Tag Archive | friendship

The Power of Friendship

I told my daughter today that I needed to write. She said, “You should write about the power of friendship.”

IMG_0632That’s something she thinks about a lot, being just a couple of months shy of 15. This past year has been dominated by a group of friends she and her 18-year-old brother have that call themselves The Marathoners. It started as a small gathering from the youth group at church that got together weekly to watch movies (thus the name “Marathoners,” from movie marathons, not running marathons.)

It’s funny how just watching movies together can bond people so closely.

The group normally met at the home of a young husband and wife who were volunteer leaders with the group. We knew them fairly well, in fact I mentored the wife, getting together with her each week, so we felt comfortable with all the people involved.

Oh my, how this group loves each other. They formed a chat group and message each other numerous times during the day both to solidify plans and to share funny videos, songs, poetry, prayer, or whatever they desire. Many of them even camped together with a couple of the dads for one’s birthday in order to see a meteor shower.

While keeping tabs on the kinds of things they were sharing with each other, I also cautioned my kids to beware of becoming a clique and to be sure they were including FullSizeRender-3others, especially at youth group meetings where there could be those who felt left out. I told them there would be those who were envious of the kids in the “cool group.” They assured me, “Mom, we’re far from the ‘cool kids.'”

Maybe so, but the closeness and love the Marathoners show for each other would be obvious to those observing.

And then something catastrophic happened.

The young wife, whose secrets I had been aware of for quite some time, went public on Facebook that she and her husband were separating and the leadership of the church had told her that she was not allowed to have contact with any of the youth inside or outside of Wednesday night youth group.

FullSizeRenderTwo problems: #1 That statement wasn’t true

and #2 Without any context whatsoever, that announcement sent the Marathoners into a tailspin.

In a rush of texts and tears and frenzied phone calls, we pulled together the Marathoners and the leadership of the youth the very next day, knowing that we needed them to hear the truth of the matter and have a time to process it all together.

I will forever be grateful for the way the leaders handled that meeting, and for the maturity that my kids showed. As we processed together in the following days, my son showed a huge heart for these friends who meant so much to him. And my daughter, who had been very close to the young wife, cried over this situation more than any other in her life, but found solace in the group who leaned in and loved each other even more.

Just a couple of weeks later, both of my kids were asked to speak to upcoming middle school and high school students at a graduation event at church. My daughter, who hates being in front of people, bravely took the stage to address the rising 5th graders and spoke from her heart about how having the right friends and trusting the leaders of TheCity (the name of the youth group) were so very important for their middle school years. If it FullSizeRender 2weren’t for The Marathoners, she didn’t know how she would have survived struggles she had with long-time friends at school. They meant the world to her.

I can’t say that I have a lot of friends still from high school, and certainly not from junior high. Not only do I live on the other side of the country now, but that was almost 40 years ago. But those friendships I have maintained grew and blossomed in the soil of a solid youth group.

This summer, we’re enjoying having the group over to swim. It gets my 2 introvert cave dwellers out a lot more. I love hearing their laughter, watching their friendship and praying for them.

FullSizeRenderThe power of friendship. It can change everything. It’s what Jesus wants for us. Oneness with Him, and oneness with each other.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47 ESV).

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Five Near-Birthday Observations

Birthday-Cake-With-Candles-10I’m 2 days away from my 53rd birthday. And I’m OK with that.

I’m sitting on my back porch this late December morning, in 70+ degree weather, remembering the gathering of 50 friends I had around me for my 50th. It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years. Wow. Time does fly; it’s not just an old adage.

My eldest turned 18 2 days ago, and I’m OK with that, too. It doesn’t make him a different person. It doesn’t make me less his mom. His journey to manhood keeps going.

And my journey continues as well. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way of my 53 years.

1. People come and go from our lives all the time.

It’s a smaller world now than it used to be. We have text messaging that puts us in touch with people instantly. We have Facebook, which gives us a glimpse into their lives. But sometimes, we just have to let people go and be thankful that we got to spend a little time with them anyway.

2. Age doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to friendships.

I have friends who are in their 80s, I have friends who are in their 20s. Since I had my kids a bit later in life, the majority of moms I hang out with are a lot younger than I. I may not be as hip as they, but they keep me feeling younger than I really am.

3. Faith is not a feeling.

I am going through a highly annoying health issue right now associated with menopause, and it has caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. But one thing I have said over and over is that I would rather have Jesus and this issue than no issue and no Jesus. No issue with Jesus would be ideal, but if that never happens, can I be content? If I don’t feel like God is even listening, does that mean He’s not? If God’s character was based on my perception, than He wouldn’t be much of a God. He’s a lot bigger than how I feel.

4. I really and truly am not in control.

There’s a saying: “Man makes his plans and God laughs.” I think God does a lot of chuckling when He’s listening to me. I like to have things planned out. We take a trip, I like to know where we’re stopping along the way. I want to know where my kids are and what they’re doing. I want to be in the know for anything that’s going on around me. But you know what? That’s not how God wants me to live my life. He is in control and if things don’t go the way I think they should, that’s because He’s got something better in mind. Boy, that’s good head knowledge; now if I could just put it into practice.

5. Last but not least, there is no hope for this world apart from Jesus.

A day does not go by that we don’t hear about some terrible tragedy or another. People dying, evil dictators torturing their detractors, planes mysteriously disappearing from thin air. Evil seems to be rampant and taking over the world. And there is no hope for it aside from Jesus. You can’t legislate morality and you can’t expect anything to get better if people’s hearts remain unregenerate. Protests, laws, micro-management are not going to help. Only Jesus.

So, 53 years are almost in the books. There are many more lessons to be learned.  What are some of the truisms you’ve learned on your journey?

 

Image from november2013calendar.org

This Land is My Land

Day 14 of our travels–almost the halfway point–finds us in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I grew up. I’m listening to my Oakland A’s on an audio broadcast, because I get blacked out on MLB.com when I’m in the place where the team plays. Happens at home whenever they’re playing the Tampa Bay Rays. But it’s better than nothing. We’re staying with my college roommate and her husband–whom I’ve actually known longer than her–while we visit our ministry partners in the area.

We arrived yesterday from our 3-day stay in Bakersfield. What a great time that was, visiting with my aunt and uncle. We enjoyed introducing them to our kids and getting to know them better. My great aunt, whom I mentioned last time lives on the same property, is 94 years old, and we don’t know when we’ll see her again. Having grown up with her often at our house for holidays, I felt a little sad that this is probably the last time we’ll see her. But if my aunt’s predictions are right, she’ll outlive us all!

From the heat and humidity of the south, to the dry, arid desert, we have experienced temperatures in the 100s down to the 50s. We’ve driven hours in the flat, flat lands of Texas and climbed our first mountains as we headed into the Grand Canyon. Rivers, oceans, bays and bayous have escorted us on our way.

Today, perhaps we’ll take a trip over to San Francisco. Morgan really wants to see sea lions. But since it’s going to be in the low 50s and windy, maybe we’ll just stay on this side of the bay. We’ll see what comes.

Tomorrow we hit the road again to start our northward journey to Washington. The big wedding is just 5 days away!

Thankful today for:

459. a chance to see my brother and his family

460. God’s creative animals

461. my sweet friend Sabrina

462. the view of the bay with the fog rolling in

463. time spent in my home city

464. people who know my history

465. our kids doing well so far

466. the friends who support our ministry

467. rest stop restrooms

468. generosity

469. faithfulness

470. longevity

Would You Be Your Friend?

Are you someone you like to hang out with? If you had a choice, would you be your own friend? Do you like who you are? Do you enjoy your own company?

Have you ever looked at yourself from someone else’s eyes? Do they see someone who displays the fruit of the Spirit?

Love: unselfish, putting others first, not jealous, keeping no record of wrong

Joy: not grouchy and discontent: radiating happiness that transcends circumstances

Peace: unflustered, unfazed by what’s going on around you, trusting in God beyond what the circumstances might seem to dictate

Patience: peacefully waiting for God to move, knowing that He’s got things under control

Kindness: caring deeply about others and expressing that to them

Goodness: displaying the character of Christ, godliness; striving to always do the right thing

Faithfulness: displaying an unwavering faith in God and not straying from your walk with Him

Gentleness: not harsh, having a soft hand and voice when it comes to dealing with others, no matter their attitude

Self-control: not reacting to or following along with other’s bad behavior; not being erratic so that people don’t know what to expect from you

Doesn’t that just seem like a person you want to hang out with? I know I’d sure like to have that friend.

Guess that means I should work on being that friend.

Thankful today for:

102. brownies baking in the oven

103. 80 degree weather with only 31 percent humidty

104. a change in plans

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I spent my day taking 10 second graders to Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, about an hour and a half drive from Orlando. I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person, but I did buy them little heart cookies to have with their lunches at the lighthouse.

But for the last 20 years or so, there has been a group of us that has gone to dinner right around Valentine’s Day. This group has seen the birth of 9 children and the marriage of one. We’ve talked by cell phone from the restaurant of choice to one couple who moved to Thailand for two years. I was in labor with our second child one year. Had him the next day. We’ve never missed a year.

Jim and Carol have the oldest kids–the one who got married is theirs. David and I had our first “date” babysitting their kids. Carol convinced me to not give up on David when he was being a bozo.

Joel and Marjorie are like family to us. I’ve know Joel since my college days, and he and David used to live together. He was in our wedding and both of us were in theirs. Our kids call them Aunty Marjorie and Uncle Joel.

Greg and Jill have been our good friends for a long, long time. Greg used to be David’s boss. Now he’s one of our pastors. Jill is one of my best friends. She was Morgan’s teacher in first grade. Greg helped David tile our house. David helped Greg reroof his. Can’t get any more friendly than that!

David and Karen are the newest to our group. They filled the gap when Joel and Marjorie were in Thailand. They are friends we can always count on and enjoy spending time with.

This is our group minus David and Karen--before Joel and Marjorie went to Thailand.

It is a joy to have such good friends. Many people have only a couple of people they can count as close as family. We are blessed with these four couples–and many others who have come along into our lives after we started our dinner tradition.

We don’t have a date yet for this year, because the other David has been traveling overseas. He returns tomorrow. I expect we’ll be able to set a date for next week. The day doesn’t really matter. It’s whom you’re with.

I love these guys!
Happy Valentine’s Day!

More to be thankful for:

22. Take-out Chinese food for dinner

23. Wifi service at the Centra Care clinic

24. Modern medicine

You Care, I Can Tell

My kids know whether I really care about something they’re talking about, showing me or doing. If my attention is not completely on them, or if I’m not quite enthusiastic enough with my “I like it!” or “Way to go!” they accuse me of not liking it or not caring about whatever “it” may be.

I have a tendency toward laziness, so if I really don’t have a genuine concern or care for someone, then it’s easy for me not to do something about their need or pain. And I can tend toward grumbling about the things I have to do as a wife and mother to take care of my family: more laundry, another meal, more homework to correct.

But if I genuinely care, then all those things should flow out of that caring.

Our theme at school this year has been “Love in Action.” “And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21 NIV84).

Helping a friend reroof his house.

Taking care of a friend’s kids when they are delayed getting to school to pick them up.

Taking another friend’s son back up to his high school campus to pick up his clarinet that he left there, because he has a competition the next day and your friend is at a hair appointment with her three other children.

Paying undivided attention to your child when she’s talking about something you might not really care about, but you care about her.

These aren’t huge things (well, reroofing a house is huge). But they are showing love. And those for whom you do it can tell.

13. Warm winters

14. Working with good friends so that an all-day Saturday work day isn’t torturous

15. Dinner cooking in the crockpot