Back when Mama was a stay-at-home with young children, I met another young mom while doing volunteer work and being involved in a parent-teacher organization at our local elementary school.
This other mom and I became fast friends as we worked on several projects together. I lived all the way across the country from my hometown where my parents and family lived. She lived all the way across an ocean and several countries from where she called home.
Fun to be around, my friend was always ready for a good story to make one laugh. She also shared my love for a good hot cup of tea. She made you feel comfortable at once, so it was easy to converse with her, like her, work with her, and listen to her stories of her home country.
I only knew her for a few years as eventually, Papa and I made a leap of faith decision to move back East to our home state, but I will never, ever forget my friendship with Kathleen (not her real name).
Kathleen’s speech sported a bit of a brogue because she was Irish. Not Irish-American – but a native of Éire, which we call Ireland. Her husband’s career brought them to the United States and she jumped into making American friends with gusto. I honestly can’t remember not enjoying her company with smiles and laughter.
When our family prepared to make our big move, Kathleen surprised me with a lovely going away gift, a beautiful china teapot enhanced by delicate purple violets and gold entwined designs with a matching tea cup that served as a lid for the pot.
That teapot rests in a special spot among my collection and I think of Kathleen each time I look at it. I remember her graciousness, her zest for life, her befriending of me, and her kindness in bestowing that special gift upon me because she knew that I loved tea cups decorated with purple violets.
But even more than all of those aspects, one thing always comes to mind when I think of Kathleen. Her optimism. If we were working on a project that didn’t go quite as planned, she would be the first to comment, “Oh well, onward and upward.”
That saying described my friend to a T. You might say it was her signature saying. Always looking on the bright side. Always looking up. And always looking to better times in the future.
I learned a lot from my friend Kathleen. I learned more from watching her quiet faith in action when she encountered a devastating loss.
When I visited her shortly after this event, stifling my own tears while trying to wrap my mind around what grief she must be experiencing, Kathleen surprised me with stoic strength and unshakeable faith. She explained that she didn’t understand why she had to endure such sadness but that she knew it was God’s will for her life and that she would accept it.
Just like that. Oh, there were many tears and great sorrow but through it all, she showed incredible faith in God.
Onward and upward.
That’s what she believed wholeheartedly.
That’s what I always think of when I remember Kathleen. And she continually comes to my mind if I happen to use those words myself. Onward and upward.
It’s not just a matter of being optimistic or not. It’s a matter of having the strength to accept the circumstances life throws your way and rely on our God who is stronger and more capable of handling our trials if we just turn to Him for help to get through.
Optimistic just happens to be this week’s WordPress photo challenge. Being optimistic can be a challenge in itself if you don’t have clear vision. If you aren’t reminding yourself to continue to look at life onward and upward.
I think this photo I snapped while entering the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio a couple of years ago fits the theme optimistic quite well.
It reminds me to always look upward even if the skies aren’t as blue as they were in this picture. Because upward is where my thoughts need to be – focusing on God and His Word. And to do that, I must continue onward in my journey of faith.
What about you? What vision helps you keep looking onward and upward?
“When you have vision it affects your attitude. Your attitude is optimistic rather than pessimistic.” ~ Charles R. Swindoll