Tag Archive | friendship

We Are Family

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a 1-word prompt without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “hospitality.”

Once upon a time I took a spiritual gifts test which determined that I had the gifts of administration and hospitality. Being fairly young in my journey with Jesus, I didn’t completely know what that meant, but I did know that I was pretty organized and good at keeping things going, and that I liked to be with people.

Is that all there was to it?

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As the years have gone by, my home has become one in which people like to gather. It’s not huge, it’s not fancy, it’s not even all that clean (I had a friend describe it as clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy), but people are welcome and they know it.

Every Christmas we have a huge gathering of friends for Christmas dinner. At last count we were at 50-something, I think. I have people call and say, “We don’t have plans, can we come to your place?” Even when the number seems overwhelming, nobody is turned away. Most of us have moved far from our family of origin, so our friends have become that family to us.

Every time that I think about maybe scaling back and tightening our circle, I look around at the faces and there’s not a one I would consider losing. How do you purposefully cut off a hand or a foot?

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And so we continue setting tables on the back porch, thankful for the mild December weather in Florida, and rejoice in the bounty of our friendships.

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If Someone Offers A Gift—Take It

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “Take.”

I’ve lived the better part of my adult life as a missionary supported prayerfully and financially by the gifts of others. If people don’t give, we get no paycheck. So I have learned over these 30+ years that if someone offers something, I take it graciously and just say thank you.

God has always met our needs and we have abundantly more than we need, so I know the power of receiving a gift, not only because it meets a need for us, but also because of the joy it can bring to the giver.

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We have living room furniture because friends didn’t need it anymore. We have a kitchen table and chairs because friends wanted proceeds from the sale of ours at a yard sale to go to our son’s missions trip (I know, it’s kind of a complicated story). We received tons of baby stuff when our grandson was born because of the generosity of a group of young moms who just wanted to be able to pay it forward.

We can give generously as well because we have received so much. If we refuse to receive, we dishonor the giver. Yes, it’s humbling to admit the need, but it’s good and it’s necessary. We don’t go through this life alone, and we shouldn’t pretend like we don’t need the generosity of others.

“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).

Measure Up

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes, without heavy editing, on a one-word prompt and see what we come up with. Today’s prompt is “measure.”

Luke 6:38 records Jesus saying, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

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If you use kind words, kind words will be returned (ideally).

If you give generously, you will receive generously.

If you love greatly, you will be greatly loved.

I have a sweet friend who just underwent a series of chemo treatments for breast cancer. And then she had surgery. All the while she gave glory to God for the growth she had seen in herself. She always had tons of friends making comments to her on her Facebook page whenever she would post about her cancer journey.

At one point she thanked everyone for their support and love and prayers. She couldn’t believe she had so many great friends and family. The support really helped her get through it.

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As I read that, I just had to comment that people loved her well because she loved well herself. She wasn’t grumpy or a back stabber or unkind in any way. She might have been amazed at the quality of her friends, but it was because they were a reflection of her, and she was a reflection of Jesus.

The measure which she used was the one used to measure back to her. And it was a beautiful thing to behold.

The golden rule is right: treat others the way you want to be treated. Not the way they treat you, no matter how good or bad. Just the way you want to be treated.

Do you want a large measure used for what you will receive? Then use that large measure in your dealings with other people.

It just makes sense.

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I Am My Sister’s Keeper

I have a group of 6 women friends with whom I share life on a daily basis.

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So sorry to be missing 1 friend in this picture. Back row from left: me, Marjorie, Julie; front: Alyson, Keturah, Crystal

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Alyson, Julie and me

We live near each other. We attend the same church. We all were involved in the same K-8 school for many years. We are raising our kids together, walking through troubled times and celebrations. Graduations, jobs, school successes. Two of them came and sat in the lobby of the hospital and prayed when my grandson was being born. Even our kids have become really good friends.

We’ve laughed and cried and raged and cheered. We pray earnestly and often. We share holidays together because most of our families are far off.

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Marjorie, Keturah and me

We have a Facebook messenger group where we are available whenever we need each other.

We were built for community, and we are all aware that what we have with each other is not normal. We have a bond that will transcend place if anyone would take the gigantic step of moving away.

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Kehau and Alyson (they’re sisters in law)

 

We know each other well.

As women, we thrive on the words we exchange. We don’t always have to do something together, but we know we are always there for one another. Because we all have families, getting together isn’t always easy, but those times are precious too.

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Crystal and Alyson

 

We call ourselves the “wonder women.” Our tribe. Our cadre. Our peeps. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and need to remind each other of that fact often. We can also do wonderful things as we make our requests known to the God of the universe who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or think. And we share the wonder of that great God.

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Keturah and me

 

We are unique in that we have such a group of soul sisters, but we certainly don’t want to be alone in that fact. Pray, ask God for such a group. It doesn’t have to be 7 like we have. Just 2 or 3 will be a blessing as long as you can share your hearts and be honest with each other.

Go, find your tribe.

 

This post is part of the Five-Minute Friday link up. Join the fun!

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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).

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