The Shelter of Friendship
Life ebbs and flows. If you've been alive longer than a year, you're aware of that. Some seasons settle us into periods of inner peace, tranquility, and a sense that life is, for the most part, dang good. Other seasons grab us by the collar, sautée us in butter, and then tumble us in the dryer on the heavy setting. Yes, mixed metaphors are best for describing the hard seasons of life, and we both know it.
This author is emerging from just such a season—one of those times where love and honor required much of me, and I gave it. But to be real with you, dear reader, it was not without much upheaval, pain, fear, and change. For eighteen months, my job was not to pen novels full of Kingdom truths, but to be there for family members who needed me. Putting pen to paper was the least of my concerns. In fact, the very best I could do was imagine the potential of blessings to come... to find moments of beauty as I looked out from the windows of the house we weren't totally sure about, but bought anyway, because it gave us what we needed to support our loved ones who were moving up to join us.
Perhaps you, too, have found yourself at one time or another in an environment that's nearly opposite to what you'd have chosen for yourself. The man who owned this house before us could not have been more different in his tastes if we'd planned it. On top of that, we got to adjust to the total lifestyle change of living where the regular sounds of deer, coyote, turkeys, goats, hawks, and a little river echo through the misty valley and speed limits don't apply for another few miles. Whirlwinds of decisions to be made, possessions to shed, papers to sign, expectations to manage, and emotions to navigate found me as the center linchpin at the top of everyone's speed dial for this major life transition. Realtors—some trustworthy, some dodgy, and all of them fifteen minutes late. Sellers—proud of their homes, yet unwilling to clean them. A grumpy renter who preferred to set the tour schedule of her flea-infested cottage to suit her cat. And finally contractors—have you ever renovated a cat's cottage before? My contractor, who I now call a friend, intimated to me that he has only upchucked twice on the job in thirty years of work. Our job was the second. Enough said.
The enemy of my soul also took the opportunity of this season of vulnerability to bear down hard on my marriage, especially targeting communication between husband and wife. How better to destroy someone than to make sure the other half of their heart misunderstands the majority of what they say?
And all of this during covid-19.
I have never been more tired.
Not even during early motherhood.
So I found myself unable to think of stories, other than how my own would turn out. I never wavered in my belief that God had called us out into the wilderness like Abraham, and as I suspected, the blessing of obedience is far beyond description.
But I needed comfort. I needed a way to decompress, a way to see the world through the eyes of my Creator. Writing has always been that for me in the past. Yet my brain was like a browser with 87 tabs running. Occasionally, I would sit in front of a white screen with the words "Book Four" at the top.
"...Buffering...buffering..." was my brain's reply. "Error. Please try again later."
Prayer was some comfort, but I was in a noisy spiritual state. Talking to family members was also somewhat helpful, but we were all in the same boat, so to speak. None of us knew exactly what to think.
Most of my huge sources of comfort—gone.
But then Jesus reminded me of something important.
There's a reason He calls His people on earth His hands and feet. That His family is His body. When someone shows kindness, they're doing it as Him and for Him. Do you believe that? I mean, truly? I think I had accepted that idea mentally, but never explored the literal truth of it before.
Our friends, the family we chose for ourselves, were there.
With trembling lips, we asked what would happen to our group if we moved another fifteen minutes outside of town. Would they ever come see us?
Of course they would! Duh. What's a few extra miles? Preposterous. Not only would they come see us, they would help us see the beauty in our surroundings. They sat in our new living room, just as they did in the old one, and continued to pour out their hearts and listen to ours. They told us we weren't the only ones with misunderstandings and fear. We weren't the only ones who were navigating the questions of how to be of help to aging parents or guide teenagers without alienating them. When a wildfire came within four miles of us and the county mandated evacuations, some sheltered us, and all prayed for our safety. Life-giving support and prayer are never more than a text message away. That is the body of Christ. That is real Jesus in the flesh, holding our hands, hugging us, and bringing tacos. That's HIM!
I pray you have a network of love and support like this. If not, please plug in with a local group of Jesus-followers and be there for them.
This brings us to mince pies. Naturally, right?
If you haven't yet read my Time Tree Chronicles series, I'm not sure what you're waiting for. Especially now, because book 1, Time Tree: The Emergence, happens at Christmas time! When our main characters, Iris and Angus, are in need of shelter and comfort, they find it in the hearts, home, and friendship of the MacCrann family.
Katie MacCrann's mince pies are the perfect edible metaphor. You take shriveled up old prunes and other strange looking ingredients, combine them with fresh young apples and throat-burny whisky, and you end up with a unique, flavorful, and beautiful dessert that could rival anything at any Christmas party. Just like the body of Christ. We have some interesting characters and sometimes our environment feels scorching. But together, we shelter and feed one another and find the sweetness of Christ's love in us.
Here's the original recipe:
Katie's Mince Pies.docx
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