Monthly Archives: May 2012

FROM THE VAULT :: Celebrating my best good friend

10-year retrospectiveThis month I’m looking back over the past 10 years of blogging to repost some of the entries that help chronicle a decade of public writing as well as reflect who I was then and who I (still) am now. A lot has changed, yet a great deal has yet to evolve, and so I am reflecting on these things without judgement or regret. Thanks for walking through it with me.


THANKFUL :: My Best Good Friend, Cerella Sechrist
originally posted on November 25, 2009
 
I often speak of my best good friend (a term I stole from Forrest Gump) and how we’re essentially just new-style pen pals, but many people have difficulty understanding how a friendship can grow so strong when only emails are shared. But it is precisely that love of the written word that brought us together in the first place and has continued to be the foundation upon which our friendship is built. Though Cerella and I have never met in person during our 13-year history, our bond has grown continually stronger in every aspect of relationship. We’ve become sisters after all these years, and it’s precisely because of that faithful email correspondence.

In 1999, when the internet was just making its way into the home of the average person, I took a stab at writing fan fiction for a now-defunct television series called The Magnificent Seven. Cerella read a single story and declared herself my biggest fan. This was my first foray into online communities, my first experience “meeting” people via the internet, and the first time I’d shared any of my writings in public. I wasn’t even using my real name anywhere yet. [Remember how scary it all seemed back then?] But Cerella was honest and encouraging in her love for my writing and the characters I was adding to existing Mag7 canon, and we quickly began corresponding regularly. I learned that she, too, had writing aspirations, so many of our conversations centered around this topic. There were no boundaries in our communication, no generation gaps or personal issues related to our 10-year age difference. We simply shared our hearts and our thoughts and found common interests in books and movies and celebrity crushes. That was the foundation, but it quickly became only a starting point for something far greater.

During the following decade, Cerella and I would reconnect from time to time and catch up on the past weeks or months that had kept us too busy to correspond regularly. Each time it seemed as if no time had passed at all. My experience is that this is a sign of enduring friendship, and the years have proven that to be true. In recent years we’ve kept in constant communication, using email and texts and packages through the postal service, and we’re still each other’s biggest fans despite not yet having met in person, even now. That detail has no effect on our bond. We are sisters in Christ, encouragers of each other’s dreams, and sounding boards for life’s messy details. I have no other friendship that goes so deep or maintains such honesty. I’m sure there would be little personality quirks between us that would certainly put a new dimension on our relationship if we saw each other regularly, but I’m inclined to believe that such things would be of no consequence in the long run. As I’m fond of saying, we know each other’s hearts, and that transcends even the greatest of differences. We both look forward to the day when we can finally sit down and share a meal at the same table and talk long into the night. As all lifelong friends do.

Love Finds You in Hershey, PennsylvaniaI celebrate Cerella’s friendship every day, but there is one very specific way that is more fun than the rest: the joy of her first published novel, Love Finds You In Hershey, Pennsylvania. Check out this sweet, fun story for yourself and follow Cerella for news of future projects. Join me in celebrating my best good friend!

FROM THE VAULT :: lessons learned from dad

10-year retrospectiveThis month I’m looking back over the past 10 years of blogging to repost some of the entries that help chronicle a decade of public writing as well as reflect who I was then and who I (still) am now. A lot has changed, yet a great deal has yet to evolve, and so I am reflecting on these things without judgement or regret. Thanks for walking through it with me.


LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY DAD
originally posted on Father’s Day 2010
 
NEVER GIVE UP ON PEOPLE — I learned this lesson by example. My dad forgives, again and again and again. He never stops giving second chances, least of all to his family. And he’s been tested, thoroughly, by all of us, many times over and often through the same mistakes. But he never gives up on any of us. Thank God, he never gives up on us. My dad has never forgotten what it feels like to be forgiven, and he is quick to offer that to everyone else. In this way, he models our heavenly Father, making it very easy for me to believe in a loving, gracious God. I will never be able to thank him enough for that.
 
MARRIAGE IS FOR LIFE — and your word is your bond. If you commit, you don’t break that vow. I can remember a time when my parents struggled in their early married life, and many years later I witnessed them both verbally commit to never divorce and to always work through whatever challenges came along. Since that day, I’ve watched their love grow and their relationship flourish. I continually see them trudge through pain and anger and fear until they can finally make each other laugh again, and I know their example is rare and powerful. I understand the truth of enduring love because of my parents, and I understand how a woman should be treated because my dad has modeled it with my mom (and with his daughters). It’s a high standard of excellence, to be sure, and I refuse to lower my own standards because I know what I would be missing.
 
YOU’RE NEVER TOO BUSY — for family, for friends, for people in need. You might have other plans or ideas about what you want to accomplish, but God is in charge of all your time and when He creates an appointment for you, nothing else is more important. This is especially true for grandchildren and daughters who can probably handle things themselves but really want Daddy to do it instead. It’s far too easy for us to take advantage of our dad because he’s so willing to rearrange his agenda to accommodate almost any request. I wonder if being always available also makes him feel valued and irreplaceable? He is, of course. In every way.
 
THE LOVE OF JESUS IS OVERWHELMING — My dad has a soft heart, but he’s not necessarily prone to tears. Except when he speaks of relationship with the Christ. When my dad considers the sacrifice of our Lord and the depth of His love and grace, he can barely speak about it. The words always catch in his throat. His eyes fill with tears, and his heart swells. He frequently has to stop and take a deep breath before he can speak again. It was this way when he first began his relationship with Jesus, and it is exactly the same (perhaps moreso) 25 years later. Nothing affects my dad in quite the same way, not even his family. And at the same time, my dad bursts with true joy when describing that intimate relationship with our Savior. Nothing in life brings him more delight. Which is why I know that…
 
THE GREATEST CHARACTER TRAIT IS A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR — My life story is full of ridiculous and hilarious episodes, and many of those are directly tied to my family. My dad has always modeled a joyful life. He finds humor in everything. And he is quick to laugh! He and I share a quirky sense of humor, and he has a subtle, dry wit that perplexes those who don’t spend much time with our family. He’s really good at analyzing every situation until he can find something to laugh at, and even when things are the worst you could imagine and keep going downhill, my dad will always find some small goodness in the midst of it. He has a wonderful way of finding humor in the dark and difficult. Because of this example I’ve learned to laugh instead of cry – or at least to laugh in the midst of crying – and I’m always reminded of my dad saying, “Yes, it’s awful, but that’s the darlin’ part!” And after a time I can see that he’s right.
 
My dad, himself, is the darlin’ part of our family. He shows us how to love and how to live life fully, without regret and without turning around to focus on the past. He leads by example, and we have learned to follow. I am truly thankful every moment of every day for God’s great gift to us in my dad.
 

FROM THE VAULT :: the best advice I ever received

10-year retrospectiveThis month I’m looking back over the past 10 years of blogging to repost some of the entries that help chronicle a decade of public writing as well as reflect who I was then and who I (still) am now. A lot has changed, yet a great deal has yet to evolve, and so I am reflecting on these things without judgement or regret. Thanks for walking through it with me.


originally posted on Mother’s Day 2010
 
The best advice I ever received came from my mother during an especially challenging and personally unsatisfying period in which an employer was a source of constant grief:
 

Everything you’re
 

going through
 

is building
 

character
 

in you.
 

It was a light bulb moment for an almost-thirty-year-old who had only recently returned to her faith and was desiring excellence and a deeper relationship with Jesus. I think this may have also been the exact moment I realized the excellence of my mother, how she had always been good and strong and wise despite my inability to recognize it. Even then, it would still be many years before I understood the depth of my mother’s love and the sacrifices she makes for her family… and for me, especially. But we’ve been building a friendship ever since, and I’ve never forgotten her sage words on that day. Whenever I experience something particularly challenging or stressful, and especially when I cannot understand the why of a situation or a person’s behavior, I remember those words from my mother. Every moment in life is building character in me.
 

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