Not long ago, I saw a series of blogs at various sites called "Thursday Thirteen" in which the writers made a list of thirteen things going on in their lives that were significant to them that day. I missed yesterday, so I will make it a Friday 15.
1. I thank God that it's Friday. I get two days' break from homeschooling, and that is a blessing. I love being with the kids, teaching them, and learning with them. Not being superwoman, however, I also love taking a break.
2. This has been a good week because I have received notes, emails, and phone messages from friends and relatives I haven't been in contact with for a while. I recently sent out a snail mail letter to several people I've neglected for far too long and, lo and behold, several of them have responded. Who says snail mail is "so last week"?
3. This has been a tough week because no matter how much we may love our family members, sometimes they are tough to take. Tough to endure. Tough to love.
4. Kristiana has her first "junior high social" tonight. Fortunately, it's at the church. It's on an Olympic theme. But it's an official junior high event taking place in the evening under the supervision of other adults. I'm sure she'll have a blast. I can't believe I'm the mother of a child just eight months away from being a teenager!
5. A friend from Spain sent me a series of photos taken of this planet from space. Earth is wondrous. It is beautiful. It is luminous. It is vast. We really ought to do a better job taking care of it, cleaning it up, and enjoying it rather than simply finding more efficient ways to consume all that is has to offer us.
6. Cancer is on the prowl again in my family. Someone very close to me was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and must undergo a lumpectomy next week and radiation treatment after that. Life is short. Our bodies are on the decline. My hope and prayer is that our spirits are being infused with joy, peace, and the comfort of The Spirit that gives life.
7. I'm getting a new laptop computer next week. The one I'm using currently is a hand-me-down from a company that was going to throw it away. Every now and then, it sends me reminders of why it was on the junk heap. I am enormously thankful to my husband for offering to buy me a new one - and then for going ahead and ordering it. While I look forward to the ease of life with a new toy, I dread all the transfer of the old documents onto the new machine. I tend to lose patience with the process long before it's completed.
8. I recently found out that Anne Lamott is publishing another book soon. (Thanks, Virginia, for that information.) I am looking forward to getting it into my hands and into my mind. She's one of my favorite authors.
9. Getting back to the family thing: It's hard to forgive someone when they have wronged someone you love. It's not even me; I'm not in the direct line of fire on this one. I'm not the victim here. But two young women I love dearly are suffering because of the action and inaction of people who claim to love them. I am grateful that I am a proponent of non-violent confrontations and problem resolution. I'm sure there are many who would consider the use of weapons of concise destruction to end this debate once and for all. I ended my last communique with an old question: Why can't we all just get along?
10. I sometimes wonder if I'm too naive about this love, joy, and peace thing. In a world where being right matters more than being humble, where standing firm at all costs matters more than asking for another chance to be reconciled, where sarcasm outweighs words of gentleness and grace, I believe that we can choose to love, to forgive, to experience joy, and to live at peace with others. I believe that the source of all those emotions is God, but we must choose to accept His love and share it with others.
Whenever I hear someone say they feel no joy, that they know no peace, and that peace is not an option, I want to reach out to them, to hug them, and tell them to open their hearts, their minds, their souls, and their spirits to possibility that the choice is theirs to make. I want to tell them to surrender their inability to believe, and to trust, to have faith that there is a plan that is larger than their own, a plan to prosper them, to give them hope and a future. I want to tell them that I know from experience that in the midst of watching cancer claim a life, heartbreak, loneliness, and abandonment, joy is always an option. Unspeakable joy. Peace that passes all understanding. And love that casts out all fear.
11. I have to read #10 again and figure out how to put it into practice in my own life. Right now.
12. Today is my nephew Matthew's 22nd birthday. I remember the day I found out he was born; I was a sophomore at Williams College in Massachusetts. I remember sitting in one of the theaters on campus that night watching a show, wishing the whole time I could be in Brooklyn meeting my second nephew for the first time. As an adult, he is one of the wisest, kindest, most loving, generous, and noble people I have ever known. I am proud to have him in my family.
13. There's a lot of pain in the world. Hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, drought, and wildfires ravage not only the surface of our planet, but also the very foundation of our lives. I have spent time with several women this week whose lives are laced with sorrow, needs and expectations that have not been met, promises and hearts that have been broken, and dreams that will never become realities for them. I am always honored that people share their stories from the road of life with me. I am humbled that they count me worthy of telling and count my advice worthy of considering. My hope and prayer is that each of them, that each of us, will find true comfort, lasting security, and refuge in the shadow of The One who is the God of all Comfort.
14. When the darkness is deepest, when the thunder is loudest, when the pain is most severe, may we all find comfort with each other. One friend writes about the strong arms and sky blue eyes of her one true love. Another talks about the company of women friends whose support has been unwavering through years of togetherness. I love that moment of snuggling up next to Steve in bed and having him wrap his strong arms around me and pull me close. Music helps. Email, letters, and phone calls help. Every word of encouragement, every act of kindness, every smile to friend and stranger alike - they all add up to grace given and grace received. Galatians 6:9 gives timely advice on this topic: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
15. I will end with one of my favorite verses of Scripture. It's not a common one, but I think if we lived it out, if we obeyed it, our entire world would feel the difference. It's 2 Corinthians 13:12 - "Greet one another with a holy kiss." Go ahead and do it; I dare you. Log off the computer, get up from your seat, stretch your back, neck, and butt muscles... then go kiss somebody. I guarantee you that you'll feel better when you do.
Have an awesome Friday!