Monday, May 14, 2012

Friends and Soupbeans

Do you have people in your life that you’re close to even though you aren’t with them often? Maybe you haven’t seen them in years, but when you’re together it’s as if you were just conversing the week before. I enjoy friendships like that. Being in the ministry with my husband for 38 years has allowed me to know lots of wonderful people. Last week, I was with a couple who were our very first neighbors when Joe and I began our life together. John and Dena had two little boys who were adventurous and polite and we loved them. On our very first Easter as husband and wife, they invited us to have lunch with their family. They helped us feel like we fit right in. Today, John still has that same sweet, humble spirit that we came to love in him all those years ago. He’s a man in love with Jesus and his wife...and it’s obvious.

His wife, Dena, was one of my very first mentors as a new bride. I’d go over, sit in her living room and talk about anything and everything. I’d ask questions. She’d give me wise answers and encourage me. When my husband asked me to fix him some “soupbeans and cornbread” I was clueless. So where did I go? Across the road, of course, to Dena...who told me how to fix what is still one of Joe’s favorite meals.

She’s had some health battles but I have yet to hear her complain about any of them. When skin cancer required extensive surgery on her never quenched the sweet smile and tender spirit of this woman! Even skin grafts - which I’m sure had to be very painful - didn’t change her attitude. This week, I saw her not long after she woke up from having her left breast removed because of cancer. Her right breast had been removed years earlier. I walked into her room and there she was...smiling. There was no spirit of tragedy in that room. The surgeon felt he got all the cancer when he took the breast and one lymph node. The only thing I felt in that place was the sweet feeling of three friends visiting with each other...catching up on one another’s families and sharing our hearts. Nurses were ministering to Dena’s needs while John and I talked. He still has that calm, gentle approach to whatever we are talking about. I haven’t been with either one of them for many, many years, yet when we were together there in that hospital room, it was as if we’d never been apart. Facebook has helped in that way because we’ve been able to stay in touch. Thanks to that social media...I knew to drop by the hospital in Kingsport on my way back from our home in Virginia to our home in Tennessee. Many people are praying for Dena to recover well and I am one of those people.

Before I left the room, John asked me to sing one of his favorite songs “Because He Lives” so I did my best for him, prayed with them...kissed them both when I was finished and walked toward the elevators. I felt good inside. I’d just spent a few moments with special people that I don’t see nearly often enough, yet who made me feel as if we’d never been apart. Those are the kinds of friendship every one of us I right?

Now you and I both know that I cannot possibly post a blog that won’t at least make an attempt at putting a smile on your here goes.

When Dena told me how to make soupbeans in 1974, she said to buy a bag of beans and “rock them” so the immediate picture in my mind is me sitting on a rocker holding a bag of dried beans. To this day I smile when I pick the rocks out of my bag of beans!

She also told me that the beans needed to soak before cooking them, so I figured if I wanted a bowlful of beans I should soak a bowlful of beans. I covered the beans with water, left the bowl overnight on top of the counter and came out the next morning to see beans everywhere! I didn’t realize that by soaking them, they would expand! Theodore (our deaf cat that deserves a blog posting all to himself someday) was crouched down on the floor nibbling away at those beans. I don’t remember if it did anything to his digestive system. But I do remember that I cooked up so many beans, we ate them for a week! You can guess the rest of that story, my friends, because Beano hadn’t been invented yet!

Always remember that if you have a pulse, you have a purpose. Make your life count!

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