Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Reflections on Reunions

A few weeks ago was yet another high school class reunion. It has been ten years since I’ve attended a reunion and I was very excited about it. Before the actual date, one of the organizers sent me a list of those who were confirmed to attend. As I scanned the list I smiled at many of the names, reliving some of our fun times.

The week after our class reunion we had an out of state family reunion on my mother’s side. I wasn’t able to attend due to a writer’s conference, but as I reflect on family times together, they too, cause me to smile at the memory of the good ole days with beloved aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Of course not all memories are pleasant. For instance there was the classmate my sophomore year who spread a false rumor about me, devastating me for weeks. Then there was the uncle who chided me for being in the dessert line – again. Not all of our gatherings create good memories, and understandably some reunions can leave you feeling inferior. It can be hard not to compare yourself to those who are the same age, whether it is an ex-classmate or a cousin, and hear how they have become the CEO of a large corporation or the principal of a school. Some get-togethers can cause you to feel as if you haven’t done anything significant with your life, which isn’t always a bad thing; it can spur you on to taking that leap of faith to change your course in life for the better.

But this recent class reunion was somehow pleasantly different from all the rest. Gone were the masks that we girls, especially, would wear as we would try to impress others with our outer appearance. Of course we all wanted to look our best, but quite frankly that was not what mattered the most. Over the years the masks have fallen off and in their place was a heartfelt love for one another. What seemed to matter most was that we were all still here, especially since eight boys from our class have passed on. And one of our girls almost didn’t make it; Mary, a veteran of the Iraq war. It was especially touching to see her as she walked into the room with a cane. It was obvious that Mary had been through hell and back, but most thankfully, in the process she found God. Of course He had always been there; she’d just never been so desperately in need of Him before.

And that was my prayer as I drove home in the dark that night following the reunion; that each one of my classmates would, if they haven’t yet, come to realize that Jesus died for them and that they needed to open the door of their heart and invite Him in. As I rounded the final curve of my drive home I suddenly came upon a brief, light fog in the valley where we live. It reminded me of the verse from James 4:14: “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes”. And it’s true; much like that patch of fog – we are here one minute and gone the next.

As another reunion closed, our goodbyes to one another were bittersweet, all of us probably wondering if we would ever see each other again. Yet for those of us in Christ we know that our earthly goodbyes are always temporary, for we have an eternal reunion to look forward to.

I couldn’t help but see a few similarities between the two: at our class reunion we sat on picnic tables with cement underfoot, in heaven we’ll be walking on streets of gold. And a few guys brought guitars and we had a “jam session”, but in heaven ear has not heard the melodious sounds of the majestic, heavenly choirs singing praises in chords that we can’t imagine. And then as we shared our physical ailments and how almost all of us were wearing bifocals now, I couldn’t help but ponder how in heaven our bodies will not decay or age. (And of course the women are hoping chocolate will be there in abundance – and we won’t have to worry about it going to our hips!)

Yes, there is much to look forward to at that Reunion to beat all reunions. I truly hope you’ll be there.

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again” (John 3:3 NIV).

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Passing of the Torch

(As of July of 2010 I have become the weekly inspirational columnist for 5 newspapers in central Ohio. The following article is my first column, giving homage to my dear friend and fellow writer, Faye Landrum. I hope to blog my columns a week or so after they are published. Enjoy!)

The Passing of the Torch

It is with both a heavy heart and a twinge of excitement that I write this first column. The usual author, Faye Landrum, has been a dear friend for almost 15 years. If you’ve been following her musings you know of her love for the Lord, and how she lives to serve Him. However, all things must pass, and Faye is now passing the writing torch on to me.

When I first met Faye at a monthly writer’s meeting she shared that she was approaching 70 years of age. I was immediately impressed because not only did she not look 70, but she did not act it. Most of us, as we age, become increasingly drawn to our comfort zone and are less excited about stepping out of our box. We hesitate to try new things and we don’t like to push ourselves; instead we look for the easy way out. But when Faye was faced with a challenge she would most often choose to embrace it, wanting to know the best and quickest way to deal with it so she could get on with life. And over the years, as I came to know, admire, and respect her, I witnessed almost every new decision being bathed in prayer.

Not only was Faye my dear friend, but she was also my mentor. The dictionary defines “mentor” as, 1) a wise and trusted counselor or teacher, and 2) an influential senior sponsor or supporter. Faye was both, and more. She was my spiritual mentor; I was her Timothy and she was my Paul (New Testament scriptures). And she was my writing mentor, too, regularly encouraging me to keep at my gift of writing; reminding me that there were a lot of hurting people in this world who needed to hear that God loves them and is there for them. Her dedication to the craft would remind me to only submit my best work, because “after all, we are writing for the Lord”.

Yes, I knew early on that I was sitting at the feet of a wise servant of the Lord. And seeking wisdom myself, I took advantage of every opportunity to learn from her. We traveled many states together, attending writer’s conferences and book signings. I regularly witnessed her humble demeanor in action, especially when strangers would tearfully share their grief over the recent loss of a loved one. Oftentimes Faye would freely give away copies of her “Moments of Comfort” book, or her “Final Mile” book, reminding the recipient to keep trusting the Lord and that He would get them through.
And if one of our many adventures should result in having to take a detour due to a wrong turn, she would usually laugh and remind me that, “getting lost by yourself is a nightmare; but getting lost with a friend is a journey!”

Now it is time for yet another journey, and sadly it is one that Faye and I must each travel alone. I am deeply honored to be filling her shoes in the “passing of the pen” as a columnist for the Post, although they are certainly big shoes to fill. I hope you don’t mind that I dedicated my first column to her; and yes, I promise to only submit my best work. After all, I am writing for the Lord.

Well done, good and faithful servant… the pleasure has been all mine.
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