“Zest for living” are three words that describe how Marion Haefele Longman has influenced my life.
During her school years, Mom began bird watching expeditions early in the morning. She became a certified Water Safety Instructor, was an avid Girl Scout, and later saved lunch money to take flying lessons. After getting her pilot’s license and graduating from nursing school at the time of World War II, she and three friends purchased a car and headed out for a two-year, cross-country trip that included months of working in the Southwest, several weeks of travel in Mexico and a stint up the California coast.
After marriage, Mom continued an interest in photography, opening a studio that featured family and wedding pictures. She sometimes juggled two or three weddings on a Saturday, while Dad fed us hot dogs and beans on the home front! Drawing from Dad’s interest in amateur radio, Mom earned her ham license, using both phone and Morse code to interact with people around the world.
Mom’s world turned upside down when she became a Christian in her 50s. Why hadn’t someone explained what life was about? With typical zeal, Mom’s life became sold-out for Christ. Through the period of the charismatic renewal of the 1970s, she saw God use her as a prayer warrior to accomplish some miraculous healings, both physical and relational.
Influenced by Bill Gothard’s teaching and desiring to be obedient to God’s “plan” for marriage (the chain of command), Mom tried to submit herself under Dad’s “headship” of the family. Within months, none of us was happy with this arrangement: Dad wondered what was happening to his usually effervescent wife; Mom felt squelched in her “obedient” subordination; and we three children wondered what was going on!
Not willing to believe God would create structures that limit the human spirit, my parents became involved in leading marriage enrichment programs. For the past two decades they have been involved in Bible study and research, seeking to understand God’s plan for marriage. That journey included being labeled heretics by the elders at their fundamentalist church, who insisted that women could not hold leadership roles or teach men.
The “fruit” of that journey has been a book entitled Shared Love: A Sunrise of Hope for Personal Relationships. It emerged because Mom’s heart breaks for those who are trapped in dysfunctional marriages, sometimes caused by an inaccurate understanding of Scripture. Mom has invested literally years of her life in providing a resource that can help others, believing that God will use their story to help free others for healthier marriages.
Mom is now in her late seventies. I am so thankful for her modeling of what it means to be a woman fully “sold out” and available to God. In her own way, Mom is contributing to a changed world. For that, and for her, I’m thankful.