Seen and Known

Two weeks ago our friends, the Metcalfes from Seattle, joined us in the freezing mid-west for a fun extended weekend together. We haven’t seen each other for almost one year! It was so good to be with them – because we have 10 years of history together. They have done life with us through some of the hardest seasons of our lives and they know how new things affect us as a result of that knowledge.

The best part though is that not only do we have history together, we have futures together too. We dream together of what could be, what we long to see unfold, what stirs our hearts and souls and what makes us mourn. We laugh together. We tease each other. Conversations flow easily and sometimes silence and presence are enough to fill the moment. It is so lovely to be in their presence and to enjoy one another! Speaking the past and dreaming the future fuels our friendship and warms up embers that maybe are less full of life because of distance and the lack of being able to live in the same zip code.

Here are some pictures of our fun times together.

After our visit, my heart was stirred up in regards to how passionate I feel about friendship and community. To me, community means that you are seen, known and loved and that you willingly place yourself there. It is an environment where people “get” you, but also a place where you are willing to hear what those people who get you have to say to you – the good and the less than good and the bad.

This means that they might say something to you that’s not so great to hear. There might be an observation made that is uncomfortable. But when you are in this kind of community there is an understanding (that has come through trials of fire sometimes!) that you will wrestle with what is brought out.

That’s hard stuff. There are not many people I want to have that kind of relationship with and there are even fewer I trust to do that with me!

This isn’t the kind of community you have with everyone. But it must be present with someone. Community like this helps us to keep our hearts soft I think. It sees through the tough exterior that hides what is down deep.

I don’t experience this kind of friendship with everyone, but I can’t imagine my life without experiencing this somewhere with someone. The grateful heart that this visit from our dear friends stirred up in me helped propel me to other areas of gratefulness too. I found myself thanking God for the people in my life (and zip code) who see things that another would miss.  I prayed that I would be the kind of person who sees things more clearly so I can love them well too.

May you be stirred toward gratefulness for someone you celebrate seeing and knowing and being seen and known by today.

Sharing Stories of Loss

This was a hard week. By Friday, I found myself crying off and on throughout the day. I finally asked myself, “Why am I so weepy this week?”. As I looked back over the last 7 days, over each one and all that it held, I realized all the hard and sad news that was shared. It was as if I hadn’t noticed things stacked up in a pile in the corner due to all the daily life happening around me.

Each day it seemed there were new people reaching out for prayer. Sorrow and heaviness for sickness and trials, loneliness, a lack of community. As each new story was unwrapped, my heart sank.

Saturday morning, as I got ready to visit dear friends whose son is at Children’s Hospital right now, I read Psalm 126.

“Restore our fortunes, LORD, as streams renew the desert.

Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.

They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.”

I love agricultural imagery because it is so tangible and easy for me to understand. The analogy was so beautiful to see. Many times I have planted in tears. There are times in life where we think our tears are for nothing. But I had a picture after reading this psalm of tears watering a seed. It grows up and it produces an abundance out of sorrow. Joy out of sadness.

These things my friends are bearing are so heavy. They are planting in tears. They are weeping as they prepare the soil for what they long to see grow. And they will wait. But as we share those stories together, what joy will be there when that harvest is collected.