Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 Douglass Christmas Letter

ALL ABOARD!...to blaze the locomotive trail of our year!! That is indeed the only way to describe life from the past 12 months!

Bert & Jessica’s locomotive life was already on the fast track and hasn’t slowed down yet. Before April saw its last week, granddaughter #6 came unexpectedly on the scene 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Several hours after her dramatic entry, we were able to hold Caroline Lawson Kelly and love on a very exhausted mom and dad. Less than two months later, they moved, settling once again into their own home in Marietta, Georgia.

Elizabeth has kept them on their toes in more ways than one...despite several seizures that sent them to the doctors in 2010, Elizabeth is seizure-free and full of personality and independance. Caroline, on the other hand, is proving to be more laid back and is always full of smiles. "E" loves her baby sister and is the ideal big sister!

Jay and Melanie just keep chugging along the tracks as Allie, Alexis, Aleaha, Alivia and Alaina continue to grow faster than weeds! Melanie is excited to be finishing up her first semester back to school and yet is still a bit apprehensive as she gets ready to blow full steam ahead into the nursing program!

Hannah was traveling full speed ahead when she derailed in an all out train wreck at the end of summer. The debris has finally been cleaned up and she is now back on track...the load she is pulling weighs heavily behind her, but if you listen closely, you can hear whispers of "I think I can...I think I can!"

It has indeed been a rough year for her, but she is surviving; and before it is over, she will be one of the few to complete the IB degree. Through all of this, she has made the decision to hold off college for a year in exchange for 7 months with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). The $7,000 price tag covers 3 months training in one country and 3-4 months outreach in another country. She has applied to Belmont and Carson Newman and will seek a deferrment if accepted. So, in addition to the money she is working to save for her France trip in May and Columbia missions trip in June, this is quite a lofty goal. She is excited about her future and trusts everything will fall into place!

Despite all the mess, she still found reason to sing: open mics; prom; homecoming court; spring break at Seaside; induction as Thespian President and French Honor Society Secretary; and a week each visiting her aunt in Indianapolis, attending camp at Carson Newman, on missions in Kentucky, babysitting her nieces in Georgia, visiting her grandparents in Memphis, and vacationing in Clearwater, Florida! (Whew!)

Rebeka’s travels this summer were limited to Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida...the miles she’s racked up, however, are from cross country and track... enough to place her into the 300-mile club. She loves the sport and is an excellent runner (in spite all her injuries this year!)

She, too, found her school year causing a derailment, but she’s rustling on and able to balance everything easier now that she has been able to drop out of the I.B. pro-gramme...she still carries quite a load, though, with 5 AP classes. Carson Newman is at the top of her college choices, and she is also praying about doing YWAM.

She doesn’t get to spend as much time playing her violin as she would like; but on the weekends, she will get together and play with Hannah on the piano. Other than that time, their schedules take them in two different directions, so we soak up every second of those moments!

For the most part, Keith and I have been stalled on the spur since August still trying to regroup. Up until that point, we were traveling along enjoying all the activities of each season, then WHAM! We found ourselves in some major crises that called for quick action...next thing we know, we are renting out our home and moving into a rental home for what we thought would be two years. I don’t think a whiskey mill could’ve been moved as fast as we did! After all the dust settled, we were faced with a collossal mess, and we are still trying to put all the pieces back together!!!

As it is, here we are in a new place, for a time, doing a new thing. It has been an experi-ence that has drained every one of us. BUT, that being said, we cannot com-plain~~life is good!...despite Keith losing his overtime hours, he still has a job...that is great! Despite some physical challenges, I am still able to do most everything I’ve come to take for granted, with only minor adjustments...that is awesome!

One of the lessons this year has reminded us of (yes, I ended that with a prepositional phrase...!) is that life hands out lemons~~in bulk, sometimes! Our job is to figure out the best lemonade recipe possible, make it, and SELL IT!!! The girls are so tired of hearing me say that, but man is it ever so true!!!

And in a world filled with facebook, texting, blogging, and other high-tech gadgets, there really is nothing more precious than the relationships we share.

So as you step off our "train" back onto the platform of your own life, we hope you know how precious your friendship is to us! We also pray that we all will find ways to slow down this Christmas season to focus not only on the beauty of the season, but the beauty of God’s plan fulfilled through Christ!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Obedience and other connotations

Our dog, Dakota, prays with us at dinnertime--we pour his food, sit down, and he sits and waits for us to pray.  When we're done and we begin eating, so does he.  As i watched this one night while the girls were gone, I thought, "Wow, I wish the girls were obedient like this!"  The dog does what you tell him to do--it's an awesome thing! 

Then, it struck me...yes, Dakota is obedient...he's doing EXACTLY what we have taught him to do!  BUT...does he KNOW what he is doing?  NO!  He's "praying" out of obedience, not out of a desire to communicate with the Lord!!! 

Almost immediately, God spoke to my heart, "That's not what I wish you to accomplish with your children--obedience for obedience sake! I look at that heart, and my wish is that you would work on establishing a surrendered heart to my Word; then the overflow from their heart will be expressed through their behavior!" 

When our children are toddlers, we are in the business of teaching obedience because they are incapable of reasoning as an adult and therefore are following a "do it because i said so" mindset.  But as our children grow and begin reasoning and making their own decision, it is our job to help them think through their choices and the decisions they have to make.  We are responsible to teach them HOW to make WISE decisions so that their behavior will reflect their heart...that can be accomplished only by pouring into them and filling their lives with the truths of God's Word and the example we set...24/7!

In this may I be found faithful, so that from the overflow of their hearts will be blessings; in turn, my cup will then overflow with the same!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Happens When Scripture and Texting Collide....

One of the things I DO like about texting is being able to share scripture with my youngest daughters on a fairly regular basis from my daily reading.  Well, once I got into Kings and Chronicles, I had a hard time finding one-verse scriptures that would be relevant to them...but there were multiple verses that spoke loudly to me.  So I found myself adding my little commentary so that they might find some relevance...so, i thought i'd share this last week's worth here:

2 Chron. 16:9  "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars."
Note:  This scripture really stuck out to me today--king Asa had, up to this point, been seeking God. When he took his focus off God and relied on man rather than God, he failed.  Hanani then reminds the king of God's power in Asa's life so far and then reminds him of this truth that is quoted.  Because he relied on man and not God, the natural consequence had lifelong implications!  God gives us a choice and when we rely on Him, He is able to show Himself strong...if we rely on others, we reject Him and, thus, His strength in exchange for what the world offers--and Satan is the prince of this world...we don't think we are rejecting God, but we are--by default!  That was so convicting to me!  It reminded me that reliance on God (and therefore His strength) is a daily, conscious, purposeful decision and effort ( requiring action on our part)  it pierced my heart and so I thought I'd pass it along to you!

1 Kings 19  11 Then He said (to Elijah), "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  13 So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
Note:  God doesn't always reveal Himself or accomplish His ways in the powerful, the miraculous, the mighty ways.  He is often missed because more than not He is found gently whispering in the quietness of a humbled heart.  We must listen for Him as well as respond to that still, quiet whisper...

1 Kings 22 6 Then Ahab, the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, "Shall I go against Ramoth Gilead to fight, or shall I refrain?" So they said, "Go up, for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king." 7 And Jehoshaphat, king of judah, said, "Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?"
Note:  Ahab did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and his "prophets" were selected not from the tribe of Levi but at random by Ahab.  Jehoshaphat did what was right in the sight of the Lord.  I thought it rather humorous that Jehoshaphat after watching the scene, turns and  confronts Ahab with an attitude of "really?!  Do you not have anyone around who will ACTUALLY inquire of God and not just tell you what you want to hear?!"  Soo, the application to me is no matter how much we surround ourselves with folks who will tell us what we want to hear, it doesn't change the way things are or help our "causes" any. We needs godly folks who will speak truth to us so we can make wise decisions based on God and not on the world.  We need godly folks who will not be afraid to say the hard things we need to hear that will, in the long run, keep us on the right path...

2 Chronicles 21:6 "And Jehoram walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD."
2 Chronicles 22:3 "Ahaziah also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother advised him to do wickedly."

Note:  it has struck me in reading kings and chronicles how these great men were destroyed because of wives and mothers.  In just two of the chapters I read today were these verses which, because  the kings listened to these evil women's advice, ultimately ended up being the cause of the kings' demise.  How powerful we are as women to bring evil or to bring good--and the effect we have on the generations as a result of our words and our actions...what a great responsibility we have!  Think of all the women out in the world who encourage evil and the death that results...maybe that's where Solomon received words for Proverbs? 

2 Kings 10:31 "But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin."
Note:  kings/chronicles are so difficult to read because they are so detailed.  Jehu has become king of Israel and he followed after God and had done away with all associated with Baal (he is the 11th king since the kingdoms have been divided).  What stood out to me is the importance of following God with ALL our heart, soul, AND mind.  Because jehu didn't follow God with ALL, he still harbored sin--and not just any sin--the sin of his fathers from 11 generations prior (the generational thing we've discussed).  I think about Rebeka and katie's discussion about how we have broken so many of those generational strongholds/curses--AMEN!  However, we must persevere in our walk with the Lord in giving Him our ALL so that we can tear down and destroy ALL that which satan tries to keep  alive in us.  That is the legacy I want to leave with y'all and that I know you want to leave for your children!

What happens when scripture and texting collide?  it makes my cup runneth over! :)

Friday, June 03, 2011

Descriptions of the heart

There's a certain way words are phrased that cuts to the very marrow of your bone, opening the rusted door to your heart.  The chilling reality and redemption of these words resonated and bounced back and forth till i lost my balance:
by Disciple

Dear pain, oh, it's been a long time--
Remember when you were holding me tight?
I would stay awake with you all night.

Dear shame, I was safe in your arms--
You were there when it all fell apart...
I would get so lost in your beautiful lies

I let you go, but you're still chasing...

Go ahead
You're never gonna take me.
You can bend
But you're never gonna break me.
I was yours,
I'm not yours anymore.
Oh, you don't own me!

Dear hate, I know you're not far--
You would wait at the door of my heart.
I was amazed at the passion in your cries!

Dear anger, you made me so high--
You were faithful to show up on time.
Such a flame that was burning in your eyes!

I let you go, but you're still chasing...

Go ahead,
Put a target on my forehead.
You can fire
But you've got no bullet.
I was yours
But I'm not yours anymore!
Oh, you don't own me!
You tempted me to look back,
But everything that we had together was a lie!

I am in awe of the writers' ability to give such powerful and reflective words to feelings--I could see my past in each stanza and literally cringed.

But even more powerful is the message of redemption and freedom that is found in the Truth and the Power that is ours as a result.  It reminded me of how far I have come and what an amazing God I serve who can break any chain, giving freedom to even the worst offenders!  Thank you, Jesus! 

When I reflect on that, i know why my cup runneth over!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Summer Surprises

I don't know why I am always surprised when God answers my prayers...especially when my prayer seems too insurmountable for even God.  Yet, the heart of a surrendered soul is bound to find itself overflowing--in the land of the living no less.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Puzzles and Other Life Saving Devices

I bought a puzzle a few weeks ago...

Growing up I used to spend A LOT of time putting puzzles together.  Then I went for YEARS without even seeing one.  Two years ago, I was reintroduced to them in a most peculiar way.

I had a doc appointment...every day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks...and every day, there it was...a puzzle just waiting for my attention.

Having grown up with puzzles, I was instantly drawn to it...but as the days passed by, i realized it held more than just my attention.

Every day I walked into the lobby, preparing myself each time to face the people who would bare my chest and the machine that would do strange things to that part of my body.  It was such a strange feeling to experience that I never did develop the necessary sense of humor that would have helped me fare so much better.  I don't think I have ever felt more alone and isolated in my whole life.

But always, the puzzle waited for me.  I'd check in and immediately sit down to piece the cardboard colors together. 

It began to have a calming effect on my soul.  It took my mind off the inevitable.  It put my thoughts on hold as I focused on making a whole out of all the pieces...kinda like how I felt my life was...in pieces, never to be or to feel whole again.

I don't know exactly what day it was or which puzzle I was working to piece together; but somewhere along the way, I began to not feel so all alone--even the people who bared my chest daily didn't seem so alien anymore.  Somehow, the pieces started coming together, and I could start making out the "pictures" of my life--my future. 

There are times when the Lord takes the yuckiness of our lives, and He draws us to Himself just so He can reveal Himself to us in such intimate ways--ways in which our family or friends are completely unable to even touch.  This was one of those times, and He used the puzzle.

I don't think I ever saw even one of those puzzles completely finished, nor did I ever find out the "rest of the story" for the many folks who crossed my path at that puzzle table--whose conversations I will cherish because we were all experiencing the same thing...invasion...change...loss...fear...uncertainty...and we found unity in working to put the puzzle pieces together--however, I think that was of God's perfect design and one of His many lessons taught me during this surreal time in my life.

I'm really just now beginning to piece together all that happened that summer 2 years ago and the lessons He shared with me during that time.  But just like the puzzle I bought a few weeks ago, it takes time to sort and separate and finally put together, piece by piece, the beautiful picture unseen in each colorful jigsaw. 

The biggest lesson God gave me was that it sometimes isn't about the picture...it may be more about the process, and what happens during the process and what we allow to happen in the process.  What, or Who, do we trust?

"But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, That I may declare all Your works."  Psalm 73:28

It is because of His works that I can declare that my cup continues to runneth over...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Miss Caroline Lawson Kelly

Outside of Good Friday services, Friday seemed like any other day...Keith and I both worked, and Rebeka ended up babysitting for the neighbors until close to midnight.  Though we ended up not going to bed until late, I was hoping to get out Saturday to find something special for the girls' and Keith's easter baskets.

A little after 8 a.m., Jessica called apologizing for waking us up so early on a Saturday morning, but she thought she ought to let us know that her water had broken and they were on their way to the hospital!  I have to admit, I was actually excited, even though the baby wasn't due until May 15 (Jessica had scheduled her c-section for May 7). 

We had really wanted to be there when the baby was born, but with Keith just returning back to work and the end of school testing, it just wouldn't be possible.  This little surprise changed everything...so I called Keith, who was on his way home from work, and let him know the news--we agreed to pack and head for Georgia!  We had several errands to tend to before heading out, so the girls and I jumped into action, and I do believe we finished packing in record time--which is a feat for our household of women who struggle to keep the suitcases down to 2 EACH!!!

By the time Keith got home at 10, we were finished packing and all but 2 errands completed.  We finally hit the road at 11:30.  While stopping to grab a bite to eat along the way, I receive a text from Bert letting us know we had a new granddaughter!

Caroline Lawson Kelly made her way into our lives at 12:53 p.m. on April 23, 2011.  Though she was a preemie, she weighed in at 7.1 lbs and measured 19.5 inches!!!

We arrived about 4 p.m. just as Bert brought in Elizabeth to meet her new baby sister!  Though Elizabeth was excited about "her new baby," she wasn't quite sure about this newcomer and the attention Caroline was drawing!

The whole day seemed all too surreal for Bert and Jessica;  Excited yet exhausted, they weren't quite prepared for this unexpected surprise, but they fell in love with their new baby immediately!

Jessica, the organizer that she is, had already been doing her "nesting," and so we were not surprised to find out that she'd already packed her bags, finished sewing several dresses, jumpers, bloomers, shorts and t-shirts for Elizabeth; completed Elizabeth's age 2 album; organized and labeled bins for the panty, the bathroom, the medicine cabinet, the cabinet and drawer spaces for Elizabeth's and Caroline's cups, plates, bottles, bibs, nipples, etc.; pulled out and hung up all of Elizabeth's clothes for Caroline to wear; and set up Caroline's changing table and dresser!!  WHEW!  In her blog, she wrote:  Now I feel like if Caroline comes early (which I'm still praying she doesn't), then I'll be ready!

Early she did come, and for us that was a blessing to be able to share in that day!  Of course, Aunt Hannah and Aunt Rebeka couldn't wait to hold her!

When Pappa held her, she began to wake up, giving us some great photos!

Finally, it was my turn!

Soon, Caroline fell back asleep.....

...and so did someone else!!!!  (Bless his heart...!  He'd only been up 24 hours by this time!!!)

Soon after, we took Elizabeth home, so we could all get some rest...I surely wished we knew how to upload videos from an UN-smart phone, because we have the greatest footage of Elizabeth eating her dinner--her favor-ite, corn on the cob!!!  It is hilarious!  Once home, we bathed her, dressed her for bed in her "froggy" p.j.'s, read her her favorite books, and sang her a few lullabies; and before we knew it, she was in la-la land as happy as could be!

Though we had to leave Sunday, it was well worth the trip to be with our daughter and son-in-law to share in this moment! 

It would be Wednesday before they were released to go home...baby Caroline, though a bit jaundiced, was ready to go...here she is in her traveling outfit looking so much like Elizabeth!!!

Welcome Baby Caroline!  You have overwhelmed us with your beautiful little self, and I am reminded of the Psalmists words:  

For you created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was intricately woven in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of my mother's womb.  Your eyes saw my substnace, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.
The Message also excites me:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count them—any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
Ohhhh!!!  How my cup runneth over!!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trucks, Fathers, Daughters and Granddaughters

Today at 12:53 p.m., my newest granddaughter, Caroline Lawson Kelly came into the world a few weeks early, weighing in at 7. 1lbs. and measuring 19.5"!  It has been a full day of joy for us, and I have some thoughts to share about this day, but no photos to post yet, and a tired brain.  So instead, here is a post i started a few days ago....more about Caroline when i gather myself together!

The day has finally come!  My dear husband was so excited to finally be able to return to work.  The girls reverted back to their quiet mode after school (because he is asleep in the afternoon), and I reverted back to my scheduled dinners at precisely 5:45p.m.!  All went well, and I kissed him goodbye and watched him back his truck out the driveway...PAUSE button...

Since the girls' acquisition of drivers licenses, Keith has surrendered first rights to HIS truck.  His logic is that the truck is solid steel; and in a wreck, the girls would fare much better surrounded by such protection.  Of course, the girls would much rather drive the truck than the minivan...thus they drive the truck whenever possible.  Since Keith's surgery, they have become quite accustomed to having the truck at their leisure!  So when this week arrived, they were not quite prepared to relinquish "ownership."

PLAY button...There is my macho husband, in his macho Chevy, 4-wheel drive truck, backing out of the driveway to go do his man's work...he brakes, motioning me out to the truck, and hands me tea cups, female clothing, and girls deodorant; then he continues on--on the front of the truck is the "Power F" Franklin high school plate; over the rear view mirror are several strands of glittering colored beads and a school parking decal; the back window displays  "Power F" and IGBOK stickers, and on the bumper is a decal with a flower that reads "Think Happy Stuff"!

And only one thought fills my mind:  "The power of the father...!" 

If you knew my husband, you would smile at how befitting this thought is, all things considered, which just adds to the list of why my cup runneth over...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday...the Door to Resurrection Sunday

In reading all four accounts of the events leading up to Jesus' arrest and crucifixion, we can get a pretty good visual, especially of the last 24 hours before Jesus's arrest--each of the gospels adding their own personal insights.

I am amazed at how much happened in those 24 hours...from the last supper to the washing of the disciples' feet and Judas's betrayal, from His last teaching to His final prayer and ultimately His arrest, trial and crucifixion.

What stood out in my mind was how the rest of the world was so unaware of the events leading to Jesus's arrest. 

While the people slept, Jesus offered the disciples the privilege of the first communion. 
While the people slept, Jesus presented the greatest example of servitude as He washed the disciples feet, teaching them the greatest lesson of all. 
While the people slept, they would remain ignorant of the money that exchanged hands for the ultimate betrayal. 
While the people slept, Jesus prayed in such agony that his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

In the silence of the night, all these things took place so that the scriptures might be fulfilled...so that Jesus could complete the work He had come to the earth to do...so that the separation would end and we could once again have a relationship with the Father...so that your sins and my sins would be covered by His blood--the blood He shed in perfect obedience, even against His own will, because His love was greater.

As we anticipate His resurrection, it is in the knowledge of what has already taken place.  His disciples had no clue in that last teaching that they would be witnesses the reality of the resurrected Christ.  When Christ overcame death, they got it--they really got it and they were forever changed.

Just like the disciples, I am also changed by the reality.  I don't deserve it, and i'll never ever be able to wrap my brain around such extravagant love for me.  But I will forever be grateful that He loved ME that much; and, in return, my one desire is to spend my life changing to reflect more and more into the likeness of Him.

That's what makes this Good Friday and that's why my cup runneth over...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thirty-Two Years Ago Today...(April 15)

Thirty-two years ago, I was struggling to get through college, trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life.  I was months away from my 20th birthday and miles away from Memphis, Tennessee.

I wasn't there to behold the perfection that would be born on this day nor did I have the privilege of nursing the tiny newborn body. There are no memories of her first step or her first words. I didn't get to rock her to sleep with soft lullaby songs, nor wake her up with smothering kisses. I wasn't there to dress her for her first day of school, and I have no idea what her favorite toy was. 

Though I missed those first seven years of Jessica's life, she is--for all practical purposes--my firstborn...and the love I feel for this precious child of mine overwhelms me each time I think of her.

A grown up in a little girl's body, she was always rambunctious and incredibly intuitive.  Her boldness and sassiness are still undeniable, and  her strong-willed personality helped her navigate through the tumultuous teenage waters and thrive during her college days.  Throughout those years her days were filled with cheerleading, basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, church, choir, ADPi sorority and teaching.  Whew!  And her life is well documented in pictures--she captured every phase of her life on camera!

She has always been so much more mature than her age; and even now, she has become a leader in her own right, still full of passion, still full of life. and i am blessed to have the privilege of being a part of the last 25 years that have created a lifetime of memories to treasure always.

Now, thirty-two years later, she is married raising her own daughter, about to experience the birth of a second daughter. How proud I am of the woman she has become!

Today, as we celebrate Jessica, we also, once again, celebrate God's providence in all things which allows my cup to runneth over!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A New Twist on Friendships

Don't know why it is that i keep finding things to write about concerming friendshps, but i'm just going to go with the flow here...so...

The week leading up to April Fool's Day, Hannah and her boyfriend, Tim, decided to stage a breakup as an April Fool joke.  The whole week, they slipped in their conversations with friends how they were fighting more than not, etc.  They pretended to be aggravated with one another. The day before April 1, they staged the breakup so that by the time they changed their relationship status on facebook to "single," the posts and telephone calls were already coming in. 

Now this is where the whole friendship thing comes in.  I never thought about how differently friendships are between males and females!  All Hannah's posts from her friends were full of sympathy and promises to be there for her and offers of chocolate and ice cream and lots of shoulders.  Tim, on the other hand, received one main comment:  "Oh, don't worry...you'll find somebody a thousand times better..." 

But it doesn't end there.  So, whenever they said their "April Fools" and changed their status back to "in a relationship with ..." the guys did not find the joke to be funny at all...in fact, they were downright upset about it...while only one of Hannah's girlfriends did not find any humor in the joke.  In fact, Hannah was pleasantly surprised in realizing how her friends would respond in the face of adversity and even posted on her facebook that she had the most wonderful friends in the world!  Tim, though, has let the joke slowly fade!

Maybe it's because I've nothing but girls, but I felt really badly for Tim at the thought that his friends would dismiss his year-long relationship with my daughter so carelessly!  If the poor guy thought there was any possibility of reconciliation, he surely wouldn't be able to turn to his friends for encouragement!  But this is supposedly how guys comfort one another!  How absurd!....Maybe that's why I never had any boys...maybe that's why i'll just be content in gaining sons through my daughters!

I guess I could spend much time analyzing guys and the anatomy of their friendships, but I think I'll just rest in the fact the my cup runneth over because I am female...and that I understand!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

More about Friendships

I've already said that I totally believe good friendships are the cornerstone of our lives and a blessing ordained by God Himself.  Nothing is more evident then when tragedy obliterates our once familiar life.

But what is not so evident is when our not-quite-adult children are able to live it out in fullness of the very One who ordained it.

I was at lunch with one of my friends last week when I received a text (i'm still getting use to this new technology in my life...) from Hannah saying she had just found out that Fred's mom had died. 

Fred attends school with Hannah, and the only way to describe this young man is as a big, loveable, cuddly teddy bear.  He has a heart of gold and smile that reaches into tomorrow.  Fred has often caught rides home with us since 9th grade, as his mom worked many hours to support them (She brought Fred to the U.S. from Brazil when he was a baby).

Anyway, back to the text...we exchange our shock and sadness, and I attempt to call Fred; but his mailbox is full. It isn't until I am on the way home that I give in to the overwhelming reality of his situation and, along with my tears, pour out my heart to God on Fred's behalf.  For all practical purposes, Fred is now an orphan. 

Once home, I figure I'll write on his facebook wall, so he'll at least know we're praying for him. 

I cannot begin to describe to you my utter amazement when I logged on and typed in Fred's name.  There, on his wall, are post after post of prayers and sympathies.  But what was most amazing to me was what these 15-, 16-, 17- and 18-year olds were saying.  Guys were posting "I love you bro" and classmates were were expressing God's love and encouraging him through the scripture and reminding him they would be there for him!  Talk about light in a dark place!

We hear so many negatives about our youth, and yet, here I am witnessing young men and women gathering around this young man and enveloping him with the love of Christ.  They are being the hands and feet, and they KNOW what that looks like, feels like and sounds like!  In the midst of tragedy, they understand hope and where that hope comes from.  I cannot begin to share what happened to my heart at that moment and the pride that welled up in me for these kids whom my daughter calls friends.  I bow in humility and gratefulness for each and every one of them and thank God that they are part of Hannah's life and she is a part of theirs. 

Romans 12:15 says to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.  These friends are living out that truth and giving life to that word.  Despite the broken hearts and overwhelming sadness of this circumstance, that, my friends, makes my heart dance and my cup to run over...

Monday, April 04, 2011

Reflections on My Friendships

I have been reading Beth Moore's "So Long Insecurities" (it's been sitting on the bookshelf for ONLY a year now)!  She got to talking about the people in our lives.  The more "stuff" I read and the more folks I talk with, the more I realize how blessed I am to have even one true friend. 

So when Beth Moore wrote, in prayer form, "there have been people who have shown me glimpses of You...not perfect people, but genuine people.  In particular, I thank you for...," I began my list.  It didn't take me long to realize just how blessed I am.  I totally believe that good friendships are the cornerstone of our lives and a blessing ordained by God Himself.

The first person I wrote down was my sister, Sylvia.  My mom used to say, "When we're gone and the rest of the world deserts you, you will still have each other...don't forget that!"  I never have.  Nineteen months my junior, Sylvia has experienced life with me for fifty years...and she still loves me!  We know more about each other than ought to be allowed...and we know what's allowed and what's not.  We still are best friends and I am eternally grateful that God saw fit to place her with me!

Immediately behind her is my husband, Keith.  He is also my Knight In Shining Armour, my lover, and my confidante.  I inherited two beautiful daughters by him and carried two more by him.  We've raised them together and have entered the season of grandparenthood together.  We are growing old together...enough said.

For 35 years, I have maintained friendships with two of my high school buddies, Debbie and Susie.  We grew up together...traveled different roads together...continue to find ways to be together.  They know my past--We are the stuff books are written about.

Then there's Mindy, Jennifer, Lisa, and Lynn.  Eighteen years ago, they came waltzing into my life--each friendship with its own personality--together we're rock solid.  We have grown up in the Lord together and have come to intimately experience all those characteristics that either bind people together or tear them apart.  We have a bond of three cords. They are the reason I cried for a solid year when I left them in Memphis to start a new life in Nashville.  I still take them everywhere I go.

As I contemplate so many other friendships I left behind, I can't help but smile to think of the influence that they all have had on my life.

And now that I call Nashville home, more specifically Franklin, I can honestly say that my list continues to grow as God faithfully opens new doors to friendships that mirror scriptural definitions...I so want to walk with open arms to embrace all that these friendships have to offer...and just maybe, I can be even more of a blessing in return so that my cup will continue to runneth over...!