Category: Friendship


“Some people come into our lives and quickly go.  Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.  And we are never, ever the same.”  -Anonymous

How are you at being a good friend?

I miss the mark more often than not.

A good friend is patient and kind.  She doesn’t get jealous, snotty or rude.  She lets us go first even when it isn’t our turn and doesn’t get angry when we do.  She is always honest with us, dreams with us and walks the long road with us.  She comes when we struggle, weeps with us and encourages us when we are down.  She lends her ear and her shoulder to help bear our burden and sorrow.  Her love never ends.

So often Job’s friends get a bad wrap, and rightly so; they give him bad advice, question his integrity, and accuse him wrongly.  Like us, our friends are not perfect; we all make bad choices, say the wrong things or jump to conclusions.  [Job 4-25]

But we can learn from Job’s friends in how they respond when they hear of their friend’s suffering;

“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came… to show him sympathy and comfort him. And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept… And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.”   Job 2:11-13

They came.

They wept.

They sat.

What kind of friend are you?

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…”   1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”   Philippians 2:13

It amazes me, in a world where we are taught;

“It’s a dog eat dog world.”

“He who dies with the most toys wins.” 

“Ignorance is bliss.”

That God is able to work so mightily in people.

I have always been in awe of people who serve the Lord sacrificially.

People who think of others instead of themselves, offer their money to those in need, buy groceries for those who are hungry, provide transportation to those who don’t have a ride and give of their time to comfort those who are struggling.

My family has been the recipient of God’s provision so many times through selfless gifts and the generosity of others, it’s almost too numerous to count and had I not witnessed these amazing stories of God’s provision and faithfulness myself, I would have not believed them to be true.

It is a truly beautiful thing when people allow God to be seen through them, and it happened again tonight.

A dear friend stopped by our home tonight and in her arms she held overflowing bags of groceries.

“Aw, Isn’t that nice?” you’re thinking… but what floors me is that this woman is a single mom.  She’s raising a teen-aged daughter herself, and I can only imagine that the money she spent on us could have been used on her.

She felt God tug on her heart to help us.

She looked past what might be lacking in her own bank account; her daughter foregoing new nail polish or another want and instead carried gallons of milk to our front door.

I sent a quick thank you to my friend, and her response proved the love she has for Christ, and the work He is doing in her life:

“God is good. He gets the credit. I was just the worker bee.”

“There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”         1 Corinthians 12:6 (niv)

“equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.”   Hebrews 13:21

Do not underestimate how God is working in our lives.
He works mightily to get our attention.

Don’t miss an opportunity to be used!

Oh… and this is the song that was playing when my friend and her daughter arrived…

 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”   Jeremiah 29:11-13 (niv)

I often hear people ask and wonder so often myself;
“What is God’s plan for me?  What does He want me to do?  What will bring Him the most glory?”

Ever since I returned from the She Speaks writers conference, I have been struggling with the direction I feel God has for me.  I have an unsettledness inside me to continue writing, but see no real path.  I long to glorify God through whatever it is I do, and if writing isn’t where God wants me, I want to know…I don’t want to waste mine and His time if this isn’t the path He wants me on!

I was talking with a friend about this and God spoke to me through her when she said;

“I think we get stuck because we want to do the right thing, but end up doing nothing because we don’t want to do the wrong thing.  Just remember how MUCH God loves you and that His desire for others to be ministered through the gifts He gave you, is greater then your desire to use them.”

So what do we do, how do we know what path to take?

Stop.

It’s time to have a talk with God.
Let Him know what you’re struggling with and ask Him for direction.

“I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words.”   Psalm 17:6

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.”   1 John 3:21-22

Listen.

Stop with the noise!
God speaks quietly.  In fact, many times it’s a longing or desire He places within us.
So, what moves you?  What are you passionate about?  What is it you think you want to do?

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”   Psalm 37:4-6

Take a deep breath.

Stop doubting!
God has a plan for us and even had it planned long before we were born!  As long as we stay in His will, He will not fail to show us what that plan is.

“For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.'”   Isaiah 41:13

Take a step.

God responds to faith…and sometimes He waits for us to take that first step before He acts.
Move in the direction you think is right.
Trust that He will lead you and know that if it is not the right path He will change your direction.

“I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”   Revelation 3:8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”   Proverbs 3:5-6

 

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us”   Ephesians 3:20

A friend of mine Wendy ordered a quarter of a cow which can be quite an investment, but the amount of meat for the cost is a wonderful deal and will feed her family for many months!

She had all but $150 of the total paid and the remaining balance would be due upon delivery of the meat.  The final payment and delivery date was quickly approaching and Wendy found herself concerned about how they would be able to come up with what they still owed.

Months before, Wendy’s husband’s ’95 Dodge Neon had completely died and because it was such an old car, the repair work needed to fix it far exceeded the car’s worth. They were able to borrow her parent’s car for a while and decided to deal with the Neon later.

There it sat, parked in their driveway unable to move, unable to drive, unable to start.

One Sunday afternoon, as Wendy and her family were relaxing watching some television, there was a knock on the door. Wendy answered the door and a complete stranger stood on her stoop.

This stranger explained that he drives past their home regularly, and had noticed the Neon sitting in the driveway for quite a while. He wondered if they were by any chance interested in selling it. He is also an owner of a ‘95 Dodge Neon that had been hit by a drunk driver, so he needed parts to fix it and offered $150 cash on the spot.

They couldn’t believe their luck. They sold him the car that day, and were able to use the money to finish paying for the beef they ordered. God easily provided their needs, and in a way that clearly got their attention.

God uses many different ways to get our attention; finances, heartache, time, people…

He wants us to recognize Him in all things and when He provides we need to give Him the credit.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”   Ephesians 3:20-21

What’s going on in your life?

Is there something you’re struggling with?

Perhaps something happened that seemed ironic or coincidental?

Take a closer look.

God is real, and He wants your attention!

Have you ever had a girl crush?

crush   noun   \ˈkrəsh\
Definition of CRUSH : an intense and usually passing infatuation <have a crush on someone>;
(Definition of INFATUATE : to inspire with a foolish or extravagant love or admiration)

You know, you’re a girl and you meet another girl and she’s gorgeous, friendly, funny, sweet, and totally in style.  You feel like you’ve known her your whole life; you have the same beliefs, same views on life, family and God and you totally “get” why her husband married her.

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”   1 Peter 3:3-4

The Urban dictionary defines it as:

girl crush
feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl. a nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level.

These are the girls who are not related by blood and yet love us unconditionally.  They offer their shoulders freely for crying and their sleeves for blowing.  They act as a back board to bounce ideas off of and a coach to guide us.  They are a safe haven to run to in a storm and a gentle hand that picks us up when we slip.

This is a tribute to the girls in my life; those of you who make me want to act better, look better, love my husband and children better, portray Christ better, treat others better, and love my God better.

Thank you for the love and acceptance you have shown me, for the inspiration you have given me, for the wisdom you have shared with me and for the Godliness you have displayed for me.

I praise God for the girl crushes He has blessed me with, and although it is said that a crush is short lived, maybe these are the exception.

You know who you are… and I thank you.

“He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.”   Proverbs 28:26 (niv)

Our puppy Wilson has a “developmental disorder.”  I’m sure of it.

 

  • Is easily distracted and frequently switches from one activity to another
  • Has difficulty maintaining focus on one task
  • Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
  • Struggles to follow instructions.
  • Dashes around playing with anything and everything in sight
  • Is constantly in motion
  • Has difficulty waiting for things he wants

Wilson is a six month old Pit Bull Terrier mix who is full of energy and life.  When we first brought him home, walking him was no short order.  He was full of curiosity and wonder dodging from left to right unsure of which direction he wanted to take.  He pulled on the leash determined to go his own way, or would come to a dead stop and we would have to tug him to get him moving again.

He tripped over himself and us, eager to go one way then would get distracted by a new smell or rustle in the brush and do a 180, spinning on his heels heading the opposite way in practically the same motion.  He relied on his nose to guide him and continually found himself on a different path than the one holding the leash.

How often do we find ourselves in the same predicament?

We dart from one thing to the next, excited and curious, longing to do God’s will but unsure of which path to take.  We head down one road then find ourselves chasing an enticing smell or exciting noise down another.  We pull and tug desiring our own way.

It is so easy for us to be moved by our feelings or circumstances and take a path based on them.  But when we travel that road we often find ourselves confused, lost and unsure until our Master whispers our name and gently calls us back to His side to turn us in the right direction.

We have a guide through this world.  Someone who looks out for us.  Someone who wants only the best for us.  Someone who possesses unconditional patience, love and forgiveness offering it freely and abundantly.

It is when we trust in Him and follow His lead that we will find the protection, confidence and peace we desire.

“For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”   1 Peter 2:25

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”   Psalm 32:8

“The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”   Proverbs 16:9

On Tuesday of this week, I sat on a five-mile section of the “Ike“, or Interstate 290 running westward from the Chicago loop, for over an hour.

My traveling companions and I were returning home from an amazing journey God provided, traveling to Concord, North Carolina for my She Speaks writers conference.

We had traveled more than 2000 miles already and sat in the car for nearly eight hours that day, so being only a couple hours from home we were eager to get there.

The GPS told us we were to be expected home at 6:36pm and we knew we were traveling through Chicago at the wrong time; rush hour, so when we approached a sea of brake lights we weren’t shocked.  We were shocked however by the amount of cars and how long the back up was taking.

Now, I lived in the Twin Cities and commuted every day during rush hour traffic and knew what to expect, but this traffic was at a dead stop.  We were literally at a snail’s pace…going nowhere fast.

Thankfully we had decided to stop just before getting on I-290 to top off the gas tank.  We had a bit less than half a tank and figured we would be fine but we knew the time we would be traveling into Chicago so we didn’t want to take any chances.

Typically we fill up, have a quick memorial and cleansing service for those sacrificed upon our windshield and head on our way.  But this time we were delayed a bit longer than usual while we used the restroom and purchased a soda and Twizzlers.

Darn, had we not stopped at all…maybe we would’ve missed this whole jam!

About 40 minutes into our wait, only a few miles covered and most of the Twizzlers gone, we heard sirens behind us.  “Oh gees!”  I said.  Just the thought of having to maneuver through this mess was appalling.  The emergency vehicles blared their horns, much to the chagrin of the poor gal in the open convertible next to us, and waited for cars to move and then continued through.

I immediately wished we had a flashy light and loud horn to help us through this maze too!!

We watched as the expected arrival time on the GPS got later and later.

We inched forward and nearly an hour into our wait, we noticed flashing lights up ahead.  “Oh, of course! There must have been an accident” we said noticing that the emergency vehicles were blocking the two right lanes.  Oh gees, now we have to try to get over?  Great.  Four lanes of Chicago traffic squishing into two, with wonderfully gracious and patient Chicago drivers..

Mmm-hmm, no wonder there was a backup!

As we approached the cause of the backup a hush filled the car.

  

July 24, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) — A man was killed in a traffic accident near Woodfield Mall on I-290 just south of the Higgins Road exit Tuesday afternoon.

State police say a car crashed into semi-truck in the northbound lanes and ended up underneath the truck.

There was a five-mile backup on the interstate.

(Copyright ©2012 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
What if we hadn’t stopped at that last gas station?
What if we hadn’t been delayed in the store?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28

 

I have spent a weekend, this past weekend, being held in the bosom of our Lord.

I have just spent 48 hours in the embrace of the Almighty.

I have been called to lay back in the quietness of Jesus, the exuberance of the Spirit, and the peace of the Father.

I have been whispered to, smacked upside the head, wrapped tightly, nudged forward, and mightily covered.

“And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.”   Mark 9:15

I was surrounded by women this weekend, at the Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Speakers and Writers Conference, who ran along side me to greet Jesus.  He showed up mightily and revealed Himself colorfully.  We sat together within His embrace and under His teaching through amazing women; Luann Prater, Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Whitney Capps.

We were filled to overflowing by hearing His words and His promises, then our Lord, who just loves to surprise and thrill us; plopped these like-minded, gorgeous-faced, Jesus-loving, God-fearing women with stunningly beautiful hearts and amazing stories to tell, smack dab in our laps.

These women, these truly separated-at-birth sisters have inspired me, laughed with me, comforted me, celebrated with me, encouraged me, cried with me… I am absolutely in awe, and I praise Him for how He brings lives together and weaves hearts.

Please, if you get a chance, visit these blogs of my new and dear sisters:

Kelly Pankratz

Nicole Ray

Lara Sadowski

Britta Lafont

Michelle Axton Kelly

Mary Beth Hall 

Elizabeth Suess

Melinda Gray

Alyson Brewer

Amy Alves

Misti Spacek

Dawn Mast

I am so thankful to my God.  The One who laid down His life for my own.  The One who orchestrates all things and reveals them in His timing.  The only One worthy of our praise, and oh He is so worthy.

Isn’t it funny how God prepares us?  So many times I have seen God allow pain and heartache to come into a person’s life…they struggle as the storm engulfs them, wish it hadn’t come, pray for comfort and relief, and when the storm finally passes, praise God for how He works.

It seems so unnatural and against every fiber of our being… and yet when God allows us to be tested and we become more like Him; we get through the challenge, we stand firm and lean on His plan, His leading, we are grateful and equipped to help someone else walk down the same path we dreaded in the beginning.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”   1 Peter 5:6-7

Praise God for how He works!!

I mentor a young lady named Hayley.  Love this girl. Now, when Hayley does something, she goes big.  She just turned 16, and went on her first trip… anywhere.  Hayley and her family hosted a foreign exchange student from Spain named Ana, and now Hayley was invited to spend a month with Ana and her family in Spain.

Hayley left July 1st.

She was so excited and so nervous at the same time.  Her excitement was infectious, and I couldn’t wait to see what God had planned for her overseas.  Now, I had a similar experience in high school, where my family hosted a foreign exchange student from Mexico.  The summer after graduation I was invited to go to Mexico for a couple weeks to stay with Liliana and her family…so I knew the fun and challenges awaiting Hayley.

I warned her that the first 3-4 days would be hardest.  Being away from home, in a different culture, speaking a different language… it is very difficult.

However, one HUGE difference between Hayley and I at that time??  I didn’t know Christ.  That places a whole different set of rules and challenges on Hayley.

True to form, a few days in I started receiving emails and messages from her expressing her heartache… she was so homesick, missing her boyfriend and struggling really, because she is surrounded by girls her age who drink, smoke, curse, and are quite affectionate to their boyfriends.  Hayley was very much struggling with staying strong, but feeling quite alone and set apart because of her beliefs.

I tried to encourage her, by giving her scripture to focus on…

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”   Psalm 37:23-24

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”   Psalm  55:22

But I felt strongly that God had called her there to be a witness, and if she stayed strong somehow He would show her.

I asked if any of Ana’s friends were believers, and she said many called themselves Christians, but didn’t act like it.  I told her I felt that perhaps there was one there, who is struggling as she is with standing up for their faith.  That perhaps God is using Hayley to give that person strength to stand up for God as well, and I would be praying for God to call that person out.

I got this email from Hayley yesterday:

“Today I could not be happier, I am so excited to tell you about the experience I had today! One of Ana’s friends and her started asking me questions to practice their English and it turned into a ton of questions about my faith. They asked me a bunch of things about the Bible and we discussed a couple miracles of Jesus, and how he died and rose for us, and how you can’t just be “good enough”.

Her friend asked me about a lot of things that are in the Bible and we even discussed why I won’t be intimate until I’m married. Please pray for him, I know I will be, and I’m sad because tomorrow is the last day I will see him but I know he is growing in his faith because he believes but has a hard time living it because of his friends and family.

It was hard to discuss because of the language barrier and I had to really try to explain things simply but it was amazing! This was the greatest day ever and I’m so excited!!! Love you! (: and miss you!”

Oh God, I praise you.

I praise You for how you work in our lives. I praise You for your protection.  I praise You for helping us understand our need for a Savior and the hope we have when we trust and rely on You and You alone…

And then you use us to point others to you?!

Oh, what an amazing God you are.  It is a pleasure and real honor to follow you.

We lift up our hearts, O God, on this day of celebration in gratitude for the gift of being Americans.

We rejoice with all those who share in the great dream of freedom and dignity for all.

With flags and feasting, with family and friends, we salute those who have sacrificed that we might have the opportunity to bring to fulfillment our many God-given gifts.

As we deny all prejudice a place in our hearts, may we also clearly declare our intention to work for the time when all people, regardless of race, religion or sex, will be granted equal dignity and worth.

Come, O gracious God, who led your children Israel from slavery, keep us free from all that might hold us in bondage.

Bless our country and join our simple celebration that we may praise you, our Source of freedom, the One in whom we place our trust.

~ Edward Hays
A Pilgrim’s Almanac:
Reflections for Each Day of the Year,
p. 111

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