Gems in My Pocket

I realized they didn’t know all the steps that have brought me here to where I am today.

My traveling companions were people I’ve long known, but never much knew. As stories shared between us in the car lead from one to another, it slowly dawned on me that there were whole histories in our past that, though we were acquaintances, we did not truly know.

In my mind I look back to season in my life and picture a squiggly sketched road, much like a Candy Land game (or maybe Candy Crush), with each section marked with a new title. I give turns in the path names like “Wheaton Time”, “BD Blackhole” (tarpit?), “Capernaum Restoration” and the chocolate river of “France Love”. There is “Mount Atlanta”, which leads to “Yulee Bridge” and then a cozy “Burnt Mill”. My little game piece is currently sitting on the square marked “Roxbury Lane” and the next roll of the dice points to “Open Sky” but the game is not over yet.

As my game piece passes through each square, I scoop down and pick up a shiny gem stones, placing them in my pocket.

Sometimes I pull them out to admire and remember where I gathered each one. Some are people gained in the season, people dear to me now or dear to my memory. Others are lessons learned with a big fat “What not to do again” sticker stuck on them. And still some are successes and badges of pride in my path.

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Frieda is one of those gems.

When I first met Frieda, she’d already decided she didn’t like Americans so she pretended not to speak English. But I caught a look of comprehension on her face and decided to called her out on it. I had to work hard to win her trust. Eventually though the scowl turned to a big beautiful smile!

So begins a very special friendship, dare I say mentoring relationship, with one of my most persistent and dearest of French friends. With grace she has connected with me time and again over the years, even after the French season was in my rear view mirror.

Frieda faithfully calls and emails me using her international calling cards. She’s in love with the Backstreet Boys and always visits bearing gifts. I held my breath and gripped the armrest the day I tried to teach her to drive. But she did it! She is adventurous, unafraid to travel alone with a hunger to see it all. She’s became my fabulous, reluctant translator with a passion for finding just the right word. Her heart is tender and conscientious. She’s one who does not burn bridges. And she is faithful, oh so faithful.

And today is her birthday.

So as part of 31 Days of Glancing Back and Leaning Forward, I celebrate her, the most faithful reader of this blog, and a treasure of a friend!

Bridge burning is never advised. Past seasons can always be celebrated.

Driving along with my new, old friends, sharing for hours of the seasons missed, I realized there is pain and there is joy in every single stop on the game board. And they both become gems in my pocket.


Photo by Ilze Lucero on Unsplash


Back-and-Forward-ButtonThis post is part of my series 31 Days of Glancing Back and Leaning Forward: Personal reflections and life lessons from my year.

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It is pure joy to me knowing you are reading what I am writing. Thank you.


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2 thoughts on “Gems in My Pocket”

  1. Oooooooh !!!! Merci, merci Karena. Not only is it about me a little (I wasn’t expecting that…) but I love how you described your life at the beginning. You are a real gem yourself my dear friend. Two more days and your 31 days will be over (sad sigh…)
    Bravo on a great job !!! And thank you again. Tu es formidable !

  2. As one who participated in swapped stories , the resounding theme for the weekend for me (as you can well attest) was not to judge a book by it’s cover or a gem by it’s sparkle. I chuckle to myself everytime I remember that I’ve known the two of you for as long as I can remember, yet didn’t really know you at all. At the same time, I made an assumption about someone, nailed her as “one of those types hon” in my head, only to find a deep, precious gem that I had too quickly judged. You would think in these 36 years I would have learned this by now but, alas, I am STILL learning to see the best in people, because Jesus saw the best in me. I’m learning to pick up not just the gems that I am familiar with, but the ones that are different than me. I’m learning to take the ones already in my pocket and look at them again, really look at them, in a new and fresh way. What a beautiful picture, all of these gems in my pocket. 🙂


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