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Celebrate!

yay

We were driving through some winding back roads in Indiana, listening to a local radio station early in the morning. This was last month, on a 1,000 mile drive to move our daughter to college, and we were just starting the second day of the journey. The radio host pointed to several areas of national and international news that were less than uplifting, and then announced it was time for a weekly segment they do called Good News Wednesday, encouraging their listeners to text or call in and share any bit of good news they had, from tiny to tremendous.

Within minutes, listeners were announcing big news like pregnancies and new houses, and tiny things like getting to work on time and looking forward to date night. What struck me was that so many were willing to participate; people want to share their good news, but often don’t know how or with whom they can. Also, as each proclamation was made, one of the announcers said something supportive in response. Every single time. And there were a lot! I felt so inspired after hearing the many ideas to celebrate, as well as the encouraging words of that radio station staff.

I was instantly reminded of a small group we were in about ten years ago. A newer couple sheepishly announced the husband had received a big promotion and we all cheered their good fortune, and thanked God for His provision when we prayed that night. The couple looked bewildered and then confessed they had been afraid to say anything, because they felt they had never experienced friendships who truly wanted the best for them.

So we resort to calling in to strangers to share our good news.

Y’all, we can do better. I want to be a person you call to brag on your child when they make the team or get into that college, when you see something wonderfully new in your spouse you didn’t see before, or when you get that crazy, pie-in-the-sky promotion. I want to cheer you on when you’re pregnant or not pregnant (somebody knows who I’m talking to), or your air conditioner finally gets repaired, or your prodigal child comes home. The truth is, when I hear great news about others it gives me an endorphin rush, or at least, it should. If I feel jealousy or resentment, that is on me, and I need to address it, trying to understand why I would feel anything but support for this person and then I need to get over it.

We are called to encourage one another, to love one another, to serve one another and to consider others more highly than ourselves. Let’s start this practice by cheering each other on every opportunity we have, not the fake stuff either, let’s desire the best for each other and celebrate like crazy when somebody gets it! So, I’m wondering…..what thing can we celebrate, big or small, for you today?

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Conversations That Matter

scared

What happened to talk of the weather and the latest story of what your dog swiped off the counter and consumed? Where is the easy cadence of saying not much? Of bringing up what you read about or watched on the news and not feeling like you are making a political proclamation, but just discussing a current event.

It feels like the conversations I am a part of are all big these days, talking about future plans and current fears and past regrets. We may start off in the safe zone, only to quickly delve into the murky waters of what if and what now. Please understand that this is the place where I tend to be most comfortable, I am notoriously bad at small talk, but the weight of our words seems to be so much heavier lately; the sentences that I am stringing together can truly cut someone deeply, or sway their decision or even let them off the hook. It feels like a huge responsibility.
In today’s society it is easier to offend or get offended than ever, so we can be tempted to choose to say nothing, believing that we are keeping the peace. I have been guilty of this, but the truth is that this crazy world needs your words, especially if they are not reckless and reactionary. We need to share our deep thoughts and ideas, and be okay with the fact that everyone will not agree. There is no license here to pound our thoughts on others, but we must, at the very least, be ready to give a reason for the way that we view a topic. Sometimes I can say that I don’t have an opinion on a prevalent issue, but the truth is that I probably have not taken the time to research and form one. That doesn’t mean that I should shout it from the rooftops, but I should wrestle with it until I have a clear opinion.
I don’t understand it, but God has trusted us to emulate Him with our words and actions. Talk about a huge responsibility! He assures us that He is with us in these conversations, and if we will trust Him, we will be guided through. He also promises to give us understanding if we pursue it. I am going to keep going with the deep conversations that seem to be happening more than ever, I’m not going to shy away from them or the people who are behind them, and I’m going to do my part not to get offended when someone sees it differently than me. Will you join me in the quest for deeper understanding, richer connections and thicker skin?

17,828

 

steph

 

My college roommate died last week. She left behind a thriving marriage and two children still living at home. Cancer hounded Steph for years in different manifestations and proved to be too powerful to fight any longer. We made a pilgrimage back to the state where we had attended college and witnessed the funeral along with at least 600 people who felt the pull to show up and honor Steph. Only one other person was a representative of those college years as far as I know, but I talked to many people last week who wanted to be there, but for various reasons could not attend.

 

 Throughout this painful time I have tried hard not to make it about myself; I wanted to support the family and honor my friend, to help bring closure and complete any gaps in time of her life. As I was sitting in a packed church, unable to see anything up front but with a perfect view of strangers of all ages who had come to say goodbye, I was struck by the impact that this woman had made. She lived 17,828 days, at least 20% of them with a cancer diagnosis or the threat of another scare. And she encouraged those around her with her positivity and strength over and over again. I have many stories of Steph telling me about a new symptom or diagnosis over the years and quickly following up with being so thankful to see her kids for as long as she had. I know many other people would say something similar.

 

 17,828 days. I didn’t want to make this about me, but the way Steph spent her time on this earth has caused me to consider my own. What are you doing with your days? What impact will I have with mine? Over the years my roomie taught me so many things, and I’m thankful to still be learning from her now.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

 

 

 

 

 

Bloom

 

lilies

My children sent me flowers this week, it was a belated birthday present. I’m not certain why the timing was off, but have you ever known a Mom to question a gift from her kids? They are well aware that Stargazer Lilies are my ultimate favorites, and I received a vase full of tightly closed lilies two days ago. I  set them on the kitchen table, the very place each of them would expect them to be. I work at this table most of the day, and now have a fresh floral fragrance and a promise of impending beauty.

At this same time my college roommate is actively dying. Cancer has hunted and chased her for eleven solid years, and she is exhausted with the fight. My heart is broken because I have loved this woman for 30 years, because I believe we need more people like her here and most of all, because she has a precious family who be forever changed. I could list so many reasons why my roomie is special, but for now I am holding most of those close. Sacred.  

I look up from the screen and see the biggest bud of them all facing me, and I could swear in the past couple of minutes it has made a subtle transition. It’s definitely going to open soon. It makes me think of my Steph, who is going to bloom even more beautiful than ever, as well.

I think I understand why the flowers came this week after all.

If We’re Honest

honest

 

A couple of years ago I decided to tell my closest friend about a situation we were mired in with one of our teenagers. It was one of those issues with many layers; not my journey but I am greatly affected, not my deal but I can be judged for it, not my decisions but I can easily talk myself into taking the blame. It was a dark time and easier to stay hidden. But I had some time with my friend in person and I let my guard down and poured my heart out to her.

Her response? Love. She spoke directly to my heart, telling me that we were given these children specifically because we are uniquely qualified to handle them. Then she went on to remind me of several characteristics that my teen needed and how her parents had those very qualities. If I doubted her, she drew on her own experience and pointed out how she had learned this lesson in parenting earlier in life, when she was going through a difficult season.

My friend didn’t try to fix it, she couldn’t. She also didn’t try to cover over it with trite sayings, she wouldn’t. And she didn’t let me off the hook, she shouldn’t. What I did that was right was that I opened up and shared with someone safe and what she did was to respond with safety and wisdom. We must be honest with each other about the struggles we are facing; when we bring the darkness to light shame evaporates, fear flees and hope is restored. My friends bolstered my confidence in God and in our parenting, and gave us the strength to stay in it and fight for our teen.

I’m including a video if Francesca Battistelli’s ‘If We’re Honest’ because it highlights the value of bringing our brokenness to one another. It is my prayer that you have someone you can open up and be honest with, and if you don’t, that you would find that person or group of people who can remind you who and whose you are.

Shelter

shelterDo you have that person who you know you can call and feel better after spending time with them? Not because they will say what you want to hear, but because they really know you, and remind you of who you are.

This person provides shelter, protecting you from the lies of the enemy and the darts of man. If you’re really fortunate, this friend also turns your heart towards God, reminding you that He is the ultimate shelter.

I am so thankful that I have more than one of these in my life, pouring into me, encouraging me and having my back. And hopefully that allows me to turn around and be shelter for others.

 

Still Learning

lovelifeRecently my guy was telling me about an interaction with a colleague where the other person was incredibly rude, swearing at him, making accusations and issuing ultimatums. The guy is known as a hothead throughout the organization, but this was beyond his normal antics. I found myself getting agitated as he described the discussion that had been going on for days at that point. I was not able to offer any kind of resolution, in fact, I reminded my guy of several times in the past when the co-worker had done similar things and tried to get my husband to see that this was not going to get better. I resolved in my mind that the next time this jerk came to our home, I would make it very clear how I felt about him.

A few days later my guy walked in our door while laughing and joking with someone on the phone. When he hung up I realized he was talking to the same guy that had said terrible things to him days before. I was incredulous. I couldn’t believe that my husband could just let him get away with that! Apparently they had talked it through after the man had cooled off and everything was all right. But it wasn’t all right with me! I wasn’t ready to forgive and forget.

Have you ever done this? It’s called a secondary hurt – the pain you feel when someone you love is unjustifiably hurt. You conjure up enough emotion for the both of you and want to do damage to that person who hurt your loved one. As strongly as I feel this sometimes for my guy, who can certainly take care of himself, the feeling is exponentially greater when it happens to my children. This is exactly the reason that we counsel young couples not to go to their parents or siblings when they argue within their marriage; those who love you most cannot hear your side of the story and reasonably conclude that you both were at fault, and need to work it out together. Family members react just like I did with my guy, reminding you of all the times your spouse has done something similar and worse, and probably predict doom and gloom for your whole situation.

Not helpful. But understandable.

When you are in the midst of an argument with your spouse, who do you talk to? Your parents, who know your faults but are loyal no matter what? Your high school best friend, who predicted this would never work years ago? Your co-worker, who perhaps has never even met your beloved? We should all have someone in our lives who champions our marriage, who can listen and withhold judgment and turn you back towards home to work it out. I have personally both failed and succeeded at this very thing over the years, and when I fail I have to admit and seek forgiveness. If you have children who are married, the best thing you can do for your adult children (beyond praying) is encourage them to have a mentor couple in their lives, someone who wants them to work it out as much as they do, and will help them do just that. It’s normal to empathize with those we love but sometimes we need to extricate ourselves from a situation in order to help the very people we love most.

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