Initially, ‘Glasses of Grace’ started because my niece, Grace, had to get glasses for reading. Since grace is such a spiritual topic and the fact that my niece is such a doll, I started thinking about the ways God shows us His grace on a daily basis. From His servings, His glasses, of grace to us - to seeing the world through the eyes of grace (or Grace, since she had new glasses and better sight), it made sense in more ways than one, so a title was born. Blessings and all, this is my life…

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The things God uses....

Hard to believe it's been almost three months since I've posted anything here! To be honest, not only have I not posted anything, but I have rarely, rarely been checking blogs either. It's funny how things can run in spurts like that. Anyway, it has been a eventful (almost) three months. But first things first...I will post more in the coming days, but this gets the ball rolling.

The last time I posted was March 29. Looking back, all I could think of or see then was the end of tax season on the horizon. Little did I know what was in store just a few short weeks later.

There is always a huge sense of relief that comes with April 16, just knowing life is returning to normal, we have one more bonus check coming on May 1 without having to work the extra hours...now THAT is what truly feels like a bonus! :-) It just feels like a huge relief.

I don't know how to approach what I want to say here without just pouring out my heart. My goal is not to be overly dramatic, but to just share what has been going on.

When you are single, as I am, there are a precious few friendships that take on true 'family' types of relationships. I am the first to admit that I have great friends and have been blessed beyond my fair share in this area. I realize these relationships are God's provision for me because it's not always easy being single in a 'married' and 'family' type of world. These people wedge themselves into my life and into my heart and when things happen with them, I am deeply affected on personal, emotional and spiritual levels.

Getting to the point: My friend Dee has been cutting my hair for probaby about 18 years. When I was looking for a new hairdresser, little did I know, when I got her name and number from another friend, what a huge part of my life Dee would become. She has her shop at her house, so when you're there, you're the only one there, unless you bring someone with you. This set-up gives a great opportunity for sharing and personal conversation and we have had many great discussions and laughs through the years. She has been a sounding board, confidante, just everything that makes a good friend a good friend. I can only hope I've been half that friend to her. I have no idea where we crossed the line of being hairdresser/customer to fabulous friends, but it's one of those things that seemed to happen quickly. We just clicked. I have often told Dee that getting my hair cut, highlighted, or both, every few weeks is like having a birthday every month because I LOVE that time with her and it's like I get to celebrate every month! I have meant that from the bottom of my heart, and she's known it! I should also add here that Dee, her sister Melanie, and their whole family....and families....are among these people that have 'taken me in' as family over the years. We all go to church together. Additionally, me, Dee, Melanie, and another friend of ours, Connie, celebrate each other's birthday every year with dinner and movie....the birthday person's choice, of course. I just really could not be any closer to any of these three girls. We are all in choir together as well.

At choir practice on May 6, during our prayer and devotion time, Melanie was given the floor to speak to us that night. She shared that Dee had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Hard news to hear. I was stunned. Dee was there that night and after Melanie got through sharing all this, Rick, our Minister of Music, asked Dee if she wanted to come down front and let some of us come pray with/for her as she headed into all that was in store. Now, Melanie and Dee are altos, and Connie and I are sopranos, so we are on opposite sides of the room, but when Dee got up to go down front with Melanie, Connie and I quickly sprang from our seats to join them, as did many others. Rick prayed a great prayer, and we continued on with practice. Connie couldn't quit crying, I was pensive. Not emotional....yet. I am a thinker. I have to look at things from all angles and get the facts. It took about a week for the emotions to hit me, but when they hit, they really hit!

At this point, Dee has been through 2 of her 6 chemo treatments. This last one was a bit harder to bounce back from than the first one, but her only real side-effect has been fatigue. She's had touches of other things...but the fatigue has been the most prevalent. Her blood counts have been good and her outlook has been fabulous. She is just amazing in the way she has handled it and in the peace that has filled her. God is giving her an awesome testimony in the midst of all this. It is humbling to see Him at work and it is inspiring to see her move through these days.

I have long known that God uses things in our lives to drive home the fact that He is sovereign and in control. This has been another one of those things in my life. I have shared here before about the lessons I learned when my friend Tracy was killed many years ago. I learned then that I don't need to take people for granted and just assume they will always be there. I have kicked myself over and over for being in a hurry the last time I spoke to Tracy on the phone, which wound up being the last time I spoke with her. I have learned not to leave words of appreciation unspoken. People need to hear them, and we need the assurance that we've done our part in speaking them. Luckily, I had always done that with Tracy, but with her life being cut short at such an early age (33), it just proved to me that you never know and it's best to say too many words of appreciation than not enough! I am so thankful that I've done this through the years with Dee (and she has done the same with me) because it gave me a natural position to step into with this diagnosis. I didn't have to try to step in and draw close because these are hard times. We were already there! What a blessing!

While these lessons are being driven home yet again, God is dealing with me deep in my soul in very personal and spiritual ways about this stuff with Dee. I am seeing Him at work in ways I've never seen before. I am seeing her live a testimony before my eyes that touches me and humbles me in ways I've never experienced before. I am seeing, as it says in Isaiah 26:3 - "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." She has this perfect peace and a strength that leaves me envious. I just don't have it right now. I want my friend well. I am beyond confident that our prayers are being answered and that God is healing her, but I hate like everything that she has to go through all that she does. I know that God has given me the role of being a supportive, encouraging friend to her, and that, above everything else, is my goal right now. This is all SO not about me, but I can see, and feel in my heart, that God is using portions of it to 'grow me' and stretch me to places I've not been before and I am grateful for that. I am grateful that He's using Dee to take me to these places because I know once this is all over, my spiritual life will be deeper and stronger, and the closeness and friendship that Dee and I have will be even sweeter. I'm thankful for these places, and the lessons, even if they hurt.

Dee has a website at CaringBridge.com that her sister, Melanie, is facilitating. Dee is writing the journal entries, or most of them, and Melanie is posting the entries and adding pictures. It's a great place to go and be encouraged, so if you're interested, you can go HERE to read her story, from her perspective. (You may have to enter your e-mail address and a password to get in, but it's only a formality.) You won't be sorry!