With a friend…..
You can be yourself, but if you’re not she notices.
You can share the deepest parts of you.
Sad or mad or glad. It’s all the same to her because she loves you no matter what.
She knows your story and you know hers.
With her, it’s okay to not be okay.
She listens because she cares.
She’ll let you be scared but help you be brave.
Your laugh makes her laugh. Her tears break your heart.
It always feels like yesterday even when it’s been a while.
She makes you better because she lifts you up.
It’s easy with her because she loves you just the way you are, whenever you are.
And you do the same.
My friends have walked with me through the happiest and darkest of days.
A friend taught me to listen because I watched her listen.
One of them taught me how to give a good hug. Another how to make the best homemade bread you’ve ever tasted.
One taught me how to lead and follow, one how to forgive again and again.
And some have given me the confidence to do what I thought I could never do.
That’s what friends do.
I’m better because I have the best kind of friends.
I have a place in my home where old things are displayed. Worn books, my grandmother’s hurricane lamp, Dad’s horsehair drafting brush, eye glasses and a pipe, my other grandmother’s woven hand fan, and black and white photographs from long ago. All of it sits on an old wooden chest built by my great-grandfather.
Things passed down from one generation to the next. Reminders of who came before and how they lived. Connections with the people who, for better or worse, loved and taught the ones who loved and taught me.
But the most important things passed down to me aren’t books and photos or wooden chests.
“If you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time saying where you’re going.”
― Wendell Berry
As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. Proverbs 27:19 NIV
I planned to write more on this and include some thoughts about the end of my devotional readings from Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter.
But the thing about a proverb is it says what it says without needing any help from me.
One of the best times on the beach is early morning. You may spot a runner or two, a few shell collectors, some slow moving coffee drinkers……but mostly the beach is clear. All you’ll hear is the sound of the waves crashing onto the sand….. and the sea birds close to shore.
The lifeguard tower is empty. No need for a rescuer in the early mornings on this beach.
But when the crowds come, the lifeguard stares out at the water. He watches the ocean, looking for the swimmers and the floaters and the heads bobbing up and down with the waves.
When the riptides are dangerous, the lifeguard stands tall in the tower to make sure no one is caught in them. The whistle shrills loudly when he spots a swimmer too far out. He waves the red flag motioning the swimmer to come toward shore. If the swimmer ignores the warning, the lifeguard waves the flag passionately and blows the whistle over and over. Sometimes the lifeguard climbs down the tower and runs to the edge of the water. He waves his flag forcefully while blowing the whistle until the ocean dweller obeys.
He is guarding lives after all.
My grandmother had a green thumb. I have bright memories of her, or maybe I remember someone else’s memories of her, in the yard with her long sleeves and sun hat, weeding her flower gardens, pruning her roses, or moving plants from one spot to another. She was an award winning rose gardener. According to old, torn and yellowed newspaper clippings, roses were her specialty.
I don’t know if she was ever recognized for her daffodils and irises but they’re beautiful and bountiful. Decades after her work of transplanting, dividing bulbs, storing rhizomes, and tending to them they still burst through the top of the earth.
Patches of irises and daffodils (we call them buttercups) are all over our and the neighbor’s yard which was my grandmother’s place a long time ago.
The cheerful yellow flowers are the first to show their colors as soon as the sun warms the cold winter ground enough. The irises come up later and stand tall. Buttercups are my favorite.
Grandmother’s green thumb is still coloring the landscape.
I spotted this miniature scene on one of my downtown walks recently. I was surprised to find it where it was, but I was even more surprised I hadn’t noticed it before.
The tiny door sits at the bottom of a very large tree standing on the narrow grassy area between the sidewalk and the busy street. Once the door caught my eye, I stopped to take a photo. I wanted to stay and look more carefully…..to see what other tiny things I could find…… but I felt I was intruding.
And it wasn’t until I studied the photo closely that I noticed the little pumpkin or gourd with a little green leaf on top next to the door. See it?
I almost missed this odd little sight. Almost walked right past it like I had before.
What else do I miss? Do I see what I should see?
“What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
C.S. Lewis (The Magician’s Nephew)
I raced in my 2nd Spartan Sprint at Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend.
Before you’re tempted to think I’m a hard core athlete or a fitness guru, let me tell you, I am not. I’m a 40-something wife and mother of three who ran my first 5K two years ago in honor of my mother and to support the local hospice organization that helped care for her.
Something changed when I trained for and finished my first race though. I wrote about my journey from believing I could never run to finishing my first 5K in a post called Run.
I continued to train for other races on my own but then joined a group of women training for our first Spartan Race last summer. It was incredible. I wrote about that too in my post Together and here we are together again.
Something special happens when you join a group of people working toward running a hard race. You show up to the workouts when you’d rather not. You work harder because you see the others working harder. You cheer for one another and learn from each other. Then it becomes something more than working out together. You talk and laugh and get to know each other. You conquer fears together. You share life stuff and you care about these people. You want to do your best in the race and you want them to do their best too.
I realize this race wasn’t my race….it was our race. Each one of the ladies in our group made me better in some way. I run better. I’m stronger. I’m more confident. I have more fun. All because of these amazing women!
As part of my Live Like It Matters Challenge, I challenge you to do the same. Gather a group of people…..friends, co-workers, family, whoever and set a goal to do something hard. Find a local 5K and train for it together. Pick a Relay for Life event and raise a certain amount of money together then participate. Gather a team and train to compete in dragon boat races. Do a Warrior Dash or a fun run with your kids.
There are one hundred creative ways to do something hard with a group of people.
Because the thing is: we are better together.
Always have been.
Now go. Gather. Train. And live like it matters.
Most of my Mondays are spent in the historic downtown area of a nearby city. The office of the non-profit where I volunteer is there. Until the beginning of the year I’d only driven through the downtown area a few times and now it’s one of my favorite places.
Every two hours we have to move our cars or put more change in the meters which gives me a chance to enjoy a few walks during the day. I love seeing the people on the streets, some in their business attire walking briskly to make an appointment on time, some taking a stroll enjoying the sights, a couple walking their dogs, a young athlete getting her run in, or those lingering at the outdoor tables after a nice lunch.
I especially enjoy walking past all the old churches. They’re magnificent. The downtown area is dense with old churches like this Methodist church. It was originally built in the early 1800s but was burned down during the Civil War when Federal troops were quartered in the basement. The church burned down due to an act of carelessness. The troops built fires on the wooden floors to cook their food. But with courage and faith the congregation rebuilt the church and finished it in 1868. Several additions have been completed since then.
I walk past other churches too. Another Methodist church, Catholic, Episcopal and a Baptist one too.
If I’m having an exceptionally good Monday, my walks happen at the same time the church bells ring. I’m not sure which churches are ringing the bells but oh what a joyful noise it is!
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 100:1
Though my daughter and I climbed the mountain for about two hours, our view didn’t compare to this guy’s atop the imposing flatiron.
Blake and I were content to watch others as we rested and shared our snacks.
Several teenagers climbed a rock below us to see the other side and get a different view.
High or low, on a mountain or in the valley, the happiest of times, the sad ones, and the scary ones too…..the best view is the one where you look back and see God’s mercies.
And when you can do that…..
you have the best view of all.