I have a couple really fun and exciting weeks coming up. Weeks I should be preparing for rather than writing...but I'm so excited that I had to share.
Our first big event is having two very special house guests. My sister in law and my nephew will be staying at our place for a whole week and then going to "family camp" with us for another week.
My husband met his sister for the first time in about 24 years (as well his 9 year old nephew) last month. I have yet to have the honors of loving on them in person. Three more days and all the verbal, emotional and spiritual hugs we've given each other over the past 18 months will materialize into an actual physical embrace.
It amazes me how some friendships, the deepest kind of friendships, can be forged without ever being in the same room. I have seen this in blog sphere where women connect and openly share life together. Through tears, support, long phone conversations, mutual grief and genuine honesty develops lifelong friendships...with people they don't meet in person until much later. I wouldn't have believed it possible until this year. On the contrary I've learned that you can hang out with someone for years and never really know who they are.
The best kind of friends are those you can share openly and honestly your fears, hurts, dreams and hopes...and they get it. With these friends there is no shallowness or phoniness...that has all been burned away. There is no insecurity or striving to be something we're not. No obligations or guilt trips. The kind of friends who keep each other accountable, build each other up (even if that means challenging in love), move each other closer to God, and are willing to get past the masks we wear to get to the heart of any given situation. I have a few of these 'kindred spirit' type friendships. They are always a blessing and a gift from God. They are the comfortable friendships that you can talk about anything from sock shopping to deep dark shame and still come away feeling like you're understood...and with a sore belly from laughing so hard.
I thank God for bringing those kinds of people into my life. I pray I can also be that kind of a friend to others. The one who asks "How are you?" and actually wants to know the answer.
I am SO excited to finally meet, physically, my dear friend and my nephew for the first time. To say they have been estranged from the family during the past 2 and a half decades would be a polite understatement. I won't describe the mess behind the childhood and adult years of total separation.....because God is bigger than all of that.
He has brought 3 siblings back together...as well as three sister in laws and 7 cousins. My sister in law now has family, blood family, for the first time in decades. Family that will not abandon or give up on each other.
This visit is a testament to God's restorative power and His Spirit working in each of our hearts individually ....painfully scraping away years of fear, bitterness, ignorance, hurt, confusion and lies. He has replaced it with forgiveness, grace, truth and love. It has been a long, difficult, painful, wonderful year and a half since the Lord unexpectedly crossed our paths and decided to reclaim what was lost. To regrow what the locusts had eaten.
I have never in my life witnessed a life so beautifully restored from years of physical, emotional and spiritual destruction. I have never seen such gut wrenchingly beautiful forgiveness and grace in the midst open hostility and incredible heartache. I have also never, in my own life, experienced such deep turmoil. This has been a year of extremes.
I have witnessed God's hand in so many impossible yet incredibly tangible ways. Hers has been a journey of untold sorrow yet unmistakable healing. Through it all, God had a plan to redeem a lost lamb.
I am so grateful that we are able to be a part of that story. I can keep the drama silent but I will never keep silent God's goodness. That I will shout from the rooftops...or my soap box...or my computer.
We serve a mighty God. A God who puts the lonely in families, who cares about the orphans and widows. A God who is not willing that any should perish but loves each one. A God who brings justice and searches hearts. A God who cannot be fooled by masks or distracted by smoke.
Family camp will be 7 days of camping together at the same bible camp that I attended as a child. Our days will be filled with normal camping stuff.... swimming, campfires, sitting on the beach, sailing and eating too much junk food.
On top of all that we get to enjoy fellowship with other believers, some great music and worship time, special speakers, group sports activities, children's programs (Yay for someone keeping the kids entertained!) , and optional adult morning classes.
We went last year and it was a great balance of family time, adult time and alone time. It was refreshing both physically and spiritually.
We are so happy to have our sister and nephew join us this year.
It also happens to be the big "50th Anniversary" of the camp this summer so there should be a really good turn out and lots of extra special events.
I was looking through the blog set up for this anniversary week and found the list of morning classes.
I found one that sounds PERFECT. I can't wait. I hope that it isn't full before I get a chance to sign up.
It's a class about writing what God is doing and has done in your life....about writing truth.
" Knowing yourself, being known to others and hearing what God reveals in the process of writing is the focus of the workshops. The Christian life is about seeking truth. Writing is a natural way to record that search and can aid us in living an examined life. Together, we will explore ways to effectively take experiences and thoughts and put them in the form of the written word. Please bring a computer or paper and pen as well as any writing you would like to share with the group."
Wow. I'm so there. Me and my laptop will be the nerds in the front row :)
That is why I write this blog. To know myself, to be known, and more importantly to make known the one I serve with my whole life. It's my living testimony and my journal. It's my being real, genuine and vulnerable about my own journey of life and faith. It is me living an examined life rather than a hidden one. In the process I've discovered that I love to write...even if I don't know the first thing about how to do it properly.
Anything that helps me communicate in a clearer way will be great. Sounds like fun too! Between the upcoming visit and looking forward to camp I'm on cloud nine.....unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of packing and cleaning being done on that cloud. I'd better get back down to grimy bathroom reality.
The past year has been exhausting, terrible and beautiful but very soon...I'm going to bask in the simplicity of a genuine relationship built out of hard work and a lot of prayer.