Friday was my sister's birthday. I had tried to find a card I'd seen a couple months ago, but I couldn't remember where I'd seen it and it seems to have disappeared completely. And with something in particular in mind, I couldn't find any other card that felt right. So I didn't send one.
This is the card:
The front says, "They dared Mittens to do it, and Mittens never turned down a dare."
Inside, it says, "Here's to living life on the edge! Happy Birthday."
I called my sister instead.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. I didn't call her until after work.
Just as I was wrapping up my work day, my roommate called to tell me that her BFF Forever - her son's mother-in-law, a wonderful Christian woman and the glue in her family - had just passed away. She'd been battling stomach cancer for several months, and we knew she might not survive to see Christmas. Still, it came too soon, and the news brought me to tears.
After work I struggled with how to handle my sister's birthday call. I didn't want to dampen her spirits, but it was hard to think about being happy when this family that I love was suffering. Finally, I decided to save the news until the end of the call and followed it by telling my sister how very, VERY much I love her.
Life is difficult. And it's rewarding. And good. It is a gift from God that fills us with joy and sorrow, sometimes at the same time.
Today, right this minute, there are families watching as their loved one slips away from this life. And there are families rejoicing at the arrival of a new life. Today people are celebrating a birthday (and I know who one of you is) and others are facing defeat and regret. Today little children can't contain their excitement as they stand in line to talk to Santa, and old people in senior communities take their lapdogs out for a walk, alone. And all of it (and so much more) happens at exactly the same time.
What amazes me when I try to comprehend it all (and can't) is that God is able to weep and rejoice and strengthen and celebrate and comfort and convict and draw people to Him. He is all we need - and some days we need it all.
Life is more fleeting than we realize, so we need to make sure to tell people we love them so we don't have any regrets. And when we've done that, when all of that is settled, we need to get on with life.
We need to come out from the shadows, out from our hiding places, to stop shrinking back from the challenges of life and start living a little more on the edge. We need to be more like Mittens.