An Unexpected Blessing

Friendship bracelet

Friendship bracelet (Photo credit: petr cervinka)

That’s what she is. Driving home from teaching a class almost two years ago, I threw up a prayer, pulled into a parking lot, and met a person I’d never imagined. They say serendipity means an unexpected blessing. Yes, I think they’re right. This little person with so much personality, so much character, such longing for good things…..was dropped into my life by the generosity of God.

Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman, and I’ve often pondered that chapter after hearing speakers pontificate, seeming only to say that she was a sweet little thing who worked hard and was always watching out for her family. There’s so much more to it than that. She’s a wise and strong woman, who considers business dealings and buys and sells land. Basically, she knows how to ‘turn a dollar’. She’s a wise investor. She’s known in the community as a smart cookie. Her husband doesn’t worry about her because he knows she has a good head on her shoulders and he can say, ‘Many women have done well, dear, but YOU’RE the best.’ (paraphrased completely by moi). She’s not ‘full of herself’, but does her job without any fuss or bother, simply does it. She doesn’t boast of it or tell everyone how hard she worked; her work speaks for itself.

God talks a lot about honesty in relationships and daily life, but it’s awfully easy to ignore that or simply not address it. He also talks about not thinking too highly of ourselves, something we all continually struggle with. It is after all what brought about Adam’s sin—pride. God also talks about being a faithful friend. He gives us the supreme example of friendship by saying He ‘sticks closer than a brother’.

How often do we meet a person who strives to live these directives? How often do we actually meet that Proverbs 31 woman? That humble, gentle soul? That true and honest friend? Not very often, because in our world today they seldom exist.

And yet, God chose to bless me with a friend like this. How very good of Him. In Anne of Green Gables, the protagonist dreams of having what she calls a ‘bosom friend’, that close confidante who knows exactly what you’re thinking. When my sisters and I were little girls, we would sometimes find ourselves with a case of the giggles (especially in church, when one was not supposed to). And here I am, all grown up, with grown children of my own, and refraining from looking across the room at my friend because I know what we are thinking and that we shall very soon explode in laughter if we do not watch ourselves…..

A true friend will challenge you to step to a higher level and encourage you to achieve. A sister will often do that too. So, thank you, God, thanks for this sister, this unexpected blessing, this small yet strong, gentle yet firm, humble yet extremely accomplished person. This person who can fly a plane or manage a school budget with equal ease. This person who counsels with understanding, yet is ready to make hard decisions. Often our friendships are developed early in life, but God saved this serendipitous friendship for these years of my life.

CS Lewis asks rhetorically, ‘Is any pleasure on earth as good as a circle of friends around a roaring fire?’ I think not. So, tonight, as I sit by the tree and contemplate the new year and all it holds, I shall thank God for my unexpected blessing—-May we always encourage one another to good things and may we never stop laughing uncontrollably.

On Gratefulness and Never Giving Up

DSCN0926There’s a little girl who runs around the house chattering away….in English. There’s an expectant mother preparing a bassinet and tiny little clothing for a new baby girl. There’s a husband working hard every day to care for them in their little home. There is an auntie smiling as she wakes to a little visitor whispering in her ear, ‘Can I kiss you, Ana?’ and placing a kiss on her cheek. There is a grandfather who pretends to steal the little girl’s nose and who delights to hear her say, ‘Play with me, Dyedushka.’ There is a little church filled with wonderful people who welcome this little family. There is a lovely school and wonderful people who love the little girl and her mom. They love to listen to the little girl as she recites the pledge of allegiance…’Sofia, please tell me the pledge one more time?’ There are so many wonderful people who have prayed and blessed and cared for this family—–far beyond anything they ever expected.

We look at them, six months into their move to America. The little girl who met us at the airport chattering away in Russian stepped firmly and unhesitatingly into our lives. There has been no looking back. She told her parents she wanted to come to America and dance with   Ana and Carolina and she has done all of that — and more. She is still chattering away…only now, it’s in English.

And there is the grandmother, Baboushka. that’s me. I’m the one sitting here  crying with gratefulness as I end my year praising God  for all of this. We’ve come a long way from a couple of years ago when we sat on one side of the world praying, and they sat on the other side of the world grieving. And tomorrow, when we sit down to dinner and begin a new year together, we will thank God for all of this.

My heart is overflowing. What hope, what marvelous hope this speaks of! In our darkest days, we do not see the future. We cannot imagine what God will do. We cannot imagine that a little family will enter a country with a few suitcases, and six months later be settled in their own little place, around their own Christmas tree, eating at their own table, and looking forward to a new life…….. You see, you must never give up. You never know, do you, what God will do. We must not step ahead of Him. We must let Him accomplish His work.

It is good. Very good.