Archives For Friends

Her One Last Tear

June 5, 2015 — 6 Comments

Yvette Yates

As her daughter’s realized she had probably taken her last breath, they bent near to listen more closely. Looking at their mother’s peaceful face, they noticed one tear resting on her cheek. Their mom was gone. Gone to be with “her Jesus.”

She always called Him, “My Jesus”.

My friend, Yvette, had a heart filled with love for Jesus, her husband, children, grandchildren, friends, family and church. She fell madly in love with Jesus, and her life was spent serving Him and His church. She was one of the most loyal women and one of the most faithful and diligent “pray-ers” I have ever met. Many people arriving at our church were greeted by her sweet spirit and endearing smile. Her loving ways made everyone feel welcomed and loved.

For many years she dealt with heart problems, but it seemed she always bounced back from them. When she went into the hospital this time, I assumed, as did everyone else, she would once again come back from the health problems she was facing.

Not this time.

She fought hard to win over her failing health. She wanted to stay and spend more time with her girls and their families. To pray more for those she always carried in her heart. She fought the good fight of faith. She pressed on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. And she won! Not the way we had prayed and hoped she would win. Her love for Jesus won!

I don’t believe the tear her girls discovered on her cheek was a tear of sadness or sorrow.

I believe, as her physical life was not quite over and she drew closer to heaven, her spiritual eyes opened and she caught her first sight of Jesus as He truly is. I imagine this long-awaited glimpse of “her Jesus” caused her eyes to fill with tears and suddenly, as her sorrows were swallowed up in a moment of revelation,

one of those tears slipped onto her cheek.

And as she grasped His hand to walk into eternity, I can easily hear Him say,

“Yvette, we have to leave it here, because past this veil there are no more tears.”

 

Queen of Denmark

“We went to London to see the Queen!”

No, we didn’t!

We went to Denmark to see our friends and found ourselves in Copenhagen on their Queen’s 75th Birthday.

After deciding to attend the Queen’s Parade, our friend, Synnove, smoothly led us through the maze of trains, buses, bikes, and the masses walking toward the Queen’s Palace. Squeezing through the crowd we positioned ourselves close to the street where her horse-drawn carriage would pass.

Standing among the Danish people, we were drawn to the excitement in their voices. Although we couldn’t understand their conversations, their animated voices and faces revealed their anticipation. Almost everyone held a small Danish flag in their hands, awaiting the moment they would wave them for their Queen. Fathers held their children on their shoulders, mothers rocked their babies in their carriages, while teens and young adults stood on tip-toe or raced to the steps of the Cathedral to position themselves for a glimpse of her. People sat on roofs and balconies along the parade route.

Suddenly, the air was filled with the sound of chiming bells. Simultaneously, the roaring cheers of the people began to roll up the street toward us, much like the wave at a U.S. football game. The scene was blanketed with small red and white Danish flags in continual motion. Cell phones took to the air in the hope of capturing a picture of the Queen. The look on people’s faces was one of absolute celebratory joy!

Being only 5-foot-two, my view was limited and I could not see the Queen as her carriage rolled by. Instead I opted for watching the people around me. Noticing their smiles, their cheering voices and the national pride they exhibited I realized, as an American, I had no frame of reference for this degree of love and admiration for a political figure.

In my lifetime I had seen no one in my country stay in a place of leadership from the time they were born until their death. My heart has only experienced loyalty for short seasons and I have known nothing of what was being demonstrated before me. I was completely fascinated with the spirit of these people who had taken the time to come at noon on a work day and demonstrate their honor for this dearly beloved woman.

As I witnessed the beauty of their love and loyalty, a new realization struck me… I actually could relate to this experience! Thoughts about the Kingdom of God and my King Jesus collided with what I was experiencing. These people were demonstrating the nature of the Kingdom of God.

They were thrilled to give her honor.

They set aside time to pay homage to her. (Some had been there for hours just to catch a glimpse of her.)

They lifted their voices in unison to reveal their love for her.

They waved their banners with unashamed abandon.

They stood as a united people honoring royalty together.

They shared stories/testimonies of their love for her. (We met one middle-aged Danish man who presently lives in Germany, but who told us he comes every year to honor the Queen on her birthday!)

Yes, we went to Denmark and saw the Queen, but the response of the Danish people to their Queen, caused our eyes to be drawn to the Kingdom of God and to our wonderful King Jesus, Whose Kingdom will never end! May we always give Him the Honor He is due!

 

 

 

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As the car came to a stop on the path beside the tiny casket holding our premature baby Luke, I briefly scanned the crowd of people waiting for our arrival. The moment I saw them, tears filled my eyes and my heart felt comforted knowing they came to be with us.

The comfort I felt in seeing them caused me to consider the formation of this deep and meaningful friendship.

In the early years of our marriage, my husband Don, and his best friend Mike, met every Monday morning to pray and plan activities, events and meetings for ministry to the college students in our town. Mike’s wife, Cherie and I were both new mothers in our group of college friends. We were some of the first to have children, and were in the minority of “daring to nurse” our babies instead of bottle feeding them. We desperately needed each other. Something we came to realize later.

While the guys met, we gathered up our new infants and spent the morning together, talking, laughing, nursing our babies and praying for the college students under our care. We never cared if our carpets had been vacuumed or our toilets cleaned. This set-aside time became a life line we both needed and enjoyed.

One of the first times we met, it seemed as if the entire morning flew by. Suddenly we realized our guys would soon be heading home for lunch to their respective homes. We hastily decided to make lunch together.

We scrambled into Cherie’s kitchen where we discovered an almost bare cupboard except for some canned Tomato Soup and the ingredients needed to make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I grabbed the sandwich fixings, she pulled out the can opener and we feverishly pulled the meal together.

Happily, we called our men, and told them a “light” lunch was ready for them. They arrived jovial and hungry, but still working on details and ideas for college ministries. We sat down together, prayed a blessing for the meal and enjoyed a lively conversation. After lunch, Cherie and I giggled, knowing the guys never suspected we simply threw it together!

None of us remember exactly when we began to make it our Monday tradition to eat Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches around our tables, but we do remember the fruit it bore. Our friendship grew and we found our lives intertwined like a grapevine wreath. We babysat for each other, borrowed recipe ingredients, helped clean each others’ homes, trekked into the forest to chop down our Christmas trees together, and brought meals over when one of us was sick or when we each had our second child. All these acts flowed from a place of vulnerability and authenticity with each other.

In today’s vernacular, we would say,

“We did life together”.

It expanded us to move beyond our private, independent living, while knitting our hearts and our every day lives to one another.

A few years later Don & I moved away and our relationship with Mike and Cherie became one of long distance phone calls and trips to visit each other. Our friendship hit some difficulty after we moved, but we worked our way through it and became even better friends.

On that cold March afternoon, as we arrived to lay our baby boy to rest, the sight of Mike and Cherie amongst the small crowd of friends and family, dispelled some of our grief and placed a blanket of peace over our hearts. Embracing them after the service, our tears mingled on each others cheeks. Love flowed between us, as together we sensed the comfort and familiarity of what our “grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup Mondays” had built between us.

 

Do you have friends like this in your life? I’d love to hear your stories.

 

 

 

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We met Synnove several years ago when she attended the Interchange Conference in our city; and we met Filip at “the House” in Copenhagen about two years ago, just as he and Synnove were going to start dating. Although they were not in a relationship yet, there was a strong sense they were destined for a future together. They were married a year ago, and this past summer we were extremely honored to have them come for a month-long visit!

While with us we shared special times of prayer and the opening of our hearts to each other. Their experiences here included the 4th of July, American baseball, the Henry Doorly Zoo, fellowship with families in our church, helping with Vacation Bible School, picnics, outdoor games and various other activities. They came to serve rather than be served, and in a very short time our church fell in love with them!

As we grew to know them, many aspects of their lives touched Don and me. One particular highlight was when I daily heard them worshiping and praying in their room. Each morning their voices, lifted in praise and prayer to God, drifted sweetly down the hallway and throughout the rooms of our home. Always I would sense the pleasure of God over their lives.

Synnove loves to sing! All through the day we would hear her voice raised in song. It was as if she lived to  continually sing praises to the Lord. It was refreshing! And before long, my husband and I found ourselves singing too. In fact, by the end of their stay, we all would talk-sing to one another. It was hilarious! Like an opera when the characters sing their conversations to one another. So. Much. Fun!

These friends from Denmark brought expansion and change into our lives through their deep commitment to Jesus, their servants hearts and their love for God’s Word. Their lives revealed their love for Jesus and His Church. Their last Sunday with us, they shared their hearts with the church and Filip gave a powerful word regarding Hope! To this day, people remember their message – not because of the words they spoke, but because of the life they lived among us.

Thank you, Filip and Synnove! Your lives are the fragrance of Christ, and it lingers here among us, long after you have gone!

 

 

 

Who Knew?

July 25, 2013 — 6 Comments

Filip & Synnove Norby with Don & me

 

I walked past the bedroom at the end of our hallway, and heard the young couple speaking in their own language – Danish. My heart leapt as I suddenly recalled the “word” we had received from a man of God, many years ago.

 

With great authority he declared over us, “People from many nations will dine with you around your table and stay in your home…” His message continued, but my mind fixed on this point. I paused to wonder how would God do this? How could we possibly find these international friends? Though my mind asked questions, peace filled my heart as two of my favorite words from scripture rose up.

 

But God…”

 

Back then, we knew few people from other nations…but God…through His amazing love and wisdom, wove our lives into an international family called (link here) Salt and Light.  And today, I can no longer count the number of international friends who have dined with us, and have stayed in our home. Together we pray, read the scriptures, worship, laugh, eat, sight-see, shop, and have deep conversations. Our lives are enriched and strengthened through their friendship. And in the end, we are greatly changed from time spent with these precious people!

 

Who knew we would meet and love so many friends from other parts of the world? No one….BUT GOD!

 

**Upcoming Post: Life Lessons We Learned From Filip & Synnove Norby

 

 

 

 

My Christmas Came Early

November 24, 2012 — 4 Comments

School was over and Thanksgiving break was upon us. I  was seated behind my desk, talking and laughing with my sister, Jeanne and my friend, Wendy. Earlier I had pulled a prank on Wendy, and we were laughing about it together. My laptop was open on my desk when I glanced down at the opening statement of a new email. The words jumped off the page and I loudly sucked all the air out of the room, and cried out, “You guys I think I won this amazing giveaway!”

I tried to read it aloud to them, but my mind was whirling and my eyes were jumping from one part of the email to another. Finally, my sister came behind me and read the email to me. YES! I was reading it correctly. I really had won an amazing Holiday Giveaway hosted by two of my favorite blogs!

The email asked for my personal information so they could send me the gifts, but in my excitement I could not call to mind my address or my phone number. Jeanne, once again stepped in and began to recite my home address and phone number as I typed them into my return note. Who would have thought winning a giveaway could be such a crazy adrenalin rush!

Pictured below are the incredible Holiday Giveaway prizes! Along with showing you all the prizes, I want to give a BIG SHOUT out to  The Inspired Room and the Reluctant Entertainer.  Click on the links and check out these great blogs on Hospitality! And….Thanks again Melissa and Sandy! You made my Christmas come early!!

I’ll post pictures of me and my lovely prizes once they all arrive!!

With tears streaming down both their cheeks, my husband and his friend embraced! I could hear Don’s muffled voice saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you, will you forgive me?” And with warmth in his voice, his friend responded, “It’s all forgiven and in the past.” Then, I too, was embraced by our friend’s wife, and we both cried as forgiveness flowed among us all. Other men and women came too, with similar statements of forgiveness and many with tears.

This amazing moment took place at the business meeting of a very honorable denomination of which we had once been a part. We had left the denomination some years ago, but we had done it wrong. We had not communicated well with them prior to our departure, and as a result we had hurt our friends. In the wake of our decision we had left our friends with hurt feelings, misunderstandings and confusion – all of which needed to be healed.

While in Europe a few years ago, God allowed us to hear an amazing message on honoring our spiritual heritage.  The speaker opened our understanding to the scriptures which state clearly to “give honor to whom honor is due.” He spoke of honoring those he knew, who had walked with God before him. Those who helped him come to the Lord, discipled him, and helped him through difficult times. He challenged us to do the same! To honor those who had helped to spiritually shape our lives.

As the message concluded, my husband leaned over and told me he knew he was to write letters to the officials of the denomination in which he had grown up. He felt he was to give them honor for their influence in his life and to ask their forgiveness for the hurt caused when we left. His heart was tender as he spoke and I too, sensed God directing our hearts in this matter.

True to his word, Don wrote the letters.  Our friends responded graciously and wrote or called him to thank him. Recently, some of those men invited us to the denomination’s business meeting to share publicly the letter Don had written earlier and to bring public reconciliation to the situation.

As he addressed the assembly Don said, “It is an undeserved honor to be here today.” Those words were never more true. We did not deserve the door of reconciliation God had so graciously opened! But, it was time! Time to repent to them face-to-face, time to embrace, time to cry and time to say the things we had held in our hearts for all those years. And so…..we did! Last week.

I cried as friends from years-gone-by embraced me and lovingly forgave me. I cried because a deep awareness of restored friendship was settling deeply inside me. It was as if I could literally feel the fragmented pieces of my heart smooth out and nestle back into the places they belonged. My heart felt whole again!

Don and I truly believe relationships matter to God. We teach it, we preach it and we try to live it. But that day……….. amidst the hugs and tears……….as forgiveness flowed………….as relationships were restored…………….

I know…………

I felt HIS pleasure………

and I was undone!