We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf; be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:20)
When I was a girl, I spent a considerable amount of time with the Vanderkleed family. Stan and Nancy were long time friends of my parents and they had two daughters– Jill and Erin. Since this week (yesterday, actually) Jill celebrated her birthday, I thought now would be an excellent time to celebrate what makes her a spectacular human! We all know that I am sometimes a day or two late with my greetings, but hopefully I’ve demonstrated by now that if there’s anything I believe in, it’s the festival approach to such celebrations!
Even as a little girl, Jill had an incredibly infectious laugh. Her giggling radiated the entire area, as did her smile. Her eyes sparkled too! This has not changed a bit! Now, she’s a mother of three and the wife of a tall, handsome guy named Tony Hardebeck. Many years (decades actually) have passed since those afternoons we shared sledding down that steep hill behind Stan and Nan’s house in the country, and I can still hear the sound of Jill shrieking in delight! It really is one of the defining sounds of my childhood. She is a joyful human! As one of my favorite authors, Bob Goff, says, “Where joy is a habit, love is a reflex.” I couldn’t agree more!!
Our lives are full of actions we repeat over and over. These rituals become habitual and that must be the reason why even though my sons are no longer attending St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School, I sometimes find myself accidentally heading that direction in the afternoons when I go out- it’s a habit I built over 16 years. That was Goff’s whole point. The thing is, he meant it as it relates to things like finding the joyfulness in life like Jill does! It’s a wonderful habit she’s spent a lifetime perfecting!!
It doesn’t matter how much time passes, when I run into Jill, I know I can count on a dose of her cheerfulness and warmth! Also, chances are excellent there will be top notch baked goods– the woman can bake circles around every other human being I have ever encountered.
Jill is a social creature who lights up the area she inhabits with her bright smile. What a blessing she is to her kiddos, parents, sister…and a whole lot of other folks who inhabit her life! She’s a woman who helps out where she sees a need because it’s the right thing to do– a woman of character. It seems to me like it’s her way of witnessing to all of us what it looks like to live a grateful life. It’s beautiful, actually.
Happy Birthday Week, Jill (Vanderkleed) Hardebeck! How cool it is that you share your birthday week with the Prince of Peace? Very! I hope your day was as awesome as you are, my beautiful friend!! Also, Happy New Year to you and the entire family.