We spent Saturday night at the home of Bill and Margie in Boone. Joining us were Tim and Tina (my best friends from Ohio.) All of us great friends since our early 20s. We all met at and attended the same church. And we all came out of the same church. (Except for my Michael, who just sits, listens, and shakes his head at our church horror stories. He's thankful he was raised Methodist.)
Bill, Margie, Tim, Tina and me ... came out of a fundamental church (some call it a cult) in Ohio. If you've followed my blog, you've read how I've "come out of the dark." All of us found our way out of the dark. All of us are scarred in one way or another, and all of us ... according to our former pastor ... should be dead by now, God having slayed us for leaving his church. None of us ever amounting to anything for God. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ... you know the things people say when they can't control you anymore. The "reverend" in short, cursed us.
Well ... we all sit around and laugh a lot these days, and wonder ... how did we go through that? It really doesn't matter. Because here we are. Blessed beyond measure. The curse our "minister" put on us, went back to him seven times over ... and I doubt he's yet to feel the full affect of all his cursing. But I believe he will someday.
Tim and Tina are in the process of building their third new home. The floor plans are spectacular! Bill and Margie live in a million dollar home (I'm guessing, but it sure looks it.) It makes me smile to see how richly they've been blessed. But it's not just the material things that God has blessed them with, they're blissfully happy people ... married over thirty-some years now. What God joined together, my friends would not allow their "minister" to separate.
Bill was one of nine children. (I think ... it could have been more) but anyway, I remember there was a carload of them! He was raised below the poverty level and the stories he tell us are nothing less than awe-inspiring. It's like Margie said, "God's blessed us extra good because of what we went through!" They live in the most picturesque part of Boone, on the side of a mountain, in an unbelievably gorgeous home.
I agree. He's blessed us all extra good. I sound preachy today ... which is not my norm ... I suppose it's because I realized this weekend, if we believe in God, we need to give Him credit when we know He's made the way, caused the blessing, opened the door, and saved us from calamity. If we are able to do that, then the dark side never won.
We lived through nightmares and we survived. More than that --we're proof that God has not abandoned us.
Thing is, being with my long time friends and hearing about each other's plight out of "Egypt," tells me there needs to be some kind of self-help group for people who come out of those kinds of "ministries." There are stages of grief and anger and yes ... forgiveness that takes place.
What does all this have to do with Christmas in Boone?
EVERYTHING, my friend. Because Christmas to survivors, whether it be from surviving cancer, or the death of a loved one, or divorce, or a cult ... Christmas takes on a whole new look.
I sat around and watched the love and the fun and remarkable friendship we had and I thought to myself ... now this is celebrating the holidays!
Blessings to you and yours,