I've been in California for five years (and some change). Sometimes my car swoops atop freeway exit ramps and I think of the people I knew when I arrived here and I think of the people I know here now and I just think, "Wow." I have met so many great people; people who have looked out for me, put a roof over my head, held me when I cried, fed me when I was only eating fish sticks on my own.
On Sundays I hang with a really special crowd. I love them.
I rise early-ish, smooch the cat, and drive to Panera. I order a bagel or an oatmeal, a coffee or a tea. I go to my favorite mini-booth, tuck my earbuds into place. I open a Word document. And I get to work.
I write prayers for my Bethel family, and then I go see them. We hug, and we hug some more. They kiss my cheeks, they give me cat litter coupons (truth), they pray for me.
And so, I pray for them, and with them. And we would love it if you would pray with us. You don't have to get up and drive anywhere (though you totes can, if you want!). You can do it right where you are. Just read below. Much love, from our family to yours. Be well, and be loved.
For another morning, to sit next to these beautiful people, to lean back and let out some sighs of release. To let in some breaths of quiet. To catch the mercies that are new this morning, with the nets of our achy, but still awesomely workable hearts. To think of our God, who holds us how we need to be held – tight, like a baby swaddled into safety; loose, with fingers interlaced so we know we’re not alone, but so we can bravely set out on our journey; or aloft, balancing in trust, waving in the wind, laughing as it whips strands of hair through our streams of vision.
For the roses. For the roses that insist on shoving themselves up through the concrete here in this otherwise unforgiving desert land. For the roses that bleed fuschia into tangerine at their edges, causing us to go “Oh my!” in some Southern accent we didn’t know we had within us. For the roses that are springing from us because someone, somewhere planted a seed in us – because whether we were small, or grown, someone thought, “I want him to know about the peace I have.” And they sang us “Jesus loves me,” or they brought us here, or they just held our hand. For the roses, and the seeds, we can’t say it enough: thanks.
May we bow our heads together for our friends whose plants are drooping. Whose leaves are crackling, threatening to fall stiff and aloof to the parched, neglected dirt below. Be with the couples watching other families meet their babies while they wait desperately for their own. Be with those who thought they had moved on from their grief, then WHAM! Pain rises with the dust in their apartment. Be with the people who just want a partner, a voice to fill the room and an ear to catch their own. May Jesus, and the friends around them, be Miracle Gro in their pots, so that some day they’ll walk into the kitchen and in spite of themselves, smile at the sight of a fresh bloom.
For all those amazing, awesome, wowie-zowie gifts we’re given. For coffee, for air conditioning, for moments that our kids clean up their toys like future Nobel Prize Winners. For pets, who may only bark and meow, but who totally speak our language. For a verse in the Bible about how God will be faithful to complete good works that were begun in us – um, WOW. For gooey cinnamon rolls, that are totally worth the stickiness. For music and meditation apps on our phones. For pool floaty rafts, so we don’t really have to commit to a full plunge into the water. And for love, that innate stirring in all of us that makes this all so worth it, and so great.
We can never say it enough, so we’ll say it as much as we can: thank you. Thank you for creating us, with our dimples and our introversion and our preference for rising early or staying up late. Thank you for giving us people who love us, who we can love in return. Thank you for food in our mouths, beds to rest our heads. Thank you for giving us hope, and grace. There is hurt here, but you give us a reset button. Every day, with endless refills, we can turn to you and say “Help. Fix it. Make me better.” And you do. We love you, and we thank you.