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 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

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.