This is not the type of writing I normally do here. But this was a story I thought needed to be told, and asked my friends Kathy and Mary to sit down with me a month or so ago and tell it. A modified version of this article appears in this week’s Grant County Review.
Kathy Madsen knows how to celebrate a birthday.
On her birthday next week, Kathy will tie a bright red ribbon around her name and throw it into a five-state pool to match up with someone who needs a kidney.
That’s some party favor, let me tell you.
Last spring, Kathy was on her back porch in her pajamas drinking coffee when her friend Vangie called. Vern and Vangie Heupel’s daughter Mary, living in Sioux Falls, had just been released from the hospital after and ICU stay due to kidney failure.
Kathy reassured her friend that she would do everything she could, thinking that she might drop off a box of chocolates or offer to mow the lawn. But before she knew what she was saying, she heard herself tell Vangie, “I’ll test for you. If I can give Mary a kidney, I want to give.”
Say what you will about Job’s friends. It’s true. Once they started yammering, they wove their strands of talking points between what was true and what they only wished were true until it’s no wonder Job didn’t lash them all together with that rope and walk away, leaving them bound to discuss his plight amongst themselves into exhaustion.
But for seven days — an entire week — they held their knowing tongues and grieved alongside their friend in silence.
When they arrived, Job was in such emotional anguish and physical distress they did not even recognize him. This could no longer be the greatest man in the East. He was a blistered and scabbed shell of a man, the rhythmic scraping of his flesh with a shard of sun baked clay the only sign he was even still alive. (more…)
I’m on the road this week, a sort of vacation, visiting a soul friend. I tugged the backside of the calendar a bit, stretching Thursday into Wednesday so I could take a meandering route and visit a few other friends along the way. Iowa crossed the border and met me for lunch along the Interstate, and then Nebraska welcomed me, inviting me to dinner, Lenten worship and an overnight visit.
These times with good friends are always deep reminders of why some of us, with our relational deficiencies, need to get out of the house a little more and spend this time.
A theme ran through all these conversations, whether across the table in a old church-turned-cafe in a small South Dakota town, or over coffee and ice cream (and, yes, okay, tea) on a cobblestone downtown street, or even in the wee hours a cozy living room: How do we keep all this straight? How do we balance what we’re doing, keep the right perspective on who we are and what really matters?
Yesterday, these sweet small bits with friends still fresh as I arrived in Kansas, I ran across this article by Shaun Groves. It’s too bad he wasn’t a part of the conversation.
I think we all could have used the reminder. I know I could.
Sometimes I can’t do all of this in the same season. Something gives. That doesn’t bother me at all if I remember what I am. When it comes to blogging, sometimes I don’t remember. Instead, I get scared. . . .
. . . What are you? You’re probably not a blogger. There aren’t many of those. You’re probably a counselor, encourager, teacher, leader, community builder, theologian, organizer, motivator, reformer, activist, creator…who blogs.
You can take a break from the internet and still be what you are. You have our permission.
Read the rest here. It’s worth a hundredfold the time it takes to slide over there.
So, you: Is there something you need to give yourself permission to do or not do? What is it that scares you?
It seems a constant in my life that the best things God has for me are those same thing I at first resist the hardest.
Take my husband. He can probably tell you the number of years, to the day, that I resisted before I succumbed to his charm.
And what a good thing God had in store.
I’ve done it with churches, jobs, ministries, friendship, even writing.
My first answer is No.
And then He pushes me forward from behind.
Sometimes a gentle nudge. Others a full-force shove.
One day, with my heels dug in deep, He threw me headlong into it with a friend that now I can’t imagine life without.
And today is her birthday.
(I sure hope this doesn’t backfire.)