The day before Thanksgiving, I saw an article about a “Turkey Operation” here in Austin, Texas. The organization was calling for volunteers to help serve and pack meals for those not fortunate enough to already be looking forward to that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner that I enjoy so much. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry jelly, peas and carrots, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie … and that’s just the beginning!
It was a dull and rainy day as I sat at the window of a small brick row house in Leicester, England, watching the rain form small rivers on the window pane. A friend was letting me stay at his house while he was away and I helped care for a terminally ill loved one. It was a half-hour bus ride from the house to the Leicester Royal Infirmary, where I spent most of my days.
My neighbor Martha passed away this week after a long battle with emphysema. I will miss Martha and have found myself thinking about her a lot these past few days.
When my husband Dan and I moved into the neighborhood, Martha invited us over for tea and cookies. We sat in her immaculate living room and talked about our family and the volunteer work we had been doing in Mexico. It felt like home, and I was thankful to have a neighbor like Martha who was concerned that we’d feel welcome.
I guess I’m in the season of life where I’m so occupied living life and keeping up with all my projects and everything I need to do as a mother, caregiver, teacher, and wife that I just can’t seem to find the time to write blog posts and letters to friends about myself.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Jack sank deeper into his seat in the cold train carriage and pulled his hat down over his ears. He and his fellow passengers had been stranded there for several hours already. The steam locomotive and the lead carriage of the overnight express train had jumped the tracks halfway between hell and nowhere. Now all they could do was wait until help arrived. It was 1959, the middle of winter, and the dead of night. No power, no heat, and no light except for a few flashlights that the conductor and some passengers had.
When I was a teenager, I thought I knew it all. I was full of insecurities, but I was also full of opinions—strong ones! Looking back, I feel sorry for my parents. I’m sure I wasn’t an easy child to raise, especially as a teen. I didn’t like the fact that I had stricter parents than some of my friends did, and I pulled away from my mom and dad, as many teens do. I was sure my parents didn’t understand me, and I was right—they didn’t! None of their other kids were anything like me. I questioned everything and had trouble keeping rules. However, although I was tough on the outside, all I really wanted deep down was to find someone who truly understood me.
When Jesus told His disciples, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,”1 He was literally describing His upcoming death on the cross to save humanity. The subsequent events proved that He was willing to give up everything for us, His friends. Jesus’ love is perfect and His friendship is perfect.
Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment.
—Sydney Smith (1771–1845)
The sun makes ice melt; kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.
—Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965)
I had just moved to a new country with my husband and family. That meant new schools for the children and a new job for my husband. It was a difficult time of adjustment for all of us, but I was especially feeling the strain. My marriage was feeling it, too. There was a growing list of subjects that my husband and I stopped talking about, because we knew they would lead to arguments.
But then I got to know Toni.