Friday, February 18, 2011

Old Friends and the Power of Words

Earlier this month, while Jeff was in Ethiopia and I was home alone, I decided to try to use some of my time doing something other than working waaay too long on the computer. I wanted to reconnect with several people who I was long overdue to get together with.  (I didn't get with everyone that I need to so if you're one of those, let's have coffee soon!) 

One of those connections was with two friends from high school (sisters) who I've had dinner with a couple of times in the last two years.  It's fun to hear what's going on in their lives now and also to laugh over some of our memories from back in the day. 

I have a vivid picture in my mind of going over to their house after school  - often in their orange and black Ford Maverick (very much like the one below).  How cool were we?  These were our school colors.  Oh yes, we were the Beaverton Beavers.  I can't be sure but I don't think their parents even realized that when they bought the car.  But really, who buys an orange and black car?

We'd go to their house and eat cinnamon toast.  They never ate lunch at school and were starving by the time they made it home.  Those girls could put away a loaf of bread in no time.  Funny what you remember.

So I invited them over for dinner.  I have to be honest here and tell you that when someone is coming over, I sometimes battle thoughts like "I need to do a deep cleaning before they get here because I haven't vacuumed the baseboards or wiped the top of the fridge in months" or "I'm sure they'll notice the formica in the bathroom is vintage 1960's" or even "I wonder if I can strip this wallpaper and paint by 5:00?"  I am a nut job.

Because none of that matters!

The focus isn't on me or my house and it's certainly not on the baseboards.  I want the focus to be on people.  I want them to feel comfortable and safe and loved.  And so we laughed and reminisced and shared some of our struggles too.

One of these two recently discovered she has multiple myeloma - an "incurable but treatable" cancer of the plasma cells.  I knew they had suspected it quite a few months ago but she was diagnosed with 'smoldering myeloma' - which means she was asymptomatic and didn't require treatment.  I found out that night that it has progressed.  She now faces aggressive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.  She has four kids, she's expecting her first two grandchildren and her youngest has Downs Syndrome.

But she is full of faith.  God has given her a verse to hold onto and also to share with others who are concerned for her.  Psalm 62:1-2  "My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken."

We spent much of the evening talking about God's faithfulness, the love of family and friends, and ways we could support her in the weeks to come.

Words of love.  Words of hope.  Words of encouragement.

I was reminded again of how very powerful words are.  I love how The Message puts Proverbs 18:21...

"Words kill, words give life;
they're either poison or fruit—you choose."

I want to think more about how incredibly life-giving a word of encouragement and truth can be.  So simple.  It costs me nothing.  And it can transform someone's outlook or give them renewed faith.  I don't want to make it sound like I gave my friend a new perspective - quite the opposite.  When she left I felt so encouraged by her sister's obvious love for her and by her own  faith that was tested and proven. 

Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Proverbs 16:24 NLT

Because I could never write as beautifully as Anne, and because her story today is similar to mine, please visit the (in)Courage blog today to read her wonderful post "How to Mend All Your Broken Places."

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