So Tuesday morning came around and I rolled out of bed and put my trusty yoga pants on and awesome new hoodie that my sweet friend Jen gave me. I crumpled my hair up into what I like to call my "PE hair", threw on my coat since it was -3 degrees outside, grabbed my backpack, went down to my truck, spent about 10 minutes de-icing her, and then finally, headed to Linde's for some breakfast and work.
As I walked up the sidewalk to Linde's little love nest (she just got married in August), I noticed she had it all decked out for Christmas. A Santa was hanging on the doorknob, blue Christmas lights covered she and Jeff"s (her husband) side of the duplex, and a large plastic Santa knelt down in front of a life-size manger scene in the yard. I think the Santa may have actually been washing Mary's feet as a symbol of his acknowledgement of the importance of keeping Christ in Christmas. Ok, fine, I made most of that up, except for the tasteful Santa on the doorknob, but I mean, what if?
With backpack in tow, I made it though the front door at Linde's, only to be greeted by the smell of pancakes, yummy candles, and Judy, the Giddens first official Christmas tree. A side note, while Judy, the cute tree, likes to drink water from her tree stand, according to Linde, she also likes an occasional ham and cheese hot pocket. Apparently, the Giddens have found that the preservatives in the hot pocket enhance Judy's Christmasy smell, and although the ham and cheese makes her burp on occasion, the overwhelming scent of pine and Christmas make her gassiness well worth it. Obviously it has been a while since my last post because as I glance over at my ridiculous meter, it's already dangerously high. Hang in there readers, a point ensues!
After taking off my winter layers and putting down my backpack, Linde and I sat down at the table and dug into her awesome pancakes. As we were eating, we spent some time catching up and listening to each other. Linde told me about their Christmas plans, asked me about some Christmas events we both were planning on attending this weekend, and then she asked me about my counseling session I had on Monday. Which by the way, if you ever are shopping for a counselor, many of my friends and I are blessed to sit under this guy's listening ears and wise counsel making him helpful for sure and someone I would highly recommend. I told Linde about the session and how the heaviness of the time surprised me because it was not what I anticipated.
As I explained to her some of my realizations from counseling, the tears just started sliding down my cheeks, right in the middle of breakfast. While I was not baby-style sobbing or so emotional Linde had to get me a paper bag to breathe in, tears were visible and I was again surprised at the closeness of my pain.
Although crying in front of people can tend to be awkward, Linde was such a safe place for me in those moments and it caused me to be so thankful for the authenticity of our friendship. In fact, she told me a couple of months ago that she wanted to be present with me in the pain and in the excitement because those are real places and God meets us in our vulnerability and our realness. So if God is present there, no matter how much it doesn't feel good, that is where she wants to find herself. In those moments at the breakfast table, although certainly not the first time, sweet Linde made good on her words. A steadfast friend for sure.
Finishing up breakfast, Linde and I found ourselves in a place of either choosing to get out our computers and make ourselves work, or go get toasty in her fancy, soft, marital bed and continue our conversation. We chose the non-work option reminding us both of all the conversations on the bed or couch when Linde lived with Jourdan and I before Jeff abducted her:). As I got underneath the covers and Linde curled up with a blanket like the called kitty from the apartment below us (see previous posts for clarification), she shared with me some difficult points she herself had been experiencing.
It was such a real time, not easy, but real, and just good. At the end of our talk, we spent some time praying for each other and I have no doubt, Jesus was there. In my mind he was sitting on the floor against the wall, legs bent, arms propped on his knees, taking it all in and even laughing when we talked about Beth or Seth Bookles (our names for our scary Christmas elf ornament things that resemble the Lady Elaine puppet from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood of Make Believe and somehow people buy and think "now yes, this is a perfect gift"), or how Judy the tree eats ham and cheese hot pockets or how Rudy, the tree at my apartment, prefers hot dogs with a touch of Tabasco sauce. Jesus heard it all, he was there, and I believe, he was pleased.
My time with Linde on Tuesday, made me very aware of the gift I have in the friendships in my life. Authenticity in relationships is often rare, yet during this season of life, my real, authentic, friends cup is overflowing. There is just something about being known and being loved even when I mess up repeatedly and at times am frustrating to no end (periodically I ask Jourdan if she has her invisible revolver out pressed against her temple due to one of my antics). There is also something about shared laughter, no matter how silly, and holding each other up to the light in a way that brings freedom, wholeness, and just makes us better.
After unsnuggling myself from Linde's marital bed, I realized it was almost lunch time and we had yet to "work." But as I left her house, I knew our time had accomplished much. Maybe our careers are not exactly in order, but I have no doubt we pushed each other forward. Check out my friend Linde's web page at www.lindebrowningdesign.com. Not only is she an amazing friend, but she is an awesome artist and decorator as well and I can't wait for our next "working" breakfast.
Hope this finds you enjoying the Christmas season, recognizing the gift of your friends and the limitless God who became limited flesh to save us from the bondage of ourselves. And if you need a giggle, name your tree and just imagine feeding he/she a hot pocket or rolled up bologna or spinach dip or fried rice. I mean what if?
Below are two pics. The first one is of all of the girls from apartment 2002 past and present: Kristen, Linde, me, and Jourdan. The second is of our tree,Trudy, from last year, she got a pink jogging suit for Christmas and preferred diet coke and hot dogs :)
Love you guys!