Today my daughter Courtney graduated high school. It was an incredibly proud day for me. I see her having worked so hard to become this wonderful young woman, and she has had a very tough road getting here with many obstacles in her way. It has been bittersweet, watching her and being separated so much of the time. But it makes the times we are together something to really look forward to.
This trip home has been one long smile. I had a fantastic drive out here with my great friend Joan. Her generosity in bringing me out has been a blessing I can’t put words to. And then the joy of actually getting home! Although everyone in my family needed to see for themselves that I was really ok. It was kind of funny, how each one looked me over, like a quick inspection, after the first hello. I guess I should have worn my “guaranteed 100% cancer-free” t-shirt. I would have needed to print one first, but that’s just a detail.
But it has been just incredibly good to hug and be hugged, to be back together with those I love so much. There is nothing like family.
Today after Courtney’s graduation, which was at 9:00 a.m. we went to the elementary school that my grandsons attend (7-year-old twins and their 5-year-old brother) and surprised them for lunch. I haven’t been in an elementary school lunch room for a long time. They’re LOUD! That was really fun, and they were very surprised indeed. After that we spent some time talking with my son, who kept us laughing with stories about the boys.
Courtney came back to mom and dad’s for the night with me. Tonight she and I went out to just spend some time hanging out. We ended up (after the obligatory trip to WalMart and Target) at a cool little small-town place that makes burgers and Italian beefs, and sells soft serve and hard scoop ice cream (27 flavors, but that includes all the mix-in flavors for shakes, I think). We got a good sized shake with whipped cream and a cherry, and an Italian lemon ice for $4.00. Total. We sat outside on a wooden picnic table and ate ice cream and talked. It was great. Like a scene from a movie about a small town. Only better, because it was real.
I was very anxious about this trip because I would have to be around my ex and his wife, but I prayed a lot and many people were praying for me. It’s hard to be the person I know I am now, when I’m around people who still only see me as someone I was before, and only react to me that way. It’s easy to fall back into those patterns, and that’s what I was worried about. But last night God gave me this word, which just took all the anxiety away and made me able to totally relax in him and enjoy the day.
It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. Titus 3:3-8 Msg
Well, if that isn’t just exactly it in a nutshell. It wasn’t that long ago that I acted stupid, with a chip on my shoulder, hating and being hated. But GOD changed me. It wasn’t my doing, so I don’t have to worry about doing it when I’m there with them tomorrow at the graduation party. God has given me back my life. I can be me, who I am now, because God has given me this life. Not because I have done anything amazing to earn it. And nobody can take it away- because God gave it to me.