bring our first child into the world.


10-29-2009 11;08;42PM

Waiting is hard.


Waiting costs something.


Waiting is sacrifice.


The months of waiting were filled with writing letters every day on both our parts. We would never have chosen to be expecting our first child thousands of miles apart, but the anticipation of that new life growing within me became the focus and the hope that pushed back the fear that could easily engulf me.


My days also meant adjusting to my changing body and the uncertainties a first-time mother experiences. There was no ultrasound pics to assure the condition of the baby or when it would first be born. My doctor changed the due date three times starting with late July and ending with the beginning of September.


I did some student teaching, spent time helping my mother with canning, preserving, and freezing things from the garden, sending unique boxes of goodies to my husband in the hope they would arrive in good condition, and writing letters about what it felt like to feel our baby move. We talked about names as well and I struggled each night to fall asleep.


When my husband sent me a small reel-to-reel tape recorder so we each could exchange tapes to hear each other’s voices, I was so blessed. It had been months by then and I was aware I was frantically trying to recall exactly what my husband’s voice sounded like. It was hard to imagine it seemed to be less clear in my memory as we went along.


My tape recorder was invited into the delivery room by my doctor when the time came in mid-August to meet this new addition to the family despite objections from the nurses attending him. As a result, the first cry of our new baby, a son, would be recorded and sent for him to hear about a week later when the package would arrive.


The biggest surprise came a few days later when I was called to the nurses’ station to take a phone call. My husband had received news of our son’s birth from the Red Cross and stood in line to be able to use the short-wave radio relay system to hop across ocean and land to the United States where a short-wave radio operator placed a phone call to me. I was stunned and the nurses all sweetly disappeared to leave me with privacy to talk.


Privacy? That was funny given that I needed to speak in short wave language using words like “over” and “out” and every short-wave operator halfway around the world was tuned into the conversation. Even so, hearing his voice again for the first time in six and a half months was the sweetest sound.


From the time our son was born until my husband returned our letters focused on how much we loved and missed each other and what it would be like to be a family of three. I shared our son’s milestones and sent photos and small reel-to-reel tapes, but none of that eliminated the reality that danger and potential death was a part of my husband’s daily life and I knew that as well. One evidence was how difficult it always was to go to sleep or get back to sleep after feeding our son.



I also had a calendar where I marked a big X on every day that ended because it meant we were closer to my husband’s return.


Waiting is hard, costly, and a sacrifice. My husband was missing all those milestones of our son.


Finally, in late March I received the phone call I longed for letting me know my husband was safely back in California. He told me he would be returning March 26 and the arrival time was listed for 6AM. That year it also happened to be Easter Sunday morning.


I could say the wait was over, but on that morning when I went to the airport in a new yellow dress my mother had helped me sew, I once again waited. I waited for the plane to arrive and then I waited for him to appear in the plane’s door. He was the very last person to get off the plane.


We would have 30 days leave to begin our family life before the next duty station, but the lessons we learned in the first three years of marriage, living together only nine months of that together and not all at one time changed us both forever and taught us much about waiting practice.


Some of those things will be in the last of this short series – Waiting Practice Part 3.





Waiting Practice – Part 1

Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels


Combine the two words of the title of this post and inwardly I can hear the sighs and groans. Why? None of us enjoy waiting and most of us do not like the tedious discipline that practice involves regarding most anything.


When I shared with you about “So Many Details” (pamecrement.com/2020/04/22/so-many-details/), there was a bit more of the story to share.


After waiting for that cold December day when my handsome Marine Corps officer in his dress blue uniform made me his wife, we spent a brief few days in a nearby town honeymooning and Christmas shopping. We returned to spend Christmas with our families, but far too quickly January 1 approached.



On that day my new husband loaded our VW beetle and headed to a new duty station without me as a result of a promise I made to my parents to complete my college education. Originally marriage was to come after that happened, but the opportunity for leave meant I had one quarter of college left after we married. So, my sweet spouse and I agreed to keep that commitment and as my heart and arms ached, he drove hundreds of miles away and I went back to the university campus.


The decision seemed easier because he did not expect to be able to get married housing for months and by March I would be finished with college. But that was not how things happened.


I was trying to adapt to dorm life when about a week later my husband called to let me know he had unexpectedly gotten married housing and would be moving in within a few days. That was more of a wait than I could manage so with more than a little concern for breaking my dad’s heart, we decided I would leave school and fly down and join him with another promise to finish school.


My parents (especially my dad) were disappointed, but I boarded the plane and found myself in the arms of my new husband and began adapting to life as the wife of an officer on a Marine Corps base. My parents were gracious in their disappointment, but my unwillingness to wait three months turned out to be a greater gift than I knew it would be.


Not long after we started settling in my husband received orders that would take him away for five months over the summer and into the fall. I was not at all happy (nor was he), but that left the door open to return home and finish that last quarter of school during the summer and fulfill the commitment we made to my parents. Then I would have two months on base to wait on his return.



All went well with the plan and I returned to the base at the end of August and began marking off the days until he would return and looking at options to begin substitute teaching until November 1 came and I could hold my new husband in my arms again. The waiting was not easy, but I had time to plan for his return and make the most of every detail that would bless him.


When the day came, I could not sit still, and I waited for the phone call that he had arrived at the base. Back then there were no cell phones, so it was not easy to connect in nanoseconds like it is now. Hour by hour the day dragged by and I saw other husbands returning who had been with my husband, but he did not. It was later in the day until I heard from him. His particular duties meant that he had a great deal to handle regarding equipment and it was evening before I saw him.


When he held me in his arms all my angst about waiting disappeared. He was home and I was overjoyed. We again started living life together as newlyweds with a few days leave on the calendar to travel back to Ohio to see our families. We also made an appointment to see my doctor in Ohio as I had a hunch, I was pregnant.


The short few days back in Ohio visiting family were special as we were able to announce we would be having our first baby by mid to late summer. Our hearts were full to overflowing as we drove back to our one-bedroom duplex on base in North Carolina to celebrate Christmas Day together.


We started dreaming about what it would be like to be parents and after New Year’s I returned to student teaching. Our one car meant my hubby dropped me off at school and picked me up after the school day ended and it was at the end of one of those days that changed our life together and left an imprint that is evident even today.


I recall the expression on my husband’s face as I got into the car. He looked sad, concerned, and I knew he had something to share with me that I was likely not going to want to hear. And I was right. His news was that he had received orders once again that would mean a lengthier deployment and separation. The deployment would begin in California, but then extend from there.



My heart sank as the reality sank in and in less than a week we were headed back to Ohio before flying to California. And I didn’t mention that “morning sickness” was starting to make each day more of a challenge for me as well.


Once we flew across the country to California and I got checked into a hotel, we received the next news that would give us even more challenges and waiting practice. My husband would not get married housing and they recommended that I return to Ohio because his training regimen for the new assignment would allow no time for us. His deployment would mean he would be away until at least late March of the following year and it was now February 1.


That also meant that he would not be with me when our first child would be born. Suddenly we were facing the good waiting practice as we looked forward to a baby and the not so good waiting practice of not seeing each other for 14 months during which my husband would be in danger.


There were no words to express my fear and heartbreak. We had married just over a year before and neither of us ever thought we would be facing such challenges.


We both remember the day I was to return to Ohio as if it were yesterday. He was not given leave to take me to the airport. That meant that I needed to drive him to the military base, leave him, drive away, and drive on California freeways to the airport (totally new to me) and fly back to Ohio alone in the midst of “morning sickness.”


Neither of us need to close our eyes to recall when I drove to the top of the hill and he unloaded the car with all his belongings. He was about to go out into the field for training and even this goodbye could not allow for lingering in his arms. As I got back in the car and started driving down the curving hill to the highway, my eyes fixed on how he looked via the rearview mirror as he watched me leave. I tried to memorize every line and nuance of how he looked because I was acutely aware, I might not ever see him again.


Waiting practice is hard.


 It always costs something.


It means sacrifice.


We would learn it also gave us something in return that benefits us to the present and current waiting practice.


To learn more about that, come back next time for Waiting Practice Part 2.




So Many Details…



It was such a busy fall. I was absorbed with student teaching while living at home and taking a class at my university at night in the midst of fittings and showers and a brief weekend visit from my fiancé.


I remember it well even though the year was 1964.


There were so many plans coming together as my mother worked tirelessly on my wedding dress. She wanted every part of it to be perfect from the silk base to the lace overlay and the detachable Peau De Soie chapel length train. She had always been an excellent seamstress, but she wanted this to be her masterpiece, even making the seed pearl tiara and veil. How many times she asked me try it on to assure it fit perfectly…who knows?


The special education students I had for my student teaching kept me on my toes each day as I sought to apply so much I had learned in previous coursework. Driving 45 minutes one night a week to a class on the university campus was a crunch with lesson plans and other things to handle.



There were wedding showers from each side of the family as well as my student teaching students and my attendants’ needs about their dresses and the head pieces my mother was making. All of it needed my attention. To add to all the usual wedding details, we were also getting married five days before Christmas, so all those traditional details were in the mix as well.


These are the fun details so many of us dream of when we are little girls. We hope for the handsome young man who will win our hearts, the beautiful wedding with the colors and flowers we love, and friends and family in attendance.


For me, the handsome young man had come into my life when we met on our university campus. I was a sophomore when we started dating and fell in love. He was a junior with a commission in the U.S. Marines waiting for him at graduation. Those years on campus together were delightful. I relished all the time we could spend together, but that could not have prepared me for what reality would look like after his graduation.


Following his graduation my handsome fiancé was off to finish Marine Officer Training hundreds of miles away while I moved forward to finish my senior year of college. We managed phone calls and a few rushed short weekend visits when he came to see me over those six months before the wedding, but the wonderful days of leisurely walks across campus were gone and I missed him a great deal.


Following this first six months of training, we knew he would be assigned to a base that might be even farther away so we planned for a wedding at the end of the training when he would have a two-week leave.



For as much fun as all the details were that fall, what I wanted most was time with this man who had won my heart in short weeks after our first meeting.


The last week before the wedding as everything was coming together, everything got busier still. When my fiancé arrived, my only desire was to spend time with him, none of the details mattered to me. Those feelings were what prompted us to sneak away the morning of our wedding day to enjoy breakfast together.


My mother was not at all excited about that choice, but I refused to be deterred and off I went.


There we were (my fiancé and I) eating breakfast, sipping coffee, and enjoying time alone for the first time in months. Do you think we were looking at our watches?  Absolutely not!  When it did occur to me, I was shocked to see it was already noon and we needed to drop my fiancé’s car off at a friend’s home and then I would take him to the home of a groomsman.


Did I mention I was driving my parent’s car?


Can you imagine my mother trying to get things packed up to take to the church without the family car as she watched the hands on the clock moving toward the time we should be leaving? If you are a mother, you get it and I would now too, but I didn’t back then.


All that mattered was being with my beloved and I was committed to doing anything to make that time happen.


As we have been in the midst of this unusual season closed off from the usual, those months and that experience back then have come to mind more than once.


I see a parallel. Until the pandemic our lives were busy with assorted details and anticipation about events we were looking forward to.



Even though these were good things they still consumed much of our time whether they were job, school, ministry, or family related. When much of them were halted we were given an opportunity not unlike those morning hours of breakfast I shared with my fiancé.


Did we, do we see that?


If we are a part of Christ, the Bible makes clear we are the “bride of Christ” and not unlike me back then, we can get caught up in the details and lose track of the bridegroom. He is the One we really want to spend all our time with and yet we are so often distracted. Some of that might be related to that coming wedding and some may not.


The big difference here is that our Bridegroom has handled all the details, prepared the wedding dress and the feast, invited the guests and planned each part of that glorious day. Our focus can be on Him alone.


That means we can use this time to enjoy thinking about Him, reminding ourselves of our courtship, times spent together journeying through life, and whispering our love to Him.


He is eager for that day.


Are we?









Are We Too Solution Focused?




Have you ever noticed how much we tend to be solution-focused in most areas of our lives? No, maybe not everyone is, but I wonder if it is innate or we learn it from our parents. From the time we are little we bring them our broken toys, tangled ropes and ribbons, and sibling squabbles. We look to them to find a solution, to solve the immediate problem we have. And usually we want it handled immediately.


Solution-focusing has become so popular there is even a therapeutic model in professional counseling by that name and it can be very effective in certain cases with certain people.


This is one of the ingenious ways we tend to go about much in our lives, but I think there are some areas where we are obsessed with that because we have challenges with patience or being forced to adapt or accept something for which there is no solution, or no solution yet.


It certainly can show up in our spiritual lives as well. Our prayers are often filled with petitions that can sometimes sound like we are tugging on God’s sleeve as we might Santa in our local department store at Christmas. But does that reveal something else?


In her newly released book, Little Faith, Big God, Debbie Wilson wrote something that speaks to this:


“Too often, I’m more eager to find an answer to a problem than to experience God in my difficulty. I want a solution – now. But gnawing on my problem, like a dog on a rawhide chew, never satisfies me.

Hebrews 11:6 says God rewards those who seek him. Jesus invites us to bring our burdens to him. He wants to carry them, but he also longs to connect with us. Imagine how much closer you’d feel to someone who only called when she needed something. A real friend wants a relationship, not just an answer.”


Is God, the Father, our provision?   YES. bright-daylight-environment-2564121


Does He want to meet our needs?   YES, but Jesus shows that there is something more than being that Santa-like being that hands things to us from our wish list.


Look at John 15:15 (TPT):


“I have never called you ‘servants, because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father.”


I would never suggest that the Lord is “common,” but He shows us in so many ways from Genesis to Revelation that He desires a relationship with us, an intimate one at that.


How have your closest relationships developed and what do they look like?


One thing I would guess is on your list is that you make time for them a priority and you feel safe enough to trust them with the deepest feelings, concerns and thoughts. You don’t desire to be with them only when you need, you just want to be with them as much as you can.


“Close relationships require investments of time, not just passing time.

Sermons and ministry activities don’t replace one-on-one time with God either. It’s important to practice his presence in daily life, but we also need regular times to personally relate to our Best Friend and bask in his company.” 

Debbie Wilson


As we seek to navigate through the crises in the world and our daily life, there is no question we want and are actively looking for solutions to stop the virus, to save the lives, to save the economy, to end the war, etc., etc., but these may all take longer than our average level of patience can easily accept. It is then that we are exposed for whether we are truly friends of the Lord or causal acquaintances.


Friends will snuggle into time with Him as they wait, and it is little wonder that across all media platforms we are being turned to Psalm 91. If it is not one you know well, read it in more than one translation and let it soak into your mind, heart, and spirit.


Savor the good words of the beginning of this Psalm in The Passion Translation:


“When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai
you are hidden in the strength of God Most High.
He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me,
the only God for me, and my great confidence.
He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy,
and he will protect you from false accusation
and any deadly curse.
His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you.
You can run under his covering of majesty and hide.
His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm.
You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night
nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you.
Don’t fear a thing!
Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you,
nor will the powers of evil launched against you.”

Psalm 91:1-6 (TPT)