There we were, all six of us. Sitting at a table together, partaking of lunch, and searching for things we had in common. Considering that of the six of us, we attend five different churches, and also the fact that we didn't all know one another, we understood from the getgo that we had differences. But the one who had brought us together had her commonalities with each of us, so surely the rest of us could find them with each other! Finding similarities though...? It takes commitment. It takes time. It takes listening and talking and opening of hearts and fears and hopes and dreams.

It takes the heart stuff.

It takes skipping past all the weather questions and the "how are you"s and the general small talk that some are so good at. Me? Not so much. Give me your hopes and prayer requests and the parts of your life that you struggle with. Because that's where I'm going to understand you. That's where the other five ladies and I understood one another today! We sat and looked at each other and decided we were just going to go for it.

The eyes, they looked at your face as you spoke.

The ears, they listened attentively.

The mouths, they spoke confidently sometimes and hesitantly others.

The hearts, they opened and love fell in.

And the commonalities? They rushed in like the wind. The heads were nodding, the smiles of understanding popped up, the hands reaching out to reassure and simply administer touch. (The feel of another person who cares can make a world of a difference, can't it? Whether it's a squeezing of the hand, hugging tightly, a hand on the shoulder, or even a hand around the shoulder. Touch heals.)

Just a simple lunch and yet oh so complicated. Because the heart stuff? It's hard, my friends. Sharing the struggle, searching for words to describe all the feels, it requires vulnerability and giving up of self. And self does not like to be given up, let me tell you! But you look into the eyes of another person and you see the love there, you see the gentleness and the sweetness of persuasion, of someone who truly wants to know, and the fears can slip away like water.

Relationships were meant for this! Relationships were meant to go deeper into the heart and soul of a person and draw out the fear, doubt, pain, all the hard, and replace it with understanding and hope! Because hope makes such a difference. And we all need reminded of this. We forget, we make the struggle and loneliness comes, and our hearts build walls. Tall ones. Big ones. Thick ones.

But love?  And hope? And people who understand? And who seek to know and help and pray? Walls come tumbling down by those things.

And hearts are knit together, eyes are lifted up, and God is smiling.



Jesus sees

It's so interesting how God works sometimes, isn't it? After pondering for a few weeks, I finally wrote about goodbye's last Friday and then.

Oh my heart, and then...

Another goodbye is happening right now. I woke up yesterday morning none the wiser, having just read a couple sweet stories the night before, all ready to go through my day happy, only to hear the news of a dear friend's passing. And how my heart was a mess the rest of the day!

Long goodbye's are hard, that's very true. But so are short ones. And when they're completely unexpected? When your heart has no preparation? It hurts, friends. I distracted myself with work, with review writing on my book blog, with any number of things that allowed me not to dwell on it. (Because if I'd dwelt on it all day, I'd never have been functional.) But once I was finally driving home, my heart wouldn't be denied anymore. And the tears....oh the tears.

Goodbye's stink!

There, I said it. And it's true. But what I cry most about is for her family. Her children and her husband who have a huge crater of a hole in their lives now. It'll get easier. I hope. But it'll never go away. Because mom's are special people. I was blessed with an amazing mother and even having time to prepare to say goodbye to her is not fun. If I had no preparation time? Ouch, ouch, ouch.

And yet...

I discovered a song last week. It's Jesus Sees by Meredith Andrews and truly this discovery could not have happened at a more perfect moment. I had another dear friend struggling with health problems and heart-fears last week and this song was perfect for her. I had my own heart-fears over the weekend with some hard in my family life and this song was perfect for me. And then comes Tuesday. And oh this song has blessed me, my friends.

When you're shattered by grief, 
Can't find a reason to sing. 
On your hardest of days, 
When you're fighting for faith, 
You are not alone here. 
You are not alone here! 

How comforting that is, to know we are never alone. Jesus is always right there, ready with arms open. With a hug that draws you inside until you're so enveloped in his warmth and you can hear his heartbeat in your ear. Isn't that a beautiful thought?

Though you question, though you doubt, 
He is running to you now 
With perfect love and perfect peace. 
He is everything you need. 
You are not forgotten, 
No, you are not forgotten!

How often do we feel forgotten? Especially in the midst of hard? Yet He never, ever has! He knows our smallest and deepest heartbreak. Even the tiniest tear in the dark of night is known and understood. He knows, my friends.

He is near to the brokenhearted. 
Closer still than the air you breathe. 
Every tear falling in the darkness, 
He is faithful in every season, 
You are never beyond His reach. 
Every hurt that you thought was hidden 
He meets you in your pain, 
He calls you by your name, 
He sees, He understands, He holds you in his hands. 

We'll make it. God's right there. Always beside us, reminding us that this is a goodbye for now, not a goodbye forever. Someday we'll see her bright smile again! And yes, it doesn't make the hurt go away. But it makes it easy to bear. Because anticipation and hope make our hearts happier, don't they? And our Father is all about HOPE!

"Resting in the hope of eternal life, which the ever truthful God who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began." Titus 1:2 amp

{Shout out to another friend who posted some hopeful thoughts on this over here.}


The Long Goodbye

Goodbye's have been on my mind lately. I've had two close friends have to say goodbye recently, one to her mother and the other to her father. Losing a parent, I can't imagine what that must feel like. Well....I can imagine it! But I know that I can't truly understand. What I can understand is that it's hard. Goodbye's are always hard! Whether they come quickly or over a prolonged period of time.

In fact, I've thought about that very thing several times. Because of my mother's situation, what my family is really dealing with is a Long Goodbye. It's a watching of her slowly going downhill and feeling helpless to make it easier. It's living with the knowledge that she may be here for years and years and end up at the point where she may not know her own family and will definitely be physically unable to even care for herself (she's pretty much at that particular point already). It's a not fun thing, for the record.

But it's a necessary thing. (Why are those sorts usually of the not-fun variety?)

I can't say as I understand why God allowed my family to go through this. But I do trust that He has his reasons and they are good. They are good.

God's Plan is always, always, always for our good and His glory! And as I type those words, as they sink in my heart and mind, I smile. Because that is one of the amazing things about Him. How good He is! How his love is so gracious and kind, even when we struggle to see it. It doesn't always feel that way, does it? Watching a loved one suffer makes you want to do something. You want to fix it! That's a natural reaction, and when we can't fix it, oh how it hurts. We cry out to Jesus and want to know "WHY?!" Sometimes He tells us why, sometimes we have to wait and then He'll tell us or show us, and sometimes we simply may never know.

But someone does.

Have you ever thought about that? Our lives impact everyone around us. Every single person we have any sort of contact with is affected by what we say and do, and how we respond to things. Most of the time we have no idea of this. I'm positive that I've affected several someones that I will never know about. Perhaps in good ways, perhaps not, but the effect is still there. Whether I know it, whether I don't, that doesn't matter. The action and response is already there and gone. And it's important! Every action I do, every word I say, it affects! God created us that way.

So why should my mother's Long Goodbye to this world be any different? It's not. Someone, somewhere, somehow, she's affecting them. She's affecting us! I can see the differences in our own family because of this. Some are good, some not so good, but the point is...we're affected. And if we are, then I'm sure there's other people. I've had multiple people tell me how much they admire her and how she's handled her limitations.

Which leads me back to my original point. Long goodbye's are hard, but necessary. And whatever reasons God has for them, as hard as they are, as much as you wish it wasn't happening, still God is good. He's got this. He'll be with us every step of the way, surrounding us with His love and His care. All we have to do?

Is trust.