One thing that's been on my mind for the past twenty four hours is the news that Brenda has cancer. You can read about it here.
(Oy, everytime I read the postings I start to cry...)
'xcuse me sec. I gotta pull myself together.
An hour ago, she posted this update:
I woke up this morning with Psalm 16:6 on my heart, "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance."
I first met Carson when we were 18 years old. I was drawn by his passion for God, which seemed to match mine. My, we've had a good life together…which does not equal easy…but so fulfilling. He has made me feel so special, so accepted, and so loved. He's challenged me when that was needed and helped me to be the person I am today. There is so much I love about him. Watching him navigate my cancer diagnosis, arguably the greatest challenge we have yet faced together, has been nothing short of inspiring. True to form, he has been wise, real, and faith-filled. How blessed I am to be married to him.
My three grown sons, Jason, Jeremy, and Jonathan have blessed me beyond measure. I love who they've become by God's grace - men of faith, integrity, humility - who bring large doses of love, laughter, and grace wherever they go. And my three daughters, Kristin, Shari, and Kirstie - wow! They are so lovely, beyond what I asked God for and beyond what I could even imagine. Watching them all process the news of my cancer has been the greatest pain I have ever known. And my grandchildren…I can't quite find the words. We are deeply committed to journeying this road together and figuring out how to do it well with God's help.
Three prayers on my heart for today:
1. For my husband - more courage, faith, and wisdom as he leads me, our family, and others.
2. For my children - that God would draw them close, give them courage, and to find the wonders God has for us.
3. The kids gave us a family photo shoot for Christmas and we've decided to do it sooner than later - that it will be a great day for us all, including the weather.
So if you're the praying sort, please pray with us for her.
(This, by the way, is their last family photo shoot. Since then, another daughter-in-law married in, and the first Pue female in 60 years, (a grandDAUGHTER) was born.)
For those of you reading this who don't know me in real life, I'll give you some background:
My kids went to the Fundamental School, which, back in the day, was a fairly small school.
And during our time there (21 years in total, for all three boys) we met four other three-son families, all with boys born in 1987. One of those families was the Pue Fam; my Clint and their Jer are the same age, and my Max n their Jon are the same age.
In 2003 when we moved into Murrayville, we became neighbours. A few months later, we ended up at the same church with our boys in the same youth group. And in 2004, when I was hired at Arrow, we were on the same staff team. And Carson was my boss. So, yes, much overlapping of lives for many years. Carpooling, sleepovers, teenage-boy-shenanigans, parenting-crisis's, birthday parties, and weddings - we have some shared history...
Top three 'Brenda' moments that left a lasting impact...(so far. I'm praying we will have the opportunity to accumulate a few more in the coming years, this side of heaven...):
1. It was 1999 and the boys and I were getting used to their dad not living with us anymore. But other than our immediate family, we weren't talking about this to many people. Max was the first to trust his sad news with outsiders; two guys in his life. One was Jon Pue (and the other was Steven Cross, his lunchtime classroom monitor.) (Years later I've become close friends with Steven's mom.) (I love that you never know who God is going to bring into your life. Or the far-reaching impact that they'll have.) Anyway, both boys (Steven and Jon) were very respectful of the news Max shared and didn't tell anyone. (Not even their moms, as it turned out.) So one afternoon, months later, when Brenda was by to pick up Jon, she asked if everything was OK. She hadn't seen or heard anything, but (as a child of divorced parents, herself) she sensed that something had changed in our household.
I shared with her our situation and she immediately gave me words of understanding, encouragement and hope. She knew what my kids were going through, and she said all the right things. She shared words that I needed to hear.
And she seemed OK that I didn't have the presence of mind to invite her in past my front door. I just stood there while she talked. And didn't feel judged. Or pitied. Just loved.
2. It was a few years later, and we had An Incident. It involved Clint, Max, online instant messaging (which was a new phenomenon), inappropriate movie quotes, an innocent girl, her murderous father, the school principal, threats of police action and Brenda.
It was my first experience of taking a child around, from house to house, encouraging/enabling/forcing him to apologize for his actions. So very humbling as a parent. You have no idea. And Brenda? Was full of grace. And wisdom. And understanding. She had done the exact same thing with her oldest son, years before me, apparently. So she had experience with this sort of activity. And she rocked my world with her gentle words of encouragement. (To me; an exhausted, embarrassed, saddened mom.) And her words to my boy? "You are going to make a few more mistakes in life. But this is good practice.And you're learning to accept responsibility and say sorry. I'm proud of you. You are lucky because right now,while you're learning about life, you have a safety net in place. Your mom? Is going to be your guide through this. And your friends and their parents? Are on your side. We want the best for you. I know this is hard. But you're doing the right thing. And we love you. Thank you for coming by to apologize."
Whoa. I stood there and sobbed as she forgave him.
A very powerful moment.
3. And a few years after that, she turned 50. She was the first friend to do so.
I was invited to her party and I was unprepared for how intimate it was. One of her close friends had organized it - and it was for women only. We went down to the states and used a room at the marina where their sailboat is moored. We all brought appy's and visited for awhile. I knew very few of her friends, as she had a huge life outside of Murrayville, our church and Arrow, and so there were alot of strangers-to-me at this event.
We had been asked in advance to prepare a page for a scrapbook that was being put together for her, and to share a memory that described who Brenda was and what her friendship meant to us.
This? Was all new to me.
This? Was way more touchy-feely than I was comfortable with.
This? Was so far outside my comfort zone, I was sweating and feeling vomit-y.
And so, it began.
We sat on chairs in a circle, and one at a time, in front of everyone, we shared our feelings about Brenda. (The only other time I'd seen this done, was when Nelson Boschman turned 30, and Terri planned a party for him at the lake. And they all sat in a circle outside on the deck and did the same thing without the scrapbook page element. I was inside, listening intently as young (30 is so young) people spoke words of praise and affirmation to/about Nelson. I'd never known people who partied this way before.)
I couldn't hold it together.
Every 'share' was intense. Tear-inducing. Because usually? The moments that mean the most? Take place during hard times or in difficult circumstances. Of course the 'crazy laughter' experiences are good too, but in the end? The most moving memories? Take place during the valley times of our lives. So. That's what I listened to.
And it just about did me in. I fought tears all night.
All those stories.
All the lives she'd touched.
All the encouragement she'd shared.
It was inspiring I tell ya.
And, well, clearly I've never forgotten it.
Thank you, friend.
Brenda's on my mind tonight.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. He answers prayer.
2. His will? Will be done.
3. The people He has brought into my life.
I hope it it well with your soul.