Over the last few years the Lord has richly blessed me through my sweet friend, Diane.
I’ve known her a very long time, but recently, our friendship has evolved.
The best way I know how to describe it is:
I can not live without her.
Healthy, I know.
Let me tell you how this happened.
When Cole was in the fourth grade, I began to be desperate for some outside help with my responses to him.
He was angry.
I was angry.
I had a newborn.
Plus those other two.
Cole’s anger made (makes?) something well up inside of me that is scary.
His anger is a reflection of my own.
I was beginning to see that if I did not deal with my own anger, not only could I not help him with his, but we might kill each other.
There is so much parenting advice out there in the world. There’s even a lot available specifically on the issue of anger.
Don’t bottle it up.
How do you reconcile those?
My dad always says that if you’re wondering where to go to church, find someone who you like, someone who is living a life you can respect. Ask them where they go to church. Then ask them if they will take you with them.
I employed this same advice in looking for parenting strategies.
David and Diane Heffington have five of the most precious children I know. Two have come all the way through our youth program at church and three are currently in it. There’s not a one of them I don’t adore.
Diane also oversees our children’s ministry.
So I began to grab her on Sundays and in the moments between services, I would pour out all my questions.
I would write down whatever answers she gave me, order any book she recommended and try to put in practice any suggestions she mentioned.
I did this week after week, and she is so nice that she did not even start hiding when she saw me coming.
She actually wanted to know how it was going. She had prayed for me over the week.
In the summer of 2007 I asked her if she would actually walk through a parenting book with me. She agreed. We invited a couple of other gals and began meeting early on Saturday mornings to discuss Scott Turansky’s book Good and Angry.
Which, I believe, changed my life.
That group of women.
We have continued to meet for the last several years.
The books change.
The issues change.
Even the group of women has changed.
But Diane has remained constant. As has my habit of unloading all my parenting questions on her.
And her response to me is always gracious.
She is a problem solver like me, so she always has a new suggestion, something to try this week.
But she also makes feel like I’m not crazy.
She reminds me that everything I go through has been experienced by a parent before me.
I’m not the only one.
She understands what it’s like to have a lot of children. She gets straddling adolescence and toddlerhood. Nursing and driving to soccer. Staggered bedtimes. Shared rooms.
She faces the same problems as me, only a few years before me.
Right now the Heffingtons have six members of their family who are driving. The transportation needs are staggering. I am watching closely because we will be right where they are in six or seven years.
Also, sometimes, if I am at my wits’ end and Taido is out of town, she will say,
I think Cole just needs to come home with me today.
Then she will come and get him, and he feels like he has won the lottery.
They live on land. Where boys can roam free, doing the things boys do.
Cole can hang around her boys for the day, shooting BB guns at targets instead of ugly remarks at me.
Even though Diane’s life is full to busting with kids, responsibilities, sporting events, church events and chasing runaway animals,
she always has room for one more.
One more person in the group.
One more child in her car.
One more name on her prayer list.
One more life on her heart.
A person like Diane is so incredibly special that of course I am not the only one who feels this way about her.
So when her fiftieth birthday rolled around this spring, many of us wanted to make it an extra special time to return all the love she pours out day after day, year after year.
The entire weekend of her birthday was a wonderful celebration of the gift that she is to this world.
A group of us managed to get her away for a girls’ night, completely surprising her, which made me very, very nervous.
I am not a surprise person. I couldn’t talk to her all week for fear of having to lie.
But her husband made sure all her many tasks were covered while we had her away, and others of us are much better liars than me, so we pulled it off.
We got away to a cabin in the woods.
We hiked through the woods, splashed in a waterfall, had fun pictures taken, cooked yummy food and treats, laughed ourselves silly and shed tears of joy.
At dinner, we took turns sharing one word that we would use to describe Diane.
Those words represent such a rich treasury of what we all feel about Diane.
We cried as we shared them. And she cried as she gathered them in her heart.
And then we laughed some more. My sides about split for laughing that night as we played games.
And we just danced. Which made us laugh even more.
We stayed up very late, and then we had a lazy morning on the back porch drinking coffee before we headed back to real life.
Just soaking up the last minutes.
And then we took her home.
We told her goodbye and Happy Birthday and We Love You.
And then we helped her husband surprise her again!
The extravagance of the weekend will always remind me of God’s even more extravagant love for us. How it never ends and it just pours and pours without tiring.
No one got tired of celebrating Diane.
To me, she remains a constant extension of God’s extravagant love.