A Good Story

I love a good story.  I’ve always loved reading and I can remember getting really, really, excited about the next The Babysitters Club book (shout out to you 1990’s).  There’s something about a good story that just draws you in and makes you believe anything and everything is possible.  Good stories don’t all have great writing.  Sometimes the writing is only ok but people will find the story compelling (thus the success of the Twilight series).  But when you combine great writing and a good story you end up with something absolutely amazing.  The book series that immediately pops in my mind is the Song of Fire and Ice series, although lots of people are calling it the Game of Thrones series now since it has been made into a tv show.  Don’t get me wrong I love the show…but the books!  It’s great writing with a great story.  The characters are amazing!  And for me, ultimately that is the sign of a good story.  How interesting, engaging, and dynamic are the characters.  Jamie Lannister is one of those characters.  He seems so evil (his nickname is the Kingslayer…so…not the hero then), so twisted (he is a little too close to his twin sister…if ya catch my drift), and so selfish.  But the more you read the more you begin to see him as something else.  And over time he starts to change and transform.  I haven’t finished the series yet, mostly because neither has the author.  But good stories take time.  I’ll wait.

 

Mom and Me hanging out on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Mom and Me hanging out on the Mount of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

This picture has a pretty good story behind it.  I guess technically it has a lot of stories because it was taken while I was on a trip to Israel with my bible study group and other people from that church which is also where my parents attend.  So my parents were on this incredible trip with me.  And we learned a lot about a lot of stuff.  And I could tell you about all the jokes and laughs because there tons.  Clearly somebody had said something that made me laugh and giggle in this picture but I don’t remember what it was now.  I don’t even honestly remember taking the picture.  I was jet lagged and had been taken all over Israel where everything is uphill so my memory of picture moments is sketchy at best.  But this is still my favorite picture from our trip.  Not because of where we were or how adorable we look but because it’s me and my mom laughing and hugging.  ‘Cause that wouldn’t have been such a likely picture about a decade ago.  We fought A LOT when I was a teenager.  I was difficult and more than a little crazy and my mom had her own stuff to deal with (like we all do) and we just kept colliding.  I remember the time I told her in one particularly painful phone call that I didn’t believe in Jesus anymore.  She cried.  I was shocked she didn’t already know.  It took work, lots of patience, lots of talking, honesty, and unconditional love (my mom’s particular specialty) but now we are best friends.  I trust her 100% and I love her like crazy.  I didn’t know we would ever be able to be this close or that I would ever think of her as my friend. We share our faith as easily as we share everything else.  I count on her for guidance and support more than any other person on this planet and I am never let down.  Our relationship is such an unexpected gift.  And this picture captures it perfectly- love, fun, and faith.  That’s me and the Tougs (my mom’s awesome nickname).  I think we have a pretty good story.

I have these two great friends who are in youth ministry.  They got married a few years ago after finding each other later in life.  They both have other kids but they are older- in fact they just graduated their youngest daughters from high school.  And they also just found out they are expecting a baby!  We were celebrating this incredible news last weekend when my friend started to talk about his reaction to finding out he is going to be a new dad again at 51 (his wife has given me permission to say she is only 37 😉  Seriously they are one of the cutest couples on the planet).  I thought it was really beautiful.  He said “I lay down to go to sleep at night and all the sudden open my eyes, look at my wife, and am like…we’re pregnant!  It’s crazy!  Who gets to have such an amazing life?  To find her, to share in this amazing, fulfilled life, and to have a baby now?  Who gets something this crazy good?  Who gets a life this good?”

Who get a life this good?  The redeemed.  That’s who.  Those who know they have been bought at a price and brought into the family.  People who are living in the richness of God’s grace.  Life isn’t always perfect or easy (I would imagine a baby will add some new challenges) but it is always blessed.  Every redemption story is a good story.

 

I don’t know what your story is or what you want it to be.  I don’t know what kinds of tragedies, mistakes, and heartaches have been written on your heart.  But I do know it isn’t too late to celebrate a good story.  The redemption that was offered to me is offered to you too.  You don’t have to write another line.  Let the Author and Perfecter of our faith write your story.  God is the ORIGINAL writer and He writes some good stuff.  He writes stories of love, rescue, peace, joy, defying the odds, and so much more.  The Bible isn’t a collection of just random stuff.  It’s the collection of the redemption stories of our faith.  It shows and reminds us of the power of redemption.  Because in the redemption story what was cursed becomes blessed, what was damaged becomes whole, and what was broken becomes beautiful.

 

May you find grace in the redemption of your story.  May you see the ways God is already at work in your life just waiting to bring you back into the family.  And may you find joy in a good, good story.

 

I would love to hear your story of redemption if you would like to share it!  You can email me or post it in the comments.

Happy birthday, friend!

What's a birthday without cake?

What’s a birthday without cake?

Today was my good friend’s birthday and it was a ton of fun.  I did a birthday present treasure hunt for her with clues and presents hidden in her house and office that she had to find throughout the day.  I think I got more excited than she did each time my phone would buzz at me to tell me it was time for the next clue.  It has been so exciting planning, wrapping, hiding, and finally revealing gifts all day long…it’s like an extended Christmas!!!!

My birthday was a couple of months ago and it was AMAZING because of this friend.  She decided that she would give me a present every hour, on the hour, from 7am till midnight.  She got a couple of my other friends to go in on it with her and it was so much fun just waiting for the next present all day long.  The gifts were all different kinds of things- picture frames with Doctor Who quotes, a key chain, a coffee mug, a painted canvas with a CS Lewis quote, a Downton Abbey cookbook, a hat with my monogram…it was a lot of presents y’all so the list could take a while.  But the thing I loved so much about each present is that it showed how known I am to my friends.  They found just the perfect thing for me, whether it was big (like an Origami Owl locket)  or small (like a travel bop-it game).  It’s an incredible gift to know that someone sees, knows, and loves you and wants to celebrate you!  And ultimately that’s what my friends gave me on my birthday (and hopefully what I gave my friend too).  The comfort and joy that comes from knowing that you are loved and people are glad you were born.

“There are persons for companionship,
    but then there are friends who are more loyal than family.”  Provers 18: 24

I’ve been really blessed to have an amazing family and I daily give thanks for them, but I know there are lots of people who don’t have good families.  Their parents aren’t people they trust and their siblings let them down or become a burden to them.  I’ve seen families ripped apart over inheritances and petty arguments.  I’ve talked with kids whose parents abandoned or abused them or whose grandparents disowned them.  Family isn’t always a blessing.

I’ve also seen peoples lives torn apart by their friendships.  Unfortunately I have had some of those friends.  People who only wanted to be my friend so they could cheat off me in school (how did I not realize that at the time?!?) or hang out with me so I’d buy them stuff.  I’ve seen other people who will go to extraordinary lengths to be a good friend- give someone a place to stay or help them through an illness- only to find out later that that friend won’t do the same for them.  And there is always an abundance of people willing to be super negative and complain about everything that is just. so. hard. in their lives but they don ‘t have time to listen or help you with your pain.  Friendships aren’t always a blessing, either.

But I do believe that God created us to be in community with one another.  I believe that when we love one another the way Christ loves us, selflessly and  unconditionally, we bring out the best in each other and in ourselves.  I’m so grateful for my family and all of my friends who have become my family through faith.  Every birthday I am reminded of a time in my life when I was definitely ok with there never being any more birthdays.  I look back on those times now, those times when I was sure life was never going to get any better, and I am amazed at how God has blessed me in ways I never would have even thought to ask.  My life is not perfect (I mean…what the heck does that even mean for us imperfect people???)  but it is blessed and full.  Yes, there are still things I long for but my heart is full of joy and comfort because of the gift of a God and a people who love and know me.  It’s the joy and comfort of belonging in the family of God.  My prayer for you is that you will have a life full of people who know and love you but most of all that you would know that you are already known and loved by your Creator.  I pray that you find the joy and comfort of celebrating the gift of a life lived alongside a community of people who love you selflessly and unconditionally.

And I give thanks for my friends and family.  I’m super glad all of you were born.

What does friendship mean to you?  Has it changed as you’ve gotten older?