I have told you several stories about our friends whom I have been calling Jeffrey, Lisa, Austin, Kevin, and Rachel. Rachel is my little friend who made the Un-happy Meal. On Saturday we got to see the real items, plus a bag of potato chips and some cotton candy and a carrot and a piece of broccoli–a whole bag full of Rachel’s other creations.
Jeffrey, Lisa, and their kids were our guests when we had our “Through the Wardrobe” celebration several years ago.
Seeing Rachel’s artwork Saturday was an added bonus. The main reason we were at Jeff and Lisa’s was to celebrate Austin’s high school graduation.
Jeff’s mom and Lisa’s mom arrived before us. My mother (who is living with us again, perhaps permanently–more about that another day) sat down between them on the couch in the den. In front of the couch were rows of folding chairs ready for the ceremony. Visiting on a love seat were Jeff’s brother and one of Lisa’s. Soon our daughter Bethany and her family arrived, as did folks from the neighborhood, including a young couple and a homeschooling family with six children.
It was a privilege to celebrate with these precious friends. Ray and I met Jeffrey and Lisa when we moved back home to Tennessee and Ray began to preach in the church they attended. They were once in a marriage communication class we taught. They had their first baby not too long after we moved there. When Austin was about eighteen months old, Lisa called me asking about one of our girls babysitting for them. Our girls were popular babysitters in our church. To be fair to them, when a new “customer” called looking for a sitter, I took turns recommending first one and then the other. When Lisa called, it was Bethany’s turn. Her relationship with their family became very close and, as a bonus, we became like part of the family, too.
Our two families have gone through so much in the last dozen years or so and we have gone through it all together. Together we have learned to:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Romans 12:15, NASB
When we lost our precious grandson Avery two years ago today, Lisa and Austin drove an hour and a half to the hospital to be with John and Audra and with Ray and me, while Jeffrey stayed home with the younger children.
All four of us have lost our dads in that dozen years–first me, then Ray, then Lisa; and then, as I shared with you last October, Jeffrey lost his.
Seeing Jeffrey and Lisa’s brothers on the love seat together was amazing. Jeffrey’s brother came near death after a house fire a few years ago and spent weeks in intensive care. Then Lisa’s brother was involved in an accident perhaps a year later; he also came near death and spent weeks in intensive care.
The reason that Jeffrey and Lisa know their new neighbors is because Jeffrey was laid off two years ago and they had to move. Now our drive to see them is two hours and two minutes instead of the forty-three minutes it used to be.
I took story photos on Saturday–three widows on a couch, two brothers on a love seat, new neighbors, and good buddies Austin and Bethany. Tomorrow I want to tell you about graduation, but first I wanted to tell you about the room full of stories.
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5a, NASB