Writing holds the power to be understood and to understand. Together, my son and I discovered the healing power of writing as we worked our way through a season of struggle and misunderstanding. The rest of our story is over on Claire DeBoer’s blog, The Gift of Writing
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.
Do you remember the line in the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, when Meg Ryan is trying to figure out what NY150 means? She leans in toward Tom Hanks and laughingly declares “150 insights into my soul!”
Except the insights into my soul came through assignments I completed in a recent online journaling class. As the picture above reveals, I have journaled for years. Inside those journals are the ups and downs of my every day life, the things God has taught me in the midst of those times, and the hard questions I could only admit in writing.
But in all my years of expressing myself in journals, I have never before touched such deep, sensitive places in my heart. Sometimes I laughed as I wrote, yet other times tears dripped onto the pages and smeared the words I had written. I look back on these past few weeks with a sense of contentment.
For I wrote from my soul…from the depths of my being. My heart poured out on the pages and expressed my deep longings, my joys, my wounds, my healing, and ultimately my freedom. It was as if chains dropped off while I wrote and life took on a sweet freshness. Unresolved situations were settled, and my soul found peace. A picture emerged of my core values, my strengths and my purpose. They were things I already knew, yet suddenly they seemed alive in a whole new way.
I especially want to thank Claire DeBoer, for creating and offering the online course “Journaling For Creative Growth”. It has helped me tremendously!
After four wonderful weeks of insightful journaling, I can honestly say, “It is well with my soul.”
From the time my mom became a grandma, and for many years following, she made each grandchild a handmade Christmas ornament with their name on it. As our children became adults and established their own homes, the ornaments stayed with us, and each year we hung them on our Christmas tree. My mom has been gone for six years, and whenever I pull them out of the box at Christmas time, I find myself very thankful for the priceless memories she crafted.
This year, our grandchildren helped us decorate our tree. As the first ornament appeared, their parents began to explain how these were special because their grandma had made the ornaments for them. Once the grandchildren understood, they clamored, “Was this made for my daddy?” “Was this one Sissy’s?” I then, looked for Mom’s handwriting on each one, and announced which of their parents was the proud owner, and the year Mom had made it.
After the grandchildren left, I discovered the ornaments were all bunched together, so I distributed them throughout the tree. I gazed at these precious gifts as I cradled each one in my hands. The time and care Mom lavished on each one resonated with a sense of her deep love for each of us.
After each ornament was nestled in their special place, I stood back and observed my handiwork. A transformation had occurred throughout the tree. Barren branches had become beautiful.
My mom’s love could be seen…hanging on branches!
This picture speaks
Of a belief
Two men…generations apart
The older embracing the younger
Pointing the way
“Under his wings you, young man, will find refuge.”
A loving spiritual father
Encouraging, restoring, inspiring
a spiritual son
Growing into the man God intended
Fulfilling the call of God
Stretching his wings
Learning to soar.
In the future
His own arm will embrace
Point him to the future
And pass down
The lessons learned
Continuing the call
of spiritual fatherhood.
The night before our daughter, Stephanie’s wedding, we gathered to have some family time. We have done this before each of our children’s weddings and it always ends up being so much fun! This night was no different!
As we sat and talked with Steph about her upcoming wedding and honeymoon, we somehow discovered a “secret” she had been keeping. It seems whenever she shopped in various stores, she would not give them her own phone number because she didn’t want to receive phone calls from their telemarketers. When we asked what number she had been giving over the years, she replied, “Dad and Mom’s home phone.”
Her brothers howled with laughter as her dad sputtered out a loud, “What?”
The laughter continued for so long, our sides hurt from it, and tears ran down my face.
Our evening was a wonderful time, tucked in between the rehearsal and the wedding. A time to reminisce and laugh together. A special time to verbally bless and affirm Steph before she stepped into the new day awaiting her!
Whenever we gather like this, I am overwhelmed by the gift of family! I never want to take them for granted. I want to savor every moment. Incredible moments…filled with joy and fun. Rich with love and care.
photo from USAToday
Our family LOVES football! Often we spend Sunday afternoons watching the NFL and checking our Fantasy Football League points. We poke fun at each other, give the Mile High Salute when the Denver Broncos score, and whine when one of our fantasy players performs poorly!
Recently we gathered to watch the Indianapolis Colts play the Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Broncos, was the focus of the media hype for this game. His opponent, the Indianapolis Colts, had been his former long-time team. Throughout the game, highlights of Manning’s greatest moments as the Colts’ prior quarterback, were shown. His excellence was indisputable! However, this night, his abilities were not enough to pull off a victory for the Broncos.
As the game ended, Peyton dropped his head and began his post-game trek to the locker room. Camera men swarmed him, but he continued to gaze at the turf as he pressed past them. Suddenly, rushing up to him, were workers from the Indianapolis Colts’ Club House. When Peyton heard their voices, his head snapped up, he stopped mid-stride, a genuine smile appeared and he embraced each one! While their admiration for him was unmistakable, there seemed to be something more being expressed between all of them. Peyton’s sluggish demeanor vanished and each man became the focus of his undivided attention. It was refreshing to see this popular, professional quarterback, set his feelings of defeat aside, and honor these unknown men.
One of the announcers, John Gruden, spoke highly of Peyton’s commitment to remain friends with these guys who worked in and around the Colts locker room. Gruden reported that Peyton still makes a weekly call to these workers, even though he now lives in Denver. Moved by the sincerity we had witnessed, we continued to replay Peyton’s encounter with these men – men who some might deem insignificant.
As we ended our evening together, I heard my grandson Jesse say,
“I’ve always liked Peyton Manning as a quarterback, but NOW, I respect him as a great man!”
Me too Jesse, me too!