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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Living after

Tuesday afternoon, not quite 24 hours after Jamie took her last breath in this world, the minister finished his beautiful, love-filled sermon, said a prayer, and pronounced us "dismissed". We were free to go. 

Of course, we didn't go. We milled around, chatting, hugging Sam, and whispering behind his back. Every whisper was some variation of "Is he going to be alright?" I wanted to say, "Of course, he's going to be alright. I'll take care of him. I won't let him be anything but alright." I know that's a ridiculous answer.

It may sound like pride talking, but it's not. It's fear. 

I fear the living after, for sometimes spouses who remain find that the living after is too hard. They can't muster the will to press on and, before you know it, the one left behind gives up and dies, as well. 

I fear Sam will be one of those too-quickly-gone surviving spouses.

In the midst of my occasionally messy life, I've learned a little about loss. It's always hard, and losing someone we love is especially hard. It hurts a long time. When you least expect it, the pain of loss will jab you in the heart and nearly knock you off your feet. A few times, that sneaky pain-jab has not just knocked me off my feet. It laid me flat on my face, and it was a good thing. 

Face to the floor, I poured the pain in my broken heart before God and He took it. He adjusted it. He made something new. He brought me through.

I cannot bear, not even for one second, the thought that Sam might give up and die. That he might not find the will to press through his loss is unthinkable. I know it happens, so don't tell me. I don't want to consider it, not even for a minute. 

The truth, though, is that we will all die, including Sam. One day, the loss I'm grieving will be the man I love the most. Sam's been my daddy, my granddaddy, my dearest friend, my wisest counselor. He has taught me truth I didn't know I needed. He's gently molded me into the woman I have become. 

He's filled some mighty big shoes, and he's done it with more grace than I deserve. 

I love this good man and, as I escorted him into the home that has been filled with so much love, the home that now seems like an empty shell, I choked back tears. Other than Ryan, I love Sam more than anyone else on this earth. His joys are my joys. His sorrows are my sorrows, and this week, his sorrow is overwhelming. 

Most of the people at the funeral knew that I was leaving town the next day. Most people asked, "How can I help?" To every person who asked, I said the same thing. "Go check on him." 

When we are grieving, the thing we need the most is not platitudes. The thing we need the most is for those we love to surround us. To be quiet with us. To weep with us. To be present with us. To help us find our way from grief to life again. 

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4

Comfort. That's what Sam will need, and I left town knowing that I can trust those who also love him. The good people of Blue Springs will stop by his house, spend a few minutes at the store talking with him, take him some supper. They will comfort him with their presence and surround him with their love.

The blessing of community is invaluable, but there is even greater help available. I'm counting on the God who has sustained Sam through every other loss he's endured to carry him through this loss, as well. 

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds." Psalm 147:3

There is no wound we have that God cannot heal, no sorrow He cannot comfort. Sam knows the truth of that promise and so do I. We're counting on it to carry him through. 

Here are the links to previous posts in this series:  The eternal destinationThe VigilA Little Help from My FriendsKeeping My WordDeathbed PrioritiesDeathbed Priorities, part 2Death is Not The End., and Shifting Our Sorrow. 

#grief #griefrecovery #comfortthosewhomourn #Jesus #community

Thanks for traveling this journey with us. There's more to come, and tomorrow, we'll have something other than sorrow to celebrate. I don't know what yet, but I'm sure we will. See you then.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Shifting Our Sorrow

(Note: I leave for an early flight today, so this was written last night.)

Monday, Sam sat at the bedside of his beloved wife, Jamie, as she breathed her last breath and entered eternity. Today, he sat by her casket as friends and family members came to share his grief, offer their love and condolences, and participate in the funeral service that followed. 

The "living after" we feared has begun.  

This afternoon, Sam returned to the home that has been filled with love for more years than he can remember. Now, it seems an empty shell. Tonight, he'll crawl into an empty bed and try to sleep without the consolation of his friend and companion of the last sixty years. I hate this emptiness for him. I'd fill it for him if I could, but sometimes, we have to experience the empty to understand the fullness that will, eventually, come.

It's been a hard week, and we're only two days into it.

Sam's learned about loss in his eighty-five years and there's one thing he knows for sure. 

Only God can bring him through. 

Many of us would be tossing and turning at night, but not Sam. He slept well last night. In his own words, "I went to bed, prayed for a while, and went right to sleep." The night his wife of sixty years died, he handed his sorrow, his fear, and his pain to His Lord and went to sleep. Tonight, he'll do the same thing again. 

Sam understands two very important truths that made his restful night possible, and we would do well to embrace them ourselves. 

We do not grieve as those who are without hope.

Sam is confident Jamie is with God and equally as confident that he will see her again. This is an agonizingly difficult separation, but it's only a temporary one. 

As surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, joy will follow even our deepest sorrow. 

God is in the healing business, and He loves to heal broken hearts. Sam can't see what it will look like, nor when it will come, but He knows, without a shred of doubt, that his God will bring him through. On the other side of this sorrow, there will be joy again. It may not be the joy he expected, but it will be joy, and more than enough.

Tonight, my heart breaks for Sam. This is too much pain for one frail, dearly loved man to bear. As I pondered how in the world I could possibly help ease his suffering, I prayed, "Lord, I'd take his pain if I could." As soon as those words left my mouth, I remembered, Someone already did. Just as Isaiah promised, Jesus came and bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, accepted our sin as if it were His own, and justified us by His precious blood. (If you haven't read Isaiah 53 lately, you should. It's a beautiful passage, and full of hope.) 

Jesus has already carried Sam's sorrow and it did not defeat Him.

I'm holding to that truth tonight. Sam's sorrow is not too big for Jesus, and neither is mine. When I finally crawl into my bed this evening, I'll do the same thing Sam will do. I'll pray until I have peace, then go to sleep.

Tomorrow, the sun will rise. 

There will be grief to hand over, sorrow to shift to Jesus. We'll start the process all over again. When we do, it will be with the same confidence we've had today.

Jesus has carried our sorrow (and yours) before, and He's more than willing to do it again. 
Here are the links to the others stories in this series: The eternal destinationThe VigilA Little Help from My FriendsKeeping My WordDeathbed PrioritiesDeathbed Priorities, part 2, and Death is Not The End.   

Thank you so much for walking this journey with us. Your prayers and encouragement have meant so much to us. Don't leave yet. There's more to come, and it won't all be hard or sorrowful. You've changed us, and we are grateful.
#livingafter #grief #overcominggrief #Jesus #hecarriedmypain

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Death is Not the End

Yesterday, on one of the most beautiful fall afternoons we've had this season, Jamie Wiley took one more breath in this world and stepped away. Her very next breath was taken in eternity. She went so quietly that Sam, sitting at her bedside, already grieving his loss, didn't realize she was gone.

In the short span of eleven days, Sam's world (and mine) spun out of control and, it seems, took on an orbit of its own. From the moment she slid to the ground because "my knees wouldn't hold me" to the moment when, instead of returning to the hospital to drive her home, I returned to help Sam decide about life-support, it's been a whirlwind of devastating surprise and tragedy. Even when we left her at Hospice House for the first time, we flirted with the idea that she might recover and come home again. Little more than twelve hours ago, we left her at Hospice House for the last time. 

This has been hard. 

It's not that we didn't know, at 85 years old, that her time was short. It's not that we feared death. We knew. We understood. What we feared was the surprise. What we feared was the living after.

Yesterday, I took Sam back to the home they've shared for decades and gathered her best clothes (her new blue jeans and favorite red gingham sleeveless shirt) to dress her one last time. As I sorted through her closet and rummaged through her drawers, Sam sat quietly on the end of the bed they'd shared, a stunned expression on his face. 

The grieving has begun, and life will never be the same again.

He knows it, and I do, too. Somehow, Sam will carry on, because that's the kind of man he is. His God has sustained him through the loss of a tiny baby daughter, through the tragic death of his brother, through struggles common to us all. Now, His God will sustain him through this greatest loss imaginable. The One who said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" has neither left him nor forsaken him even once. 

Death seems so final.

It seems so final, and it is, in a way. Jamie will never again laugh with us or make the best biscuits in the world or bake her famous chocolate cake. Not in this world. Instead, she is in a place so rich that gold is used for gravel. The leaves on the trees have the power to heal the nations. There is no sorrow in that glorious place. No tears. No darkness. God, Himself, is all the light anyone will ever need. 

The description of heaven given in Revelation 21-22 is so beautiful, you should read it for yourself. It's a glorious place, and I am certain Jamie is there, because she turned her life over to the only Savior she ever needed, Jesus Christ, and trusted Him to do with her life as He saw fit. When he chose to take her home, she didn't argue a bit. She went. I imagine she's glad she did.

One day, maybe when we least expect it, our appointed time will come and we, too, will step into eternity. We, too, will meet the Lamb of God who has taken the sins of the world on Himself. We, too, will reach our eternal destination. 

We have a choice to make and it's the most important choice of all.

We can choose darkness or light. Forgiveness or not. Cleansing or not. Jesus or not.

The eternal destination of an "or not" decision is not one I want to consider, and you shouldn't either. Cleansing and restoration of all the sin and hurt in your life is one bent knee away. It's easier than it should be and hard only because we make it so. A loving heavenly Father longs for His children to come to Him. 

Just as Jamie chose the freedom of Christ, so, too, you can choose all He offers. Reach out to Him, admit your sin, and embrace His cleansing. It makes all the difference, in this world and in the next.

The loss Sam sustained yesterday is not the end of the journey. Today, from 1-3 pm, friends and loved ones will gather for visitation and the funeral that follows. We will celebrate the good times and laugh, then cry for our loss. We'll go home to try to live without her. In the midst of our sorrow, we'll celebrate the joy we knew and the reunion of which we are certain.

Your kindness in participating with us through this difficult time has been a surprise to me. I didn't understood it, at least not at first. What I've tried to do is what God does best, make beauty from ashes. (Isaiah 61:3) I'm taking your response as an affirmation of that effort. 

I invited you into our journey and you came. Thank you for joining us. Don't leave us now. There's more to come, and it won't all be hard. After sorrow, joy comes. I plan to share that with you, too. 

Here at the links to the others stories in this series: The eternal destinationThe VigilA Little Help from My FriendsKeeping My WordDeathbed Priorities, and Deathbed Priorities, part 2.  

#thisisnottheend #eternity #griefshared #JesusChrist

Monday, October 5, 2015

Deathbed Priorities, part two: My own priorities change

I wrote about death bed priorities yesterday. My neighbor is at Hospice House and is slowly dying. It's hard to watch her go and even harder to watch my dear Sam grieve. That sweet man made his wife a priority sixty years ago, and he's kept her a priority every day since. Watching them has caused me to examine my life all over again.

As promised, here's a little bit of history on how my own priorities changed. I didn't really want to write this, but it kept me up part of the night, fretting about it. If I want any sleep tonight, I'd better get with it. (There's more to come tomorrow.) 

When I found out I was expecting Ryan, one of my patients said, "You are about to find out what real love is. In fact, you're about to learn about God's love, too." I smiled and thanked her and secretly thought I knew plenty about love. I'd been in Girls' Auxiliary in my church and memorized a mountain of Scripture. I thought I knew plenty about God's love, too.

Then, I spent five and a half months on bed rest because of my blood pressure. Despite the patients waiting for me in every one of my exam rooms, my ob-gyn told me to go home and stay there until the baby came. I could see the ones in rooms and no more. I was shocked and saddened. It felt a little like all my professional dreams evaporated on the spot, but I did it, because I wanted to protect this tiny child growing inside me more than anything else in the world. 

That little baby was too small for me to see, but he was more important than my career, my dreams, or my life. 

I went to bed.

It was hard. I checked out mountains of books from the library every week and read voraciously. I read every book in my house. There's not much else to do when you're in bed, lying on your left side. I read the Warren Report from beginning to end. I learned more than I wanted to know about Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis.  

I cried a lot.

I grieved for the life I knew that was slipping away. 

I dreamed of the life that would come, that little baby whose arrival would make all the hard times seem like nothing more than a moment of discomfort.

At last, the day for my C-section finally arrived. Things didn't go like I expected. I felt myself sliding into a deep, black tunnel. There was not a glimmer of light in the darkness. When I heard the anesthesiologist shout, "Get the baby out. I'm losing her," I realized I didn't just think I was dying, I knew I was. I'd heard about the light at the end of the tunnel (whether it's a true thing or not, I don't know). There was not a bit of light in my tunnel. 

I was terrified and I cried out. "I don't want to go to hell. Save me, Jesus." And He did.

I've never been the same.

When the nurse put that beautiful blue-eyed boy in my arms, I understood what my patient had said. I finally knew what love was and, in that moment, I began to understand a parent's love for a child. I wondered, "Does God love me like this?" No. He doesn't, I began to learn. He loves me more. 

It's impossible for me to comprehend that God loves me more than I love Ryan, that He loves Ryan more than I love Ryan. He does, though. The only appropriate response is to love in return.

Learning to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength became a priority and it changed everything. It made me a disciple. Loving my son became a priority. I couldn't save my marriage, but I've loved God and Ryan the best I could, and every other priority took a back seat to those two.

Both my Heavenly Father and my son are more important than my medical practice.

I know people have thought I was irresponsible and a little crazy for taking a break from medicine more than once. Think what you want. When a child weeps when he hears the ringing of the phone because he knows his mother will be called away, the thing causing that phone to ring has to go. It did. When a teenaged boy needs his mother to help him through the difficult journey of puberty and his high school years, she has to be there. And I was.

I could have made much more money if I'd spent those years practicing medicine instead of making pottery and writing, but there is no amount of money that would replace the time I'd have lost with my son. I know I could have touched many more lives in medicine than at home, but no life is more important to me than this one life of my son. No heart matters more. 

I set my priorities and I lived accordingly. It hasn't pleased everyone, but it's been worth it.

As we face death, it's common to realize we could have lived differently and probably should have. The wonderful thing about priorities is that, as I've seen over the past few days, it's never too late to change. Why not take a look at your own priorities? What occupies first place in your life? Is that what should occupy first place? 

There's one thing I've learned that has helped keep me on this path. When my priorities are right, everything else falls in place

Jesus tried to tell us, but it takes living it to understand."But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matt 6:33 nasb
Here are the links to the rest of the series: The eternal destination, The Vigil, A Little Help from My Friends, Keeping My Word, and Deathbed Priorities

#priorities #disciple #JesusChrist #lifewelllived

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Deathbed priorities

After I finished at the Women's Conference at Hope Church yesterday, I stopped by my house to eat and let the dogs out for a few minutes, then hurried (never over the speed limit, of course) on to Hospice House. Sam was sitting by Jamie's bedside with the saddest look I've ever seen. She'd slept most of the morning, so all he'd done for hours was watch the woman with whom he'd shared the last sixty years inch her way toward eternity. 

She woke up while I was there. I offered to feed her and, to my surprise, she ate. We started with chocolate pudding. She thought it was delicious. I'm a fan of chocolate, so that made sense to me. When I removed the lid, the applesauce filled the room with the aroma of apples. It tasted "so good", she said, and I understood that, too.  

I fed her the first bite of pureed peas, and she whispered, "That's good." I like peas, but I don't like pureed peas. The "old Jamie" would never have eaten pureed peas. She would have had plenty to say about them, but it would not have been "that's good". She ate every bite.

Something is different in her. She is staring death in the face as it draws ever closer. The trivial no longer matters. Her priorities have changed and she is changed, too.

Having loved ones near matters. The texture of peas does not.

I wish Jamie had experienced these new priorities sooner. Her life would have been so much more joyful. She'd have had fewer arguments and more laughter. She'd have had more love. More peace.

I don't mean that all Jamie's priorities were wrong. They weren't. She loves Sam and she is a generous woman, loved by many people. She's had a good life.

Jamie, though, is just like the rest of us. She likes what she likes. She wants what she wants. Just as I do. Just as you do.

The problem comes when those things we like and want assume a higher place in our priorities than they should. 

Maybe you've never had a problem with priorities, but I have. Maybe you've never preferred something so much that nothing else would do, but I have. I've wanted it, and worked hard until I got it. It turned out, though, that getting the thing I most preferred never made an eternal difference. 

Only Jesus can do that.

It's easy to forget that priorities determine how we live our lives. They direct our every step. The things that matter most to us, in the end, shape the course of our years and our families, even our careers. When work is more of a priority than family, our spouses and children suffer. When financial security is more important than our faith, everything else in our lives takes a back seat.

Priorities matter, and we would do well to get them in order now, rather than on our deathbeds. 

What does a changed priority matter if we wait until our last few days to change it? Not much. It doesn't improve the quality of our lives or the lives of our family or the world around us. 

If we want a life that matters, we need to start living that life now. 

Love more. Laugh often. Spend less. Give freely. Reach out to all you encounter, the most beautiful and the most unlovely, for all of us walk a treacherous and difficult path through this life.

Today, take a look at the life you are living, at the priorities that drive you. Is this how you want to step into eternity? Is there something that needs to change?  Then change it. 

Stop waiting and start living.

Jesus had some suggestions about lives lived well, and He summed it up in two sentences we'd do well to emulate. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matt. 22:37-40)

That's enough for now. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about how my priorities changed. For today, let's ask ourselves, "On my deathbed, will I be glad I've lived my life this way?" If not, it's time to change. (we'll talk about that tomorrow, too.)

Thanks for joining me on this journey through life. I'm glad to be sharing it with you. Let's live it well.
Here's the links to the other stories in this series:  The eternal destination, The Vigil, A Little Help from My Friends, and Keeping My Word

#deathbedpriorities #priorities #Jesusisallthatmatters #disciple

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Keeping My Word

Sam and I have had quite a week of it. Unbearably hard. Unutterably sweet. That's Sam in the picture above. I don't have a picture of Jamie. No one does. She doesn't allow pictures of herself. Sam just says, "Well, Jamie is Jamie. All the time."

If you're joining us today for the first time in this "series" (the series I wish I weren't writing), you need to know that Sam and Jamie have lived on my farm for most of the last sixty years. Jamie is Sam's wife, and they are both in the mid-eighties. Jamie collapsed at their home, a tiny cottage at the entrance to my farm, more than a week ago. She was hospitalized until yesterday, when she was moved to Sanctuary Hospice House. 

It's been hard.

I've blogged about the journey this week and will add links at the bottom for the previous posts, if you want to get caught up. (They open in a separate window.)

Today, I want to tell you how I got to this place in the Wiley's story.

I bought the farm in 1989. The woman who owned the farm before me had the property on the market for two years. She had turned down all buyers because she didn't think they were the "right" ones. By the time my real estate agent and I pulled into her driveway, she had given up, and was working out the details with a buyer.

When I stepped out of the car, I wasn't particularly impressed by the two-story concrete block house, but we walked around to the back, alongside a pasture where cows grazed contentedly, toward a small manmade lake in the back. 

I started to cry. It was the exact picture that had been in my head since I was a child. 

I was home. At last.

Shirley looked at the real estate agent, who turned out to be her agent, too, and said, "I'm about to sell to the wrong person." In a series of events that could have only been the hand of God, I bought this lovely little farm with the unusual concrete house. 

The thing that mattered most to Shirley was that Sam, the man who had worked for her and her husband since 1960 (29 years), have "a place". She asked that I keep Sam on at his same salary and give him a place to live for the rest of his life. I agreed to do it.

I gave my word.

I was young. I didn't know about the perils and challenges of growing older. I didn't know about the financial responsibility that agreement would bring. I didn't know what giving my word would mean to me, what it would cost me. I didn't know the joy that becoming a woman of my word would bring.

Sam always says, "All you really have is your word. If your word ain't worth nothing, you ain't either." 

Years ago, I determined to keep my promise to Sam, and I have, but it's been hard. 

There were times when I couldn't see how I would stretch my money to take care of my needs and Sam's. When he was no longer able to do the farm work, it would have been easier to hire someone else and let Sam and Jamie go to a nursing home or government housing. I learned to do the work myself, as best I could, and kept my promise to that fine man and his wife. God has provided for all of us.

People have said, "You can't keep doing this." My response has been, "I gave my word." 

I didn't understand what giving my word meant at the time, but I've learned over the years. This past week, one of her doctors asked me about why I've been by their side when I'm not related to them. "I gave my word in 1989 to provide for them, and I'm sticking to it." His response made me cry. "That's just like it was in the old days. People never do that anymore." Don't get me wrong here. He didn't recommend breaking your word. He was just astonished to see it in action.

I haven 't done anything special at all. I'm not a saint. I'm not perfect at keeping my word. I haven't always liked this promise of mine. Fulfilling my word has been hard, and I don't pretend it hasn't been. I've wept a river of tears over the years about the price I've paid to provide for people who once were strangers. In the process, though, the strangers have become family and I've learned about love, and responsibility, and faithfulness. 

Being a man or woman of our word is rare in this "me" society of entitlement in which we live, but it is still the right thing to do. It will still change your life. It brings more blessings than you can imagine. 

It is worth it. 

I've simply done what I would want someone to do for me. 

You see, I serve a God who has been faithful. Who will always be faithful to me. When He said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He meant it, and He still does. He's a God of His word and, if I am to be like Him, I'm to be a woman of my word, too. Even when it costs me more than I want to pay. Even when it's hard. Even when it's rare.

Jamie's doctor surprised me. "God will bless you for this," he assured me. I smiled and told him what I finally learned along the way. "He already has." 

Here's the links to the other stories in this series: The eternal destination, The Vigil, and A Little Help from My Friends

#faithful #keptmypromise #goldenrule #dountoothers

Friday, October 2, 2015

A a little Help From My Friends

The old Beatles song, "I get by with a little help from my friends" has been playing in my head the last few days. 

Yesterday, I finally made it home for a few precious hours. My dear friend Debbie Hayden had cooked the roast, potatoes, carrots, and squash I spooned onto my plate. As I sat down to eat the second "real" meal I'd had in a week, I thanked God for the friends that have made this crazy and horribly difficult week possible. I wept that there are people who love me enough to care for me in such tangible ways. 

I, who am cloistered most days in a universe of my own fanciful design, writing about people who exist only in my imagination, have experienced the kindness of flesh and blood humans and am astounded. 

My Wonder Girls (two marvelously energetic Shih Tzu's) were having a terrible time because of my long hours away. They do not prefer puppy pads for their potty needs, but will use them if they just can't wait anymore. They've had entirely too much "just can't wait" this week. 

We were struggling, then Linda Buchanan text'd me. "I'm coming back from Oxford. Can I walk your dogs?" I blinked back tears. Yes! That one gift of generosity turned this difficult week around. Since then, Jan Musgrove and Yvonne (who lives in my rent house and works incredibly long hours) have also walked and loved those furry bright spots in my life. 

When I returned home yesterday, my precious balls of fur greeted me as if I hadn't neglected them at all. They loved me and forgave me. 

I should be as generous with the people I love.

What if every homecoming was greeted with the unconditional love of my wonder dogs? We might have more prodigals finding their way back home. If they knew that unconditional love and joy-filled acceptance awaited, they might not hesitate when they finally come to the end of themselves.   

When two ladies from Blue Springs offered to help, including stay with Jamie, I thanked them, but thought, who really wants to sit up at night in a hospital with a sick person? Maybe no one, but Shelby Pannell was more than willing. I waited until I was dropping in my tracks to accept her offer, but that night's rest has kept me going. 

Getting away from the hospital to run errands and wash clothes would not have been possible without the generosity of Shelby Pannell and Jane Witt, who stayed with our rowdy patient to give Sam and me a much needed break. 

I saw the sky, breathed in the crisp fall air, and longed for more.  More time outside. More of a break. More delivering my problems into capable hands and simply breathing for a while. 

How foolish I am! There's not one day that goes by without the option of problem-transfer. Our Lord stands ready and waiting to handle every problem I have, every problem you have. I know that. I've lived it. So why do I hang onto the little stuff, as if I might, by some miracle, be able to manage something on my own? I can't. It's all too big for me. It's all too big for you. 

Why not give it all to God? Every problem, big or small, every heartache, every sorrow. Let Him handle life so we can concentrate on breathing. Being. Loving. 

There's no way to mention all the hospital staff who have cared for Jamie with such love while pouring out love and concern on Sam and me. They have helped with everything from an extra blanket to thermostat adjustment to cups of steaming black coffee to an understanding ear when I'd run out of steam. 

I've been the listening ear, the caring physician, the gentle helper. I haven't often been the receiver. 

I am humbled by this experience, and left wondering whether my life might not have been a bit easier if I had been willing to accept a helping hand, invite a few people into my life, step out of my invented world into the real world. 

I have seen you, my fellow humans, and I am in awe of you. I have felt your love and I'm offering my love, meager as it is, in return. 

When God created humans, he looked at them with love, and joy, and just a bit of sorrow for the mess He knew we'd make of things. He looked at us and proclaimed, "it is very good."
I, too, have looked at mankind this week. We aren't perfect, my friends, but in all of us there's a bit of that first creation, a touch of the hands of God, and it is still very good. 

Live well, dear ones. Love with abandon. Give without measure. And, every once in a while, receive with gratitude.

Well done, my friends. You've done this just right, and I thank you. 
#gratitude moreblessedtogive #thanks