A Life FULL Of Friendships — #RestBreak2016

a929262188bdb7741999afac63da1c5c-2Feeling replenished, we said goodbye to the peaceful pines of Treasure Farm, and day six was a short car ride to Atlanta, GA. Dunwoody to be exact, a northern suburb that we called home from 1992-1999. I served as Executive Pastor at Dunwoody Baptist Church. http://www.dbc.org Hands down, our family would say this was a special era of our lives. Here we forged many life-giving friendships that we still enjoy some twenty years removed.

Friendships are a gift and make life rich and full. Forrest Gump said as much in his movie classic, reflecting on the death of his friend. “Bubba was my best good friend. And even I know that ain’t something you can find just around the corner…” 

Today I breath in life by reflecting on all the “best good friends” we do life with. Jill Stein of Dunwoody is one of these “best good friends”. Sharon is staying with Jill as I am at the monastery.

We first met Jill on the legendary baseball fields of the Atlanta little league where our sons played together. Jill was a career woman, single parent, Jewish by heritage and intense! And I say intense in a high spirited and good way. You always knew where you stood with Jill. She was strong, opinionated, action oriented and didn’t mind speaking her mind. Jill was a lot of fun also!

11232175_10207101760969500_1029084884707106630_nWe (Sharon and I) quickly became bleacher friends and conversations ran the gamut from kids, work, hobbies, and then yes, religion. Jill was inquisitive of our “modern” practices as she called them, different from her Jewish roots. The roads we had traveled to date were distinctly different, but there was a spark of friendship.

One thing was for sure, Jill was a survivor of some of life’s hardest knocks — with more to come. She has a sister with Downs Syndrome. Breast cancer had taken the life of another sister. Both her parents had passed. She had failed marriages. And amidst all of this, her Jewish heritage and beliefs had provided little solace.

Over the coming months of conversations, questions, and tears our friendship grew on a practical and spiritual level. With a growing understanding of life and God, Jill chose to begin to follow Jesus. She later expressed this commitment through Christian baptism.

13346609_10209827536672189_8930075004677762979_nOur friendship continued to grow over the ensuing years. Little did Jill know that more hard times would visit her family. Her brother Paul died suddenly. Jill too was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and thanks be to God via surgeries, chemotherapy and God’s mercies, Jill is a survivor.

But Jill is much more than a survivor. She models the words that Jesus spoke, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10 NIV

As I reflect, Jill represents for me the many, many friendships that are a part of the fullness of life that Jesus spoke of.

Thanks Jill for living your life to the“full”! Thanks for continuing to be one of the most fun and giving people we know. Thanks for throwing GREAT parties, picking out tasty bottles of wine, ordering delicious sushi, buying meaningful gifts for others, always providing lodging for travelers like us, being there in times of need, and loving God and others passionately!

11210489_10207091142504045_3059039857899593516_nJill’s passion for life and modeling of Jesus reminds me of the above picture of a little girl as she dances in front of an Irish painting. In doing so she makes the world happy.

John Lavery painted the above portrait in 1911 of Anna Pavlova, of Glasgow, Scotland. And as beautiful as the original paining is, it’s the little girl’s response that brings the painting to life — once again, much like the life giving fullness of friends.

Grateful today for the gift of friendships,

Jim

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  1. Beautifully said! What a treasure to have such an amazing friend for life.

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