Saturday, August 9, 2008

Working Together

I have a dear friend of 35 years who also happens to be my sister-in-law. We have a unique and beautiful story. We met as students at a Christian college in Minnesota. I was a junior when she came as a freshman from Miles City, Montana. She attended college for just one year before moving to St. Paul to attend nursing school. Our paths crossed again a year later when I began attending church in a suburb of St. Paul which she joined a short time later. We then got an apartment together with two other young ladies and had a wonderful time as young, single adults serving in many capacities in our local church. Kris was and ICU nurse at the U of M and I taught fourth grade. A few years later Kris moved to Indiana to continue her Bible college education. One year later I also moved to Indiana. To make a long story short, we met and married brothers at a double wedding ceremony 26 years ago. In 2007 we celebrated 25 years of marriage by renewing our vows in a double ceremony with our children standing up with us. (See family picture) Kris and I, of course, have had our highs and lows in our friendship but there came a time when we had to decide (and this was before we knew we'd one day be in-laws!) if we wanted to work through difficulties and hard times in our friendship or allow hurt feelings to interfere with our relationship. We had a wonderful older lady who mentored us and helped us learn to work through difficulties. What a favor she did us. What a blessing that we chose to work through our problems! Kris and I have a close relationship and our families (husbands and children) are all close. Currently we are in the process of writing a book together. When you learn to work through relationships instead of "discarding" people when things get tough or uncomfortable, you never know what a blessing that will be to you and others in the future. Had Kris and I never learned to work through our relationship struggles, quite possibly we would never have married brothers, would not be working together on a book that is going to help women, or be able to do any of the other things we've been privileged to do together. Proverbs 18:24 says, "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." In other words, friend relationships take work. But that work is very worth it! You may not see the whole picture for years to come, but believe me, it is very, very worth it to build right relationships! I wonder how often we trade hurt feelings for some wonderful opportunities and relationships in the future and don't even know it. Take the time and effort to work through your relationships in life!

Young People Are Where It's At!

I consider myself most fortunate because I have young people in my life. Though I feel very young in my mind, I am approaching 60...the age my mother was when she passed away. Now I no longer consider 60 to be old, but I do realize I am joining the ranks of "senior citizen."
I am not a death and dying person; I love life and want to live it to the fullest. But the fact is, I will die one day. When I am gone I want it to have mattered that I lived. I want to have made a difference in the lives of those I love and those with whom I have contact.
Five years ago my niece and her husband moved to our area. What a thrill it has been to be able to enjoy their two sons, Drew (11) and Justin (7). (The boys are pictured with a pinata flip-flop we made for my sister's 60th birthday party.) Drew will be going into junior high school next year and so his mind is on becoming a teenager. Remember your junior high years? Remember how you felt? With their changing hormones and the emotional roller coaster they will experience, junior highers need the stability and the acceptance of the adults in their lives.
The other night in church Drew looked at me and said, "Aunt Jane, see this?" I looked and saw a small bump. "It's a pimple," he said. "That because I'm becoming a teenager." He was so proud of that bump!
I smiled and said, "Oh, I love it that you are becoming a teenager because I love teenagers." He grinned from ear to ear and slid closer to me. I knew I had connected with him.
Young people will never forget an adult who loved them unconditionally. We often feel intimidated and think teens don't want us involved in their lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.Why not try to connect with young people in your life? They need you and you need them! Try's a great way to live...and a great way to live after you are gone as they'll remember you forever!