When Ken and I got married back in 1993, we knew that we were going to be parents right away–his mother’s Golden Retriever was due to have a litter of puppies just a few weeks after our wedding. We were both very much dog people and were raised with dogs in the house. We brought our first baby home a few days before Christmas, and the timing could not have been more perfect. That was the winter of the great ice storm that crippled most of the Mid-Atlantic, particularly the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Ken was working in Annapolis and was stranded. I was home alone–two hours from my own hometown–with no friends, no family (I still hardly knew Ken’s family), and nowhere to go. I was housebound with nobody but Tucker to keep me company. I’ve often kidded that it was that puppy who got me through the first year of being married.
A few years ago, I shared the news that our Golden Retriever, Misty, had been diagnosed with a heart murmur. This past Sunday, I held my beautiful girl in my arms as her heart beat for the last time. I won’t get into a theological debate about whether or not she’s waiting for me in Heaven. That’s one of the many things beyond my comprehension. What I do know is that we could all learn to be better Christians by emulating our canine friends. Here’s how my girl brought the teachings of the Bible to life…
From the moment I met him, I fell and fell hard. I admit that it was all physical attraction at first – those piercing blue eyes, that red hair, the perfect muscles, the criss-cross scars from the scourging up and down his back. There was something magnetic, even electrifying, about him. I couldn’t get enough of him. I felt terribly guilty each time I was with my husband. The comparisons couldn’t be helped. I felt like a terrible person and wife. But then, I saw something that I hadn’t realized at first.
Yes, there are the physical differences – long, curly red hair versus no hair, a young, lean athletic build versus a middle-aged man’s build, the Scottish accent versus an Eastern Shore of Maryland waterman’s accent (only detectable when around other Eastern Shore watermen). But what really struck me were the similarities.
Why have women all over the world fallen in love with James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser? Because of the way he loves his Sassenach, Clare the Outlander. He would move Heaven and Earth for her, lead armies to find her, give his life to protect her, and give up his entire future to save her. He tells her he loves her not just with words but with actions, and he never fails to remind her that she is his world. Who wouldn’t want a love like that? Just look at how he looks at her!
And that’s where the comparison makes my heart flutter. I won’t go into detail about their quick tempers and sometimes haughty attitude. Clare and I both have to deal with very stubborn, sometimes unyielding, men; but we look past those traits to what really matters. My children call me “spoiled.” They never ask their dad for anything that they know I will veto because Ken always backs me up, even when I don’t do the same (I know, I’ve been working on that for twenty-one years). They say, “Dad will give Mom anything she wants,” and they’re right. But it isn’t just about material things or frequent travel. It’s the freedom he gives me to do and be whatever I wish. It’s the knowledge that, no matter where he is in the world (and most weeks, that could be anywhere), his heart is with me. It’s the way he looks out for me. For example, Ken has never owned a new car. He drives every vehicle into the ground, and when it can take no more, he simply says, “It’s time for mom to get a new car,” and my old car becomes his while I drive the newest model of whatever I want. Often, Ken comes across as not caring about household decisions or not wishing to participate in family decisions, but that’s not the case at all. He trusts me to make decisions, to know what we need and can afford, to always put our family’s needs first. He tells me, “I’m not disinterested; I just know you will make the right choices.” Most importantly, he knows what I need emotionally and when I need it. He’s my rock and my refuge, a man of strong faith with a kind heart who loves me more than anything in the world. Sound familiar?
Any author or television producer can create the perfect man, but so can God. Jamie has his flaws. We all do. Ken isn’t perfect, but he’s perfect for me. I only needed Jamie to remind me that you can tell a lot by the way a man treats and looks at his woman. Those piercing blue eyes say it all. Lucky me, I get to look into my own set of beautiful, piercing blue eyes every day to see unconditional and boundless love. And I don’t even need the Scottish accent to hear what they’re saying.
What I was writing about one year ago this week: Speak Softly, and Write a Love Letter to the World.
Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy’s most recent novel, Island of Miracles, is now on sale.