Category Archives: Friendship

Learning to Accept~This is Where I Leave You

(-By guest author, Jane Anderson)

It’s been a while now, but I still remember the effect. My breath caught as I heard the title of a new movie showing in theaters. This Is Where I Leave You.

How often has my mind wandered the void of an empty room, sensed the hollow feeling trailing a wave, felt the finality of a closed door? Have you ever spent time with someone you love, seizing every moment before their journey takes them one direction while yours takes another?  You knew the words were coming but couldn’t bear to hear them, “This is where I leave you.”

If you’re breathing, you know the hopeless feeling of saying goodbye, or maybe you avoid the goodbye, choosing instead the softer, “See ya later.” I recently talked to a friend whose youngest child went off to college leaving her with nobody to drop off or pick up at school, no sporting events claiming every weekday evening and a pretty lonely dinner table. There will be holidays and long weekends, but this season has brought new colors to the landscape – not the colors she is ready for.

Four years ago when my grandson joined the Marines we said goodbye to him as he left for 13 weeks of Basic Training. He insisted on no tears and we bravely complied … up until he said, “Well, this is where I leave you.” There are too many events in our life where the only option demands a deep breath and courageous goodbye. Our lives occur in such a blur that looking back we see short vignettes of what used to be. We preserve snatches of remembrances as a salve to soothe our aching hearts in moments when we feel regrettable loss. Life happens when we aren’t looking and we call it memory. We would be wise to honor our present moments and continually ask ourselves, “How do I want to remember this moment?”  Sometimes it isn’t goodbye that rocks our world, but it’s our habits, lifestyle, and what we are accustomed to. Change is inevitable, isn’t it? Just when we feel comfortable, when we seem to be on the right track, at the time we’re most confident and we’ve achieved consistency in our routines – something changes! We can dread change. We can even be afraid of change because we know how it feels. Routine is comfortable, it means stability.  God gives us some insight into how futile it is to dwell on fear of change. One observation is shared in Lamentations 3:19, “Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable.” You know? Life is filled with ups and downs, good and bad, gain and loss. Yes, there is also the dreaded goodbyes. But we choose our attitudes. We can be miserable or we can choose to believe what God said in 1 Samuel 12:22, “The Lord has chosen you to be his own people. He will always take care of you so that everyone will know how great he is.”   We all know someone who has been through change after change in their life yet their faith has not faltered. We admire people who have suffered through fire and emerge with their joy intact. Faced with changes and an uncertain future, what separates the joyful from the joyless? Maybe it starts with believing that change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different. Then deepen your faith and believe that God keeps his promises. Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Life is a contact sport and sometimes we really get beat up. Sometimes tightly gripping what we had in the past only creates defeat in our present and trouble in our future. We need to let go – to relinquish what was. We need to say, “This is where I leave you.” Believe the words of Deuteronomy 31:6, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

New perspectives don’t magically materialize, nor do problems evaporate. There will always be changes we disagree with, challenges we can’t wish away.  Our tender hearts will be broken by the dreaded goodbye; we will lose parts of us we know we can’t live without, but in these times we must trust in the God that is bigger than all our terrifying problems and wider than the hollow left vacant by changes we didn’t want.  I’ve heard that the Bible commands 365 times to “Fear not.” That’s a command, not a suggestion. We know from 2 Timothy 1:7 that “God did not give us a Spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” God didn’t give us a fear of failing, or fear of change, or fear of loss. Be courageous. Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.

 So this is where I leave you.

2 Corinthians 13:11, “Good-by, my friends. Do better and pay attention to what I have said. Try to get along and live peacefully with each other. Now I pray that God, who gives love and peace, will be with you” (Contemporary English Version).

(Amen, and thank you, Jane!)

Even in Crisis

(Used by permission of a young friend awaiting her wedding day, Debbie R.)

I’ve been wanting to write down some of my thoughts from these past couple weeks, but I’ve always found writing to be a difficult thing for me. For anyone who knows me, I’m not a writer, I’m a… yeah, that’s right, a talker. Been teased about that my whole life, but here I go…

Since my surgeries two weeks ago I’ve had a hymn from childhood and a few verses continually on my mind.
“The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell…

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure – the saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.

O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure – the saints’ and angels’ song.”

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35‭, ‬37‭-‬39 ESV

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:8‭-‬11 ESV

Life certainly took a turn a few weeks ago when I got sick. There I was just six weeks from getting married and so excited to get all the final pieces together and just finally marry my love, mi vida, the man who is God’s best for me.

And then it happened; the realization that I had to go in to emergency because something was terribly wrong. After a couple days of tests and switching hospitals, we heard some of the hardest words to hear a doctor say, “We have to do surgery.” At this point I hadn’t eaten in days and had gone below 100 pounds. I looked completely out of it, but I still remember so much of what was going on around me. I remember starting to think about the fact that I was really, truly going to go through surgery again. After ten years, it was happening again. While my very first surgery was also an emergency, this one was different. The surgeon didn’t know what he would find when he opened me up. “What is gonna happen? I’m in a different country; I don’t have my doctor here.” I had this feeling of, “I really might not make it. Surgery is surgery after all.” And then a sense of overwhelming peace came over me. God makes no mistakes. His word will accomplish it’s purpose. If I went to sleep in surgery and woke up in the presence of my Creator, that would be in His plan. And I would be glad. But God, in His mercy guided the surgeons hands in painstakingly untwisting the tangled intestine they found. And when I woke up I was instead in recovery and shortly later saw the faces of those I love. God’s purpose for me here is not finished yet. And I am glad.

Recovery in the hospital after the surgeries wasn’t easy. There were ups and downs. The biggest low was hearing the surgeon say that an October 7 wedding was too soon. But I was fine. I talked with Wilmer and we decided to postpone it for December 2. Emotionally I was handling everything incredibly well. What happened to the extremely passionate person who overreacts to literally everything? Well, let me tell you something. These past few months have been difficult for me. Little things with health and wedding plans and legal paperwork for getting married in Colombia had been hitting me left and right. I would get so frustrated and at times even mad at God for how things were going. And yet, with everything God had it in His control and proved His faithfulness to me in these smaller things one after the other. He was preparing me for what was coming next. And because He did, I could trust Him and I knew of His love for me. I could only be grateful that He spared my life.

My uncle just wrote me very encouraging words this morning, “Nothing is wasted nothing is by accident all by His design to draw your real heart into His … run for Him and never stop.” Are you running for Him? Are you drawing close to Him? Are you living every single day of your life for Him? Please don’t wait for a crisis to happen to realize what is important in life. God has you here for a purpose. Share the love of God to those around you. Don’t waste your life. And ultimately, God’s purpose for you is to conform you into the image of Christ. Let Him do it; don’t resist it. The road can be tough at times, but it is so SO worth it. He will never leave your nor forsake you. He who promised is faithful.

I hope you have been encouraged by these words. I write them with love for all of you in my life. Thank you so much for the prayers, the encouragement and the visits. Thank you to my fiance, who though hasn’t said any vows to me yet has proved to be there “in sickness and in health.” A huge thank you to my parents who have always been there for me, took turns spending the nights with me in the hospital, asked questions and made sure they knew everything that was going on, and who have loved me more than words can express. Thank you to my brother, Mark, for also taking turns being with me and spending some nights in the hospital. Thanks also to my boss, Shawna, who spent one night with me to give my parents a break. And lastly, to the surgeons, doctors and staff at Hospital Universitario Nacional de Colombia for their expertise and care. (Thank you, Debbie, for letting me share your story! May the Lord bless you two with a long and fruitful marriage…soon!!! 🙂 )

Reflections on the Eclipse: To Celebrate, To Share, and To Remember

Did you get to see the eclipse yesterday?  Three of my friends joined me for lunch  and a wonderful afternoon of attempting to take photos of the eclipse.  We tried a bunch of different options,  and I used three different cameras,  but I was very disappointed with what I got!  😦   Between the clouds and the power of the sun,  which overpowered my camera’s ability to shut out the light properly (and I hadn’t thought ahead enough to buy a good filter),  I had no really clear closeup of the event.

Thankfully, two of my friends made the long trek to Central City, Kentucky and came back with some incredible photos (which they’ve kindly allowed me to post).                      Their story makes me grin, so I want to share it quickly!  Justin calculated the “perfect” location, which had a slightly shorter totality for viewing but also made it possible for them to leave the area sooner and beat the tsunami of traffic heading back north, so they were home by 6:30 pm! Brilliant plan, all the way around, don’t you think? And, aren’t their photos fabulous!

This makes me so happy, because I have etched into my brain a memory of Justin as a seven-year-old, looking rather forlorn as he sat shivering on the steps of our home by the frozen pond where a motley group of hockey enthusiasts (ages 37 to 7, from our church family) were playing hockey. Justin’s lips were a bit blue, so I asked him if he’d like to come in and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.

“No!” he answered resolutely! “I just want the puck!!” Tall order for the youngest kid on the ice!  Yesterday (and doubtless oodles of times in the past 30+ years), Justin got the puck! Way to go, Leah and Justin!!

Well, back to my reflections on the eclipse. I’ve been thinking a lot about what motivates us to create images. I think for most of us it’s about “makin’ memories” to celebrate the special times in our lives…to memorialize the events, share them with others, and keep the memories alive. Although some religious groups (both among Muslims and Christians) believe that people should not make any replication of anything lest it be idol worship (which is why ISIL is busy destroying statues), I personally believe God was forbidding only the creation of images for the purpose of worshiping them. Delighting in what is pure and good, and commemorating special occasions with photos, seems like an ideal way to make, share, and remember happy events!

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:1-6).

(Photo credits: A very special thank you to Leah and Justin Hamilton for letting me use their 4 outstanding photos of the eclipse, which they took in Central City, KY yesterday. You guys are awesome! The rest are from my home here in Michigan, where I shared a very happy afternoon with Brenda, Jane, and Bonnie. You guys are awesome too!)

What to Eat When Your Wife is Gone for the Weekend

Okay, so this is going to be a “for fun” recipe (of sorts), but while Lizzie was visiting me not long ago, she shared a great text from her husband picturing what he was eating for dinner, and it was so funny that I asked for permission to share it with you. Maybe I should start with just a tiny introduction about my “baby brother,” Chuck (who is actually 6’6″). I just happened to be visiting my “sister” Liz in Chicago the first night they dated (about 17 years ago). She asked if I wanted to meet him, and I said, “I don’t care! You date so many guys…” I had to eat those words later. Little did I know Chuck was going to be “the one” after Lizzie had waited almost 40 years for the right guy. And, let me tell you, he’s the right guy! He’s not only handsome (as you can see…I can brag about him because he’s my little brother…even if we’re not actually related), he’s loyal, kind, brilliant, tenderhearted, funny, and extremely good to his wife! So, as far as I’m concerned, he can pretty much do no wrong.  🙂

At any rate, before Lizzie came to visit, she made Chuck a big casserole, but by Sunday night, it was all gone, so Chuck started foraging in their refrigerator for something to eat. Want to know what he found?      How do you like it? He said he also had a bunch of fresh veggies and fruit.

Now, you might not think hotdogs with sauerkraut, carrots, and spinach on tortilla shells would be your first pick for dinner, but he said it actually tasted pretty good! And, the thing I especially love is the idea of trying new combinations of things. If you like various foods individually, who’s to say you might not like them together?

So, the next time you’re a little low on food and don’t want to take time to shop, look a little closer at your fridge and cupboards. Maybe you can find a winning combination too! Let me know what you create, will you?!!

(P.S.—I did ask their permission before writing this. They are too fun for words!)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17)

Morphing into Your Friends

Have you ever played with the phone app MRQSD that morphs your face with that of a friend’s? It takes the central part of both faces and swaps them out so your face is on your friend’s body. I’ve had a lot of fun with my kids and grand kids swapping faces! With my grand daughters, it looks strange but almost possible at times,                     but with my sons, the results of these games can get pretty bizarre! It reminds me of the suggestion I heard not long ago: “You should never enter into a relationship with someone you would not want to become.” While you may become involved with someone in order to help them (like the good Samaritan), I think this advice is really “right on” if you’re entering a relationship which could end in a marriage! The fact is, the more time we spend with someone, the more we will become like them!I love spending all the time I can with my family, but the one person in all the world I’d most like to become (or become like) is Jesus! Guess I’d better be spending all my time with Jesus, huh?! Thankfully, we can practice the presence of God with and within us 24/7! I’ve been working on this via a principle I learned from Optimizing Your Brain Fitness: “If you can see, then look. If you can look, then observe.” Focus. Attend. Concentrate. Sounds easy enough, but it certainly takes practice!

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

“O To Be Like Thee” (~Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897)

“O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

“O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.”

 

Do You Know His Name?

Okay, so this might sound a little crazy, but it really happened, so I’m going to tell you! Yesterday there were so many family members visiting my lifelong buddy while her husband was having surgery that she suggested I come later in the day after the surgery was over, thinking it might be more restful to go out for dinner together after the company was gone. She texted me a map and the room number, and away I went, bearing a beautifully crafted, stem-entwined pink and white azalea tree as a gift. Because the gift was a bit heavy, I stopped at the reception desk just to double check where to go.

The receptionist cocked her head and knit her eyebrows. “I’m sorry, but there’s no one here by that name.”

“There has to be!” I pleaded. “He had surgery this morning, and his wife said he’s doing great, is through recovery, and is in his room.”

She studied her computer thoughtfully. “How do you spell his last name? One “n” or two?”

I spelled out his name again. Surely they couldn’t have lost track of him!

“Are you sure he’s at this hospital?”

“Well yes, I believe so. I know the surgery was going to be done at Spectrum…”

“Yes, but there’s the Butterworth campus and the Blodgett campus. Let me check and see if he might be somewhere else.” She took several minutes and even put in a call to someone. “Sorry,” she sighed. “We simply don’t have anyone by that name. We do have a patient with the same last name, but not one with the same first name. Could your friend have a different name from what you’re used to calling him?” I can’t give you any information unless you know the right name.

I thought hard. I had been friends with Tom’s wife for 55 years. I’d been at their wedding. The four of us had visited back and forth for the past 45+ years. We triple-dated with them and another couple almost every month. Was it possible that I didn’t really know this man’s real name?

Long story short, I was finally able to produce enough information on address, age, etc. that they took pity on me and were able to suggest I try the same room number at a different hospital…even though they still were not allowed to tell me his name!

I knocked timidly on the door and was amazed to hear Tom answer, as loud and strong as ever: “Come in!” I thought he’d be semi-conscious and miserable, but he was sitting up, smiling and cracking jokes with his wife and two sisters. Incredible! This guy just had major surgery for cancer, and (as Alan said happily that evening) he was already “holding court.” Praise God! Tom says he believes it was the prayers of the saints lifted up to God that raised him up so fast. Amen!

As I reflected on this experience last night, it made me think of Jesus, who was raised from the dead by God and “holding court” at a time when no one ever dreamed that such an amazing recovery was possible! Miracles never cease!

It also occurred to me that—just like my surprise at not knowing Tom’s first name—many people probably think they know Jesus without really knowing “the right” name to gain access to him. Jesus  himself taught us: “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out” (Luke 13:26-28).

Just as I went to the wrong hospital (even though I was convinced I was at the right hospital), many people believe you get to heaven by being good, but that’s not really what God tells us in the Scripture. God warns, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, ESV).

But, what is “that name?” Is it Jesus? Is it Christ? What’s His name?

Just as the receptionist wouldn’t tell me how to find Tom without my knowing his true first name, neither can we gain access to Jesus and entrance to heaven without knowing Jesus’s true “first” name. Do you know what it is? Would you like to know?

The title by which we must know him is not just “Jesus,” a religious leader who existed 2017 years ago, or as “Christ,” who was the promised Messiah of God. The title by which we gain access to both the Father God and his Son, is Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we learn in 2 Peter 1:10-11, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

What is it that we must do? We must repent of our sins, surrendering to Jesus as the Lordthe master—of our lives and trusting him as our one and only Savior from sin. Have you done that? If so, the Bible says you are “born again,” a new creation and spiritual babe…a sibling of the Son of God and a child of the Father God, with full rights to his everlasting kingdom and his home in heaven! Do you know his name?

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).

Thoughts on Love for Valentine’s Day

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” Blaise Pascalroses-and-liliesReady for some beautiful thoughts on love? Or, like Joseph Fink, do you think: “Valentine’s Day is a disaster. Any day that is designed to perfectly encapsulate something as messy and personal as two people in a romantic relationship would have to be.” Well, whether the quotes I’ve found strike you as funny, true, or overly idealistic, I was touched by all of them, and I hope that—whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship with someone today—these thoughts will cheer your spirit. Because, in all of them I found a kernel of truth that also expresses the way I experience God’s love. His love for us is greater than any human love, and the power of His love is the greatest positive energy for transformation in the universe!

“I know of only one duty, and that is to love.” Albert Camus

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” A.A. Milne

“No matter how much time and space may come between us, I still feel you.” Ken Poirot

“Love is an afternoon of fishing when I’d sooner be at the ballet.
Love is eating burnt toast and lumpy gravy with a big smile.
Love is hearing the words ‘You’re beautiful’ as I fail to squeeze into my fat jeans.
Love is refusing to bring up the past, even if doing so would be a slam dunk to prove your point.
Love is your hand wiping away my tears, trying to erase streaks of mascara.
Love is the warm hug that extinguishes an argument.
Love is a humbly-uttered apology, even if not at fault.
Love is easy to recognize but so hard to define; however, I think it boils down to this…
Love is caring so much about the feelings of someone else, you sacrifice whatever it takes to help him or her feel better.
In other words, love is my heart being sensitive to yours.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“Where there is great love, there are always wishes.” Willa Cather (and for some of us, wishes turned to prayers)

“They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.” Bill Keane

“We’re most alive when we’re in love.” John Updike

“Love will find a way through paths where wolves fear to prey.” Lord Byron

“When you love someone all your saved up wishes start coming out.” Elizabeth Bowan

“Love is the ultimate no-calorie sweetener.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move.
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.” William Shakespeare (…and God!)

“So fall asleep love, loved by me…for I know love, I am loved by thee.” Robert Browning

“For ye will know not love, if ye knoweth not your God.” Henrietta Newton Martin

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
1 John 4:9-11 pink-tipped-rose-africa-copy