Celebrate Love

Hi you guys. You might have heard - it's valentines day. I have some reservations about this "holiday", but either way, I won't pass up an opportunity to celebrate love.  The truth is that I have probably spent my whole life trying to understand love. I have written a thousand poems that barely touch at the nature, the essence, the fabric of what love is. Taken a thousand pictures just to hopefully capture one fraction of what is truly happening in that moment. I see love daily - in the dynamics of families I get to work with, in the patience of my knowing Momma, in the laugher of a friend who just gets it... I encounter love but I cannot explain it. In all my searching I have discovered that love is not a thing, no not even a verb, but a person. Love has a name, Jesus. And I see Him everywhere, from the smallest kind gesture between strangers at the grocery store to the unwavering strong arms of family in the midst of crisis and pain.

In relation to the topic of love, let me tell you about these donuts. Well, for starters, yes I just simply loooove donuts. But these donuts have a nice little story of their own. You see, for more than a year now, my family has been dealing with some heavy stuff. Primarily a fight with cancer and the unfolding of some financial/real estate garbage. But along with those two things comes other heavy things like fear, uncertainty, pain, heartbreak, challenging life change, conflict, and so on and so on. I cannot tell you what is worse, to be the one suffering or to be the one loving the one who is suffering. There is a special kind of heartbreak reserved for those who simply stand alongside the sick and the hurting, and hurt with them, and hold them, and never turn away, but can do simply nothing to change their pain.

So, yesterday we had another doctors appointment for dad. It seems that we have had hundreds of dr appointments lately. This has been the past year of our lives pretty much, just living from one doctors report to another, bracing ourselves that the good news will stay good and the bad news will turn good, just praying praying praying for things to turn our way. And so many times on this journey, they have. Yesterday, we got further good news. Dad can walk, drive and GOLF again. These are good good good things, my friends.

After the appointment, I told dad, "You know, a year ago today was really scary. Our story could have gone so many directions since then. Some I can barely stand to think about. But if you had asked me a year ago, given the current diagnosis and outlook, what I would want for us today, this is pretty close. You have been given back your vision (something doctors said he could lose altogether at one point) and your mobility (and freedom). This is a good day, Dad."

He thought it over for a moment and said, "Yeah. I agree. Donuts?"

Thus, donut euphoria ensued. (Can we all just take a collective moment of silence to thank God for donuts?......................... And, amen.) Dad bought me my own box of donuts just for myself and naturally I picked the ones that were prettiest (not necessarily tastiest, because you know... art and stuff). And we sat and talked and laughed and just had a NORMAL morning. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate NORMAL days now. What a gift!

Now, being a lady, I did not finish all my donuts right there at Krispy Kreme. I know some of you are surprised by my restraint and to that, I credit the Lord. So later that day, home again, I was getting ready to go see a friend. This friend of mine is so very special to me, because we have weathered so many life storms together. I wish to God that all her hurting was in the past, but for today, it is not. And a new storm has just rolled into her life. It's easier for me, after all that I've just gone through with my family, to run away from people's pain. The temptation is there.

Just as I am tempted to run from fresh pain, I am also tempted to hoard my donuts.  Real talk. And yet, I wanted to share. Go figure. So I took my donuts to her house with a smile on my face, making room in my heart to meet her in her storm. Funny, as we talked and we laughed and we ate donuts together, I thought of the donuts as more than just the delicious GOURMET food items that they were. I thought of them as a symbol of blessing. My dad and I had just got them at the tail end of a hard journey, as a reward, a celebration - in my heart these donuts represented the truth of God's faithfulness. We had made it through the storm, only thanks to Him. And here I was, handing them to her, and my heart was saying, "You will make it through this storm too. Look, taste and see (get it?), how great and faithful and trustworthy the Lord is with our pain."

Instead of hoarding and consuming my blessing, I shared it. And it was really beautiful to me, the way these donuts blessed two hurting families, one in the beginning of a long journey, one towards the end of one.

Love, it seems, is sharing blessing. Love is enduring with family, grieving alongside them, holding onto a quiet hope when they cannot for themselves dare to hope any longer. Love is letting your heart break with theirs, even though you could easily turn away. Love is choosing in, day in and day out. Love is taking your dad to an early doctors appointment for the millionth time and getting to finally finally FINALLY celebrate victory and long awaited progress. Love is sitting at the donut shop laughing about little things and getting boyfriend-advice from my dad, letting him be my dad again, not just someone who is sick or hurting. Love is buying your daughter donuts to say thank you for something you cannot even begin to articulate, thank you for standing alongside me, thank you for sticking with it, thank you for smiling still. Thank you. Love is taking those very donuts to a hurting friend and eating them together with her babies in our arms and crying and laughing and praying together. Love is saying, I cannot take this from you and if I could I would, but I will sit with you in it, for as long as it takes. Love is showing others that they are not alone.

And those things are things worth celebrating. Love is worth celebrating. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by it, to discover it at every turn. To see it within myself and within those around me. Knowing, always, that what I'm really encountering is the work of Jesus in my world.