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Sunrise taken by my friend, Cynthia

Have you noticed the beautiful sunrises?  As I make the curve in my road, I face East.  There have been many days that when I turned that curve, my breath caught in my throat at the beauty that faces me.  The colors vary, but the soft pinks and oranges as the sun rises are spectacular on the horizon.  I’m happy when I have to wait at the red light because I just gaze at God’s beauty.


How many times have we overlooked the beauty that faces us daily?  From striking sunrises and sunsets to the beauty of the people that we interact with;  precious small encounters, counsel from friends, to kind gestures of love.

It’s easy to overlook the small encounters that are fleeting moments.  A smile from a stranger as we pass or a door held open in respect.  Sometimes, just getting that smile from an unknown person or sharing a laugh over a common event brightens my moment and puts a spring in my step.

Hugs are another small occasion that lifts the soul.  My students are great givers of hugs!  There are students that come and give those hugs that almost knock me over and I have to peel them off of me like I’m peeling a starfish away, or a student will quietly come up, wrap their arms around me, and hang on briefly.  Then there are the rare hugs of students who shyly come up for a moment of affection.  It always makes me smile when a former student still comes for a hug.  Sometimes they are still smaller than I am, but there are times when I’m being dwarfed because they’ve grown taller than me.  All these brief connections are like small gifts to my inner person.

There are other kinds of hugs that matter.  The connection of a partner that holds you for strength and gives strength to you.  I miss those hugs the most.  Standing with strong arms wrapped around and a shoulder to lay my head against.  Man hugs are so different from hugs from women.  As much as I crave hugs, I don’t hug men that are married, except for side hugs.  It’s very hard to feel strength from a side hug.  Recently, I needed to cry and an unexpected person was my pillar.  You would think that my brother-in-law would be easy to hug, but Mike, John’s brother, is very undemonstrative physically in even the most emotional of times.  Yet, for a brief time a few weeks ago, I felt that strength that I missed as I cried and he wrapped his arms around me.  I felt renewed and slightly embarrassed, but I accepted it for what it was; a comforting and a remembrance of John.

Do you consider a friend a gift?  Isn’t it strange how some people you feel an instant kinship with them and then other friends you grow to love slowly over time because you share history.  Both type of friends add to our quality of life.  I do consider friends a gift.  Some are there briefly for a moment of our life.  Others we hang on to as life lines because we can’t imagine what life would be like without them in our world.

I have both kinds.  The brief ones I know God sent as a precious gift when I needed them to be His heart and hands.  My life has been made richer for these people in my life.  Friends that I can’t imagine not having their counsel or their laughter in my life grow more special to me as I grow older.  I recognize them as the jewels that they are.  I hope they know that their inner beauty is what draws me to them.  As I name each one in my mind, I’m not at all surprised that they have a close personal relationship with our Savior because God’s love shines through them.  I love you, my precious sisters.

Love given in kindnesses is appreciated.  I have been loved on so much through gestures.  From jobs done for me in my home to funds being raised for Cameron’s medical expenses.  My friends and strangers who’ve spent hours tiling, raking, weeding, painting, and organizing…. giving of their time.  Friends who raised money to offset Cam’s transplant expenses.  A friend’s sweet gesture of love to me recently.  A husband of an acquaintance at church and his dad who came to help move branches that had fallen during a storm.  These good will gestures given to me have been undeserved, but oh so welcomed.  My heart has been stroked and filled with ever lasting thankfulness over the years.

What a gorgeous, amazing world we live in.  This morning I was admiring the sky streaked with orange and this evening I listened to the thunder and watched the lightning.  Now, I’m enjoying the sounds of soft crickets chatter as the coolness comes through the open windows.  All this in a ten-mile radius.  I can’t imagine what it’s like watching from above all the glorious scenery of our planet.

More special than the physical creation is God’s relationship with each of us.  Our salvation and the blessings that await us in heaven.  However, until I’m called to live eternally with Him.  I will continue to count myself blessed by the people in my life.  The strangers I don’t know, but will continue to meet.  The friends and the acquaintances that He has blessed me with in my life and the ones that I will meet in the future.

Our God is so Great!