The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
- Burton Hillis
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
“Where do I go?” Samuel asks. His swim goggles are strapped to his forehead and his green eyes are anxious.
“I’m not sure,” I say.
We’re at Samuel’s debut swim meet. He’s our third son but the first to swim with a team. Lonny, the brothers and I have come to cheer for Sam, but we’re all confused. The indoor pool is fringed with a mass of people carrying bags and folding chairs. Swimmers weave through the crowd, but we don’t see anyone from Sam’s club. A couple of teams are in the water for practice strokes, and I wonder if Sam has missed his warm-up time.
My stress is heavy as the air.
That’s when I feel a tug on my handbag.
I turn around, expecting that one of the little guys has to use the restroom, but instead I look into the sweet face of my friend.
“Karen,” I say. “You came!”
Karen smiles and I’m immediately comforted by the kindness in her warm, brown eyes.
“Yes,” she says. “These swim meets can be tough at first. I came to help.” She rubs Samuel’s shoulder. “Besides, I want to cheer for Sam.”
Karen’s now-grown children were swimmers in high school. She knows the ropes and this is invaluable to me. She directs Samuel to the locker room, where he finds his coach. She introduces us to something called a heat sheet, which holds the information we need for this important day. She even helps us find a few feet of space so that we can open our folding chairs. We settle into our seats just as Samuel dives into the water, taking practice time with his team.
I’m grateful for this help today, but when I think about it, navigating a swim meet isn’t the only thing Karen teaches me. I learn from her, daily, in the spiritual way, too. She’s been walking with the Lord just a little longer than I have. She holds wisdom and knowledge and life experience that I have yet to attain. And she’s generous to share. Watching her apply God’s Word to her life, gleaning and gathering behind her, makes my relationship with the Lord more personal and rich and deep.
I lean over and give Karen a hug. We sit for a few minutes and she visits with Lonny and the boys. Soon I look up and Samuel is sloshing our way. The meet is about to begin.
“Thank you,” I say. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“You’re welcome,” she says. And she smiles.
I think she understands that I’m not only speaking about this swim meet.
Lord, thank you for friends who help me to walk in your truth. Let me be that sort of friend to someone, too. Amen.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.