Thursday, April 21, 2011

Everybody's Home Girl

Okay, so you know I've been laid up this week with a bum back. I am feeling 75% better, which is a huge blessing, and I fully expect to be back in business by the end of the weekend. I'm having trouble taking it easy, but I'm grateful I can now go to the bathroom unassisted and get up and down the 5 stinkin' levels of our house without wincing. Life is good.

The first night after my ridiculous refrigerator injury, there was a knock at the door. My friend Helen dropped off soup and dessert bars for my lunch the next day. She was running off to her son's baseball game, so we didn't get to visit, but my whole family stood there, mouths agape, as my beautiful friend pulled away.

You see, Helen is recovering from cancer surgery and is gearing up for a tough 12 weeks of chemo starting next week.


Sometimes my sister and I will say about someone, "She's not like regular people." That is our highest compliment for someone who goes way outside the parameters of what a normal person would do for others. I've known about 3 people like this in my entire life.

And Helen? Is. not. like. regular. people.

While I loved teaching high school, I lasted a measly 6 years! During the summers I'd hole up in my house, hoping to see no one between the ages of 13-18. It was as if I wanted to save myself up for the school year.

Helen, however, has been at it for 20 years, and she has an open door policy for students past and present. She goes to all the sporting events because she wants to, while sometimes I can barely drag myself to my own children's games. She loves her students and can't wait to get to school in the morning. Blood drives? Pep rallies? Guess who is in the middle of it all? She is a great listener, who takes it all in before saying anything, which is a gift.

And beauty? Helen is a hottie, inside and out, with or without hair. I've had more than a few girl crushes in my lifetime, but none as long-lasting as the one for Helen.

While Amy Grant, Nanci Griffith and Gwyneth Paltrow eventually fell off my girl-crush throne, Helen has been a constant since I was a sophomore in high school! She's the only one who could truly tempt me to bat for the other team except, darn it, she's straight. I also suspect there'd be a long line in front of me!

And as a mom? Helen is a "mother woman." She mothers her 3 boys with warmth and grace. She glows when she talks about them. But her heart is HUGE and is big enough to mother others, too. Just recently she found out a mutual friend of ours was in financial crisis, so she quietly organized a huge fundraiser for our friend and her children.

Each year she raises thousands of dollars for cancer research. Rather than holding her love tightly clenched in her fist, and saving it for those closest to her, Helen knows she has more than enough love to give away.

I remember when Helen got divorced. Even as she grieved, she comforted her friends. "I know this will take a while for you to process, Anna..." she said, patting my hand. Later, she gently released me from carrying a grudge against her ex, because she no longer held one herself. Wow.

Love, fun, faith, enthusiasm, mothering, reconciliation, a relentlessly positive attitude, and now beef and barley soup are all words that make me think of my friend Helen.

God made Helen special, and those special qualities will help her fight the crappy cancer that has come back after being gone 3 years.

Helen's motto for kicking cancer's ass is: "DWELL IN HOPE."

So could you do me a favor and join the hundreds upon hundreds of Helen-lovers around the country? Could you pray for Helen as she enters treatment this week?

Thank you.

Dwell in Hope!

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