Inhale. Exhale.

I feel like I keep writing the same thing over and over — how I am amazed at all the friendships and connections I have in this next chapter.  Some of these connections are new — my husband’s coworkers, my Bible study battalion, and my new students.

But some of the characters that show up in this next chapter were players in earlier chapters — some a long, long time ago.

My Thursday morning walking buddy was my college suite-mate.  Back in the 1980s we shared bathroom space and late-night snacks. Today we share our journey through chronic illness, marriage, and parenting while walking laps at the mall.

Before Thanksgiving I reconnected with another friend. She was a member at the congregation we served in the 1990s, where all of our children were born.  We became close through our home Bible study group, Marriage Encounter, and the church’s worship team.  She was the director of worship; we’ll say I was support staff and cheerleader — I wrote song lyrics, prayed with the team, and led them in Bible study before practice.  Her children attended my high school Bible study on Sunday mornings.  We were friends.

Another friend from the past is actually responsible for us being here in Ann Arbor.  She is on staff here as Director of Worship Arts and alerted us to the posting for a Dean of Students.  Back in the 1980s she and I worked side by side as work study employees for this university’s Office of Development.  Computers were new and we were hired to enter thousands of donor names into a database. We also wrote thank you letters and gave campus tours.  Through that connection, I began attending her father’s congregation, ate dinners at their family table, and felt like I belonged.

These three women from my past want to join me for a Bible study.  I already have my Bible study on Wednesday mornings — you know, my batallion.  But these gals are my friends, they know parts of my story, they belong in my story.

So today a few of us met to discuss what we should study.  I was running late — the only one without a job and was late.  I sank onto a sofa with them and just breathed.  Familiarity.  Love.  Acceptance. Inhale, exhale.

We talked for over an hour without touching on Bible study.  We just swapped stories of life.  And as we were preparing to part, I think I asked, “so what do we want to study?”

It seemed like we were going to go with Ephesians when one of the others said, “You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about Acts 3:19.”  We turned to find it. “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you.” Repent.  Turn. So that times of refreshing may come. Ahhhhhh. Inhale. Exhale.

One of the others said, “It reminds me of Isaiah 30:15: In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.”Ahhhhh.  Inhale.  Exhale.

The first woman said, “It sounds like we could all really use this.  A turning away from the way that we are going so that we can experience refreshing.”

I said, “Maybe we could just think about those verses for a little bit and see where that leads us.”

The other woman said, “Maybe we could write a devotional book for women like us who could also use some refreshing.”

Could we? Really? You would want to do that with me? We could spend the time together? We could commit to that project together?  And through it we could grow closer and we could all be changed together?

I hugged them tightly saying, “Is this real?  Are we really here together? Is God really this good?”

I pinched myself, and guys, I think it’s real. Inhale. Exhale.

Psalm 34:8

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

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