Sometimes it’s good to reflect on one’s past so the path toward the future is a little clearer. We are grateful for the opportunity to share here each week with you. Thank you for the support, friends!
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the Ordinary things in life and holy on the Ordinary streets among Ordinary people, and this is not learned in five minutes.” -Oswald Chambers
How do we live in the Ordinary? Continue on this journey with us; the fellowship is sweet…
When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.
One letter matters.
In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”
For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONEletter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.
For the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.
When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.
In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago.One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.
So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:
to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strength
a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday
Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.
Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.
Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowledge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.
The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.
Words surround us.
Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.
Which letter do you cling to most?
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all, its message is love. It offers us hope.
——->>>>> THISone lettermakes all the difference to me.
Tis the season of Girl Scout cookies and the first blossoms of spring.
Is it just me or does every home improvement store have an over-abundance of shiny lawn mowers on display and flocks of Girl Scouts grinning their gap-toothed smiles, asking if you’d like to buy some cookies?
Although I only had a brief venture into the world of Girl Scouts, I learned a couple important things I tucked into my bag of tricks:
1) The first lesson, of course, was that Thin Mints cookies could pretty much sell themselves and that diehard fans put them in their freezers to “save them for later” (translation: hide them from the kids).
2) The other key thing I learned as a Brownie was the song “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” At the time I thought this meant I would have a treasure trove of sparkly friends to last me all my days. It took a few more years for me to understand that meeting new friends was fun, but maintainingfriendships for the long haul was just as vital and full of its own sweet reward. What a great life lesson for a young pig-tailed girl to carry along with her even though her Girl Scout days were few!
Now as an adult, I have the opportunity to gather up boxes of Thin Mints from bright-eyed eager girls as easy as a brief stop while running errands. The friendship piece, though…that’s even trickier now than it was when I was the new student almost every year in grade school. Then I had the structure of school activities and the dubious recognition of always being the last person in every line since my last name started with a Z.
As busy mommas it’s hard to cultivate friendships anew and hold on to the wisps of friendships past. At the same time we’re trying to build our own network of relationships, we’re also nurturing our children’s friendships, helping negotiate playdates and shepherding our kiddos to make good choices in their interactions with others. Their world is so much different than our school days in which “social media” was passing notes without getting caught by the teacher.
Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zone and plant a seed of friendship, then patiently wait while the hectic pace of daily life churns on around us. It may take weeks or even months to get a glimpse of that friendship blossoming a little more. We may have to keep being the one to introduce ourselves at parent meetings, join a new Bible study, or volunteer for something that puts us closer to the action. In these awkward situations, I remind myself “baby steps, Dianna” and take encouragement from the fact that my boys have been steadily surging forward in their new relationships, too.
We discovered that little gestures can go a long way. A few months ago, we put a bike rack by our garage and invited boys that lived farther from the bus stop to park their bikes there. My son is now having more contact with neighborhood kids because we made ourselves just a little more accessible — a little more transparent to those around us.
Adults (or at least us introverted ones) seem to have a harder time showing this transparency. It takes courage for us to show our vulnerability, having outgrown that marvelous age where we could simply ask, “Will you be my friend?”
Friendship is a lovely gift from God. Many verses reflect this truth of connectedness.
Are you missing a friend connection? Would you like to have some more friends in your inner circle? Hang tough. There’s more to your friendship song and to mine:
“Silver is precious, Gold is too. I am precious, and so are you. You help me, and I’ll help you and together we will see it through…”
Since I’ve experienced the heartfelt joys of long-term friendships and have been fortunate to have seen best friends from high school and college in the last month, I know it’s worth it to invest in these friends of silver and of gold…and whatever lies between. I cling to the threads of my dear close friends through texts, phone calls, emails and Voxer to hold me over until our next face-to-face gatherings.
In the meantime, I’m tentatively testing the soil of potential friendships in my new surroundings. We just have to keep planting seeds in our interactions and step out of our comfort zones…who knows, we might bump into someone who is seeking the same sweet connection. And, if we get to share Thin Mints in the process?? That’s a win-win in my book!
Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow, and I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper, and I the underside.
Not till the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reasons why
The dark threads are as needful in the skillful weaver’s hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares.
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who leave the choice with Him.
This beautiful anonymous poem has impacted many, I have no doubt. I gave these verses to my husband 11 years before we even began dating one another. On a tiny laminated card, I handed it to him, merely as a friend. And as I traveled the rocky terrain of teenage and college years, I prayed for my future husband. I had no idea who he might be, but I prayed for his growth in the Lord, and for his heart to listen. When we finally arrived at our destination of one another, and we married, He pulled out the tattered poem from his wallet one day. He handed it to me and asked if I’d ever heard this poem, and he began telling me how impactful it had been over the years. He also added that he couldn’t remember how he came by having it…
God is on the other side of Ordinary.
God will place desires in our hearts, just so He can fulfill them. He loves us so abundantly. Listen this new year; ask the Lord to place His perfect desires within your heart.
One of my favorite quotes is another unknown: Let us beg God for the Wild, tiny FAITH that has wisdom to recognize the remarkable gift in Ordinary living!
Resolutions are fine and useful, but our stories have already been written out with the BEST endings if we keep our eyes on Jesus.
Pray Daily. No matter the twists and turns of the plot, this resolution is stout. Without wavering, your joy will overflow!
Abide in the Lord. Be Still And Know That I Am God. Psalm 46:10
Happy New Year!
Lord, may your lovingkindness never cease, Your compassions never fail. Thank You, Jesus! Lord, please take my heart and renew it; make me a holy vessel for You. Lord, refresh my spirit, search my heart, show me how to be a prayer warrior for my loved ones. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Amen! Psalm 51:10
The other day I was waiting to get out of a crowded parking garage and idling at a pedestrian crosswalk. An older couple caught my eye as I watched them navigate through parked cars to get into a medical building. The wife was all-business, clearly focused on the task ahead as she walked briskly with purpose. Her husband had a marked limp and was making use of each vehicle he passed as a respite to catch his breath. He was looking all around, taking note of his surroundings before he took a steadying inhale and propelled forward in his teetering gait, aiming generally in his wife’s direction. She paused several times to cast a glance back over her shoulder to make sure he was still following.
She came to a determined halt at the entrance, sending the whooshing automatic doors into a tizzy of confusion. Open-close-open-close-open… Her waiting stance became very intent – yet not quite impatient. Although this pair was obviously together, each of them was approaching what lay beyond those insistent doors in very different ways. She was charging forth while he labored with each step.
I wonder how long they have been doing this hurry-wait dance together? I’m curious when they were last side-by-side, slipping into a natural cadence as their footsteps marched in tandem.
I’m not sure what awaited this gray-haired couple in the doctor’s office that day, but their disjointed progress made me think about how often we can be in misstep with our people we are doing life with each day and how off-kilter our different paces may be in our personal journeys.
We all have different paths in life, which we walk in our own rhythms and progress at our own unique pace.
Sometimes the journey is expected and the path unfolds in an unwavering straight line before us. We feel focused and confident.
Some days we are eager to see what awaits around the next bend. Our steps may be light and energetic as we embrace the anticipation of what is to come.
Other days we drag our feet, weighted down by uncertainty about what we may face. We have to dig deep to take the next begrudging step into a novel experience, tentatively exploring an unfamiliar path we have not traveled before. We steady ourselves with a brief prayer, a whispered plea of trusting God to hold us fast on His path for us.
In this season of graduations and life transitions, you may be facing the challenge of embarking upon a fresh path or launching a family member on a new journey. As you tentatively approach this unknown doorway, may you have the courage to reach forward and lean in to a new venture…knowing that someone is tenderly looking over their shoulder to make sure you are on your way.
“My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.” Psalm 17:6