Thursday, July 26, 2012

An Open Letter of Gratitude

It's been a long few days.  Frank and I are still working at updating our home.  My mother wisely told us not to kill each other.  That reminded me of something Ruth Graham once said to someone who asked her if she had ever thought of divorcing Billy Graham.  She said, "Divorce - no, murder - yes."

Frank and I are NOT two peas in a pod about a lot of things.  We are the classic example of opposites attracting.  Frank has to have everything in its place. I'm just glad if I can find it most of the time.  As much as we quibble about our inconsequential quirks, Frank and I love each other completely.  Yes, there are some days I want to kill him; but I would miss him, and be sorry he was gone.  My middle name is "Ruth."  Billy's wife and I do have something in common.  She loved her sweet Billy, and I love my sweet Bubba.

My sweet mother (lovingly called "muther") is my hero(ine).  I look back at my childhood and what she accomplished on a daily basis, and I am amazed at her organizational skills, her ability to put her husband and children first, to do without so we could have, and to work full time and still make a hot breakfast and supper for us every day.  She is going to be 89 this year.  Her mind is sharp; her love for the Lord grows stronger every day; and she prays for me, knows me inside out, and loves me completely - as did my daddy (who is in heaven). She is the smartest person I know.  I also have a precious father-in-law who loves me and prays for me daily.  I love you, precious Papa.

My sweet suster and I have always loved each other but have not always liked each other.  I am seven years her senior (but I think I look younger LOL), and I can remember in my high school years, she would snarl at me that she hated me because I thought I was perfect and beautiful, and that everyone loved me.  That was childish lapsus linguae, a mere slip of the tongue.  She couldn't have really meant it (did you suster?).  What she didn't know is that I never thought I was perfect and beautiful, and often wondered if anybody loved me.

If ever there were a sister's bond, it exists between my suster and me.  It is industrial-strength, weapons-grade and grows stronger with time.  We see each other often throughout the year and talk every other day.  Between the two of us, she is the organizer.  About every six months, she will help me reorganize my closet, basement, or kitchen, whichever area needs it the most.  Usually, it's my closet.  I often call her to ask where something is in my own home.  She usually knows.  She loves me completely.

I have two precious brothers who laugh when I laugh, think I'm smart and crazy as h---, and they both love me completely; (some days they just don't know it, and I have to remind them. LOL).   I have in-laws, nieces and nephews, and many other family members who have been such a major part of my life and helped shape who I have become and who love me whether they will admit it every day or not (no denying it from anyone of you).

To my precious friends, the ones that I might see every couple of years, call, text, email, chat with on fb intermittently, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they love me completely. I can think of four right now.  You each know who you are.

I love having people in my life that know my weaknesses, have seen all of my warts and dimples, aren't surprised to find new ones arriving every day and still love me completely in spite of them all.  I am blessed beyond all measure.  Gratitude is a potent potion.  It can make the heart swell, bring a smile to a weary face, put a little extra skip in a tired step, and humble us all at the same time.

Of all of the opportunities God has given me to love and be loved, the greatest love of all is His love for me.   "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveresLove never fails."  Portion of I Cor. 13 

And I thought my family and friends loved me completely.  As much as they love me, and I love them, there is no comparison to the love of God for each of us.  He laid down His life, sticks closer than a brother, and calls us His friend.

Another favorite hymn - "Could we with ink the ocean fill and were the skies of parchment made; were every stalk on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade. To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry; nor could the scroll contain the whole, though stretched from sky to sky.  O love of God, how rich and pure, how measureless and strong. It shall forevermore endure the saints and angels song."

Sweet readers, try doing what I have attempted to do tonight.  Identify the people in your life who you know love you and have invested themselves in you.  Write them a handwritten thank you note telling each one specifically how he or she has impacted your life.   You will be living out your title, "Friend of God."  I'm going to do it.  Will you do it, too?  

Since joy is the outward manifestation of gratitude, I intend to keep approaching each day with an "attitude of gratitude" and joy.  Gratefully your wife, daughter, suster, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, aunt, cousin, (whatever else I am being called today), and friend - Mecca