I figured some quiet time with a good book sounded more enjoyable than sitting through a night of silly skits and little kids plunking out Jesus Loves Me on the piano. What would I get out of a silly talent show?
Well, as it turned out, plenty.
The show began pretty much as expected. A boy told some jokes. A little girl hoola-hooped. It was somewhat entertaining – maybe even cute. But then Elijah, a teenage boy with down’s syndrome, came forward.
As the music began, Elijah broke into a lively, impromptu break-dancing routine. Everyone cheered while he joyfully hip-hopped his way through a song called, Don’t Waste Your Life. He was having a blast – and I couldn’t help but laugh and cheer along with the rest of the crowd. A lump formed in my throat. How glad I was that I didn't miss Elijah.
A few acts later a man walked onto the stage and stood in front of the piano. “I’d like to play a song for my wife,” he said, a serious expression on his face. “You see, we’ve been going through the toughest battle of our lives since she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer.”
At first I just sat quietly, listening to the music and appreciating the man’s obvious skill. I glanced at my two older girls, giving them my see-what-you-can-accomplish-when-you-practice-the-piano look, and hoped they got my point.
However, as the music filled the chapel, I found myself staring at his wife. She seemed vaguely familiar. Perhaps we’d sat at the same table for dinner one night. That’s right, I thought, their daughter was in Taylor’s small group this week. I’d noticed her around camp, but I’d never really seen her. Now I realized she was wearing a wig.
The woman dabbed her eyes as her husband tenderly poured out his heart onto the piano keys. I listened to the music and began to consider what this couple must be going through. Then my thoughts drifted to my own life. What if Curt and I were faced with such challenges? I suddenly felt grateful for the blessings in my life. How lucky I was to be able to share my life with my best friend. What an awesome privilege to raise our three girls. I began to realize so many little things I’ve taken for granted.
I’d been at family camp all week but never really noticed the people around me. A scary thought crossed my mind. Noticing people wasn’t enough. Sometimes I need to connect with them. But striking up a conversation with a stranger? That was out of my comfort zone.
The next morning I found myself face-to-face with the woman. I took a deep breath, introduced myself and told her I’d be praying for her. Well that little comment was the beginning of a wonderful conversation – one that we finished later that afternoon at a quiet little table down by the lake.
Not only did I learn more about this precious woman’s amazing journey, but I also discovered that she and I shared a common interest: to write – and one day be published.
Most importantly, I learned that when I take my eyes off of myself, God helps me really see those around me. He'll even help me connect with them.
As you go about your usual routine this week, I encourage you to look a little closer at those around you. You never know, God might have someone special for you to connect with.
Will you join me in prayer for James and Lynne Hutzel and their family?
In the spring of 2010 Lynne had been experiencing pain in her sternum. After much testing and ultimately a surgical biopsy it was determined to be a malignant/cancerous growth.
Additional testing resulted in a diagnosis of stage 4 metastic cancer. The origin is currently unknown. There are additional tumors in the liver and ovaries.