Tag Archives: losses

Monday Morning Moment – the Story of a Girl and Friendship

[School Days, Cairo, Egypt – a couple of decades ago]

This delightful girl has a birthday today.

I want to celebrate her here. The girl and the understanding of friendship she has brought to her mom and to those who have best known her.

She was born on a windy March morning. Our first-born. I have brothers, and my Mom had all brothers. Having a daughter as our first was a complete joy and wonder to me, as my Mom tells me I was for her in the midst of all boys.

She would be my sidekick for many of our early adventures together. Welcoming two brothers during her preschool years. Enjoying the friendship of neighbors and church family. Homeschooling in East Tennessee.  

I will never forget the Spring when she came home from Jack and Barbara Lavender’s Sunday School class with two tiny cups of growing seedlings. We planted them in her daddy’s garden and they grew an enormous bed of Cushaw squash. From those two little seeds. Sweet memories of friends who invested in our girl’s life.

Then there was the terrible time when she got desperately ill with what we would, over too many days, finally discover to be a ruptured appendix. This girl has always had a high threshold of pain, and it took four trips to the pediatrician’s office before I was taken seriously. She ended up with big surgery and 10 days on IV nutrition. This image shows her having her first meal over a week after her surgery (pillowcase from our friend, Kay – she still has this pillowcase).

Then our travels outside East Tennessee began.

For this quiet girl, having her life, and childhood friendships, disrupted was hard. Despite the incredible experiences of many moves across four countries, she learned resilience the hard way.

In those days, before smartphones, we carried our memories of people and places in tangible ways. Photo albums. This girl would often go deeper with new people in her life by introducing them to her previous life…through these cherished photo albums.

Everywhere we went, everywhere we lived, we have the photo memories of the sweet parts of those years. They are a treasure.

Friendships were not always easy for this girl. Well, not being able to easily make friends, adjusting to all the changes imposed on her life by her parents’ work moves. She was not the life-of-the-party, center-of-attention, making things happen, people magnet sort of girl. She loved books and they were often her friend. In the reality of multiple moves and too many goodbyes.

She did have two constant friends who went through all those moves with her. Her two brothers. They are still close. Remembering all the good, all the tears, and all the big sister times with her [calling her “Auntie” when she observed and advised where they preferred to be left to their own devices].

As this girl grew up, she learned how to recognize mean girls and not to take them personally nor to become one…which can easily happen for any of us in strained situations. She learned to embrace the new and sift for where she belonged in the different. And could even make a difference.[Her tiny Senior class, 2005, Casablanca, Morocco]

[Noor, a dear friend from high school, knowing the experience and also understanding what it’s like to move places and countries with your family]

[Maria, a fellow student and enduring friend as they both tackled teaching together. Different schools but similar challenges.]

Besides her brothers, this girl had two men she knew she could count on. Her Dad…and in time, her beloved whom she would marry. I love to catch snippets of conversations she and her Dad have on visits home. For two introverts, their words pour out with each other…safe people, safe places.

[This girl and her boy who would capture her heart and parent two little ones by her side – no pics of the littles – this girl’s preference and I honor it]

In this season of making a home and family, she has grown into this beautiful woman (OK…if you’re still reading, you either love her or the idea of her or you have such a her in your own lives). I am in awe of this girl. Not because she is anything of celebrity but because of how she handles today’s bumps. Also how she has taken both the bad and the beautiful of her growing up years and turned them into her own story.

This Christmas  she gave me a book by Sarah, Sally, and Joy Clarkson. Girls’ Club – Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World.

This sweet girl has recommended Sally Clarkson to me often in the last year as a mom and mentor in life. In the book above, Sally’s daughter Sarah writes a chapter entitled Saturday Mornings: The Girls’ Club Prototype. In this chapter, she describes “five progressive actions…central to the powerful cultivation of friendship”. They are:

  • Invite – Reach out and bring in a new someone to an adventure and your life.
  • Plan – Work out the logistics of an event, a meetup, an outing. Make it a welcome ritual or routine.
  • Provide – Show love, Sarah says, by preparing the table, so to speak. Whether it is the physical space itself (your home, for instance) or your own “mind and heart” to wholly receive the new friend.
  • Stay – This is huge! Whether distance or circumstance separate you, be a continual presence in the life of a friend. Be there. Show up. This takes effort and intentionality, and it’s not easy. It requires both forgiveness and faithfulness…no matter what.
  • Pray – When we remember that every single person we meet is an image-bearer of God, we are reminded of the value there. Even those “mean girls” in our lives didn’t get mean in a vacuum. “Hurt people hurt people”. They have God’s imprint like every other imperfect person… When we recognize our own frailty and that of others, we are drawn to pray. For our own hearts to love like Jesus. For eyes to see how God sees people…and to reach out in love…as only He has made us to do so.

I’ve watched this girl executing all the above without having read the book. She has commented that making and nurturing friendships as adults has also been a challenge, maybe because of all the other pieces of life that need our attention. I think she is learning to juggle all this, and me with her.

I’ll close this “Happy Birthday” piece on this note: our girl has a fierce faith in God that brought her through the hard so far in her life. I’m confident that whatever lies ahead – joys and sorrows – she will lean into God to sustain her. She will be there for those whom God has placed in her life – family, friends, and friends-to-be.

Like her, I will leave you with a few last images of life we’ve enjoyed together. Hope your day is filled with joys familiar and joys anew. Happy Birthday, Sweet Girl.[Learning to make biscuits with Memaw – my Mom, the master cook]

Worship Wednesday – Blessings Disguised – Laura Story’s Discovery of the Mercies of God

 Blog - Worship Wednesday - Laura Story Blessings

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9

The first time I was aware of Laura Story’s song Blessings was last week on a perplexing workday. I was on an errand, and this song came on the radio. The sweet love of God washed over me, bringing perspective to my work situation and lightening my heart.

Later, I read online that the song Blessings came out of Laura Story’s journey with her husband, Martin, through the diagnosis of his brain tumor.  After years in treatment, he is doing well today and they have a little daughter. He still has some issues related to his treatment, but they’re living in a new normal, with a deeper faith in God and joy in the life they have together and with Him.

Life brings all kinds of twists and turns. Sometimes a tough day at work but other times a painful, life-altering diagnosis. Sometimes a relationship betrayal; other times a devastating failure or disappointment. Things just don’t always go as we think they should. Yet, as we cling to God, we find His faithfulness.

We discover, as Laura and Martin did, that God’s mercies are revealed in these places of pain and confusion. He is there in that dark place with His children, and He will bring us into the light again.

Take a few minutes and worship our faithful God, meditating on His presence with us in these “mercies in disguise”.

Blessings by Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

(Chorus)
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if the thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Chorus

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Chorus

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Blessings – Lyrics from KLove

Story of Song

More of Back Story

Photo Credit – Blessings Album Cover

Indescribable also written by Laura Story and performed by Chris Tomlin

Worship Wednesday – Bring the Rain – MercyMe

Blog MercyMe

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12, ESV

MercyMe, the Christian band, has touched my worshipping heart in these recent seasons of my life. It started with Here Am I, Send Me, the first song of theirs that resonated with what God was already speaking to me at that time.

Then there was the song I Can Only Imagine, a favorite of both my mom and older brother. Each of them died early, at least from our standpoint, and I ache for the day we will all be together again.  That song has come on the radio often over the last few years, just for me…and maybe for you, too. To comfort me in my missing of family gone ahead…and to stir up my hope and confidence in the knowledge of our merciful God.

Bring the Rain is not a new song but it’s most recently come to me as a gift from God during a time of struggle. It is so easy for us to take our eyes off the Lord, even though we don’t want to and we know doing so takes us nowhere good. When this fallen world presses in on us, whether through illness, loss, or disappointment, we do well to remember that God is good through all of our circumstances. We are to hold on to Him, as He holds tightly to us…no matter what.

I hope you can take a moment to worship God through these lyrics.

Then watch the video at the end of Abigail Smith’s journey through a cancer that took her life but could not touch her love for Jesus.  I also rejoice at getting to meet and know her in Heaven one day. This same God who sustained Abby through a hard last year here is the God that MercyMe worships, too…and we with them.

Bring the Rain

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I’ve gone through

The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It’s never really ever crossed my mind

To turn my back on You, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times

So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory

And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

I am yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain

So I pray
Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings you glory

And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

And I forever sing
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

Everybody sing it
Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

You are holy, You are holy
Lord, You are holy
Is the Lord our God
Is the Lord our God Almighty, yeah, yeah, yeah

Everybody sing it
Holy, You are holy
Oh, holy, holy, holy, yeah, yeah, yeah
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Is the Lord God Almighty

Bring the Rain – Song Story

Amazing Abby – A Legacy of Hope