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The sweet smell of friendship

These are the times that try men's souls.


Well actually things are pretty great, but I have always wanted to begin a post like that.


Sorry Thomas Paine.


These are the days when we are scratching our heads and wondering if our oldest did in fact just graduate right before our eyes.


We sat in the front row and prepared for Pomp and Circumstance and faced a funny circumstance of our own. This was us.


I leaned over to my husband and whispered, "This is how our parents felt."


And then also reminded him to move the mic for the special, because our parents were not in charge of the sound, podium placement, parental flowers and such like we were.


And directly after my son's speech he came down and sat beside me and held my hand.


I'm not even going to figure out if he did it for me or for himself, but in that moment I realized that it was going to be alright.


Better than alright.


It was going to be grand.


Barring any unforseen sappy songs and all of course.


It did help my emotional state to remember the mess he had made of his room right before company arrived.


With graduation cupcake leftovers hidden in the fridge for me alone to enjoy it was time for Summer.


And heading into Summer and finishing school for our brood always reminds me of a young Albatross trying to take flight.


Yes, you should Youtube it if your memory of Disney's "The Rescuers" doesn't serve you well.


An Albatross is one big bird and we are one big heap of crazy trying to soar head-long into Summer fun.


Like the Albatross, once in flight, we are a sight to behold, but come time to land we are heads over tails in the dirt.


Just a little Orinthology for your Thursday friends.


Graduation was particularly special for our family because this was the first time we had a family event that warranted folks traveling in and also for our own church family to attend.


The night before graduation I mentioned this to my husband. I told him that we will always be at other's special events, send their kids birthday cards, etc. because we are their pastor and wife, but this. This was our opportunity to see who would come not because it was another service but because they loved us and wanted to support us. This was not obligatory, this was just lovingkindness.


Seeing member after member arrive filled my heart to overflowing.


Having my two best friends in didn't hurt at all either.


These are the two you have come to learn so much about if you have read my banter for any length of time.


These are the two that I met while we took a small country church in upstate NY. The one where I was emotionally and physically at the fraying point from too much juggling of kids, marriage and whole-hearted service for the Lord.


These two saw me struggling and our walks in the woods became the proving ground for a new spiritual walk.


One where I began to understand that nothing I did or didn't do made God love me any more or any less. He immeasurably and unconditionally loves each of us just because we are His own. This comforted me immensely and does this very moment as my fingers hit the keys.


This felt like scales falling from my eyes, this being loved and serving out of unbelievable gratefulness for that love instead of hoping I had worked and served enough to be approved of.


These girls, they sure had a handle on that.


They mentored me and loved me back into the proper relationship with the Lord, and we have been close ever since.


They remind me of a scene that comes to mind. It was just as Joel and I were leaving Italy.


Me, being the fragrance and lotion lover of the family snagged two bottles of lotion to take home as keepsakes from our time away.


It was in the airport on our way home when the unthinkable happened. They were bigger than the average allowable carry-on and in the shuffle of taking way too much dry pasta and balsamic vinegar home for family, one of these lotions ended up in the wrong piece of luggage and I watched, already through security, as a whole lovely unopened bottle was thrown away.


Yes, it hit me hard for some reason. It was a lavish thing for me and it was a keepsake. It was something I wouldn't be able to find at home or even online and I wished right then and there that I knew how to say, "This is despicable!" In Italian.


Be it homesickness, be it weariness from travel or even just plain frustration that I didn't check the luggage better, I was mad that my keepsake was gone.


And this was like a 6th grade someone swiped my Ho-Ho madness.


It was silly and stupid really. I felt like I had a suitcase with things for others and now one partially used lotion for myself.


First-world problems at their finest.


My poor husband just felt horrible. It was discarded on his trip through security and though it wasn't his fault in the least bit, he tried to console me.


I finally shook it off and we began looking for our gate.


On our way we passed a beautifully lit shopping area that conveniently almost made you detour through it as you looked for your gate.


This was the finest Italy had to offer.


My husband kept looking here and there, taking me all over the store and telling me that he wanted me to have something lovely to take home.


I looked at the first sales ticket in front of me after hearing him say that and my jaw dropped. This was TOO lavish a place to grab even a pack of gum, which I was sure had gold foil wrapping.


He wouldn't be swayed and so we found ourselves in front of a beautiful glass counter with an Italian woman just ready to help us find a perfect scent to take home.


It was a mix of blossoms with ever so slight hints of musk and I was still in shock that this transaction was transpiring before my teary eyes.


It's the kind of smell that makes you close your eyes and just enjoy it being in your nose for a short time.


Nothing too demanding or harsh, but a light breeze of sweetness.


Its rose colored liquid would make any woman smile.


I didn't even deserve a lotion, let alone perfume- especially with my Ho-Ho attitude just under the surface.


But home I went with this bottle of lavish love and wear it when I want to remember how wonderful it is to be cherished.


I share this because I wanted to set the stage for you regarding this friendship of mine with these two friends.


While I was feeling like a Ho-Ho kind of friend these two came and offered me such lavish friendship.


Friends who love you enough to walk with you, beside you through the good the bad and the worse are a real gift.


They are a lavish gift that God gives you just to remind you that He came to be our best friend, and all friendships with Him at the middle will be a very small piece of heaven to our hearts.


My best friends came and just loved me.


Venison steaks went on the grill, salmon went in the freezer and homemade dill sauce in the fridge. Those giant chocolate chip cookies that they make that make everything less stressful went into a hidden cupboard for adults only, home harvested honey sits on the shelf and we will be enjoying snacks for a very long time that somehow made their way into our pantry.


They made sure my hair was curled in the back and sat with me all snuggled on the bed that was loaned to us for their arrival. They hiked my favorite path with me and climbed my favorite rocks to just enjoy seeing what I get to see with me.


We go deep fast because we can and because we want to get to the heart of the matter, realize what is most important to each of us.


We share specific fears, praises, hopes and dreams and fan away mosquitoes. We point each other to a truth from God's Word that we have been clinging to and it is a wonderfully filling time.


Our countenances are changed and can pierce through the world's lies to find solid truth once again.


Proverbs 27:17- "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."


This is lavish love.


This is an amazing gift that leaves my jaw dropped at God's goodness to even look into these sets of eyes and see Him reflected in them.


At lunch they insist on leaving the tip after we have gobbled ALMOST too many sweet potato fries.


Then they each pass me five dollars.


One for each of the up-coming Thursdays that I will once again slip-away and find my coffee spot in Starbucks.


They are cheering me on to keep writing, keep investing in others, keep looking to Jesus and keep getting truth out into the homes of women.


I sheepishly take it and slip it in my pocket but to me it's a bottle of rose-colored perfume to my soul.






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