Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s Thanksgiving morning and my heart is bubbling over with contentment and wonder. The last several days my mind has been taking a walk down memory lane and I’ve been really focused on God’s protection over me over the years, and how he used specific people in every phase of my life to offer me that protection and care. 

I think about past teachers who offered me friendship and encouragement…a certain Ms Iutzi comes to mind, my English teacher in Bethel, Alaska. She genuinely loved her students, opened her classroom as a hangout place, was always handing me new books to read, laughed at my jokes, and has continued to be an encouraging person in my life, even now, twenty-five years later. 

I think about my dear friend Louima who became my big brother in college and still is someone I count as family and someone I continue to learn from as he shares his wisdom in his writing. 

I think about my dear friend Telena who became my friend and mentor when I first moved to Tennessee. We’ve shared a lot of life together and her wisdom and common sense helped me a lot as I first started on the path of marriage and motherhood. 

I think about my dear friends Francie and Rob whose ministry has led me to a place of wholeness and healing in my life. 

I think about my pastors at our church who have offered counsel, prayer, and a helping hand over the years. 

My parents and my husband’s parents who have continued to be there for us through thick and thin. 

My friends on Facebook who take the time to write encouraging notes that brighten up my day. 

Strange as it might sound, those friendships represent to me God’s care for me. His protection. His sovereignty that knew I needed those people at those times to help carry me through. 

This is only the tiniest sample of people that have blessed me. I’m thankful for all of you. I’m thankful for God’s care for me. I’m thankful that we have this day to stop and name what has brought joy to our lives. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you have a blessed day!

Adventures with Friends

We just spent a long weekend with our friends down on the coast of South Carolina. We’re driving back to Tennessee now, car full of kids, favorite music playing, kids counting down the minutes before we can stop at McDonalds for lunch and get a Happy Meal. We’ve got the three youngest sitting right behind our seats, my husband is driving with earplugs in because the high shrill voices of small children wears him down. 

We had a wonderful time playing, kayaking, visiting the beach. As we were talking with our friends, we realized that we have been friends for seventeen years. That seems unbelievable. We met when we were all newlyweds with babies. We were remembering the first camping trip we did together. I was very pregnant, it rained, we set up a canopy and cooked under it while we threw all our kids into our van which happened to have a tv in it. 

Over the years we have done life together, in a very real way. Together we’ve figured out parenting challenges, marriage challenges, career challenges. We’ve encouraged each other in our spiritual walks. We’ve babysat. We’ve crashed at each other’s houses. We’ve taught each other our favorite hobbies. 

Our friends have moved around while we’ve stayed put, but we still manage to see each other a couple times a year.

And the old quote comes to mind,

 “Make new friends, but keep the old; Those are silver, these are gold.” Joseph Parry

Yesterday our friends took all the little kids to a playground while my husband and I took some of the older kids on a bike ride. It wasn’t until later that I realized that I had given my friends zero instructions on how to take care of my children and I had given my kids zero instructions on listening and obeying. Because it wasn’t necessary. I already know they can handle my kids. My kids already know these adults and respect their rules. These are people I don’t have to give backstory to. These are people that I can not call for months, and then send a random text about a random topic and I know it won’t be a problem. 

Gold. 

Friendships are funny things. They ebb and flow. They aren’t something we have a lot of control over. Sure, we can choose to be the best friend possible, but it has to be reciprocated. Sometimes it is, and it’s wonderful, sometimes we just change and grow apart. Sometimes we reconnect later, when our lives and interests intersect again, and sometimes we just remain a fond memory from the past. Whatever the case, long-term friends are rare and precious things and I am very thankful for them. 

I would post some pictures of our trip, but I don’t have any because I was too busy having fun. All I have are a couple pictures of kids squinting into the sun. Ah well. My son asked me today if I had taken a “mind picture” of something, so I could remember it for later. So, yes. I’ve got a whole album of Mind Pictures and another chapter added to our Adventures With Friends. 

Last Day of the Year

It is the last day of the year. Last blog of the year. Last post of the year. 

 

Every time we have a “last” we always feel like it should be extremely profound. Well, it’s the last day of the year. I’m doing laundry today. We’re going to clean the house. I’ve got to do a bit of grocery shopping. This evening we’ll have some pizza and the teens are going to have some friends over to watch movies. On the surface, none of that is profound. It’s very mundane. 

 

But, let’s dig a bit deeper. I’m going to spend the day taking care of my family and my children and our home. It’s a good family. It’s a good home. I am very blessed to be able to have this family. In fact, I would say that puttering around my house with a bunch of children is kind of along the same line as being the curator of a large treasury. My sole job is to keep the diamonds polished and make sure the gold is lined up just right. So, yeah, it’s actually a pretty profound way to end the year. 

 

I’ve been trying to do a little reflection, think back on the year, what stood out? I was looking at my blog posts for the year…glancing at the titles, what did I write about this year? I think if I needed to sum up the year, I would say it has been a year of going deeper. A year when I was able to spend time thinking about issues, people, books, politics, how does all this fit with Jesus and the Bible…I was able to engage with these subjects and go a bit deeper instead of skimming along on the surface. For an introspective introvert like me, who tends to live inside her head, that actually made it a really great year. 

 

It’s been a year of not hiding. Sharing my thoughts with others. Giving real answers to the “How are you doing?” question. That’s been a challenge. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written a blog, hit post, shared on FB, and then gone into a complete panic. Wondering if I should just erase the whole thing. DELETE! DELETE! Please know that I have not shared lightly. It has often been a major victory for me to hit the POST button. 

 

It has been a year of Overwhelming Grace. Looking back at all that has happened this year, the main theme I see is God granting strength and patience, endurance, provision. His hand always tightly wound up in every single detail. 

 

It’s also been a year of Seeing. Seeing the beauty in the every-day moments. The sunshine hitting that tree just-so. The dark clouds forming that geometric pattern. That tiny wildflower hidden in the grass. The kindness of a stranger at the store. The rich community feeling while standing in line at the bank. It’s kind of been like turning on the light switch in a dark room and realizing that you’ve been standing in an art gallery all along. Who knew all this beauty was just sitting here, waiting to be seen? 

 

It’s been a year of slowly blossoming friendship. Getting to know some of you much better online. Getting to know some of my old friends much better as we’ve carved out time to just be together. And realizing that all these friendships have always been waiting right here, it just took me making it a priority to seek them out at a deeper level. 

It’s been a good year. I am thankful. 

My blessing for all of you for this next year comes from the Bible, Numbers 6: 24-26:

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;  The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.”