Wednesdays with Jillene: bonus day

I’m not sure I want to write this post today. I have those days (in case you didn’t know) and they come for a variety of reasons. My concern today’s is that I am not sure I can do this topic justice. There have been lots of words floating around the internet lately. Words have left me weary and, as a result, wary of adding more. So… with a little trepidation… I’ll take baby steps in to this post.

I keep a list in a note on my phone of the things God is speaking truth into my heart. Sometimes those turn in a blog post, others become a timely conversation, and many remain on the list for a long, long time as I seek to understand the heart of God.

This one was on my list: Bonus Day

It started this August. After children’s camp was finished I took the opportunity to join a women’s summer Bible Study already in progress. It was a neat gathering of women from their 30s to their 90s. And it was such a blessing. In fact, I highly recommend you find yourself in a Bible Study group with people across such a span of life. For real.

Because: Clara.
Clara is 98, full of heart, compassion, prayer, humor and spunk. And I think we all need a Clara in our life. She had stories to warm your heart. Words to offer comfort and perspective when sorely needed. Humorous comments to make us all laugh. And prayer through the gift of faith to move mountains. And then spunk tying the whole package up nicely!

One night, she talked about bonus days. It started innocuous enough, “I really think each day is a bonus day.”

We nodded in agreement. Smiles spread across our faces. Probably someone said something like, “Oh, yes Clara.”

But then she got her more serious face on, leaned in a little:

“When all your friends are dying each day is a bonus day, really.”

The mood got a little more serious. Not because it was sad or morbid but because her heart was beautifully expressed. Perhaps we were each lost in our thoughts for a moment.

And I haven’t forgotten.

From that moment I pondered what difference it would make if I lived with a “bonus day” mentality, truly seeing each day as a blessing from God, knowing God had a plan and purpose for me.

At 98, Clara doesn’t give an “everything’s coming up roses” view of life. She’s lived. And in living she has stories of joy and stories of loss. But… she speaks firmly from a perspective of faith, knowing at her core the truth of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (In fact, one of my favorite stories she told was of one of the best things God did for her was to put her in the hospital.)

And, see, right here…this is where things get hard and I almost want to stop writing. Because of brokenness. The world is hurting. People are hurting. You could be hurting. And I don’t want my words to gloss over that fact.

With all that we have we wish that some days never happened. Romans 12:15 says to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” I know so many of you are mourning. I know what it is to have days that never should have happened.

It seems daily, multiple times a day really, my friends have been facing some REALLY hard situations: job loss, broken families, cancer, divorce, death… so many things. I find myself wanting a heart like Clara’s that can face those really awful, almost crushing realities of life and see each day as a bonus.

A friend shared this scripture as she processed a sudden death of her friend:


In the face of brokenness I am so tempted to choose anger, fear, or avoidance. You probably know I’m a fighter, a planner, a fixer… and there are just so many things that aren’t my fight to win…. so many situations I cannot make a plan that will correct for all possible contingencies… so many realities of life I am powerless to fix.

What Clara gives me is the faith perspective of wisdom that comes from numbering her days, of knowing the brevity of life and living each day as a bonus.

And I’m challenged: where will I see the bonus (blessing) in today?

Will I choose to find it in the big and the little, the easy and the tough, the joys and the struggles, the happy and the sad?


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