Travel Log - Post 2

One of the fun things about traveling is getting together with friends along the way. There is also the chance you will make new friends in your travels, so be open minded about new relationships when you are out and about. When you have a family with younger children it is easy to strike up a conversation with other families who also have kids. Your kids and their kids may even be playing together in the hotel pool, while you, your spouse and their parents soak in the hot tub and talk. Some of the time these friendships will continue long after your vacation, especially today with texting and Facebook. Other times these may be temporary, just while you are on vacation friendships, but they are friendships none-the-less. New faces will enrich your lives whether long term or short term. 

Lee and Dale

These are our good friends, Lee and Dale. We have stayed with them the past two nights and have had a wonderful time talking, laughing and eating. They have been the perfect host and hostess, opening their home and treating us like family. Even though we are not related, we are family. Lee and I became friends several years ago through work. She was the assistant manager and I was a sales clerk. When she retired, and moved south, we made a point of keeping in touch. Lee and Dale are forever friends and we hope to continue our friendship for as long as possible.

Mark and I finally feel relaxed and we are preparing to leave on the next part of our journey. I may not be able to post for a few days, so here are a couple of my other travel outfits:

white pants, striped crop top, navy tee
embellished crop top

This was my day two travel outfit. I styled my white crop pants with a navy tee, topped by a navy and white striped crop top. This top caught my eye at a thrift store due to the pretty, blingy embellishments. I personally do not have the abs for a crop top without a longer tee or tank underneath, but I like the effect this has. I have on my leopard print flats, but I swapped those out for a pair of navy blue Keds. They were in the "shoe bag" out in the car! Yes, ladies, I did bring a "shoe bag." A girl needs to have choices!

maxi skirt, orange tank

This was my day three outfit. This print maxi skirt is from Christopher and Banks. The orange tank top has fun brassy colored embellishments around the v-neck, so I added a brassy colored belt. I just have flip flops on my feet which you can't see. I was very comfy in this outfit, yet I think it looked nice. 

Today we are heading out to go to our campsite. I'll try to take some pictures along the way. Hope you all are enjoying these posts.

Have a great day. See you soon.

"Shut up and listen to each other!"

My husband and I went to see Captain America: Civil War. The Marvel movies are not his favorite, but he did it because he knew I would like it. I am easily entertained by action and lots of handsome men in tight fitting suits. Ha, ha. I could write about my husband and the friendship we share, but I actually wanted to think about something that came up in the movie. 

The basic premise of the movie, revolves around differences of opinion. I will not go into details, in case you haven't seen the movie and want to. It prompted me to think about differences of opinion in our friendships. We have friends, in part, because we have something in common. My girlfriends and I love to read books, get together and discuss them. I have another friend that I love to shop with and another that I love to walk with. Rarely, do we discuss things that we don't agree on, because frankly our friendship stems from our commonalities. That doesn't mean you can't have friends that have different ways of looking at the world. However, sometimes those differences of opinion can lead to a falling out, as our Marvel heroes, discovered. Just because you are a super hero doesn't mean you have nothing to learn.

The same thing is true in our friendships. Just because I am a Christian, doesn't mean I can't learn from other people. Often, we feel that we can't have friends outside our faith, because then we won't be in agreement on many fundamental issues. But being of different mindsets, doesn't mean you can't listen.

One of the things I noticed in the movie was that these men and women who had been forced together (in previous movies) to fight all the enemies of the world, had indeed, become friends. They cared about each other. Unfortunately, most of them suffered from egos as big as a building and it made it difficult for them to listen. Sometimes, when you and a friend disagree on something, it is not because one of you is right and the other is wrong, it is because you really aren't listening to each other. There were moments where I wanted to shout at the movie screen saying, "Shut up and listen to each other!" But I am pretty sure they would have escorted me out of that busy theater if I had.

dog - stocksnap

Friends need to listen. Not just listen, but really hear. Listening is an art form. It is done with the whole body, mind and spirit. Listening involves giving. When you listen you are giving your time and your energy When you listen you focus on what the other person is saying. Sometimes, listening is painful, hard work. Especially if you are a fix-it kind of person. I can  see you sitting there on the edge of your seat, wanting to interject your thoughts, opinions and how-to-fix-it comments. But don't! Just listen. Listening changed things. It even changes people, not just the person you are listening to, but you. Listening can lead to more open doors and deeper conversations than you ever thought would happen.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;
— James 1:19 (NASB)

Whether you are a super hero or not, it is always a good idea to slow down and listen to your friends. 

The Order of Friendship

Think about all the friendships in your life. They might be ones from your past or relationships you are currently in. What made those friendships work? What makes those friendships special? Friendship is important to all people. It is even important to nations. The Order of Friendship was established in 1994 in Russia. It was an award given to nationals or foreign nationals whose work or deeds bettered relations with Russian and her people. It can be traced back to the Soviet Order of Friendship of Peoples which was originally established in l972.

medal - order of friendship

A medal is a memorial of sorts. I would have never known there were such things as an Order of Friendship if I had not been looking around on the internet for article ideas. I think is is a terrific concept. Once again, I wrestle with the thought that we spend so much time complaining about what is not right with our lives: our marriage, our jobs, our health, our friendships. What if we were to design a medal of friendship? What if we began taking notes and watching people for the good deeds that they were doing? How many of your friends would get a medal? Would you get one?

The Russian government had the right idea. Obviously, over the years their reputation had diminished, perhaps not just in the minds of other nations, but maybe even in the minds of their own people. An award of this sort condones free thinking and getting along, in a society that had formerly condemned these very things we take for granted. Perhaps we can learn something from the Order of Friendship. While I probably won't be pinning medals to my girlfriends blouses, I believe I could at least thank them for the works and deeds they do to not only better my life, but better the lives of others in their sphere of influence.

Do you have a friend who is a nurse? Thank her for her hard work. Is one of your friends taking care not only of her own children, but her aging parents as well? Let her know how much you appreciate her. Do you have a gal pal that volunteers? Give her a high five for her efforts. Maybe you have a friend who is just struggling to stay married, keep a job, lose weight or love her rebellious child. Hug her and let her know she's worthy of a medal of honor!

Once again, the idea behind any memorial is remembrance. Why not remember your friends while they are still there to enjoy memories with you?

How Shall We Then Grow?

Knowing everything we know, we have to make choices about how we live. We have to decide who we hang out with, what activities we are going to do and what sorts of foods we are going to eat. We are also faced with choices about our personalities. Do I show my anger? Do I choose to ignore difficult remarks? Will I show kindness when I have been hurt? In our friendships we have the difficulty of choosing how we grow with people we don't see as often as our families, and with whom we may not feel as comfortable being honest. Vulnerability comes to mind. The word vulnerable means "capable of being physically or emotionally wounded" (Webster). Well, forget that! I mean who in their right mind wants to open themselves to physical or emotional attack? Okay, so I know that my friends are not going to harm me physically, at least not intentionally. Some of us are rather clumsy. But what about emotional harm?

If you have friends you are automatically open to emotional harm. I know that we all put up walls. If you have been through abuse your walls are thicker and taller than most other peoples. You may have a hard time opening yourself up to friendships, in part, because you don't want to be vulnerable with another person. But real, fruitful friendships must carry a certain amount of vulnerability. Becoming more vulnerable is a way to grow in your relationships. It's not easy and really you must be a fairly secure individual to be able to do this. It requires honesty and a back bone. I like to offer a few ways to become more vulnerable with your friends.

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

1. Bible studies. Find a study you and your friends can do together. Host it in your home or  find one already in place at a church and go together. There are multitudes of studies out there on relationships, family, suffering, service and growth. Beth Moore has a plethora of studies on many different topics and all based on scripture. Check out her website at Living Proof Ministries. Another great Bible study author is Kay Arthur. Her website is Precept Ministries International. Bible study allows women to grow together in God's word. If the study is fairly small it also allows time for discussion and where women discuss vulnerability happens. 

books

2. Book clubs. Reading books together is a great way to be on the same page, pardon my pun, and also be able to openly converse. A book club can be a fun way to get together and provide a platform for conversation.  Maybe you want a light hearted, fun discussion so you pick books that will provide laughter. Perhaps your group wants to read things that are controversial and compelling. Maybe historical fictions or science fiction will provide ideas for questions and discussion that you had never thought of. Be creative. Let those who want to, pick out a book to read and then lead the discussion. Talking about books can be a great way to get to know each other and create new opportunities to be vulnerable. There are a few good websites that give suggestions for book club books: Goodreads, Flashlight Worthy, Litlovers, and more.

people walking

3. Be active together. Doing things together one on one can also be a great way to open up and be honest with your friends. Time together with just one friend can lead to much deeper and meaningful conversations than when you are with a group. Do a physical activity together like going for a walk at a park or in the neighborhood. Meet for a "friend" date: get lunch or dinner then go to a movie. Volunteer together. Donate blood together. Teach each other how to do something. Maybe you know how to play the piano and your friend knows how to knit. Spend time teaching each other your skills. Spending time together will foster a healthy habitat of trust and vulnerability.

knitting

Being vulnerable is hard, but creating a healthy environment of trust and fun will make it easier for you and for your friends.

Are There Roadblocks in Your Friendships?

I am sitting at a Barnes and Noble trying to type this post and next to me is a table with 4 women. They are obviously friends. They are smiling, laughing, sharing stories about their lives, families and other friends. It reminds me of my own experience with my own friends. When we get together we laugh, share stories and commiserate. But these types of relationships don't just happen. They take time and effort, just like our faith, our marriages and so many other good things like diet, exercise and prayer. This week I have been looking at things that stunt our growth, first with our faith and our marriages. We also can come up against roadblocks in our friendships. I have found with some friends our relationships continue to deepen and broaden; with others not so much. Sometimes that difference is due to differing personalities or wider age gaps. Once in a while a friendship struggles for other reasons. Today, I'd like to look at four friendship hindrances.

friends

1. Jealousy and competition. There is no worse feeling than to be jealous of your friends. When I was in junior high my best girlfriend and I loved going to amusement parks together. Being in junior high, the hormones beginning to surge, we would often look for cute boys and then follow them discretely around the park. My friend Stacey was a beautiful girl. She had some Native American blood which gave her a gorgeous tan in the summer. She also had lovely, full lips. I was your average tomboy with a bad haircut. I started to notice that boys would watch her and look at her or try to talk to her. I might as well have been a smushed piece of gum on the bottom of her flip flop. I remember feeling very jealous and by the end of the day I would be glad to go home. That attitude did nothing to solidify our friendship. Even as adults we can become jealous of what our friends have or don't have, their homes, spouses, careers or families. We feel that we have to be better, smarter, prettier. We have bought into the philosophy that says, "I am not enough." Having this mentality will push you to become competitive and bitter, because your life will not look like theirs.

2. Unconfessed hurts and sins. If you read my other two posts this week this will sound familiar. If we allow jealousy, competition or other bad attitudes to dictate our actions and thoughts it will, eventually affect our friendships. We need to be honest and we need to ask the Lord to help us in this area. Paul admonished us to be content.

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
— Philippians 4:11 (NASB)

Learning to be content takes focus and practice.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
— 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB)

Taking every thought captive. Every time you feel jealous of what your friend has, take it captive and give it to Jesus. Follow this up by being honest with your friend. If they are a true friend they will help you walk through the difficulty rather than running away. Do the same for them.

3. Technology. This is a tight rope walk. Technology can enhance friendships with the ability to text, call , Skype, Twitter and so on, but it really is a double edged sword. It gives us little or no time to check our facts before we send along a piece of news (gossip) about another person. It also allows us to text one friend while another friend is sitting at the same table. These types of activities can lead to misunderstandings and mistrust. Technology also becomes a suitcase full of our own interests and hobbies which we continue to read about, play, watch or listen to, when we are supposed to be hanging out with our friends. Having your phone on in case some one needs to get a hold of you is one thing. Playing with your phone while we are supposed to be having lunch...well, I am sorry to say this, but that is rude! 

4. Busyness. Once again, I must touch on the "B" word. Life is busy. There is no way around that. And in today's face paced, bottom-line driven world it is hard to slow down. However, to maintain and grow our friendships and any worthwhile relationships we need to make a choice to get off the wheel and out of the gerbil cage. Recently a friend of mine had a crisis occur in her family. I texted her, stopped by and went on walks with her. There was a point on one day where I reached for my phone to text her and see if she wanted to get together and I thought, "I don't have time! I need to grocery shop and work on the blog. I have to go to that party tomorrow night and bring food...." I shook my head and reached for my phone. We took a walk that same day and we both benefited. Our emotions benefited. Our health benefited. Our spirits benefited and our friendship benefited. Busyness is a fact of life, but friendship is a choice. 

A true friend freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.
— William Penn

Are You Inspiring Courage, Spirit and Hope?

Just as I looked at areas for growth in marriage, we need to examine the areas for growth in our friendships. I find one of the hardest areas to grow in my relationships with others is the amount of time that I can invest. I work part time, take care of my Grandson, work on growth in my marriage, try to maintain a relationship with my two daughters and the rest of the time eat and sleep. Okay, so I also do a few dishes, throw in a load or five of laundry and don't forget the grocery shopping, paying the bills, cleaning the toilets and....well, you get the idea. And that does not include being involved in a Bible study and a book club. Time is not a commodity any of us have too much of.

clock

Investing time in a relationship, especially a friendship has to be done with some planning and intent. I have mentioned intentionality before and I will again. All our best laid plans can be easily thwarted if we do not act with intentionality. Webster's Thesaurus uses these words as synonyms for intentional: conscious, deliberate, purposeful and willful. Other related words include: designed, planned, measured and premeditated. A plan is only good if it is actually used. When it comes to time we need to recognize it is an investment and then plan how we are going to contribute to that investment.

My best girlfriend since junior high lives back in Buffalo, NY where I grew up. I make the trip back about two or three times a year as my mother is still living and I have a brother, sister-in-law, nieces and a nephew and their families in that area. Whenever I am planning to make the trip I always connect with Stacey and let her know I will be in town and ask if she has any time to get together. Sometimes we'll spend a whole day together doing things we both enjoy like shopping, eating out and going to a movie. When time is more limited, we might just go for a walk down her country road or park on the couch in her living room and just talk. We are both making an investment in our relationship and it helps our friendship to stay strong and vital. Time is an area that must continue to grow to ensure the long life the friendship.

Another area of growth would be in our ability to be honest. This is not an easy thing to do. Honesty has to be cushioned in love and gentleness for it to be effective. I generally don't have an issue with my own shortcomings. I am pretty good at being honest with my friends about those. What I do struggle with is two fold. I hesitate to be honest about my hopes and dreams with my friends. I often feel as though they have too many of their own struggles so that, I don't want to take up their time talking about my pipe dreams. The other thing I struggle with is being honest with them about their quirks. I am not a prophet, that is my husband's job. I am a mercy shower, so I am constantly looking for the good in people. So, I guess I have just been honest with all of you reading this post. There is always need for growth and being honest with your friends enables them to be better people both as listeners and as comrades.

Finally, a soapbox I must get on is the need for encouragement. Do you know how many suffering, hurting, people there are in the world and a few of them are your very own friends. Encouragement has become a lost art in our world, or at least it seems that way. Life becomes a list of do's and don'ts, a contract made of stone and signed in blood, sweat and tears. We have forgotten the balm of an encouraging word; the oil of inspiration; the gentle touch of stated kindness. Look at these verses with me:

But charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.
— Deuteronomy 3:28 (NASB)
And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God
— I Samuel 23:16 (NASB)
Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
— Isaiah 35:3 (NASB)
Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
— I Thessalonians 5:11 (NASB)
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
— I Thessalonians 5:14 (NASB)
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
— Hebrews 3:13 (NASB)

If you have friends, you need to encourage them. If you have any relationships learn how to be an encourager. I'm preaching to the choir here! Find out how to be encouraging. What works for one person may not work for another. According to Webster encouragement means to "inspire with courage, spirit or hope." Isn't that lovely? To inspire with courage, spirit or hope. I'd say Webster put it pretty eloquently. Who needs your inspiration today? Who needs courage to keep moving forward? Who has lost their hope? 

If you want to be a true friend, grow these three areas in your life and your friendships will flourish like a beautiful spring garden.

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

The Light of Renewal

Jesus told His disciples, "You are the light of the world..." see Matthew5:14-15. He was speaking to them about carrying His light, the light of the gospel to the world. You know I love the idea of layers and I believe our God is a God of infinite layers. There are all sorts of lights. There are candles, flashlights, floor lamps, lava lamps, table lamps, tea lights and decorative strings of lights with all manner of cute displays like R2D2 and Minions. It may sound redundant, but lights bring light to the darkness. 

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Life without light can be very difficult. Have you ever made the trip to the bathroom or downstairs in the middle of the night? Of course, most of us try to maneuver the darkness on our own. And what usually happens is a thump, followed by a string of curses intermixed with, "Who left that laying on the floor?" or "When did that chair get put there?" I know you all are smiling and nodding your heads. The simple truth is we need light. We would not be able to survive without it.

The thought I want to address today is not so much the light of the gospel for salvation, but the light of the gospel for encouragement. If we know Christ, we are lights, plain and simple. Some of us are candles and the glow we put off is soft and warm. Some of us are Mag Lights, pointing a piercing beam at specific things. Others of us are reading lamps. We stand by a comfy spot and give off a pleasant light that allows others to escape the harshness of the world. Still, there are others who are silly and lighthearted lights, much like a string of Minions who make their friends smile and laugh.

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

What sort of light are you? What sort of light do you want to be? Are you like the Son, who gives light to all the earth, chasing the darkness from every corner? Are you a candle? A person who reassures others that they are there, warm and comforting. Are you a Mag Light? Do you lead your friends from the darkness of self-doubt and discouragement? Are you a lovely table lamp? Do you offer hospitality in your home by inviting your friends to dinner? Are you a comfy reading lamp, set off in a cozy corner who helps their friends feel loved  by having them over for snacks and a movie.

Jesus said we are the light of the world. He didn't say we are all to be candles or flash lights or high beams on a car. We are all different. The goal is to recognize what sort of light we are and allow God to use us in other's lives. If we don't allow our light to shine we will burn out.

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

Renewal happens in our relationships with our friends as we allow God to use us in their lives to bring light. You may not be the one who brings your unsaved friend to the Lord, but you may be the light that welcomes him/her into your home. Or you may be the light that leads a friend out of a dark place. Let God show you what sort of light you can be and with His Spirit as your fuel you will never burn out.

When a Friend is Suffering

Do you have friends that are suffering? Unfortunately, we are a people who are good at complaining and not so good at encouraging. We think that if someone comes to us and shares their pain that we have to fix it, or smooth it out, or put it in an ice cube tray and stick it in the freezer! We have to DO something. We can't just sit, not speaking, just allowing ourselves to be present for the suffering individual.

ice cube tray

I don't claim to be a counselor, and I do not have a degree in psychology, but I have been an adult for over 30 years and I have been through pain and difficulty. I'd like to offer a list (I love lists as you are probably starting to realize), of what not to do and what to do when you have a friend who is going through suffering.

What Not to Do:

1. Do not offer cliches or platitudes. (A platitude is basically a banal, trite or stale remark...according to Webster; and a cliche is something that has become overly commonplace or familiar). For the sake of your friend at least come up with some new material.

2. Don't tell them you will pray for them, unless you are really going to pray. Not only are you offering them a cliche (see #1), but you are lying to them if you don't really do what you say.

3. Ignore them, because you think they don't want the company or need time alone. That is just not true! From my own experience, I feel, much better when someone calls, emails or texts me to let me know they are thinking of me, or praying for me, or actually want to see how I am doing. Sure there are times I want to be alone, but not ALL the time.

Note

4. Text, email, send a card or call once to have it off your "To Do" list. Many people who are going through difficult times are dealing with "long-suffering". Note the word: long! How many times have you made a meal for someone who has lost a loved one and then you never talk to or call them again. And I am not talking about a superficial, "How are you?" passing in the hall at church. I mean a real, "I care! I'm committed to walk this difficulty with you."

5. Never, ever, ever tell your friend to "Get over it!" or "Move on!" Are we really that cruel? Do we really care about these people we call our friends?

I am not talking about the sort of thing some call suffering, like chipping a nail after an awesome manicure; or gaining five pounds after a binge; or missing the final episode of your favorite TV drama. I am talking about the hard, real life stuff like cancer, death, abuse, addiction and unfaithfulness. Suffering is hard and your friend needs your help more than your realize.

What To Do:

1. Hug them. There is nothing more comforting than a hug. Of course every situation needs to be considered separately. If your friend is a man and you are a woman, you might want to forgo the hug, unless you are at the funeral for his child or spouse or other loved one, at which point a hug is appropriate.

Hugs

2. Listen to them. I am talking about active listening. You are engaged with what they are saying. You aren't sitting there thinking, "Okay, this is what I am going to say...this is the advice I am going to give them...I really wish they would stop talking so I can go home..." Show them you are listening by nodding your head, interacting with short phrases and looking at their face.

Chair

3. Sit with them. Sometimes, when a person is laboring through another loved one's hospital stay or hospice stay, it gets lonely and exhausting. Just having another person sitting with them, watching the TV in the hospital room, or talking quietly with them about anything, can make the duration more tolerable.

Coffee

4. Bring them something that will make them feel good. Maybe it's a latte, or some ice cream or even a home cooked meal. Ask if they mind if you stay for a while or even eat with them. Not only does this ensure the one going through suffering is eating, but it shows you are willing to invest thought and time in them.

Tickets

5. Kidnap them! Yes you heard me right. When a friend of mine was going through a particularly difficult time, another friend and I got tickets to a Chonda Pierce concert. We told the friend"s husband to tell her he wanted to take her out that night so she didn't make any other plans and told her to wear something casual, but nice. My other friend and I showed up at her house, escorted her to the car and we drove to the concert and had a wonderful time. All three of us were going through struggles at the time, so not only did it help our friend, but it encouraged all of us.

There are many other ways to be encouraging to your friends who are struggling, but be proactive about it. Don't let another day go by with you saying, "I need to send so and so a card or give them a call." It may be the Lord is telling you to do it today and today may be the day they need it most.

Aren't We All a Little Bit Toxic?

If you've ever typed the words, "toxic personality" into your search bar you will see a number of pages pop up. Two sites, one by Lifehack (here) and one by Talentsmart (here) give good, concise overviews of 10 toxic personality types. Both lists are fairly similar.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

In reality, all toxic personality types, mine and yours (and don't say you have never had any of these) relate back to the sin of selfishness. Adam and Eve behaved in a selfish manner when they did the one thing God told them not to do.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
— Genesis 3:1-6 ESV

In a manner of speaking, weren't they displaying arrogance (the Egoist - thinking they knew better); weren't they envious (wanting what they couldn't have); didn't they become pretentious (as they could no longer walk with God unless they felt comfortable - see Genesis 3:7-13)? Obviously, toxic personality traits are not supposed to be the norm. Aren't we more civilized than that?

Think about it. Have you ever been jealous of a coworker or friend who got the raise, the marriage proposal, the new car when you didn't? What about the girl at church with the black lipstick and black finger nail polish...weren't you judging her? How about you moms? Aren't you fretting because you cannot control where your teens are or who they are hanging out with? Wives are you snipping at your spouses because he didn't call when he was going to be late at work. And let's not forget the gossiper...."But I am just sharing a prayer request." Let's face reality! We are all toxic. We are nothing but a hot mess without Jesus.

The only way I can be a good friend is to allow Christ to take me Down to the River, so I can leave changed. His living water will run over, under and through completely draining away all the poison that runs in my veins. Then He will fill me up with His pure and holy Spirit. It is then that I will bear sweet fruit for those around me to harvest. No damaging chemicals, no insecticides....just God-natural!

Forever Friend

It was in junior high that I met my BFF, Stacey. We hit it off immediately and had many things in common. We both loved rock music, swimming, playing guitars and talking about the end of the world and the book of Revelation in the Bible. I was raised in a Bible church and Stacey came from a Catholic background. We had sleepovers, went on bike rides, hung out at high school football games and just generally enjoyed being friends. As often happens, in high school, we drifted apart. Stacey wanted to explore the party scene and my faith in Christ left me standing alone in my decision to not walk that way.

However, I had developed a deep love for Stacey, so even though we didn't hang out much any more, I invited her to my church's youth group. I really wanted her to know Jesus, whether we remained friends or not. Stacey did accept my invite and eventually came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. God in his goodness to both of us has allowed our friendship to blossom and deepen. We married men who had common interests; had children who were similar ages and enjoyed hanging out together and in the last few years walked the bumpy path of raising those children to adulthood.

This is a picture of us, after a shopping trip where we bought the same scarf. Silly girls at heart!

This is a picture of us, after a shopping trip where we bought the same scarf. Silly girls at heart!

Our friendship is long distance. I am in Ohio and she, in the state of New York, but that has not changed our relationship. We email and get together about twice a year. Often it is just her and I, but sometimes our hubbies come along. When I go to visit my mom, Stacey lives only a couple miles away, so we always make time to shop, eat out and maybe see a movie. Once in awhile she and her husband will make the trip to Ohio to see us.

Stacey is a forever friend. Not everyone is blessed with one, but I cannot imagine how much poorer I would be if God had not placed Stacey in my life. We have sung, laughed, cried and prayed together. We share history and common faith. Every time we get together it is a time of sweet fellowship. 

Not every friend is a forever friend, but all of our friends are gifts from God and we should be thankful for each and every one.

In the comments section below, type the name or names of your forever friend(s).

 

True Friendship


True friendship is rare on earth. It means identifying with someone in thought, heart and spirit. The whole experience of life is designed to enable us to enter into this closest relationship with Jesus Christ.
— Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest - January 7th

How many people can you call your "true" friends? According to Oswald Chambers a true friend must meet three requirements (or have three layers).

1. We must identify with them in thought.

2. We must identify with them in heart

3. We must identify with them in spirit.

Being able to identify with someone in thought is a fairly superficial layer and relatively easy. We encounter many people with which we have commonalities. For instance, I am a Trekkie...meaning I am a fan of Star Trek, especially the original series with James T. Kirk, Spock and so on. I might have meaningful conversations with other Trekkies and enjoy spending time with other Trekkies, but that does not make us true friends. We have common thoughts about a certain show and the characters in that show.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull

Being able to identify with a person in heart is a layer below the surface. The heart is often a picture of our passions. This might include causes that we enjoy supporting, or political issues that we take a firm stand on. These areas of heart draw us together. The Right to Life Rally in Washington DC, draws bus loads of men and women who believe in the right of an unborn baby to live rather than be aborted. These friendships revolve around a passion of the heart.

The inner most layer and perhaps the cord that binds them all together is being able to identify with a person in spirit. The spirit was created by God. This part of us links us not only to each other, but to the Creator Himself. Having a common spirit adds a depth to friendship that the other two alone can not have. 

Our lives are filled with various layers of friendships. All of these are good, or at least they should be. Friendships that drag you down, suck the life out of you or cause you to do things that are dangerous or unhealthy are not friendships that identify with your thoughts, your heart or your spirit and most likely should not continue. 

And for those of you who have true friends, thank God for them. They are vessels used by Him to encourage us into the deeper layers of Jesus.

Shoring Each Other Up!

I shared this poem a few months ago on a Facebook group, but I thought it appropriate to post on my blog. 

Shoring Each Other Up

by Amy D. Christensen

 

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

Weathered, calloused hands, pull ropes taut;

Holding, cringing, against course burns.

Storms rage, pushing waves, like giant hands, throwing us about.

Still we hold! Shoring each other up.

Stomachs roil, threatening to burst forth.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

Sails, brought to our knees, letting go of wind.

Wave hands raise us up, then slap us down.

Up and down.

Still we hold! Shoring each other up.

Brief calm follows.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

Photo Credit: Rebecca Trumbull, Make Up Artist: Rachel Christensen

A glassy sea, smoothed out by Creator's breath.

Bleeding hands clasp; whispered gratitude.

Heading into safe harbor;

Still we hold! Shoring each other up.

The idea of friendship is not new. We all long for one or more companions who truly "get us". We desire shipmates who not only entertain us, but who are honest with us; who can tell us their shortcomings as well as kindly point out our own. Friendship, the true kind, is not a merry journey like our friends Dorothy and Toto along the Yellow Brick Road. It is more often a battlefront in a war most consuming. Let us continue to "shore one another up", by offering support, honesty and encouragement.