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Photo of a garden with stone walkway. It has orange and yellow flowers blooming and splits to the left and right.

Photo by Martha G. Brady

Last weekend I spent some time with an old friend…from WAY back. We knew each other in late elementary school and Junior High. Because my family moved overseas, we weren’t in close contact after that, but my grandparents were in the same town and church, so I still saw her over the years during school breaks.

In fact, she was one of my bridesmaids! We have kept up a bit but neither of us was great at letter writing. It was interesting to discuss those years. Because of the stresses in her life in those years, she has practically NO memory of most of her childhood. She wanted me to fill in some of her memory gaps. For those of you who know me now, that probably sounds rather funny! But my memory of that period is actually pretty good.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

Philippians 1:6-7 ESV

God’s grace has been abundant in our lives.

One area that we realized God blessed us despite our lack of wisdom at the time is the husbands He gave us. They are both Godly men who are honest to the core…values we hold very dear. As we talked, I realized how much alike we are. I may have known it to some degree then, but during our visit it became quite clear. As we talked, we realized how much grace God has shown us over the course of our lifetimes.

Apart from the fact that she is one of the few people I know who has a similar conversation style to mine…that of starting about three trains of thought and often losing them with all the interruptions that come along the way in a long visit. You know, telephone calls, questions for clarification, meal preparations, etc.? We touched on many topics but didn’t get to complete all of them. I came away wishing I could stop by more often for a chat.

We are both determined…or stubborn. It depends on your vantage point.

We are both determined…on our good days. On our bad days we are stubborn, hard-headed and spit-fires. It totally depends on your perspective. Life is never dull around us! We have daughters with some similarities in temperament to show for it. That can be a positive and a negative. We are both artistic…but we are more than that as well.

My art is expressed on the piano and in quilting. Hers has been expressed musically as a result of her vocal training and experience. Many of the churches she has been in have benefited from that ability. She was a teacher by profession.

We are also artistic, but it shows in different ways.

Now her artistic side is also seen in one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen in a private home. She developed it from scratch. It isn’t one of those perfect, manicured gardens. It is more natural one, designated as a natural preserve with birdhouses, funky pieces of china in unexpected places, large colorful globes and mirrors here and there that catch the light, water features, trees of all sizes and seasonal flowers too. Around the outside of the garden are woods and in the woods is a path that goes all around the property with an alcove or two for lawn chairs. It also includes an area for prayer. It is the most amazing art I’ve seen since I was at Bouchard Gardens in Victoria, Canada a few years ago. Of course, it is on a much smaller scale. It is her relaxation and opportunity for expression. It is also a place where her dyslexic students can walk around and relax between testing segments or during breaks in their tutoring. What a gift…both to be able to visualize it in the first place. Then to develop it. I remember her mom being an amazing gardener.

I realized what a gift her music and gardening ability are to others around her as well as her family. I also saw the blend of her parents in her…that God has used for His glory. Many times we live our lives and wonder if there is any growth happening. Wondering if we will ever change. It may be encouraging to talk to a friend that knew you as a child and see the distance you have come since then. God has worked in your life and mine too. He continues to do so! To God be the glory!

Originally written June 12, 2010 in my first blog: Scraps and Rambles.