Sunday, August 21, 2011

What We Least Expect

I never imagined this. Never.

Who'd have really expected what would happen? Not me, but then, I wasn't really looking for the unusual.

When I turned 50 the reality of half my life having passed was a snapshot of one picture. Me with a plastic crown and a pink wand labeled, "Princess." (A nickname lovingly bestowed on me by a best friend from college - Thanks stuck.)

Today, marked another of those memorable days. I think, the one I expected least. Outside of the fact it was another birthday, the unexpected part was this outpouring of love and kindness. Literally hundreds of emails and facebook messages wishing ME...of all people...ME, a happy birthday.

I just didn't expect or deserve such a gift.

This past week, I came under fire. It's not the first time and I doubt it will be the last, but the attacks were personal and deep. I can say, without a doubt, my heart was broken.

Probably not much to the average Joe, but to me, a big deal. Now, I'm no saint, no Peter or Paul, but I make every effort to be a good and kind person. Though I've suffered and survived a divorce, I brought out of it two wonderful sons that have been my lifeblood for 31 years. Two years past the aftermath of divorce, God provided someone who has taught me what it means to be loved and cherished--something I'm grateful for everyday I open my eyes.

Our blended family gave us 4 sons. I've never called my stepsons, stepsons...they've always been "My BOYS." And likewise, have my sons been Tim's. We've struggled through near financial disaster from medical bills, learned to manage the special education maze, managed to raise a son with a disability to be a wonderfully loved and respected citizen, cried through a prodigal and rejoiced when he came home. We've lost parents, fought through cancer scares, dug through blood clots that nearly took Tim and still we've been continually lifted from the mire of despair virtually unscathed.

This week has been a test. A hard test. My ministry partner said, "Satan knows where you are vulnerable...your heart." And he is right. I've not slept well this week, had a few moments of tears, a few times I wanted to throw up. But here's what I've learned.

1) When we're attacked it always looks bigger than it really is. That's part of the lie Satan tells.

2) God is a God of foolproof promises and His comfort is available at the sound of a whisper.

3) When we feel as though we are alone in the battle, God surrounds us with people who stand shoulder to shoulder forming a wall of protection.

4) And finally, that all of these people show you just how much they love you.

Today is my birthday. I really don't think much of them (except that I expect my children to at least call)...but otherwise, I'm as happy to pass it by and remain unnoticed. Through this week of trial, literally hundreds of people have emailed me, commented a birthday wish on Facebook or tweeted a wish. My sweet friend, Kevin wrote a devotion in my honor and though I nearly didn't post it, the staff of Christian Devotions over rode my vote. And tonight, during choir practice, the entire choir harmonized the happy birthday chorus to me. My son called from Florida, my cousins took me out to eat lunch and my mom, husband and another son, joined the party. My brother and sister-in-law called too not to mention an email from a man I'd never met who spent two full paragraphs telling me what the ministry of Christian Devotions and He Said, She Said had meant to his life. My friends Edie and Mary called me from South Carolina (Sorry girls I was in church when you called), and my buddy Marianne sent me this HUGE box of treats (You always know how to treat a friend) and finally, Tim took me out for a chocolate extreme Blizzard. What more could you ask for?

Frankly, the attention made me feel small, undeserving and a little embarrassed. Then I thought of a song by Greater Vision called Faces where a person stands before Christ and reviews his life feeling as though he'd done nothing special or unique.

See I'd done my best to share
That Jesus really cares
And he would save if they just believe
Oh, but seldom did harvest come
And so few did I see won
Until the Lord said, "turn around and see."

Then he showed me the faces of the ones who'd come because of me
So many faces that my life had led to Calvary
All those years I thought nobody saw as I labored in lowly places
That's when Jesus smiled and showed me all the faces.

This is not to say, I'm one who saves thousands. But it is to say, none of us know...I mean REALLY know the people we touch on a daily basis. We never know the moments that a touch on the shoulder, a smile, a call...really makes a difference. We tend to miss those things.We rarely see the instant that something we do, changes a life, offers hope or stands in our behalf.

Throughout this week of tests and trials, I felt broken and lost until today. I'd probably never mention the deepest part of the hurt to anyone, instead, I'd just swallow it, pray over it and keep it buried. Until today.

I've never had such an outpouring of genuine love in my life and I am so grateful that through it all my amazing Father in heaven loved me enough to show me the FACES of those who care for me.

Thank you doesn't seem to be enough. But I can tell you this. My tears are no longer tears of broken sadness, but tears of joy. So, NO, I didn't expect this gift of love today. Wasn't looking for it coming...but I'm grateful. I hope you'll zip back to the top of this page and listen to the song FACES by Greater Vision. Then when it's done know that you are standing before God and He tells you TO TURN AROUND AND SEE MY FACE. Thank you for touching my life. Thank you for taking the time to make a difference. May God heap blessings over you.

A very humbled friend,