Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekly Word for July 27, 2007

Weekly Word - July 27, 2007

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7)

The past few weeks have been so full - of music and laughter - joy as well as sadness. They were times when we got to meet up with old friends, and even meet some new ones. It was also a time of great sorrow, as we had to say good-bye to a very dear friend. As I look back now, I guess the overwhelming feeling is that of gratitude - for the gifts of friendship and love - each has brought to my life . . .

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; . . .

I first “met” her about 7 years ago. She was the first person to write back to me, answering all my questions about my favorite singer. As we wrote back and forth, she even told me she would pick up one of the tour shirts that I had so badly wanted, and couldn’t get when we went to our very first concert. “Who is this person?” Ted asked, as I told him all about my new friend Tammy. “Why would she do this for you?” he continued. “I don’t’ know” was all I could say.

That’s how it started. It was that simple! We shared a love of music, and we especially loved one singer - Trisha Yearwood. At first, we would write to each other every now and then. She would send me those cute “forwards”, and I would write back to her. Over time, we started to share little bits and pieces of our personal life - but the common thread was always the music. That is, until we started to talk to each other by phone. At first, we called to tell each other about the concert we had just gone to - or the new cd we just picked up. But as we talked, we shared more and more - of “who” we were. Little by little, we became friends.

Love is patient , love is kind, and is not jealous; . . .
(Love) bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things . . .

(1 Corinthians 13: 4 & 7)

I don’t know when or how it happened, but at some point she became that voice I needed to hear - when times were tough. She was the one I called, when I had good news - or bad. When she called me, it was easy to put down everything - and talk for hours. Somehow, even though we lived almost 1,000 miles apart, she had become one of my very best friends. We talked about anything, and everything. We listened to each other, and were there for the other - no matter what.

So when she told me she would be traveling out east, to where I lived - I was so excited. As the snows started to melt, and warmer weather approached, I couldn’t wait for summer - for the day we would finally get to meet . . .

(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things . . .

As the time for our meeting got closer, I have to admit that I started to be a little afraid. What if she didn’t like me - when she finally met me? What if there was nothing for us to talk about? As I talked to her on the phone one day, her voice seemed to say the very same thing. She was nervous too, and I could hear it. What if our friendship ended - the day we finally met . . .

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father . . . (James 1: 17)

I still remember the very first day that I met Paul. We were moving in to the apartment that we live in now. As we brought box after box in to the new apartment, they were sitting outside watching us - the neighbors across the street. Finally, as I stood in the road to get one more box, he came over and said “hello”. He was a short man, stocky in build - with a smile that lit up his face. He seemed to have a little trouble walking about, and so he slowly made his way over to the truck. I don’t remember everything that he said to us - it was such a busy day! But I do remember that he asked us to come over later on that evening. It was a birthday party for his wife, and he wanted us to come and join them.

I remember thinking that I didn’t even know them, but for some reason - we went over anyways. I remember how welcome I felt, the moment we got there. It was just a short walk across the street, but he welcomed us to his home and the party. As he talked, he made us feel so welcome, and like we were close friends - even though we had just met. That was Paul, a friend from the moment we met!

And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and I have the faith, so as to move mountains - but do not have love - I am nothing.
(I Corinthians 13:13)

It didn’t take long, before Ted and I became good friends with Paul and Margie. We went to picnics and birthdays, spent time just sitting talking with them. But it was during the day, when Paul would be home from dialysis, that I would go over and visit with him and Margie. We would have coffee at their kitchen table, and just talk. We would talk about our children and grandchildren. We would talk about current events. And then we would talk about Paul’s physical problems, as well as the Lord. Paul seemed to have a faith that transcended the fact that his body was slowly wearing down. He talked about the Lord, and the fact that he knew that God was in his life. He seemed to love life, and thank God for the gifts of his wife and family - every day. During this time, I knew that Paul suffered from pain - every day! And yet I never saw him frowning or complaining.

I still remember visiting Paul in the hospital, just a few months ago. He had lost his sight. And the doctors put him in the hospital to do testing and administer medications. As I walked into the room, Paul joked about the food and where he was. He was like that, always finding something good - in the middle of what seemed so awful. As I got ready to leave that day, Margie asked if I would pray with them. And I said sure. I wasn’t sure what to say, but I asked God to be with Paul through whatever lay ahead. As I left, I had no clue that this would be one of the last times I saw him.

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.”
“For love is as strong as death . . . It’s flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord.”
“Many waters cannot quench love, Nor will rivers overflow it.”
(Song of Solomon 8:6 & 7)

When Margie called to say that Paul was in critical care, asking that Ted and I pray for him - we prayed - and we worried. Paul battled for a month, before he finally left this earth. His body was worn out. But even as he got ready to leave this earth, his strong will was still there. Each day, he would squeeze Margie’s hand - telling her how much he loved her. He made sure to tell each of his children that he loved them, and then he asked them to take care of their mother.

At the funeral, there were so many people there - who’s lives were touched by this gentle man. He had been sick for so long, and yet he still did God’s work here on earth. He brought Heaven down here - as we all found ourselves praying, and loving this man.

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, . . .

The week that I finally met my friend Tammy, was also the week that we said good-bye to Paul. It was a week filled with memories - of friendships that have touched my life.

As I finally got the chance to hug Tammy, I knew that our friendship was a true gift. Our nervousness seemed to slowly disappear as we sat and talked over ice cream. It was as if we were lifelong friends, as we laughed and talked that day. That evening, we went to the Trisha Yearwood concert. The music played, and we both sang along with each song. It was a time of laughter, and joy. As the concert ended, we walked out together to the cars. As I hugged my good friend one more time, I knew that we would continue to be friends - for a long, long time . . .

Love . . . Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; (it) bears all things, believes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 6 & 7)

Love never fails; . . . The past few weeks have been filled with the knowledge that God has given us some wonderful friends. Both Tammy and Paul have touched my life, in ways that will last a lifetime.

Yesterday, I went to see a friend who I have known since she was a very little girl. She is now a young woman, ready to give birth to her own little one. She had flown home to visit her parents and sisters. I was going to see her, and bring a gift for the new baby. It had been many years since I had seen “Leelee” and her sisters. As I drove to their house, I couldn’t help but remember back to the little one I had babysat for - so many years ago. She was only 5 years old, when she came into my life. I watched her every morning, before she went off to kindergarten. She was so tiny, and such a little chatterbox. She would come into the house each day, telling me stories - as I got her breakfast. It didn’t take long, before she had wormed her way - into my heart.

As the years went by, that little girl grew - and seemed to have difficulty with living life. Her home life seemed to be full of conflict and violence, and I watched as this little one drifted away. There were times when she ran away from home. I worried - as she grew into a teen-ager, and got in trouble with boys and alcohol. And yet, I couldn’t help but love her.

So as I drove to see her, I wondered about the young woman she had become. As I parked the car, her two sisters came running out of the house. Each one grabbed me, and hugged me. And then, she was there. Her eyes seemed to light up as I looked at her, and she hung on as I hugged her. I rubbed her bulging stomach, feeling the new life kicking below my hands. Her husband stood in the background, and I liked him right away. As I handed her my gift, she smiled and opened up the card. Then she reached in, and pulled out the blanket I had made for her baby. “I still have it” she said, as she looked over at me. I looked at her and just waited. “I still have my blanket you made for me, all those years ago!” I couldn’t believe it, when she said it. I guess I had hoped that the blanket I had made for her when she was a little girl, would give her something to hold on to through the tough times. Looking back, I guess I had hoped the love I felt for this little one - would make a difference as she grew . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these - is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

Throughout our lives, there are people who come and go - who seem to change our lives. These are the friendships, that seem to be gifts from God. Paul, Tammy, and “Leelee” were such gifts in my life. They touched my heart - and hopefully my life touched theirs as well.

Every single day, we have choices before us. They are choices to care, to love, or to feel. When we say “yes” to loving and caring, our lives - and the lives of those we love - are changed forever.

“What will you choose?” It is my hope and prayer that you will choose to care, to feel, and to Love. When you do, your life, as well as all our lives - change forever . . .

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29:11)

God bless you and keep you - until we meet back here again!

In His Perfect Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers