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A BFF like no other

The subject of friendships has been the topic of much discussion in the many roles I have in this crazy thing called life. Friendships, especially those you have when growing up, can be hard to navigate. Tough to figure out who is true, and who is not really that good for you. Who is going to be there through it all, or who is going to drop you when life becomes too much to handle.

We also define our relationships with our friends based on our similarities, not realizing that our likes are often fleeting, and thus can’t sustain a relationship for very long. When a difference or conflict occurs because we don’t agree, if our friendships are based on being the same, it is hard to move past these differences.

Since I have grown out of the girl drama, and now firmly believe that everything I truly need to know is right in God’s Word. The same is true for friendship.

The friendship formed between Ruth and Naomi was one example, but the friendship of David and Jonathan is another great example of the amazing, unexplainable, unbreakable bonds of friendship that can endure through immense hardship and trials. Showing how a friend can also be a powerful mentor or role model.

First, David and Jonathan were unlikely friends. 

“So because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you as King.” 1 Samuel 15:23

The “you” mentioned here is Saul, the king. However, the decision he made to go rogue in battle and disobey God meant his family lost the honor of inheriting the title. His son, Jonathan, as a result lost the chance to become a king.

Then…enter David. Twelve years old. To become the newly anointed. The next in line to become king. Jonathan, once in line. Now losing his place to a kid!

Even still, there is a bond between the two, and a love for “self.”

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David-an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend. 1 Samuel 18:1-3

Consider that Jonathan is much older than David. David was a young boy at this point, chosen to soothe Saul’s anger with music. He has defeated the giant, and claimed victory for the Israelites. He has also now become a threat to the king.

This little kid.

At some point he was going to need an advocate. A friend. God knew this.

So he sent Jonathan. Who could have been jealous, too. I mean he was standing in front of the kid who was going to be seated one day where he should be. But he set his own desires aside to love David. As much as he loved himself. Making a vow to love him and take care of him.

Jonathan was a mentor and encourager.

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16.

David is hiding. His enemy Saul wants him dead, and Jonathan goes looking for him? Of course he did. To encourage him. To remind him that he was chosen by God. To steer him in the right direction. To help him not falter in his walk, and to never give up. That’s what a loyal friend and role model does. Encourages. Lifts us up. Steers us to the right path. Reminds us who to look to for strength when we feel like giving up, and they drop everything to come find us when we need encouraging, too.

There is honesty and truth between the two, even when it is hard and hurtful. 

Saul called his son Jonathan together with his servants and ordered them to kill David. But because Jonathan treasured David he went and warned him. 1 Samuel 19:1-2

Jonathan knew that what Saul was plotting was wrong. Because he had committed to advocate for David, he was also committed to stand up against Saul’s jealous rage even if it meant he lost the favor of his father. Jonathan proved that honesty, truth, and loyalty are not only hard, but can be deeper than ties to family. They also require loyalty to ones values and often tremendous sacrifice.

Promises are kept, even to the end.

“God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever.” 1 Samuel 20:42

Even after Jonathan’s death, David remains loyal and committed to the friend he loved as a brother, taking in Jonathan’s child, and returning Saul’s land to him in his late father’s honor.

And Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, just like one of the royal family. 2 Samuel 9:12

So, what is so special about David and Jonathan? I think it goes back to what we all desire in the bonds of friendship. They were true. To each other and the promises they made. It was not a relationship born of jealousy, deceit, or betrayal; but one where the desires and needs of the other were placed above one’s own. And neither dropped the other when hardships and life became too much to handle.

At some point we will need an advocate. A friend. And God knows this. And when the time comes, I pray he sends you a friendship and a bond like David and Jonathan’s. Someone who will love you as they love themselves.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2019 in What About Your Friends

 

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Would you go where they go?

“How do they do it? How do they find each other? It’s like they can sniff out each other’s chaos?”

These are sometimes the conversations I have about the relationships amongst growing kids. How they decide to form attachments to those who are either good or bad for them. How we, as adults, do the same.

“Well, the same way adults do, right? We are all looking for someone who knows and will still accept our brand of crazy.”

That person who will see past our faults. That person we can trust. Who won’t gossip about us once we leave the room. Who will share in our struggles, and not share them with others. Be there when we are down. Pick us up when we need it.

Who when times are tough. We can’t see anyway out of the darkness. Have been acting a little crazy, distant, needy, whatever…won’t get sick of us, and leave.

Don’t we all want that?

“Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. Instead, call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life bitter for me; the Lord has caused me to suffer, and sent tragedy upon me.” Ruth 1:20, 21 (NLT, paraphrase).

Naomi, a name given that meant “pleasant,” had suffered a life that during this time had been anything but. She had left Bethlehem. Moved to Moab with her husband. Had two sons, and then lost all three. Naomi had in turn become bitter (which is the meaning of the name “Mara”). Angry at God for seemingly allowing her grief. She fully expected to spend the rest of her life alone and abandoned in the same way she felt God had left her.

She did not expect anyone to remain loyal during her suffering. To endure her grief and pain alongside her.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us (Ruth 1:16-17).

To vow to stay with her until the end.

Ruth was no longer obligated to do so. No longer married to Naomi’s son. Technically no longer part of Naomi’s family.

But to Ruth, she was making a commitment that had nothing to do with blood or technicalities. Ruth saw Naomi. In pain. Grieving. And made a commitment to endure life with her. Through the ups and downs.

Through the suffering.

She made a sacrifice to love Naomi as her own family.

She didn’t weigh what was in it for her first. She didn’t do it in order to get anything out of it. Both women returned to Bethlehem with nothing. She simply saw another suffering soul; a woman in need of a friend. Someone needing to be accepted with all her “crazy.” She decided to love her and stand by her until the end.

Isn’t that what we all want?

The person we tell to leave, but just won’t. They stay and ride out our junk with us. Even if they have their own junk. Even if they don’t have to. Even if they have somewhere to be. Any time you call. Every time you fall.

We all want someone who will stay when we get a little sideways, and yes, a little “crazy.”

Do you have that person? Are you that person for someone?

Maybe today you can be just a little softer in the midst of someone’s struggle. Stay a while in someone’s “crazy” moment. Sit in someone’s chaos, instead of growing bitter. Help someone navigate their return home, so they don’t have to alone.

Even if you have somewhere to be. Even if you have your own junk. Even if you don’t have to.

Just go wherever they go for a while.

 

 
 

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He Wants to Be Your “Friend”

“Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will give you all you need.” Matthew 6:33

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A few months ago, I wrote about the phone addiction I witnessed while in line at Starbucks. At that time I disconnected from the constant need to keep scrolling through endless updates, and navigate my day with my nose buried in my mobile device.

And, I was doing pretty good. I had finally resisted the urge to spew every one of my wayward thoughts on-line for all my “friends” to see. I was pretty sure that my hiatus from constant status updates, email checks, and tweets had its impact. I now had the strength and willpower to let all the negativity that clogged my newsfeed go. I had learned to run to God with my problems instead of Facebook.

I think it’s OK to download again, I said.

I can limit myself, I said.

I can make sure the negative things I see don’t affect me. I am sure they won’t alter the way I see and love people, I said.

I was wrong. Boy, was I wrong.

The realization that I was once again turning to all my “friends” again wasn’t in any way earth shattering. It all began with what almost became a simple “I’m feeling sorry for myself, and I’m all alone” status.

Until that voice said to me: “January, what are you doing? Do you really want to go there again? I’m here. Talk to me.”

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:12

If I call on my greatest friend, he will listen. But, I had stopped calling on Him lately. Instead, I was relying on every “like,” and comment of agreement to confirm that I wasn’t alone. That someone else was listening. However, with every comment, I realized…I was still alone. There are still some things all my “friends” just couldn’t possibly understand.

The truth is, I wish I could say I only had that one moment of Facebook weakness, but that’s not the case.

See, I had quickly gone back to the mindless scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh throughout my day just as quickly as I had deleted the whole mess in the first place. Until I had spent more time on the couch scrolling and refreshing than playing and engaging with my kids.

Until I began the frequent eye-rolling at posts that quickly turned to judgment and condemnation. The judgment and condemnation which is so unlike the example I am supposed to be of Christ.

Until my days were filled with gruesome, negative, and cruel news stories again, and nothing at all to lift my spirits.

Until I once again began my morning reading Facebook posts, and not my Bible.

Until I started telling all my “friends” about my problems, and not once talking to God.

I had done it again.

I certainly wasn’t practicing what I had preached months ago.

And, I had once again sunk into a wave of negativity, judgment, and whoa-is-meing that was not at all becoming.

Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving. Proverbs 4:15

This is not to say that Facebook is an evil thing that must be avoided at all costs. There are some inspiring posts and stories out there. Friends I follow just for this reason. I have family, former co-workers, and high school classmates that I enjoy catching up with, and then other “friends” whose witty posts give me a much needed laugh. And, who can enjoy a football game without a little friendly rivalry?

But, honestly…for me? The constant scroll, refresh, scroll, refresh is a trigger for me. A trigger for my insecurities. A trigger for my past to come back to haunt me. A trigger for my often critical view of the world and people, and one more reason for me to say that I don’t have time for God.

One more reason for me to think I am all alone. That all my “friends” don’t care, don’t understand, don’t get what I go through day in and day out, don’t….whatever. When really the friends that do care, are saved in my phone contact list. The ones whose emails, kids’ names, addresses, and hidden insecurities I actually do know. The ones who I can actually call, say “I miss you. I need you right now. I feel alone and I’m having a crummy day,” and know they will come running to first sulk with me, and then tell me to suck it up, because we all have those days.

And, then there is that other “friend.” The one who has no Facebook or Twitter account, yet knows exactly when I’m alone and need support-whether its 11 at night or at 4 in the morning. The friend I have in Him. The comfort and peace I can find in Him to which no scrolling and refreshing, or hundreds and hundreds of social media “friends” could ever compare.

What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Craving More of God

 

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Let’s Be Honest…I Walk Through the Desert, Too

Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. Ephesians 4:25

We Have to Walk in the Desert, Too

Transparency. It is something I have come to appreciate. The art of showing emotion, letting others in on what is going on in life. Not hiding behind a smile. Not painting on a happy face. Not denying struggles. Being completely, and totally honest with another.

It’s something I have grown to appreciate. but not something that was ever accepted as practice growing up.

I lived in a home full of “stuffers.” We grew up believing that old saying…you know, about not airing dirty laundry, or what not. You had a problem, you stuffed it. You were having a bad day, you stuffed your emotions and put on a smile. Look like you have it all together at all costs. Don’t let anyone know the real you. The real issues you face.

Well, let’s be honest. I am over that.

And, let’s be even more honest…I admit it. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I’m a mess and so are you. We’ve built walls nobody can get through.

Yes, I’m a mess. Just.like.you.

I have bad days, too. “I don’t want to get out of this bed and do a thing” days. “I spilled coffee on my white shirt, was late for work, and left my gas card at home” days. My bad days are probably just like yours, and my responses to them are, too. I vent, I rant, I yell, and (gasp) sometimes I let a curse word fly. But, I also pray. I get up and move on. I rejoice in the hope that tomorrow will be better.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too. Just.like.you.

I hurt, too. I have pain. I have struggles. There are days I wonder if anyone cares. There are days I feel alone. Broken. Confused. Useless. Just.like.you.

I am a parent. And, my kids…oh, my kids. On any given Sunday morning one may be laying, kicking, and screaming on the sanctuary floor, while the other stands sassing at the door. I struggle as a parent. I wonder if I even get any of it right. Just.like.you.

And, since I have my own kids…well, sometimes I can get easily frustrated with other kids. But, let’s be honest. Anyone who stands in the front of a classroom of 20 kids who have spent 15 minutes punching, yelling, running, and back-talking, and not one ounce of completing the tasks given to them would be a tad bit frustrated, too. And, yes…on those days I want to desperately run to the nearest exit and run away to the closest desert island. Because, on those days, I need a break. Just.like.you.

Let’s be honest. I walk through the desert, too.

I am human. I am a woman. An insecure woman. Sometimes a stubborn woman. I am a parent. I am a wife, and sometimes not a very good one. I get angry, sad, and scared. And, I am just.like.you.

So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine. ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides. And mercy’s waiting on the other side. If we’re honest. 

So, let’s be honest with each other. Let’s throw away the masks and be a little transparent. Let’s walk through the desert together.

When I want to come unraveled because autism came out to play on the way to church (and in the middle of the foyer), hug me and tell me I am doing a good job. When your kid is having struggles and acting out, know that I will do the same for you.

When your lonely, insecure, scared, and don’t know what to pray. Be honest. Someone else has been there, too.

When your day has been bad, and it keeps getting worse, paint on a smile if you wish, laugh about it a little, but be honest. Because there is someone else out there having a bad day, too.

We are in this thing called life together. We all have bad days. Bad months. Bad years. And, we all need a little encouragement along the way.

So, let’s just be honest. We all walk through the desert, too.

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Thanking God for $6 Promise

As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress and he hears my voice. Psalm 55:16-17

There have been an abundance of pleadings with God here since school has started. These have ranged from “God, please give us the strength to endure these mornings.” “God, please help us to help him.” “God, come on, now! Can a girl get a break? Just one morning please?”

Evening, morning, and noon I prayed for something that would help us ease the heartbroken and frustrating mornings we were having. I had even prayed for strength to accept that this phase may not end at all.

Sometimes, however, answers come from those he places in our lives. See, I am blessed with a family and friends who have sought to understand the differences in our son that are not apparent by just looking at him. I am blessed with co-workers who understand how hard it can be to put on the “game face” when 30 minutes before you were listening to or wrestling with a screaming child.

While some advice has just not worked with our son, or didn’t apply to our situation, some of it has been an answer to prayer.

“Maybe a visual chart would work? You could give stars for each day he doesn’t cry, and after so many give him a prize.”

Yes, he is visual, actually. To a fault, really. Only because he has to see and know exactly what is planned and for how many days.

Bribery, too? Oh, yeah…I am NOT above that!

Could this be the answer to our prayers? Not some earth shattering, and booming voice from above, but just a mom sharing valuable advice with another. A person sent by Him to walk alongside me.

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. Proverbs 12:15

God’s intention was for us to share in each other’s burdens, so why would he not send wisdom to us through these people? Unfortunately, it is when we try to handle these things on our own, that we forget about the people He has strategically placed into our lives.

When we ignore the wisdom of a friend because we think we have it all handled.

So, I listened. And with the help of family we came up with a reward system. If our little guy could get through the week, get on the bus without screaming, or yelling “I don’t want to go!” Grandma would give him $6. $6 he is reserving for a Lego set.

It worked.

For a couple of days. But, hey! It worked!

And, if I look back…I only asked for a break. One morning, and I got two of them…two out of the 30 plus we have endured. This. These two days…that is a break!

Even thought we only got a two day reprieve, that doesn’t mean He wasn’t listening, or that I shouldn’t listen to the ones He has sent to me. To their wisdom. Their support. Their willingness to help offer a solution. To provide the answer to prayer I have been looking for.

Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when we received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Maybe his answer to prayer isn’t a multicolored visual chart that solves all your problems. Maybe it’s not the promise of money to pay all your bills, as your reward for being faithful. And maybe the answer only gets you through a couple days.

Maybe it is simply God sending someone to share our burdens with us. To not fix it all, but to offer support and guidance through it all. To not have all the answers, or $6 to offer, but to offer wisdom, and a listening ear.

Yes, God’s gift. His answers to prayer may be the person standing right in front of you. Accept it. Cherish it. And be thankful for his promises. Even the $6 ones.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A Friend at All TImes

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“M made me cry today on the bus.” This is the first thing my daughter says to me as she holds back tears on her last day of school.

“What do you mean? Why did she make you cry?”

“Well, she wouldn’t let our other friend sit with me!”

I’ll be honest. There was a large part of me that was extremely angry. See, M is the topic of quite a few conversations I have with my daughter in the afternoons after she has spent an evening bus ride being hurt and bullied by a “friend.” Then there was the other part of me-the part that hurt for my daughter. For her broken spirit. For the diminishing of the spirit of love she has in her heart for her friends. That part of me that has been there, too.

I knew it was finally time to have a heart to heart with my 7 year old little girl about true friendship. About how friends are called to really treat each other. Whether they are 7, or much older.

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need. Proverbs 17:17

“Why do you think your brother likes to sit with you on the bus?” And as she shrugs, her older brother hugs her, quietly telling his little sister, that it is because her brother loves her, and that friends should love each other as brother and sister, too.

We are commanded to treat each other with loyalty, respect, and love. At all times. Not just when times are good. But, when they are not. Respect our friends, not only when they agree with us and our choices, but even when they don’t. Stay loyal to our friends even if they choose a path we wouldn’t have picked for them. Respect and love our friends even if someone else wants to share that seat on the bus, at the lunch table, in the cafeteria or restaurant, in the workplace. At all times.

Encourage each other everyday while you have the opportunity. Hebrews 3:13

“And, also, honey…friends usually won’t make you cry.”

Unless, of course you are crying with your friend, because you feel their pain, or they feel yours. No, we don’t make our friends cry deliberately. We encourage them. We lift them up. We tell them how wonderful they are, even when they feel anything but. We give up our wants, our needs, our desires, our time, to stop and give to those we care about, even if it means we have to sacrifice a little of ourselves. We encourage at all times. In the middle of the night. When they feel lonely, scared, bruised. Even when we could use a little encouragement ourselves. And, sometimes we give up the seat on the bus so our friend can be comfortable.

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

At the young age of 7, the last thing my daughter wants to hear is that she may have to find new friends, but for me-I want the kind of friend who will lay in the aisle of the bus if it meant I was taken care of, and I want to be the friend who does the same.

I want my daughter to know what it is like to have friends that would drop their plans, come running, or even whisk her away for a weekend, when her life has become one big crisis after another.

I want my daughter to know what it is like to have friends who will support her dreams, support her cause, support her children and their needs. Who will be a shoulder for her to cry on. Who will provide a laugh when life gets messy. Who will allow her to be herself, even when she may not even know who that may be.

And I want my daughter to be the same kind of friend.

Like my friends have been for me.

Loving. Encouraging. Supportive. Selfless.

At all times.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2014 in Loving Others

 

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No One Suffers Alone

“Yet, I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32

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“No one seems to understand!” Oh, the many times I have thought or spoken these words in the middle of my struggles, and all the situations life throws at me. Oh, the many times I have thought: “No one really gets it!”

In these times we feel alone. In our despair we are unable to allow other people to share in our struggles. We retreat. We make ourselves scarce. We put on happy faces so we don’t have to talk about our sufferings, because no one is going to understand them anyway, right? We struggle in isolation, searching for the coldest, darkest caves in which to hide from the world.

Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

In this we are reassured that we are never alone in our struggles. He understands. When we believe we have no one to whom we can share our burdens, we can turn to Him for comfort. We can turn to Him for peace. We can turn to Him for friendship. We can turn to Him for understanding.

Carry each others burdens…Galatians 6:2

God never leaves us lonely. That is why we were made for relationships. Not just with God, but with each other. God never intended for us to carry our weight alone. He doesn’t want us to retreat in isolation. He wants us to reach out when we are burdened, make people understand our needs, tell others how they can help us.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out for help. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Reach out. Reach out to your friends, to your spouse, to your co-workers. Find people that want to understand and share in your struggles. Find people who will pick you up when you are falling. Find friends who will keep you warm, even if you are trying to hide out in the coldest cave, because I am sure these friends, these burden-sharers, have at one time searched for that same cave, too.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” C.S. Lewis

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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