Thursday, February 15, 2007

Same Life, Different Season

A package arrived by yesterday's post -- that's British-speak for "it came in the mail" -- containing a happy surprise from my very first best friend, Jenny. She sent me a handmade, designed-just-for-me bracelet with exquisite pearls and silver beads that spell the names of my children. At the base of the clasp is a heart. At the other end is a tiny cross. It's such a beautiful thing! I put it on immediately, of course. I'll probably still be wearing it when Jack and Sophie graduate from high school/college, go off to Africa/India/wherever, get married, have children of their own... A mother's heart is never far from her little ones, no matter how big they become (so I've heard from v-e-r-y reliable sources). This bracelet is a sweet reminder to pray for my kids whenever I wear it.

I think it's especially sweet that the girlfriend who was such an important person in my teenage years is still such a thoughtful encourager to me now. I love that we are still connected at the heart although in our daily lives we went our separate ways a long time ago. We attended different universities and have never lived near one another since leaving our parents' homes. Her first child is 10 years older than mine. We probably only write to one another a few times a year. In some ways we've grown out of our teenage silliness (thank God), but in other ways we're still right on track with one another. Both of us have continued to grow in our faith. Both of us are mothers now. Both of our husbands travel, a lot. When we do get together or talk on the phone, we pick right up where we left off, no matter how long ago we were last in touch.

The thing is, I've been thinking of Jenny lately, even before the bracelet arrived. Whenever I move to a new place, part of my inner processing involves thinking about all my old friends, women I deeply miss now that things have changed and we’re no longer together like we used to be. God has generously given me kindred-spirit girlfriends in every place I’ve lived, each season along life’s way. Even when the seasons have changed and one of us has had to move on, these friendships remain to bless and encourage me.

So to each of my girlfriends -- whatever your age –- whatever season of life you may be in at the moment -– whether we met at school, at church, in your shop, in an office or in the neighborhood -- whether you now live in Afghanistan, Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Cyprus, England, Iran, Kazakstan, Kenya, Kuwait, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, the UAE or somewhere in the United States –- whether you were my roommate or my neighbor, my student or my mentor, my counselor or my colleague -– no matter how long it has been since we were last in touch, I still carry you close to my heart. Because of your influence I’m a better, stronger, sweeter person than I was before you came into my life. I love you and miss you, and I think of you more often than you know.

As for my current season of life, this was a fun week. Maheesa and Mrs. N showed up at nursery school on Monday with birthday gifts for Sophie, and on Wednesday Jack and I made pink shortbread heart cookies to give them with a note from 1 John 4:7a, 8b: "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God... God is love." We are trying to plan a time for all three of our families (men and children included!) to get together one weekend soon. This coming week is half-term break, so two friends from church, Nicola and Kat, are coming here on Tuesday morning with their children. We'll be five kids (ages 1-4), two pregnant women and me!

Right here, right now I feel amazingly, abundantly blessed.

* * * * * * *
When I fall, I will arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. (Micah 7:8 NKJV)

God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you"... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:5b, 8 NIV)

He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:2 NIV)

This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (1 John 5:14 NKJV)

Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NASB)

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