Happy Birthday, Jeannie! And Feliz Cumpleanos, Kathy!

After my October trip to Little Rock for an all-women family reunion, I wrote about the delight — the “gift unparalleled” — the Lord has given me in my cousin Jeannie, my eldest aunt’s daughter who, up ’til last summer, was simply a cousin I’d seen a few times, talked with once, I think, at my grandmother’s funeral, and honestly never got to know during our every-other-summer visits to Arkansas. Mostly out of curiosity, I had left her a phone message as we were all firming up our reunion plans, and I really didn’t have any expectations other than, I hoped, not having to ask other cousins who she was at the reunion.

But our first conversation was a revelation: She’s brilliant, kind, funny, and utterly charming, down to earth in a way keeping with the archetypical South, if not always within our family. She is a committed Christian, a feminist, a thinker, and she represents a great gift to me — a sister in the Lord Jesus, a new friend, and a re-discovered cousin, all in one utterly delightful package. Not seeking the Returns Counter with this one, believe me.

Jeannie turns 64 today; I wish she were doing so with her younger Idaho cousin to celebrate with her. But I’m there in spirit, and because I know she’s a Prevailing Winds reader, I’d like to wish her a birthday full of blessings and a year replete with the joy of knowing Jesus. I love you, Jean, and even if it’s YOUR birthday, this year, I got the gift.

My “anam cara” — that’s “soul friend” in Gaelic — also has a birthday this week, and I’d like to offer her two things: One, a tilde, the “~” mark, over the “n” in my Spanish “Happy Birthday;” without it, and you’ll have to trust me on this, the absence of the “~” is significant. But Kathy, who lives in the “way back part” of Washington, doesn’t love me for my text-formatting abilities, and so I know she’ll forgive me, knowing, as she does, my heart on this and on pretty much everything else.

It’s because of that — her knowing my heart, and sharing with me in hers a profound love for Christ Jesus — that she is so precious to me. Next to my husband, I can’t imagine that anyone knows me better. Astonishingly, there are years of evidence in our friendship that the more she knows me, the more she likes me, and that has been a gift to me of immeasurable value, even as it seems starkly unlikely to many of you. But in all seriousness, I am so happy to enjoy her friendship, and as I reflect this week on the wisdom, laughter, and kindnesses she’s shared with me, I thank my God that way back in the foreign-to-me “back east” a few decades ago, this incredible woman was born.

I have some truly strong, wonderful women in my life, and these two, with birthdays so close together, really ought to meet sometime. But until then, I’m just glad I’ve met them. They’ve helped me to see how lavish our Lord is when he gives gifts.

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